Whenever I talk about the benefits of the crappy first draft some people always object. Why? For some, it's a habit and — as anyone who's tried to quit smoking can tell you — habits are hard to break. But for others the problem is fear.  Continue reading...

All avid readers have their own favorite writers. Yours may be Daniel Defoe or Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov or Ogden Nash, Agatha Christie or Anton Chekhov, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, P. G. Wodehouse or A. A. Milne, Philip Roth or Stephen King; whom you love matters little. What does matter is that something in the style, the subject, or the subtleties of one or another writer so matches your own passions and quirks that you fall in love with that writer, and year after year you keep returning to enjoy his or her cordial company.  Continue reading...

When I started writing, 35 years ago, I always wrote short. If a client or boss wanted 750 words, by instinct I produced 625. If the total was supposed to be 350, I sweated out 215. Usually, I had difficulty getting enough words, not too many. For many people, however, the problem is the reverse.  Continue reading...

A couple of years ago I wrote a Visual Thesaurus column about writing song lyrics, focusing on basics: finding a storyline and a mood that many people can relate to, telling the story with simple words and painting the mood with vivid images, plus, without being vague, leaving plenty of room for romantic mystery.  Continue reading...

Reporting on his investigation of Hillary Clinton's email use, F.B.I. Director James B. Comey mentioned several times that the F.B.I. engaged in up-classifying emails.  Continue reading...

Do you find writing interesting and pleasant — a time filled with self-discovery? Or is it stressful and unpleasant — sort of like a root canal crossed with doing your income taxes?  Continue reading...

All fiction rests on a foundation of fact. Even if an author describes five-headed creatures who live on Planet Zobar and drink purple water, he or she must give readers enough feeling of life for us to imagine the world the words create.  Continue reading...

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