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Louise Marley's Blog

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Golf is a tricky game.  It takes a long time to learn, for most people, and the many components that have to come together to make a great score can be daunting.  As I set out for eighteen holes yesterday, fervently hoping to improve my score from the previous round, it occurred to me...
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Heroines (and heroes) carry a lot of weight in fiction.  Their job is to engage the reader, to make the reader care about what happens in the story.  The cliche heroine--beautiful, brilliant, strong,fearless--is like a superhero, capable of anything.  Superheroes never fail, and if...
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A smart question from a smart young writer reminded me, last night at a reading, that antagonists are best and most persuasive when they have layers of character.  She was asking me about the "bad guy"--who is actually a "bad girl"--in The Brahms Deception, and who is not a monster, but does...
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Stories of rejections of books that went on to huge success abound in the world of publishing.  Most recently there was a news story about The Help--a magnificent book that caught the public's attention the moment it hit print--saying that it was rejected by sixty agents.  Harry Potter was famously...
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Nearly three thousand years ago, The Epic of Gilgamesh appeared, or was assembled, and became one of the earliest examples of recorded literature in the western world.  There is still a collection of twelve clay tablets holding one version of this ancient tale.  Imagine:  clay tablets, produced...
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Today is the day my fifteenth book is published.  Fifteen!  It doesn't seem possible.  I am both grateful and excited, anxious and hopeful.  I am, in fact, feeling all the same things I felt when my very first novel made its appearance. The process of writing and publishing a book is a lot like the...
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I was writing a brief article for my local Patch about the demise of Borders Books & Music when a decades-old memory surfaced.  Once again, for a fleeting moment, I was thirteen years old, browsing the stacks at my beloved public library.  We didn't have a lot of money in those days.  My mother...
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Every published author of my acquaintance has had this experience:  Someone offers us, with great enthusiasm, their idea for a terrific book.  (Invariably, they also offer to let us have half the profits from it, because that seems fair.)  The idea may be from their life--of course, their...
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When did the expression "blood-curdling scream" make its way into our everyday lexicon?  Why do we use expressions like "pass with flying colors" or "flash in the pan"?  Why do we fall back on the same trite phrases--"bated breath", "tongue lolling...
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There's a brief post on classical music in science fiction and fantasy, up on the excellent website SFSignal.  And yes--smiling--I do absolutely consider science fiction and fantasy to be literature!
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Publishing in the U.S. has been, for a very, very long time, New York-centric.  When my own career began, the common wisdom was that if you really wanted to make it as a writer, you needed both an agent and a publisher in New York.  For a lot of us, that meant a trip to New York at least once a...
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The story starts where the trouble starts.  That's it. This could be a really short post!  :-) This is what I often advise my young writers workshops.  We use fairy tales to look at story structure and development, and this rule never fails me.  In "Cinderella", the story starts when the...
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The late comedian George Carlin said a lot of wise things, but the one I liked best was "There are no bad words--only bad thoughts."  At the Write on the River conference this year, where I taught a workshop for young writers and another for adults, a very promising writer told me that...
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Re-vision.  What a great word!  Without digging into the etymology, it seems perfect for what happens when a writer takes a fresh look at an already-created work.  I set aside the last week of April to revise a novel before sending it to market.  I think I've happened on the perfect way to re-...
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Some of the great genre authors--Dan Simmons, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis, Greg Bear--have been able to maintain their readership through a variety of stories.  They've written science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, space opera, and other sorts of fiction without losing their...
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