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Marginal Notes

Topical Index


Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Literal and Narrative truth

Twisting the Inveitable

Story and Message

Non-linear Chronologies

Everything I Need to Know about Story, I Learned from Buffy

Concealing the Bones of your Plot

Pacing your Plot Reveals

A Look at how John leCarre Reveals the Truth to his Readers

Internal and External Plots

Bach and Creating Suspense

Stephen King and Suspending Disbelief

Effective Endings

Beyond your Hook

Wait, What?

The Lessons of Genre

The Story Beyond the Story

Into the Woods

The Web of Writing

The Gentle Genre

Writing in both Directions


What Were They Thinking?

Who ya Gonna Trust?

Killing your Main Character

Being Willing to Hurt your Characters

Everything I Need to Know about Character, I Learned from Buffy

Building a Character through Other Character's Reactions

Creating Smart Characters

Creating Realistic Minor Characters

Getting into Other People's Heads

Taking Social Class into Account

Creating Sympathetic Characters in an Unsympathetic Culture

Jaime Lannister and Sympathetic Monsters

Giving your Characters Roots

Techniques for Meeting your Characters

Focusing your Story on Offstage Characters

Managing your Cast

Spear Carriers

The Search for Faith and Goodness


English as a Second Language


Thoughts on Creating Humorous Worlds

Forthwringing Tonguishness

Aaron Sorkin on Dialogue

The Joy of Words

And . . . Scene

Crowd Control

Idea and Story

It's Not Nice to Misrepresent Mother Nature

Keeping it Real

More Thoughts on Keeping it Real

World Building through Architecture

Managing a Motif

To Whom it May Concern

Purple Prose

Facing Emotion

Writing Life

Creating a Masterpiece

Literal and Narrative Truth

Product and Process

Rules and Tools

Recycling Your Ideas

A Look at Jennifer Weiner's "Swim"

Building Your Readership

Understanding Rejections

In Praise of Paper Books

Writing is Hard

Choosing a Title

Dealing with Writing Fads

Why Write?

Getting Through Your First Draft

Learning from Writer's Block

The Perils of Self-Publishing

Editing's Eternal Verities

Playing on Trust

Displeasure Reading


The Practice Novel

Fiction in a Time of Plague


The Perils of Series Novels

The Non-writing Part of Being a Writer

The Dangers of Editing

How We Learn to Write

Muntzing Your Way to Happiness

Writer's Clinic

Introducing the Clinic

Pace and Point of View

A Look at your Hook

Drawing Readers in With and Intimate Point of View

Creating a World in a Hurry

Hooking your Readers with Character

Context is All

Focusing on What's Important

Balancing Character and Situation in your Hook

Yonder is the Castle of my Father

Catching the Train of Thought

A Hook that Breaks theRules

Brave New World

A Writer, a Shoe Salesman, and a Corpse Walk into a Bar

Good Talk

Problem Child