Trained as an artist in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, I was one of the first creatives to be employed in the computer graphics industry in Toronto during the early 1980’s. For several years, I exhibited my animal portraiture in Canada and the U.S. but when my parents needed care, I began writing as a way to stay close to them. I’ve been writing ever since. I run a highly successful local writer’s circle, teaching the craft and techniques of good writing. Many of my students have gone on to publish works of their own. I create courses aimed at seniors who wish to write memoirs, with a focus on the psychology of creatives and the alleviation of procrastination and writer's block.

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Part Three — The Seven Universal Emotions

    In Part One, I mentioned that, through the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, we’ve learned that there are seven main expressions common to every culture.    Emotions occur in response to some kind of stimulus (actual, imagined, or re-lived) such as: a physical event a social interaction remembering or imagining an event talking about, thinking about, or physically reenacting a past emotional experience No matter where in the world we live, no matter how remote, we all display the same expressions for the same emotions. Even congenitally blind people who have never seen these emotions on other people’s faces spontaneously show the same facial expressions.    Anger When things go…

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Part Two — The Seven Universal Emotions

    In Part One, I mentioned that, through the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, we’ve learned that there are seven main expressions common to every culture.   Emotions occur in response to some kind of stimulus (actual, imagined, or re-lived) such as: a physical event a social interaction remembering or imagining an event talking about, thinking about, or physically reenacting a past emotional experience No matter where in the world we live, no matter how remote, we all display the same expressions for the same emotions. Even congenitally blind people who have never seen these emotions on other people’s faces spontaneously show the same facial expressions.   What Are Facial Expressions?…

  • Creative Writing,  Point of View and Character Development

    Everything I Know About Character Development, I Learned From My Dog

      In a recent conversation at the dog park, some of the owners were discussing the idea that when it comes to sussing out the intentions of other people (and dogs), our dogs are far more perceptive than their owners.   It occurred to me that I too, trust my dog’s instincts more than my own. At the very least, his response to other people gives me a second opinion I can factor into my first impression.   On more than one occasion, my dogs have alerted me to questionable characters in time to avoid uncomfortable situations, and now that I’m better attuned to their body language, I can see…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series — Blog Post (continued)

    Part Six — How to Format and Schedule a Blog Post     Why Format? A blog post is not a book. It’s not an article. It’s not even an essay. An essay has one main purpose — to communicate to the reader the point the writer wants to make. This could be informing, changing an opinion, teaching a topic, or sharing an anecdote.    But a blog post has many purposes in addition to its content. Yes, it does the same things as an essay but it has a multitude of different ways to convey information in the fastest, most efficient way possible, not all of them text-based. A…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series — Blog Post

    Part Five — How to Write a Blog Post 1. Why write a blog? — Your Purpose Your purpose informs and directs everything you write, from the material you include, to your style, voice and content.   Once you figure out WHY you want to write it, you’ll be well on the way to knowing what you want to write about. Your Purpose is a through-line that ties everything together, giving you a roadmap which lets you see what fits and what doesn’t.  But as long as you’re missing this key ingredient of Purpose, your blog will continue to be disjointed, scattered and lacking in cohesion.   Defining your Purpose…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Personal Essay

    The personal essay is an autobiographical narrative or story relating a significant personal experience that shaped or changed the writer. A good one can inspire readers and move them to ask questions or take action.   The purpose of a personal essay is to introduce the writer to readers. It presents the writer as a personality, a character in a factually accurate narrative. Personal essays entertain and engage the reader with attention to literary style and technique. They’re based on truth, and they illustrate the writer’s outlook through the use of personal experiences and conclusions. Readers want to know and understand who the writer really is, not just the events that…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Informal Essay

    Part Three — The  Informal Essay The informal essay is characterized by the personal element — self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner, humour, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty. Its main departure from formal essays is its use of personal pronouns, using inclusive references to I, we, or you, where a formal essay tends to be more distanced and remote. In informal writing, we create a direct contact between ourselves and the reader.    Informal essays are much more personal than the formal essay. Informal essays mean we can express our personal opinion rather than simply presenting the facts. We’ll still include some facts, but we’ll be offering our…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Formal Essay

    Part Two — The Formal Essay For the month of July, we’re concentrating on a series about creating short pieces that engage and impact the reader. Last week we covered the Implied Contract between writer and reader and how it determines what we write.    This week, we’ll dive a little deeper into how to write them.   What is an Essay?   The structural basis of effective short pieces is the essay. In school, we learned the basics of essay writing, but in most cases, we couldn’t see the point of learning it. It wasn’t something we thought we’d ever use. But nowadays, everyone communicates online, so the more…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting,  Training, Lessons

    Essay Series – Implied Contract

    Part One — The Implied Contract Last year, I wrote a post on How to Focus a Blog Post, but since then, I’ve received a number of further questions, so it seems there are more answers to be explored.   For the month of July, I’ll be concentrating on a series about creating short pieces that engage and impact the reader. We’ll cover the implied contract between writer and reader and how it determines what you write, the essay structure and how it applies to short stories, personal memoirs and blog posts, and we’ll cover blog posts and the proper way to present an argument. We’ll go through a series…

  • Point of View and Character Development,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    Karma and Character Development

    Karma’s a bitch!” We hear that all the time. Somebody does something good, they get good karma. Something bad happens to someone, it’s because they have bad karma. It’s justice, retribution and balancing the scales of right and wrong.   Right?   Wrong!   Karma is commonly understood to mean our actions, words or deeds and their outcomes. But I believe that this interpretation is specious. Karma’s more profound than that.   Believers in spirituality come a little closer. For them, karma refers to the spiritual circle of cause and effect, often called the “Principle of Karma”, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that…