The Voices in my Head

What captures you more—a thrilling plot or a fascinating character? The impetuous Scarlett O’Hara and the dashing Rhett Butler, or the Civil War? A good story makes us care about the people in it—everything else is secondary. Complex characters drive the action and the plot.

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Pontificating with Purple Prose

  If there’s a passage I’m overly proud of—it usually means I need to cut it. There is a big difference between a well-crafted sentence relevant to the story, and one that sounds impressive but does nothing to move the story forward. This kind of self-indulgence is referred to as purple prose: metaphor after metaphor;…

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Villains – the New Heroes?

  I love my bad guys. They are the most fun to write—their evil deeds flow effortlessly from my imagination. They are malicious, devious, merciless, and sadistic. But If I’m not careful, they begin to resemble cardboard cutouts in black hats and handlebar mustaches. While it is tempting to craft a character oozing with evil…

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What Makes Thriller Writers Tick

  “What’s the best way to assassinate someone and make it look like an accident?” “How about poisons—which are undetectable in an autopsy?” In most circles, these types of questions would be cause for alarm—and notification of the authorities. Not so at Thrillerfest, the premiere writer’s conference for thriller writers where talk about death, murder,…

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Writing Advice: Take it or Toss it?

Thrillerfest Panel – Are you a Blue Blood? Portraying Accurate Police Work   Every July, I spend four days in New York with the best of the best in the thriller game. Last year was my fifth Thrillerfest conference, and once again, it was illuminating, informative, and inspirational. The hardest decision to make during those action…

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Show, Don't Tell

  A familiar axiom of writing is “show, don’t tell”.  We hear it everywhere: from teachers, in articles, in writing workshops. For a long time, I had no idea what it actually meant. What do you mean, don’t tell? Aren’t we storytellers? My natural inclination was to sit down and tell what happened; hovering above…

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