Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Stress-Free Writer

C'mon...who're we kidding. Any creative writing endeavor is a breeding ground for stress and anxiety. Trying to fill that blank screen (or page for you typists out there) is sometimes so overwhelmingly daunting that you're left sitting and staring, your jaw slacked open, fingers drumming the desk to summon the Great Spirit of Writing to send you a sign.

More commonly known as "writer's block", this condition (much like the hiccups) has many reported cures. Personally, a walk around the block in really cold weather does wonders, but in case you don't have access to a block or cold weather, try some of the exercises at Language Is A Virus. Here are a few choice nuggets:
  • Using phrases relating to one subject or idea, write about another, pushing metaphor and simile as far as you can. For example, use science terms to write about childhood or philosophic language to describe a shirt.
  • Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already existing work.
There are a lot of other goodies there, including some online writer's block toys (cut-up and slice-n-dice generators) and some insight from some of the greats. (mostly the Beats; Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, et al)

Check it out and free your mind!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ten Rules for Suspense

Over at, Brian Garfield's ten rules for writing suspense fiction lay it all out for you. This is the list John Grisham credited with helping him craft his first bestseller, The Firm.

Here's a few to wet your whistle:
  • Start with action; explain it later.
  • Give the protagonist a personal stake.
  • Give the protagonist a tight time limit, and then shorten it.
These are excellent guidelines and a must for any writer -- novelist or screenwriter.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This American Podcast

I know this is old news, but it gave me an excuse to post to my sorely neglected blog, so there ya go.

One of my favorite shows on NPR, This American Life, is now available as a podcast. Each week, the show features fantastic stories tied together by a common theme. And each week I listen, at least one of those stories makes me say to myself, "Wow! This would make a great movie!"

Check it out on iTunes!