You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.


What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Pixar’s 22 rules of story telling These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist. 

6 Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
  3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech

From a 1975 volume of the Paris Review. Its a long interview with many more gems on everything from writing short-stories to the craft of writing

 Brain Pickings

“Vocabulary is not just about communication of ideas but also about thinking itself. This is why people who invent words or phrases that help think better, succeed, go viral. Seth Godin is a good example.”

Must.find.romance.novel.must. 

Myths of romance and reasons to read them. A great long read. 

Romance is the only genre whose conventions favor character over plot. Mysteries must have an investigator, but chiefly they need a crime to unfold. Science Fiction needs a hero, but even more it needs world-building and large scale plotting. Romances are, at their core, about two people falling in love. Ergo, the people are the most important part.

  1. Find a subject you care about
  2. Do not ramble, though
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Have guts to cut
  5. Sound like yourself
  6. Say what you mean
  7. Pity the readers