Novelist and essayist. Director of the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. Find out more at
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You’ve already done a deep dive into your genre, and you’ve thought about the kind of scenes your genre needs to fulfill reader expectations. Now you can start developing your characters.

In elementary and high school, if we did any creative writing, we were often encouraged to start with a…

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The first thing every aspiring novelist of popular (or commercial/genre) fiction needs to do is to identify their genre and then make sure they fully understand that genre’s expectations.

What are genre expectations?

Popular fiction is often dismissed as formulaic by its critics. And they’re not wrong! Part of the pleasure of reading within…

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Our lives are inundated with people selling us ways to be as productive as possible. Planners, podcasts, and life coaches often have the same message: you, too, can be a veritable machine of productivity, and we’ll teach you how for this low price.

They’re not lying. There are, indeed, better…

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This year has been rough, between the pandemic, my gallbladder going rogue, and just generally feeling like I don’t know what the fuck I should be doing with my life. I’m a professor and after earning tenure, I was definitely Burned Out. The biggest problem, for me as a writer…

This Is Us

Illustration: Alex Eben Meyer

As I write this, my city is on lockdown in response to the spread of Covid-19 — which means it’s just me and my body, alone together, in my little row house in Pittsburgh. I can’t go to the gym, obviously. I’m cooking for myself, and eating alone. I’m not…

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Even though I love to, I normally only bake on special occasions. After all, it’s time consuming, and I don’t need three dozen cookies or an entire cake to eat by myself.

That’s all changed, with this pandemic. Now I’m baking up a storm and super grateful my neighbors aren’t…

Nicole Peeler

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