14 Lessons for Writers from 3 Classic Foreign Films

Photo credit: popturfdotcom via VisualHunt / CC BY

Film is a universal art form. Those of us who write novels can learn a lot from the storytelling techniques of filmmakers, especially masters like Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, and François Truffaut. Their films defied Hollywood norms and yet found a global audience. (more…)

Beware the “Submission Itch” and Other Common Mistakes Writers Make

“You are what you submit,” says a former managing editor of a literary magazine. It behooves you to submit only your best work, and yet, the submission itch—the mad rush to release one’s work to the world—is a common malady.  Before you submit, make sure you’re not making these three common mistakes. (more…)

3 Writing Lessons from “Catch-22” and “Slaughterhouse-Five”

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

I’ve been meaning to read Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” for their popularity and critical acclaim.  I finally read both recently—at the same time. To be honest, they are not my favorite books, but they taught me three important lessons in writing. (more…)

Who versus Whom: Remember Just One Rule

Photo credit: rosefirerising via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: rosefirerising via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Do you have trouble remembering when to use who or whom? It’s a common problem with a quick fix from a Grammar Girl video. (more…)

Tips on Polishing Your Novel from Paula Munier’s “Writing with Quiet Hands”

Hydrangeas&Manuscript1After you’ve revised your manuscript for the nth time, the final stretch of polishing can be daunting. You’ve maxed out your writing group’s goodwill and your own editing fatigue has set in. When you reach this point, Paula Munier’s tips on “principled polishing” will help a lot. (more…)

Beware of the Deadly Info Dumps in Your Novel: 3 Signs to Watch For

Photo credit: Keoni Cabral via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Photo credit: Keoni Cabral via Visual Hunt /CC BY

Countless writing books, articles, and workshops tell us to avoid the deadly “info dumps” and flashbacks when writing a novel. And yet, I recently read two well-publicized literary novels, which to my dismay turned out to be info-dump fests. It took me forever to finish the first book, while I simply gave up on the second. Moral lesson: Beware of info dumps, even if you’re writing literary fiction. (more…)

Enormity, Enormousness, and 26 Other Commonly Confused Words

Statue of Liberty photo by Nina Fazzi

The enormousness of Lady Liberty is undeniable, but there’s nothing about it that suggests enormity.

I’m not a sports fan, but a recent story quoting a soccer coach who said he “appreciates the enormity of the task at hand” caught my attention. What evil task did this coach have? Or did he mean to say enormousness? (more…)

How to Use Food in Your Novel: “In His Corner” Date-Night Recipes

Cookbooks-CindyFazziYou can make your novel come to life by engaging the reader using all five senses—sight, touch, smell, sound, and taste. You don’t have to be a foodie to indulge your reader’s sense of taste. (more…)

Romance Writers Report: The Art of Choosing the Perfect Book Title

The May 2015 edition of Romance Writers Report, the monthly magazine for members of the Romance Writers of America, published an article I wrote about how to choose the perfect title for your book. It described my experience choosing a title for my debut romance novella, “In His Corner,” published by Lyrical Press (April 2015).

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How to Use Music in Your Novel: “In His Corner” Playlist

Use music to add depth to a scene or character in your novel.

Use music to add depth to a scene or character in your novel.

In novels like “High Fidelity” (Nick Hornby) and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (Rachel Cohn and David Levithan), music is central to the story. But even if your novel doesn’t focus on music, you can use it to establish the mood of a scene or strengthen your depiction of a character. (more…)