About Jan O'Hara

Jan O'Hara left her writing dreams behind for years to practice family medicine, but has found her way back to the world of fiction. Currently the voice of the Unpublished Writer here at Writer Unboxed, she hopes one day soon to become unqualified for the position.

Recent Posts by this author:

  • Bring Out Your Story Scalpels
  • A Call to Pens–Writer as Social Activist
  • Lean Writer, Fat Word Count? Engineering Your Environment for Default Success
  • Confessions of a Serial Non-finisher
  • Navy Commander Rick Campbell Makes Waves by Penning Military Thrillers
  • Should You Set Limits with Your Readers?
  • Minimalism When Writing Fiction
  • Lessons from the UnCon: I Surrender. I’m Finally Ready to Be Naked
  • Deconstructing Micro-Tension
  • Wanted: Grim Reaper As Writing Coach
  • C-c-considering Cadence: Understanding One Quality of Voice
  • Because Size Matters: McKee’s Four Tips on Writing a Big Story

  • Bring Out Your Story Scalpels

    During the 2014 Writer Unboxed Unconference, Donald Maass riveted his workshop participants by describing one scene contained within a breakout novel. In it, a family physician—a man who swore the Hippocratic Oath and spent his life tending to the citizens of his small town—is brought the corpse of a probable murder victim. His response? Rather […]

    A Call to Pens–Writer as Social Activist

    In the back yard of a Canadian middle-class home, a ten-year-old child plays with his neighbor while the supervising adult works in the garden. “What are those?” the visitor asks, pointing to freshly unearthed carrots, their ragged tops still attached. He’s an accomplished eater of store-prepared vegetable trays, with their polished and uniformly rounded “baby” […]

    Lean Writer, Fat Word Count? Engineering Your Environment for Default Success

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a good premise must be in want of a functioning brain with which to execute it. Said brain is best nourished by blood pumped by a healthy heart contained within a healthy body, yes? Unfortunately, we Westerners live in an environment which discourages […]

    Confessions of a Serial Non-finisher

    I’ve been telling myself that no one wants to read a heavy-duty confession on a Monday morning. But since this is when my WU slot arises and since my brain refuses to cough up an alternate subject for a post, it appears we’re stuck with seeing this through. You ready? *deep breath* Hi. My name […]

    Navy Commander Rick Campbell Makes Waves by Penning Military Thrillers

    Unboxeders, I hope you’ll join me today in welcoming retired Navy Commander Rick Campbell to Writer Unboxed for a brief interview about his writing. For more than twenty-five years, as we slept on pillow-topped queen-sized mattresses, he claimed a rack aboard one of four nuclear submarines, working to keep us safe. On his last submarine, […]

    Should You Set Limits with Your Readers?

    A few years ago, it seemed like you couldn’t swing a deceased feline without hitting an author in the grip of a meltdown. Even if the conflict was minor, once it became public, the internet’s retribution often turned malignant. Virtual mobs would descend upon the author’s blog, clotting the comment section with hostility. Their fiction […]

    Minimalism When Writing Fiction

    On an evening in July 2014, along with my brother and another hundred perspiring attendees, I crowded into one of the few remaining indie bookstores in my hometown. We weren’t there for a rock star novelist, I’m sorry to say, but rather for two non-fiction writers. I’d been reading their blog for a few months […]

    Lessons from the UnCon: I Surrender. I’m Finally Ready to Be Naked

    If you attended the inaugural UnCon in Salem, this post is an attempt to recreate a bit of its inherent magic. If you couldn’t attend, this is one explanation of why you’ll read reviews like this paraphrased quote: “What have you people done to me? I’m forever changed and so is my writing.”  Several decades […]

    Deconstructing Micro-Tension

    If you had to guess, what portion of the hundred-thousand-mile journey to basic fiction-writing competence would belong to the pursuit and mastery of micro-tension? Ten percent? Thirty? I personally don’t have a clue, yet I’ve been persuaded of its necessity since first being introduced to the concept by WU’s Donald Maass. Accordingly, I’ve done my […]

    C-c-considering Cadence: Understanding One Quality of Voice

    The Oxford Dictionary defines cadence as “a modulation or inflection of the voice, a rhythmical effect in written text, a fall in pitch of the voice at the end of a phrase or sentence” or simply as “rhythm”. For purposes of discussion today, I have a brief illustration of how it can affect reader experience. Consider the following […]