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Bookfox

John Matthew Fox helps authors write better fiction. He is the founder of Bookfox, where he creates online courses for writers, provides editing and offers publishing assistance. He is the author of "The Linchpin Writer: Crafting Your Novel's Key Moments" and “I Will Shout Your Name,” a collection of short stories.

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Writers, Tell the Reader about the Farmers

Hi Bookfoxers, How do you create suspense in your fiction? You need suspense throughout your book because the opposite of suspense is ... boredom. The reader isn't looking forward to anything, and there's no friction, no electricity in your writing. You're just delivering information. You're just having characters talk and act. In fact, I would wager that having suspense is the main element that separates ho-hum fiction from fiction where readers grip the deckle-edges and stay up past their...

7 days ago • 3 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, Let's say you want to have a character tell another character something. A kind of message, such as: Don't ever trust the mafia Switzerland is paradise Spend more time with your children You could just have them say it. "Billy, never trust the mafia!" But it might be far more memorable for them to tell a story that illustrates the point. After all, telling stories is what novels do. Plus, a micro-story can be a way of convincing the character -- perhaps they're resistant to...

15 days ago • 3 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, Duke Ellington, the great jazz musician, nearly missed his first performance at the Cotton Club. He was in a contract with another venue in Philly, and a member of the mob had to send some goons down to "convince" the manager to let him come play in New York. Ellington and his band arrived just minutes before showtime. He looked out at the sea of white faces (it was still segregated, in 1927) and knew that if he could nail this performance, his career would take off. Well, they...

20 days ago • 3 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, Don Fry was an author with a problem. He was frustrated that his readers would often ditch his book or article right in the middle. Readers would write to him, complaining about what he’d written, and it was obvious they’d never made it to the end! So he came up with a strategy to solve this problem. He called it the “Gold Coins” writing technique. Imagine you were walking in a forest and found a gold coin. You’d be ecstatic. And if you saw another one up ahead, you’d run to...

27 days ago • 2 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, If you want to write believable characters, you should know what they believe. Not just about politics, but also about religion. For instance, you should always be able to answer these three questions about your characters. What do your characters believe about: The existence of God? Organized religion? The faith of their childhood? Even if faith or religion isn’t a significant theme of your book, you still need to know what your character believes about these crucial things....

about 1 month ago • 2 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, When my grandfather died, I felt ... relief. I was surprised to feel relieved, but my grandfather had suffered for many years, immobile, in ill-health, and he'd told me he didn't see the purpose of continuing to live. At his funeral I felt terrible for feeling relief, and thought I should have been feeling something else: sorrow, or regret that I didn't play one last chess game with him. But when faced with tragedy, we don't always respond in typical ways. And neither should...

about 1 month ago • 3 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, Have you made your writing goals for 2024 yet? Writing goals are one of those things most writers either shy away from or slouch into. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s look at 3 typical writing goals, and I’ll show you why they’re bad goals and how you can improve them. Write a book Get Published Read X amount of books First of all, let me say that all of these are good things to aim for. But if you write your goals this way, you’re destined to fail. First Goal: Write...

about 2 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, I hope you've had a lovely reading year, and discovered new authors and books that brought you joy. I also hope you've been able to avoid envy when reading books that are so good you wished you wrote them (always a danger!). Lastly, I hope you've avoided bad recommendations and given up on books that don't work for you (I always support DNFing a bad book). Take a look at Bookfox to see my favorite seven books. On that post, please take a moment to leave a comment with your...

3 months ago • 1 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, What exactly is a rough draft? How should we think about it? I know it's important to think about it correctly, because if we don't, it can sabotage our writing process. You can certainly make the mistake of the Perfectionist. I used to be a Perfectionist. I used to put too much pressure on my rough drafts (you might do the same). Each character had to be witty Each plot twist had to be clever Each sentence had to be sparkly Inevitably, when you put that kind of pressure on...

3 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Bookfoxers, Silence is powerful. It's not just an absence, but a way of communicating what can't be communicated with words. Silence can: show a character's discomfort create the mood for a book slow down the pace of your story. Here are four ways you should be using silence in your fiction. 1. Silence for Pacing Sometimes you need to slow a scene down. Maybe a character dropped a bombshell of a line, and you want the reader to dwell on it for a moment, rather than rushing headlong into...

4 months ago • 4 min read
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