First Person Narrators | How Far Can You Bend The Truth?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, For Readers

Are all first person narrators liars? I would submit that they are. As Mark Twain’s first-person narrator, Huck Finn, wrote, “ I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary.” First person stories and memoirs have one thing in common. Both use an […]

Direct Observer | A Camera’s-Eye Point of View

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, For Readers

 The Direct Observer point of view (also called the Third Person Objective) forces a writer to “show don’t tell.” Indeed, you can’t tell. You must only show, and if you want to portray characters with inner turmoil, you will have to figure out how to convey those feelings through dialogue. Direct Observer is a tough […]

Sagas | The Magic of a Storytelling Voice

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, For Readers

Sagas are one of our most enduring story forms. In sagas the voice of a narrator takes us back into a heroic time of grand deeds, power struggles, and families pitted against one another. Sagas are about survival. Something is a stake. That’s why sagas make terrific templates for new writers. Here you sit in […]

Does A Pen Name Protect An Author?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Does the pen name Richard Bauchman mean anything to you? How about Robert Galbraith? Okay, here’s a third: Rosamond Smith. The true names of the authors above are Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Joyce Carol Oates. Unlike most new authors, these famous writers didn’t write under a pen name because they were afraid of getting […]

Literary Magazines: Where Writers Get Book-Jacket Credits

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers, For Readers

Literary magazines are a great way to build your resume. What? You didn’t know you needed a resume? Yes, you do, but not a resume of the traditional sort. You’ll need a cover letter to approach agents or publishers, and if that letter includes a strong record of publication, then it’s more likely the agent […]

Notebooks: The One Item Every Writer Needs

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Writing notebooks from other creative people can inspire us to keep track of our own creative thoughts. On the tab called Writing Notebooks, I lay out the general idea of keeping a writing notebook, but I want to go into a little more detail here. That’s because it’s so important for writers at any stage […]

Writing Tips Every Author Needs

Writing tips can help you discover the one small change that will make a difference. Writing is as much about the habit of writing as about what you write. If you’re a morning person, write at dawn. Night-owls write after everyone goes to bed. The important thing is to honor your unique gifts. Find your […]

Getting Published Is Not As Difficult As You Think

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Photo Source Ready to submit your work for publication, but not sure where to start? Getting published is not as difficult as you think. Many writers, me included, started by submitting stories to literary magazines. Though publishing in a lit mag will, most likely, not bring you any cash, publication brings other rewards. You can […]

Writing Notebooks: Are You Keeping One?

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

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Writing notebooks are an integral part of a writer’s daily practice. If you keep a writing notebook, you’ll have an infinite source of fresh material to generate stories or to help you recall details of a place you visited. Here’s a visual example of how I use my notebooks. I had scheduled a writing getaway […]

Characters and Making Them Real

by Marylee MacDonald in For Beginning Writers

Photo Source All fiction revolves around characters, such as Mr. Peggotty in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. Characters must engage us emotionally, or they become like wallpaper, flattened figures we don’t really care about. Alternately, they can appear cartoonish, as in the illustration above. Have you heard the phrase “well drawn” used about certain characters? That’s […]