Fickle or faithful

To continue the trend of the last two posts, here’s another word question. As you probably know, English is an enormous language, because it has its roots in several other languages and it’s still happy to accept word immigrants. We writers have a dizzying number of choices for almost anything we want to say. So it always surprises me when I stumble across a word that has no synonyms, like shrug, which I’ve been worrying about overusing, because my characters seem to do it a lot. My question for this post is, What other unique words have you happened across? Or, if you know a one-word synonym for shrug, what is it?

And to all of you working feverishly on your NaNoWriMo projects: Best wishes for smooth sailing and great progress!

Onto the post, which also maybe useful for you heroic NaNoWriMo people. On June 22, 2016, the Florid Sword wrote, How do you stay interested in a story? I have trouble finishing my books because I have a grand idea that works and I write feverishly and then- I get a new idea for the same book, usually involving a new character or a new subplot. And I start over. Either that or I write the first three pages and then lose interest and move on to something else. Needless to say, it’s annoying. Does anyone have any advice about how to stay on a story without changing the plot or losing interest?

Several of you weighed in.

Martina: I would recommend using a motivational sort of tactic to keep yourself on a story without losing interest or changing the plot. There are a lot of good websites out there (Write the World– for young writers– NaNoWriWo, Camp NaNo, etc. A quick Google search will bring up tons of options) that you can use to link in with fellow writers and share your story with them. On many of the websites, they have a deadline for you to complete your project by, and occasional prompts to jumpstart your writing. I find that having other people motivating you and holding you to your word makes it easier to stay on task.

Christie V Powell: I have a box of stories from high school in my closet. Most of them are unfinished (but they are super fun to go back and read). Almost all of the stories that I did finish were ones that I outlined. I had to know where I was going and a couple of steps on the way, so that I desired to get there. Otherwise I lost interest and filed them away. I know it’s not for everyone but that’s what worked for me.

As far as not changing the plot, is that a bad thing? Even we outliners know that our plans are flexible. If we follow where the story wants to go, it’s not going to go exactly according to plan and that’s okay. Instead of starting all the way over, make some notes (in the margins, or a separate document, or in a different text color), about what you’re going to change when you go back and edit. Then keep going.

Ellen: Create a lot of suspense and laughter. That will make it a lot more interesting. I have written a few stories myself, and some are very long. Think of what you would do in the situation. Sometimes I even play a game out of my books. Sometimes I write a story out of a fun game. If you happen to lose your interest, draw some pictures for it. Maybe even draw some pictures for what’s going to happen next. I am sure you are a great writer, you just need to not only catch your reader’s interest, catch your own interest. If you want to change the plot, you can, but don’t erase the rest. Create a new book and maybe even connect the two, like have the different characters meet.

These are terrific!

I love the motivational suggestions. I belong to a poetry critique group that meets every other week, which forces me to come up with a poem. If we’re sharing our work, our fellow writers can help us move forward in our story when they say what interests them, because we may not always be the best judge of where the excitement lies. If they’re fascinated by this character or that event, we may discover a fruitful direction to take our plot, one that interests us, too. Also, as we write, it’s cheering to think, Oh, boy, Megan is going to adore this. Or even, Megan is going to hate this–because we’re anticipating a response. Many of us read to be read. An audience is a great goad.

And Ellen’s ideas are reminders that playfulness is a big part of creativity. When our plot has knotted up, we can act out the problem. Surprises may result. Or we can bring in our other talents. Ellen draws or invents games. How about a computer app game (way beyond my dinosaur capabilities)? Some of you make maps. How about a diorama? In my case, a poem may help. Often, entering another artistic realm can free and reinvigorate us.

And Christie V Powell’s ideas are, as usual, spot on. I agree that abandoned stories are not a tragedy–especially not if we save them. We can enjoy going back to them later and meeting the person and writer we used to be, and they may even suggest new work.

