Conflict a copout?

I've been working on a short story recently. Unlike most of what I've been writing the last few years, it's solid realism. I didn't expect this to make it a particular challenge for me, but as I have been slogging my way through outlines, a first draft of one-and-a-quarter scenes, doubt has besieged me of... Continue Reading →

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Mystery drives good storytelling, not conflict.

For some time I've been curious about the idea so prevalent in modern Western literature that a central conflict is indispensable to effective storytelling. In my own writing, sure there's conflict, and when I read, clearly it abounds. But is conflict really the core of it? Is conflict really what's making the story engaging? The... Continue Reading →

Efficient revising: what order is best?

The four faces of revising. Yesterday, I completed a first draft of rewrites to my novel manuscript. It's been three months since I began, thirteen chapters of new material, and copious reworking of the existing. It's a celebration, to be sure, and I'm content to bask in the glory of a milestone passed for a... Continue Reading →

Put your descriptive writing to work!

A few years ago I found myself in a one-day writing workshop, examining all fiction in terms of three elements: character, conflict, and description. The idea that every sentence we write is primarily serving one of these functions is perhaps reductive, but it can also help us tease out why a passage is not working,... Continue Reading →

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