Why I dislike the term “Strong Female Character”

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I don’t like the term “Strong Female Character.”

That does not mean I prefer weak female characters. This is not a black and white world in which you either swing swords with swagger or cower in a corner. There’s a vast spectrum in between.

The reason I can’t stand the term “strong female characters” is because women described that way are usually one-dimensional, monotone cutouts of what the writer thinks a strong woman is. Often she’s a woman who can shoot a gun or throw a punch, and that’s enough. She never cries or feels uncertain or has any internal struggle whatsoever, unless of course it’s just for a minute to get the plot going and then she knows exactly how to deal with it. (Probably by shooting a gun.)

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Rejections and the benefit of humility

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Pretty much the second my post about waiting for agent responses hit your screens last month, rejections hit my inbox. You know that saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs?” For me, it was raining No’s and Also No’s.

I took it hard – harder than I should have for someone who’s been through this before with another novel. The reason is something I’m going to confess to you even though it casts me in an unflattering light, because… I don’t know, there’s just something about you, random internet stranger, that makes me feel like I can open up to you.

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Writing diversity: not exactly a how-to, more of a think-about

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This is a tough subject. A meaty subject. A big ol’ gristly steak of a subject that takes a lot of chewing and will not be thoroughly digested within a single blog post, but let’s dig our teeth in, shall we?

As writers, our characters probably look, act, and live like people we’re used to. If you’re white and straight, your characters are probably white and straight, because that’s what you know, and writing someone black or gay or Muslim or in a wheelchair takes some extra thought.

But here’s a really cool thing: the world is a far more interesting place than just white and straight (and male, and Christian, and able-bodied, etc etc), and there should be stories to reflect that. Because all stories deserve to be told. As citizens of the earth we have a duty to represent more than just our limited bubbles.

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The INSTA-LOVE trope – just add water! (repost in honor of Valentine’s Day)

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There are few things more grating to me than the insta-love trope seen so often in fiction. This device essentially involves shoving two characters in the same room, then poking them with a stick until they have nowhere else to go but each other’s arms.

The development of their relationship usually looks like this:

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How to write what you know (even when you don’t know)

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It’s as ubiquitous as “Show, don’t tell.” You probably can’t even remember the first time you heard it, it’s touted so widely – in advice books, in classrooms, in movies about writers. Even the most non-writiest nonwriter who hasn’t held a pen since high school knows to write what we know.

But what does that actually mean?

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Happy 2017! New blogging system plus my writer bucket list

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Welcome back and happy 2017! A couple news items:

Firstly, I’ve started going by my middle name, Noel. (As in, the Christmasy pronunciation of Noel. NOT the one that rhymes with *roll* which is what my eyes do whenever someone says it like that, hehe.) My full name will still be listed on my blog and Twitter, as that is what I’ll be published as, but amongst friends and such I’d like to be called Noel. 🙂

Secondly, I’m adopting a new system for how I’ll be blogging each week of the month:

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My year in books! 2016

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How many books did you read this year?
66! I’m not a bookworm. I’m a bookpython.

(Why yes, I did make an almost identical joke last year, and I’m going to keep making it with slight variations until I’m tired of it, so there!)

What was your number one TOP FAVORITE of them?
Oh jeez, this is so hard, erm, agh, uhh… Gone Girl. No, wait. Wild. No! My Sister’s Keeper! WAIT, NO! The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake! A Man Called Ove! We Need To Talk About Kevin! WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT WHAT A CRUEL QUESTION THIS IS.

Final answer: “I Have Too Many Favorite Books: A Memoir,” by Shannon Noel Brady.

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Logolepsy: an obsession with words

I’m a bit of a logophile. A word nerd, you might say. I have a long, long, very long list of both English and foreign words I’ve been collecting,  whether for their interesting definitions, their lovely sounds, or simply their usefulness in my lexicon. Here are some of my favorites. 🙂

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To finish a bad book, or not to finish a bad book…

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Allow me to set the scene: You’re on page 98, about a quarter of the way in. The story started well  – intriguing premise, characters with potential, even a few snappy one-liners. But as the pages went on, that intriguing premise got left behind, the characters now have more marshmallows in their heads than brains, and those one-liners have gone from snappy to crappy.

It’s not alllll bad… There are a few parts you like. Maybe you’re just in a slow spot. But slogging through is such a chore…

So what do you do? Read or flee? Finish or banish?

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