Spotlight: City Lights (Review)

For Valentine’s week, I’m looking at one of the best loved romantic movies of all time. No, not Casablanca, though that is one of the best loved romantic movies of all time. Go back about another decade, to 1931, to the time of Charlie Chaplin. His films enraptured me as a boy. Even today, as […]

Feeling the Romance and Keeping it Real

There’s a standard formula for romantic stories. Boy meets girl. They fall in love but pretend they don’t even notice each other. Finally, they declare their love and live happily ever after. This may sound a little corny, but most romantic stories are much deeper. Still they rely on the standard formula. There’s a reason […]

Spotlight: Heartbeat (Review)

Heartbeat is perhaps not what you would expect me to read. That’s because it’s intended for a different audience, girls aged 9-12. My daughter put me on to this book. She needed to do a book report, and her teacher put her on to it. What she liked in particular was the format: 180 pages […]

Pulling Us Into Your World

The idea for this episode actually came from a question someone posed on a writer’s board. How do you write short descriptions that still give the full picture of the setting? This question of course was directed at writing literature. But the answer, the storytelling principle, carries into other media as well. Describing where your […]

Spotlight: Peanut Butter and Tofu on Jewish Rye (Review)

A review of the Icebox Radio Theater’s production of Peanut Butter & Tofu on Jewish Rye. By Andrew Librizzi. Adapted for radio by Jeffrey Adams. Sound Stages podcast, December 27, 2005 – January 17, 2005. Do you believe in miracles? In December 2001, Daniel Ekuchukwu, a pastor of a Nigerian church, was in a fatal […]

3 Stupid (or Not So Stupid) Story Mistakes

It seems like so long ago that I was just learning about stories. I’d been writing non-fiction for many years, but when I tried to go into fiction, I quickly discovered that I didn’t know what I was doing. I could write the words, but I couldn’t weave the story. I churned out some pretty […]

Spotlight: Gilmore Girls

When a friend of mine found out I liked Gilmore Girls, he said, “Really? What’s it about? It’s just a mother and daughter, right?” How does that represent what’s probably the best dramatic series on TV right now? Isn’t that like saying, “The Godfather is just another movie about organized crime”?

The Telling of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is one of the most endearing pieces of classic literature. Of the many literary novels extant, this is one of the ones that we actually want to read. Why is that? And what do we have to do to make our stories as endearing as Mark Twain did?

Spotlight: Storyteller (Review)

A review of Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop by Kate Wilhelm Tell me a story. Tell me a story about telling stories. Tell me about before there was the Internet, and people wrote with heavy machines that went clunk-clunk, and they wrote their dreams on paper, and […]

How to Create Powerful, Sympathetic Characters

Creating sympathetic characters does not need to be mysterious. This week we’ll look a couple of unlikely sympathetic characters. And I’ll give you an easy, three-step technique you can use to build sympathy into your own characters.