Theme

“I prefer to talk about the meaning in a story rather than the theme of a story. People talk about the theme of a story as if the theme were like the string that a sack of chicken feed is tied with. They think that if they can pick out the theme, the way you… Read more

Scene

“To make a scene is to put your characters onstage and let them act out their own story. The point of view may not be strictly objective…but any scene is essentially dramatic; it follows George M. Cohan’s celebrated advice, ‘Don’t tell ’em—show ’em.’ A scene must persuade us in all its aspects, which means that… Read more

Revision

“The greatest pleasure in writing is rewriting.” – Donald Hall

Queer theory

“Queer theory…is a prism through which scholars examine literary texts. Queer theorists scorn traditional definitions of ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual.’ There is no strict demarcation between male and female, they argue. Instead, queer theorists say, taking their cue from the historian Michel Foucault, sexuality exists on a continuum, with some people preferring sex partners of the… Read more

Plot

“Plot is nothing; plot is simply time, a timeline.” – Grace Paley

Originality

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this,… Read more

Novel

“Rules of thumb: 1) Start in the middle of things; begin in motion. 2) Stay in motion by not letting the summary intrude; keep the summary feeding into the scene in hints and driblets, by what Ibsen called the ‘uncovering’ technique.

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