I half wish I’d abandoned Stolen Magic after a year or so. I mean, I’m happy with the way it finally turned out, but I might have written three other books in the time it took me to write the one, so I don’t think it’s terrible to fail to complete a story. And when we’re in the early stages of our lives as writers, we’re trying things out. We can let something go without a backward glance. If we turn out to be writers in the long haul, we’ll start finishing our work when we’re ready.

And, I agree again that it’s fine to change a plot. We can’t know when we start what discoveries we’ll make as we write or what new ideas will crop up. My outlines, as I’ve said here many times, are either minimal or nothing, though often I have a fairy tale in mind that I’m following and filling in with detail, and I, too, find it helpful to have an idea of the end I’m writing toward. So that might be another strategy to use to help stick it out. Before we start writing the actual story, when we’re thinking or outlining or writing notes, we can consider how we’d like it to come out–which may change, as everything else can–but having a sense of the ending can give us something to aim for. When I wrote Ella Enchanted *SPOILER ALERT*, for example, I knew I wanted Ella to end her curse herself, but originally I thought that Hattie, rather than love for Char would provide the solution. So, our idea of the ending doesn’t have to be fleshed out, but it probably should be a little more than wanting it to be happy or sad–although I suppose that can work, too.

Another strategy, which probably won’t work for everyone, to help finish a story is not to jump instantly into the writing. Jot down some notes first. We can let the story roll around in our brains for a few days or a few weeks before we get going. We can let other approaches develop. We can even wonder in this early stage if this is the story we want to write. I usually stick to notes until they bore me and the pressure to write a beginning scene becomes intolerable. Also, even though I haven’t finished Ogre Enchanted yet, I’ve begun to speculate about the next book and to start daydreaming.

Here are five prompts:

∙ In this post, I express doubts about this approach, but try it out anyway. All you know is the ending has to be happy. Put your MC into a miserable situation. Pick a few of these and pile on some of your own: Her family and friends have been wiped out in some horrible, painful way; she’s hated by everyone she knows; she’s imprisoned and has just been sent to solitary confinement; she has a dread disease with little prospect for survival; she is haunted by the ghost of a former dictator. Think of a few more before you start writing. Write the story and–believably–bring it to a happy conclusion.

∙ Now, all you know is that the ending is sad. Your MC is the most fortunate person on the planet. Pick some of these and make up your own: He just won a major award that comes with a big cash prize; his cancer is not merely in remission, it’s cured forever; his family is well and healthy; he lands his dream job or gets into his dream school; everyone loves him. Make it all fall apart. To add to his misery, make some of the trouble be his own fault and make some be caused by betrayal. End it tragically.

∙ If you have abandoned story fragments, go through them. Look for things to admire. Choose four fragments, any four. Jot down ideas that you can use again. Think about how you might cobble together an MC and other major characters. Write a new story that combines elements of the four, but if you wind up using only three or remembering parts of others or bringing in entirely new threads, that’s okay, too.

∙ Pick one of your abandoned stories and think about how it might end. Write the ending as a scene with full detail. Type “the end” under it. Walk away.

∙ Picking up the last prompt. If you want to, wait a week and return to the story and fill in three scenes leading up to the ending. Consider it finished–unless you want to work on it some more, but I think you can declare victory.

Have fun, and save what you write!

  1. Wow, I’m flattered.

    Words that I wish had more synonyms… definitely ‘rock’ is on the list. My characters are out in nature a lot, and you can have a pebble or a boulder or even a stone, but you can only use the word ‘rock’ so many times when they’re climbing a sheer rock cliff holding a fist-sized rock for throwing later and taking shelter in a gap in the rocks…
    I also tend to use ‘smirk’ too often. I like to use it to indicate when someone (usually my characters Keita or Carli) is teasing, or when someone is particularly arrogant (especially in book 2 where the royal family tends to be exclusive).

