Writing Technique

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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