Music vs. Silence: Does Listening to Music Get in the Way of Writing?

by Marylee MacDonald, September 14, 2017 in For Beginning Writers, Learn How to Write

Does music help you write, or does it get in the way? Music has the power to stop the chatter in our heads, and it can shift our mood. Because music opens us to feelings, listening to it can help us get into that zone of deep concentration from which inspired work arises. But, music can […]

Are You Puzzled By How Goodreads Wants You to Post Reviews?

by Marylee MacDonald, September 7, 2017 in For Readers, For Writers Who Need Readers

Most people can figure out how to post reviews on Amazon, but if you’re an author, you also want your readers to post reviews to Goodreads. When I’ve asked folks to do that, I’ve been surprised by the number who said they couldn’t figure out where to click or how to save. Here’s a link […]

Rejection: Why Actors Expect It And You Should, Too

by Marylee MacDonald, August 31, 2017 in For Beginning Writers, For Writers Who Need Readers

When we begin writing, we’re in touch with our deepest and most creative selves. It’s joyful. It’s fun. We’re walking the tightrope of success–and in constant danger of falling off. Those falls come from rejection. But rejection also brings many positives: life lessons about balance, reframing, and disaster preparedness. In this post I’m going to […]

5 Reasons Agents Take A Pass (And How to Get Publishers Anyway)

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Agents guard the gateway to the “Big 5” New York publishers. Known as “trade book publishers,” all five have the ability to get books reviewed by the few remaining newspapers that do book reviews, such as The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. They have marketing departments to coordinate an author’s book launch. First, […]

Online Classes in Novel Writing

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, Learn How to Write

Online classes teach you how to write. In a previous post I talked about how MOOCs make it possible for any aspiring writer to learn the basics of fiction. This week I’m sharing some more places writers can get help. These online classes are either free or cheap. In the classes that do charge a […]

Online Writing Classes: Enroll Now in Free and Cheap MOOCs

by Marylee MacDonald in Learn How to Write

Online writing classes can save you from a world of hurt. Rejection from agents. Bong letters from publishers. Or, if you’re self-pubbing it, no sales on Amazon. Aspiring writers have passion and desire. However, it’s often hard for a new writers to put their stories into words. So, how do you learn to write? Well, first […]

Sentences and the Senses: Where Rick Bass Discovers Stories

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers, For Writers Doing Revisions

Sentences are where stories begin, according to Rick Bass, winner of the prestigious Story Prize. “What I’m hungering for as a reader is the visuals, the reminders that the world is a beautiful place, and I’m just trying to bring, you know, almost a painterly illumination on sentences, on objects, on subjects. And so there […]

Omniscient Narrator: How to Work with an Old-Fashioned Storytelling Voice

by Marylee MacDonald in Point of View

The omniscient narrator stands above the story, has a view of everything and everybody, can go anywhere, move around, enter any character’s mind, travel vast distances and cover long periods of time. The writer knows everything and can comment and summarize and shift from character to character and place to place. The voice of the […]

Summary Passages Must Show and Tell

Summary passages keep stories moving forward to the next “big scene.” A “scene” means the action that’s happening in pseudo-real-time. There’s conflict between people or between a person and a force of nature, and the author knows that readers want to see those moments dramatized. The protagonist confronts his or her nemesis or reaches a […]

“Show, Don’t Tell” | Still Sound Advice, or Lame Idea?

“Show, don’t tell.” What does it mean, and should writers pay attention to this time-worn advice? In this post I’m going to look at three writers who use narrative exposition–old-fashioned storytelling–and see what they’re doing on the “show, don’t tell” front. Let’s start with a bit of background. Wikipedia cites a passage in a Chekhov letter […]