Defeating Amateurism: (Guest Muse, Robert Penn Warren)

Story Analysts, such as myself, often use the work "amateur" when writing about or discussing scripts. "This reads like an amateur script..." Or, "Such-and-such is clearly an amateur writer." So, do we mean this in the pejorative sense? Generally, yes. Is that fair? Probably not. While "amateur" can mean someone who isn't getting paid to … Continue reading Defeating Amateurism: (Guest Muse, Robert Penn Warren)

Banality Buster: The Paragraph First Sentence Test

Have you written a scene so banal you wanted to back it with violins and put it into an awareness campaign for impoverished fiction? A No answer to this question is as reasonable as a Yes answer because banality creeps, sneaks and steals into our writing on calm, cool, and laid-back feet. Banality is natural, common, … Continue reading Banality Buster: The Paragraph First Sentence Test

Putting the Story on the Road: The Profluent Expository Paragraph

  The most effective way to understand the profluent expository paragraph is to contrast it to the simple expository paragraph. The simple expository paragraph presents information that raises story expectations but does not initiate story momentum. It’s like a fish bowl filled with fish. Though it may contain action, its action does not trigger reactions … Continue reading Putting the Story on the Road: The Profluent Expository Paragraph

Superstar Paragraphs: the simple expository and the simple action

Thanks to a host of sentence enthusiasts—my favorites: John Gardner, Virginia Tufte, Stanly Fish and Constance Hale—the syntax unsavy can learn to structure simple, complex, compound, periodic, forward-leaning, subordinating, additive and other sentence forms. Good prose and best-selling fiction cannot be created without them. Good paragraphs, like good sentences, also have identifiable forms and functions. … Continue reading Superstar Paragraphs: the simple expository and the simple action

Risky Business: The As Clause Revisited

“A complex sentence has an internal dynamic: the clauses have a distinct relationship to each other and allow us to emphasize the relationship of ideas.” (Constance Hale, Sin and Syntax, Three Rivers Press, 1999, 2013) For the week of March 18-24, 2015, fifteen of the first 34 submissions to the online critique group, Critique Circle, … Continue reading Risky Business: The As Clause Revisited

In praise of craft, craft books and the writers who write them

All those craft books. A waste of time? Can anyone—regardless of teaching credentials or editorial experience or millions in books sales—teach me something about writing that I can’t learn just by writing? For the first few years in which I, nailed to the mast of my internal resources, sought the snowy whale of Writing Fiction Well—emphasis on … Continue reading In praise of craft, craft books and the writers who write them