Friday, July 30, 2010

The First Five Pages

A Writers Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
- Noah Lukeman, Simon and Schuster

If you missed my previous posts—You must buy this text. I summarize the genius. Part 3 of 3:

Third Level of Elimination: The Bigger Picture
1. Showing versus Telling
  • "Above all, readers like to make a text their own…to sympathize, empathize, project."
  • Telling makes text read more like a synopsis than a work of art.
  • "…the reader must enter a world—he cannot have it described to him."
  • Common telling: introduce characters or place for the first time; flurry of events; a jump in time (bridge between events), where you fill reader with backstory; summarizing conversations instead of dramatizing them
  • "Stating facts is not the same as telling. Telling directs us to the conclusions we should come to about the facts.
2. Viewpoint; Narration
  • Person inconsistency
  • Frequent switches of point of view
  • Viewpoint characters who know what they shouldn't
  • Reader must feel strongly about the narrator, love or hate—"the only error is to have the reader not care either way."
3. Characterization
  • Poor usage of character names
    • Switching between first and last names—don't make it harder to keep up with your characters
  • Use of stock, cliché, or overly exotic names
  • Launching into story without establishing characters
  • Cliché character traits
  • Too many characters at once
    • Keep number of characters to essential minimum
  • Confusion over who the protagonist is
  • Presence of extraneous characters
  • Generic character descriptions
    • Character description inevitably stops the action; is a form of telling not showing
  • Characters we don't care about
  • Unsympathetic protagonist
4. Hooks
  • Avoid one-liners that fail context, come across as gimmicky
  • Hooks must be integral to text
  • Avoid the "overexcited" hook that sets up more than we get
  • As opening dialogue "…almost never works, especially with beginning writers."
    • Ploy-ish
  • Exposition is needed to establish a story
5. Subtlety
  • "...the mark of confidence and is thus by far the hardest thing for a writer to achieve."
  • "The unsubtle writer…[will] hit the [reader] over the head with obvious information, tell him things he already knows and generally repeat things."
  • "…the unsubtle writer will often tell in addition to show!"
6. Tone
  • Tone is the basic construction—flow, rhythm
  • Voice behind the work, driving intention behind the sound and style
    • Witty
    • Mocking
    • Sarcastic
    • Nostalgic
    • Angry, happy,
    • Brazen, trivial
    • Arrogant, important
    • Condescending
    • Overly personal narrator
    • Overly serious narrator
  • Tone must fit the manuscript
7. Focus
  • Does the writing further the intention or progression of the work?
    • Watch for stream-of-consciousness writing
  • Resolve events, subplots
  • Avoid blatant digression, pontification, self-indulgence
  • Too focused: progress is too neat, rigid, perfect, may lack spontaneity
8. Setting
  • Basis for text; richness; affects relationships between characters and serve as stimuli
  • Setting itself can become a character
  • Setting errors:
    • No setting/too many settings (like characters, reader can only make room for so many)
    • Stops the flow of narrative—too much; insignificant settings
    • Doesn't change
    • Never comes to life
    • Characters don't interact with/within it
    • Never affects the characters
  • Small touches make setting come to life—tiniest details
  • Senses: smell, sound, sight, feeling, climate, emotion
9. Pacing; Progression
  • On track? Slow? Boring? Lead anywhere? Too fast?
  • Look for lags; too fast pace scenes
  • Does the world created interest the reader—look for your over-indulgence
  • Not enough at stake
  • Not enough between beginning and end
  • Too much telling and description in scenes
  • "Dialogue is the most powerful element that can affect pacing."
  • "Dialogue, even in small doses, accelerates the pace…."
  • If progression is lacking, look for undeveloped plot and characterization
  • The reader wants tension drawn out.
 Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac
http://home.roadrunner.com/~macwheeler/  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The First Five Pages

A Writers Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
- Noah Lukeman, Simon and Schuster
If you missed my previous posts—You must buy this text. I summarize the genius. Part 2 of 3:

