Month: February 2015

Too Old For Heroes

By Shawn Coyne | 11 Comments

[Join to read more of Shawn’s Stuff] Like you, every Wednesday morning, with my first cup of coffee in hand, I sit down and read Steve’s WRITING WEDNESDAY posts. His recent series on “killer scenes” and the ways in which he constructs his work have been off the charts for me.  Here’s what I love about them: They’re personal…Steve does not pretend to be speaking from Mount Olympus.  He’s just giving us the straight dope about how he keeps his writing engines primed and working at peak efficiency. I was reminded of the importance of these idiosyncratic methodologies we…

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Killer Scenes, Part Four

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

In last week’s post we were examining the idea that from a single modest fragment—a scene, or even a couple of lines of text—we as writers can extrapolate a big bite of the global work. Let’s keep biting. Here, to refresh our memories, are the two lines that popped into my head one day about ten years ago and that I knew at once were the opening sentences of a book (though I had no idea what book, or what that book would be about): I have always been a soldier. I have known no other life. Last week we…

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iCrazy Interrupted

By Callie Oettinger | 17 Comments

(This first ran August 10, 2012. It’s making a repeat appearance this week as a reminder to unplug and clear the head while clearing the snow on the ground.) The headline stared out from the magazine rack in the check-out line. Beyond the guess-which-celebrity-has-the-worst-beach-body headlines was: iCrazy Panic. Depression. Psychosis. How Connection Addiction Is Rewiring Our Brains It was splashed across the top of Newsweek. * * * In January, my husband and I bundled up our kids and headed skiing. The lodge where we ate lunch was the only place to plug-in during the day. The first day I…

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Killer Scenes, Part Three

By Steven Pressfield | 26 Comments

I start this post with an apology. In it I’m gonna cite something from my own work. I hate it when writers do that. “Use Tolstoy, man, or Shakespeare! We want something good.” But I gotta do it because in this instance I don’t have to speculate as to what the writer was thinking: I actually know. The theme of today’s post is a continuation of the previous two: Killer Scenes and how to build them out into the global narrative that they imply. In this case, I’m going to address not a scene, but just two sentences. The question…

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The Story Bell Curve

By Shawn Coyne | 2 Comments

[Join to read more of Shawn’s Stuff] If you were to somehow plot all of the Stories that have ever been told, what would it look like? Here’s what I think: It would look a lot like other natural phenomena such as the distribution of height in human beings, or blood type or women’s shoe sizes. The graph would look like a bell curve, in statistics what’s called a normal distribution (or Gaussian distribution). I think that makes sense because Stories are as natural to human beings as air or water.

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Killer Scenes, Part Two

By Steven Pressfield | 15 Comments

Have you ever come up with a killer scene—and nothing else? You find yourself with two or three minutes of incredible action, conflict, dialogue, but you have no idea where it goes or what the rest of book or movie might be. Arrrrgggh. Whaddaya do in a case like that? I’m a believer that scenes are like holograms. Every one, no matter how brief or modest, contains the molecular blueprint of the wider project. It’s like a single cell, from which we can clone the entire Tyrannosaurus Rex. Let’s examine one. I’m thinking of the Mad Dog scene from To…

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Do It

By Callie Oettinger | 11 Comments

This past week, the Crazy Train rolled through, packed with reports about Harper Lee and another book. Had the media storm that followed been an actual snow storm, it would have been the first this season to have been predicted with 100% accuracy. As Winston Churchill put it, “A lie gets halfway around the world before Truth has a chance to get its pants on.” In this Global Village of ours, I doubt if Truth was even out of bed by the time all the rumors were on their second circuit around the pond. I don’t know Lee or her…

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The First Page

By Steven Pressfield | 23 Comments

There’s a terrific book that I often recommend to young writers—The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. Mr. Lukeman is a long-time agent, editor, and publisher. The thrust of his counsel is this: Most agents and editors make up their minds about submissions within the first five pages. If they spot a single amateur mistake (excess adjectives, “your” instead of “you’re,” “it’s” instead of “its”), your manuscript goes straight into the trash. Grind on those first five pages, says Mr. Lukeman. Make certain they are flawless. I agree completely of course. But I would go further. The make-or-break page, to…

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