Tag Archives: Novels


The M-Dash

The M-dash is punctuation—it’s that long dash.
If you write—you probably use it often.
But do you know the four main uses?
Jon only knew only three and only used two.

Join us as we discuss the uses and misuses of Juliet’s favorite punctuation mark. And don’t worry, Matt, we also discuss the M-Dash versus the N-Dash issue.


Jon mentioned Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium in the show. (Amazon link and text.)

The second book in Lauren Oliver’s remarkable New York Timesbestselling trilogy about forbidden love, revolution, and the power to choose.

In this electrifying follow-up to Delirium, Lena is on a dangerous course that takes her through the unregulated Wilds and into the heart of a growing resistance movement. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

The photo is the 100 Yards Dash, Newcastle Teachers’ College, NSW, Australia – 1952. Link on Flickr.


Character’s Mental Health

Let’s get real:
That punch to the head…
That divorce…
That violence…
That abuse…
All have consequences on character.

Jon and Juliet talk about trauma and what it means to characters. We love it when the cowboy gets punched on the nose but gets right back on his horse. But have you ever been punched on the nose?

Links and Things Mentioned in the Show:

Jon mentioned Sarah Zarr’s very good podcast: This Creative Life. Especially episode 48: Corey Ann Haydu & Adult Children of Alcoholics.

Another podcast about mental health that Jon recommends is The Mental Illness Happy Hour with Paul Gilmartin.


It’s Time We Stopped Killing Our Darlings

Who first said Kill Your Darlings?
Was it William Faulkner? Allen Ginsberg? Eudora Welty?
No! And who cares?
The idea stinks.

Jon and Juliet break down the meanings and modern interpretations of Kill Your Darlings. Then they draw out some possible reasons not just when to go easy on your darlings, but when to show them the Love McGuffin.



Character… Don’t Do That!

Despite all the shrieks and cries, your character has gone and done something stupid!
Jon and Juliet discuss Harlan Coben’s Six Years and what it can mean when characters treat very old or very new romances with enormous (and maybe crazy) passion to power a story.
Six Years (Amazon Link and Copy)

A masterpiece of modern suspense from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Harlan Coben.

Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. So when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for….

But she is not Natalie.

Soon Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart puts his very life at risk, as he uncovers the secrets and lies that love can hide….

Photo Credit: epsos


The Sellers of Best?

Jon read The Stranger (Amazon Link) by Harlan Corben, and when he mentioned it on the previous show, Juliet was shocked that he had never heard of the New York Times Best Selling author.

We discuss best sellers, and then the structure and emphasis of the thriller. Jon mentions When You Reach Me (Amazon Link) by Rebecca Stead which he loves and even tweeted about:

From the back of When You Reach Me (Amazon Link):

Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper: 

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.


Embrace the Pace

How is reading a novel like test-driving a car? What does a toddler shaking maracas have to do with the pace of a novel?

In this show, Juliet and Jon explore the definition and execution of pace, and how a story finds its rhythm. 

Thought on Plot

What is plot? What common mistakes do writers make? Once we define plot, how much does a novel need?

Juliet and Jon talk about various novels: one with not enough plot, one with too much, and one with just the right amount. (This description makes the show sound like Goldilocks and the Three Novels. It’s not.)

Books mentioned in the show: Gone Girl: A Novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, and Eleanor & Park. (Amazon.com links)

A link to  Freytag’s pyramid or diagram: Plot Diagram

A link to Brian Wasko, who drew a plot diagram much like Jon eventually did somewhere in the late 90s.