Writing Advice

Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One

28 February 2015

From The Stranger:

I recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program. I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep. Here are some things I learned from these experiences.

Writers are born with talent.

Either you have a propensity for creative expression or you don’t. Some people have more talent than others. That’s not to say that someone with minimal talent can’t work her ass off and maximize it and write something great, or that a writer born with great talent can’t squander it. It’s simply that writers are not all born equal. The MFA student who is the Real Deal is exceedingly rare, and nothing excites a faculty adviser more than discovering one. I can count my Real Deal students on one hand, with fingers to spare.

If you didn’t decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you’re probably not going to make it.

There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one. But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one’s 30s or 40s is probably too late. Being a writer means developing a lifelong intimacy with language. You have to be crazy about books as a kid to establish the neural architecture required to write one.

. . . .

If you aren’t a serious reader, don’t expect anyone to read what you write.

Without exception, my best students were the ones who read the hardest books I could assign and asked for more. One student, having finished his assigned books early, asked me to assign him three big novels for the period between semesters.Infinite Jest, 2666, and Gravity’s Rainbow, I told him, almost as a joke. He read all three and submitted an extra-credit essay, too. That guy was the Real Deal.

Conversely, I’ve had students ask if I could assign shorter books, or—without a trace of embarrassment—say they weren’t into “the classics” as if “the classics” was some single, aesthetically consistent genre. Students who claimed to enjoy “all sorts” of books were invariably the ones with the most limited taste. One student, upon reading The Great Gatsby (for the first time! Yes, a graduatestudent!), told me she preferred to read books “that don’t make me work so hard to understand the words.” I almost quit my job on the spot.

Link to the rest at The Stranger and thanks to Karen for the tip.

33 Experts Share What They Want Next From Female Characters

24 February 2015

From Bang2Write:

The Bang2writers are writing more and more female characters now, but it’s not just as simple as that. We can ALL fall into “the usual” representations, or screw up and write trite, incorrect or two dimensional stereotypes. It’s also important to note any one of us can do this regardless of our experience with writing, or even if we *are* women ourselves! As I often say, I have seen NO correlation between gender of writer and how bad OR well they write female characters, yet I’ve literally read thousands  of screenplays over the last decade and a half.

. . . .

Vanessa Bailey, actress, writer & producer. A great role for women is one that’s well-written. It’s not about having MORE women, it’s about having rich, relatable, aspirational, inspiring, intriguing, horrifying, disturbing, funny, tragic, vulnerable, struggling characters that happen to be women. I’m now ever-so-slightly bored with the “strong women” thing. We fell into the trap of that being ball-busting business women, or assassins, or women who don’t need anyone else in their lives, they just need to find themselves. Fascinating characters come in all shapes and sizes. A strong female character for me can be weak, conflicted, murderous, vulnerable. But if they pull me in and wrap their storyline around my brain and heart, then that’s a strong female character. Let’s have more of those!

. . . .

Jean Kitson, Literary Agent. I’d like to see that depth of character storytelling grow into film more, and for writers to be braver about just letting a character be who they are in the moment rather than feel the need to explain every bit of behaviour …  I’m quite bored of the sop to female characters which is a ‘capable woman’ supporting a ‘brilliant but in other ways useless male character’ and I think there is loads of room to explore the modern phenomenon of women feeling that now they can have it all,they ought to – and not surprisingly, feeling they are failing at that.

. . . .

Ian Craig Walker, screenwriter Complexity … Someone capable of dealing with a wide range of situations in ways that reveal a great deal about her, rather than stridently reiterating a single character facet over and over each time. Make your female charcacter a real person that viewers of both sexes can connect with. Make her whole & rounded. Personality should act as the catalyst for the character’s desires/goals, as well as her actions in driving the story forward. She should be a problem solver – reveal her insecurity, heartbreak, and loss, yet her ability to keep muddling forward … Lastly, make her vulnerable, but not a victim. Strong enough internally to survive their own difficult stories, and strong enough narratively to support a feature story.

