DL Fowler's Blog

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 …

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Black Swan–Inner & Outer Demons

Posted in Bloggers, Kristen Lamb, Writing by DLFowler on May 2, 2011

Black Swan–Inner & Outer Demons.

Great illustration of how to show a chatacter’s inner conflicts. I’ll tell you how I used it once I release Ripples – a novel

Strange Addictions & Habits–Do They All Have to Have Meaning?

Posted in Bloggers, Characters, Inside a Writer's Head, Kristen Lamb, Psychology, Show Don't Tell by DLFowler on April 29, 2011

Strange Addictions & Habits–Do They All Have to Have Meaning?.

Kristen is one of my favorite bloggers. And the comments on this one are great, too.

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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I Believe In …

By the way, the opposite of belief isn’t logic, it’s disbelief.   Reasoning is what we do to fortify our beliefs. 

A friend of mine (we’ll call  him John because that’s his real name, and since I know so many people named John no one will know who I’m talking about) – anyway, he told me “Human beings are not rational, we’re rationalizers.”

While I was doing research for my novel, Lincoln’s Diary, I discovered that Abe Lincoln was great at rationalizing. My favorite example was his reply to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who complained the Emancipation Proclamation was unconstitutional. Lincoln replied that it  certainly was constitutional since, as commander-in-chief, he had the constitutional authority to appropriate enemy property to advance the war effort. But if slaves weren’t property, the Proclamation didn’t do anything, so it didn’t violate the Constitution. 

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Another Excerpt from Lincoln’s Diary – a novel

Posted in Kindle, Lincoln's Diary, My Books, Nook, Show Don't Tell, Writing by DLFowler on February 21, 2011

Sarah took steady breaths as she walked down Cordova, a wide, lighted street lined with trees, bungalows, box houses and low-rise apartment buildings.  Interior lights filtered out of several windows, meaning at least a few people were still up. They’d be able to hear her screams if she got into deep trouble. Her pace slowed and her heart pumped faster as she remembered stories about people getting mugged in broad daylight, surrounded by diffident bystanders. So there was no guarantee anyone would help her. She scanned the shadows for anything that didn’t belong.

At the Chester Avenue intersection, her heart went into overdrive. It was a narrow lane with no streetlights.  The trees that bordered both sidewalks arched toward the middle of the street, creating the illusion of a vortex that led into another world. All she needed was for the black-cloaked Lincoln aficionados to pop out of the darkness and start chasing her.

A short distance past the tennis courts she craned her neck and peeked between rows of shrubs that framed the opening of a path into the park. She could hear her heart pounding inside her chest as she stepped back, calculating her approach.  Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a second path veering off just a few yards further down the sidewalk. She took slow, deep breaths and edged her way in its direction.  No more than five yards down that path she could see the bench she was told to look for. It was in plain sight, even in the darkness.  She clutched her bag close to her side and hesitated. Was her stalker close enough that he, too, could hear her heart thumping?

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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.  

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Strong Female Characters

Posted in Characters, Lincoln's Diary, My Books by DLFowler on February 11, 2011

As I created Sarah Sue Morgan for LINCOLN’S DIARY – A NOVEL I hoped she’d become a strong female character. One of my readers called her a “female MacGyver.” Hopefully, that means I came close to the mark.  But since my next novel includes a female protagonist, I decided to do some additional research on the subject.

I think I struck pay dirt when I came across an article on  overthinkingit.com.  The flowchart probably overthinks the question a little, but the trail that runs along the top of the graphic provides a pretty good recipe for creating strong female characters. All you have to do is answer the following questions in the affirmative. Let’s see how Sarah scores.

  • Can she carry her own story? [check]
  • Is she three dimensional? [more concrete – does she have internal conflict? check]
  • Is she more than a flag bearer for an idea? [check]
  • Does she have any flaws? [and we’re talking ditz here … check]
  • Does she survive the second act? [check]

Bingo! She’s a strong female character. 

Of course that’s how I see it. The trick is making her live that way on the printed page.  If you take the time to check her out, please let me know if I hit the mark.