Six impossible things


Stringing beads

Writers use a variety of different metaphors to describe how they think about plot and structure. One that I’ve seen used quite a bit is “beads on a string” – that is, figuring out a plot is a process of lining up a series of beads/scenes in […]

Read more

Getting the book out of the bucket

It’s a new year, and for the last week or so, people have been talking about New Year’s resolutions and bucket lists. “Write a book” seems to turn up with enormous frequency on lists like “The Top Fifty New Year’s Resolutions of 2015/16/17/18” and “100 Things You […]

Read more

Happy Holidays!

I will be back with your regularly scheduled blog post next week. In the meantime, best wishes and happy whatever-you-celebrate.

Read more

Flashbacks and Flashforwards

Flashbacks and flashforwards are essentially the same technique. They take a reader from the current moment of the story to a different time (the past, for a flashback; the future, for a flashforward) and then return to the current story moment. Flashbacks are the most commonly used, […]

Read more

Unreliable narrators

In one sense, all narrators are unreliable. Whether first-person, tight-third, or omniscient, every narrator (like every human being) has his, her, or its own worldview and personal biases that affect the way they tell the story. Even if all of them were totally objective, the author, also […]

Read more

Getting the Backstory In

A character’s backstory – all the stuff that happened to them prior to the start of the novel – starts with the highs, lows, traumas, and major life events of the character’s past. This is the stuff that has shaped the character’s personality – what they want, […]

Read more

Backstory, part 2

While the amount of backstory the writer needs to make up, and whether they make it up in advance or as they write, varies a lot depending on the writer’s process, the amount that goes into the story has almost nothing to do with the writer’s process, […]

Read more

Backstory, part one

Backstory is one of the most potentially useful tools in the writer’s toolbox; it’s also one of the most often misused. First, a definition: Backstory, as I use the term, is anything and everything relevant that has happened prior to the start of the story. For most […]

Read more

Pavement conditions (More Driving Metaphors)

A while back, I had a discussion with a fellow professional writer whose stated goal was rapid production. Since he was the sort of writer who writes in huge bursts, focusing on speed above all else had been working well for him. My objection was that he […]

Read more

Choreographing scenes

Scene choreography or planning is a thing that some writers do up front, some do as a routine part of their process, and some hardly ever bother with even though they’re not pantsers, strictly speaking. What I’m talking about here is a whole class of preparation variously […]

Read more
Page 1 of 7412345...102030...Last »
Questions regarding foreign rights, film/tv subrights, and other business matters should be directed to Pat’s agent Ginger Clark, Curtis-Brown, Ltd., 10 Astor Place, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10003,