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Posts tagged ‘writing’

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

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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Context and Misdirection

Misleading the reader is always fun, right? That is, as long as you don’t cheat. (And let’s not get into the argument that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is cheating, not today anyway.) One way to do this is to present the reader with only some of the information – say, the part that makes the protagonist look guilty as sin – while reserving the exculpatory context for later. And no, unlike everybody else in the known universe, I’m not talking about FISA applications. The rest of this post will be examining an example of misleading-by-omission found in Orkney folklore and Child 113.

I expect a number of you know the song “The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry.” It’s a song that’s always irritated me; it tells of a selkie who shows up before a mother and her child, claims to be the child’s father, tosses a purse of gold in her lap and takes the kid. I always wanted the mother to say, “Not with my baby, you don’t, and take your money back!” In fact, I wrote a short story in which just that happened.

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Knowing Your Genre

Years ago, Sarah somehow got me to admit I wrote stories. I’m still not sure how she managed it. It’s a special talent of hers, something she’s used on others besides me. Not only did she get me to admit I wrote stories and had for years, she managed to pry a chapter out of my unwilling fingers. I still remember the terror and disbelief that filled me when I realized I’d hit the send button. For the next several hours, I alternated between staring at my email program and feeling sick to my stomach as I waited for her to say something, anything. I never expected the response I got.

First, and she applied her virtual pointy boots as she said it, I was a writer. I had to remember that and keep telling myself that. I still have problems from time to time accepting it but her pointy boots scare me, so I keep telling myself that. Read more

The writer has no brain

The title says it all. The writer has no brain this morning. I’m a week away from the release of Light Magic, the next book in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series. That means I’m living on lots of coffee, not enough food (because I forget to eat) and a brain turned to mush by editing. Add in the fact I’m also writing on the next project for a couple of hours at night because, as usual, Myrtle the Evil Muse is evil. It is so bad that I haven’t taken time to read a book I’d been looking forward to that was released yesterday. Sniffle.

So figuring out what to blog about has had me staring at my computer screen without inspiration coming. Well, that’s not exactly true. Myrtle, laughing maniacally, reminds me that I didn’t finish a certain scene I’d been writing last night. She oh-so-subtly reminds me I could post it here, let you see a scene in progress. Not only no, but hell no. For one, the scene isn’t finished — do you have any idea how difficult it is to write a sex scene with your mother sitting across the room from you? Read more