Category Archives: Writers Resources

Thoughts, ideas and techniques

Conversations About Dialog

Fiction

What do you consider your biggest strength when it comes to writing?  I think dialog comes close to the top of the list for me.  I’ve had several people remark on it.  Yeah, I keep my mouth closed in real life, but my characters blab away…

Truthfully, I overdo dialog.  In fact, in the past I have had beta readers comment on my over use of dialog. Not all – I’ve had others that had positive things to say about it.

I have started editing “The Old Mill”, a book that I posted here as a serial.  One thing that I discovered, to my dismay, is that I have entire chapters that are 100% dialog.  Some are phone conversations.  Others are people sitting around chatting.  After I did one quick pass through the book I almost felt that it would be easier to make it into a play than a novel.  Not just a play, but an Elizabethan era play, with few stage directions. Or perhaps an opera.

Ouch. How do I fix that?

I am now in the middle of a rewrite. One thing that I am doing is changing it from all first person to third person.  Every chapter is in one person’s POV (well, for the most part), but the chapters can be in different POVs.  OK, most are in the main character’s POV, just third person. But I have added other POVs, which really helps develop the characters and makes the entire story more three dimensional.

Does this help with the dialog issue? Continue reading

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Editing The Old Mill

I hate editing.

A few of you may remember my serialized novel, The Old Mill, that I posted a little over two years ago.  After finishing the book I decided to put it on the back burner and work on other things for a while.  One problem is that there are a few similarities with my book The Halley Branch and I wanted to put some space between the two.  So the rough draft, which I had posted here, was sitting, gathering dust.  For some reason i couldn’t get the inspiration to pick it up again.  In my opinion, the hardest part of writing is doing the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. drafts.  The first draft is the easy, fun part.

A couple of weeks ago I picked it back up and started the next draft.  I haven’t made it very far….

The first thing I ran into had to do with names.  I changed the name of one character half way through and have already run into both versions of the name.  I don’t remember why I changed it and which is the final name.  I’m about 90% sure that I will have to make a third version of the name.  The problem is, a lot of names run in the main family of the book, so doing a search on the name is only partially helpful.  I may hit another character with the same name. Continue reading

Data Dumps

You have a great idea for a fantasy. There are four hominoid races that range from almost good but a little more on the bad side to very good, practically angelic. There are also corruptions of two of the races that are evil.  Of course there are also wizards that really don’t make a race, but are different from the others.  Plus, of course a handful of intelligent and semi-intelligent creatures and monsters, like dragons. They all have their own cultures, religions, myths, personality traits, physical characteristics, ways they use magic (or don’t), etc. And, of course, the world has a rich 10,000 year history plus the “Age of Myth and Legend” which gives another 25,000 years.

So there is all of that detail in your story.  But then we get to the story itself. Hold, though, we need even more detail… Continue reading

Today’s Editing – Another Show vs. Tell Post

I am currently doing a few editing run-throughs of my novellas targeting some very specific problems relating to “show vs. tell”. Yes, this is a huge topic and many words have been written about it, but I just want to talk a little bit about what I am specifically targeting right now.

There may be technical names for the various types of “telling”.  I’m not sure.  There are two variations that I am looking at, though I will mention a third as well. Here is an example of the first:

The sun was bright causing a blinding glare from the desert.  John was hot, tired and thirsty.  He knew that if he didn’t find shelter soon that he would most likely die.

Yeah, not great writing, but that is not the problem.  I could dress this up and try hiding the “tell” quality in a fancy wrapper, but if it basically boils down to, “the sun was bright, it is hot and John I tired,” it is pure “tell”. A possible solution might be: Continue reading

Writing Exercises and POV (Part 1)

Lost Star

When I first started this blog I did a series of writing exercises.  Every now and again I do more.  I’m not talking about just following the various challenges, like Friday Fictioneers or Sue’s #writephoto, I am talking about experimenting.  As anyone who read the story I posted yesterday, Honor, knows, I am doing a bit of experimentation again. This time it was triggered by the Ursula K. Le Guin’s book Steering the Craft, which I received for Christmas.