    • With my issues like your rock issue, I call attention to the fact it’s a problem to make it seem intentional and therefore not a problem anymore. For example (and this all depends on your characters and their personalities and the ambience of the situation), you could have rock used an excessive amount of times in one paragraph of a character’s thoughts. Then, in the next, you could have them think, “Rocks! That’s all there is here. Rocks, rocks, rocks. No variation. You can’t even call them boulders, or pebbles, and they’re like the mutt of rocks, so you can’t use ‘limestone’ or ‘granite’ either.” Something like that. And it’s like you meant to overuse the word or phrase, so the repetition isn’t though much of.
      Maybe this isn’t the best permanent solution, but it’s a technique I use for a temporary fix (though, as this post very much pertains to me, I usually don’t ever go back, or forwards, and my words sit as they are, stagnant pools of half-finished ideas).

  2. Door! It has some special occasion synonyms, like portal, but mostly you’re stuck with door .Whenever a character has to enter and leave a room in a hurry-or worse, talk to someone through an open door-it gets overused fast. Especially in prison settings or any kind of escape scene, where the door will be a major point of focus. Then you have to block the “doorway” and step over the “threshold”, even though people just call the whole door system a door in real conversations.

  3. Trampoline. I know this sounds weird, but can anybody think of a realistic-sounding synonym for trampoline?? I have to use the word almost 20 times, though, in one scene where my MC’s little brother gets injured on the trampoline. (See? 3 times just in this post. And I’m not going to say “bouncy house”) End of my mini rant about trampolines 🙂

    • I can’t think of anything for trampoline specifically, but you could use adjectives to change it (if it makes sense in the context). Like, your characters’ mother could refer to it angrily as “that stupid trampoline” every time it comes up in conversation, or a dramatic friend could refer to it as “the crime scene” or “the danger zone”. Just modify the word based on the feelings associated with it and the characters involved.

  4. Gail Carson Levine says:

    I wonder if words feel overused in a language that doesn’t have so many synonyms. I looked this up today and discovered that “to like” and “to love” are the same in French: aimer for both.

    • And to think the Greeks had three more words that correspond to our word “love”: Family and friend love, romantic love, and undeserved love.

      • I think it’s fascinating how different languages want a different number of words to describe the same or similar concepts. Farsi has eight words for cousin, one for each way you can be related. Daughter/son of my mother’s sister, daughter/son of my father’s brother, daughter/son of my father’s sister, and daughter/son of my mother’s brother. Meanwhile English doesn’t even have separate words for boy and girl cousins.

        • Not to mention the once-removed cousins, because seriously, who would introduce their family member as “your first cousin once removed”? Usually I stick to “my cousin’s kids” or something like that, but a more practical title would be nice.

  5. My stories are always like that – they start, and then they sit. But I’m forever weaving them in and out of each other, displacing characters, stitching scenes together, pulling things apart into elements that I proceed to stick into other ideas.
    The few stories I’ve hung onto longer, I’ve kept interest in them by occasionally interrupting myself in the natural progression of events to write a paragraph that will show up later, or jot down random ideas – just hit enter twice after whatever I happen to be writing, type in the idea/mini-scene, enter twice again, and continue like nothing happened. Occasionally I’ll stop and start typing, in no particular order, everything I know thus far about a character. Things will lead to other things, and I’ll maybe learn something that can help me progress through the part I’m stuck on.

    Here’s a problem: usually I’ll have a very basic idea of a plot (never the ending, just a little ways into the story), but more often than not I’ll think of characters first, plop them somewhere they probably don’t belong, and they take the story where the want it to go. (That way is not always the way I want it to go, due to the natural conflict between them and the fabricated setting/scenario I haphazardly created just so they’d have something to do, so my characters and I spend a good amount of time arguing.) Except, due to my character-centric nature, the plot peters out after the end of my cobweb planning, or after the characters sweep the cobweb planning out of the way with an especially large broom, and that’s when I stop writing.
    It’s half a problem of lack of drive on my part to work through my difficulties, half a problem of having the wrong characters in the wrong story and not having met the right ones for that situation yet – and not having the right scenario for the characters I do have.
    Suggestions?
    (I do hope I made sense.)

