New DIY MFA Post – and Happy (Belated) New Year!

Happy (belated) New Year, everyone! Things have been super-busy on the editing and writing fronts since 2020 began, so I haven’t had an opportunity to post anything sooner. But I do hope your year has gotten off to a fantastic start, and I wish you the best in your creative pursuits, health, and happiness.

Now, guess what else I have for you today? My latest DIY MFA post! This time, I share five recommendations for books that are great examples of the theme of man and the natural world. And some of my picks might surprise you. I wanted to include a variety of genres and different kinds of stories. As a result, this list includes a classic tale involving a garden, an out-of-this-world example from science fiction, and a memoir featuring the most lovable owl you’ll ever read about. 😉

Continue reading

New DIY MFA Post: Why Is the Theme of Man and the Natural World Important?

How often do you come across nature? Even if you live in an urban area, the answer is probably, “Every day.” The natural world impacts every aspect of our lives, from our commutes to and from work and our weekend plans, to our ability to breathe and the soundness of our homes. We could even say that our relationship with nature is as ripe with conflict as the relationship between two characters in a story.

Maybe that’s why so many writers have explored the theme of man and the natural world in their work. But why exactly is this theme important? I explore five of those reasons in today’s edition of Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA.

Continue reading

New Post at DIY MFA, Plus a Quick Note

“How is topic different from theme?” This very question bubbled up while I was working on my previous Theme: A Story’s Soul post. So I figured, “Why not explore it further?” Many writers mistakenly use the terms “topic” and “theme” interchangeably, and this would be the perfect opportunity to explain how they’re different – and how topic is actually a vehicle for illustrating theme.

Continue reading

New DIY MFA Article on the “Why” Behind Our Writing

DiyMFA

I took a new direction with my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post for DIY MFA. Instead of digging into the craft of literary themes, I explore how our unique passions, curiosities, and values often emerge as themes in our work. It’s more personal than usual – especially for me, since I also share what inspired the post and how I found the “why” behind my own WIP. But I hope this article starts a thoughtful discussion on how the things that matter to us become part of our stories.

Click here to read “The ‘Why’ Behind Our Writing.”

Got any questions or suggestions for Theme: A Story’s Soul? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @SaraL_Writer with the hashtag #DIYMFA or #AStorysSoul.

New DIY MFA Article on the Act I Choice, Plus a New Worksheet!

DiyMFA

After my recent DIY MFA post on themes arising from the inciting incident, I wondered whether other major plot points could also reflect a story’s heart. So, the newest installment of my Theme: A Story’s Soul column does just that. Today we look at the pivotal choice that ends Act I, or the “Point of No Return” that was covered in the Character Evolution Files.

Continue reading

New DIY MFA Article on Antagonists, Plus a New Worksheet + The DIY MFA Book!

DiyMFA

Most writers would agree that the relationship (or rather, conflict?) between the protagonist and the antagonist is one of the most important “bonds” in a story. How important, though? More than we might think. In my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post at DIY MFA, we examine how this unique relationship offers a goldmine of literary themes through the characters’ interactions and conflicting goals.  Continue reading

Time Flies!: May 2016 (Plus, An Important Announcement)

Time Flies Banner

Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

Good morning, everyone! (Or good afternoon or evening, if it’s that time for you right now.)

Welcome to Isengard

I’m going to keep this month’s intro short. We have a lot to cover, especially some upcoming changes to my blogging schedule. So, let’s get right to the recap:

Continue reading

New DIY MFA Post on Inciting Incidents, Plus A New Worksheet + Storytelling Superpowers

DiyMFA

An inciting incident has a crucial and unique responsibility in novel-writing. Sure, it’s the first major plot point in a story – but it also launches the protagonist into the main conflict and sparks the beginning of his character arc. And as we discover in today’s Developing Themes In Your Stories post at DIY MFA, it’s also one of the first scenes in the story where literary themes can bloom. Continue reading

Time Flies!: April 2016

Time Flies Banner

Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

Happy Day Before May Day, everyone! 🙂

Just a quick note before we jump into this month’s recap: I might not be around to respond to comments on this and other posts until Monday. My parents are finally moving to Cape Cod this weekend, so I’ll be away from the computer most of the time. I’m hoping to catch up with any replies and such next week!

Also, don’t forget to enter the latest thank-you giveaways! They end at midnight EST on Tuesday, May 3rd. If you’re a writer or an avid reader, then these should pique your interest. 😉

Now, here’s what happened during April:

Continue reading

New DIY MFA Post on Themes in Symbolism, New Worksheet, + Awesome Surprise!

DiyMFA

Remember my Developing Themes In Your Stories series that DIY MFA ran last year? It’s back! Today’s Theme: A Story’s Soul post tackles symbolism, one of the most thought-provoking yet challenging aspects of novel-writing. Don’t be intimidated, though – it turns out that symbolism is more closely connected to theme than we might think. It starts by knowing what kinds of symbols we can draw from and which questions we should ask to help us find the right symbols to reflect our story’s themes. Continue reading