Cutting, Filling, Adding: Tips for Revision

Yesterday, I fired up the mower and gave our lawn the first cut of the season, thereby ending a winter of having nary a thought about the dormant grass. As I mowed, I took note of a dandelion or two, a bit of clover, and broadleaf—intruders each and every one. I also noted a bare…

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Try Again: Suggestions for Dealing With Rejection

I’ve always loved the sport of basketball, so this time of year—NCAA tournament time—is one I savor. I was especially looking forward to it this year because my beloved University of Illinois was a number one seed and many people’s pick to get to the championship game. Alas, number eight seed, Loyola of Chicago, upset…

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It’s Time: Prose and the Ticking Clock

Once again, we’ve reached the season for setting our clocks forward an hour and entering daylight saving time. Just like that, we jump ahead with that hour of our lives to be recovered in the autumn when we go back to standard time. This jump ahead, which brings us longer light, isn’t without its challenges.…

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Irony as Plot Strategy

Last week, along with  my students, I  was thinking about irony and how it can often be a useful strategy in constructing plots. Here, then, is an example from my forthcoming memoir, Gone the Hard Road, offered up here in hopes of being useful to anyone wishing to add resonance to their narratives. One day,…

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To Say the Secret Things: Tips for Memoirists

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of swapping stories with a group of friends, maybe out on the patio on a summer’s evening, or back in the pre-pandemic days at a dinner party. Someone starts to tell a story and then hesitates and says something like, “I really shouldn’t be telling you this.” Maybe…

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