Writing Technique V: James McPherson Up Close

This my second post about James Alan McPherson, a man whose example provided the most important writing advice I’ve ever received. When we conversed over breakfast, the concern that most consumed him was his acrimonious divorce and the fact that he wasn’t allowed to see his children.  This filled...

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Writing Technique IV: James McPherson

Only part of this post concerns writing technique; mostly, it focuses on my mentor and friend, James Alan McPherson, who died this summer.  However, that single consideration is an enormously important perspective on process, one that can guide any writer. Jim was one of my first workshop teachers at...

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Writing Technique III: Close Beginnings

This is my third post concerning techniques for beginning stories and (primarily) novels.  As I mentioned in the first two, beginnings can be generally divided into two approaches: distant and close.  This post will consider “closer” beginnings.  While distant beginnings start by providing the reader with visual, factual, or...

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Writing Technique II: Distant Beginnings

Distant Beginnings In my last post, I suggested some basic concepts that can guide a writer into beginning a story or novel — most importantly, John Gardener’s idea of “the contract” forged between writer and reader in the first paragraph.  I then suggested that beginnings functionally distill into two...

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Writing Technique 1: Beginnings

Writing Technique: Beginnings Because I’m a novelist, writing teacher at Champlain College, and technical writing and screenplay consultant gun-for-hire, people often approach me for advice on writing. As far as novels go, I usually answer that I haven’t a clue how to write them.  I’ve published six — including...

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Big Kite Redux: Photos from Below

This is a quick follow-up on the six-foot-tall kite featured in the prior post. Several readers wanted to see the kite itself, but we didn’t take any photos of (as opposed to from) it. Today, however, I discovered that my son Liam had taken a 10-second video of it on his...

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Play in Action: Kite Experiment at Lane’s Island

This is the fifth post in my creativity series and the last devoted to Dr. Stuart Brown’s ideas on the subject of play. This week, it’s a personal tale of play, with a video to illustrate it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te0kfivkFVY   Like too many people my age, I forget to play. Certainly,...

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Murder, Risk, and Creativity

This is my fourth post about creativity and its origins in play, as Dr. Stuart Brown  presents the concept in his book Play (Avery Press, 2009). Ironically, Brown’s interest in play derived from research into Charles Whitman’s killing of 14 people at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1966,...

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Creativity III: Mind, Hand, Mud, and Sticks

In my last post, I discussed creativity in terms of the theories of play promoted by Dr. Stuart Brown. If his TED talk “hit” numbers mean anything, I’m not the only one with whom his thinking has resonated. Reviewing my own lifetime’s moments of enjoyment and creativity, I noted...

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Creativity II: Rats and Einstein

This is my second post about creativity, focusing on Stuart Brown’s study of play and its role in neurocognitive development, inventive and generative states of mind, and mental health. Albert Einstein, understandably, had lots to say about creativity. His summary of play’s role in generative, innovative thinking: “Creativity is intelligence...

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