The Writer as Actor: On Location

Deep Characterization Exercise #1 Being Two Places at Once

The purple mass looked for a moment like a plump of organ pipes, then like a stack of rolls of cloth set up on end, then like a forest of gigantic umbrellas blown inside out. It was in faint motion. Suddenly his eyes mastered the object. The purple stuff was vegetation: more precisely, it was vegetables, vegetables about twice the height of English elms, but apparently soft and flimsy.

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Remembering Madeleine

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
–Madeleine L’Engle

I was ten when my librarian grandmother pulled from her suitcase a book called A Wrinkle in TimeIt had a funny cover with silhouettes floating in circles. I’d seen it at school and it looked too science-fictiony for me.

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Mom’s Gift

My mom has always been all about stories. When I was little, she read and read to me: Winnie the Pooh, Ramona the Pest, the Book House books (which, heartbreakingly, were lost in a move.) She was, and is a teacher, and she made sure I became a reader.

But there was another gift she gave: she showed me that stories come from ordinary people–and that it is our birthright to create them.

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That Character You Love to Hate

Sometimes it’s the little things…

Writing antagonists can be almost too much fun. Of course, we don’t want to make the ALL bad. We need to show them as balanced human beings. But when you first introduce an unpleasant character, how do you show he’s unpleasant?

I thought we’d take a little stroll through The Summer of No Regrets, so you could meet a favorite nasty character of mine,

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Jealous

I remember the day my friend, Tina Chen showed us the cover of her gorgeous new novel: a lush, moving story written by a generous soul. Her success (and the book was award-winning) was well-deserved. And I was JEALOUS.

Jealousy’s not a regular thing for me. Usually my friends’ successes give me hope. So this unwelcome green-eyed monster growled a question: Jealous of what? I knew I could publish. But I had given up on publishing a novel;

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Go Where the Longing Is

20150408_113351Perfectionism is a thief of time. I used to be plagued by this wily thief—I’d let it into my mind and give it full access. There it would scold and prod and criticize. And I would go slower and slower as my muse slogged toward mirages of excellence. After all, isn’t excellence what we are after?

It took me a long time to learn that excellence and perfection are not the same thing.

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The Violin Diet

Katherine violinWith the Full-Bodied Novelist Retreat coming up this weekend, I’ve been playing the violin again. There is a connection, so stay with me here.

I usually let months go by without my music. I play only to prepare for performance, thinking I need an “excuse” to play. But lately I have played for the sheer joy of playing with no audience but the Universe. I work on a piece that is hard for me,

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When It’s Hard to Relate

DSCF1569As a writer you know you must allow your characters to live through you as they unfold on the page. But what if the character feels unlike you? A character you can’t relate to is hard to, well, relate. But you WANT characters who are different from you–whether they are sympathetic, antagonistic, or simply “other” because they are outside of your community or life experience.

When you find the connection point with such a character you expand your empathy,

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Fall Writing Classes

Fill Your Wednesdays with Writing!

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Bellevue College, North Campus, Redmond, WA

*These classes are for adults; high school students may enroll only with instructor permission.

Writing the Hidden Story

9/23/2015 – 11/25/2015, 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Your characters live and breathe because of a hidden story—one you must go deep within to find. A work of fiction that is disconnected from YOU is nothing more than a clever word exercise.

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Three Keys to Scene-Weaving

Make sure your scene answers these questions before your reader asks them, unless you are deliberately withholding that information to build tension. (For more keys, join us in the Scene-Weaving class! Or, if you’re a teen, try Teenage Novelist: Scenes and Dreams!)

 1. Where am I?

  • Orient your reader throughout the scene so that your characters are not just “talking heads”
    • Sensory detail
    • References to small,

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