Author Archives: zadmin

The 6 Challenges of Writing a Second Novel

Writing your first story is a special experience. It brings many difficulties and challenges, but it also tends to carry itself (and you) along with a sense of passion, fun, and discovery. When we finish it, we may think, Well, it can only get easier from here, right? But as many sophomore writers can attest, writing […]

How to Write About the Pandemic (or Not)

Note From KMW: For almost two years now, a question I have frequently received from readers is: “How to write about the pandemic?” Most often, I’ve heard this question from those who are (or were) writing stories set in the present day or the near future. Now that both have changed, perhaps forever, in ways both […]

6 Ways to Craft Spectacular Set-Piece Scenes

What are set-piece scenes? They’re the big ones. They’re the scenes that define your story, not just in terms of plot mechanics, but particularly in terms of scope and impact. These are the scenes your audience will remember when they think about your story. They’re the scenes they’ll remember even when they’ve forgotten everything else about […]

Do You Have to Write Every Day? 10 Pros and Cons

Should writers make it a habit to write every day? Is that the secret to success? Is that what distinguishes “real” writers? I used to think so. Often, when someone would ask me for my single recommendation for other writers, my go-to response was to reiterate some form of the advice from Peter de Vries […]

The Role of the Antagonist in Story Structure, Pt. 1 of 2

If you’re a student of story structure, then you probably have a pretty good idea how each of the major plot beats affects your protagonist—and, indeed, how the protagonist in turn drives the plot beats. But what about the antagonist? What is the role of the antagonist in story structure? Plot can be described in […]

6 Ways to Find Your Best Ideas Before You Start Writing

For writers, ideas are the primal matter. No ideas, no stories. But sometimes trying to figure out how to find your best ideas is like catching butterflies. They flit in; they flit out. If we aren’t paying attention, sometimes we don’t even recognize that they’ve been there. Even when we do stop short in awe […]

The Role of the Antagonist in Story Structure, Pt. 2 of 2

One way to think about plot is as a “push-pull between protagonist and antagonist.” Although the protagonist is the character who frames and, indeed, decides the story’s structure, the role of the antagonist in story structure is equally important. Last week, I shared an overview of the antagonist’s role in the first five major structural […]

How to Know When You’re a Successful Author?

How to know when you’re a successful author? I suppose almost every writer asks this at some point—and very likely at frequent points. There are multiple ways to define and measure the answer. For many of us, the answer seems come down to commercial success. And yet because commercial success is sometimes elusive, this metric […]

Ada Limón on Why Being Witnessed Is Essential For an Artist

First Draft: A Dialogue of Writing is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with fiction, nonfiction, essay writers, and poets, highlighting the voices of writers as they discuss their work, their craft, and the literary arts. Hosted by Mitzi Rapkin, First Draft celebrates creative writing and the individuals who are dedicated to bringing their carefully […]