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 […]

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 […]

The Most Beautiful Songs

Reading The Power of Song by Guntis Ŝmidchens, I came across the line, “The most beautiful songs have yet to be sung.” Lifted from a 19th century Estonian poem by Friedrich Saebelmann and set to music to help promote the Baltic Singing Revolution, this line, this poem, caused me to stop everything. I put the […]

Disturbing Events

Disaster struck Dante Alighieri in 1301. While he was away from Florence on a diplomatic mission, the Black Guelfs, his political enemies, seized power and brought him to court on manufactured charges of extortion and misuse of public funds, nevermind that he’d only held office for two months. [THIS IS KNOWN AS THE INCITING INCIDENT.] […]

Buy This Book: Heal The Wound

  “Art is a wound, turned into light.” This is a quote from George Braque, the 20th Century cubist painter’s way of explaining the connection between art and self-worth.   Is it glib to suppose that writing, if we think of it as an art form, starts where wounds are left unhealed? I hear the […]

Living Within A Lie

Was torture necessary? Was actionable intelligence available without it? What moral culpability lies with me, average citizen, for living quietly in a country that, since the disturbing event of 9/11, has sanctioned the use of torture? The latest Senate Intelligence Committee release (according to the Seattle Times) from the U. S. Justice Department’s report on […]