Category Archives: Resident Writing Coach

The Satisfaction of Excellence: The Growth Mindset for Writers

If someone had asked me in my early days as a book coach what quality was most critical to a writer’s success, I would have said perseverance. It was the thing that most obviously separated the writers who made it … Continue reading

Posted in Motivational, Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Writer's Attitude | 2 Comments

The Writer’s Spice Cabinet

Some writers object to thinking about plot and structure because it may lead to formulaic writing. They miss a critical distinction. Why does something become a formula in the first place? Because it works! Here’s a formula for an omelet: … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Dialogue, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Setting, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 6 Comments

How to Convey an Established Relationship Quickly

I was recently reading two story openings that were frankly amazing at conveying an established relationship in a matter of pages or even paragraphs. While many stories revolve around the protagonist meeting new people, such as in a typical hero’s … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Resident Writing Coach, Romance, Subtext, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 9 Comments

Writing By Design: Using Color Theory

Writing by design means using techniques from the visual arts to inspire and inform your writing. So far in this series you’ve learned how to use the constraints of space to give your story a shape. You’ve also discovered how to … Continue reading

Posted in Experiments, Reader Interest, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Writing Lessons, Writing Resources | 14 Comments

How NOT To Mess Up Your Book Series

Writing one book is hard. Writing an entire series of books, with their interconnecting subplots, arcs, and golden threads, weaving first book to last, is even harder. It’s like doing a puzzle with no opposable thumbs and a blindfold wedged … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Series | 28 Comments

Deepening Character Complexity with the Help of Psychology

Psychologists will often conduct a case formulation when a client presents in our office. If we want to be part of the change the client is seeking, then we have to have a good understanding of the client and all … Continue reading

Posted in Basic Human Needs, Character Arc, Character Flaws, Character Traits, Character Wound, Characters, Emotion, Motivation, Resident Writing Coach, Subtext, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 11 Comments

Characters in Cars Thinking, or, How to Deal with the Passage of Time

I have been seeing a lot of issues around the passage of time in the fiction I have been coaching. It isn’t the content that’s the problem. The problem has to do with the way time loops around on itself … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Deepening Our Story: Theme It Like You Mean It

Our story’s themes—our messages to readers of what to value or believe—can add depth and meaning to our writing, but to avoid being too on-the-nose, our themes are usually developed in the story’s subtext. Unfortunately, working in subtext means we … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Subtext, Theme, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 29 Comments

Garlic Breath For Writers (aka, Bad First Pages)

“If you cannot write a compelling opening scene, from the opening sentence, I’m not going to finish your proposal.” – Agent, speaking at a recent writers conference The opening page of your novel is your big introduction. It’s what an … Continue reading

Posted in Openings, Point of View, Resident Writing Coach, Show Don't Tell, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Mapping Your Story’s Setting

As writers, we do our best to know our story’s setting as intimately as we know our characters. We can visualize the buildings, rooms, and geographic landscape. Maybe we even know the climate well enough to feel its heat or … Continue reading

Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Setting, Uncategorized | 31 Comments