Second Level of Elimination: Dialogue

1. Between the Lines
  • Identifiers (attributions) that are not smooth—repetitive names; pronouns; missing identifiers
    • Variations of "said:" yelled, cried, whispered, groaned, hissed
    • Direction: "he said, his eyes narrowing"
  • Spitfire dialogue—must be broken up, stretched out with identifiers, pauses, breaks, direction
  • Interruptions—too much narration which interrupts conversation
  • Journalistic dialogue—quoting/paraphrasing characters
2. Commonplace
  • Dialogue which takes the reader nowhere
    • For the need to be "realistic"
    • To work "into" the scene
    • Rushing to get to the "high concept" plot
3. Informative
  • Informative dialogue indicates preoccupation with story
  • Is the dialogue natural? Back story? Information characters know, revealed for the purpose of the reader?
  • Often used to talk about what is happening, versus showing it
  • Springs from need to tell not show
  • Is controlling
4. Melodramatic
  • Mostly comes across as fake
  • Overly burdens the dialogue to be mouthpiece for drama
  • "Practice understatement. When you complement moments of high drama with words of high drama, you demean the reader."
5. Hard to Follow
  • Most common dialogue problem: capturing dialect or twang; heavy use of slang
  • Lack of identifiers
  • Exclusive (only the characters understand) or cryptic dialogue
  • No matter how well dialect is captured, it will slow the reader down
  • Dialogue should be a respite from narration; not create a heavier burden
    • Focus on choice of words, ways of expression, body language instead
Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac
http://home.roadrunner.com/~macwheeler/

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The First Five Pages

A Writers Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
- Noah Lukeman, Simon and Schuster

 If you missed my previous post—You must buy this text. I summarize the genius. Part 1 of 3:

 First Level of Elimination: Preliminary Problems
1. Presentation
  • Reach out to the appropriate agent
  • Use the correct format
2. Adjectives & Adverbs
  • More is less
  • Allow the reader to fill in
  • Allow reader to use his imagination
  • Overly common description / Hackneyed
  • Weaken their subjects—use stronger nouns and verbs
  • Affect is inevitable commas which slows pace
3. Sound
  • Prose can be technically correct but rhythmically unpleasant
  • Sentences that are too long/short; not well divided; misuse of commas, periods, colons, semicolons, dashes & parentheses
  • Echoes—repeated sounds: character names, pronouns, unusual words, repetitive words
  • Alliteration
  • Resonance—context of a sentence within the paragraph; paragraph within page…
4. Comparison
  • Good but can be applied poorly: tell the reader to stop, pay attention; interrupts flow; slows down the text
  • Absence: work can resonate intellectually but not emotionally
  • Elements must deserve the comparison
  • Is it common place/cliché?
  • Is it the most efficient way to illuminate idea
  • Does it meet "specificity?"
  • Does it fit the contextual vocabulary
5. Style
  • Forced or exaggerated writing: too archaic, florid, minimalistic, academic, clipped, protracted, self-indulgent
  • Is it about the writing, or the story?
  • Gets in the way if too noticeable
  • Beware of redundancy of ideas
  • Style abused is self-indulgent
Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac
http://home.roadrunner.com/~macwheeler/

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The First Five Pages

A Writers Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
- Noah Lukeman, Simon and Schuster

I embark in an effort the next several posts to share my notes of this wonderful text--not for the purpose of saving you from buying Noah's book. You must buy it. You can't live without it. No summary will do. My notes only serve as a review, to provoke memory of what you've read in this marvelous text.

As a way of telling how to do it correctly, Noah does a great job telling you how not to write, breaking down how he strikes submissions. He used three passes.

First Level of Elimination: Preliminary Problems
1. Presentation
2. Adjectives & Adverbs
3. Sound
4. Comparison
5. Style

Second Level of Elimination: Dialogue
6. Between the Lines
7. Commonplace
8. Informative
9. Melodramatic
10. Hard to Follow

Third Level of Elimination: The Bigger Picture
11. Showing versus Telling
12. Viewpoint & Narration
13. Characterization
14. Hooks
15. Subtlety
16. Tone
17. Focus
18. Setting
19. Pacing & Progression

Stay tuned for a bit of the detail.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Monday, July 26, 2010

Revenir Intern

I've completed novel #15 -- drum roll please! If anyone would like to read an except. . . .

http://home.roadrunner.com/~macwheeler/RevenirIntern.htm

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Janet Evanovich – PLUM SPOOKY

If you've never read anything from Janet, slap yourself. Why and the heck haven't you? She's dang funny. Plus she uses clichés out the wazoo, adjectives and adverbs, and they are delightfully used. How refreshing is that? If she was a new author . . . never mind.

