Tag Archive 'Writer Unboxed'

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 […]

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 […]

“Visionaries on the Decks”: Storytelling

  “To Declare Your Story’s Intent” There are things important to you. You hurt. You know stuff. I don’t. You see things that I cannot…You have everything you need, including the courage to declare your story’s intent. — Donald Maass, Writing 21st Century Fiction Not for nothing am I looking forward to the November 3-7 […]

All Hail Dilemmas: Why Your Characters Need to Make Tough Choices

Last month I began a series on story lessons learned or refined during my multi-day Story seminar with Robert McKee. (It was fantastic. If you get a chance to attend, I highly recommend it.) The first post was about cultivating the gap between reality and expectation, or Turning Points. This month, I wanted to talk […]

Cultivate the Gap and Watch Your Readers’ Eyebrows Bounce

When my youngest was a wee lad, there was a period when I knew I was failing him as a parent. Day after day, from the moment I woke him up to take him to the sitter’s until I tucked him into bed (for the last time), we were locked in one power struggle after […]

Sir Hugh and the Snail

When Mollusks Attack We don’t know why images of armed knights fighting snails are common in 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts.  Through a tweet from one of my favorite authors, William Gibson, I found my way to a post by Sarah J. Biggs at the British Library. “One of our post-medieval colleagues noticed a painting of […]

To the Disconsolate Writer Who Hates Her Pace

From an anonymous email: Dear Jan: I’ve seen you describe yourself as a slow writer. I am one also, and it makes me discouraged to the point I’ve considered quitting. Do you have any advice? Ah, yes. Speed-of-sloth is the precise phrase I use, and while at one point it was a way of laughing […]

Scale: That All the Books Should Be Counted

  Caesar Augustus: All Is Forgiven And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. Luke 2:1, King James Version, New Testament That glow on the faces of so many of us Protestant ministers’ children this time of year is […]

Be Bigger Than Chickens: an Interview with Joshilyn Jackson

I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill […]

Leveling Up: In Praise of Writer Dads

  According to my kids I’m “funny a lot” and make them laugh. I’m a goofball. My wife says I’m excited because I have my perfect audience right now. I’m yucking it up for all I can get, because I know that shit’ll evaporate come twelve or thirteen. Hopefully by then they’ll like video games, […]