Personal editing. Professional results.
May 14, 2021
Remove filters to get your POV closer

Some easy writing advice to follow, offered all the time, is show instead of tell. But it takes careful work to preserve the showing while you remove filter words from your writing. These are words that make a story less vivid and make the writer more obvious. You don’t want the latter to happen. We […]

Read More
December 13, 2020
Give your characters agency to drive a story

When I coach authors on their stories, I advocate the relentless use of agency for their characters. Agency is not a term that is common to writing instruction. I first heard about agency in a seminar taught by novelist Jim Shepard at the Tin House Writer's Workshop. Shepard was dynamic in those classes, teaching from […]

Read More
December 3, 2019
Open your wheelhouse: submit your requests

You might have been fortunate enough to have an agent request pages for your book. You may have taken a lot of time to make them better first. For example, if you're writing crime fiction (a mystery) you may say 1. My book is too long today 2. I don’t want my mystery to be […]

Read More
September 22, 2019
Emotions, feelings, and the differences

Dramatic writing always begs for feelings. Or is it emotions? It's actually both things, that begging. The differences tell us when to rely on each one as we create our scenes and stories. Simple enough Rage = Emotion Contempt = Feeling Feelings are emotions refined. Emotions are raw, unconsidered, sudden and unbidden. The rage boiled […]

Read More
October 16, 2018
Use the power of premise to pump your stories up

Most of us start a story with an idea. You develop it into a concept. Then you build a character to turn that concept into a premise. Secrets of church history hide in plain sight. What if the DaVinci art held the secrets? What if a professor of Renaissance art found secrets of church history […]

Read More
September 24, 2018
Backstory: A rich vein to mine when plot fails you

Plot is a means to show the journey of characters, their desires, and motivations. Backstory drives your characters. If your plot is failing you, it’s probably time to write out some backstory, even it’s only a few paragraphs on each major character. Focus on seminal experiences for each person. Backstory is the motherload of ore that gives […]

Read More
July 8, 2018
Characters can gain power from their settings

Donald Maass offers a lot of advice on writing a book that breaks out a career in Writing the Breakout Novel. In his first chapter he gives scenarios of writers with ongoing careers, already published, but sliding downward. He calls himself the agent who gets the 911 career call when the author's latest novel doesn't […]

Read More
October 3, 2017
Search and replace barrier words for POV power

Some easy writing advice to follow, offered all the time, is show instead of tell. But it takes careful work to remove showing at the same time you remove barrier words from your writing. Barrier words are ones that make a story less vivid and make the writer more obvious. You don't want the latter to happen. We […]

Read More
June 26, 2017
Writing to get into someone else's head

Malcolm Gladwell writes in What the Dog Saw, "Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on its ability to engage you, to think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head." This is true whether you write non-fiction, novels, or the blend […]

Read More
11702 Buckingham Road, Austin, TX 78759
©2021 The Writer's Workshop
Privacy Policy
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram