Archive for February, 2010

Always know where your gun is and always ditch the socks.

You always need to know where the gun is and you always have to take the socks off.  True facts.

Readers are finicky creatures.  It’s a delicate balance to give them what they want.  Too much detail or prose, and they’re skipping pages to get to the next section of dialogue.  Leave out the WRONG details and they’ll put your book down.  How do you balance the two?

You determine where the detail is the most necessary.  The spots where I have the most trouble as a reader and as a writer are in action sequences and love scenes.  What do you need to do to keep these scenes simple and easy to visualize in the readers minds?

The simple answer is you map it out.  In the theater world, they call it blocking.  Where are your characters going on the stage and how do they get there, based on the props on the stage and the other characters.  Choreography directs characters around the stage and through love scenes and fight scenes.

Why is this important? 

If you’re writing a crime novel or an adventure story- something like Tom Clancy or Suzanne Brockmann, for example- and you have a fight scene, the reader wants to know where the bodies are, where the weapons are, who has what and who loses what.

If you introduce a bad guy with a gun and your hero has a knife, that’s going to be an interesting match up.  How will your hero (or heroine) keep from getting shot, being stupid enough to bring a knife to a gun fight?

You as the reader need to know where the gun is- in hand?  Knocked to the floor?  In the waistband of the bad guy’s pants?  The scene isn’t going to make sense if you have no clue where the weapon is, who has it and why it is or isn’t in play.

As a writer, this is even more important because you are staging the scene- the reader only really has the information that YOU give them.  If you fail to properly stage it and you forget that the gun was dropped behind the chair or if you fail to disarm the bad guy but the hero still takes him down and you can’t clearly explain why, you may just lose your reader.

Continued

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The end is the beginning is the end is the beginning…

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

It’s been a few days since it happened but I was able to achieve my goal!  I finished the draft of my novel and was able to submit it for the EVA contest.

Am I happy with it?  Not completely.  I had to face the fact that there were a number of story lines that I wanted in the book that had to be cut so I could finish with a (somewhat) coherent storyline that had a beginning, middle and an end.

A lot of the layering that I was trying to achieve wasn’t finished to my liking.

I think the end is very abrupt.  That might just be me as the author being very picky and negative but that’s how I’m seeing it.

I keep thinking about my edits.  Where I’m going from here.  I wake up thinking about this book.  But I can’t seem to even open the file.

I’m terrified to see the mistakes in the manuscript that I sent to an editor.  TERRIFIED.

Let me be clear.  An editor is going to read my full manuscript.  She is an acquiring editor.  That is completely accurate.

I don’t have any expectation that she is going to be interested in picking up my book.  The only reason she’s even reading it is because a member of EVA knows this woman professionally and asked her to read it as a favor.

My expectation is to get back feedback and notes- what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, etc.

That doesn’t mean that I want to send a mistake ridden document to someone who might look at my work as an acquiring editor in the future.

It’s completely my fault.  I overestimated my ability to fix my plot errors in such a short amount of time.  I failed to balance my writing with the rest of my life.  I made it so that I didn’t have a chance to do the polishing/editing that I needed because I had to send the doc to be printed so I could turn it in.  That’s all on me and I’m going to have to accept that, especially if the feedback is negative.

HOWEVER, I do feel like my characters are strong and interesting.  I love my sidekick, Roman, the GQ gay detective.  He’s funny, he’s suave and I love him.  Everyone who’s read his pages really liked him as well, so I know that at least ONE aspect of the novel connects with people.

I think that the writing itself flows.  I like the tone and have been told by others that they do as well.

So, I have a few positives and a few negatives battling it out in my brain right now.

And I still can’t open the document.  *sigh*

I’m gearing up for the OCC February online class, which is Candace Haven’s Fast Draft class.  The goal is to write a first draft in 14 days.  I think this class also has the Editing Hell section attached.  I BELIEVE that if you take the class and participate fully, you will have a completed first draft with edits by the end.

Anyone who is interested should go here and sign up!  You DO NOT have to be a member of OCC to take the class!  Join me and Finny and JUST GET IT DONE!

I’m trying to determine which project I’m going to work on in the Fast Draft class.  I just sent Finny a list of story ideas to get her opinion and I’m going to list them here as well, see what you all think.  Any that interest you?  Any that really, really don’t?

