Month: August 2017

Last Report from the Trenches

By Steven Pressfield | 30 Comments

  My sense is that maybe it’s time to dial down our “Reports from the Trenches.” The big takeaway of the series actually came in the first week:   Even long-time successful writers crash and burn. It happens to me just like it happens to everybody.   I hope the follow-up posts have been helpful. But my sense is that we may have reached the point of diminishing returns. The last thing I want to do is bore anybody. So … Lemme try to wrap up today with a quick “lessons learned” post. Aside from the acknowledgment that EVERY WRITER…

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The Definition of Crazy

By Callie Oettinger | 16 Comments

It’s back to school time, which means I’m back to yelling at my wall because I don’t like yelling at people. Every August, as freshman start moving into dormitories, the last minute phone calls and e-mails from campus bookstores start flying into Black Irish Books.

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Every Story Has a Shape

By Steven Pressfield | 15 Comments

I’ve always been a believer that our stories exist before we write them. Our job as writers, once we stumble upon these tales, is to bring them up into the sunlight in such a way that their best and most truly intended contour is revealed. What has screwed me up on my current project—the subject of this “Report from the Trenches” series—is that I excavated the story wrong the first time around. If we think of the tale as a giant dinosaur fossil, I inadvertently chopped off the legs and dug so deep under the skull that the whole damn…

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Nonfiction Points of View

By Shawn Coyne | 2 Comments

In my last post, I reviewed controlling idea/theme as it applies to the Big Idea book.  Now let’s take a look at how to best present the Big Idea to the reader. The following is an edited adaptation of a previous post I wrote over at Just as in fiction, the choices the nonfiction writer makes about Point of View in Big Idea Nonfiction are make or break decisions.

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Report from the Trenches #7

By Steven Pressfield | 13 Comments

  I said in last week’s post that, watching myself wrestle with this rewrite, I realize I’m attacking the problem on three levels. Level One (which we talked about last week) was about genre—making sure I knew what genre I was working in, and then re-hammering the narrative so that it lined up with the conventions and obligatory scenes of that genre. The second level of this work, what we’re gonna talk about today, is going back in the global sense to Basic Storytelling Principles. Specifically: A story must be about something. It must have a theme. The hero embodies…

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By Callie Oettinger | 29 Comments

[Have you ever written something that included numbers and then wondered how those numbers played out? This is one of those for me. This post hit March 25, 2011. Apple is now minus Scott Forstall. Scott Forstall is now plus several Tony Awards. On Twitter, Scott Forstall is plus 8 tweets and still following Conan O’Brien. When this article hit, Conan O’Brien was minus “The Tonight Show” and about six months into being plus “Conan.” He’s now plus the title once held by David Letterman, of being the “the longest tenured late-night host on television.” And he did it in less than…

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Report from the Trenches #6

By Steven Pressfield | 20 Comments

  First lemme say thanks to everyone who is following this series. Believe me, writing these posts is helping me as much or more than it’s helping you. This new book is my nineteenth, I think. I’ve gone through this same hellish, tear-it-down-and-start-all-over-again process on almost every prior book, but I’ve never really paid attention to what I was doing. I just put my head down and ground it out. Having to write these posts has made me play witness to my own process. It helps. I never really knew what I was doing. Okay. Where do we stand today?…

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What’s the Big Idea?

By Shawn Coyne | 8 Comments

I’m working with two writers right now on Big Idea projects. It’s easy to lose your focus putting these kinds of projects together. Even as the developmental editor supporting the writer. Because you must nail Ethos, Logos, and Pathos…you begin to obsess about credentials, research, prescriptive advice, complimentary storytelling…you can easily lose the thread of why you’re working on the thing to begin with. Here’s the secret to the Big Idea book. It’s simple but easy to forget. I do all the time. You’ve got to nail the Big Idea in the most straightforward, easiest to understand and exciting way…

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Blind Spots

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments

  I’m gonna get this quote wrong, I’m sure. It’s from Kierkegaard, as cited somewhere (in The Moviegoer, I think) by Walker Percy:  

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