How to Write Good Books

how to write good booksWe’re all influenced by the world around us. Natalie Goldberg’s quote on reading good books is a reminder that whatever we take in will affect whatever we put out:

“If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.”

I believe this is a truth that goes beyond writing. When we surround ourselves with positive, supportive people, we in turn become more positive and supportive, fostering a nurturing environment that is conductive to achieving our fullest potential — as writers and as human beings. Read More

12 Gifts and Goodies for Writers

gifts for writers

Check out these gifts and goodies for writers.

All around the world, we have officially entered the holiday season. It’s a time for giving thanks, enjoying the company of loved ones, and gorging on scrumptious feasts. It’s also a time of giving.

While I have mixed feelings about the unbridled consumption that pervades America at this time of year, I also have a deep affinity for the act of giving. It’s not unusual for me to spend hours choosing the perfect gifts for loved ones. In fact, I started my holiday shopping several weeks ago, so I would have plenty of time to make my selections.

I’m also a firm believer that during this time of year, when we look outward and offer gifts to the most important people in our lives, we should also be generous with ourselves. Read More

Thought-Provoking Creative Writing Prompts

creative writing prompts

Creative writing prompts designed to make you think!

Today’s post includes prompts from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. Enjoy!

Writing is a tool we can use to express ourselves or share our ideas. But it can also be used to help us think.

Writing forces us to articulate our thoughts and ideas, which in turn forces us to scrutinize our thinking. Tackling complex issues and dynamic questions with writing is an excellent way to sharpen our critical thinking skills, clarify our thought processes, and challenge our views.

Today’s creative writing prompts are designed to provoke deeper thinking. Are you willing to take up the challenge? Read More

Journal Writing Tips: Daily Gratitudes

writing ideas gratitude

Be grateful and you’ll never run out of writing ideas.

You might call your journal a notebook or diary. It’s the handy place where you store your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and your work, either on paper or in an electronic file.

A journal is an ongoing log, usually with dated entries. Some journals are topical (dream journals, travel journals, freewriting journals), while others are left open to explore just about anything. Read More

Fiction Writing Exercises for Creating Characters

fiction writing exercises

Create characters with these fiction writing exercises.

Whenever I’m working on a story idea, I spend a lot of time during the development stages making character sketches and writing backstories for my characters. I usually end up with too many of them, so some characters get cut. The lucky ones get resurrected in some other story.

Some of my favorite stories are plot-driven, but character-driven stories tend to resonate with me on a deeper level, which is why I believe that regardless of plot, stories with strong and compelling character arcs are the best. They start with a character who wants something, and we see the character through conflict after conflict until he or she emerges changed, usually stronger and for the better. Read More

Ten Grammar Rules Every Writer Should Know

grammar rules

Some of the most overlooked grammar rules and best writing practices.

The more experience I gain as a writer, the more I’m convinced that writing is one of the most difficult skills to master.

It’s not enough to tell a great story, share an original idea, or create an intriguing poem; writers are also obligated to pay diligence to the craft. While the content (or message) of our writing is paramount, the way we use language can be just as critical. Read More

What is the Theme of a Story?

What is the theme of a story

What is the theme of a story?

Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter four: “Theme.” Enjoy!

What is the Theme of a Story?

Theme is one of the most difficult story elements to understand. Often confused with plot, theme is actually a worldview, philosophy, message, moral, ethical question, or lesson. However, these labels, taken alone or together, don’t quite explain theme in fiction. Read More

How to Harvest Creative Writing Ideas from the News

writing ideas

The news is a great source of writing ideas.

Creative people are always looking for inspiration, and writers are no exception.

We look to the people in our lives, to nature, and to the books, music, and films that we love. We call on our muses, we doodle, and we daydream. We record our dreams, meditate, and contemplate. And we do all these things in an attempt to find breakthrough creative writing ideas.

But we really need look no further than our local news stand, where creative writing ideas are aplenty.

Open up a newspaper, turn on the news, or surf over to your favorite news website. Guess what you’ll find? Stories. Lots and lots of stories. And lots of writing ideas. Read More

Get Creative By Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

get creative

Get creative by getting out of your comfort zone.

How comfortable are you with your writing?

Many writers specialize in a genre or niche. Creative writers are focused on fiction or poetry, copywriters specialize in marketing, and technical writers are bound by jargon and code that other writers might find impossible to decipher.

Sure, some of us explore various types of writing, but how deeply are we willing to immerse ourselves into unfamiliar waters?

A novelist might dip her toes in copywriting. A copywriter might wade in children’s literature. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dive into a completely new form of writing or what it would be like to explore a form you’ve only tested? Are you willing to challenge yourself and get creative by trying something new? Read More

10 Reasons Writers Should Master Grammar

good grammar

Should you learn good grammar?

Each writer has a different perspective on how accurate grammar needs to be.

Some are sticklers who insist on adhering to the highest standards of the literary order. Others are comfortable taking creative liberties and believe that breaking the rules is an art unto itself and a practice that should be embraced.

Me? I’m somewhere in the middle. I believe that a writer who is dedicated to the craft will take the time and invest the energy required to master the most basic tools, grammar being foremost among them. But I also believe there are situations in which it’s best to break the rules — as long as you know which rules you’re breaking and why. Read More