“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

What Most Writers Don’t Know About Screenplay Structure

What Most Writers Don't Know About Screenplay Structure

Do you struggle with screenplay structure? Especially sustaining momentum in that long second act?

When learning how to write a script, writers are overwhelmingly taught that screenplay structure is all about three acts. The problem with this three act formula, however, is that it often leads to writers running out of steam in act two as they try to fill it with “conflict.” This means act two becomes a series of disconnected events that aren’t really connected and seem to exist just for the sake of “things happening.”

This happens when screenwriters focus too much on traditional three act structure and ignore the building blocks underneath each act—sequences.

How to Write Similes That Shine

How to Write Similes that Shine

If you’re anything like me, you hope in your heart of hearts that your writing will reveal a Great Truth to your readers, that it will open a doorway to compassion and understanding that will ripple out to change the world. Ah!

The authors who have been most effective in ushering me to that doorway are those whose writing reveals connections between images, ideas, and sensations I otherwise would have missed. Like Annie Dillard’s terrific simple line: “The air bites my nose like pepper.”

How did Dillard come up with such a lively sentence, one that bridges two physical sensations (cold and biting) and scent (pepper)? And how can we play around with unlike sensations to create similes that shine?

4 Ways to Use Experience to Fuel Your Writing

The heart and soul of writing comes from experience. All of us have things in our past that have made us who we are, and should we choose to draw upon them, can fuel our writing in a powerful way.

I never shy away from an opportunity to try something new or go on an adventure. This has been the single most impactful thing for my writing.

Being a bookworm doesn’t make you a good writer, but telling your story does.

5 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Book Editor

Edit: 5 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring an Editor

You finally finished writing your book. There’s a glimmer of hope that the end is near. It’s time to pass your rough draft on to an editor to clean it up, right?

Not so fast. Have you revised it yourself yet?

What a lot of bestselling authors and writing coaches will tell you is the hard part of writing a book is not writing the book. The hard part is rewriting your book.

“Writer’s Block” Is a Lie—And It’s Ruining Your Writing

Writer's Block is a Lie

Let’s be honest. There is no such thing as Writer’s Block.

This is a phrase that we use to describe the frustrating experience of wishing to write without being able to. But there’s no such thing. We say that we have this thing called “writer’s block” and it’s the reason why we’ll never achieve our dreams. As if it’s a contracted disease. But it doesn’t exist.

What we are experiencing is the self-inflicted phenomenon of writers making choices that frequently lead to failure. And knowing that writer’s block is a myth is exactly what you need to beat it.

How to Write a Story Without an Outline

How to Write a Story Without an Outline

I have been opposed to outlining since childhood. I distinctly remember a time in middle school when I was required to write essays and turn in my outline as well. I couldn’t do it.

The necessity of the outline had a paralyzing effect on me—I couldn’t write anything if I had to know everything I was going to write beforehand. I took bad grades on good essays because I refused to do the outline. (To me, that’s like taking points off a bicyclist at the Tour de France for not using training wheels, but my teacher didn’t see it that way.)

I know many writers who say they can’t write without an outline. While it can help people organize their thoughts, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for anyone.

Use this One and “Only” Hack and Never Confuse Your Readers Again

Both/and, either/or: Use This One and "Only" Hack and Never Confuse Your Readers Again

I’m pretty confident most of you know how to write a decent sentence: subject–predicate, noun–verb. However, when it comes to getting fancy, ambiguity can happen. And you can confuse your readers to boot.

Let’s take “only,” “both . . . and,” and “either . . . or,” for example. Where do you put them? And why does it matter?

7 Easy Ways to Connect with Readers

Audience Engagement: 7 Easy Ways to Connect with Readers

Why do readers suddenly have the attention spans of gnats?

It’s easy to blame writers and suggest their quality of work has declined, but I contend there’s a growing evil sucking attention away from the page. This villain takes many forms.

I hold responsible the brilliant innovators, creators and storytellers of our generation for producing the most competitive market place for readers’ attention that the world’s ever seen. Fewer and fewer people can make it through an entire page before departing and plugging back into their easy-to-consume content outlets.

This new reality means you must write smarter than ever to seize attention and audience engagement. You must be calculated in how you connect with readers.

Here’s What Writers Really Do

Whenever someone asks me what I do, I always say the same thing: “I’m a writer.” It’s what we all say.

It’s a simple statement, the typical one-word description of who we are and what we do. But for me, the word “writer,” by itself, just doesn’t do it justice. The dictionary definition of a writer is “A person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.” True? Yes. Basically, to the rest of the world, what we do? Yes.

But that definition still isn’t complete. The truth is, we’re much more than writers.

What to Do When Your Writing Process Fails You

Writing Process: When Writing Is the Worst Thing in the World

When Joe Bunting invited me to contribute a guest blog post to The Write Practice, I was thrilled. After all, this is a thriving community of dedicated writers hungry for craft discussion. It’s a writing coach’s dream come true. What is not a dream, however, what is in fact a writer’s worst nightmare, is when your creativity fails to flow, when despite your best efforts the words fail to come.

When your tried-and-true writing process fails you.

What do we do when our writing practice unexpectedly goes off the rails? When writing feels like the worst thing in the world?