Night Owl Reviews Writing Advice

For all you writers out there – I give monthly writing advice on Night Owl Reviews! Check it out if you want to up your author game:


December 2017: (Coming Soon)

Four Reasons Why You (Probably) Shouldn’t Bother Writing Short Stories


November 2017: 

Breaking Down What a Story Actually Is…And What It Isn’t

No writing workshop is complete without a definition of a story explained to the audience of aspiring authors. They come in flavors from simple to complicated, though I prefer the simple ones.

A plot is not a story! A plot is a series of events that forms an overarching narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. A plot is stuff that happens. A story is stuff that happens for a reason, which is provided by the characters. At its very basic elements, a story is “plot plus characters.”…


October 2017:

Baking Literary Bread, Part 3: How To Solve Common Story Problems Using the Recipe

Last time, we discussed the correct order and ratio of all the necessary ingredients for a successful story: hook (page 1) -> inciting incident (anytime before plot point 1) -> plot point 1 (PP1; 20-25% mark) -> midpoint (50% mark) -> plot point 2 (PP2; 75% mark) -> climax/denoument (last 90%).

Knowing the correct order and ratio can solve a lot of issues with a manuscript that readers complain about but authors may have a hard time interpreting. Here are a few ambiguous but common problems decoded into their meaning and solution…


September 2017:

Baking Literary Bread, Part 2: The Right Recipe For Success

In my last column, I talked about the critical ingredients to craft a coherent story. You might recall my genius bread-baking metaphor: like a story, there are an infinite number of different kinds of bread you can bake, but all loaves of bread have certain ingredients in common that make it bread rather than cake or pizza. However, just knowing what ingredients to put in isn’t enough. You also need to know the ratio of each, and the order in which they should be added…


August 2017:

Baking Literary Bread, Part 1: The Basic Ingredients Every Story Must Have To Succeed

Everybody who’s ever attempted to bake a delicious loaf of bread from scratch knows firsthand the endeavor is part art, part science. The delicate balance of flavors and textures—that’s art. Ensuring the loaf doesn’t dissolve into a puddle of goo—that’s science. There are an infinite number of different kinds of bread you can bake—banana, zucchini, raisin nut, marble wheat, etc.—but they all have certain ingredients in common—flour, baking soda, salt, water—and require a certain order of preparation—mix ingredients, bake, let cool. Without the right ingredients in specific quantities and in the proper order, you end up with the aforementioned inedible goo…


July 2017:

How To Write A Good Fight/Sex Scene

Let’s be honest—the vast majority of fight/sex scenes in Hollywood and literature only exist to titillate. Most could be replaced by a sign or sentence that says “And then they have sex,” or “And then they fight.” I lump sex scenes and fight scenes together because the mechanics and purposes of both are very similar…