Category Archives: Fiction

How Long Does a Story Have to Be?

I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing Brady Udall’s “The Wig,” a micro-fiction that won First Prize in Story Magazine’s Short Short Competition. This gem is proof positive that you can tell a great story with all fictive elements intact in little more than a page. I’ll follow the text with an analysis. Meanwhile, enjoy:  … Continue Reading

Mock Character Interview

This month I decided to do a mock interview with the protagonist of my novella, Ninth-Month Midnight. Readers, meet Dolores Walsh: Interviewer: It’s a pleasure to have here today Dolores Walsh, a 39-year-old full-time mother and former schoolteacher living in Queens, New York. Thank you for consenting to this interview, Dolores. Let me plunge right… Continue Reading

Practicing the Craft of Fiction

I recently did an interview that touched on the elements of fiction from a craft perspective for The Dark Phantom Review. What follows are excerpts from that interview, a nitty-gritty give-and-take I hope you’ll find useful. HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT PLOTTING YOUR NOVELLA, NINTH-MONTH MIDNIGHT? OR DID YOU DISCOVER IT AS YOU WORKED ON… Continue Reading

From Theory to Practice: The Elements of Fiction

Quickly, name the elements of fiction. You can probably tick them off on your fingers: character, setting, plot, theme, point of view. Writers immediately recognize these terms but some, I suspect, rarely think about how they function in a given work. This month I thought I’d use my novella, Ninth-Month Midnight, to show them interacting… Continue Reading


Have you ever struggled with that niggling “Are you kidding?” inner voice, as in, “Are you kidding, taking yourself seriously?” Self-doubt afflicts us all at one time or another. This blog post is intended to provide the antidote this particular poison. What follow, Dear Readers, are excerpts of manuscript rejections garnered from the Net. Can… Continue Reading

The Plot’s the Thing, Part Two

This month I turn again to John Gardner for inspiration, paraphrasing his comments on plot generation in The Art of Fiction. Last time, we talked mainly about short story plotting. As Gardner points out, writers labor over plot (as if we didn’t already know!). Trying out one approach after another, they often find that an… Continue Reading

The Not So Novel Novel

The novel has been around for a long, long time. I suspect that’s because it responds at length to our deepest human need for storytelling. It’s not surprising, then, that it’s my go-to genre when I need a fictive fix. Ever since I opened the pages of Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins at the age of eight,… Continue Reading