SPOOKY is novel eighteen of the twenty in the Stephanie Plum series. Okay, so I'm behind. Actually, I'm really behind. I'll be honest and admit I only recently discovered Janet.

What's not to like about a book with a ho named Lulu who carries a Glock, and a monkey named Carl who flips everyone off? These elements alone get a star, don't they? There's lots of flirty talk, but missing as usual, a gratuitous sex scene. Come on, Janet! Would it break a metacarpal?

Overall I give Plum Spooky ★★★★ (rounded up)

Technical Composition.…★★★★★
Story…………………….★★★
Characterization………...★★★★★
Style……………….……★★★★★
Edginess………….……..★★★
Ahhhh factor……………★★★
Sexiness…………………★★★

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Stole This..

Rachelle Gardner's post on "you may be a writer if"…worked so well into my two posts on the topic, I just had to steal—I mean document here, my favorites left in comments for Rachelle. (Since Rachelle has almost three-thousand followers, you've probably already read all of these, but. . . .):
  • You’ve planned a murder over coffee.
  • You’ve turned a man into a woman and back again.
  • You get nervous when people ask, "So, what do You do for a living?"
  • You exhaust yourself reading a novel because you analyze the story from every characters' perspective.
  • The more people you meet the more you love your fictional characters.
  • You browse the children's book section at every Library and Bookstore within ten miles...and You don't have kids.
  • You encourage Your husband to play World of Warcraft just so he'll leave You alone to get some writing done.
  • You have dreams of building a bookcase that's actually a hidden door to Your secret writing lair in Your house...and You live in an apartment.
  • You can cackle hysterically about 'killing off Granny' and no one gets alarmed.
  • You are genuinely surprised by the end of a book--and You wrote it
  • someone in the grocery check-out line says something snarky to You and You smile and thank her for a good piece of dialogue.
  • You sit down at the dinner table with Your family and start talking about Your character as if he's a friend of the family You might go visit next week.
  • You’ve ever called chambers of commerce, tourism & information bureaus, news agencies, police departments, or other agencies in places You’ve never been in order to secure accurate information
  • You scan movie credits saying, "That's a cool name!"
  • You find Yourself spending 7 hours on Google Earth trying to find a good place to dump a body into the Thames - and you live in California.
  • You threaten to write people who annoy you into novels and kill them.
  • You really do write people who annoy you into novels
Write Every Day!

 
Regards,
Mac

Friday, July 23, 2010

Story Telling

I am a fantasy reader and writer. I also do a lot of critiquing. The greatest failure I see in the genre is the abundance of telling and unnecessary world building. Every writer must evaluate how much of the world in their head can be conveyed.

Consider what story telling is in the written media. It is nothing like sitting in front of the campfire talking. There is no flickering fire, acidic smoke, or looming forest canopy. The reader can't hear the crickets, doesn't hear your voice, tone, or get the benefit of expression or body language. Reading has to be crisp. Clarity just isn't a nice thing to have, it is CRITICAL.

Every word that doesn't hit the mark, every unnecessary clause, every tidbit that doesn't sound like comfortable conversation, bogs the reading process. Unclear telling is the fastest way to get an agent to click the white ex in the red box. Measure tightly what your reader does not need, and be sure you don't jump to some action, decision or emotion that the reader doesn't have enough information to take in.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why I'm a Writer

