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To Be Liked, or Not to Be

I’ve spent virtually my entire life in the entertainment business, starting as a child in local amateur theater, then professional music, then this whole crazy book-writing thing. As different as these disciplines are, they have some core traits in common, chief of which is the need to please an audience. After all, if nobody comes to your show, or...

The Walking Stick

There’s a concept in storytelling that I’ve long tried to understand: “authentic”.  Mostly it’s invoked with respect to characters.  It’s important to know them.  It’s important that they act and speak in ways consistent with who they are, whether entering a room or rocketing to the stars.  It’s also important to know how they came to be who they are. ...

Don’t Finish Your Book

Please welcome back former contributor and friend to Writer Unboxed today, Allison Larkin! Allison is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Stay, Why Can’t I Be You, and Swimming for Sunlight. Her short fiction has been published in the Summerset Review and Slice, and nonfiction in the anthologies, I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship...

3 Tips for a Great Cover Reveal

We wouldn’t need the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” if people weren’t always doing exactly that. The cover of your book is important! It makes a huge difference to how the book is perceived at every stage of the process, regardless of how your book is published or distributed. And making the most of the cover reveal is something any writer...

Keep a Light Burning

The Writer Ghost Lights One of my favorite fanciful notions is that of the ghost light, the light theaters leave burning center stage, a light that serves a practical purpose, yes. A way to keep the dark safely at bay until proper lights can be reached and turned on. It’s also a light said to appease the spirits in the theater, a way to give them what...

Desmond’s Drops: July/August Edition

Welcome to a new edition of Desmond’s Drops! This month, enjoy three drops about: Combining Characters Escalations Flashbacks Email subscribers, please click through directly to writerunboxed.com to view. Look for more of Desmond’s Drops in September. Have your own bit of wisdom to share? Drop it in comments. About Desmond HallDesmond...

Writing As Restoration

“One writes out of one thing only—one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.”  James Baldwin – Notes of a Native Son Life is full of disorder....

Knowing Your Invisible Narrator

So we’ve got this whole “third-person narration” thing. You know it already. It’s that “he/she/they” thing instead of the “I/me/we” thing. The narrator isn’t the protagonist or (usually) any of the playing characters, and so the narrator is kind of floating above everybody’s heads, nonexistent, as lives are lived. But the thing is, the third-person...

Readings for Writers: Judith Ortiz Cofer and the Will to Write

How did Judith Ortiz Cofer transform herself from a “frustrated artist” to a “working writer”? Read The Latin Deli, where she describes her transformation as “an act of will.” She decided to get up at 5:00 a.m. each morning, two hours before anyone else in her household. The decision became an expectation she had of herself, and the expectation developed...

Why Writing Is Like Pie

I’ve recently become obsessed with pie. Not eating it, necessarily—I can generally take or leave most pies—but I’ve been dedicating an inordinate amount of time to making pie…more specifically, pie crust. Partly I blame the Great British Baking Show for my obsession—my husband and I devoured ten delicious seasons night after night for months, and...

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