Archive for the 'CRAFT' Category

When ‘There Are No Words,’ I Can’t Even

The Torre Uluzzo near Lecce, Salento, Italy. Image – iStockphoto: Piccerella

‘What This Loss of a Language Means’

“I can’t even.”

You know the phrase, right? Another day, another pop-media whine. “I can’t even” is credited to the bloggrs of Tumblr, who apparently can’t even find it in their hearts to give us an “e” before an “r.”

Call me Portr. I am so hip that I can’t even.

While basking in my coolnees, let’s face it. “I can’t even” is easily as insignificant […]

Creating Unforgettable Characters

Flickr Creative Commons: Grace Commons

I’m fascinated by personality tests, you know, the kind you run across all the time online or in magazines. I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test twice (I’m an INFJ), the Keirsey Temperament Test (also an INFJ) and studied the Enneagram (I’m a 2). And while all of this is fodder for good cocktail party conversation and self-analysis, one of the biggest benefits of thinking about personality types is the way it’s helped me create characters in […]

What Media Do You Study for Storytelling?

photo by Francois de Halleux

Every year or so, I re-read Stephen King’s The Stand and Bag of Bones. King may not be master wordsmith or inspiration by your reckoning, but he is by mine. I love those books.

I don’t read these novels for enjoyment anymore, however; I read them to study King’s storytelling. King’s earthy writing style, memorable characters and pacing deeply resonate with me. Whenever I revisit those books, I’m reminded of why I love them […]

The Things We Carry

photo by Alice Popkorn

Recently, as I was preparing for my Mortal Heart book tour, I found myself in a logistical flurry trying to pack ten days’ worth of clothes and personal items into one carry on. There was the big, obvious stuff;  four pairs of pants, eight shirts, ten pairs of socks, under duds, toiletries, iPad, reading material, pens, etc. However, there were also some rather unique items. Like the veritable cobbler’s bench worth of extra insoles, arch supports, […]

Be Like Ludwig

I make this same face when someone interrupts my writing or when I am not getting enough fiber in my diet.

A few weeks ago, a friend was talking about a Leonard Bernstein Omnibus lecture, the one in which Bernstein discusses the power and beauty of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Three Gs and an E flat. Bah Bah Bah BAAAH. Bah bah bah BAAAH.

Bernstein sits down at a piano and plays those four notes, explaining that while they are the theme around which Beethoven […]

Even More New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

Two years ago I posted a set of New Year’s resolutions for writers, which was well enough received that I posted another set of resolutions the following December. This holiday season, since I’m all about tradition (as opposed to being all about that bass), I’ve assembled several more resolutions for writers to consider as the new year approaches.

Some of the resolutions I’m proposing might initially seem to be in conflict with each other, but if you read on, I think […]

5 Writing Lessons from a Vocal Coach

By Boris Mann

Our guest today is Kathryn Craft. Kathryn is the author of two novels from Sourcebooks: The Art of Falling (book trailer) and The Far End of Happy, due May 2015. Her work as a developmental editor at, specializing in storytelling structure and writing craft, follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she now serves as book club liaison for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She hosts […]

What Dungeons and Dragons Taught Me About Story Conflict

photo by Benny Mazur

Today’s guest is aspiring novelist Lancelot Schaubert. Lance has sold work to markets like McSweeney’s, Poker Pro, Scars, Encounter, Brink, and many others. He wrote, produced, and directed Cold Brewed which reinvented the photonovel. Currently, he’s finishing his first novel in between large batches of various soups (today’s soup, for the curious among us, is white chili).

His essay for WU, which draws comparisons between conflict in novels and in the roll-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, will speak to your […]

The Trouble with Frosting

Confession: This is a recycled post. I wrote this in 2006 — the first year of WU’s existence, before my debut novel was finished, picked up by an agent, and sold. Before my second novel was even imagined. But recently the dangers of polishing a manuscript prematurely came up in conversation, and I thought it might be time to revisit this spin. And this photo.


In honor of The Moon Sisters being named a Best Book of 2014 by Library […]

Deadline Craziness

OK, I confess, this month I am not posting a well-thought-out piece of wisdom on the writer’s craft. Instead I’m flailing around the night before my post is due, trying to string together something meaningful. I thought of asking Harry to write this for me, as he’s provided a WU post before on the vexed topic of deadlines, and how the life of a writer’s dog becomes less comfortable the closer they get. But for reasons given below, Harry isn’t […]

Plotting the Non-Plot-Driven Novel

Have you ever grown impatient with a novel?  Have you ever restlessly flipped ahead wishing that something would happen?  Of course.  It’s a common feeling.  Put politely, you feel frustrated.  Put plainly, you’re bored.

Perhaps your own current manuscript has also had you feeling, at times, impatient.  Have you struggled to find a way to make things happen?  Do you sense that the inner state of your main character is significant, but that it isn’t turning into events dramatic enough?  Do […]

Are There Any Original Stories Left?

Therese here to officially introduce you to our newest regular contributor: Cathy Yardley! Cathy is the author of eighteen novels, published with houses such as St. Martin’s and Avon, as well as her self-published Rock Your Writing series. She’s also a developmental editor and writing coach, helping authors complete, revise, and get their stories published. Please join me in welcoming her to WU!

 “Everything’s been done already. Why am I even bothering?”

Photo by Scott Liddell

I hear this from writers all the […]