Gail Anderson-Dargatz  

Resources for Writers

On Publishing

AlmostWidow 002
 You only have to look at the covers of my two latest novels, The Almost Widow and The Almost Wife, to guess that they are a departure from my literary novels of the past. On reading them, you’ll know. Both novels are thrillers, domestic thrillers.
I expect some readers who are familiar with my literary works will wonder what I’m up to. That was the case when I started writing hi-lo or literacy learner books for adults and later YA.  Why was the writing so different from my literary novels? The answer, of course, was that I was writing for a different market, the educational market, with different expectations. Now, with The Almost Widow and The Almost Wife, I’m writing for a somewhat different market from my past novels, a more “commercial” market. But maybe the writing is not so different as all that. In both The Almost Widow and The Almost Wife, you’ll still see the small town and rural settings, the family drama, and even the touch of magic realism that has characterized my past works.
AlmostWife 002So why did I decide to write a thriller? Well, we all reach a point in our careers where we want to try something new. I love writing literary novels and will never stop. But after thirty years of writing literary, I needed a break, to breathe new life into my work for myself. I’ve taught and edited other writers as they worked on their own thrillers for over two decades, so I was already very familiar with the form. When I started writing hi-lo books for adults about fifteen years ago, I found the thriller a useful structure for keeping readers engaged. And I’ve always threaded thriller elements into my literary books, starting with my very first novel The Cure for Death by Lightning. The structure is one of my favorites to work with, along with the gothic and the virgin’s or female hero’s journey. And, again, I’ve always written about the domestic, the darkness and drama (and thrills) found in our everyday lives.
So, yes, The Almost Widow and The Almost Wife are departures from my past novels on the one hand; but on the other, not so much. In the end, as NYT bestselling author Kelley Armstrong wrote in a blog she did for my site years ago, the differences between a literary and a commercial novel aren’t so great. Whether writing a literary novel or a thriller, the writer must provide the reader with deep characterizations and an engaging story that offers the satisfaction, the joy, the thrill, of the reading experience.

Resource Categories

Blogs on Craft

On the Building Blocks of Fiction

Tips on how to craft vivid scene that allows the reader to experience events right along with the characters.

On Finding Your Big Idea

Insights into the writing process and what a writer's day really looks like, as well as perspectives on research and writing from real life.

On Getting to Know Your Characters

Advice on the many ways you can make your characters come alive on the page for both you and your reader.

On Deciding on Point of View

What is the best perspective from which to tell your story? Writers discuss how they made choices on point of view and voice.

On Choosing Your Situation and Setting

Writers talk about how they use situation and setting to build story and convey emotion.

On Developing Conflict and Structure

From how to work in different genres to finding the real story, writers offer good advice on building conflict and structure.

On Revising

Tips on how to gain distance from your work and to how to re-imagine your next draft.

On Publishing

Writers offer practical advice on the business of writing and promotion, and on the importance of finding a writing community.

On Making a Living as a Writer

Writers offer words of wisdom on living on less.

On The Writer's Life

Writers talk about their life as a writer.

About Gail

Gail's novels have been national and international bestsellers and two have been short-listed for the Giller Prize, among other awards. She works with writers from around the world on her online teaching forums.