Fiction Writing

Fundamentals of Fiction Writing Online Fiction Writing Course

My new online writing class, Fundamentals of Fiction Writing, is now open for enrollment. This is a self-paced, nine-week course. You may begin the class at any time.

In this course, you will learn how to write a story or novel using the fundamental building blocks of fiction. The course is divided into nine sections. Each craft section focuses on an essential element of narrative craft. Through video and written lectures, you will learn the tools you need to begin writing fiction:

  • Characterization
  • Point of View
  • Setting and Description
  • Dialogue
  • Plot
  • Structure

In the final week, we will focus on revision, a necessary step to getting your work out into the world.

Each section includes writing exercises to help you practice what you’ve learned and deepen your understanding of the material, as well as a discussion forum and suggestions for further reading.

Who should take this class:

If you’ve always wanted to write a story or novel but don’t know where to begin, or if you took a couple of writing classes in the past and want to brush up on your knowledge and reinvigorate your writing practice, this course is for you. Led by a New York Times bestselling author with more than a decade of experience teaching creative writing at the university level, Fundamentals of Fiction Writing provides a great foundation for anyone interested in writing short stories, novels, or novellas.

Although this is not a critique class, your enrollment entitles you to a free one-hour Google hangout, during which I will answer student questions. You can also subscribe to the workshop add-on to get one-on-one critiques from the instructor.

The regular tuition for Fundamentals of Fiction Writing  is $79, but readers of this blog can enroll in July for just $49.

Use coupon code serif to get 30% off in July, 2014. (expires June 31, 2014).

Or follow this link to get the discounted rate.



Read More

Writer success story – why sometimes you have to tune out the criticism

Roald Dahl authored dozens of books, including the beloved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach

“This boy is an indolent and illiterate member of the class.” age 16, summer term English composition

“A persistent muddler, vocabulary negligible, sentences malconstructed. He reminds me of a camel.” Summer term 1932, age 16, English composition

“Consistently idle, ideas limited.” Autumn term, 1932, English composition


Roald Dahl is a great writer. He is probably my favorite writer.” Oscar, age 9



Read More


The Art of Simplicity – tips for writers from graphic designer Chip Kidd

I’ve been reading Chip Kidd’s Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design. Although the book was written for a younger audience, it’s a gorgeous, superbly readable crash course in the history and principles of graphic design.

One of the lessons that writers can take to heart is Kidd’s explanation of simplicity vs. complexity. “Simple, direct visual elements will get the attention of your viewer in a different way than complex images that the writer will have to decode,” Kidd writes. Complexity, on the other hand, “has to be very carefully managed or it becomes chaos.”

The best writing strikes a balance between simplicity and complexity. As a writer and as a reader, I am drawn to very direct sentences that are simple to navigate. I’m not talking about sentences that are very short, or sentences in which vocabulary is limited to the lowest common denominator. I’m talking about sentences that are clear and meaningful. The writer’s goal, on a sentence by sentence level, should be clarity. Overblown descriptions, adjective pile-ups, and self-conscious phrasing hinder clarity. Any sentence that screams “look at me!” fails the reader. The writer’s job is to communicate a story. The sentences should be clean enough to communicate that story effectively.

For me, complexity comes into the picture in the construction of the plot and the pattern of the novel. Kidd uses a wonderful spirograph illustration to demonstrate the principle of complexity. When you write a novel, there are many elements at play, including character, theme, plot, setting, and point of view. All of these elements must somehow find their way into an elegant design. The elements intersect throughout the novel with various degrees of symmetry, layered in a way that makes each element visible but none overpowering.

Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels and two award-winning story collections. Ger her latest novel, Golden State.

Kidd’s book is a wonderful experience for anyone interested in graphic design or the visual arts. But it is also a powerful reminder that, as writers, we can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere.

Read More