Category Archives: writing

Whose story is it? POV and tense

Dear readers,

Today’s Wreader (writer-reader) question is: how do you choose point-of-view for your novel? What about past vs. present tense?

From the Talking Heads, quoted in BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: “Facts all come with points-of-view/ Facts don’t do what I want them to do.” I’m pretty sure most writers have felt the frustration of his or her facts and story sliding around from one character’s viewpoint to another! Not to mention tension about tense.

Tense tension

So how do you choose what POV to use? What tense? Do we just sort of shut our eyes and throw darts at the narrational dartboard? Not at all. Luckily, there are guidelines for this sort of thing. At least in my book(s).


Dear Readers,
Ever heard of a blog roll? I hadn’t–until the publication of my second novel, THE STORMCHASERS. Prior to that, the phrase conjured Paul-Bunyan type images of trotting atop rolling tree trunks surging down a muddy river. (I’ve got roots in MN, remember.)
logrolling (MN HIst Society) for creative process blog
What I learned while promoting THE STORMCHASERS is that a blog roll actually is not all that unlike a log roll, except you’re sending ideas out into the world and trying to keep them afloat–via other writers. I was lucky enough this week to be hollered to from a nearby log by another novelist, Henriette Power (author of THE CLOVER HOUSE, which if you haven’t read yet, you definitely should put on the very top of your summer list!). Henriette answered questions about her writing process on her blog, and then she threw the questions to me.  So here are my answers about writing process–and as soon as I’m done I’m yodeling to the writer on the next log, so stay tuned to see who posts their writing process thoughts next.


Motivation Time

Hi Jenna! I know you’re very busy, but I have a question. I’ve finally begun the actual writing of the first draft of my thesis, but I’m finding it tough to get motivated. I am constantly thinking about my project, but yet I find that once I sit down to write about it, everything goes out the window. Do you ever experience this?? If you do, what do you do to get past it??

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Why Go To Writers’ Conferences? Writer on The Road: AWP, March 2013.

Dear Writer-Readers,

Do you dread writers’ conferences? Picture them as seething seas of competitive writers jockeying for position, throwing elbows, pushing each other’s faces into the primordial literary ooze? Me too. But they’re not really like that. Why you needn’t dread them and why you should go: 12+ reasons I gleaned from this year’s AWP in Boston.

Time for another…AWP.

My new Writer on The Road column for Grub Street, live now!

Enjoy–and write on.

x Jenna.

Thieves, Stalking Exes, Jail Time, and Ghosts: Best & Worst of the book tours, oh my!

Dear Readers,

Just about every writer (myself included) has dealt on tour with Invisible Audience Syndrome: the readings where NOBODY SHOWS UP. But some writers have had much more hair-raising experiences than that. In honor of so many friends publishing books this spring, I’ve compiled a Best & Worst of the Book Tours column for Grub Street. Here are some of these moments, featuring thieves, stalking exes, jail time, and ghosts.

Best & Worst of the Book Tours: Writer(s) on the Road




What Happens After?

Dear Readers:

This morning I got an email from a reader wanting to know what had happened to Trudy after the end of THOSE WHO SAVE US. It’s a fairly frequent question, not just about Trudy but about all the characters–and not posed just to me but, I imagine, to many writers. I was just listening to an audio essay by Stephen King on this same topic, how readers will ask him what happened to this character or that?  “As if,” Mr. King said, “I get letters from them every now and then.”