  1. My first job was working in an Orange Juice factory, but I got canned. Couldn't concentrate.
  2. Then I worked in the woods as a Lumberjack, but just couldn't hack it, so they gave me the axe.
  3. After that, I tried being a Tailor, but wasn't suited for it -- mainly because it was a sew-sew job
  4. Next, I tried working in a Muffler Factory, but that was too exhausting.
  5. Then, tried being a Chef--figured it would add a little spice to my life, but just didn't have the thyme.
  6. Next, I attempted being a Deli Worker, but any way I sliced it... couldn't cut the mustard.
  7. My best job was a Musician, but eventually found I wasn't noteworthy.
  8. I studied a long time to become a Doctor, but didn't have any patience.
  9. Next, was a job in a Shoe Factory. Tried hard but just didn't fit in.
  10. I became a Professional Fisherman, but discovered I couldn't live on my net income.
  11. Managed to get a good job working for a Pool Maintenance Company, but the work was just too draining.
  12. So then I got a job in a Workout Center, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.
  13. After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as a Historian - until I realized there was no future in it.
  14. My last job was working in Starbucks, but had to quit because it was the same old grind.
Now I have an excuse to blog.  (I confess. This isn't original)

 
Write Every Day!

 
Regards,
Mac

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Glenn Beck – The Overton Window

I'm not a Glenn Beck hater. As a Libertarian, I actually agree with many of his tenants. I acquired The Overton Window because I've enjoyed Glenn's humor in the past. With that said, if you haven't spent your hard earned money yet, don't spend it on TOW. If you get your reading from the public library, TOW is still one to pass on. This quarter pound of pulp is listed as a thriller on the cover. If three pages of uninterrupted dialogue at a time is thrilling to you, then this piece will thrill you. If you find 292 pages of telling to be a novel, then this is indeed a novel.

The plot of TOW is insanely thin and oblique. The characters are as flat as the screen you're reading this on. For every paragraph of story, there are ten pages of preachy politics. The ending falls as flat as the characters. The concept of the Overton window itself is banal. Even the Epilogue fails to give the reader closure. And twenty pages of Afterward still doesn't explain what you've read.

A little detail:

Technical Composition ★
Story ★
Characterization --no stars
Style --no stars
Edginess --no stars
Ahhhh factor --no stars
Sexiness --no stars

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gender Characterization

Scene 1: Husband and wife wake on a Sunday morning. The sun peaks through the closed plantation shutters. Husband yawns and snuggles close to his wife. He fails to pick up on his wife's grimace. Go figure a man would miss this. "How'd you sleep?" she asks. "Pretty good," he says. She explains, without him asking, why she didn't sleep well. His response: "See. Sex last night would have relaxed you, and you would have slept so much better."

What she wanted: a little sy/empathy

Scene 2: The previous morning, summer, a park in Tampa (Tampa has two seasons, hot, and Jan 3rd). Friends have been playing pickup hoops for three hours. Friend One steps on someone's foot and goes down with a broken ankle. Friend Two says, "Shake it off man, we're two points down." Friend One answers with a litany of euphemisms.

What Friend Two wanted: a breather, and time to tighten his laces.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Quick Poll

In my YA paranormal, I have a 16 year-old protagonist who refers to another character she doesn't first like, as "the chick." Later, she refers to her as "Freaky Chick." I have a critiquer who suggests "the chick" sounds more like a male protag…offers "Ms. Freaky."

Appreciate any comments, particularly from those out there around teens, or teens themselves?

Thanks. Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Plot Line

Carol Whitely (The Everything Creative Writing Book) writes that characters can't exist in a vacuum. To be three-dimensional, they must act, react, move forward and backward, learn, live, and grow. "In other words, they need a plot—" She states the five essential elements of plot are:

1. The introduction
2. The trigger event
3. Events to solve the problem
4. The climax
5. Resolution

Sounds easy—a lot like the story arc—Beginning, Middle, End.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inspiration

I keep photos in front of me that are inspirational for the theme of WIPs. This one fit my current work. Inspiration is key.  -- Regards, Mac

Friday, July 16, 2010

Need Your Help!!

I need urgent help...about ten of my closest writing friends, to come immediately to Tampa and help me collect the coat my baby is blowing. Bring your pitchforks and leaf blowers.

Thanks,
Mac

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rue the ADJ and ADV

We know the rule—cut the adjectives and adverbs. This is part of a more general rule. Cut the flab. Wordy prose of any kind slows the reader down, keeps them from the story—which is the purpose of our writing. Adjectives are unnecessary when they:
  1. Say what the noun already conveys (terrible tragedy)
  2. Repeat what another adjective says
  3. Intensify something for effect
  4. Reflect a tired cliché
  5. Make your writing fuzzy (sort of lost)
  6. Create telling versus showing (seen often in tags and direction)
  7. State the obvious
  8. Impede simple, clear sentences

Mark Twain wrote—
When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them – then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart.

