Describing a Character’s Appearance

There are different schools of thought when it comes to describing the physical appearance of characters in a book. Some readers want to know exactly what a character looks like—from hair and eye color, to the size of their hands and the color of their shoes. Other readers prefer little to no description, and give the character an appearance of their own choosing in their imagination as they read. Neither one is right or wrong, or better or worse—and no matter which one you do, you will likely have readers who want more or less description.

Some genres lend themselves to more in-depth physical descriptions of characters. In fantasy and science fiction, where there is a lot of world-building and thus descriptions of scenery, objects, and fantastical creatures, some physical description of main characters is expected. Also most romance genres describe characters’ physical appearances.

But whether you’re writing a fantasy romance or a literary drama, what’s the best way to actually describe the characters? Most editors and experienced writers agree that the info-dump method is not the best way. A full paragraph (or more) of straight “telling” description is not the most engaging way of describing a character: “She had brown hair and blue eyes. She was five-foot-five, unless she wore heels. She wore a brown leather jacket and a red scarf.” Continue reading

What to Write About During a Crisis

As I’m writing this post, the entire world is the midst of fighting the COVID19 pandemic. While every person, family, and community is impacted differently, we all are experiencing changes in our lives that we hadn’t planned for and hadn’t wished for.

With so many people stuck at home and/or out of work, many folks are taking up writing. And many full- and part-time writers are continuing to plug away at their projects, either writing more or less than before, depending on how their lifestyle has changed. Continue reading

5 Pinterest Tips for Writers

Everyone loves Pinterest, right? In case you didn’t know, Pinterest is a digital pin-board social media site where you can browse images and save your favorites to your own personalize boards. If you’re a writer, here are five great ways that you can use Pinterest to help with your writing.

Pin Pictures from your Blog or Website

Shameless plug for my newest book!

This is probably the most important one for increasing your online exposure and boosting traffic to your website. If you have pictures on your website and blog posts, then when people find those images on Pinterest, there will be the automatic link back to your website. Have you ever found a cool new website because you followed a link on a pin? Well, others can find your website the same way! Continue reading

The Right Way to Write

So many blogs, books, and classes these days tell you how to write. Some offer craft of writing education, others (like mine), offer tips and ideas for genre-specific works. For example, I’ve offered advice from my own learning and writing experience about inventing fantasy words for your epic fantasy or sci-fi story, or researching for and writing historical fiction.

But a bigger, and perhaps more important, question is this: is there a right (and thusly, wrong) way to write? My answer is both yes and no.

First of all, in fiction writing, there are some basics that yes, you need to get right if you’re going to have a marketable (or even readable) book. Stuff like coherent plot, characters, and basic grammar and spelling really do matter. Studying writing crafts books, taking seminars from established writers, and just plain old reading well-written books are great ways to learn how to write right.

But what about the more abstract elements of writing “right”? Does that even mean? Continue reading

How to Write Historical Fiction

For those who don’t know, I am currently writing – and reading – historical fiction. To be specific, I’m currently writing in the historical fiction sub-genre of historical fantasy, retro-futuristic science fiction, or dieselpunk.

One of the key elements of writing historical fiction and its various relatives is, of course, research. And as any writer knows, the very act of doing research can often inspire other ideas – which can be great if you’re just at the start of putting together a book, but can also derail you from a good work in progress.

But anyway, let’s say that you’re wanting to try out the historical fiction genre. Where do you begin? As with most any writing, I believe good historical fiction writing comes from reading books in that genre. Also, most historical fiction writers have a love of history – whether it be a love of a certain place or time in history, or a broader love of anything that is old. So if you love history, how do you start writing a fictional story? Continue reading

Small Town Writing

Two years ago I made a huge change in my life: I left my hometown (the only city I’d ever lived in) and moved clear across the country to a small town that I’d never even visited before.

I haven’t regretted the move at all. Even so, after two full years now, I’m still finding myself periodically marveling at the differences between the big city east coast life I grew up with, and the small-town north-west life I live now.

It’s great fodder for stories, for sure. Even though my current WIP does not take place in a small rural town, I’m filing away my observations for potential future writing use. And now, I’m sharing these little observations with you! So if you’ve never lived in a small rural town, then feel free to take some of these tidbits and use them to inspire your own writing!

A Town of “The”

My town is small enough that it’s a town where many things are “the.” As in, “the post office,” “the Chinese restaurant,” and “the gas station.” It used to be a town of “the traffic light,” but then the light was removed. There is only one other traffic light in the entire county, just past the north edge of town; so my town is officially now a no-light town. Continue reading