Author Archives: knlistman

Did I Miss Something?

Decades ago, in a high school English classroom, one of my better students sat reading Bear Island, a thriller by Alistair MacLean. He asked out loud, “Why can’t we read books like this rather than the stuff we read in … Continue reading

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Don’t ignore response to a tragedy

Anyone who sees or hears a tragedy cannot remain untouched by it. They can attempt to stifle or ignore it, but there will be subtle signs. When that tragedy strikes a person directly, the signs will be even greater, and … Continue reading

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Pulling new genres out of the hat

The nineteenth century witnessed the birth of the sensation novel. It drew on melodramatic writing about the insane and the criminal elements in society as well as gothic and romantic genres. Romance and realism, which had been opposing types of … Continue reading

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The key to polite introductions

The first chapter described a woman, now alone, returning to a memory-loaded place. As I read I could easily absorb the environment and still have the mental capacity to consider her conflicted feelings. Would her journey bring healing or more … Continue reading

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Remember me?

In the attempt to make characters memorable, some authors make them unreal. Sometimes bizarre to the point of being incomprehensible, and sometimes too talented. The complexities of real humans might overwhelm some readers but that is exactly where to start. … Continue reading

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Writing rules to break

First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. The best writers often had to transitioned from one culture to another. The discovery that their own world was not the only one provided them with a more unique voice. … Continue reading

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I’d like you to meet my newest character

Are you tentative about introducing new characters? Afraid that too much attention in creating newcomers will allow them to overshadow your main characters? A variety of decisions must be made: How fast to introduce characters, how much detail to give, … Continue reading

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Color coding characters

Physical appearance descriptions are only superficial. Describing hair, eyes, skin or clothing colors tells the reader nothing about internal motives. However, assigning specific colors to important characters is a good shortcut for coding their personality. You can remember what major … Continue reading

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The strength of your character’s likability

Readers do not respond to characters in the same manner that they respond to real people. If a protagonist annoys other people in the novel, showing the reader the interior of this main character to establish a creditable reason for … Continue reading

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The flaws of a likeable character

Enchanting books that I read in my childhood, which still hold up under my scrutiny as an adult are the ones I turn to for examples of how to write. One such classic, The Door in the Wall by Marguerite … Continue reading

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