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Category: Writing

What Makes a Strong Female Character?

What Makes a Strong Female Character?

In a recent article in Washington Monthly, Nancy LeTourneau wrote about how the web of ideas we have inherited from the patriarchy had distorted our idea of what it means to be a strong man. What’s disturbing to me is that, in young adult fantasy fiction, the distorted notion of strength also warps how we imagine a strong woman. We have moved along from writing the female character as a damsel in distress, but instead we often borrow the limited notion…

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Remember the Dog

Remember the Dog

I’m drafting a book tentatively called The Trickster. Its central character is Dilly, who appears as a secondary character in The Wind Reader. There, she’s nearly always accompanied by her dog, Tuc. I can’t remember why I originally gave Dilly a dog. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. And Tuc turned out to be useful to the three street kids who mobbed up together in that book. He guarded them. He hunted the rats in the abandoned…

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How to write disabled characters

How to write disabled characters

A hopeful current trend in fiction is the press for diverse characters. I’ve mostly seen this call for inclusiveness aimed at diversity in sexual or racial identity, but we need to open up the kind of characters we read and write even further. If we want to write inclusive books, we need to include disabled characters. On June 27, my publisher, Inspired Quill, will release The Wysman, a sequel to The Wind Reader. The Wind Readerfeatured a group of three street kids: Doniver, Jarka,…

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Book trailer for THE WYSMAN

Book trailer for THE WYSMAN

My fabulous publisher, Inspired Quill, made a book trailer for The Wysman. It makes even me want to read the book! THE WYSMAN is available for pre-order and will release on June 27. “The Grabber is just a fright tale.” Former street kid Jarka was born with a crooked foot and uses a crutch, but that no longer matters now that he’s an apprentice Wysman, training to advise the king. When poor kids start to go missing from the city’s streets, though,…

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On Interviewing Characters

On Interviewing Characters

One thing I sometimes do in the name of character development is interview my characters. I have a list of questions I reuse that fit my genre, plus I add some questions that seem right for the particular character. It’s possible to conduct an interview as part of the preparation for drafting, but I get to know my characters by watching them act. So I usually wait until I finish my first draft. Below are some of the questions I…

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How Not To Write Talking Heads

How Not To Write Talking Heads

Dialogue is a crucial element in fiction. A writer uses it to convey information, reveal character, or show conflict. But the characters delivering that dialogue should feel like real, physical people in a physical world. In other words, they shouldn’t look like talking heads. Action tags Typically, writers try to avoid talking heads by interspersing character actions between the lines of dialogue. For example, the characters may be sharing a meal, so they take a drink or cut a slice…

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Writing During a Pandemic

Writing During a Pandemic

You want to know what I’ve learned about writing during a pandemic? It’s hard. And for me at least, maybe impossible in any sustained way. That’s what I’ve learned. For the first couple of weeks, I felt guilty because I had all this extra time while I was locked down at home, and yet I was producing nothing much longer than a tweet. But then, last night, at my weekly writer group meeting, now conducted on Zoom, someone else said…

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Overcoming Writer’s Block

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Sometimes writing is easy. You’re in the zone. The words pour out. Good words! But sometimes, writing is so difficult it feels impossible. You have the dreaded writer’s block. There can be different reasons for writer’s block, and overcoming it depends on why you have it. Fear, boredom, and unarticulated problems with the book can all play a role. Here are some suggestions that have helped me manage to keep writing. Fear Writing sometimes feels like undressing in public. You…

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How to find an agent, publisher, short story site

How to find an agent, publisher, short story site

One of the questions I’m commonly asked is how I found an agent, a publisher, or a venue for a short story. Today’s post is meant to share some of the resources I’ve found to be useful, all of them free. Short story sites For short stories, I use the Submission Grinder. You set the search terms for genre, length, and several other factors, including the minimum payment you’re willing to accept. For some reason, if you just want to be…

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Rejection: A Writer’s Least Favorite (but inevitable) Event

Rejection: A Writer’s Least Favorite (but inevitable) Event

Writers get rejected. They get rejected all the time. It’s not an exception. It’s the norm. Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times. Gertrude Stein submitted poems for 22 years before having one accepted. I’ve written before on writer anxiety, which is a related but not identical to fear of rejection. Writer anxiety comes from how you judge your own writing. You think it’s terrible. You feel like an imposter who’s going to be found out any day now. Fear of rejection, on…

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