Rogue Literature: Villains as Heroes

Lately I’ve been listening to Johnny Cash songs.  Many of his tunes are about the exploits of criminals like “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Cocaine Blues”, “25 Minutes to Go” and “Hardin Wouldn’t Run”.  Cash had an ability to tell the story of a criminal better than anyone (even though he served absolutely zero time), but hisContinue reading “Rogue Literature: Villains as Heroes”

The Quill Pen: What Writers of the Past Can Teach Us

If I look around my “writing area,” I find several tools at my disposal to help me write a novel.  I have a Macbook Pro with software like Diary, Scrivener, Mindnode and Pixelmator that help me go from ideas jotted down in my daily Diary to a finished novel complete with a self-designed cover.  IContinue reading “The Quill Pen: What Writers of the Past Can Teach Us”

Organic Unity: A Good Novelist’s Added Edge

As an English teacher, I have read and taught much great literature.  I have a stack of great writing to draw from when writing my own stories.  What makes these writers great is their ability to write organically unified text. A novel has organic unity not just when the story is well conceived, but whenContinue reading “Organic Unity: A Good Novelist’s Added Edge”

How to Write Descriptively With Metaphors

Metaphors are one of the most used literary devices in the English language second only to similes. The problem with using similes is that they often cause your writing to become a mine field of quantifiers. (i.e. His breath was like the foul smell of a garbage heap and his face was like a pockContinue reading “How to Write Descriptively With Metaphors”

Lazy Writing and How to Avoid It

I’ve been teaching writing for almost 14 years and have been writing fiction for 25.  It has been my experience that anyone can write well if given the proper tools and education.  Usually someone tip-toes into my classroom with their short story or poem or random work of fiction under their arm.  They hold itContinue reading “Lazy Writing and How to Avoid It”

Juxtaposition: Creating a Foil for Your Heroes

Juxtaposition is defined as an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.  Juxtaposed characters are not seen very much in short fiction, but if you are writing a novel you will want to strategically design characters who are foils for your heroes to shine a light on the traits of those heroes. One of the best examples of the use of thisContinue reading “Juxtaposition: Creating a Foil for Your Heroes”

Imagery: Beyond “Show Don’t Tell”

I am sure that if you have attended any creative writing courses at all , you have heard the old addage “Show, don’t tell.”  This is referring to the idea that amateur writers often tell us about the action in their narrative rather than “showing” events through imagery, figurative language and good description.  Over theContinue reading “Imagery: Beyond “Show Don’t Tell””

Hubris: How to Write Great Villains Into Your Novel

Why do my students love the Joker so much?  The guy has absolutely no redeeming qualities.  He is completely mad, is an agent of chaos, loves to torture the innocent, has brought Gotham City to its knees on countless occasions, yet all the kids seem to love him.  It is because he has what theContinue reading “Hubris: How to Write Great Villains Into Your Novel”

Gone, Gone: Are All the Good Ideas Gone?

In the crazy firestorm that is the major motion picture The Hunger Games we need to stop a moment and realize with a small whimper of sadness that all the good ideas may be used up. Don’t judge me.  The Hunger Games has a nice narrative, flows well, tells a good story and is all-in-allContinue reading “Gone, Gone: Are All the Good Ideas Gone?”

Deus Ex Machina: God Is Not A Crutch

Breaking Dawn is one of Stephanie Meyer’s most popular books, but it has within its pages a literary device that is something good writers should learn to use properly: deus ex machina. Deus ex machina is defined by my handy Dictionary of Literary Terms & Theory (Penguin) as: “any unanticipated intervener who resolves a difficultContinue reading “Deus Ex Machina: God Is Not A Crutch”