William Zinsser (On Writing Well) wrote—
Make your adjectives do work that needs to be done.

My practice for ADJs and ADVs is the same for thats. Read the sentence out loud with OUT the questionable word. If the sentence isn't improved with it—leave it out.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rue the Then

If you have a thousand sentences in your chapter, nine-hundred and ninety-nine COULD start out with the word "then." After all, the word triggers the next sequential event. But you don't use nine-hundred and ninety-nine thens, because we understand the action of a second sentence necessarily occurs after the previous. So why should you ever use the word?

I propose you slap yourself (doesn't have to be excessively hard) every time you use the word "then." Negative consequences tend to break bad habits.

Caveat: if you use it in dialogue to show intentional derision—you're cool.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Making Prose "Fresh"

We all know we need to use fresh language, but what does "fresh" mean? A definition is tough, because what's fresh to one is trite to another, wordy or even stale. But Margie Lawson suggests the following techniques.
  • Double dipping with senses
  • Echoes
  • Cadence
  • Fresh voice – extraordinary description
  • Personification
  • Universal emotion – visceral reactions
  • Eliminate the setup/Internalization—jump right in
  • Alliteration […that works]
  • High stakes
  • Rhetorical devices [similes, metaphors, …]
  • Power Words
What would you add?

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Monday, July 12, 2010

Breaking the Flow

One of the subtle things I find in pieces I critique, which ruins the setting for me, is a disruption in the flow of thoughts. Some examples:
  1. Mentioning story elements A, B, C, D, returning to A—while we may think in fragments, we don't want our writing "all over the place."
  2. Detail that doesn't help the reader fit into the scene. Did we need props B and C at all?
  3. Showing action getting your POVC to X, then missing Y and describing Z.
  4. Too much detail in moving your character forward can be onerous. Detail, intended to place your reader in the scene, can just as easily take them out of it.
  5. Description that reads omnisciently—isn't something the POVC would notice.
  6. Raising an emotion in your character without the reader understanding the backdrop which incites the emotion. If you subsequently explain (telling), you pull the reader away from the emotion and conflict.
  7. Multiple characters can add emotion and action in a scene, but requires very delicate use of pronouns. If the reader has to slow down to figure out who "he" or "she" is a single time, you've impacted the power of your scene.
  8. Crescendo of elements that end up having nothing to do with climax.
What would you add?

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Rules of Writing

(For the Short Story)
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that they will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character they can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things - reveal character or advance the plot.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them - in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cameron McClure's Rules of Writing

Cameron is an agent with Donald Maass Literary.
  1. Show, don't tell
  2. You can't have nothing happening / bring characters on with action
  3. Don't lecture
  4. No dreams
  5. Don't describe scenery
  6. Don't bog down your opening with back-story
  7. The protagonists shouldn't keep secrets from the reader
  8. Write what you know
Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

26 Words that Scream to be Used

Having a little fun this morning. Here are twenty-four words that just scream to be used. Bet you have some favorite ones. See if you can guess which of the 24 below is my absolute favorite.
  • Ambivalent
  • Babushka
  • Cacophony
  • Dweeb
  • Effigy
  • Fabulate
  • Gaydar
  • Hobosexual
  • Ignernt
  • Juxtapose
  • Kvetch
  • Loquacious
  • Mantrum
  • Nimrod
  • Odious
  • Pervasive
  • Quandary
  • Requiem
  • Salacious
  • Titillate
  • Ubiquitous
  • Vendetta
  • Wacko
  • Xanadu
  • Yuckster
  • Zucchini
What are your favorite words (be polite)?

Write Every Day!
Regards,
Mac

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Emphasizing the Negatives

I failed to believe. I attended a workshop in which the moderator directed us to paint our pieces with accent pens to highlight elements of our work—pink for emotion—blue for dialogue, as an example (see "Building Blocks," June/25). During the exercise, I appreciated how it made facets of a piece jump out at me. Problem is, I hate working off hard copies.

