Month: October 2015

How to Get Good Advice

By Shawn Coyne | 9 Comments

[To read more of Shawn’s stuff, subscribe to] When seeking editorial counsel: Don’t ask a writer or editor you do not respect to give you constructive criticism. Find a writer or editor you respect and ask just one time for his/her undivided attention. (unless you are compensating them). You cannot go back to the well again and again and again…unless you stupidly keep paying them for advice you never take… Spend less time with writers and editors you do not respect. Spend more time with writers and editors you do respect. When a writer or editor you respect takes…

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Who R U?

By Steven Pressfield | 25 Comments

Why do we write? Most of us, if we’re honest, probably can’t answer that question. That’s not a bad thing. What I mean is, the reasons that compel us as artists to do the work we do are often (if not always) so deep and so hidden that we’re kidding ourselves if we claim we can name them or understand them. If you’re a writer, you’re compelled to write. Just like a dancer has “gotta dance” or a singer has to sing. Why? I believe in destiny. Each of us is unique, I believe, and every one of us was…

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The Most Important Tool In Your Arsenal

By Callie Oettinger | 16 Comments

Say thank you As in, on a card. No cold, white, computer paper. In your own handwriting. With a pen that isn’t running out of ink. Sharpies are nice. I like thin and medium tipped. It’s a good way to connect. They’ll remember you. Of the thousands of books Black Irish gives away every year? I remember the ones who say thank you. The e-mails are in the dozens. The hand-written notes? Count them on my hands. When I work with clients? There’s a long list of moving pieces. The never-cut, most-often repeated one? The thank you. I served up Mama…

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Adding Steps

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

This post goes out with thanks to my friend Derick, who taught me a type of Resistance I had never thought of (or at least had never given a name to.)

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Help for Pantsers and Plotters

By Shawn Coyne | 14 Comments

[To read more of Shawn’s stuff, subscribe to] The one concept I discuss in The Story Grid that captures everyone’s attention is the idea that every single genre has conventions and obligatory scenes. And if you do not deliver those conventions and obligatory scenes to readers, your Story won’t work.

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The #1 Way I Screw Myself Up

By Steven Pressfield | 21 Comments

We all have bad habits as writers. Here’s my worst: I have a terrible tendency to back off on the money shot. Meaning I’ll fail to maximize the drama in key scenes. I know why I do this. It’s Resistance. Fear of success. Fear of making something really kick ass. But I still do it. Even knowing this is my Bad Tendency, I still go soft on the accelerator pedal. It’s a terrible habit. Here are two examples, both from my book Killing Rommel.

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Are You Ready For Mama?

By Callie Oettinger | 10 Comments

Luther and Bobby stole their cousin’s new lawnmower. The plan: The cousin would file a claim. The insurance company would send a check. The cousin would split the check with Luther and Bobby. Luther and Bobby would return the lawnmower to the cousin. When their half-baked schemes weren’t landing them in jail, they were selling their plasma or sorting out other ways to make a dime. Gaming the system was the one thing they came by honestly. Their parents had been working the disability arena their entire lives. They were raised as gamers. Mama had the mad scamming skills of…

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Beautiful Losers

By Steven Pressfield | 50 Comments

People write me letters sometimes. Wannabe musicians, aspiring novelists; I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. These letters purport to be seeking counsel. The writer details his or her struggles with deciding which creative field to pursue, their frustrations with their own indecisiveness, with getting their art going, etc. Then they ask for advice. Now, there’s a good way to ask for advice. The good way is when the person is earnest, sincere; he or she can, in truth, profit from a boost of encouragement or an impartial reality check. That’s the good kind of advice-asking. But that’s not…

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By Shawn Coyne | 20 Comments

For a while now, over at I’ve been writing about Malcolm Gladwell and his first book The Tipping Point. I’m doing something that I call “storygridding it.” And that’s just my short hand for creating a revealing infographic that a writer can look at lickety-split for inspiration. And if she gets stuck writing her Big Idea nonfiction book, she can look deeply into the data of the story grid. And that data will reveal how a fellow scribe solved the same problem that she’s battling.

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