Writing Philosophy

Scott Driscoll Blogs… After asking what I did for a living, the cashier at a grocery store I frequented gave me a confused look and said, “Oh, you teach fiction? What’s that? Is that, like, making stuff up?” There was no line—it was late, after class—so I told her the following story. One sweltering Sunday […]

Three Layers of Motivation

To portray a character on stage, the actor has to understand their subtext. Right? Seems like a given. But the same is true today for authors and their characters. But, subtext? All that heavy mass of fear and need and overweening desire, the baggage that every character brings into every scene. Once you start to […]

An Act of Bravery

Two weeks ago I was honored to meet the 19 authors who’d submitted manuscripts for critique. The occasion was the fall 2015 Writers On The Sound Annual Writers Conference, held in Edmonds, Washington. Our meetings took place in the rec center’s upstairs dance room. Picture wall mirrors, polished hardwood floors that sag and squeak when […]

A Darned Good Advanced Fiction Writing class

What is a story, really? I opened a craft lecture at this summer’s Pacific Northwest Writers Conference with this question to a roomful of skeptical looks. It’s a trick, their askance looks told me. Don’t answer. But, a few did bravely essay forth the standard definition from E. M. Forster: story is a narrative of […]

Character, Value, and Change

A story is born when an event, known as an inciting incident, disturbs a character’s deeply held beliefs or values. There’s more to it than that, of course. Characters persist in a state of deprivation. They have unmet needs. Repressed desires. Subtext, history. No character walks onto the story’s stage without carrying a heavy load […]

A Theory on Voice

To tell a story well, you have to find the right “voice” for the job. Definitions of “voice,” though, tend to reduce it to a subjective, familiar point of view with attitude. I find that too limiting. Most story telling requires modulating voice on a spectrum from detached and discursive to neutral to internalized and […]