When an author makes you feel, she has you. I remember reading a manuscript, enjoying the characters, and wondering where the story would lead. Then, in the middle of a conversation, one of them cocked his head. Something wasn’t right. A noise that shouldn’t be there. I felt a chill. Suddenly, those wonderful characters — high […]

Novels are tricky. Is upbeat artificial? Is dystopian faithless? Are plot line and characterization exclusive? Robert D. Kaplan’s new book, The Revenge of Geography, hints at the link between realistic characters and complex scenarios: Geography is common sense, but it is not fate. Individual choice operates within a certain geographical and historical context, which affects decisions […]

There’s writing and there’s pruning. Both benefit from practice. Here’s a pruning exercise to hone your valuation of words. Tell a story in exactly one hundred words. You can condense a novel (Les Miserables!), render some portion of a larger story, or make it up. Just give it enough arc to satisfy the reader and […]