I’m frantically trying finish a short by deadline – so forgive me digging the start of another short up as a how I do this exercise. You should see me show the setting, establish the characters and hopefully set a hook in this.
The moonlight shadows on the water trembled slightly, shivered by the pre‑dawn breeze. “Not too fast, Eochaid. Not too fast. Wait for the wind to be still,” whispered Fintan.
My wet fingers were numb. I had a frozen snot stalactite forming on the end of my nose. “What are you whispering for, you daft old bodach,” I said, trying to stop my teeth from chattering. The icy water wanted about three inches before it would come fountaining over the top of my waders. It would probably drown me, or worse, let Fintan rescue me. He stood about 6’2″ in his bare feet and dirty white robe, so the water would be barely up to his underwear, if he ever actually wore any. I could always hope it would freeze his testicles off, and save me a lot of trouble in future. But I knew from bitter past experience I wouldn’t be that lucky. Read more
Sorry about the retread, but I’ve got a sinus monster in my head, and he’s squeezing my brain in his coils and thought is… elusive. Besides which, this is a timeless topic.
Eric S Raymond nails a list of symptoms to look for as warning signs that a book may be unreadable… Read more
There are times I hate being a writer. One of the things it does is set me at odds with normal (or really, abnormal but not writers) human beings, and prevents the enjoyment of simple pleasures that involve story telling.
I used to think I was alone in this, but the last few Liberty cons have quite put paid to that idea, as I hear colleague after colleague say things like “I used to enjoy reading, but now I find myself analyzing it” or “I loved movies but now I can see the mechanics and the effects.
The moment has arrived; your book is ready for its debutante ball. But no matter how finely honed its grace and manners, formatting and prose, it still needs to be dressed in an eye-catching cover that lets the readers of the world know exactly what genre and subgenre she is, and what promises are being made that will be revealed if they can take her home…
And if you’re like me, you’re not an artist. (Really; I just feed them.) So you have to get someone else to do that. Read more
I drew a piece of art the other day meant to evoke emotions. It’s a pig (inside joke) riding a motorcycle up into the mountains. His labcoat flapping, he’s not got a care in the world, the lab left far behind him… The cartoon lives on the whiteboard outside my boss’s office, and it’s meant to inspire thoughts of summer and leaving work in the dust once we’re all headed home (and yes, he’s riding these warm summer days now). But as I stepped back to make sure I’d gotten proportions and such right, I was thinking about it in terms of writing, and making our writing appealing.
To grab our readers by the heartstrings, and give a gentle tug, is to keep them engaged with the story and wanting to know what happens next. We all have commonalities, from wanting to be outside rather than stuck in a windowless lab on a bright beautiful day, to saying AW! At the sight of a puppy or kitten. Stories that make us feel good are far more likely to have us returning to re-read them time and again than stories that made us feel grimy and gloomy. I was working on a list (always!) of books for girls, and I was noting that as with any list I curate, some of the titles are older than I am, but loved by generation after generation. Little Women, the Five Little Peppers, Black Beauty, and so many more. I loved all of them, and they among others were the ones Mom had us reading out loud to the family while I was growing up. But what is it about these tales we all connect with and love? Read more