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Writing for Life


On Rejection and Renewal: A Note to Aspiring Novelists

girl rejected

Today’s guest post is from acclaimed American novelist Warren Adler, well-known for his best-selling-novel-turned-box-office-hit The War of the Roses. Warren is now a huge advocate of indie publishing and loves to encourage aspiring novelists.

You’ve spent months, perhaps years, composing your novel. You’ve read and reread it hundreds of times. You’ve rethought it, rewritten it, and revised it, changed characters, dialogue, and plot lines. Writing your novel is the most important thing in your life. It has absorbed your attention, almost exclusively. Both your conscious and your subconscious mind have been obsessed with it. You have read parts of it to your friends, family, former teachers. Most think it’s wonderful.

You have finally considered it finished. Armed with optimism and self-confidence, you obtain from the Internet a list of agents and begin to canvass. You agonize over whether to send your precious manuscript to one agent at a time or to a number of agents. You choose the first option. Just in case, you send it electronically, unsure of whether or not this is now standard practice. You have high hopes. You are aware of the massive changes in the publishing business, but have chosen to take the traditional path as your first option. Continue Reading…

12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction


Showing Settings through the Eyes of Your Characters

woman next to river

“It is impossible to powerfully capture a place via objective description—at least to capture it in a way that readers will not skim. Only through the eyes and heart of a character does place come truly alive.” (Donald Maass, The Fire in Fiction)

You may not have thought about setting in this way, but it’s all about the POV character. Every person reacts differently to a specific setting. If you and a group of your friends were transported to someplace you’d never been, you would each notice, like, dislike, and be curious about different things.

We’ve been looking at the seventh pillar of novel construction: setting with a purpose. Creating evocative, purposeful, and creative settings in your novel will help make your novel richer and transport the reader to your world with more ease. Continue Reading…

Say What?


Are You Eager or Anxious?


Despite the fact that they are often used interchangeably (and Merriam-Webster calls them synonyms), anxious and eager do not mean the same thing. “Both words convey the notion of being desirous,” says Theodore Bernstein in The Careful Writer, “but anxious has an underlay of faint apprehension.”

Anxious means worry, concern, distress, uneasiness—all negative connotations.

  • Marie was anxious as she waited for the doctor’s diagnosis.

Those who argue that anxious should never be used as a synonym for eager overstate their case. Webster’s New College Dictionary includes this definition for anxious: eagerly wishing. If that’s the sense you wish to convey, it’s an appropriate use of the word.

  • Henrietta was anxious to see her new grandchild.

In the case of a much-anticipated child, concern over the child’s safe delivery and eagerness to see the new baby, anxious seems the right word to use. And that is always our goal as writers—using the precise word.

Eager conveys enthusiasm, inpatient desire, or interest. Eager has an air of expecting something good.

  • Marie was eager for a good report.
  • The children were eager for summer vacation.

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