Pitch Perfect

This material was originally published in the Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye, edited by Katharine Sands Pitch Perfectby Jandy Nelson Years ago, I received a query letter that began: “I am a Vietnamese American man, a witness to the Fall of Saigon, a prisoner of war, an escapee, a … Continue reading

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Medicare Essay

This year Marlee Millman wrote an essay to read to her family and friends who were gathering to celebrate her 65th birthday in her hometown of Chicago. She was excited and wanted to have a speech prepared. She emailed me: Hi Sheila, Here’s the beginning of my essay on meeting Medicare. It’s hard to believe … Continue reading

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Writing About Your Day Job

So often, we believe we have to put our daytime work aside in order to write and in order to reach the place inside ourselves where writing comes from. But I believe we will be more successful at tapping into and mining the writing part of ourselves if instead of always waiting for the time … Continue reading

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Servings Per Container

After creating an exercise from which her fiction writing students wrote stories, Meg did the exercise herself.  She says, “In my story, a woman is suddenly afraid to leave a grocery store. Why? As I began the story, I didn’t know. I had this scrap of paper that said ‘Fear of exiting a supermarket.’ So … Continue reading

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The Most Promising Fictional Characters are Obsessed

“Our most promising fictional characters are obsessed,” says Meg Files, Writing It Real correspondent and author of Write From Life: Turning Your Personal Experiences into Compelling Stories. “They’re looking desperately for love or passion or parents or fame. They’re searching for answers to questions they can barely ask. Their obsessions offer writers a way to … Continue reading

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