Category Archives: Writing Craft

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Characters

A while back I wrote the blog post Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Your Story. In it I discussed the way Roxane Gay plunges into a story without much, if any, background, and how that makes her work powerfully captivating. … Continue reading

Posted in Moshfegh, Short Stories, Stefen, Writing Craft | 2 Comments

The Onus Is On Us

I’ve been reading POP! by Mark Polanzak. It’s his “fictional memoir” about his life after his father died from a heart attack when he was seventeen years old. He calls it a fictional memoir because he says fictionalizing the events … Continue reading

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Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Your Story; or the Genius of Roxane Gay

I have to confess to a problem. I’m afraid to tell stories. It’s not that I fear the actual telling, writing about a series of events that build to some sort of climax and/or resolution. Rather, I’m afraid to begin … Continue reading

Posted in Stefen, Writing Craft | 2 Comments

Isaac Babel and Flash Fiction

My short essay about Isaac Babel’s flash fiction is now up on SmokeLong Quarterly, a website dedicated to the form of flash. The essay is part of their “Flash, Back” series that “asks writers to discuss flash fiction that may … Continue reading

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Effective Use of Cliche in Narrative

Along with “Show, don’t tell,” the other writerly maxim most commonly batted about is to avoid the use of clichés. Nothing marks a novice writer (or one who isn’t really trying or not paying attention) more than sentences filled with … Continue reading

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Hitchcock Truffaut and Some Thoughts on Craft

Artists of all types – writers, painters, composers, et al. – have always drawn inspiration from work by other artists in their chosen fields. I’m often inspired to write after reading a really good story, one I find beautiful or … Continue reading

Posted in Hitchcock, Stefen, Writing Craft | 1 Comment

A Writing Prompt

Recently I’ve been thinking about how the arts – writing, painting, photography, music – inspire each other, not just in like fields, but also across genres. The idea was prompted when I watched the documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut. In the documentary there … Continue reading

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A Writing Prompt

Writing prompts are little imagination-jogs (aka kicks in the literary pants) meant to get a writer, well, actually writing. They’re most often employed to overcome that notorious phenomenon known as writer’s block, the wall of trepidation the blank page seems … Continue reading

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How Short Can a Story Be?

Hemingway’s apocryphal six-word story – “For sale, Baby shoes, Never worn.” — is justly famous. Not because he supposedly wrote it in mere seconds on a cocktail napkin in order to win a bet, but because it shows that a … Continue reading

Posted in Dybek, Flash, Hemingway, Short Stories, Stefen, Writing Craft | Leave a comment

Keep Them Reading

One thing a writer must do (perhaps the writer’s primary responsibility) is convince the reader to keep reading. There are numerous ways this can be accomplished, but one sure method is to create a sense of unease about how the … Continue reading

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