Link to the rest at Bang2Write

How to Write About Characters Who Are Smarter Than You

14 February 2015

From Medium:

My least favorite moment in all of cinema is a relatively common one. You will recognize it, I’m sure, from dozens of movies and TV shows that prominently feature scientists. You may even have laughed at it once or twice. It usually gets a quick chortle. The moment goes something like this:

Our character is a scientist of some kind. He’s a mathematician if you’re watching a drama. He’s a physicist, usually, if you’re watching a sci-fi movie. He is a biologist in a zombie movie or a coder in a techno-thriller (and he is almost invariably a man, which in and of itself is an annoyance). Our scientist character delivers a brief, relatively reasonable paragraph of technical dialogue. He explains some plot point to the other characters in the scene, which serves to explain it to the audience as well. He throws in a few obscure, jargon-y scientific words for verisimilitude, but the basic point he makes is quite clear and comprehensible. Something along the lines of: “We’re going to need to modify the warp thrusters to go through a wormhole of that size,” or, “The terrorists are using an unhackable 512-bit key to encrypt the location of the plutonium,” or even, “By traveling into the past you’ve created an alternate universe timeline in which you were never born.” Something along those lines. He describes a scientific concept that is both readily explicable and quite literally has just been explained.

But then, after our scientist has finished, the camera turns to a second character. This would be our scientist’s normal-dude buddy. He’s just a regular Joe. He is the audience’s stand-in during the scene, and the character with whom the audience most identifies. This guy makes an incredulous face in response to the scientist’s technical language. And then he says the following line:

“WHOA, Doc. Say that again in English!”

. . . .

It’s a moment of casually cynical anti-intellectualism. It’s a joke predicated on the idea that only some geeky sex-less egghead would ever bother to care about what some dotty scientist says. The moment treats neither its characters nor its audience with respect.

I would suggest that the reason moments like this keep popping up on screens small and large is quite simply that writing about an exceptionally brilliant character is terribly difficult. There is a tendency to blow off a character’s brilliance, in moments like the one I’ve described, rather than confront her genius head on. Because the latter approach is just so infernally difficult.

. . . .

 I spent a lot of highly caffeinated nights grappling with these questions when I started writing the script for The Imitation Game. Alan Turing, whose life story is explored in the film, was perhaps the greatest genius of his generation. I am, to put it mildly, not. Turing was not only instrumental in cracking the German Enigma code during WWII, but he also theorized what would become the modern computer. Turing was not only an accomplished botanist who made his own fertilizer, but as an idle experiment he developed an algorithm for determining how zebras got their stripes. His was a mind so constantly whirring with ideas, so endlessly churning through the information of the world and processing it into theories, conjectures, and experiments. He couldn’t stop thinking even if he wanted to, which fortunately for us he didn’t. To convey a mind like his on the page and on the screen was both a terrible challenge and a sacred responsibility.

. . . .

 Quite helpfully, however, I was far from the first person to attempt to tackle this very issue. And what I realized was that if you want to write about a genius, the best place to look for inspiration is in the work of someone who created the most definitive fictional genius of all time. Someone who, in 56 short stories and four novels, conjured a genius so unique that he’s been revived, in books and films and television and plays, for over a hundred years. Namely: I found inspiration in the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Link to the rest at Medium and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

When to Stop Polishing a Manuscript

10 February 2015

From author Dave Farland:

Many new writers don’t know when to stop polishing a manuscript and move on to the next. Part of the reason for that might have to do with Ernest Hemingway.

Many years ago, a writer asked Hemingway, “How many times should I rewrite a manuscript?” Now, Hemingway hated dumb questions, so he answered “Oh, at least 60.”

He loved doing that to writers. On one occasion, a writer asked him what kind of chair he preferred to sit in, as if perhaps the brand of furniture that an author had planted his butt on might somehow confer literary genius.

Hemingway answered, “I don’t sit when I write, I stand.” And a generation or writers began to write standing up. The problem with that is that you can go to any one of Hemingway’s old homes or offices, and see the chairs that he sat on.

On another occasion, a writer asked him how long she should wait between drafts when revising, so that she would be able to look at her story “cold.” He suggested that it should be two years.

Think about it. If Hemingway did sixty drafts of a novel and waited two years between each draft, he would have never finished a single book. Don’t listen to bad advice, even when it comes from a genius.

Back when I first began writing, I used an old typewriter. I didn’t like it. I had to really bang the keys hard, it was noisy, certain keys didn’t work well, and the type was uneven. Because of this, doing rewrites was difficult. I’d type out a draft, make extensive corrections on the page with a pencil, and then try to type out a perfectly clean copy.

Using that system, it would have been foolish to repeat the process sixty times. Because of this, in the 1920s and 30s, a professional writer would typically try to learn to write a finished copy in a single draft. It was simpler to write out a nice outline in longhand, and then thoughtfully type out one clean draft, than to retype a piece over and over.

. . . .

Of course with the development of computers, revising became quite easy. My first computer would allow me to put only 2 pages of text on a disk, but by the late 1980s I was able to get first a whole chapter, and then with the addition of a hard drive, an entire novel in a single file. It wasn’t until then that rewriting became so easy that it became problematic.

You see, as an editor I’m looking for stories that have some originality, that carry an author’s own voice, his odd quirks. But when a new writer begins showing a manuscript around to members of her workshop and polishing it further and further, eventually the author tends to lose her own distinct voice. The result is, that the story can become less interesting to me as an editor with every draft.

So the question is, how many revisions does a novel or short story really need?

. . . .

As I rewrite, I try to avoid changing both the voices of my characters and my own narrative voice. Rather than polishing away the differences between voices, I think it’s better to look for ways to heighten the unique characters in the tale.

In fact, on one of my last rewrites, I do what I call a “voice edit,” where I go through key characters person by person to make sure that their voices are consistent.

Link to the rest at David Farland and thanks to Cora for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dave Farland’s books.

Following The Crowd

6 February 2015

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

We all have those moments when we think, Jeez, if I just write [insert latest trend here], I’ll do so much better than I’m already doing. It doesn’t matter how well we’re already doing. There’s always a better.

If you’ve been in the business a long time, you have a follow-up thought: I know how to do [latest trend]. It wouldn’t take much.

And if you were in traditional publishing, and occasionally wrote tie-ins or some novel that your traditional editor demanded you write, you have a third thought: I’ve played in someone else’s universe before. It wouldn’t take me long to churn out something just like [latest trend].

Yes, note that I used the phrase “churn out,” which I complained about a few weeks ago. I did so deliberately. Because that’s the mindset you end up in.

You’re not writing for the joy of the art. You’re not writing what you want. You’re writing what you think is required for success.

A lot of people end up with an okay short-term career doing just that—writing the latest trend, whatever it is. When that trend eases, they move onto the next trend, and the next until they burn out. Sometimes, for some of them, following the trend works, and they find their niche. But for a lot of folks, they wake up one day to find themselves not wanting to go to their writing desk because sitting there feels too much like the day job they quit (or are still working in the hopes of a windfall).

When I say “short-term,” I say it from the perspective of a long-term career. I mean a five-to-ten year career in publishing, with only two or three years of real success. It’s a career. It’s something to be proud of. But it isn’t a lifetime career, which so many writers say they want.

. . . .

I know I can’t write well about something I don’t enjoy.

I write in a lot of genres because I read a lot of genres. I write a lot of short stories for themed anthologies to stretch myself. Once in a while when I write a theme anthology story, I discover a subgenre I don’t really want to tackle again, but mostly I learn the ins and outs of the genres, and often I get too many more ideas to ever finish before I die.

Writing novels to follow a trend (even if it stretches me) is something I won’t do. Novels take too much time, and you have to sink into them, or at least I do. I need to lose myself in the world that I’m writing about, and losing myself means a full commitment.

. . . .

But trend-following in novel-writing, that’s generally not collaborative. That’s just being outer-directed instead of inner-directed.

What do I mean by outer-directed? Someone else or something else, in this case a trend, determines what you write from day to day. Nothing wrong with that, except…

To me—and this is probably just me—it completely defeats the point of being a freelance writer. If I wanted a day job, I’d get one. If I want someone to tell me what to do, then I’d have a boss. If I wanted to guess trends, I’d work in advertising.

