Just Give It to Me: Clarity in Fiction

Without intending to, we sometimes withhold important information about the premise of our narratives in our attempts to be mysterious. The problem with such a strategy is it can lead to confusion. Readers can spend too much time trying to figure out the context of the story. As a result, their attention is kept from…

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Forgetting the Facts: Imagination and the True Story

Many of my novels are based in fact. I start with the real story, and then I invite my imagination to blend with what really happened. I create characters who had nothing to do with the factual story. I alter events, reshaping the narrative with the hope of making a memorable story. The facts give…

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Now There’s Something You Don’t See Every Day

My apologies for being late with my post this morning. Cathy and I drove back from South Carolina yesterday after attending her granddaughter’s wedding. Somewhere in North Carolina or Virginia (the miles blur for me), we were in stop-and-go traffic because of a wreck ahead of us. We were creeping along when we heard something…

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Using Relics in Narratives

Yesterday, my wife Cathy was sorting through her purse when she came upon her now-expired YMCA membership card. “I guess I don’t need this anymore,” she said. Indeed our membership cards are now relics of a before-time that no longer exists, that time when COVID had yet to arrive. During the pandemic, we bought our…

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Loving Even Our Darkest Characters

My mother and father weren’t huggers, nor were many of the other adults where I grew up. Reticent Midwesterners all, they rarely offered more than a firm handshake. As I went through my adult years, my world expanded to include people for whom hugging was natural, and increasingly I found myself in social and professional…

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Gather and Release: The Energy of a Narrative

Finally, after a brutal stretch of snow and ice and cold, temperatures have moderated, and the thaw has begun. All that snow will now melt to water and run off into streams and tributaries and storm drains. Once we get above freezing, it has to go somewhere, right? During what I like to think of…

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Go Big or Go Home: Creating Plot

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting a book club in Casey, Illinois, last week, just about an hour from where we grew up. Casey has taken it upon itself to be the capital of the largest things in the world. We saw the world’s largest wind chime, the world’s largest rocking chair,…

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