When Critics Say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that!’

SSX IN PRINT

Two years an eBook—now in print—STORY STRUCTURE EXPEDITION: Journey to the Heart of a Story. It continues to draw rave reviews, such as: What the hell sort of book is this, anyway? It doesn’t teach us how to do anything. It’s a “how-to” book that morphs into a novella. You can’t do that! I recently […]

Is Your Story Smarter than You Are?

MichaelBarnett-2016-4

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 […]

Give your Muse a Break: Let Fear Fuel your Fiction

Do you wait for the muse to ignite your imagination? And wait, and wait, and wait— Then, consider fueling your fiction with an ever-ready  source of inspiration. FEAR. Our characters lead us places we’d rather not go—that’s the fear I’m talking about. Of course, we don’t want to go down that road, but then why […]

“How to” Will Never Create Art

On Writing

“It’s only when a man gets to the point of a gun in his mouth that he can see the whole world inside of his head. Anything else is conjecture, conjecture and bullshit and pamphlets.” Welcome back, Charles Bukowski. The “poet laureate of L.A. low-life” doesn’t pull punches, nor should any writer, or what’s the […]

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 […]

On the Road with the Refugees

Portrait of Syrian girls sleeping on the refugee train

I snapped this shot as I traveled from Budapest to Munich last week. I look at the photo now with some shame. After days worrying about getting caught up in migrant mayhem—of perhaps getting trapped in Budapest and meeting with violence and missing our flight home—what finally did I discover at the dark heart of […]

What Makes a Book Worth Reading

Caitlin Hicks

What makes a book worth reading? A Theory of Expanded Love, for instance. This coming-of-age novel by Caitlin Hicks plays out in the months between two famous deaths—Pope John XXIII and President Kennedy, in 1963. I caught up with Caitlin Hicks to discuss issues important to fiction writers. “What’s your book about, Caitlin? What’s its […]

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