Plot & Structure 10: The Bell Pyramid

Who doesn’t like pyramids? Mr Bell always wanted one named after him, so in his plot book he did just that.   He asks writers to put their unsunken lines and hooks through another test: PPP.   Does the story inspire passion? Does the story have potential? Will the writing […]

Continue reading

Plot & Structure Exercise 9: Scrap the Crap

In chapter three we find a quote from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. These Hollywood producers are shooting the breeze, coming up with movie pitches, when one of them say, “That isn’t an idea, it’s an notion. If we put some money into it, then maybe we can turn it into a […]

Continue reading

Plot & Structure Exercise 8.1: the What-If game

In chapter three of his plot book, Mr Bell suggests ways for coming up with hundreds of ideas. Ok, we wonder, why? Remember how one tip to writing subsequent scenes was to imagine multiple scenarios? We tend to write A, B, C, D . . . but Mr Bell suggested, […]

Continue reading

Who Are You? [Birthday Post]

This exercise comes from the James Scott Bell’s plot book, but it hit me so hard I decided to treat it as something separate. Basically, Mr Bell takes the old adage, “Write what you know,” and makes it, “Write who you are.” It sounds almost Julia Camerom-esque. When you invest […]

Continue reading

Plot & Structure Exercise 6: an Honest Look

How could I not? I read chapter 2 of Mr Bell’s Plot book through the lens of my last novel. Why? Because I wrote They Lived They Were with plot squarely in mind. At first I wrote freely, as I tend to do. But later, every editing decision, every scene […]

Continue reading

Plot & Structure Exercise 3: Quick and Dirty

Today’s exercise calls for four lines, one for each of the LOCK element, on your next novel. Well, well! I do have a next novel idea, which I really (really) want to be plotty. Like I might as well get the thing down pat. Butterflies, remember? Gossamer wings. Plot of […]

Continue reading

Plot & Structure Exercise 2: Lock and Load

This exercise builds off another idea from chapter one of Mr Bell’s simple and clean book on training your plot muscles. Essentially, the structure of our favorite books boils down to this acronym:   L.O.C.K.   In pieces, Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout. Acronyms are sexy, we must admit, and choice […]

Continue reading

Plot & Structure Exercise 1: Get Motivated

The first book in the semester of Plot will be James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. With a name like that, how could you go wrong? Not his, although it does reminds me of one of my favorite professors in college, Susan Bell . . . nevertheless, just for bibliography’s […]

Continue reading

A Semester of Plot: a preamble

Has it ever happened to you where you get the same message three different times, in three different ways? Your stomach growls, you’re hungry. But it’s better to save money, hold off until dinner. And then you see an ad on your computer for ice cream. No, you say. Then […]

Continue reading

Commune Exercise Day 4: Explore your Purpose

Ms Suskin has already urged us to make meaning out of the little things, the big things. But what is the most important of all the meanings? Our own meaning.   In today’s episode, the poets gathered to explore their own purpose. People will always ask you why you do […]

Continue reading

Commune Exercise Day 3: Find Your Inspiration

Today’s exercise asks us to utilize our senses when we write a poem. I’m here watching this video, smelling my sweat, greasy hair stuck to my brow, thinking, duh.   But, Ms J Suskin, let us honor the gods with our five senses! Below are my five and a bonus […]

Continue reading

Commune Exercise Day 2: Purpose

These exercises feel easy and doable (during working hours! Opps). I am grateful for them. They really inspire. Especially with how I tell myself I should be training more. Be more of a champion. Practice daily, all the time, every moment I get, religiously.   Today’s exercise features purpose. In […]

Continue reading

Commune Exercise Day 1: Your Awe

My mother is super into webinars, and in daily meditation, and daily practice. So, here I am, sharing in her delights. She sent me a series hosted by a longtime poet and motivator of words within us: Jacqueline Suskin. Now, when I read her name out loud (in my head, […]

Continue reading

Sustenance, Sex, & Safety

It’s the morning, and I wake up with a terrible ache in my stomach, my wife gone, and darkness all around me. I don’t know the time, but surely she’s gotten up earlier to make coffee in the kitchen. I have to get there.   My eyes don’t work, however. […]

Continue reading

The Guy in the Self-help Section

There once was a handsome man, with a big jaw and strong hands, a great job and many good years ahead of him. But, despite these blessings, there was one thing about him not so great, something odd and embarrassing. The minute he opened his mouth, he became aware of […]

Continue reading