Posts Tagged With: authors

Garage Band or Superstar?

What to bands and writers have in common? Quite a bit. Author and editor Jaimie Engle wrote on the similar path musicians and authors take. It is up to you where to stop on that road, so check out her post and decide which band you want your writing to sound like.

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Writers: “Differentiate between drama and non-drama”

David Mamet wrote a “Master [writing] Class Memo” to his writers on the show The Unit a few years back. Much of what he presents applies to novelists just as easily as screen writers:

EVERY SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. THAT MEANS: THE MAIN CHARACTER MUST HAVE A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, PRESSING NEED WHICH IMPELS HIM OR HER TO SHOW UP IN THE SCENE.

THIS NEED IS WHY THEY CAME. IT IS WHAT THE SCENE IS ABOUT. THEIR ATTEMPT TO GET THIS NEED MET WILL LEAD, AT THE END OF THE SCENE,TO FAILURE – THIS IS HOW THE SCENE IS OVER. IT, THIS FAILURE, WILL, THEN, OF NECESSITY, PROPEL US INTO THE NEXT SCENE.

ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE EPISODE, CONSTITUTE THE PLOT.

ANY SCENE, THUS, WHICH DOES NOT BOTH ADVANCE THE PLOT, AND STANDALONE (THAT IS, DRAMATICALLY, BY ITSELF, ON ITS OWN MERITS) IS EITHER SUPERFLUOUS, OR INCORRECTLY WRITTEN.

And most importantly:

I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE SCENE AND ASK YOURSELF “IS IT DRAMATIC? IS IT ESSENTIAL? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY.

IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” WRITE IT AGAIN OR THROW IT OUT.

Does every scene of your story propel it forward or will readers feel like they are bogged down in a swamp?

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Nightmare of Editing

For you writers out there, editing can be the worst part of the process. When is your work really done? Good enough to begin showing to friends, agents or publishers? These are tough questions, with few easy answers. I’ll try two.

One, I read somewhere that you should take your best sentence or paragraph and use that as your standard. You know, that part that just pops. Every word is perfect. The flow. The content. Nothing is out of place. Compare everything else to those words and reshape until the standard is matched. This can be tough to do. During the writing, a lot gets thrown onto the paper. Now you have to really craft it like you are carving or sculpting. It is the editing process where people usually realize that writing is a skill. Good writing that is. The editing may take awhile, but you will know when each part is just right.

Two, delete. Yes, sometimes there is no saving a sentence or even a whole paragraph. Maybe a whole page. Remember that section you wrote that sounded so cool? You were trying to say something profound. There was some bit of great knowledge you had and needed to impart it on the reader. Chances are, it never sounded good. It never fit. Now, no reshaping is working. Erase it. Trust me, when you do it, you’ll feel better. Your story will be stronger and you’ll wonder why you wrote those horrible words to begin with.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

5 Things Not to Do on Your Novel

1. If the publisher is going to write the genre on the cover, make sure it’s right. I once saw “futuristic” instead of sci-fi. Really?

2. I realize some authors become so famous, whatever they write will sell. That doesn’t mean the back cover should just be a picture of them and nothing else.

3. I know a lot of research goes into many books, that doesn’t mean explain it all at the end in some “Author’s Notes.” For a few books it does work, but there is a fine line. In most others, it just sounds like you are trying to impress people, or worse, explain why you wrote what you did.

4. The teasers on the back of or inside the cover shouldn’t give spoilers to your plot.

5. Don’t put “A Novel” on the the cover. If people can’t figure out what kind of book it is, I’m not sure they should be reading it.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Stepping Through the Mirror

Myth has inspired some of the great works of literature. Worlds that we disappear into, away from our real existence, yet the best inspire and teach as well or better than any nonfiction. Primarily because they engage our imagination, the most powerful part of our intellect.

So from here forward, I will be expanding the scope of this site to include more on fiction and the fascinating worlds they contain. Even though I am old-school when it comes to reading (paper please), e-books may have opened a golden opportunity to reintroduce the power of fiction. Still, paper is going nowhere too soon as it is far more durable than our best inventions. Funny, isn’t it?

Where to begin but with the father of modern fantasy, George MacDonald. Many readers probably are unfamiliar with this man, yet he inspired C.S. Lewis. He and his children encouraged Lewis Carroll to publish. Long before Tolkien, MacDonald was revealing fantastic worlds. More in the style of fairy tale fantasy than epic, but an absolute must for fantasy fans. Over a hundred years ago, this author started it all with his sophisticated and magical stories.

Phantastes
Lilith
The Princess and the Goblin
The Princess and Curdie
The Complete Fairy Tales

Categories: Books, Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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