Try this Story Fix — Before You even Start

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You’ve invested time and money studying “story.” (You can’t imagine how much I’ve spent!) After reading all those writing manuals, we are “story structure” engineers. We could be teaching story structure. In fact, I do! And yet— Where’s the prize-winning novel? Where’s my Oscar for Best Screenplay? I’m sitting here at my desk, staring at […]

Leonard Cohen’s Song to Donald Trump

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What a week it was—still is! I’m still crying inside. Yes, Leonard Cohen sent me soaring into mourning. Gorging on his music these past few days, I realized how he helped me appreciate the value of struggle. His struggle was an art form. I saw Cohen perform on an intimate stage at the University of […]

Is Your Story Smarter than You Are?

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Have you ever felt that the story you’re writing is wiser than you? If so, I suspect you’re lost or stuck. It also means that you’re writing something worth reading. I became deeply lost while writing Story Structure Expedition—Journey to the Heart of a Story. We were exploring up the Congo River in a steamer […]

All Stories Are Escape Stories

Great Escape

“Every story is an escape story.” I’ve taped that slogan to the wall of my work station. It clarifies my character’s trajectory. It helps my story “come true” because it acknowledges a fact of our human condition: We are all escaping something. That notion hijacked my brain after a decade of professionally assessing and writing […]

Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Thinking outside the Box

No one should worry about thinking outside the box. Because THINKING is the box! Worry about that, instead. As fiction writers, we needn’t worry personally about the existential angst that “thinking is the box!” might stir up. But we should concern ourselves with how “thinking” relates to the journeys of our characters. And it goes […]

How (un)Smart Should a Writer Be?

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If you’ve been reading my deep travel tales, you’ll know how un-smart I am. Count the times I’ve been run down on the road less traveled! I was barely home from my travels in Africa and Asia when the gods pulled a U-turn and made roadkill of me yet again. I was filming in the […]

Deep Travel: Have you ever gone too far?

Deep Travel

From Africa I flew to India. I would return home through Asia, circumnavigate the globe, prove the world was round, see it with my own two eyes. Bombay. Wow! The smells. The crush of humanity! A beggar with no arms or legs. My god, he had no face, either. His begging bowl—if you can picture […]

The Best Way to Meet Angels

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It’s a mega-watt moon shining down on western Tanzania. That ragged ribbon of moonlight you see is a rough-and-tumble highway known in south-central Africa as the Hell Run. From Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean, this 1500-mile lifeline serves the heart of the continent. A 5-ton truck speeds westward with its load of car […]

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