Main Character vs. Protagonist vs. Hero

So, I recently directed Henry IV, Part One for the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival, and I noticed something curious—the title character, the main character, the protagonist and the hero are four different people. Check my math:  Title character—King Henry. Obviously. Main character—Falstaff. He’s got by far the most lines and scenes. He’s also the most memorable […]

2020 Year in Review

Ouch. This is a post I’ve put off writing for more than nine months because 2020 was so personally and professionally painful. These review posts are important for accountability and self-assessment. There were some highlights; let’s start with those: I rewrote my twelve-episode web series, Calliope, tailoring it to the pandemic, and shot it with […]


Affordance is an invented word [1] that has a history of redefinition, so it’s an appropriate first entry for this Writer’s Grimoire in which I’m going to redefine, repurpose or reframe words such that they serve as convenient handles for concepts that are useful for writers. I’m familiar with affordance from the tech world, where […]

The Writer’s Grimoire

A grimoire is a book that lists the names of demons by which they can be summoned and bound to serve. I’m adopting that as a metaphor for this dictionary of writing concepts, some of which I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere, some of which I’m figuring out for myself by writing about them and attaching […]

Why I Blog

An unusual topic, perhaps, for my first post in nearly a year. Ironic? Or aspirational? Let’s go with the second answer for now, but only time will tell. In any case, a friend of mine is thinking of starting a blog, and marshaling my supportive arguments (oh, you totally should, because …) prompted me to […]

Tools for Comedy—A Pragmatic Definition

Last time I talked about the rules for playing comedy, then hedged my bets with an epigraph from Pirates of the Caribbean. The truth is, there aren’t rules as such. Rules imply that if you break them, you’re doing something wrong, but comedy is pretty pragmatic. Funny is funny, whether you do it “right” or […]

Rules for Playing Comedy: Choose Funny [1]

“… the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”—Geoffrey Rush,Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl A bit of common, but terrible, advice I see on playing comedy is to treat it the same as drama. There’s a grain of truth in that, but it’s a grain that’s embedded […]

False Friends of Interactive Fiction

In lingustics, false friends are words in distinct languages that seem similar but have different meanings. [1] For example, if you’re learning Spanish as an English-speaker, you get an immediate vocabulary boost from words like elefante (elephant), universidad (university) and responsibilidad (responsibility). Then you run into embarazada which, to your chagrin, does not mean embarrassed […]

What is Interactive Fiction?

I’ve been writing a fair amount of interactive fiction lately, and I run into the problem that, when people ask what I’m working on, there’s no easy answer. Everybody knows what novels, short stories and screenplays are but interactive fiction defies easy characterization. “Sort of a digital Choose Your Own Adventure story,” is what I […]

How To Keep A Writer In Suspense

How to keep a writer in suspense? Short answer: accept their stuff for publication, then sit on it indefinitely. Long answer: (I deleted the long answer. It was starting to sound kinda whiny.) Suffice to say, I’ve written a bunch of stuff that is waiting to be published or otherwise made manifest. But forget that […]