Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Great Quote RE Opening Lines

Never forget that the entire course of a story or novel, like an avalanche, is largely defined within its first seconds. -- Jacob M. Appel (WD, March 29, 2011)

Write Every Day!


Visualizing Show

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cross-Edit, Anyone?

I've exhausted my existing, fellow cross-editors. I'm finishing my latest novel (#18), a teen-YA thriller about a 16YO girl dealing with her savant older-brother who has created a deadly pathogen. If any of you would like to collaborate, drop me a note.

(My expectation is swapping chapters one-for-one.)

(Jill, Ann--I miss you!)

Write Every Day!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Words That Turn Your Prose Wishy Washy

Thanks to KM Weiland for this list of filters we should always do a search for during one of our edit passes. I give you a yellow sticky for your tack board.

Write Every Day!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Nasty Little Writing Book

I'm working on my seventeenth novel in two decades, and I've read many how-to-write manuals. NASTY (subtitle: Longtime New York Publishing Insider Reveals Secrets Only Best-Selling Authors Know) isn't a how-to, though it is sculpted after a very popular one, or two. As satire goes, this is a paisley pink freight train carrying a thousand purple pachyderms, which is plunging down a mountainside. It's hilarious, but maybe not so much to the virgin to how-to-write manuals.

Regarding the industry, the author asks why the famous can get published with their first novel. "The answer is not, as one might cynically expect, because they have a recognizable name. The barons of the publishing industry would never dream of undercutting the public trust they enjoy by selling an inferior product for the sole purpose of turning a fast buck."

On the craft the author claims, "Content is unimportant. As long as the tone is one of hopelessness and despair it will be perceived as profound and deserving of reverence."

Get this. It’s a quick read, and for ninety-nine cents on Kindle, can't be beat for four hours of enjoyment. Most of all, it'll remind you of those horribly overwritten scenes you've experienced in every critique group you've attended.

Write Every Day!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tampa Area Dog Lovers

Dina and I are fostering a four-month-old puppy who needs a forever home.

This beautiful boy behaves well with our three adult dogs, snuggles and kisses, snoozes next to me on the couch at night, and is coming along nicely with his house training. He has an entertaining, spirited personality. All you have to do is watch him rooting in the leaves and snorting like a piglet to fall in love with him.

I’m working with Rugaz Rescue ( if you’d like to visit their site for more information about the organization or the adoption process, or drop me a note if you have any questions.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Defining Good Writing

It's important to continually learn, to improve your craft. But I find it hard to keep all those things I read about in the noggin as I write. I surround myself with images to help me keep good things in my head. I scribbled up this one to summarize a good discussion I read over on Brooklyn Arden.

Write Every Day!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Sue Grafton – R is for Ricochet (2004)

So many books so little time. I love Kinsey Millhone. (Don't tell my wife!) What I learned from R may sound negative, but I don't mean it in that vein at all. Grafton shows how a novel doesn't have to be all about the action, and the overall plot.

The thread that carries from page one to the Epilogue is the least interesting facet of R. I got more than enough entertainment out of the quirky characters of Kinsey, her landlord and her boyfriend, Rose and her barman-husband, and Reba the emotional cripple.

Grafton takes us into the characters' lives, turns common curious, demonstrates the hope and agony of love, snaps every setting alive.

Write Every Day!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Omniscient POV is Unnatural

During a one-on-one critique with a fellow writer, I made the general statement that his choice of omniscient POV impacted many components of his ms, so that as he read through my five page review, he would see redundant complaints that would imply there was a lot wrong with his novel, but 80% of it circled back to his POV.

That stuck in my head, which provoked me to study my critique afterward. I was amazed at how dramatically my impression was impacted by this one literary structure. Below is the format of my critique. I changed those elements I felt was negatively impacted by his omniscient head jumping to blue font.

Dialog: omniscient direction and tags; two chars speaking in a paragraph
Tense: an unnatural jump from past to present during head jumping

Action: limited the emotion because everything was in multiple emotional view points
Believability: stretched my acceptance of a single protagonist, thus weakened his emotion
Character: weakened the protagonist, because the emotion was jumping so often
Description: felt unnatural to see every room from multiple advantages, to be told things that the POVC couldn't know
Drama/Conflict: my overall empathy was weakened by being placed into so many minds
Finish: left with the god-person's view
Opening/Hook: was immediately jumping into three chars/the protag wasn't introduced for several chapters
Plot/Storyline: the storyline was scattered, being presented from a dozen points of view
Point of View: entails every comment in this review
Setting: I only want pointed out what is important to the POVC
Stake/Obstacles: was weakened because your empathy was stretched between multiple chars
Transitions: weakened, because the reader had to wait and see why he was supposed to feel a certain way/depending upon POV

Clarity: weakened/not just one char's story
Emotion / Language: weakened/not just one char's story
Flow: weakened/not just one char's story
Pace/Sustained Interest: weakened/not just one char's story
Mood: weakened/not just one char's story
Voice: weakened/not just one char's story

If I was a POV bigot before, I am ten-fold more now. Folks: Writing has evolved. Our readers are more impatient. If you are jumping heads, you are doing your story a disservice. Omniscient narration is unnatural. Allow your reader to remain in one mind.

Write Every Day!