First, let me say that this is what my average family gathering looks like around the holidays. The poisonous mushrooms steaming up grandma’s crystal platter. The live goldfish flitting about wide-eyed in their bowl, wondering if they’ll be swallowed whole or if cousin Octavia will get a hold of them first. Cousin Octavia likes to play with her food. Then there’s the questionable Jell-o, the stuffed gecko and Aunt Muriel’s bottle of Chanel No 5. Always handy when the still-beating heart hidden under the floorboards starts to smell.Okay, my real family gatherings aren’t quite so grim, but they would make a good setting for a tummy-turning tale. So what are the secret ingredients to a juicy, brain-curdling yarn? (more…)
From the misunderstood Lady Macbeth to the beloved Wilbur the pig, some literary characters stick with us long after the story ends. They are powerful, conniving, selfless, greedy and, most of all, far from ordinary. Like Paul Bunyan, these unforgettable characters tower over the rest and make even the most mundane moments seem larger-than-life.
So how can you turn your run-of-the-mill lumberjack into a literary giant? (more…)
You know that moment halfway through a sentence when a sour taste creeps up the back of your throat? Is it the coffee and candy straws you ate for breakfast making an unwanted reappearance? Nope, it’s that crusty slimeball of awfulness I call Dr. Dread.And no, he’s not a delicious combination of Jamaican seasonings, but he is a real jerk. I’m talking about fear. (more…)
Voice is that nebulous, often hard-to-define concept that makes your writing sing. At its core, voice reflects the unique lens through with you see the world. Like Neil Gaiman once said, “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.” We’ve all heard the old adage that every story has already been told. Editors and agents read hundreds of queries every month, many pitching stories with similar concepts to yours. The only thing you have that nobody on earth can replicate is the unique combination of life experience and DNA that you alone possess. Your voice should come from this deep-down, irreproducible place.
So how do you find your unique voice? Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way: (more…)