Posts Tagged ‘James Scott Bell’


I’m in the middle of a new WIP. I’ve got a rough outline that keeps me on track but leaves lots of room for growth and spontaneity. I have the back story written for my major characters. I have a potential scene list in a potential order.

I knew that some of the obstacles my MC would run into would be people, but as I approached each new scene I’d get new ideas about who those people were.

I’d been reading  The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell and decided to do a Voice Journal for each new character entering the story. I didn’t ask the characters questions. I just let them talk about their lives and what brought each of them to where they are now. I’ve written three of them, each about 1200 words.

Here’s what they are helping me do in my first draft:

  1. The dialogue is sharper.
  2. I’m more tuned in to the distinct voice of each character.
  3. I’m discovering more hidden motives for how my characters are responding.
  4. I seem to be writing more words in a shorter time.

Have you used a Voice Journal or a variation of one? How did you like it? I’d love to hear your response.

Read Full Post »


About a year ago I had a little knee surgery to smooth out a slightly torn meniscus. Last weekend I ran sixteen miles, my longest run since before the surgery. My knee isn’t back to normal, and that three-hour marathon goal I was closing in on a few years ago is looking pretty distant; but I’ll keep on running if I can because I love it. With age, injury, and wear and tear, it’s inevitable that the human body slows down, breaks down.

One thing I love about writing is that barring any major physical or mental impairments, you can keep improving forever.

My recipe for improvement has one simple ingredient: Persistence.

For me, persistence means:

  1. Not wasting whatever amount of time I’ve created in my life to write.
  2. Studying well written novels and craft books and attempting to apply what I’ve learned.
  3. And, to paraphrase Laurie Halse Anderson: asking how I can make what I’ve written better instead of looking at it and saying this is pretty good.

I’ve heard a couple successful writers say that if you don’t have what it takes to write, i.e. talent, you never will. Quit wasting your time. James Scott Bell, in his book, Plot and Structure, referred to this as the Big Lie. He spent several years of his life believing the Big Lie before he realized that he could learn how to write fiction. Now, as you probably know, he’s published over twenty books.

What does persistence look like for you?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: