• Main Character: Who is Your Protagonist?

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    A basic question for every story is this: Who is the main character? Today, many novels alternate POV characters, especially in first person. Or, the novel has an assemblage of characters. This rarely works because the reader needs to have some home base from which to view the story. The choice of a main character affects ...

  • Book Notes: The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

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    One thing that I harp about is the use of great sensory details. When a story is specific, it comes alive. Janet Fox does an amazing job of choosing the exactly right details in her story, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle. She chooses details that create a mood and pull on your emotions. A fairy-tale ...

  • Research for Your Novel

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    Do you think that research is only for nonfiction writers? Wrong. Novelists must get their facts right, too. Here are some things I research. Characters: Research Psychology and Tropes I often research behavior from a psychologist's point-of-view. I want to know the typical stages of grief. Or what are some common character traits of a leader. What ...

  • How to Write a Children’s Picture Book

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    What are your favorite children's picture books? Are they books you remember from your childhood? Are they books you read to your kids? Picture books, maybe more than any other literary genre, call up fond memories. Sharing a picture book with your parents or with your kids--it's more than just a book. It's an experience, ...

  • Sailing with the Pigs: Where Do Ideas Come From?

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    My fabulous brother-in-law HP owns a 2-cabin, ocean-going sailing ship that he docks at Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound. We've gone twice to sail with him, and it's a blast. There's something about letting the wind carry you across the water with no other means of propulsion. Wind in your face. Cold. Thrilling. I wanted to ...

  • OOPS! Continuity in Your Novel

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    Let's say that Marilyn is introduced in Chapter 1 of your novel as a blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty. But in Chapter 10 when she reappears, she's a brunette. Oops! It's a break in continuity. How does that happen? I was once in a school library where the librarian was administering Accelerated Reader tests, which text a student's ...

  • Dialogue: 4 Ways it Goes Wrong

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    Dialogue is an essential part of fiction, the way an author shows a character through what s/he says. And it's so easy to get it wrong. Here are some ways dialogue goes wrong and what to do about it. Trivial. When character talk to each other, the reader doesn't need to listen to the trivial, or ...

  • Expert Help: Defeat the Black Hole

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    Everyone knows that you can't defeat a black hole. Right? But what if you're writing a science fiction story and you NEED your characters to defeat the black hole. Um. Hard. Your readers won't go there with you, unless. . . Seek Experts That's exactly the situation I found myself in. I had set up a science fiction story ...