The COVID-19 Holiday Diet

I want to be the first to recommend the coronavirus as a holiday weight-loss plan. Since high school (I should have graduated in 1970, but I interrupted my educational career with a stint in the military) I have followed the Elvis Presley Holiday Diet Plan. That means I’ve gained only two pounds a year.  Still,Continue reading “The COVID-19 Holiday Diet”

Personality Traits = Memorable Characters

Kira-Anne Pelican, PhD., who researched and wrote the book The Science of Writing Characters, explained at why the best fictional characters stick in our minds. Writers are constantly reminded: create complex heroes and villains. But how, exactly? How do we ensure our characters are satisfyingly complex? Should we just layer weird personality trait upon powerful personalityContinue reading “Personality Traits = Memorable Characters”

Don’t Tell the Reader

Why should you withhold information from the reader? So your readers will wonder. So your readers will guess. So your readers will engage in the story.  In an April 2019 Writer’s Digest blog, Bryan Young highlighted the importance of withholding information until just the right time. The author of 20 books used examples from theContinue reading “Don’t Tell the Reader”

How do you know it’s cliché?

It sounds like it’s been done to death Let’s start with three admissions: everything is derivative; nothing is original; it’s all been done before. But that doesn’t mean clichés are acceptable.  How do I avoid clichés? I don’t. Not in the first draft. I pour everything onto the page, fast as I can, even clichés.Continue reading “How do you know it’s cliché?”

Story Begins with Voice

Listen: “I sent one boy to the gas chamber at Huntsville.” No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy. “They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they take their time.” Paradise, Toni Morrison. Do you hear the storyteller’s voice? Do you hear two different voices?  McCarthy’s protagonist is a Texas sheriff. The old man in theContinue reading “Story Begins with Voice”

Planning your way out of that big empty middle in the plot

Vogler’s Step 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave In the original Star Wars movie, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Luke Skywalker free Princess Leia. Storm troopers chase them through the Death Star, so they blast a hold in the bulkhead and jump. They fall into the garbage dump, and it starts compacting trash. That’s Step 7 of theContinue reading “Planning your way out of that big empty middle in the plot”

Why Readers Care About Characters

Action, Inaction and Raising the Stakes Even if you’re writing a romance, even if you’re writing a children’s book, even if you’re writing nonfiction, you’re writing action scenes. Not an easy task, even for the best novelists and screenwriters. “Writing a good action scene is more difficult than it appears,” wrote screenwriter Brad Johnson, bestContinue reading “Why Readers Care About Characters”

Twisted Sense of Humor? Write Dark Comedy

The very best of the very darkest comedies make audiences laugh at the very sickest and very twistedest stuff. (Yes, of course twistedest is a word. Twist, twister and twistedest.)  In the movie Fargo, Peter Stormare’s character killed Steve Buscemi’s character. Stormare destroyed the evidence by feeding the body into a woodchipper, which spewed bloody meatContinue reading “Twisted Sense of Humor? Write Dark Comedy”

Create Characters from Salvation Army Shoes

Adrian Fogelin brought two bags of used shoes to writer’s conference in St. Augustine, Florida and dumped them on a table. And that’s where I learned the trick of creating male and female characters from a size 13 Nike or a strappy yellow pump. Fogelin is the author of several novels for middle readers andContinue reading “Create Characters from Salvation Army Shoes”