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Posts from the ‘plotting’ Category

A Writer’s Letter to Santa

“Oh dear,” the elf on Christmas letter rotation sighed. “What this year?” Writers always wanted the impossible.

“Dear Santa,” the letter, written in tidy cursive on creamy 40 bond paper began. “I have been very good this year. I did not scream at my editor, nor have I said unkind things about other writers, unless they deserved it.”

The Elf adjusted his reading glasses and shook his head. “Not an auspicious start.”

“I only want four things this year,” the letter continued. “First, a new computer, one that will do what I want and not what I inadvertently tell it to do.”

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Author on the Road

I’m on the road without internet, so I apologize for today’s post. If you find yourself in moderation, please be patient and I or a moderator will spring you as soon as we can.

I’ve also been battling edits. Yea verily, I am proof that one should write in haste and edit/revise/tweak at leisure. Because land-o-Goshen am I having to slow myself as I work through the edits on the next release.

And to prove that the Great Author has a slightly warped sense of humor, this hit my in-box this week:

How to Know What to Cut from Your Novel.

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Steak as well as cookies

Sarah has mentioned the importance of “reader cookies” – those genre allusions and tropes, or better, tropes turned upside down, that keep the reader happy as he goes through the book.

But what happens when you get a book that’s nothing but cookies? How long does that keep you happy? In my case – not very long.

I recently came across a case in point, a comic novel written around the Norman invasion of England in 1066. You might think that’s not a great subject for comedy, but the writer pulled it off… sort of… tongue firmly planted in cheek, in the style of 1066 and All That, but applied to fiction. For the first few chapters I kept chuckling at the irreverent views and up-ending of conventional wisdom, reading specially good bits aloud to the First Reader. Read more

Unraveling the story

This one’s not a how-to; this one’s a request for help. Have you ever put down something you blocked hard on, only to pick it up months or years later, and go “Oh! That’s where it went wrong! …well, and there, too. And I could have done that better. And that’s not quite right… I should explore this bit of worldbuilding, and flesh that out…”

If so, how do you decide when to edit, when to rewrite, and when to rip the characters out and start anew?
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Writing at Speed: Good, Bad, or Painful?

I tend to write faster than some, slower than some. This isn’t really good or bad, except that in the indie market, quantity helps increase (sales) quality. I wrote 93K words on a novel between July 4 and August 8, with a few days off due to Life. As well as writing most of four short stories, plus blogging.

That’s not a brag, just a statement. My schedule gives me three months (mostly) off, and so I made the best of my time. Most people don’t have that luxury. Plus, as I said above, I can write very quickly when the story moves me.

This isn’t always good. Read more

Coping with the Past: Or Flashbacks and Infodumps

Traces of a slower time: The horse railroad between Linz and Budweis. (Author Photo)

It’s the middle of a battle scene. The hero is pinned down, comm relay out of order, in desperate need of backup, a plan, and chewing gum (not necessarily in that order). The smell of burning plastics, choking and thick, fills the air and—

Cut to a flashback from childhood of grandpa and the burn pit, and what it smelled like when Older Brother put something with plastic-coated wires in the garbage, and how grandpa reacted, and grandma laughing about boys will be boys and…

Yeah. Story fail.

“But it’s important!” Cries Jane Q Writer. “That’s the foreshadowing that hints that the Big Bad is the hero’s long lost older brother!”

The reader, who has already set the book down (or tossed it against the wall), picks up a different book and wanders away. Read more

Legends become Stories

I consider David Drake largely responsible for my ambition to write.  As an enthusiast of history, I am impressed by where he finds inspiration for his novels- from the annals of human events.  We need not try to conjure up something incredible purely off our own inspiration and energies. Great men and women have performed such deeds as stand paramount in recorded existence.  

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