• Ordinary people. Extraordinary romance.

    Ordinary people. Extraordinary romance.

Whatever your character's occupation, you can bet his birth order had an effect on his personality and career choice.


This blog about birth order appeared (with slight changes) on February 13, 2012.

Birth Order


Why Your Characters Behave The Way They Do

Does your hero run a large corporation? Is he a mover and shaker in the business world? Or is he in a creative field such as advertising or entertainment? Does he negotiate well? Speak first and regret it afterward? Maybe he’s the life of every party.

Whatever his occupation, you can bet his birth order had an effect on his personality and career choice. First born children generally share characteristics, as do last borns and middle borns. Not all attributes apply to each birth order, but on average studies have shown them to be more true than not.

Today, we’ll discuss the peculiarities of the first born and the middle child. Next week, we’ll look at the youngest, only child and twins as well as the variables that can affect their behavior.

Birth order. Whatever your character's occupation, you can bet his birth order had an effect on his personality and career choice.


First Born Children

First Born children usually have the most attention directed at him/her, even before birth, because the pregnancy was a BIG DEAL. More likely than not, multiple generations pin their hopes and dreams on them and pressure them to perform from day one.

They are their parents’ “guinea pig”, and their parents often overdo and overprotect their first born child. The first born child grows up faster. Parents hand them responsibility early.

Some common characteristics:

Perfectionist Reliable List maker Organized Critical
Goal oriented Prompt Scholarly In control Well groomed
Motivated to achieve success Believes in law and order No gray areas Likes structure Logical
Critical Energetic Ambitious Enterprising Serious


Professions – A higher percentage of first borns are in science, medicine, law, accounting, architecture, engineers, computers, and reporters (except on air).

He gets things done and has confidence in being taken seriously by others.

21 of the first 23 astronauts were first born children.

2/3 of entrepreneurs are first born children.

Strengths Weaknesses
High confidence level, taken seriously, strong concentration, confident, feels supported and that they will be respected for what they do A fear of being dethroned, overachiever, strong-willed, feel as though they’re never good enough, selfish, critical


Two typical types

First born children come in two typical types – compliant/willing to please and assertive/strong willed.

The compliant first born grows up as a pleaser of others. Since childhood, he was the one responsible to get things done. His parents depended on him, and it was his solemn duty to not let them down.

Common characteristics of the compliant first born:

Reliable Good student Pleaser Nurturer Strong need for approval
Won’t complain Team player Conscientious Cooperative “Grin & bear it” mentality


The second type is the assertive, strong willed type. They are the pace-setters and trend-setters. They have high expectations, not only of themselves, but everyone else.

Common characteristics of the assertive first born:

Assertive Strong-willed Precise Insistent High achiever
Driven Perfectionist In control Want things their way Conventional


Famous first borns:

Oprah, Charlton Heston, Rush Limbaugh



Middle Children

Middle childrens’ attitude and lifestyle plays off that of the firstborn child. Generally, their personalities are the opposite of their older sibling. If he senses he can compete, he will. If the older child is stronger or smarter, the second may go off in another direction.

Middle borns may feel like a fifth wheel. They go outside of their family to create a “family” with friends.Middles are the most secretive of all birth orders, because they feel the world isn’t paying attention and chose not to confide their plans.

They are the last to seek professional help because they consider themselves mentally tough and independent.

Others consider them the most monogamous, and they have a strong commitment to make the marriage work.

Professions include sales, art, advertising, a career that involves negotiating or being level headed and unbiased.

They are tenacious because they’re used to life being unfair.

Middle children characteristics include:

Strengths Weaknesses
Peacemakers, unspoiled, realistic, imaginative, loyal, mediator, independent, flexible, diplomatic Hates confrontation, stubborn, suspicious, rebellious, “family” is friends, difficulty setting boundaries


Like first borns, they come in two types.

Type 1:

Loner Quiet, shy Impatient Uptight Fights for respect


Type 2:

Outgoing Friendly Loud Laid back Patient


Famous middle children are Donald Trump, Tim Allen, Julia Roberts, Richard Nixon, David Letterman

Birth Order: Resources

The Birth Order Book, Why You Are The Way You Are by Dr. Kevin Leman

The Ultimate Personality Guide by Jennifer Freed and Debra Birnbaum




If you’d like to read my blog posts on birth order, I’ve compiled them in a book on Amazon.

