DL Fowler's Blog

The Whole Story

Posted in Inspiration, Moments of Grace, Plots, Psychology, Reading, Themes, Transform Your Fiction, Writing by DLFowler on October 26, 2017

When I ask readers what a book is about, they often give a description of the Lead character’s physical journey. Such answers tend to reflect our human tendency to express ourselves in terms of a physical realm, even though our emotions operate at a psychological level.

Jesse Lee Kercheval explains in her book Building Fiction[1] that readers need to see the tangible evidence when internal conflicts are resolved. To satisfy that need, authors must manifest psychological change with physical consequences. (more…)

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A Story’s Moment of Grace

Stories often begin to lose steam near the middle. The Lead character has worked through, around, and over obstacles for almost half the story, having made little progress. We start to worry that readers will grow impatient. We become tempted to add extra scenes solely to ratchet up tension. Big mistake. There’s another way to energize the middles of your stories. (more…)

A Story’s Physical Journey

Posted in Plots, Psychology, Ripples, Stanley Williams, The Moral Premise, Transform Your Fiction, Writing by DLFowler on September 28, 2017

A compelling synopsis of a story’s physical journey can help sell books, but it can do much more. (more…)

A Story’s Psychological Journey

Posted in justice, Psychology, Stanley Williams, The Moral Premise, Writing by DLFowler on September 21, 2017

Great stories are driven by moral dilemmas that focus on a central theme. In Cinderella, the moral dilemma (cruelty versus kindness) is fueled by two words the Fairy Godmother spoke. (more…)

In Memoriam: Hank Searls 

Posted in Favorite Books, Hank Searls, Inspiration, Intimacy, Show Don't Tell, Sounding by DLFowler on May 14, 2017

I recently learned that one of my favorite authors, Hank Searls, passed away at 94 years old, on February 17, 2017. He was a gifted and prolific writer. You might recall Jaws 2.

I had the privilege of meeting Hank several years ago, and we spent a good hour or more talking about writing.  One of my all-time favorite novels is Sounding, Hank’s story about an aging sperm whale. It has been called the best whale novel since Moby Dick.

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Character in Characters

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those words define what we mean by character. They are words that remind us of  the difference between a leader and a con-man. For writers like me, these words are a guide to crafting characters who inspire readers through stories. Characters with character are more important today, than ever before.

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Lincoln’s Blackouts

Lincoln’s law partner, Herndon, described episodes when he’d find Lincoln sitting in a catatonic state from which he couldn’t be aroused. Often there’d be a book of poetry in his lap.

No one has any idea of what went on in Lincoln’s head during those episodes. He never talked about them.

One possibility is that were flashbacks of an earlier trauma that his body was defending himself against. That happens to people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln suffered several traumatic moments early on. At 7 he almost drowned, at 9 he suffered a life-threatening head injury, and months later helped bury his mother, at 10 his father left him and his sister to weather a brutal winter unattended and on the brink of starvation, as a teenager his father beat him often and when he was just past 20 his first love died. Lincoln’s emotional responses to these and other events are explored in Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel.

Maybe his psyche just went into overload from processing flashbacks of too many traumas at once.

Would we let someone with that much emotional baggage be President today?

Lincoln Scholarship – an evolution

Writing about Lincoln is tricky, in part because today’s author must reconcile three distinct periods of Lincoln scholarship that take different slants on who he was and what he believed.

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The Hunger Games & PTSD

I just finished reading Mockingjay the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I could say something about how Suzanne Collins kept the story moving at breakneck speed, or how immediate a story can be when told in first person (even better in present tense). I could even complain about the graphic violence, but that complaint is only valid when it’s gratuitous. Here it wasn’t. It was just the unvarnished truth about human beings. But, I digress…

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More Reader Feedback

Posted in Characters, Dialog, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's Psychology, PTSD, Reading, Writing by DLFowler on May 12, 2011

Is it shameless self-promotion when you repeat what readers say?

Here’s what one reader said:

What a bold theme ! It takes nerve to write something like this and make readers swear it is the truth. The pace is right as is the structure. The prose is tight and the dialogues realistic.

And if that’s not enough, watch Emily’s reaction.

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