Thursday, February 25, 2010

CADENCE

I'm currently reading a thriller by Stuart Woods. The gentleman has twice the published novels than I have toes and fingers. Yet if I were to critique him, I would complain bitterly about the monotony of his cadence. Ta Da – Ta Da – Ta Da

He's a successful author, and I'm still sending query letters--for my fourteenth completed manuscript. An agent at some point recognized Mr. Woods' work as publishable. It was the man's imagination and humor, his ability to make coincidences seem completely plausible, the development of concrete characters you can love and hate.

But his sentences irk me to no end. Ta Da – Ta Da – Ta Da

I pray my stories have half the interest his do. But if they don't, I'll continue to concentrate on retaining a tad of music in my prose--an occasional Ta, between a Da Da Da Ta Da and a Ta Da

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

PAST TENSE ENVIRONMENT

I presently sit tapping THIS keyboard. The keyboard HERE.
I sat tapping my keyboard. That keyboard THERE.

I have a prejudice that drives my critique-ees nuts. But I am adamant about it. It isn't enough to get your verbs and nouns synced up. The environment you paint must match the tense. If the narrator is talking about the past, why should she be using words like NOW, THIS, and HERE? It is technically THEN, THAT, THERE.

I very well understand the argument that THIS sounds closer. But you chose to use past tense. There are pros and cons of each tense. You can't arbitrarily decide to live with those you like. Past tense weakens the immediacy. The words used in past tense is what does that. It isn't just the WAS versus IS. SHOUTED versus SHOUT.

If you want immediacy, to have the reader in the scene, choose present tense. Otherwise any educated reader (say an agent or editor) will recognize you don't understand your tenses. Mix them at your own peril.

Write Every Day!
Regards,
Mac
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Critique

The critique process is a queer thing. It’s an appreciate-despise relationship. You look forward to the feedback, the opportunity to improve your writing and learn, but it can sure be a painful thing when you read something like, "I couldn't get a sense for where the story was going."

"It's the first chapter of a novel," you scream at your computer monitor.

Critique-ers exist in a cloud of perfection. That is their purpose, to take the writer out of their tunnel of infatuation for their own work--to make them examine their masterpiece from another's point of view. The worst critique is thus the best.

But it sure is hard to like the bastard who wrote it--

Thank God for the tactless--their honesty is better than gold.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac
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