Writing Advice

New England

My wife, Sharman, and I recently traveled north to New England for a three-day writer’s retreat that was held in the idyllic town of Lenox, Massachusetts. Our drive from home led us up the Hudson Valley and into the Berkshire Mountains where the trees displayed an extravaganza of fall color. Our road ended at a beautifully restored, 130-year-old mansion that now serves as an inn. It was the perfect setting for a writing retreat. Designed to improve our skills as novelists, the workshop provided us techniques to organize our massive stories into small, workable parts. During our sessions, we worked on defining the protagonist’s big problem, creating characters with depth and building the story foundation. This was all invaluable information designed to help us craft… Read More

Writing Confidence

Keep up your writing confidence. It’s one of the toughest hurdles in getting published, and it doesn’t even involve writing at all: waiting. Upon sending your query letter or manuscript to agents or publishers, the writer’s life soon becomes a lesson in patience. Maybe you’ve waited for a response—any response—for what feels like ages. Or perhaps you’ve already gotten dispiriting feedback: “This isn’t our fit, but we wish you the best of luck.” This tedious stage can push even the most passionate of writers to the brink of frustration. I’ve seen plenty of authors doubt themselves, and even lose confidence in their goal or abandon hope entirely. It is possible to soldier on without getting down on yourself. The key is reorienting your viewpoint. Follow these five… Read More

3 Mistakes when Writing Flashbacks

When writing flashbacks, a well-crafted, vivid one can have powerful impact on a story. In Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, her flashbacks offer poignant windows into her internal struggle. They explain why she embarks on a journey to begin with. In the film Slumdog Millionaire, flashbacks of the protagonist’s impoverished past inform and ramp up the tension of the game show at present. In The Godfather: Part II, the juxtaposition between the early 1900s and the 1950s creates a fascinating, dramatic parallel between the mirroring ascents of father and son. When used wisely, a flashback can bring a lot to your novel: boost emotional resonance, infuse richness, and add essential depth. However, flashbacks are so tricky to get right that I know some editors or writing… Read More