DL Fowler's Blog

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.

I Hear Voices …

Posted in Bloggers, Contest, Dialog, Emlynd Chand, Inside a Writer's Head, Show Don't Tell, Writing by DLFowler on February 14, 2011

If you’re a writer and you hear voices, that’s a good thing. It’s even better if your readers hear those same voices in your writing.

How do you make your readers hear the voices that echo off the membranes of your brain?  Here’s a sample that impressed me from an entry in Emlyn Chand’s flash fiction contest. It was written by CJ Cook.  

“So who wants to go next?” Ms. Carrol asked, her eyes scanning the crowd.  The children bounced up and down on their knees, their hands bolting into the air as they shouted, “Me, me, me!”

Can you see the whole kindergarten classroom in that short piece of dialog?

I did. I saw it in the bouncing “up and down on their knees”, in the “hands bolting into the air”, and especially in the “Me,me,me!” CJ didn’t elaborate on the toy boxes in their primary colors, the leprechaun sized chairs, or the elfin jackets hanging on hooks along the wall.  And notice, the kids didn’t bounce or shout ‘excitedly.’ I heard their excitement without being told it was there.

The Truth of Consequences

Posted in Characters, Inside a Writer's Head, My Books, Psychology, Show Don't Tell by DLFowler on February 13, 2011

I’m lying in bed this morning testing the frontiers of technology – writing this blog post in my iPhone. Since the moments just after I wake up are often when I have my deepest insights, it makes sense to do. After all, the iPhone probably wouldn’t survive the shower – my other 20 minutes of inspiration.

The rest of the day I’m assaulted by distractions. I’m not a multi-tasker, somewhat OCD, so I only gave about 50 choice minutes a day.

Here’s what I’m thinking about. Behavior inhibitors. Those force fields that throw down gigantic blood-red stop signs in front of us.  


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

Keeping Eyes and Ears Open

Sitting in Starbucks this morning with a couple of friends. We talked about my recent titled Non-violent Psychopaths. One friend said, “You mean like white collar psychopaths?” My other friend chimed in, “As opposed to red collar psychopaths?” I replied, “Mind if I use those in my next book?”

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.



Posted in Characters, Emotions, Research, Show Don't Tell by DLFowler on January 9, 2011

I almost for got about joy. How could that have happened?

This is your second chance to help me gather material for future writing projects. I’m looking for ways to show emotions in my characters.

It’s also my eighth straight day of blog posts. How long will my streak go?

When I feel joy, I don’t have to breathe. Oxygen seems to rush in through my pores. My chin quivers, signaling spasms are about to over take my chest as my whole body heaves involuntarily. Tears rush from behind my eyes to spill out over my cheeks, and all my words stick somewhere between my throat and my tongue.

 So what do your body parts do when you feel joy? Please share a comment.


Posted in Characters, Emotions, Research, Show Don't Tell by DLFowler on January 8, 2011

I’m feeling betrayed. It’s like having a dead body draped over my shoulders, its weight squashing  my lungs so that breathing requires deliberation. It doesn’t come natural. Nothing’s natural. Not even digestion. My stomach acts like it’s defending itself against tainted foreign matter.

Okay, I started the exercise. Can you add your two cents? How does your body respond to betrayal?

Please leave a comment to help me collect material for my writing.  Today I’m looking for descriptions of the kinds of physical reactions people have when they suffer betrayal.  Tomorrow it’ll be something fun – like what does your body do when you’re feeling joy?

Thanks for your contributions to my quest to create great literature.