Thursday, September 30, 2010

LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN – Janet Evanovich

You'll laugh from now on when you hear, "Not my fault."

Janet again does summersaults with the English language in a way a guy named Willy Shakespeare could never have dreamed. Smart, sarcastic, sharp, nasty enough to engage without insulting, an all around excellent read.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Overabundance of Ases

No—not tushes.

I'm amazed at the number of "comma as" I'm finding in my manuscript. I made a remark on a piece I critiqued yesterday, noting AS is not a conjunction. Low and behold, independent clauses out the kazoo starting with "as" leapt out of my manuscript.

Funny how easy it is to find an error in your work, after you've found it in another's.

Are you guilty of abusing AS? It's like Then, Just and Really.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Common Dialogue Errors

I liked Iggi & Gabi's post on dialog. As my norm, I steal stuff I like. Jump over and read their blog, and keep my sticky note around as a reminder.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac

Monday, September 27, 2010

Then -- Jonathan Franzen

Never use the word "then" as a conjunction – we have "and" for this purpose. Substituting "then" is the lazy or tone-deaf writer's non-solution to the problem of too many "ands" on the page.

Write Every Day!

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Editing -- Esther Freud

Editing is everything. Cut until you can cut no more. What is left often springs into life.

Write Every Day!

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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Description -- Hilary Mantel

Description must work for its place. It can't be simply ornamental. It usually works best if it has a human element; it is more effective if it comes from an implied viewpoint, rather than from the eye of God. If description is coloured by the viewpoint of the character who is doing the noticing, it becomes, in effect, part of character definition and part of the action.

Write Every Day!

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day Three of Chemo & All Is Well

Plethora of Pronouns

I'm rewriting a novel I completed several years ago. One of my decisions was to shift it into first person. An observation from that effort: You know the complaint of the repetition of the pronoun I required in first. Get over it. You would not realize how many he-she pronouns we use in third person, until you go through a tense transition. Just as a reader ignores "said," I've found we ignore the number of pronouns, too.

Write Every Day!

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teen Brain

I loved Stina Lindenblatt's blog, "Inside the Teenage Brain." You know me, I have to scrunch my information into a list for quick reference. Here it is:

If you haven't read Stina's post, doing so will allow my sticky to make a lot more sense  ;O)

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac

Monday, September 20, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

ELEVEN ON TOP -- Janet Evanovich

This was the sexiest Stephanie Plum I've read yet—but keep in mind I'm a recent convert. I've only read six in the series. I look forward to reading the next fourteen. (Dina, don't listen) I love Janet Evanovich. ELEVEN was outstanding. The characters [cliché alert] leap from the page. I grinned stupidly through the whole read. I'm so jealous of Janet's writing I could…I could…go to the library and check out the rest of her work. I love Janet revved up the sexy meter. Go girl.

Write Every Day!

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

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sarah Waters -- Pace

Pace is crucial. Fine writing isn't enough.

Writing students can be great at producing a single page of well-crafted prose; what they sometimes lack is the ability to take the reader on a journey, with all the changes of terrain, speed and mood that a long journey involves.

Write Every Day!

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Feedback Do You Want?

I came across author notes the other day in my on-line critique group that startled me. The author didn't want any feedback on commas. He didn't care about the rules. He wanted his prose to flow more smoothly. I think I shivered.

Started to critique his piece anyway, but stopped. I admit. I'm self-centered. One of the reasons I critique is to get critiques back. But really. How could I take anything he suggested seriously? And if he doesn't want anyone pointing out the most basic gramatical error—I decided my time would be wasted.

I'm just saying—

Write Every Day!

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I've Been Asked about Molly. . .

Her chemo was pushed out a week, but she is feeling well, and not the least self conscious about being one-and-a-half-eared. Thanks to everyone who's asked about her.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS – Sara Gruen

I refuse to rave about this novel, because it has flaws, and I don't want you walking away from it frustrated that it didn't measure up to your expectations. I will explain why it didn't get a fifth star, so you can read it with peace of mind that your psyche won't be crushed with disappointment.

Number one. The character you will care the most about is in a fleeting, five or six scenes. The plot relies on stereotypes that the excellent writing doesn't require. I believe Ms. Gruen read one of Donald Maass' books and took to heart the theory you must place your protagonist in a bad situation, make it worse, then really cream him. Also, you know the cliche, "your character must grow?" Ms. Gruen took that too far as well, by making the human protagonist a spineless doofus, who miraculously walks into the heart of the femme fatale.

Despite the flaws, you will fall in love with the cantankerous protagonist as he tells his story, which occurred seventy years earlier. You will empathize with him, and clearly visualize every setting and character. Read Water for Elephants. It is the first book I've stayed up to one AM to read in a very long time.

Write Every Day!

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So Many "No Thanks" from the agents. . .

I just have to wallow in this feedback:

Did you enjoy the voice? Absolutely LOVED the voice!!!!!!

I didn't add the caps and exclams. This made my month. Maybe quarter. Thanks to that very gracious fellow-writer.

Write Every Day!

Regards, Mac

Updated First Chapter

I've re-worked the first chapter of a novel I queried a few years ago.

Anyone willing to give it a read and let me know your opinion of the hook-factor, strength of the characterization?

Daughter's Shadow

Write Every Day!

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

Informal Poll – Audio Books

How many of you drive a car with either an MPx player or GPS with audio book capability?

If you do – do you ever listen to audio books?

If you don't today – if the price of an audio book competed with a paperback, would you?

Write Every Day!

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Makes a Good Story

  1. Endearing/riveting character
  2. Conflict
  3. Unique voice
  4. Showing versus telling
  5. Tight Writing
  6. Entertaining setting and plot
  7. Believable action
Write Every Day!

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

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ranting About Formula

Nothing drives me nuttier than a formulaic platitude. Like this one. "A story must have a compelling reason to be told."
What exactly does that mean?

I've read many books I thought absolutely sucked, that someone else had to think were wonderful, to get published. Tastes are not universal. They do not follow a formula.

I formerly taught project management. I followed the curriculum, and groaned hourly. The contention that if you follow a formula, everything will work peachy makes my skin squirm. I've never met two people alike. Project management is about getting PEOPLE to do what they don't necessarily want to do, or have the resources to do. You have to find what motivates the individual.

Does a piece have a compelling character(s)?
Does it have an interesting setting?
Does it have a believable (for genre) and entertaining story?

Those are subjective questions that make sense, when you're dealing with intellectual and emotional tastes.

Don't give me a platitude. It rings hollow. And ticks me off.

Write Every Day!

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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Short Chapters

I saw Cynthia's blog and heard myself saying amen. I do a lot of critiquing, and see five, even eight-thousand word chapters. If you can't close a scene in under two-thousand words, either your action or dialogue is bloated. I'm surprised all these how-to books (Lukeman, Maas, et al) don't warn about the long-chapter phenomenon. Long chapters gag this reader.

Write Every Day!

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