Monthly Archives April 2013

Domino Bones

….Fondness for Interesting Words & Phrases, AKA Title-Whore This morning, I rolled over to greet my honey, as she sat down on the bed (she almost always rises before I do). I heard three pops–one in my right shoulder, one in my neck, one in my left shoulder. I made some comment like, “Oh, my crunchy joints…they pop in sequence…it’s like dominoes. I have Domino Bones.” Then, I realized how much I liked the phrase. Domino Bones. “Sounds like the name of a canyon in Montana,” I say. Then put on my announcer voice: “They were lost in the canyon
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Drive-by Writing

  If you’re a writer, you are probably familiar with the tendency to try to write ideas down while driving. I seem to get my best ideas when I’m driving, and it’s the most inopportune moment to do it. Surprisingly, I don’t always have a pen handy. That’s why I bought one of those key chain attachable sharpie markers… But then there’s not always paper. I know this sounds crazy for a voluminous writer like myself not to have paper and pen….there were times when an idea was so good, I considered to pricking my finger and writing it in
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Thoughts from a Literary Contrarian

I enjoy the commonality and compatibility in my current relationship. (Wait. Current relationship makes it sound temporary. It’s not. Let me give that another go: I enjoy the commonality and compatibility with my love, my life, my soon to be wife. (Better). Anyway, we have this ritual of reading every night before sleep, if not also in blocks of time during the day. As authors, that ritual would be expected, but I’ve never been with another author before, so I’m going to notice these things. I like it. A lot. Digression Alert: I remember one night, I’m lying in bed
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Organic Doesn’t Mean Clueless

This will illustrate, I hope, the power of dialogue. Even with no story, you can glean all the information you need from what two people are saying to each other. I used to go sit in public places like restaurants and coffee shops and just dictate what I was hearing into my iPhone or laptop. This is a real conversation I had on the phone with a friend… “I really wanted this to be organic this time. I didn’t want to force it. But I can’t figure out where her head is, I just know that I don’t like how
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I Heard You the First Time

…Repetition as enemy to style and cadence. Even great writers make mistakes. I can usually tell when it’s an editing oversight, or the fault of the author. An editor’s oversight seems a simultaneous contradiction, in that it can mean “overlook”, but also “seeing-over,” as in monitoring–same word, two opposite meanings. Accordingly, when I use the word “mistake” in this context, it doesn’t necessarily imply the condition of being WRONG. I use the word, “mistake” loosely. What I’m really talking about are stylistic errors. But telling someone how to have a writing style, is like telling someone how to have clothing
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Voice: First & Third Person

One of the most difficult things to master for me (and many other writers) is VOICE. This challenge trudges through the morass of other subjects like past tense vs. present tense, or past perfect tense, flashbacks, omniscience. . . Which Person? In fiction, the overwhelming majority of books are written in Third-Person. There are cogent reasons for this. One pertinent reason is that when you use First-Person, you are restricted to only what your main character is privy too. So if you need some clandestine goings-on, this wouldn’t serve you. In First-Person, your main character has to be present all
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He Said/She Said–Attributions in Fiction

When you deal with a lengthy work like a novel, there are opportunities galore to repeat yourself, and being lazy about attributions is a good example of that. Remember, it doesn’t help to change “she said” to “she exclaimed” as a means of beefing up your writing, although in moderation, that can be fine. Repeating the attribution “said” or finding a synonym for “said” is an example of a rank amateur whose writing is rank. In these cases, leave the attribution out altogether. If your dialogue is arranged properly, your reader should always know who’s speaking, with only a few
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Purple Prose & Metaphoric Misdemeanors

  * as usual, these are my opinions, based on my own experience of writing and editing for the last 25 or so years. Not all writers, editors and readers will agree, and that’s fine. I offer it as valuable information I learned which made me a better writer, in hopes it will help another writer reach that goal. Writers, beware: You must NOT fall in love with your words. You must fall in love with your craft. That’s the thesis for this entire post, but read on, if you want details. I am forever mortified by the details that
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Writer’s Block UNblocked

  Most writers eventually ask the question: “I’m really stuck with the plot/storyline of my novel. Do you know of something that will help me?” Here’s a list of things you can do to get unstuck. 1. Research. One thing that has always worked for me is new information. Do some reading about elements of your story. I’m not talking about style–I’m talking about research. For instance, read information about the city in which you’ve placed the story. Location can often become somewhat of a character in its own right. Read about any of the other elements in the story–like
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Mapping Your Settings

I have always been a stickler about authentic detail in my writing. This trait has forced me to find innovative ways to make that happen. Google Maps is one of those tools I use. Novelists have to deal with many details while composing their books. One of the most challenging, if you are concerned about verisimilitude–an air of authenticity–is setting. Many times I have set my story in a place I’ve never been. Then, as the story evolves, I find that the logistics of moving characters around becomes problematic, because I’m not sure where one location is, in relation to
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