Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Verb-Noun Tags

You would never say, "Going I'm to the store. Need I coffee and bread." Even Yoda would know better. So why do I come across so many writers that think it is cool to use, "said she"? It blows my mind. If you're writing for a five year old, cool. Go for it. But if you want your tag to disappear, as most of us do, don't do that!

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Monday, February 21, 2011

Culling Overused Words

We know about those passive/ filtering/ overused words we must work out of our manuscripts, but I didn't learn how badly they corrupt my writing until I discovered Wordle. The graphic makes the obvious stand out, but the word-counts the tool provides can help isolate those favorite words we abuse.

Over the last couple days I re-edited a manuscript I completed three years ago, which I have edited at least nine times already. Using Wordle, look at six words I found to clean up.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac


Monday, February 14, 2011

Stuart Woods—The Prince of Beverly Hills(2005)

For the first time in many years, I enjoyed my first thirties-era crime drama, which twisted into three different noir-settings before it concluded. Kept me a little dizzy, but like I said, the ride was enjoyable because of Woods' excellent characters. Personally, I don't think I would mix so many differing plot-lines, but an author like Stuart Woods can get away with it.

Personally, I love a lot of incidental sub-plots to keep the protagonist off balance, and I don't always conclude all of them, either. But I would never completely change the direction of the overall plot. To me, it felt like Woods lost his way, got stuck without enough to fill the original plot, and instead of reworking it, he just went with the flow. If you don't mind the unexpected, you will love this like all of Woods' other work. If you like a tight plot, you probably should pass on this one and pick up another of his books.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac

Friday, February 11, 2011

Molting Season

I finished vacuuming and my wife and I had a tough conversation. We decided we had to get rid of five or six of the dogs. The loose hair was killing us. The lady from the rescue group asked how many dogs we owned. I had to walk around and count. I tagged them to ensure I didn't double count. Hmm. The count didn't seem right. I checked how many dog dishes there were, and scratched my head. I had to have it right. We only have three dogs? Imagine my embarrassment when I called the rescue lady back and told her we decided to keep all twelve of them.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

SHOW don't TELL and POV

I break plenty of rules. I read lots of authors with sixty-plus titles who break the rules. (First, they already have a following and can get away with it. Second, most of us are still trying to catch an agent's eye—breaking the rules doesn't portray a good impression.)

Here is one rule I adamantly support. Don't jump heads. So you know of an example where a successful author employed the technique. I challenge that the scene would have been better by intensifying a single character's emotions and observations. Changing perspective is a weak form of telling. It shouts out that you don't understand your plot or protagonist enough to show what he is experiencing.

STORY: an event explained.

BETTER STORY: characters' actions described.

BEST STORY: reader swept along with the ongoing action observed, and the emotions felt by a single character.

If you believe you need to show from multiple points of view, I propose the story you are portraying isn't worth telling. A good story shouldn't be encyclopedic. Nuance is good. Baseball bats aren't so much.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Pups Wanted to Say Hi!

Hello from Gracie

Mollie says, "Don't stare, I know I'm beautiful."

Lucy says, "Just throw the ball!"

They're done posing.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Eeeek!

Rejections are trickling in for WheezyI

I'm crushed! This is dang good writing!

F/SF Character Names

I won’t suggest there is a style of names that works best, but Americans as a general rule don’t like multisyllabic names, which of course is why Robert gets called Rob, and Samuel, Sam. I’m also certain there are those readers who don’t even pay attention to the name. . . brush over them fast enough to recognize that in their cerebellum “Fi” represents Fidelaeyc.

My suggestion is, just as flowery language and alliteration slows down a reader, quirky names that an American would struggle to pronounce, may not be your best choice. You never want to slow down your reader.

Just for grins I went back and checked my project notes for a series of three high fantasy novels I wrote years ago. Here are the names I used. Keep in mind I wanted dwarfs to have a style of name different from trolls, different from humans—not atypical for any F/SF writer:

Adam Aedwin Angus Anthony Asr Avena Bick Birs Braes Coedwig Delia Dynves Eina Emenroth Estn Faeylin Gadewyn Gladys Glendin Hortense Ike Janding Jear Johanson Juliana Keen Kelhin Kincere Liad Loq Louisa Lrt Lucas Lydia Maertin Matilda Morelrod Morgan Morz Nyst Ong Pazeta Quel Rein Ren Riv Roger Rykn Rynauld Sar Tiff Timothy Torc Tordelshy Toun Verner Warak Whrl Wilbur Yoso

I broke my own “rule” on occasion. However, I strictly used very simple names for my main characters. While I recommend avoiding those tongue teasers, follow your heart.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stuart Woods—DEAD IN THE WATER (1997)

I love Stuart Woods, however this wasn't his best work. Same clean writing, and nice interaction between characters, a little sexier than other works I've read of Woods. What bothered me most was very subtle, and I'm not sure if I can leverage it to improve my own writing, because I don't know if I could recognize it in my own work—but I felt manipulated to feel a particular way for a character. I think my lesson: show, but don't press the reader to feel by engineering an emotion in my character. If the reader doesn't believe the character would really feel that way, you've sabotaged your story. Secondly I felt intentionally misled. Good rule, never lead your reader in the wrong way just to manage that twist in the end. Thirdly, the plot just wasn't as plausible as it needed to be.

Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac