New Book – Story Drills: Fiction Writing Exercises

story drills fiction writing exercisesI’m excited to announce that the second book in The Storyteller’s Toolbox series is now available.

Story Drills: Fiction Writing Exercises is packed with exercises that impart the tools and techniques of storytelling and then prompt you to study stories, practice writing stories, and further contemplate the craft of storytelling.

About the Book

The greatest storytellers make it look easy, as if stories arrive fully formed, and we writers need only type the tales into our word processing software.

Writing stories is rewarding, but it’s not easy. Think about all the elements that go into a good story: characters, plot, setting, theme, chapters, scenes, action, dialogue, exposition—not to mention point of view, tense, style, tone, and voice. That’s a lot to learn.  Read More

Writing Tips: Know Your Audience

know your audience

Writing tips: know your audience.

It’s an old adage for writers: know your audience. But what does that mean? How well must we know the audience? And does knowing the audience increase our chances of getting published or selling our books?

Some writers insist that the best way to write is to just write for yourself. Sit down and let the words flow. It’s true that sometimes a freewheeling approach will result in some of your best work. And writing that way is immensely enjoyable. But there are times when a writer must take readers into consideration. Read More

Creative Writing Prompts for Movie Lovers

creative writing prompts

Creative writing prompts for movie lovers.

Today’s prompts are selected from the book 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. Enjoy!

There’s nothing quite like sitting with a room full of strangers in a darkened movie theater. The air is filled with the smell of hot, buttered popcorn. Feet shuffle, chairs creak, and you can hear ice rattling around in plastic cups. The movie’s about to start.

Even though we have unlimited access to movies from the comfort of our homes, theaters are still going strong, and for good reason. Seeing a movie in a theater is an experience.

Films have impassioned and inspired countless writers to craft poems, compose stories and songs, and write articles, essays, and even blogs. Today, let’s find out how the movies can inspire your writing. Read More

How to Write Better Stories

better stories

A few insights to help you write better stories.

You know that feeling you get when you read a novel and become completely lost in it? You can’t put it down, so you lose track of time. When you finally finish, you wish it would just keep going.

Isn’t that the kind of story you want to write?

Over the past year, I’ve read only a few books that I couldn’t put down. Unfortunately, several of the books I started to read didn’t keep my interest past the first few chapters. There was a time when I forced myself to finish every book I started, no matter how boring it was. But I don’t have time for that anymore. My book pile is big and my reading list is long, so if I’m not compelled by the time the second act gets underway, I move on and find something more intriguing.

As a reader, I’m on a perpetual quest for better stories. What does that mean for writers?  Read More

Poetry Writing Ideas and Activities

poetry writing ideas

Try something new with these poetry writing ideas and activities.

A poem can come out of nowhere and land on the page, fully formed, in just a few minutes. A poem can also be the result of hours (or weeks) of laboring over line breaks, word choices, images, and rhythm.

Poems are funny little things, appearing out of nowhere and disappearing for no apparent reason. Poets have to be diligent: be prepared when a poem arrives, and if it doesn’t, go out and chase it down.

There are many ways to write a poem, and not all of them involve sitting at a desk staring at a glaring screen or curled up in a chair with a pen and a notebook. Instead of waiting for poems to fall out of the sky, try some of these poetry writing ideas and activities.  Read More

Debunking Common Myths About Writing

myths about writing

Have you fallen for any of these myths about writing?

Myths abound in the world of the arts, and writers are not immune to them. Many of us succumb to the fallacies that are floating around about what it means to be a writer or what it takes to become a writer.

So what’s the matter with falling for myths about writing?

Myths about writing lead to unrealistic expectations. Some of us end up believing that becoming a writer is easy. Others believe it’s impossible. We think writers are poor, drunk, or living in a state of perpetual despair. After all, one must struggle to become an artist, right?

Wrong. Read More

How to Develop Better Writing Habits

writing habits

Develop better writing habits.

There’s only one way to become a better writer, and that is through lots of practice.

Some people are born with talent. Writing comes easily to them, but even the most talented writers have to work at the craft. After all, nobody’s born knowing how to write.

Fostering good writing habits accomplishes two things. First, good writing habits ensure that you write regularly, and as we all know, the only way to become a writer is to actually get the writing done. Second, by writing regularly, you get plenty of writing practice, and your work improves.

In other words, good writing habits are essential. Read More

Writing Tips: Writing is Rewriting

writing is rewriting

Writing tips: writing is rewriting. Or is it?

Those of us who spend a lot of time studying the craft of writing inevitably come across bits of writing advice that we hear over and over again: show don’t tell, write what you know, and kill your darlings. These writing tips can be a bit cryptic, but the one about revisions is crystal clear: writing is rewriting.

The intention is to get ideas out of your head and onto the page (or the screen, as the case may be) as quickly as possible without worrying about grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You don’t need to get the details right. Just get that rough draft completed. You can clean it up later.

Like most writing tips, this one is debatable. Some writers prefer to labor over each sentence while composing a first draft. This means fewer edits later. Others use the drafting process to navigate through their ideas. This often means more revisions when the drafting is done; in other words, the bulk of time is spent on rewriting. Read More

Writing Resources: Telling True Stories

Writing Resources: Telling True Stories

Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide.

Human beings are built for story.

Story is how we perceive the world around us and how we understand ourselves and other people. Through story, we learn and make connections. We use stories to map the future and study the past.

Stories are the single most effective tools for education, communication, and persuasion, which is why they are prevalent in advertising and political campaigning. Marketers know the power of story.

Stories are powerful because we see ourselves in them. We put ourselves into the stories we read and experience things we could never otherwise experience.

Put simply, stories transcend.  Read More

Poetry Prompts for Paying Tribute

poetry prompts

Poetry prompts to honor and adore loved ones.

Writers have been expressing their feelings through poetry for centuries. Rant poems release anger, melancholy poems reveal sorrow, and love poems declare affection. Some poems are meant to make readers laugh. Other poems make people think.

Tribute poems (or odes) express praise for the poem’s subject. Odes can be written to honor people, animals, objects, and abstract concepts. You can just as easily write an ode to your grandmother as you could write an ode to your imagination.

Today’s poetry prompts ask you to identify something or someone worth celebrating and then write a tributary poem honoring the subject you’ve chosen. Read More