Monthly Archives: June 2014

Context and Character – Setting and Story

Setting and Story – Context and Character
Two sides of the coin

Does the story container matter? Isn’t it all about “character, character, character”? After all, it’s the characters we fall in love with, cheer on, grow frustrated with, and psychoanalyze. We even feel our characters’ pain, whether they are ancestors never met, historical figures of note, or purely fictionalized  creations. We humans read in order to learn more about the human experience – how folks besides ourselves figure things out and solve their problems. And we want to see what kind of shenanigans they get up to in the process.

Compared to […]

Is Your Life Writing Creative Nonfiction?

Is Your Life Writing Creative Nonfiction or is it Fiction?
There was a day when history writers didn’t care one bit whether or not you enjoyed reading their tomes. It was serious stuff intended for scholars—and deadly dull to the general reader. Fortunately that’s changing, thanks in part to  creative nonfiction. In this new form writers inject life-giving sensory details (ala fiction), while holding true to the facts. The end result is a burgeoning nonfiction readership, and the envy of fiction writers who have developed a style they call “true life novels.” In the clamor to write true life stories […]

Scenes Bring Family History Writing to Life

Bring Your Family History Writing to Life with Scenes

We have a pact with our readers to present the truth—but we also want to engage both their minds and their hearts. And therein lies one of the greatest challenges in the nonfiction writers’ creative process. To write scenes—with in-the-moment action—we need small, glowing details that can be hard to find in our research materials. In writing about the distant past, in particular, the best we can usually achieve are approximations of scenes and half-scenes.

“I fear [film and fiction] might overtake us…,” writes Adam Hochschild in an essay in Telling True […]

Write Your Book Now, Skip the Outline

Guest post by writer, editor and painter Jocelyn Reekie, Part II of her thoughts about starting a writing project. This article outs Jocelyn as a a full fledged “panster”, as opposed to a plotter, (from seat-of-the-pants). See Jocelyn’s website for more on her books, paintings and blog at

Writing Without An Outline: Deciding What Works For You

Often, the first rule writers are told is: Make an outline. Outlines usually involve chapter headings, and plot points, properly listed under the appropriate chapter heading. Many successful writers wouldn’t dream of beginning to write their books without making an outline first. Personally, when it […]