Here’s why minor characters are important

I remember reading one time, that the difference between secondary characters and minor characters  is  that minor characters don’t speak. Sometimes they don’t even have names. This definition confused me. All my stories have minor characters who speak. Sometimes they have quite a lot to say. Does that make them secondary characters? Is that how they…

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How to stay happy, productive and vaguely sane in the publishing industry

One of my favourite moofies from the 1980s was Heartburn with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. I’m not sure why I loved it so. I’ve always been gaga for Streep. Also, she wore some snazzy (1980s) outfits in that film. Good beads. Capacious shoulder-bags. New York boho actress/writer/intellectual look. That was a look, right? And…

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Oi! Here’s an easy way to liven up your stories

Does your writing sometimes feel a bit, erm, pedestrian? The following post will give you some fresh ideas, help you shove more energy into your stories.   Dear Diary Will letters, notes, doodles or lists add interest to my stories? Yours sincerely Inventive Author These days kids have words and images coming at them from all…

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Eight reasons I hate writing

Warning: This post is a rant. If you don’t like rants, click off. That’s what I said. Click. Off. Don’t write and say, ‘I hate rants, Jen, and now I’m offended.’ Just go find some knitting tips and leave me to vent. Okay.  I rant.  But I don’t tell lies. No. I. Don’t. So occasionally…

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Shining on the slush pile (revisited)

The following is a transcript from an early Q and Q Friday (Questions and Quacks). You can read the transcript or you can scroll down and watch the video. Yay! If you subscribe to girl and duck you’ll receive a Q and Q video like this one, every Friday. Straight to your inbox. Free! Dear…

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Want readers to sigh over your work? Try this

Universalities. Those little pearls of wisdom… In literature, universalities are statements that apply to everyone or to the human condition. Sometimes they’re accurate, insightful and give readers, young and old, a lovely ah-ha moment. Sometimes they’re grossly inaccurate. Famous universalities in literature include: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a…

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Who said what? The importance of tagging dialogue in kid lit

I’ve read loads of manuscripts that start out funny or entertaining or full of potential. Then the dialogue kicks in and, quite frankly, it’s a birdy’s breakfast. Nothing will baffle an editor faster than poorly tagged dialogue. Do not overlook this if you want your manuscript to win friends and influence people. If you want editors and publishers…

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Here’s where writers often stuff up. (Part Two of yesterday’s post)

When I worked in publishing, I was surprised by the number of unsolicited manuscripts that had wonky tense. Not the occasional transgression. They crop up in most manuscripts. I’m talking about tense that was a bit like time travel. Totes all over the place, girlfriend. Past, present, here, there, everywhere. Now, when I teach IRL (in real life),…

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How Point of View can save your story (Part One of two posts)

If your story isn’t taking off, maybe you’re telling it from the wrong perspective. The wrong point of view. I’ve been known to go on about this. But it’s important. I’ve grappled with it so often it’s become a fallback for when things are going badly. If my story is dragging its feet, I reassess. I think, okay, can…

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How to become a better writer

I wrote my first picture book in the 1980s. It was about a teddy bear. Mr Bear spent several hours dangling from a clothesline. Gripping stuff. I popped my story in an envelope and sent it to a publisher. Six months later when the rejection slip arrived, I stuck it to the wall above my typewriter.…

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