path of the storyteller / blog

do you suffer from “page fright?”

 

Everyone’s heard of stage fright. Even Barbra Streisand has it! Imagine singing like Barbra and being afraid to perform! It’s not rational, but it’s real. 

Writers, too, can suffer from a bone-deep reluctance to share our work with the world. Call it “page fright.” And yet our readers are out there, waiting! What’s a nervous writer to do? 

In this livestream, I talk about why it’s so challenging to take that anxiety-ridden but necessary plunge and let others into our private writing worlds. 


My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog. You can leave your questions and comments below.

To watch live and ask questions, subscribe to the YouTube channel here.  

And you can join the Path of the Storyteller Facebook group right here.

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when does your story begin?

 

Daybreak is a lovely thing to watch unfold, but the actual sunrise happens in the span of a single breath.

One moment the sun is beneath the horizon; the next, it’s above. If you’re the sort of early-bird person who likes to know what time the sunrise is slated to occur, you can look it up and get an answer that’s timed to the minute.

Your story, too, has a precise moment of beginning. The hijinks in your fictional world may have started eons ago; your hero may have been destined for glory since the fateful day she was born.

But there’s one particular moment in which you, the writer and decider of these things, choose to open the curtain. You choose the exact day, minute, and millisecond in which we readers get our first glimpse of your hero breaking over the horizon, so to speak. 

Often, writers struggle to know what that momentous first scene should be. There’s so much we want the reader to know! 

With the best...

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third acts that work

 

It’s the eleventh hour. The big finish. The grand finale.

In other words, it’s the third act!

We writers know that a lot is riding on the ending of our tales. It’s where all the threads we’ve woven into our story must coalesce into a coherent pattern of meaning and resolution. We want to give our reader the deep satisfaction of watching the puzzle pieces fall into place in a way that’s both surprising and inevitable. 

This is no mere solving-the-Rubik's-cube exercise. Great third acts satisfy emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The third act is where our hero demonstrates, through word and deed, that she is not the same person she was at the beginning of the tale. This story has meant something, not only for our fictional protagonist,  but for the reader who’s taken the long and difficult journey with her.

Sounds easy, no? I kid. Third acts are long in the making and...

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writing from the heart

 

That first tender urge to write stirs from something quite personal and private. We have an idea, a feeling, a desire to capture in words something that moved or mystified us. 

And yet, to write well means charting a path from that most private beginning to a more reader-centric focus. How exposed do we need to be in our work? How thick of a skin must we cultivate to actually publish? What about privacy? Is there stuff we shouldn't write about? 

Writing advice is plentiful, and writing craft matters (a lot) — but your writing comes from YOU. How do we writers balance the deeply personal impulse to write with the external concerns of putting our work into the world? That’s the topic of this week’s livestream. 


My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live and ask questions, you can join the Path of the...

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what wags the world

careers change process May 25, 2021

I’m getting a wee jump on the holiday weekend. The first Wood family gathering in a long time has been planned in honor of my uncle’s 90th birthday. Flying on a plane will be involved! It’s all very exciting and heartfelt. 

So instead of my usual weekly livestream, I offer you a nice old-fashioned blog post. My inspiration? This quote, which I shared with the Storytellers’ Circle* membership last week. I think you’ll like it as much as they did:

“The best thing for disturbances of the spirit is to learn. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love and lose your moneys to a monster, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what...
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the last word about first person POV

 

I've heard it too many times from too many writers: Isn’t first person easier than writing in third? And isn't writing in the first person more intimate that writing in third? Doesn’t first person have more voice than writing in third?

Nope, no, and not so, my friends. And yet these notions persist. This week I want to put them to bed, once and for all. We’ll bust the myths and examine just how much complexity lurks in this deceptively simple way of telling a tale.

Lots to say about this topic! Expect some discussion of one of my favorite butlers in literature, too. 


My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live and ask questions, you can join the Path of the Storyteller Facebook group right here.

And subscribe to the YouTube channel here. 

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hack your writing process

 

Writing happens inside the skull of the writer, which makes it hard to observe!

We can be inspired by the finished work of our idols, but we never get to actually watch them do the thing that we ourselves are so earnestly trying to learn to do.

The process remains a mystery, and so developing writers inevitably wonder: Am I doing this right? Is it supposed to take so long and be so hard? How much revision is “normal?” And so on.

This week I talk about the writing process: what’s realistic, common pitfalls, and how to make your process the best it can be. 


My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live and ask questions, you can join the Path of the Storyteller Facebook group right here.

And subscribe to the YouTube channel here. 

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writing for the reader

 

I do get a little cranky sometimes about all the ADVICE out there that’s aimed at writers. 

I say that as someone who gives a lot of advice to writers myself. I take this role seriously because I take good writing seriously, just as I take the courage and vulnerability of those who feel called to write seriously. 

No one falls into the profound work of storytelling at the level of mastery by accident. Instruction and mentorship are invaluable. The giving and taking of advice is a necessary thing.

But that said: Who are we trying to please when we write? Agents? Editors? Random advice-givers on social media, or pros sitting on panels at writing conferences?

Are we writing to please ourselves only? Or is there someone else out there whom we ought to be keeping in mind? That’s the topic of today’s discussion. 


My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To...

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middles, not muddles

 

The middle of your book is the longest part—and for many writers, the toughest to muddle through.

It’s not hard to see why. How do you think of ALL THE THINGS that your hero must do and endure during that long second act? Do you wing it as you go? Map it all out in advance? Figure out the ending and try to work backward?

Let’s talk about the process of creating a dynamic second act that won’t leave you (or your reader) feeling lost.


My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live and ask questions, you can join the Path of the Storyteller Facebook group right here.

And subscribe to the YouTube channel here. 

Continue Reading...

close, closer, closest

 

When it comes to the space between our readers and our stories, getting close is what we want.

How close? Closer than you think! But how do we “close the distance” between reader and tale?

This question of distance is one of those dare-I-say advanced topics in writing craft that is often woefully misunderstood—so often, in fact, that well-meaning agents and editors have been known to give terrible advice about it.

I’ll talk about that more in this week’s livestream about zooming in.


My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live and ask questions, you can join the Path of the Storyteller Facebook group right here.

And subscribe to the YouTube channel here. 

Continue Reading...
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