    • That sure sounds like the way I started out writing! I came up with a small idea with no ending and in a whirlwind of excitement came up with some awesome characters and plopped them in the story. I had no idea where it was going to go. I just ran with it. And then I got tired of it, and stopped writing it for 3 years. When I found it again, stuffed in the bottom drawer of my desk, I thought I’d give it a go once more. As I started writing it again I became frustrated because it wasn’t turning out as I had hoped. And then I read about story structure, and the game plan changed. Once I realized that successful stories need to have structure, I took a step back. I finally realized why my story was pittering out. It was because it wasn’t flowing like a story is supposed to flow. As a pantser (I’m more of a plantser now, but anyway) the thought of structuring my story sounded like it would be so boring, but when I started doing it, I found out it was actually pretty fun. You see, when you at least pin down the main points (the inciting event, key event, first and second plot points, climax, third plot point, and resolution) then your story doesn’t fizzle. It thrives like it’s supposed to, which makes it easier to navigate the story. My advice to you is to do a little research on story structure. I’ve recommended the book that changed my game plan on here before. It’s called “How to Structure Your Novel” by K.M. Weiland. I’m sure there are other books out there that are just as helpful, but this is the one that got me going. And don’t worry. Even if story structure sounds boring and intensive it’s essential, in my opinion, to create a good story. Even though I use story structure, I still have unplanned, awesome things happen in my novels as I write them. Hope this helps!

  6. Hi there,
    I taught myself to write from reading Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. In it, there’s a strong omniscient narrator who delivers the information as if from afar. Example: “He was a good-looking man of twenty-five years, well-educated, wealthy, with excellent manners, but he was still unmarried.” I really like it, but some of the writing manuals I’m reading discourage that kind of narrative. They say to show, not tell. Like, they would want me to SHOW that he’s educated by, say, showing him reading a philosophy book, or SHOW that he’s well-mannered by showing him in conversation. So, is writing like the classics bad because it tells instead of shows? Just curious.

    • The Florid Sword says:

      I’d say that if you want to write like the classics, then you’re going to have to do a lot of telling. In that kind of voice, I would say it’s okay and I almost prefer it.

    • I’d say it’s okay if you have a really interesting voice. It’s especially useful in first person, where the whole thing is in one character’s voice, so that even the most telling of paragraphs also reviews the characteristics of the narrator. It’s a bit harder in omniscient, but in that case the narrator is almost a part of the story too. Dickens or Austen are as much a part of the story as their characters, and they have an interesting voice to match that reveals a lot about who they are. It’s harder to pull off nowadays but certainly doable.

      • Enchanted, that’s a fascinating question! I’ve always liked the way some books, especially older ones like Jane Austen’s and others, are written in such distinct styles. I know all authors will have their own style in some way or another, but I’ve always found it interesting how most modern books use the same basic “show, don’t tell” styles, as well as including approximately the same amount of descriptions, as opposed to books from different time periods.

        On another note, in regards to style J.M. Barrie’s might be one of my favorite distinct voices! Aside from when Gail wrote the Fairies books intentionally leaning toward his sort of style, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything written quite like it! You?

    • Yes, the classics do tend to tell more than show. In this instance, the telling is very straightforward and informative, which can actually be a good thing. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time describing some trivial information about a character and would rather TELL readers this information so you can SHOW this character’s actions, manner of speech, and what they look like, then I say it’s completely allowed. It might be a good idea to SHOW in the next sentence, maybe by describing the way his voice sounds or the way he is dressed. As long as you have a healthy mix of showing and telling, you’re good. Jane Austen still shows, even though she may tell more often. And honestly, most people don’t go around saying they would have preferred it if Jane Austen used more description or showed more often. No, they instead focus on how well the plot and characters are written. That’s why it’s a classic.

  7. Hello! A lot of books have songs in them, like Ella Enchanted, Fairest, then other books like Harry Potter and Hunger Games. How do you write songs to put in your stories? In a book I am writing, there is a tune that a character plays on the piano or hums a lot, but I want there to be words to the song. Any tips??

