Ophelia by Alexandre Cabanel
By Belle Brett
For those of us without many writing credits to our name and audacious enough to attempt longer-length fiction, the mantel of “writer” is heavy and may be hard to own completely once we stick our toes into the competitive world of publishing.
I felt more like a writer when I was working on the early drafts of my novel than I did after the tenth draft. Everything seemed possible then. I took classes and went to writers’ conferences. I looked forward to writing. As I took my morning shower, ideas would bubble up about how to revise a scene or beef up the plot. (Of course, I fantasized about the book tours, the inevitable movie that would follow, the minor celebrity status, but those weren’t the real motivators.) Read More →
By Kelly Robertson
This is what I did this weekend: walked the dogs into Harvard Square, cleaned up my kitchen, shopped on Newbury St., read the Sunday New York Times, watched the first three episodes of Orange is the New Black, and booked a B&B for Zoe’s birthday. It was a completely unremarkable weekend unless you know that Zoe is a dog.
I reveled in the ordinariness of the tasks since I hadn’t done anything so blessedly mundane in quite some time. Since June, I have been enrolled in Grub Street’s Novel Incubator, an intense, graduate-level program focused on the novel. The workload has been challenging, more so than either of my masters’ degrees, maybe even more so than studying for the CPA exam (back in the day when you had to take all four parts at once). Since last February when I applied then got accepted and started the program, everything became about the book. Slowly, non-writing things fell to the side, household chores, cleaning out the garage, training the puppy, cooking. (I went out every night in January. It gets old. Really.) Weekends were spent in libraries and coffee shops. Trips to the movies or away for the weekend weren’t even discussed. Netflix – cancelled. The New York Times – suspended. Unread novels piled up on shelves and tables (along with a whole mess of paper and items that are still mostly in a heap). I had to minimize distractions, or more appropriately, I had to minimize any excuse to procrastinate. Read More →
Theatrical release poster
By Jerry Whelan
Catching up on the movies I missed last year slaving over my novel draft, last night I watched Silver Linings Playbook. The film is about a young man, Pat Solitano, from a working class Italian family in north Philadelphia, who returns to his parents’ house after treatment for bi-polar disorder and “anger management” issues, i.e., an inclination to throw violent nutties. The “inciting incident,” of the protagonist’s narrative arc is the moment (shown in rapid-fire flashback) when Pat, at the time working as a substitute teacher in the local high school, finds his wife getting it on in the shower with the balding history teacher of the same school. Pat (Bradley Cooper) throttles the horny pedagogue, nearly strangling him with the metal shower hose and earning himself eight months in a Baltimore mental hospital. Read More →
Pictured: Martin McKissack, monkey detective and Elliot Ellsworth, attorney for the indigent.
By Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Back when my children were babies, they got to an age where people suggested a “lovey,” a transitional object, meant to give the little guys something to snuggle with that isn’t my husband, me, or more accurately, my boobs. Often, loveys are small blankets, but since everyone spends the first year yelling about how you shouldn’t put blankets in your baby’s crib so they don’t suffocate, it seemed odd to me to put a blanket that was the exact size of a baby’s head in there. So, I gave my kids small knitted animals – for my daughter, an elephant named Elliot Ellsworth, attorney for the indigent, and for my son, Martin McKissack, monkey detective. (In case it’s not obvious, that’s another story, one I’m “working” on.) Read More →
By Stephanie Gayle
Nothing makes me stop reading a novel faster than a poorly realized protagonist. Why? Because that character is the guide to a new world, and if he lacks credibility the whole story does too. Below, I have listed some examples of sins against characters. Blessed be the writers who avoid them.
By Carol D. Gray
If you are one of those lucky writers who work best at home, God Bless, you can stop reading right here. But if you’re like me and have finally accepted the fact that you write poorly at home, read on.
Every serious out-of-the-house writer needs a coffee cluster — a minimum of three, but preferably four, cafes, all of which welcome writers and are within a short walk of one another. Of course, some out-of-the-house writers will think this is crazy. They like their café. They’ve been going there for years – they’re written a whole novel in that spot for heaven’s sake. A coffee cluster is just nonsense. More power to these people, I say.
But to those of you who might be on the fence, here are the top ten reasons why a coffee cluster can be a writer’s best friend. Read More →
Go Figure: Musings from the Mind of Rob Wilstein
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By Jack Ferris
Here are four things you notice while revising. Maybe not the top four things, but definitely up there somewhere. In the top twenty. Based on a metric I made up just now and will not share.
1. You use the same verbs over and over ad nauseum.
“Hey, Carl,” said Lenny. “You keeping warm?” He laughed.
Carl laughed. “Trying to.”
“Yeah,” Lenny laughed. “I hear ya.”
These names were totally stolen from the Simpsons.
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By Belle Brett
For those of you who read my October 10, 2013 entry (“Purposeful Hoarding”), you will know of my penchant for hanging onto things (not so much balls of string as the archives of my life.) Somewhere in a box (probably several) up in the attic, I have every letter that was every written to me. Remember when people used to write actual letters? But, of course, that isn’t all, as you learned. I have souvenirs and objects that cover my entire history—playbills, work records, buttons and badges, an English teddy bear, an old Catholic school religious text. (Disclaimer: I am not Catholic but went to a Catholic school for first through third grades). It doesn’t help that I also inherited the archives from my deceased parents and sister, I haven’t moved in 18 years and didn’t have time to pare down my possessions before that move, and I live in a large house with ample storage space both in my dusty attic and my humid basement. Read More →