Mary A. Clark Interview | An Intuitive Author

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers

Many people know from a very young age that they want to write books, and that’s the case with author Mary A. Clark, poet, novelist, and the author of a book of creative nonfiction. Mary’s journey as a writer is like many of our journeys, which is to say full of life experiences that add […]

Anton Chekhov | How Many Characters Should A Story Have?

by Marylee MacDonald in Characters, For Readers

Anton Chekhov’s vivid characters live in our imaginations to this day. One of my favorites is “Lady With the Pet Dog,” also translated as “Lady With the Little Dog.” If you’ve never read his stories, or haven’t read them in a long time, here’s a site with audio recordings of them. Sit with the characters, as […]

Literary Prize Long List | Man Booker Finalists

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers

If there were one literary prize I would be honored to win, it’s the Man Booker Prize. What’s wonderful about the long-list is that it showcases the diversity and vitality of literary fiction. I was happy to discover some names I recognize among the many I don’t. Britain’s The Guardian published this list of finalists to […]

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 […]

Kick Off Your Novel With a Great First Line

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers, For Writers Doing Revisions

The first line of your novel could be the most important sentence you write, but don’t worry about perfecting it until you’ve written all the way to the end. Your first and last lines are what connect the arc of the plot, and if you don’t yet know how the story ends, you can only […]

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 […]

Setting In Fiction – A Real Life Lesson | Marylee MacDonald

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers, Setting

Setting in fiction is inextricably bound up with character. On a cold winter day I learned this important lesson about the “relatedness” of character and setting from a young Navaho. Creighton Begay lived with his uncle in the most inaccessible part of Canyon de Chelly. Each fall he and his uncle brought in supplies by […]

What A Train Can Teach Us About Life

by Marylee MacDonald in For Readers

      If life is a journey, The Millennial Trains Project is one train I’d like to board. This train brings together people from very different backgrounds and teaches them how to take charge of their own destinies. The Trains Project is happening all over the globe, and even celebrated at the White House. […]