Story dialogue is charged with the large task of helping to tell the story: it reveals characterization, advances the plot, and provides action.
Sometimes just a town’s name is enough to entice you. Who could drive past the exit for Last Chance, Idaho—or Hell, Michigan—or Happyland, Oklahoma—without at least contemplating how your life might be changed if you took that unexpected detour? All on their own, names tell a story. That’s why I often do an online search […]
During one of my visits to see my Alabama brother’s family, we took a road trip to the Ave Maria Grotto. That’s where a Benedictine Monk named Brother Joseph Zoettl built over 125 Mini-Me versions of some of the greatest buildings of the world. Artists are often inspired by someone else’s masterpieces. But in working […]
Riding along with my dad was like going on a Midwestern safari. Even while driving, he had an amazing knack for spotting critters as they peeked out from behind trees, perched on phone poles, or slid along the roadside. He didn’t seem to pay any attention to the makes of other cars, or billboard messages, […]
A while back I was at my parents’ lake cabin with my extended family. My brother’s teenagers had all brought along friends, and on Saturday we packed everyone who fell into the “thirteen to fifteen” age range off to the late movie. As the resident night owl, I volunteered to pick up the kids when […]
Driving through a tunnel effectively narrows our field of vision. The walls and ceiling restrict our view to only that which is inside the tunnel. It doesn’t matter if there’s a mountain parked on top of the roof, or an ocean of water being held back by the walls: when we’re inside the tunnel, those […]
For this week’s writing road trip, I oﬀer you texture. I aim for an abstract element of a realistic subject and use texture to add interest and suggest depth. —a quote that to the best of my research abilities I ﬁnd attributable to artist Margaret Roseman. I liked the way the above quote spoke to […]
Sometimes very young writers I work with literally stop the story mid-thought and write “The End.”
What ‘audience destination’ does the narrator intend? Who do you imagine will read your story?
Let’s play a little game. I’ll tell you some things about the inside of my car, and you tell me what you can discern about me from those details.
Fast food signs taught my twin nephews to read when they were only two.
A few years ago, a country highway I regularly drive in the summer became part of a pilot program to stop tailgating. Large white dots were painted on the road, and new signs instruct drivers to keep a minimum of two dots between them and the car they’re following. Rear-end collisions are a danger on […]
Most of my many school visits have been amazing, positive adventures (see my post titled “Traveling Like a Rock Star”). A few of my visits have featured minor bumps in the road. And one school visit—thank goodness, one only!—might be better described as a major traffic incident. It happened when I was still a “newbie” […]
When students set out to revise, a whole lot of different things will all try to grab their attention at once. Encourage them to focus their attention on a few key things each time.
as often as I tell students that I prefer to wait until I can see the entire shape of a piece before I title it, there are always those who ask me—beg me, really—for permission to write their title first.