Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Five-Word Drill

I've been texting with someone who's working on her first novel, and she asked me for five words. So I sent them, and two days later she sent me a quite imaginative story inspired by those five words. When she sent me five words back, I at first balked - being in the middle of a rather enormous novel - but later that day I realized I had brought my most recent conflict to an unanticipated resolution and my novel desperately needed the kind of "left turn" that enlivens any good plot line. So I took those five words on a lengthy beach-walk and mentally composed a fascinating little story that became a dream in the novel, that supplied the spark for a wholly unexpected new conflict - just the left turn I had been looking for.

You never know where the next inspiration is going to come from. And I'd certainly recommend the five-word drill as a good way to keep the faculties loose.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hi! There's a story about me in the Tacoma News-Tribune. Check it out at

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fiction Writing as an All-Purpose Skill

A friend of mine introduced me to this woman I'm going to meet in person on my impending book tour to Tacoma, and we've been texting to get to know each other a little. Suddenly, this morning, I started getting these weird texts - about how she's got a live-in boyfriend and needs to break it off with me, and then apparently the boyfriend gets a hold of the phone and starts texting to me directly about how she's a cheating, lying so-and-so, and he discovered her texts to me, etc.

Problem was, there was something about this narrative that was terribly phony. Very obvious use of exposition to plant ideas in my head. Unnecessary facts. And, for a guy who's supposedly just been cheated upon, way too much concern for his rival's feelings. As fiction, it just didn't hold up - it was like a really poorly written novel. So I didn't respond.

Turns out, the malicious ex-husband stole Lady X's cell phone and was trying to spread every lie he could think of to all her friends. But he didn't count on the super-psychic skills of Editor Man!

So see? Writing fiction can be useful in all kinds of ways.