Be a Problem Solver

Problem solving is what I do. It’s what my activity is, all day, sometimes a sentence, sometimes a whole book. My satisfactions come from solving those problems. It’s work, just endless work. – Philip Roth One night, about ten years ago, I wrote a short novel. Yes, I wrote it in one night. I began at about four o’clock in the afternoon and I finished up at about ten o’clock the next morning. It was almost 40,000 words. The words just flowed like water. About once a year I read through that novel and try to think of a way … Continue reading Be a Problem Solver

John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Earn Your Ending

I am not opposed to happy endings. When you spend the length of a movie or a book rooting for one or more characters, you want things to work out well for them. That is human nature. You are invested in the characters. An unhappy ending, however, is preferable to an unearned ending. Nothing spoils a story for me more than seeing things work out (or not work out) for a character because of random events or manipulative reasons. Even if I’m rooting for the character, I don’t want them to succeed because of some lucky stroke of fate at … Continue reading John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Earn Your Ending

John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Join a Writer’s Group

Joining a writer’s group (or poet’s group) can be a frustrating experience. You have to show up every session with something new for your peers to look at. Chances are, the people in the group will pick your work apart. They’ll reveal flaws you never thought were flaws. They’ll make you defensive and at times discouraged. Sometimes their criticism will make you wonder if you are surrounded by geniuses or idiots. So, why do it? Because it will make you a better writer. It will teach you to examine your work from a reader’s point-of-view. It will teach you when … Continue reading John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Join a Writer’s Group

John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Save What You Write

You never know when the words you write today, even the ones you don’t like, will come in handy later. The paper you wrote for a class in 1998 might suddenly be of use to you in 2009. The chapter you decided didn’t work in your novel might be just the thing you need three drafts later. The poem you hate might have one line that you’ll want to use in another poem. The journal you wrote about your trip to Mexico could give you background material for a travel article five years from now. Whatever the case, your old … Continue reading John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Save What You Write

John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Explaining the Unreliable Narrator

See Also: Deciding on a Narrative Voice An unreliable narrator is a first-person narrator that for some reason has a compromised point-of-view. In all stories with a first-person narrator, the narrator serves as a filter for the events. What the narrator does not know or observe cannot be explained to the reader. Usually, however, the reader trusts that the narrator is knowledgeable and truthful enough to give them an accurate representation of the story. In the case of an unreliable narrator (sometimes called a fallible narrator), the reader has reason not to trust what the narrator is saying. The narrator … Continue reading John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Explaining the Unreliable Narrator

John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Write Every Day

If you want to grow as a writer you need to start writing. You need to get involved in the process. Every day you should spend some time putting words together and thinking about your craft. Some people have the time and inclination to write for hours every day while others have jobs, hobbies and obligations that occupy much of their time. You don’t have to be the person who spends all day every day in front of a computer, typewriter or notebook, but you need to spend some time. If you aren’t willing to do this then you need … Continue reading John Hewitt’s Writing Tips: Write Every Day