Michael Carr's Blog (6)

Annual Writing Retreat

If you're an aspiring writer, let me recommend attending a

retreat/workshop. You might consider something like Clarion or Viable

Paradise, but even better would be something you can attend on an

annual basis. I go to a weeklong workshop every summer with 5-8 other

writers at Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands.

For one week

every year I am able to leave my other responsibilities behind--father,

husband, innkeeper--and focus 100% on being a writer. I… Continue

Added by Michael Carr on July 13, 2007 at 12:29am — No Comments

The Bozo Tax

Just as it is foolish to gauge the general fitness level of Americans

by walking the aisles of Walmart, so it would be wise not to make

assumptions about the intelligence of flatlanders based on their

behavior when they come north. So whenever I want to shake my head at

someone’s foolish behavior, I’m reminded that it is usually another,

more intelligent guest at the inn who points it out to me.


there is no denying the ability of one person to create… Continue

Added by Michael Carr on June 11, 2007 at 7:08am — No Comments

Using My Imagination

I've mentioned before that some of my best idea gathering comes when

I'm walking around the beaver pond, taking a shower, or lying in bed

before falling asleep. This is when I come up with snippets of dialogue

or interesting plot developments.

The other thing I do during these times (and used to do during boring

work meetings or when listening to an especially boring professor) is

wander into imaginary places in my own life. I imagine myself in… Continue

Added by Michael Carr on May 28, 2007 at 4:48am — No Comments

A Sense of Place

I'm just finishing my Carl Hiaasen book and one thing that is top-shelf

about his novels is the sense of place he brings to the story. I've

only been to Florida twice, both times to Disneyworld, yet after

reading one of his novels feel like I really know Florida. An illusion, of course, but it's one I happily enjoy.

While I have stated before that I need a good plot and characters to

keep me interested in a… Continue

Added by Michael Carr on April 2, 2007 at 1:31am — No Comments

Least Favorite Plot Device Ever

I understand why people use snakes in books and movies. They elicit a

primal fear learned from our ancestors and their ancestors before. You

don't have to walk upright and use tools to know better than to pick up

strange slithering things. Still, can you at least get the science


Movies are the worst. The anaconda, normally a creeping

thing that almost never emerges from the water in its adult form,

becomes a lightning-fast hunter. Boas and… Continue

Added by Michael Carr on April 2, 2007 at 1:17am — 2 Comments

Some Thoughts About Scenes

A tidbit from James Scott Bell's book Plot & Structure. "Most

often, the best way to create a memorable scene is to intensify the

clash. Two characters oppose each other. They have the strongest

possible reasons to do so."

It took a long time for me to internalize this lesson. In my earlier

stories, there is a lot of physical movement of the characters, as a

substitute for plot movement. Similarly,… Continue

Added by Michael Carr on March 29, 2007 at 1:54am — No Comments

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