Plot & Structure Exercise 6: an Honest Look

How could I not? I read chapter 2 of Mr Bell’s Plot book through the lens of my last novel. Why? Because I wrote They Lived They Were with plot squarely in mind. At first I wrote freely, as I tend to do. But later, every editing decision, every scene […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 3: Quick and Dirty

Today’s exercise calls for four lines, one for each of the LOCK element, on your next novel. Well, well! I do have a next novel idea, which I really (really) want to be plotty. Like I might as well get the thing down pat. Butterflies, remember? Gossamer wings. Plot of […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 2: Lock and Load

This exercise builds off another idea from chapter one of Mr Bell’s simple and clean book on training your plot muscles. Essentially, the structure of our favorite books boils down to this acronym:   L.O.C.K.   In pieces, Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout. Acronyms are sexy, we must admit, and choice […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 1: Get Motivated

The first book in the semester of Plot will be James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. With a name like that, how could you go wrong? Not his, although it does reminds me of one of my favorite professors in college, Susan Bell . . . nevertheless, just for bibliography’s […]

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A Semester of Plot: a preamble

Has it ever happened to you where you get the same message three different times, in three different ways? Your stomach growls, you’re hungry. But it’s better to save money, hold off until dinner. And then you see an ad on your computer for ice cream. No, you say. Then […]

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words

“Aglet”: or stories of vocab

The guitar player strums or picks. The turtle does not scuttle or bumble. The sink drips, while the sirens . . . the sirens . . . holler? Hoot? Sound off?! What describes the sound a siren makes? It’s important to have the right vocabulary, especially when communicating important things […]

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how I create characters

How I Create Characters

Let’s assume I’m this world-renowned author, with aspiring writers from around the world flocking to me for advice. I have this wild, white beard from years of paying attention to other people, a colorful yet tasteful garb over my head to prevent ideas from spilling out, and a voice as […]

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poetic speech

Food, enstranged

Have you ever wondered what makes a great piece of literature? Theorist Viktor Shlovsky believed that what a good story was was this, one that sticks around, plays with us, remains. However, to achieve that “long-lasting effect” in a work of art takes a specific set of devices. Like poetic […]

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air travel airplane

What’s next? An announcement, pronouncement.

Ladies and Gentlemen,   Thank you for visiting this page. Some of you will notice there has been some inactivity as a result of one’s being inactive inactively for a minute here on this blog, yup me, allowing the days to produce only a lack of content, let’s just say. […]

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Etimología 2 – el señor agá

∀ “El Cid” Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar   Nada, solamente un conjunto de nuevas palabras, un acervo de curiosidades, un acuerdo entre poetas, el ágape de anónimos, un afaníptero agobiado, y a esto vamos: ¿quien podrá componer un poema, un poema con estas palabritas?   Acervo – (un conjunto de […]

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Etimología – 1 (Lavar mi castellano)

∀ (Imagine: Bueyes del sol)   Quiero compartir esta próxima fase de mi aprendizaje con usted: una serie de ejercicios sobre la etimología castellana. Viene, en gran parte, o mejor dicho por una parte, a través de un libro llamado Breve Diccionario Etimológico de la Lengua Castellana, compuesta por Joan […]

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Write a monologue that feels rhythmically right

(Art by Cosimo Miorelli, for Bloomsday 2015)   Ok, so, this is the third and final Charles Johnson exercise (I must confess, the last three exercises have all been from page 37 of The Way of the Writer, which I finished yesterday).   (3) Write a monologue of at least […]

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Describe a Character With Focus on Vowels and Consonants

(Art by Dana Cooper) Today’s exercise again comes from Charles Johnson‘s book, The Way of the Writer, where he credits much of his early development to his late mentor John Gardner:   Describe a character in a brief passage (one or two pages) using mostly long vowels and soft consonants […]

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Write one sentence describing a single emotion for a whole page

Today’s writing exercise comes from Charles Johnson, a National Book Award winner, and author of the novel Middle Passage, the short story collection The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and the graphic novel Shall I Rise–just to name a few publications from his almost fifty years of writing and scholarship. He was the […]

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Avoid Editing while you Write, and Writing while you Edit

There are as many methods of producing great literature as there are pens. Nevertheless, one way of sabotaging our output as writers is to criticize before we’ve concluded our daily production of words. When you are writing, write. When you are editing, edit. Both are as essential to great work […]

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