Friday, April 24, 2015

Writers can learn from DESIGN THINKING

Stanford University’s D.School (more correctly the Hasso Plattner Institute for Design) wants to foster design thinking - a methodology for producing reliably innovative results in any field, not just product development.

This could be considered another university attempt to foster creative thinking in education and scholarship outside traditional disciplinary boundaries. But it might also be a wake up call to writers.
The design philosophy is based on seven principles, which also are good advice to writers.
  1. Show don’t tell. We've all heard that advice a hundred times.
  2. Focus in human values. We know character development is central to any good novel.
  3. Craft clarity. We know we should edit out excess adverbs and dangling phrases.
  4. Embrace experimentation. Most of us stick with what works. Maybe we should try something different more often, such as write in the first person instead of the third person, write short stories instead of novels, or pick a different type of cover.
  5. Be mindful of process. Edit, edit, edit.
  6. Bias toward action. Showing action is better than conversation many times. Or another interpretation could be: write at least a page every day on your novel instead of just talking about writing.
  7. Radical collaboration. I had trouble translating this one into advice for writers. Maybe it's find a new editor, writer's group, or publisher.
Perhaps the real message is effective communication share certain characteristics despite the format. 

I think this design thinking would be helpful for anyone contemplating revising and editing their novels for a second edition.

 How would you interpret DESIGN THINKING into advice for authors?


Thursday, April 16, 2015


Author Marilyn Meredith has published more than thirty novels and received several hundred reviews. Her advice on how to respond to reviews-good and bad-is useful to all of us. For example,  she responds to all reviews. Do you do that? I don't. Maybe I should.

Anyway here's Marilyn.

Every author hopes that when someone reads his or her book that a review will follow. Some authors send out free books to people they know will be willing to write a review. The more reviews that accompany your book on Amazon, the more apt you are to get other readers interested enough to buy a copy.
Even though authors want their books reviewed, not everyone reads their own reviews.
Why not? The simple reason is it’s hard to read a review that isn’t complimentary even though the majority are good.
As for me, I always read my reviews. Fortunately, most have fallen in the 4 or 5 star range. However, there have been some real stinkers. When I offered Angel Lost, an earlier book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series for a few days, hundred were downloaded. In a week or two, reviews started coming in. Most were great, but some weren’t, and few downright funny.

I tried to leave a comment for each review, even if it wasn’t complimentary; I told the person thank you for taking the time to write it. I would never ever respond to a bad review in a nasty manner. (As a warning to writers, there are a few reviewers out there who get great pleasure out of trashing a book and even more when the author responds in an argumentative manner.)
In normal circumstances, when the person has had to pay for book, the reviews are usually more positive. What I’ve learned from many reviewers, if they don’t like a book they don’t post a review.
I’m a reader as well as an author, and yes, I do review the books that I read. Even if I’m not thrilled with a book, I can always find many good things to say about it. One thing we should all remember, is our reading tastes are all different. 
Will I keep reading reviews of my books? Of course I will. If you should happen to read Violent Departures, the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, please do leave a review.
F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

Blurb for Violent Departures:
College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Besides having family members in law enforcement, she lived in a town much like Rocky Bluff with many police families as neighbors.

Because it has been popular on my other blog tours, once again I’m offering the chance for the person who comments on the most blog posts during this tour to have a character named for him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

Or if that doesn’t appeal, the person may choose one of the earlier books in the series—either a print book or Kindle copy.

Tomorrow you can find me at and Stacey Milligan reveals her personal dilemma.