Amazon Birth Order is a compilation of previous blog posts.

Part 2 will re-post for next week’s #ThrowbackThursday.



I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with My Friend Alexa


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinby feather
Read more

9 Rules for better dialogue

One way to make your characters to be memorable, is to give them better dialogue.

One way to make your characters memorable, is to give them better dialogue. Click To Tweet

One way to make your characters memorable, is to give them better dialogue.

Dialogue is a key component to any fictional work. It serves many purposes:

  • Moves the story forward
  • Defines characters (background, cultures, etc)
  • Entertains
  • Sets mood, tone, time, and space
  • Adds tension
  • Adds conflict
  • Gives information
  • Controls pacing
  • Adds subtext (it’s not what they’re saying, it’s what they’re not saying)

Rules of dialogue:

  1. Start a new line with a new speaker.

    • Incorrect-“Where are you going?” Emil asked. “None of your business,” Zoe said.
  2. “Use double quotation marks” and make sure your quotation marks match.

    • Pick either curly or straight. The same goes for single quotation marks. (used when quoting someone inside a quote)
    • “Bob told me, ‘I hate my mother’ when I spoke to him last night,” Emily said.
  1. If one speaker is talking without interruption, use opening quotation marks “ at the beginning of each paragraph.

    • Use a closing quotation mark ” at the end of the speech or whenever it is interrupted by action or thought.
  2. Cut to the chase.

    • In real life, we greet each other and spend time on small talk, but it will bore your reader. Cut to the meat of the conversation.
  3. Cut out filler words: uh, ah, er, like, stammers.

    • Pretend you’re at a Toastmaster’s meeting. In other words, don’t write speech like we talk it.
  4. Don’t constantly use the other character’s names.

    • Otherwise known as the Bob & Emily drinking game from The Bob Newhart Show. I’m terrrrible at constantly having my characters use the other’s name. In my last edits of Red Riding Hood and the Lone Wolfe, I eliminated dozens of Olivers and Rosewyns. Bad me. The only time your character needs to use another’s name is if they’re trying to get their attention.

  5. Don’t use dialogue as an info dump, otherwise known as “You know, Bob…”

    • “You know, Bob, flying to Vegas will not hide us from Big Daddy Nelson, crime boss, who saw us witness the murder of two men in the alley behind your house in Detroit.”
    • Just don’t do it. Find another way to convey information to your reader.
    • For a examples of how to write better dialogue while conveying information, read this post.

  6. Give each character a different voice.

    • My word choices don’t sound like yours. Give your character a verbal crutch or word choices unique to him. In Red Riding Hood, Rosewyn is the village baker. Her speaking is not as refined as King Oliver’s.
  7. Minimize dialogue tags.

    • Use “said” and “asked”. People do not hiss words, nor do they laugh words. “Said” is invisible, and not always needed. In one 1800 word conversation in Red Riding Hood, I used “said” three times. Instead, I used action and thought. Go here for a list of 50 things your characters can do while talking.

Dialogue example using action, thought, different voices and no tags:

“I am a mess, aren’t I?” He returned the cloak and sketched a bow. “Many thanks, mistress.” He reached into a pocket, but came away with an empty palm. “I have no coin for you.”

Rosewyn’s eyes rounded. “I’d not take it. Can I not help those who do need it?”

“Again, my apologies.” He leaned down and picked up the basket she’d dropped when he fell. His eyebrows rose as he saw the bread and rolls inside, wrapped in flannel. “You’re a baker?”

Did he insult her craft? Rosewyn straightened, and ice entered her voice. “I’m the baker of Chissen Village.” As had been her ma, rest her soul, and gran afore her.

“I’ve not had decent bread in weeks.” His eyes looked like a puppy’s, big and begging.

“Take what you wish.” Her heart pounded. Could he hint any heavier? Did she have a choice? Refuse a gentleman? She’d have to scurry home and bake anew for her customers. Pray Goddess they’d understand.

“I’ve upset you again.” He returned her basket. “Can I not say anything without offending you?”

“You can say goodbye.” The words ran from her mouth before she could catch them.


(Example is from “Red Riding Hood and the Lone Wolfe”, to be released October 14th.)