    • Study songs of the type you’re going for. Hymn? Folk song? Listen to several and listen to the music. Write down phrases that catch your attention. You can also read poetry for ideas, and check out books or do other research on writing poems. I’m reminded of Shannon Hale’s “Princess Academy” or Ann McCaffrey’s “Dragonsong” trilogy, where each chapter opens with a song.

    • I have a character who (like me!) often thinks in song. Because she’s our world, I use real songs. One is an old folk song, and therefore no problem with copyright stuff. Another is newer, but I keep it because it expresses the changing attitude of the MC over the course of the story. I had another modern one that she sang only once, but I realized that, although the lyrics said exactly what she was feeling, I really didn’t need that particular song (and its copyright). So I made up words that conveyed the same idea. I have found that almost the only way I can write decent poetry is if I have an inspiring tune to start with. So I did. The tune isn’t mine, and in the end doesn’t even fit the words that well, but what mattered was that I had an original set of words that sounded (sorta) like song lyrics.

      If you are thinking of a real tune, consider what mood it gives. If you don’t have a real tune, I suggest you find one or make up one! What mood do you want the words to have? Do you want the song to be sung at a particular time? Could the song in some way include a symbol for the story or romanticize a part of the setting?

      On using real songs – My sister and I read the book Chime (Fantasy in our world, probably high school and up). My sister noticed that one of the characters whistled one of the songs in the book. She looked it up, saying that if it could be whistled it was probably a nice melody. It was. We both love it now. This last week, she re-read the book, and noticed another song. She looked it up too, and has been singing it all day. Both are old folk songs. It was like an added bonus to us that we could find tunes for them, and that they’ve actually been sung for generations.

  8. I have a feeling this comment will be really long, but I’m curious, has anyone else tried using a Myer Briggs-type personality test for developing their characters? The idea had never occurred to me until I took it myself a few days ago after discussing the complexity of personalities with my friend, who is a psych major. Just for fun, she told me to take the test (a website call 16personalities was the one she gave me), which consists of about 60 questions or so – and as I was answering the questions, I found myself wondering how my characters would answer them!

    In the past I’ve often enjoyed interviewing my characters to try to get to know them, and it’s helped a lot! Still, my interviews have never been quite to the extent of the questions on this test – so I decided to try it with a character I just haven’t been able to figure out. It was SO helpful! Just thinking about her answers to the questions really helped me to understand her more – but the most interesting part was the description of the type that she scored.

    Creating complex characters – with strengths and weaknesses, insecurities, flaws, and everything that makes humans interesting – is hard! At least for me it is. I have a tendency to make my favorite characters too close to perfect, and I have trouble understanding and predicting those who are quite different from me.

    The results were so handy for my difficult character because it listed not only the typical strengths and obvious character traits of a personality like hers – which I admittedly had pretty much figured out – but it also really described the more complicated parts of her personality, her weaknesses and relationship tendencies, which I was pretty much at a loss for. It was fascinating! Don’t misunderstand me, I haven’t gone and turned her into a carbon copy of the description now, and I’m not saying one should. It just really helped me to create a more developed and realistic personality for a character who has been baffling me for the past two years! Who knew?

    Also, I used it for some of my other characters who, as much as I love them, are too perfect. It gave me some great ideas for their weaknesses and flaws!

    • Also, I’m curious now…for any other writers on here who have taken the test, what personality type are you? Of course I know that these sorts of things shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and they aren’t always totally accurate; I’m just curious. Writers are a unique and fascinating breed – I wonder whether we might tend to have similar personalities? I scored INFJ.

          • I don’t know how I forgot about that post! I had read part of it when you posted it (I definitely remembered the title!), but come to think of it I ran out of time to finish, and then forgot about it. Very interesting!

            Oddly enough, I enjoy writing both introverted characters and extroverted ones about the same. I’m not sure why. My biggest problem is that I have a hard time giving my characters personality flaws! I like them too much for that ;). I think the ideas for flaws were the greatest benefit from the test. Not that I’ll stick to every one mentioned, of course, but it certainly gave me some ideas!

