Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s haunting Western

The genius of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is how starkly the book details its violence while leaving so much to the reader’s imagination. It tells the story of the Kid, a runaway who joins up with the barbarous Glanton gang on its trek into 1840’s Mexican-United States border country in search of Apache scalps that

Read More

Plot Twists: 10 Rules for Twisting your Story’s Plot

Every story deserves a Plot Twist. But what makes an effective twist for your novel or short story? I’ve been looking into this in my own work, and have come up with the following list. If you want to understand plot twists, tell a joke. Both for the laughs it gets, and to understand the plot twist in its barest form. Jokes have two parts—setup and punchline. Punchlines pack

Read More

Good Karma Book Critiques: 9 Lessons

Writing book reviews is good karma. Do it. Authors enjoy the feedback, and appreciate the possibility your review may just entice someone to check out their book. You don’t need to start a blog or land a steady gig at some national publication. Instead, focus on two well-read sources: Amazon and Goodreads.

Read More

Lessons for Licking Writer’s Block

Sometimes we suffer writer’s block.
Maybe?
First, what is Writer’s Block? It’s that block of time we’ve scheduled to write, but we’re not writing.
Why are we not writing?
Writing, like meditation, is largely an exercise of the mind. And any exercise requires flexibility. Writer’s block comes when our minds tighten with expectation.

Read More

What Does the Buddha Write About?

When she writes, what does the Buddha write about? We know the Buddha encourages us to experience the world strictly as it is, without the overlay of our story. But writing is all about story, isn’t it? Isn’t that what makes it engaging? We know the Buddha tells us to focus on the moment. That is

Read More

Writing Like a Buddha: Deepening Focus

  The purpose of Writing Like a Buddha is to develop a reverberation between the writer and the material he is writing. This is the development of non-duality; the integration of writer and writing into one shared experience. In our Developing Focus exercise, one of the ways we experienced this was through rhythm. Rhythm is

Read More

Writing Like a Buddha: A Koan of Inspiration

  Sometimes I get stuck when writing. Call it Writer’s block. That’s when I read a koan. Like the poem Providence from The Really Short Poems of A.R. Ammons. PROVIDENCE To stay bright as if just thought of earth requires only that nothing stay. A good koan says a lot with its words and its

Read More

Writing Like a Buddha: Learning Focus

The following exercise was inspired by John Daido Loori’s book The Zen of Creativity. When we speak about Buddhist meditation, we are not limiting it to time on the cushion. Meditation is a means of opening to the world so that we experience it, rather than simply observe it. The emphasis is sharing whatever there

Read More