I don’t want to do any of that.

At heart, I’m both a rebel and an artist, and those two aspects of my personality have allowed me to freelance successfully for decades.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch and thanks to Ashe for the tip.

Here’s a link to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s books

The Accidental Novelist

3 February 2015

From from author Fred Venturini via Medium:

I’m sitting next to Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the wildly popular novel, FIGHT CLUB. His new novel is stacked neatly next to a cart that is loaded with dozens of copies of my first novel, THE HEART DOES NOT GROW BACK. We’re at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, and the rare book room on the pearl floor has every seat filled with attentive readers and aspiring writers of all ages.

Somehow, this isn’t Chuck’s author event. Somehow, it’s mine. He’s agreed to lead an interview and discussion—his way of supporting my foray into wilderness and harsh terrain that is the world of the debut novelist. I don’t have an audience, really. Not yet, but I’m trying. I don’t just suspect that most of the people are there to see Chuck—I absolutely know it’s true.

In the middle of the audience discussion portion of the event, a woman in her early twenties (by my estimation) asks a question about getting published. What’s the secret? Not the first version of that question, nor the last. Then she just flat out asks Chuck to read her work. She’s ignoring my presence. I’m just the debut guy. He gives her the polite answer, that everyone who gives him work, he just gives it to his agent, and the agent usually passes on the work. Eventually, he gently tells her to be a professional, but it doesn’t slow her down.

She finally turns to me and asks me what’s the secret to getting published. How did I get my seat at the front of the Powell’s event next to Chuck. I’m almost surprised that she finally realizes I exist up there, and I sheepishly give her the first answer that comes to mind.

“Luck,” I say. “You don’t want to hear my story. It sounds lucky, and it sort of is.”

. . . .

When I tell people how I got published, it sounds like a supermodel getting discovered in a shopping mall.

My wife enrolled in a master’s program for working adults at Lindenwood University. She went to school once per week for four hours, six to ten in the evening. One day, I just figured I’d check and see if Lindenwood had an MFA program. I certainly enjoyed writing, it was one of my favorite hobbies. I loved reading just as much. Felt like a great way to immerse myself in those two things and get a degree for my trouble.

Weeks later, I was leaving my job at four p.m. and driving two hours to get to campus when class started, right at six p.m. I had by far the longest drive of all the students. As the semesters passed and the relationships started to forge, my confidence rose. I could tell from the reaction and comments from my instructors and peers that maybe I wasn’t just a hobbyist at writing fiction. Maybe I was actually getting good.

Understand that I wasn’t a casual writer, and I really wasn’t a serious one. Casual means you do it on a whim, every now and again. Serious meant I had all these deadlines and goals and never missed a day. I was a consistent writer, but not an everyday writer. By that I mean I have written fiction consistently since the age of about ten years old, mostly because I enjoyed it. I threw a lot of it away when I was finished. I lost whole novels to computer crashes and didn’t even shrug because I knew they sucked.

. . . .

When someone asks “How do I get published?” or any variation of it, the answer is so simple I know you’re not doing it—write a lot, until you get better, then write something good. Then you’ll get published.

It’s the write until you get better part that seems to be the problem. Everyone went and got in a big damn hurry.

. . . .

I have been asked in interviews before how I find the time to write. I always found that question strange, simply because to me, it sounds like you’re asking someone “How do you find the time to play video games? Or hunt? Or scrapbook? Or shop?” We make time for the things we love to do; we have to find time for the stuff we don’t.

. . . .

I always wonder how my story changes if I pursue publication before I’m ready, or if I cared a lot more about getting published than I did about actually writing. “I thank God self-publishing wasn’t around when I was twenty-one,” Chuck said at one point during the event. The temptation to give yourself instant gratification is strong. But are you ready? Is it the right moment? Are you writing to get published, or are you just trying to write the best things possible over and over again? Are you asking Chuck to read your work, or are you forcing him to notice you?