Point of View (POV) and tense are two big choice any writer has to make when starting a story.  They are also areas that are very easy to screw up.  Before i started a blog, I spent some time over at the forums on Writer’s Digest and found that people were very militant with POV.  Pretty much only first person and limited third person from a single person was acceptable.  There could be no changes whatsoever in any work.  One POV, solid like granite. Continue reading

The Haley Branch Blurb Take 2

The Hamlet Symphny - Alt Image

A few weeks ago I posted a couple of draft blurbs for The Halley Branch.  Since then, I have sat on them, not trying to think of them at all.  This weekend I decided to have another go at the blurb.  Here is what I came up with:

An evil 300 years in the making.  A trap set 150 years in the past.

The day should have been a normal “family day” at the Hawkins’ Mausoleum, but a premonition followed Trevor into the crypt. To make matters worse, he couldn’t shake his morning vision of dead woman draped in a funeral-shroud.

After rescuing a girl trapped in the tomb, repressed memories force him to reevaluate everything. Is his extended family a cult with roots going back to America’s colonial past?  Is the evil Benjamin Halley still stalking his tomb after 150 years? Is there any truth to the Power described by the family’s patriarch, Miles Hawkins?

Trevor realizes that he is being manipulated and drawn into a trap set in the 19th century, and fears that everyone around him has already been ensnared.  Who can he trust?  The members of his own family’s Branch, The Bradford’s, like his cousins Bill or Stan?  Perhaps members of the Hawkins Branch, such as the beautiful but jaded Amelie?  The one Branch he knows not to trust is the extinct Halley Branch.

But the Halley’s are the ones who are welcoming him with open, if dead, arms. Continue reading

Practical Editing….

 

 

When you are done, you’re done, right?  When I post something on my blog, once I click publish, it is a done deal.  If I go back and find 10,000 typos?  Oh well, too bad.  OK, I do sometimes go back and correct things, but usually not after the first day or two.

I spent a good chunk of time the last few weeks before I published The Fireborn reading over it to catch errors and typos.  I also had two people go over it for me.  Between the two of them, they caught a dozen or so things that I had missed and had a handful of subjective ideas.  So when I clicked Publish, it was a done deal.  I had done my work.

A couple of months later I heard some complaints that there were a lot of typos.  I knew I would have to go back and fix them, but I didn’t want to.  When you are done, you’re done!  Last week I finally broke down and faced the inevitable.  I had to fix it. Continue reading

Random Thoughts on Blog-Stories

Recently someone told me that her uncle really liked The Monsters’ House, which is the first story in my short story collection, Seasons of Imagination.  I told her that I wasn’t too surprised, given how much symbolism there is in the story.  I then said that I really don’t use a lot of symbolism in my short stories.

“Why not?” she asked.

She had me there: why not?  I think it is because I typically write “flash fiction” instead of “short stories”.  My typical story is made for my blog.  It is usually very short.  Not including the 100-word Friday Fictioneers, my typical story runs about 1,000 words.  They tell a simple story.  The Monsters’ House is closer to 8,000, maybe 9,000 words.  It is complex.  The characters have time to breath and grow.  There is room for little motives and symbolism.

Still, why not?  Why don’t I use more symbolism?  I know it does creep into my stories, sometimes intentionally, usually not, i.e., subconsciously.  But I rarely sit down and think it through. Continue reading

Yeah, a Repeat – Free!

Fireborn Cover

In the shadowy area where myth and history collide….

Yes, I just posted this!  But it was before the “Free-sale” began.  So here it is again.

I really like my book, The Fireborn (of course I do: I wouldn’t put it out if I didn’t).  I think the premise is clever, and it’s a fun read.  At least I hope it is! So, yeah, I like it.

That being said…   The more I work on The Halley Branch, the more I think it is over all a better book.  Maybe a much, much better book.  Much, much, much better. Continue reading

This or That? Blurbs

Fiction

During my short break from editing The Halley Branch I have been throwing around blurbs and right now am stuck.  Yes, I can be a bit indecisive at times.  Don’t worry, I will eventually decided between the different variations I’ve come up with, but I wanted to ask your opinion.

I have one, with some slight variations, that uses a “tag line”.  That’s a little line at the beginning of the blurb that sums it up.  For instance, all of my posts on The Fireborn start with “In the shadowy area where myth and history collide“.  It is on the back cover as part of the blurb using a different color font.

I am going to put up the original version of the blurb with the tag line, since this is as far from the other I will post as possible (I have some inbetweenies…) Continue reading