The foundation of your story: Plot

Plot is a complex beast. A novel has at least six layers of plot. This month, we’ll look at the outermost layer—the one-sentence summary. Why write a one-sentence summary? Because your one-sentence summary is a powerful sales tool. If you’re traditionally published, you need to sell your story seven times: You have to sell it to your …

Trust in the Magic

There’s a bit of magic that happens to all writers at one time or another. You sit down to start writing and the words aren’t coming. You keep at it for a bit, and the words still aren’t coming. You press on and on, and the words still aren’t coming. And at some point, the words start coming. The …

Ambition without Entitlement

What we see in the writings of the Stoics is that they strove to ensure that their ambition never corrupted their self-awareness. We rarely see ego and self-glorification in their pages, in fact, we usually find the opposite: meditations on how to improve, reminders that they were still human and flawed. This lack of ego was also …

Every day a little better

The knock against Seneca, even in his own time, was that he was a hypocrite. For a Stoic, he was obscenely rich. For a philosopher, he was uncomfortably close to the center of power and guilty of all the compromises such a position entails. Seneca was aware of this contradiction too. He even wrote about it. “Why …

World building and populating that world.

World-building is extremely important in three categories of fiction: science fiction fantasy historical fiction It can also be important in other categories, but world-building is most strongly associated with the above. Going Deep or Going Wide World-building is a large topic with many aspects. We’ll focus on people groups, but keep in mind that it’s not the …

One new skill

It’s remarkable how much your life can change when you add one new skill to your arsenal. Many years ago, I was working on a project at my day job and I needed to deal with a number of tables of data. Messy data that needed a fair bit of cleaning up to be useful. Too …