DL Fowler's Blog

A Story’s Five Psychological Movements

Posted in Emotions, Psychology, Transform Your Fiction, Writing by DLFowler on October 19, 2017

Woven into a story’s three acts we often find five psychological movements. These movements parallel Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and actualization. Readers are most satisfied when stories help them grow psychologically alongside our characters. (more…)

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.


Vampire Hunter – Abraham Lincoln?

So it’s time for me to weigh in on the latest commercialization of our revered 16th President – I believe that Seth Grahame-Smith is an absolute …


What’s Special About Female Protagonists?

I was recently asked the following question in an interview on PaperBackSwap’s blog.  You can read the entire interview here.

In your new novel, Lincoln’s Diary, the protagonist is a female. Was it difficult for you as a man to write a book from a woman’s perspective?

Not really.

As a writer I like to show my characters’ emotions by describing how their feelings play out on their faces, in their gestures and through their actions. Women make my job easy because they tend to be quite aware of their emotions and telegraph their feelings through facial expressions, body language and movement.

Men aren’t nearly as versed as women when it comes to understanding their own emotions. As a result, they find it harder to express themselves not just verbally, but through their bodies, generally.  And when they do understand what they’re feeling, their instinct is to mask it. That makes it hard to follow the writers’ rule, “Show, don’t tell.”

That said, a main character in my next novel is a man who has focused his whole life on keeping his emotions a closely guarded secret.

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Lincoln Trivia Question #1

As I travel the country in coming months, promoting my new book, Lincoln’s Diary – a novel, I’ll be engaging readers with some tidbits about the real Abraham Lincoln. Focusing on some thngs they never told us in school. There will even be prizes for people who invest in some research to answer the trivia questions on my website.

So here’s some help on your research, one of the questions – and the answer:

What was the name of the boy who saved Lincoln from drowning in Knob Creek when he was just 7 years old?


Be Practical … not

Posted in Emotions, Inside a Writer's Head, My Books, Writing by DLFowler on February 19, 2011

Be practical. Okay, but being impractical is often the most practical thing we can do. 

Let me explain.  I love to write. I love to talk about my writing. I love to hear other people talk about my writing. But writing for a living is impractical.

For thirty years I did the practical thing – or so I thought. Everything I did seemed hard. I procrastinated a lot. I was easily disappointed and discouraged when things didn’t go well. I’m hard pressed to point to anything I did in my non-writing career that I’d do over again. I always tried to do my best, though often I didn’t do things as well as I probably could have done them. What was I doing? Mostly business and finance type stuff. Always in demand. Pretty much recession-proof. However for me, it was the impractical thing.

Here’s what’s practical – and never let anyone snow you into thinking otherwise.  Do what makes your blood flow hotter than lava.

Doing what you love is practical.  Why? You’ll become better at it than anything else you try to do. You’ll do it without hesitation. You won’t want to go to bed at night, because you can’t have fun while you’re sleeping. And you’ll bounce out of bed before the world’s ready for you, because you’ve waited long enough already. You’ll never realize you’re working. People will love being around you, even if they do have to listen to you go on and on about whatever it is you’re doing.

And best of all you won’t worry about money, because however much or little you make will be just fine, thank you. Money doesn’t make you happy. Doing what you love makes you happy.  Here’s the proof – money stresses you out, but doing what you enjoy makes a smile break out across your face. If you’re doing what you love, the money thing works itself out, one way or another.

Oh, what’s the best way to do that thing you do? The way you do it.

25 Best Novels for Psychology Buffs

Posted in Emotions, Favorite Books, Reading, Show Don't Tell, Themes, Writing by DLFowler on February 7, 2011

From my perspective good novels are always about psychology. Personally, I read to engage in relationships with the people (call them characters if you want) who live on  printed pages – or on my iPhone’s screen. So when I recieved a link to an article that lists the 25 Best Novels for Psychology Buffs. I just had to share. There’s some pretty good stuff here.

I like fiction as an avenue for understanding human behavior because novels and short stories let us watch people respond to the challenges of life. It’s not someone saying “Sarah was depressed.” A good author shows us how her body responds to events and emotions … by seeing her face contort or her body tense up we can feel what she feels. It is by feeling that we truly understand. After all, the brain was wired to learn from sensory impulses. We even talk about embracing logic as if we require an emotional connection to facts before we let them into our brain.

Anyway, I thought you’d enjoy the list.  Thanks to Celina Jacobson at http://Careeroverview.com for sharing

A Terrific Resource for Writers

Posted in Characters, Emotions, Research, Show Don't Tell, Writing by DLFowler on January 17, 2011

I came across a great resource recently and added a link to it in my blogroll (BookMuse – see on left below).  A couple of things right off the bat … the emotions thesaurus and a feature called “Expressing Cardinal Emotions: Male vs Female.”  I plan to use both of these to help with show-don’t-tell issues I run into with my writing.

A great example is the difference between physical reactions of men and women to anger. Men want to hit things, women glare and cross their arms.

While I’m focused right now on show-don’t-tell emotions, Bookshelf Muse also has a Settings Thesaurus with words you can use to show-don’t-tell physical surroundings.  

I recommend you frequent the Muse if you’re a writer.


Posted in Characters, Emotions, Research, Show Don't Tell, Writing by DLFowler on January 15, 2011

Yet another installment in show-don’t-tell.  Today’s emotion is anger.

Someone really pissed me off the other day. I ground my teeth and wound up the muscles in my back like over-tightened violin strings.

Please post your description of how your body responds to anger.


Posted in Characters, Emotions, Research, Show Don't Tell, Writing by DLFowler on January 13, 2011

I was disappointed the other day. It felt like someone hooked up a vacuum to my navel and cleaned me out.

How does your body react to disappointment. Post a comment here and help  me build a show-don’t-tell library for conveying our characters’ emotions.