As a fantasy writer, worldbuilding to me is a performance in three acts: building, creating a sense of authenticity, then expositing. The world must first be imagined and developed, then I must find ways to make the reader believe in it, and finally I must impart it to the reader through exposition. This is the…

American poet Stanley Kunitz once observed that ‘the unconscious creates, the ego edits’. With this overview of the writing process, Kunitz is acknowledging the ideas of psychoanalysis, developed by Sigmund Freud, and considerably expanded upon by his colleague Carl Jung. Below I list seven psychoanalytic ideas that I have found helpful in my writing practice….

To Become a Whale would not exist without research. I was not alive in the 1960s. I’ve never cut into a whale with a flenser. I’ve never even handled a flenser. Yet, when writing this novel, my job was to transport my readers there. Essentially I was a tour-guide to a place I’ve never been. If…

Flash fiction is any short story under 1000 words. Sometimes, flash is only 50 words. But just because it’s short doesn’t mean it’s easy to write. Here are ten flash tips on writing good flash fiction. Read flash. The best way to learn how to write a form is to read a lot of it….

It’s after dark, the children are asleep, and I’ve had a glass of wine. I approach my husband and ask him to join me in the bedroom. I need help only he can provide. Sounds like the beginning of an erotic scene, doesn’t it? But believe me, it’s far from romantic. Half the time, I…

How do you write tense, suspenseful stories that will keep readers racing to the end? It’s a question I’m asked at writers’ festivals, via fan mail, during workshops and book signings. The answer is simple: you make the reader wait. That’s right, my business model is all based on information deficit. As a storyteller, I’m…

My plays are generally regarded as Theatre for Young Audiences, but in truth this is not by virtue of themes or tone differing from adult plays, but by something as arbitrary as a child protagonist. It is then construed as a work for young people, but two simple factors discredit this: those who sit in…

To the stranger on the street, songwriting might seem like a powerful, mysterious art. What else could explain the song that makes you cry, exposing your soul and speaking to you at your deepest level? Yet the songwriter often vaguely describes the songwriting process as though they “woke up with it in their head” or,…

My bookshelf is woefully short on illustrated fiction. Some Roald Dahl books with the unforgettable cartoons of Quentin Blake, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the caricature-esque artwork of John Tenniel found within, and a fat collection of fairy tales with illustrations by almost as many artists as there are stories. None of these are what…

When I give a creative writing workshop, I’ll sometimes break the word imagination into three: I for the self; MAGI being an archaic term for a magician, wise man, or sorcerer; and NATION representing a country or terrain. Put together and we might consider that each of us contains a kind of inner magician able…

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