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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We’re In This Together: Celebrating Writers Who Persevere

Posted in Angela Ackerman, Intimacy, Psychology, PTSD, Themes, Victimization, Writing by DLFowler on October 25, 2017

Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate the release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

By the way, I wouldn’t be sharing this with you if I didn’t already use other tools Angela and Becca have designed. Their unique thesauruses for writers (like The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus) have helped me overcome  blockages and elevate my own writing. I can’t wait to put this new one to good use.

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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…)

What Is Your Journey About?

Posted in Lincoln Raw, Lincoln's Diary, Lincoln's War, Ripples, Themes, Transform Your Fiction, Writing by DLFowler on September 14, 2017

My 100th blog post should be special, but whether it is isn’t for me to say. Only you can do that. So here it is. I am launching a series of posts excerpted from my recent book Transform Your Fiction. These posts spill the beans about what makes a story … well what makes a story a story.

Some of what follows in the next seven weekly posts, you’ve heard before. But not the juicy, closely guarded secret parts. The secrets are small and hard to see. You see, many secrets hide in plain sight, camouflaged by the mundane and obscured by myriad tricks and gimmicks that are supposed to engage readers. These secrets are so powerful they can turn you into a master storyteller. You’ll find the first installment below.  (more…)

Who is Right?

A recent post in this blog celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s declaration “Right Makes Might.” When I looked at who ‘liked’ that post on Facebook, I was fascinated by the contrasting political and religious opinions of those who gave it a thumbs up. I wondered, how can opposites claim to occupy the same moral high ground?

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Right Makes Might

On February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln closed his address at New York City’s Cooper Union with the following words that turned an age old phrase on its head.

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.

His speech at Cooper Union set him on track to win the Republican nomination for president. The world view he capsulized in this quote is what fueled his greatness.

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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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Why Write Another Book About Lincoln?

I’m often asked that question. With more than 20,000 books written about him, I suppose the question shouldn’t surprise anyone. But my answer might shock you.

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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 suffered from PTSD?

Abe Lincoln was anything but normal in many ways, including behavior that demonstrated hyper-vigilance, suicidal thoughts, exposing himself to mortal dangers, extreme emotional swings, unexpected eruptions, etc.

After almost drowning in a creek at 7 years old, his mother died when he was 9. He sat on her grave during a storm to be sure her body didn’t float up out of the ground. He had a similar reaction a dozen years later when Ann Hathaway, his first (maybe only) true love died.

During the Civil War he sometimes ventured to the front lines and was nearly wounded. Once he stood on the ramparts of a fort, wearing a top hat, giving Rebel soldiers a 7 foot target to shoot at. He even talked about suicide during Cabinet meetings.

Twice as a young man he was on suicide watch. Once he subjected himself to torturous medical treatments that were the equivalent of self mutilation.

All of these behaviors could be symptomatic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Lincoln Raw-a biographical novel explores the possibility. Read it and decide for yourself.