ARCHIVE FOR Ben Berman

How to Deal with Setbacks in the Creative Process

It can be disheartening to hit a stumbling block when working on a piece of writing. But GrubStreet Instructor Ben Berman helps us see how setbacks are often a natural and necessary part of the creative process.

 

The other day I was cooking dinner when my five-year-old crawled on over to me. Goo-goo, ga-ga, she said, putting her arms in the air. I picked her up and patted her back until she burped.

June 13, 2018 | Ben Berman

Grub News The Writing Life

The Secret to a Great Arc

Make your characters want something right away, wrote Vonnegut, even if it’s only a glass of water.

 

And as soon as we pick my four-year-old up from pre-school and strap her into her car seat, she tells us that she wants some water.

 

But a narrative, at its most basic level, is driven by the relationship between what a character wants and the obstacles in their way, and it just so happens that my daughter’s water bottle is empty.

May 9, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice The Writing Life

The Trouble with Transitions

My daughters were supposed to be getting ready for bed when I walked into their room and found my four-year-old naked, kneeling on all fours with her butt in the air, her older sister slapping her bottom.

 

What are you doing? I asked.

 

Playin’ the drums, my older daughter said.

 

And though part of me was relieved to see my four-year-old finally using her butt for something other than a wind instrument, I immediately stopped the show and escorted her to the shower.

April 11, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice The Writing Life

The Power of Disruption

Last night, I was brushing my teeth when I noticed a pair of socks in the toilet.

 

Why are your socks in the toilet, I asked my four-year-old.

 

Mama told me to put them away in my drawer, she said.

 

So how did they end up in the toilet, I asked.

 

March 14, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice The Writing Life

Finding the Right Title

In the first creative writing class I ever took, we workshopped a peer’s story called, Tidal.

 

I wrote a long review of the piece describing its ebb and flow and how its two references to the sea served as a low-key motif for the stormy relationship between the two main characters.

 

It wasn’t until I referred to its title – Tidal – aloud in class that I caught onto the joke. I felt duped and thrilled at the same time.

February 14, 2018 | Ben Berman

Craft Advice