Book Reviews: “American Nerd” & “The Decline of Men”

(note: this is cross-posted from OverMediated) “American Nerd: A Story of My People” by Benjamin Nugent explores the whole phenomenon of The Nerd. The book, while sometimes funny, is often a dry read (big surprise). In true nerdy fashion, he chronicles the history of the nerd stereotype – he of the high-water slacks, thick glasses, […]

Rookie Mistake: Flat Characters

In reviewing self-published books for Kirkus Indie, I often come across mistakes that practically shout, “rookie!” One, as I’ve posted before, is neglecting setting. Another common mistake new writers make is lack of characterization. This is mostly due to telling, rather than showing. I can’t tell you how many “beautiful” women with “kind eyes” I’ve […]

Famous Couples Portmanteaus

We’ve all heard of “Brangelina” and “Bennifer,” those portmanteus  the press is so fond of generating (and covering). So why not give famous couples of literature and history their own portmanteaus? Some examples I’ve come up with (although I suspect I’m not the first to think of these): Romeo + Juliet = Romiet Napoleon + […]

Tuesday’s Tips: “Have” vs. “Of”

A big pet peeve of mine is when writers use the word “of” instead of “have,” e.g. “would of,” “should of,” or “could of.” I realize that when spoken, particularly by Southerners, this is how it may sound. However, it is incorrect. The correct verb constructions are: would have could have should have must have […]

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

Please forgive the Biblical reference, but I think there’s been an error of truly Chuck-Heston-ish* proportions in recent Oxford Dictionaries Online. The venerated gatekeeper of proper English syntax has apparently bowed to peer pressure or the yearning to be more “relevant.” According to an article in Time NewsFeed, Oxford has added some popular online and texting “words” that […]

Rookie Mistake: Neglecting Setting

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, setting is important. It’s how you make readers feel as if they’re “really there.” Without a fully developed setting, there is no “there.” Right away, in your first act, introduce us to the setting the same as you would a character. Don’t just use physical description (though that is […]