Write like an arsonist

Jon August advises you write your stories with pen in one hand and matches in the other.

As the writer, you need to burn down houses. You need to push characters out of their safe places into the big scary world — and make sure they can never get back. Sure, their stated quest might be to get home, but your job is to make sure that wherever they end up is a new and different place.

It’s easy to think of dozens of great movies that never really burn the house down. But the better exercise is to look at your own scripts and ask, (a) what could burn, and (b) why haven’t I lit it on fire?

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Burn it down