      • I’m INFJ. That is, according to a test I took from a book several years back. The description lined up so well I was amazed, right down to its claim that many INFJs write novels, etc. At the time, I was still rather shy and timid about my writing, and it was cool to see that somebody else said that about my personality type.

        More recently, I took the test on the 16personalities website and the results were ENFJ. But the description was almost totally off. I was shaking my head the whole way through. Flipping over to the INFJ section was more familiar. I now realize that, as I grew up, and took on roles of responsibility, I started to act more extroverted. So now I answer questions about relating to people differently than I did before. I may act extroverted, and I may even be somewhat comfortable doing so. But in reality, I am still introverted, and that description is still what really fits.

      • INFP. Interesting that most who have commented are Introverted and Intuitive.
        I did it for several characters, mostly for fun. I was surprised that my main character’s best friend and twin brother had the same score. Their very different upbringings make them very different people, but I suppose it explains why Keita clicks with both.

        • Intuitive types tend to like fantasy; “sensing” refers to preferring things that one can actually observe with the five senses, so the sensing types are less likely to spend much time on the blog of a fantasy writer.

          This is just a guess, but I have a feeling that we introverts and intuitives are more likely to dream up possible adventures, and extroverts and sensing types are more likely to go out and find their own real adventures!

    • I’ve taken the test for myself and my characters and I find it fascinating as well! I took the same test you did on 16personalities.com and after I got my answer I took the test as my 4 MCs in my WIP. It was so interesting to find out things in their personalities that I hadn’t thought of before, but that totally made sense. I agree that it was very helpful figuring out my characters’ personalities more in depth. A good tip, however, is to realize that just because a character is a certain type that doesn’t mean he or she will always fall into their type mold. Even real life people don’t act exactly like their personality type.

      My personality is INTJ-A, though I got a close score between Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) so I’m not as cold as people like to make INTJs out as. In fact, I took the test a total of 3 times (just because I’m one of those skeptical weird people) and 1 time I got INFJ. The other 2 I got INTJ. In case anyone is a member, my user name is Rowena Ravenclaw. I’d love to chat about personalities on there with you guys. 🙂

      • INTJs are awesome people to hang out with. The ones I know aren’t cold at all. They won’t sit down and commiserate with me, but they’ll have a thoughtful look on their face while I rant, and next thing I know, they’ve come up with a creative solution to my problem. It’s usually either brilliant or so ridiculous I have to laugh, which is a good thing.

        • Why thanks, and I think the same way you do about INTJs. We’ve been depicted as so many famous fictional villains (Emperor Palpatine, Hannibal Lector, Draco Malfoy, Professor Moriarty, etc.) and we can be a bit blunt and scheming at times, so I think that’s why we’re often labeled as cold or villainous. Though we’re a lot softer than we may let on, another reason that we’re portrayed as cold is because we hate dealing with emotions. We’re problem solvers, not teary-eyed support groups.

          I act extroverted as well at times. I’m a very opinionated person, and once you get me talking about something I love (such as writing) I don’t want to shut up. I’m still very sure I’m introverted, though, because introversion isn’t being shy. It’s the need to have solitude in order to “recharge” before being with people again.

          • My brother, who is super brilliant but also very kind and always knows just what to say, scored INTJ. He fits the description down to the finest detail, but certainly isn’t a villain (although he did love it that those were his matches on the character charts!). It kind of makes me want to write a story now with INTJ and ENTJ protagonists who are lovable and an ESJF villain. That could be fun!

  9. I use The Four Temperaments, which is a simpler theory of the human personality. Although it doesn’t go into quite as much detail as Myer-Briggs, I still found it very helpful.
    For example, while writing my “Jelsa” fanfiction, I used to think that everything about Jack Frost and Elsa was alike. I took the Temperament Test for them, and they came out Melancholic-Phlegmatic (Elsa)
    and Sanguine-Choleric (Jack). Turns out their personalities are polar opposites of each other (pun intended!)
    It totally puts all their relationships, as well as their marriage, in a new perspective. This goes for all my stories.
    I agree that personality tests are, in a way, essential to figuring out character! I’ve tried the character interviews, but I find I understant them more if I put them through the Four Temperament Test. : )

  10. Poppie, it’s interesting that you found that your characters were opposites. Everyone always says that my mom and I are exactly the same, but when I was taking the test the other day, my sister noticed and somehow the whole family got involved. I know you can’t take these tests too seriously, but it was funny because she answered many, if not most, of the questions exactly opposite what I did! If I remember right, she scored ENTJ (as opposed to my INFJ).

