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Posts from the ‘WRITING: CRAFT’ Category

Getting back together

The loves I’ve left behind…

I’ve just had a couple of weeks of my cousins from Brittany visiting. Like us, they’re a family quite content to companionably read, but they like having adventures with – as they call me – Robinson (as in Robinson Crusoe – when the boys were teens, visiting us from French urban life, I introduced them to being hunter-gatherers, which made me ‘Robinson Crusoe’ long before I lived on an island) as well as eating the ‘exotic’ (as in shot or caught or collected ourselves) things which are our normal diet (like the picture), not theirs. It’s been a busy time, spearing, netting, diving, shooting, to say nothing of the prep of the gear, and processing and cooking. Read more

He said what?

Anyone who has been a long time follower of the blog knows that we don’t believe that there is any one “right” way to write. Everyone’s process is different and, if you’re like me, that process changes from project to project. So, when I came across this post by best selling author John Grisham, I found myself staring at it and shaking my head. Then I laughed and then I got angry. Why? Because he writes about what works for him in such absolute terms that there will be someone who believes it is the only way to be a successful writer.  Read more

It’s axiomatic

Real Life has been happening fast and furious around here, so I’m reposting from my blog, with a few relevant thoughts about writing added.

Don’t worry: there will be no math.

People will keep mis-defining axioms. To boil the definitions I’ve been seeing down to the simplest possible statement: “An axiom is a statement which is self-evidently true.”

Uh, no.

Axioms are more like rules of the game. For example, let’s look at some poker rules, because nobody confuses the rules for any type of poker with  self-evident truths, right? And poker is an easy example for me, because I learned it sitting under the kitchen table and sneaking beers while the nominal adults in the family bet and bluffed.

(Caveat: this is not intended as a complete set of instructions for any given type of poker; I’m trying to keep it down to the minimum necessary to prove my point.)

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The Almost-never Ending Story: Or adding 20K Words (Two Years After the Book is Finished)

Or So I Thought…

I’m going to skip a week in the MICE is Nice series and bemoan a slow muse. You see, I had other projects to work on, alpha and beta reads to do, and assorted matters to attend to. And the Muse grabbed me by the hair, dragged me to the computer and informed me that “No, Against a Rising Tide is not done yet. The ending is not the ending. Start writing again.” Read more

The little cabbages..

Hear about the e-book of a fight between vampires for dominance in the story world? It’s about who gets to be the bit or the byte players. Ow. Stop hitting me. Cease with the carp. I repent (at least for now).

Most of us remember – and work on writing well – the main character/s in stories. It’s the lesser characters that tend to be neglected – both by writers and the memory of readers. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the bit-players have an awful habit of being so cool they morph into having a larger part than you planned, maybe even nudging the main character off-stage, and ruining your well-planned book.

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He said, she said, and who said?

Too often, when we think about dialogue, we think of two people taking turns in strict alternation. Today I’d like to look at expanding the dialogue, with some examples from Connie Willis, who has a genius for mixing it up, with three, four or even more people talking across each other and sharing information or, more likely, misinformation.

Sometimes it’s mainly for comic effect, as in this passage from Blackout: two people trying to talk to each other about times and places while a third person is on the phone, reading out a printout of, guess what, times and places.

“August seventh?” Phipps asked Badri. 

“That’s right,” Linna said, “1536,” and Michael looked over at her, confused, but she was back at the phone, reading off a printout. “London, the trial of Anne Boleyn—” 

“Yes, the seventh,” Badri said to Phipps. “The drop will open every half hour. Move a bit to the right.” He motioned with his hand. “A bit more.” Phipps shambled obediently to the right. “A bit to the left. Good. Now hold that.” He walked back over to the console and hit several keys, and the folds of the net began to lower around Phipps. 

“I need you to note the amount of temporal slippage on the drop.”

“October tenth 1940,” Linna said into the phone, “to December eighteenth-”

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Built to last

In a time of throw-away fashionable clothing, pre-cooked microwavable meals, and when a new author’s retention time on brick and mortar store’s book-shelf is 6 weeks – if the book store gets it unpacked and on the shelf by day one of its six weeks… I guess I was born in the wrong era.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like modern medicine a lot more than wire-brush-and-Dettol or sacrificing a clay replica of the afflicted body-part, but books that make it onto my shelf tend to have a very long retention time. I don’t sell them, even if I am foolish enough to lend them out. I’ve enjoyed them, and I want others to try them and enjoy them too… Which works, but they don’t always come home. Look, I wear clothes until they are past repairing. What is this fashion thing of which you speak? And I guess I am the same about books –at least some of them – I read and re-read until they fall apart. And, as often as not, I’ve hunted down another copy before that happens. They’re old friends I turn to in tough times. Read more