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Writing for Life


Nailing Your Novel’s Genre in Your Opening Scene

woman with hammer

In the last two posts on my blog in this Writing for Life section I’ve been exploring how writers can target genres that sell well in order to find their own measure of success. I’ve done numerous posts on success: how we writers might not only define success but tweak our personal definition of success so that we can reap deep joy and a sense of fulfillment in our writing.

I firmly believe attitude plays a huge part in feeling successful. For, even if a writer is a “flop” according to worldly standards (numbers of copies sold, revenue per title, etc.), she can feel successful in the way that really matters—which is in her own soul. We have to live with ourselves, and the way we measure success can either open the way for great joy or for great misery. Continue Reading…

12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction


The Secret to Crafting Genuine Characters for Your Novel


Think about what makes you interested or drawn to certain people. What qualities of theirs pull you in? Is it a sense of humor? Some interesting hobby or skill? Engaging style of talking or fascinating facial expressions or gestures?

Every character in your novel should have something about him that makes him interesting. It takes some work to create original, fresh, unpredictable characters, but it’s worthwhile to do. If you don’t want to spend an evening at a party among boring people, how can you expect your readers to be willing to spend ten to twenty hours of their life “hanging out” with your boring characters? We owe it to our readers to take the time to give them a unique cast of characters. Continue Reading…

Say What?


Are You Irritated or Aggravated?


Does it irritate you when people use aggravate when they mean annoy? Or are you just confused about the correct use of these two words?

Aggravate comes from Latin, and if you look carefully you’ll see its root—grave. The original meaning was to make heavy or increase the burden. Over the years the meaning and usage morphed into meaning “to make worse or more serious,” or “to intensify.”

  • The spicy chili aggravated Malcolm’s colitis.

But aggravate can also mean annoy or exasperate—synonyms for irritate. In fact, that meaning came into use about the same time as the previous meaning. Continue Reading…

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