    Another interesting thing we discovered was that, not only did all six of us come out with decidedly different scores, but half of of the family – mom, my sister and one brother – scored over 80% extroverted. The other half, dad as well as me and my other brother – scored over 85% introverted!

    • In my WIP one of my MCs is an INTJ female like a am, which is an uncommon combination, especially for fictional characters. Some say INTJ females are particularly difficult to write because we’re not super feminine, what with disliking emotions and all. Since I am one, however, I don’t find it difficult at all. Her sister is an ENFP, which is rumored to be the best friend of a lot of INTJs. My best friend is an ENFP, and we get along brilliantly. I actually haven’t taken the test for my villain yet, but I know she’s extroverted (E) and thinking (T) for sure. Actually, I’m going to take the test for her right now…
      She’s an ESTJ-A, and the more I read the more it sounds like her. So Writeforfun, looks like I’m writing a novel that almost fits what you said above. A female INTJ protagonist who, I hope, is lovable, and an ESTJ villainess. Not an ESFJ, but close enough.

      That’s interesting how personality traits get passed on. Everyone has always said I’m just like my dad, and it’s true. He’s an ISTJ, just one letter away from my personality. My mom is an ENFJ, so her and my dad are almost entirely opposites. My younger brother is an INFP.

  11. Hello Mrs. Levine! In my English class I was assigned with a homework assignment that asked me to interview someone with a profession that I would like to be in when I grow up. As I hope to be an author, I was wondering if maybe you could answer some of these questions for me.
    1. What role does written communication play in your field as a whole?
    2. What type of writing do you engage with on a daily basis? (This is probably an obvious one)
    3.What tips do you have for effective written communication in this field?
    Thank you for taking your time to read this! I hope that it’s okay that I posted this as a comment.

    • Gail Carson Levine says:

      1. Since the field is writing children’s books, written communication is the most important skill. Yes, we talk to editors, sometimes speak at schools and conferences, but 99% is writing.

      2. I try to work on my current book every day.

      3. Clarity is more important than anything else.

      You may find more answers here and on the rest of my website. Good luck with your homework!

  12. How do you prefer to spell the word for an eagle’s nest: Aerie or Eyrie? And how do you pronounce it?

    Apparently Aerie is the Americanized spelling and Eyrie is the English. Dictionary.com pronunces them the same: either air-ee or eer-ee (although I’ve heard eye-ree too). I’ve been using American spellings for my series but I’m leaning toward using Eyrie “eye-ree” as a name for a horse (I know, the pronunciation doesn’t come up in the book, but I am planning on doing an audiobook eventually). I’m just curious if anyone else has a prefered spelling or pronunciation.

    • I love the look of the word Aerie, and without looking up ways to pronounce it I would automatically think it’s pronounced “air-ee”. I really like that. I would pronounce Eyrie as “eye-ree”, just as you’ve pronounced it. Even though they’re supposed to be pronounced the same way, just by looking at them, as a reader, I’d pronounce them differently. I like both of them, and I’ve never heard either of those words before. You learn something new every day.

    • I haven’t ever used the word before, but I personally would go with Eyrie, simply because E-Eagle-Eyrie makes more sense to me. I’m not sure what the official pronounciation is, but right now I would pronounce the first air-ee and the second ear-ee.

    • I love both of them so much! But just looking at them, I would pronounce Aerie, air-ee, and Eyrie, eye-ree. I would chose Aerie because eagle like the air, and air-ree. And I think that Eyrie is a pretty good name for the horse. But that’s just my opinion.

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