Friday Five-O: Where to Begin?

Dear Friday Five-O,

Be honest. What’s the most important thing to figure out before you start writing a novel? Plot, characters…?




Dear Anu,


Thanks for the question.


Okay, so what all published writers know, and what we’ve been keeping from you is that you start your novel in one place, and one place only: adverbs

July 29, 2011 | James Scott

Craft Advice Friday Five-O Secret

Let's put on a show!

Here's my nephew Henry, star of the show

I was hanging out with my nephews over the weekend.

Jack and Henry are aged 8 and 4 respectively. A couple years back, Jack took tap dancing lessons.

June 8, 2011 | Info

Inspiration Secret

Friday Five-O: The Elevator Pitch

Dear Friday Five-O:

“What's with this elevator pitch? Am I really expected to boil down the best things about my work into twenty-five words and feel good about it?”

—Max Longwell

Dear Max,

Approaching an agent or a publisher (as many people will do this weekend at the Muse & the Marketplace) can be scary

April 28, 2011 | Stuart Horwitz

Craft Advice Different ways to learn to be a better writer Friday Five-O Secret

SECRET COLUMN: Snippets from a novel I’ll never write (part 2)

Among the hundreds of pages of documents at her disposal, the myriad confusing and contradictory manuscripts, there was one that Joan kept coming back to, that seemed to contain the key to understanding what had happened, to constructing a coherent history of that storied place. It centered on Montiel's kitchen, on the question of what happened there. Of who died in the straight-backed kitchen chair, the steel string from the viola wrapped around his neck, and who walked away, lost within the maze of streets, waging a war that eventually, mysteriously, wiped a city off of history's map.

April 19, 2011 | Ron MacLean


Snippets from a novel I'll never write (part 1)

Montiel believed the streets would save him, the grid of pungent, scorching pavement which he had designed, the maze of roads without names where entire families live for generations as nomads. Edward Clare the second, Montiel's ancient friend and one of the few outside the Keepers of the Grid to know that Montiel was alive, called to warn him of the Khan's arrival.

Marco hesitated only long enough so that when he left his post and rang the warning bell it came a fraction of a moment too late, so that when Edward Clare pulled the lever that ...

April 11, 2011 | Ron MacLean