Good dialogue habits:

  • Read dialogue aloud to avoid stilted speech and similar voices. If it sounds forced to your ears, how will it sound to your reader?
  • Keep dialogue tags to a minimum. Use thought and action instead.
  • Make sure you have opening and closing quotation marks. This is important if you, like me, play Jenga during editing. Editing programs like Grammarly and ProWritingAid will help catch any errors.
  • Not all dialogue has to be snappy like the screwball comedies of the 1930’s and ’40’s. Sometimes, silence is golden. A shake of the head, lips pursed in disapproval, lips pursed in a kiss, can say more than words.
When writing better dialogue, remember to make it flow. The words should draw in your reader.Click To Tweet

This post is part of October’s #AuthorToolboxBlogHop


The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn!

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with My Friend Alexa








Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinby feather
Read more

#1 on the list of my favorite movies is Some Like It Hot

 My Favorite Movies

As a departure from my usual writing advice (yeah, I know, I get a little too anal with sharing what I know), I thought I’d share my favorite movies instead. This subject came about last night as I realized my priorities have changed, and my #1 movie has slipped to #2.

Drumroll, please

5. The Blues Brothers (1980)

#5 on the list of my favorite movies is The Blues Brothers

Jake Blues, released from prison, teams up with his brother Elwood to reunite their old band to raise money for the Catholic orphanage that raised them.

Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi at their best. The music is great and stars musical guests James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Cab Caloway. (side note: we went to a Blues Brothers tribute concert the summer before we left Michigan for Hawaii. It was awesome).

The movie holds the record for the most cars destroyed in a movie (103) and the car chase takes up a good portion of the last part.

Good music, frolicking, and a car chase!

I wrote more about it here.

4. The Princess Bride (1987)

#4 on my list of favorite movies is the Princess Bride

A poor farm boy falls in love with the farmer’s daughter, Buttercup, but is presumed killed by pirates after he leaves to find his fortune. Prince Humperdinck betroths her, but she is kidnapped before the wedding.

Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truth. Passion. Miracles.

A great cast, tight writing, and excellent direction stop this from being a cartoon and turns it into a classic. I can quote so many lines from the movie.

A smidge better than the book.

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

3. Casablanca (1942)

#3 on my list of favorite movies is Casablanca

A disillusioned American living in Casablanca meets an old lover and must decide between his own happiness and the greater good.

The first of my movies set in the 1940’s. When Rick (Humphrey Bogart) meets an old lover, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), a tale of true cinema love begins. As the war rages in Europe, refugees visit Rick’s Cafe to obtain letters of transport, but he only has two. Will he use them himself or give them to Ilsa and her husband?

As this movie was filmed and distributed as WWII took place, the realism is poignant.

I especially liked the character played by Claude Rains, a captain with a gruff exterior and a heart of gold.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

#2 of my favorite movies is It's a Wonderful Life

A businessman gets to see the affect of his life on others when his guardian angel shows him what life would be like if he’d never been born.

My favorite actor, Jimmy Stewart, in his first role back after serving as a bomber commander in WWII. It’s the story of George Bailey, a dreamer, who wants nothing more than to escape the shackles of his hometown of Bedford Falls, but, through circumstances, is forced to remain. As trouble touches him, he wishes he’d never been born, a wish his guardian angel makes come true.

This story touches so many points—the wish for something different, obligations, true friends, the love and continuity of family. Every time I watch it, I notice one more detail I’ve not seen before. Traditionally a Christmas TV offering, it can be viewed any time of the year.

5. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Two musicians witness a mob murder and flee for their lives. They join an all girls band, disguised as women, and mayhem ensues.

What’s not to like about this movie? It has heartthrob Tony Curtis, alternately posing as a woman and a Shell Oil heir (complete with Cary Grant accent); Marilyn Monroe as a poor but sexy musician; comedian Jack Lemmon, also disguised as a woman and falling in love with a man; classic George Raft doing what he does best—playing a gangster; murder; mayhem; music; exotic locales; and the irascible Joe E. Brown and his famous last line in the movie.

It’s funny, it’s poignant, and it holds up well after almost sixty years. So well, that Nia Vardolos copied the premise in Connie and Carla. If you get a chance, download or purchase either of these two, but give preference to Some Like It Hot. Comedy at its best.

Do you agree with my favorite movies? What’s yours? Tell me about it (or them) in the comments.



I want to take my Alexa Rank to the next level with My Friend Alexa

Global Rank

Global rank icon 2,478,844 82,610

Rank in India

India Flag 159,480









Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinby feather
Read more