Link to the rest at Medium and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Here’s a link to Fred Venturini’s books

Spectacular Settings

2 February 2015

From author Dave Farland:

When I’m looking at a story, one of the simple things I look at is setting. There are so many aspects to setting, so let’s just look at a few:

1) Is your milieu intriguing? Many authors will set a story in the most blasé of places. Often, the story is set “somewhere in the USA”. While for certain types of stories this may be completely appropriate, in most cases it’s not. It’s as if the writer has suffered brain death and couldn’t bother to come up with a real milieu. In most cases, it helps if you choose a particular place to set your story, and a particular date.

2) Is the world fully created? If you’re using a real-world setting, then “creating” that world is a matter of capturing it—learning its history, culture, and future. It’s not enough just to research a setting, you have to know it, get it into your bones. This usually means that you must travel to that setting and spend some time there. You can’t just blow through Amarillo, Texas and expect to really know the place.

In a science fiction tale, if you want to set your story on a planet, then creating a setting might require you to decide what kind of star system your planet is set in, along with the planet’s composition, rotation, axial tilt, number of moons, type of atmosphere, and so on. You may have to think about how to create alien life-forms, and develop their life-cycles, and perhaps create their histories, languages, and societies. Just getting those kinds of details takes some concentration.

If you’re creating a fantasy world, then you may have to look even further—into creating the flora and fauna of your world, along with cultures and subculture, the magic systems and economic systems, societies, languages, histories, religions, and so on.

So I look at how robust your setting is. I consider how fully developed it is. I ask myself, “Has this author put enough thought into the setting to create the illusion that this is a real place?”

Link to the rest at David Farland

Here’s a link to Dave Farland’s books

Writing Your Way to Happiness

23 January 2015

From The New York Times:

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.

. . . .

In one of the earliest studies on personal story editing, researchers gathered 40 college freshman at Duke University who were struggling academically. Not only were they worried about grades, but they questioned whether they were intellectual equals to other students at their school.

The students were divided into intervention groups and control groups. Students in the intervention group were given information showing that it is common for students to struggle in their freshman year. They watched videos of junior and senior college students who talked about how their own grades had improved as they adjusted to college.

The goal was to prompt these students to edit their own narratives about college. Rather than thinking they weren’t cut out for college, they were encouraged to think that they just needed more time to adjust.

The intervention results, published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, were startling. In the short term, the students who had undergone the story-changing intervention got better grades on a sample test. But the long-term results were the most impressive.

Students who had been prompted to change their personal stories improved their grade-point averages and were less likely to drop out over the next year than the students who received no information. In the control group, which had received no advice about grades, 20 percent of the students had dropped out within a year. But in the intervention group, only 1 student — or just 5 percent — dropped out.

. . . .

Much of the work on expressive writing has been led by James Pennebaker, a psychology professor at the University of Texas. In one of his experiments, college students were asked to write for 15 minutes a day about an important personal issue or superficial topics. Afterward, the students who wrote about personal issues had fewer illnesses and visits to the student health center.

“The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go,” said Dr. Pennebaker. “I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

The Philosophy of Being a Hack

22 January 2015

From author Russell Blake:

Early into my career I decided that I was going to write a lot. As in, seemingly impossible amounts, as my differentiator.

The reason I decided on that strategy, which many novelists believe is one that can only produce dross, is that when I looked at past generations of writers whom I admired as being particularly skilled, most of them came out of journalism. Why is that important?

Because journalists are always writing. That’s what they do. Before television taught entire generations to stare mindlessly at a screen, people read, and that required a lot of written content creation. Enter journalists, who produced much of it.

Writers in the old day became proficient at writing because they wrote a tremendous amount. They got lots of practice. And practicing, they improved.

I’ve been averaging about a novel every five weeks since I started self-publishing 37 months ago.

. . . .

Somewhere along the way the popular wisdom changed. The speed with which a publishing house could comfortably schedule a print run and a promotional push, which happened to be about once a year per author, defined the accepted speed with which a novel, and I mean a good novel, could be created. Any faster was crazy talk.

. . . .

Talent only takes you a little ways. It’s effort that takes you the rest of the distance.

. . . .