STORY IDEAS:

1)       First Lady and the Dead Presidents (working title)

  1. This is the one with the daughters all named after the President of the United States.  The father dies and leaves his daughters his business but they have to complete a few tasks and all four daughters have to do their part or none of them get the money.  Oldest daughter is forced to come home from CA and run the business for one year.  She wants to sell it to Carter, a guy who was trying to buy it before the old man croaked.  I haven’t decided if this is going to be a mystery or just a family drama/romance.

2)   Moving Bodies

  1. The story of three high school friends who are thrown back together because of murder.  They must dispose of the body of an abusive husband who was also working for the mob.  After mistakenly taking the mobs money, the ladies are on the run from both the law and the bad guys.  They need to get to Florida to dump the body in the Everglades, rebuild their friendships and avoid getting killed or arrested on their trip.  A hunky local Sheriff who wants to help thrown in to the mix might make this a romance but it feels more like a chic lit adventure story more than anything.

3)   Though the Heaven Should Fall

  1. The American Revolution romance.  I have the outline pounded out but I don’t have the research done and I don’t want to get stymied by lack of info and sit there, looking at a blank screen.  But I really like Jensen (yeah, I know.  I couldn’t help it!) and Emma and wouldn’t mind spending serious time with them.

4)   Wolves of Indiana

  1. The gay werewolf story.  I don’t even know.

5)   Red Slippers

  1. A murder mystery set in 1950’s Ohio.  A young girl is murder, her face beaten in.  No one knows who she is and no young women are missing in the tiny community where her body is found.  The local Sherriff, the youngest Sherriff in the country at the time, is on the case.  No CSI teams and no internet, the Sherriff and his merry band must determine who she is and who killed her before the Country Fair rolls out of town and any suspects roll out with it.  This is based on a true story and in reality, they discovered who she was AND found her killer all because of the shoes on her feet.

Procrastination Station

Oy vey.  I am behind.  Anyone surprised?  If you know me, not so much.

Deadline is this Saturday.  Eek! 

I’m struggling to concentrate here at work- lots going on, not enough time to dig into my manuscript and it’s not really fair to write here on company time anyway.  I am conveniently ignoring that I am blogging on company time.   Shut up.  No, seriously, let it go.

Anywho, we’ve had a lot of excitement over the past week.  I wanted to pull together a list of interesting articles, writing related and otherwise, to start the week off right.

D.B. Grady throws rocks at ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” -  I’m linking his blog because I may have started a kerfuffle in his comments.  Maybe.  Check it out and see! 

We lost JD SalingerA bunch of phonies mourn his loss.

Nathan Bransford talks about the Amazon vs. Macmillian situation and breaks it down to its parts.  Excellent article.  Contains TONS of links regarding the matter, saving me a lot of time and google searches.

Another article on the Amazon kerfuffle from Writer Beware. 

Long and EXCELLENT post regarding submissions at the FF&P blog.  Written by the editors at Ellora’s Cave, they have a ton of great suggestions about submitting, some of which you’d think were common sense but apparently not as they had to write a blog post about it to let us all know.

The Oscar nominations are up.  Heh.  Up.  Dear Lord, please don’t let Avatar win best picture.  There are 9 nominees WAY more qualified for the job.  We don’t want a Titanic repeat, here.  Just saying.  Amen.

I finished reading my first Fill-in-the-Gaps book last week.  I read The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (goodreads review to come shortly) and enjoyed it quite a bit.  I could see how much Hammett influenced Robert B. Parker in style and character, which might have helped in regards to how much I liked the book.  I wish there had been more Nora, as there was in the movie version, but I still adored Nick. 

First book down, only 109 more to go. 

Back to the grind.  *sigh*  I have a ton of editing and actual writing left to do. 

Time clock?  4 days.  That’s right, 4 days.   The plus side is that I am producing what I think is excellent stuff.  Just need to make sure that it’s worth the effort that others have gone to to get me this opportunity.  Pray for me, people.  I’m going to need it.

ETA: Was sent this link today- JK Rowling at Harvard.  It may be old news to some of you but I thought it was wonderful.  Every writer and every reader needs to check this out.

 

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