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Words and the Lonely Writer III – Setting the Mood

Would you prepare for a romantic dinner at home by turning off the lights and lighting candles, maybe putting a vase of flowers in the center of the table and putting on your skimpiest dress? (Unless you’re a guy.  Though if you want to put on a skimpy dress, who am I to judge?)

Or would you prepare for that romantic dinner by scrubbing every piece of furniture with pinesol, spraying it with disinfectant, turning on every light, turning a spotlight on the table, and wearing a coveralls?  (Yes, I know there are times that– Keep it to yourself, okay?  This is generic you.) Read more


You may remember I mentioned last week having trouble with a story because it was one-paced.  Pace is one of those terrible things to try and do well, because there are several components to it. It’s a bit like patting your forehead and rubbing your belly, or like my efforts at operating an excavator. Yes, it DOES look easy when someone skilled does it. Ridiculously easy in fact. Appearances can be deceptive: I mean you might look at me and say ‘ugly and dim-witted…’ oh. Well, moving rapidly on.  A lot of writing is like my excavator ditch-digging efforts, where because there are four ideally co-ordinated actions and I find one on its own a bit of a challenge, the trench tends not do what I want it to do.

Naturally this is the silly ditch or trench’s fault, just as it is the reader’s fault when he gets bored and decides that it’s the right time to clip his toenails or pluck his ear-hairs, rather than bothering to read your book. Read more

A lesson re-learned from disaster

The recent wildfires in California have devastated an entire city.  Paradise, CA was so completely destroyed that it may never be rebuilt.  Those who lived there have mostly lost everything, because the fire moved so quickly that there was no time to pack important belongings before evacuating.  Even fireproof safes turned out to be not fireproof enough.  One person lost his life savings when the safe holding the money was subjected to such intense heat that its contents “turned to unrecognizable dust“.

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The Giving of Thanks

When this post goes live it will be Thanksgiving Day in the USA. There’s a bunch of traditions around the day, many of them involving eating oneself into a food coma – which, for this particular holiday is a legitimate thing – and the one I find most important, the notion of giving thanks for the good things in one’s life.

Obviously, this is something that shouldn’t be limited to a single day, but having a day specifically devoted to giving thanks is a good thing. The Thanksgiving mythos – starving settlers spared by friendly local tribes and having a big harvest feast together in friendship and of course said settlers being exceedingly thankful for the help – may or may not accurately reflect what actually happened back then, but it’s a good myth to have.

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Words and the Lonely Writer II – Being Transparent

I tried to write this yesterday, but I’m having symptoms of a cold — or my body reacting to the flu vaccine (you can’t catch it from dead virus, but most symptoms are your immune system reacting, anyway) — and I thought the entire post read something like this: Never do this, unless you absolutely must do this.

That is of course, the downside of writing advice.  It’s all more or less like that, but wording is even more like that, because it requires on your sense of wording. Which some people don’t got, and even those who got can falter on.

Let’s start by defining being transparent: being transparent is telling the story in such a way that the words get out of the way and the reader immerses himself so completely in the events they become integrated as part of his experience.

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Round and Round

Image Pixabay.
For we were just the product
Of the ever spinning wheel
Round and round we go (The Strawbs, round and round.)

I read a story by a fairly well-known author the other day. The dialogue was good. The character was moderately interesting. The pacing was somewhat monotonous… but what made it a chore was that it had no clear ‘axle’… It was just a recitation of events. It had a beginning and a middle and end. The hero did something… but something essential was missing. That ‘axle’

Hmm. One of my own writing concepts. Therefore, probably mildly loony, at best. I’m going to have to explain what I mean. Read more

Continuing Education

There’s a flat spot of no new words on my NaNo graph. (A couple, actually). There’s a book for Margaret Ball that I’m… a month? ack! overdue on writing a blurb for. (Yes, more mathemagics coming!) There’s a writing class that I just threw up my hands and skipped turning in the assignment, and went and got some sleep instead. And let’s not even talk about the state of my kitchen floors, or the way I’m failing to make the gym coaching sessions I paid good hard-earned money for.

Welcome to adult life, eh? But why did I even get into this writing class in the first place, much less NaNo? Because I looked around, and realized a basic truth – nothing alive is static. If you’re not learning, then you’re not growing, and if you’re not growing, you’re dying. It’s too late in the year to pick up glider lessons, so I’m going to concentrate on warmer, indoor pursuits.  Read more