And a final observation: my average novel takes me between 150-200 hours for first draft. If you work 12-15 hour days and don’t screw around, you can quickly see that what might take someone who only has a productive hour or two per day will take a lot less time for someone willing and capable of working marathon hours. Now, I could divide those hours up and spread them across several months, but it wouldn’t make the draft any better. Same with second draft, which generally takes about 100 hours. I could make the whole process of creating a book take six months to a year, but the quality wouldn’t be any different, assuming I’m competent for sustained bursts. So the notion that the quickly produced novel is lacking somehow is actually based more on the limited ability to imagine serious application, than it is reality. Same number of hours. Just condensed into far fewer days. Or put another way, hyper-efficient use of time.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a business where there’s so much poor advice or lousy, limiting thinking than the writing business, nor so much misinformation. Good and commercially successful novels have been created in short time-frames for as long as there have been writers. Consider A Clockwork Orange, or The Running Man, or Mickey Spilane’s I, The Jury, A Study In Scarlet,Farenheit 451, Casino Royale, and on and on and on. To claim or believe that it can’t be done is akin to stubborn insistence that the earth is flat. Believe it at your peril – it’s your career, not mine.

Link to the rest at Russell Blake and thanks to Eric for the tip.

Here’s a link to Russell Blake’s books

Avoiding Premature Publication

17 January 2015

From author Ann Warner via Romance University:

Forgoing the traditional imprimatur of agents or editors, authors who self-publish become the ones responsible for judging the quality of their work. The problem is that after passing through the creative maelstrom required to write a novel, the author’s judgment about the quality of their story is likely to be flawed.  Rightly or wrongly, the author may be convinced that her story is

A. So wonderful it would make Hemingway weep

B. So dreadful it’s not worth even a penny

C. Probably good enough

A and C are by far the most dangerous choices, because they are likely to result in premature publication.

On the other hand, if the conclusion is B, and the writer overcomes her discouragement, she may then begin to look for ways to improve the story.

I didn’t begin writing fiction until my mid-fifties, when my position as a director of a hospital toxicology laboratory ended abruptly with the closure of the laboratory. While trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life, I received a surprising nudge from my sub-conscious to try writing a story.

When I finished that story, it was, in my opinion, most definitely an A. Every one of its 125,000 words was perfect. Had self-publishing been a viable option at that time, I would have chosen it. Immediately.

But self-publishing wasn’t yet easy, something that was lucky for me, because the novel was most definitely not an A. I began to recognize its B status after a friend read the book (or perhaps only a few pages) and then brought me flowers and congratulated me profusely on writing it. Only later did I realize she’d said nothing about whether it was any good. I still feel an immense gratitude to her for so gently bumping me back to reality from my first novel infatuation daze.

. . . .

I talked a professor into letting me take a senior writing seminar in the MFA program at the university where I was a faculty member. Not necessarily a path I recommend.

I joined RWA and began attending my local chapter’s meetings and writing workshops.

I searched out other writers to serve as critic partners in person or on the internet.

I began querying agents and publishers and learned to cope with the subsequent deluge of rejection.

Most importantly, I started reading books and articles on writing craft, noting specific suggestions I could begin using as I started working on another novel.

. . . .

I gleaned a number of specific suggestions that I began applying during my revision process and while they may seem simplistic, I discovered they had a dramatic effect on the quality of my writing. They included:

Avoid overuse of names in dialogue: “Yes, Cassandra, I see the whale.” “Oh, I’m glad you do, Jonah.” “Of course, Cassandra, I’ll just move out of the— eughhhh!” Etc, etc.

Avoid dialogue tags like she screamed or he yelled in favor of the simple he said/she said and limit modifying adverbs (e.g. she said coaxingly, angrily etc.). Instead “show” these attributes by writing robust dialogue.

. . . .

Storytelling, you see, is a right brain, creative activity. Whether it can be learned is an open question, but it can certainly be enhanced, and I have a two-fold recommendation to help with that enhancement.

First, teach yourself to pay attention to those flickers of inspiration presented to the conscious mind by the unconscious through dreams, daydreams, or random thoughts.  The trick is to catch those quick glints before they fade, and then make a note. Otherwise, they will fade, and you will forget. Guaranteed.

Link to the rest at Romance University

Here’s a link to Ann Warner’s books

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