Writing What I Know

A puzzle piece missing from a head illustrates my understanding of writing what I know

Writers are often advised to “Write what you know.” This well-worn phrase encourages writers to base their stories around subjects they understand and experiences they have had. But if followed strictly, this advice does not leave much material for storytelling. Writing what I know would leave my stories populated entirely by white men, dealing only with sports and forensic science. … Read more

The Three-Act Structure and Violent Socialization

Diagram of the three-act structure for stories

Great stories are built upon a careful organization of characters and plot. The main characters face conflict and engage in action that builds to a resolution. Skilled storytellers, whether they are writers or not, have a knack for this organization. Their stories are easy to understand and follow. They tantalize you with details and reveal twists and punch lines at … Read more

Understanding Evil

Prisoners at the Ebensee Concentration Camp

Understanding evil has long posed a significant problem for moral philosophers, especially since the end of World War II. Even today, philosophers disagree about what constitutes evil and the potential consequences of labeling a person or action as evil. In this essay, I draw on the work of Hannah Arendt to describe evil actions. I then discuss my struggle toward … Read more

Big Ideas: Parabellum

Big Ideas: Parabellum

Two heads, or focused notes. The need for one or more big ideas on which to construct the framework of a novel became especially obvious as I wrote my second book, The Friar’s Lantern. It was the most complex story I had ever written, and I had to constantly remind myself of a few key concepts that would hold the … Read more

What’s in a Name?

What's in a Name? - Parabellum

I’ve settled on a working title for my new novel about the story behind a mass shooting incident: Parabellum. Here’s why I chose that name: 1. 9 mm Parabellum is the European name for the 9 mm Luger cartridge, a popular caliber of handgun cartridge. 2. The name Parabellum derives from the Latin adage “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” which … Read more