Author’s Corner: Flawed Characters

Flawed Characters Create Meaning A plot with underdeveloped characters is little more than light and sound. No matter how well explosions and spectacle may be reported, story is ultimately about character. And, it is flawed characters that are most believable. After all, no one’s perfect. It’s easy to think that the surface events of a story are its point, but “drama” doesn’t mean anything without a specific person for it to happen to. Even the most dramatic prose relies on … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: How to End your Novel

The Ending of a Story There are three parts of a story that are difficult to write: the beginning, the middle, and the end. I don’t say that to be funny. Each part has its own special set of challenges, but today I want to talk specifically about the function of a story’s ending. Whether or not a story works depends on how well its beginning, middle, and ending hang together. When viewed in this manner, it is quite clear that all three parts are equally important. Indeed, the ending, … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: Questions to Ask your Characters

The most important part of your novel is the part that will never be seen by the reader. The part’s just for you … the part that only you know. Well, you and your characters. The Character Study There are so many ways to do a character study – a letter your character writes to a friend, a confession your character makes to his therapist, or a list of things you want to know about him. However, you cannot write a good novel without knowing who your characters are, inside out. Author … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: Quit Worrying About Making It Big

Everyone makes mistakes … even seasoned writers … but that's okay, because each mistake is a great learning opportunity. I must be getting smart by now, because I’ve made plenty of my own errors over the years. I’ve had a bundle of mishaps, including the error of using too much exposition, or too little. Neglecting research, or researching too much. The one I’ve been thinking about this week is the mistake writers make by worrying about what happens when they make it big. Have you … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: Are You Wandering Aimlessly?

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has been unbelievable, on so many levels. From the speed at which it spread, to the closing of borders, stores, schools and universities … and the cancellation of conferences, seminars, and businesses in general. It’s been a long, dark road. The discussions about opening up again are all interesting, but they are split between encouraging massive bursts of productivity and gentle, realistic spurts of things that are more manageable. So many authors I … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: Why Does Your Book Pitch Matter?

Why Does Your Book Pitch Matter? When it comes to trying to sell your book, there’s a lot of noise out there. As a writer, I find I’m always listening to other people’s conversations. Don’t get me wrong … I don’t do it to eavesdrop … it’s just a habit I developed to help me understand how people really talk to each other. It’s enormously helpful when crafting realistic dialogue. I was at a writers’ conference, when something I overheard really struck me. While standing in the registration … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: Believable Characters

How Do You Make Your Characters Believable? A story is a composite of myriad pieces: point-of-view, setting, theme, plot, action, conflict, character, pacing, dialogue and more. You need all of these parts to make good fiction work but, in my mind, none is as vital as character. No matter how we dress them up, stories will always be about people. The trick, of course, is making the people featured worth reading about. Readers want interesting plots, true. They want to be impressed by … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: When Did You Start?

When Did You Start to Write Stories? I’ve been thinking about all the wannabe authors out there. I suppose it’s because I’m in the same boat with them. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I write because I feel the urge to put my stories down for others to read. It’s something I have to do. Have to … even though I occasionally wonder if I’m relevant. For instance, I often hear young people talking about what cool new music they’ve been listening to and, if they bother to ask me … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: Creative Ideas

So, Where Do Creative Ideas Come From? The answer might surprise you. In Paul McCartney’s biography, he shared this secret: “… John often had just the first verse, which was always enough. It was the direction … the signpost … the inspiration for the whole song. I hate the word, but it was the template.” In other words, The Beatles, the most successful rock band in history, used a template to create blockbuster songs. They’re not the only ones. For instance, Agatha Christie, one of the … [Read more...]

Author’s Corner: Generating Ideas

Generating Ideas One of the most common questions a published author is asked is “Where do you get your story ideas? New writers sometimes think ideas are just supposed to pop into an author’s head … or else they use some secret formula. But fully-formed story ideas don’t do that - not usually, anyway. Nor do most established authors have some magic formula. The truth is they probably already have more great ideas than they could ever write. Every how-to book on writing will tell you … [Read more...]