I recently broke down and created an edit macro to highlight words listed in a "directory" file.

I started out with one of my three edit lists. That highlighted too much to start. I built one containing only the forms of to be. With all the was and weres highlighted, amazing how much easier the process of removing passive became.

A macro highlighting overused words (then, as, turned. . .) is next.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Ever Ponderous Tag

Everyone has an opinion on tags. Make them disappear. Allow them to entertain. Break up the redundancy. It's hard to imagine, with the richness of our language, keeping tags to one boring word—said. When we have all of these (listed without trying hard, he said):
  • Accounted for Addressed Admitted Affirmed Alleged Allowed Alluded Announced Annunciated Apologized Argued Articulated Asserted Attested Avouched Avowed
  • Bawled Bespoke Betrayed Bickered Blabbed Blubbered Broadcast
  • Called Called for Chatted Chitchatted Claimed Communicated Compromised Conceded Confabbed Confabulated Confided Contended Conversed Conveyed Corroborated Cried Cried out
  • Debated Declared Defended Demanded Dialogued Differed Disagreed Discoursed Disputed Divulged
  • Ejaculated Entailed Enunciated Equivocated Exacted Exclaimed Explained Exposed Expressed
  • Fessed up Fibbed Fought
  • Gabbed Gave in Gossiped Granted Grumble Grunt
  • Hinted Humored
  • Implied Indicated Insisted
  • Jabbered Justified
  • Laid claim Lectured Let out Let slip Let the cat out of the bag Lied
  • Maintained Mooted Murmured Muttered
  • Palavered Perjured Pointed out Prated Prattled Preached Prelected Presented Prevaricated Proclaimed Pronounced
  • Quarreled Queried Quibbled
  • Required Resisted Revealed Rumored
  • Said Small talked Sobbed Spat Spilled Spilled the beans Spoke out Spoke up Squabbled Stated Substantiated Suggested Swore
  • Tattled Testified Tiffed Tittle-tattled Told Told all
  • Uncovered Unveiled Uttered Validated Vented Verbalized Verified Vindicated Vocalized Voiced Vouched
  • Wailed Warranted Wept Whiffed Whispered Witnessed Wrangled
  • Yakked Yielded
Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jim Butcher - WHITE NIGHT

I'm four novels behind in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, but I'm thrilled to have gotten to WHITE NIGHT (April 2007). As usual, Jim kept me engaged if not riveted through the majority of the novel's 404 pages. If I were an editor, there certainly weren't any scenes I would have cut. I'm just sad for the one scene that didn't make it—Harry and Elaine connecting in the biblical sense. Oh! My heart is crushed. So WN took a hit in the Sexiness category. If you haven't caught on to Jim Butcher, pick up WHITE NIGHT, or any of the Dresden works.

WN had all the appropriate arcane spells, battles, blood, gore, evil characters, intrigue, backstabbing, suggestive remarks, and sarcasm a Dresden novel requires. Molly the apprentice, alas, got shortchanged. I want more of Molly. And why did "the skull" get shortchanged? Hmmm. Also, where was the gratuitous sex scene? Ah!

Overall I give WHITE NIGHT ★★★★ – (3.8 rounded up) the highest rating I've ever used in a review. But then, I've never reviewed McCaffrey's WHITE DRAGON. That would of course be five stars. Probably the only novel I would rate that high.

So here's my skinnied categorization for WN:

Technical Composition ★★★★
Story ★★★
Characterization ★★★★★
Style ★★★★★
Edginess ★★★
Ahhhh factor ★★
Sexiness ★★

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sounding Real

More about dialogue . . .
  • Most people don’t speak in perfect grammar.
    • Real speech is sloppy.
    • People leave out words, compress phases into single words, use contractions, interrupt each other and talk in slang.
    • Your dialogue should be the same--in moderation . . . too much can slow down the reader . . . NOT what you want to do, either.  
  • Listen in public to the many different ways different people talk, and notice that how a person talks depends on whom they’re talking to.
    • Incorporate any appropriate juicy bits you hear in your own writing.
Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac