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So I wrote a whole book this weekend. I just sat down on Friday night and my butt never left the recliner. I just whipped it out as if it had been waiting on me my whole life. Then Mattycakes was so proud of me that he took me out to dinner to celebrate.
*snort* April Fools Day.
This week's influence is jack squat.
I've got to admit it's been months. I think about it. My intentions are good. But good intentions never got the job done. One can argue that I've got a lot on my plate. It's not an excuse. I'll never reach my goal if I keep using excuses to bail me out. I'm responsible for the place I'm in right now. I'm out of touch and failing. I'm running faster but going slower. I hear her in my dreams. I see him watching me. Yet, fingers to keyboard produce nothing but procrastination.
I've tried subtle ways to get back in the saddle. I've left a time slot open in the evening for just me and my characters. It doesn't work. It backfires worse than being insanely busy.
I've tried jotting down a few words while sitting in traffic. This usually ends up with me getting honked at and me flipping someone the bird while nasty strings of cuss words pass my lips. Which spikes my adrenaline. Which in turn puts me in a nasty mood before I even walk into the office. Which then I find out the network has gone down or someone has opened a bugged email or taken a message but didn't bother to get the name. And my day goes down hill from there.
I open up emails at work intent on writing just something and sending it to myself for inspiration when I get home. I usually end up emailing someone about work. Or life. Or how to lose weight by eating brownies. By the pan. Or baking dish. Or whatever. I'd eat them off the floor. I'm not going to lie.
I've tried resurrecting my voice via the treadmill. My characters usually come alive during some sort of physical activity. *Shut up Hellion* When I get on the treadmill, I hear all kinds of smart-assed things in my head. Lately, the treadmill time has been few and far between and when I do manage to hop on it, all is quiet inside my head.
I've got new music. I'm really feeling The Fires Embrace lately. And I thought Sadie was with me. But she wasn't. Tease. It seems like no matter the music I get, no one is grooving with me. New music. Old music. Music I forgot about. Music that was good two years ago. Nothing. Dead air waves.
I can't say that I feel much emotion over this news. If I panic, the quiet will only get worse. I still feel like I'm being followed. That's good. They're still with me at least, just nothing new to say right now. I can dig that as long as it's temporary. Sometimes it's good to have peace and quiet. Maybe this is their way of telling me I have something more divine planned, something more important to get out of the way before I move forward.
Take the voices not for granted. That's now on my list. I don't like being alone inside of my head. It comes to no good.
So, tell me, what's the longest you've gone without writing since you've started writing? What did it take to get you back in the saddle and re-inspired? Any tips?
I know what you’re thinking. It’s the same thing I’m thinking: there are only 107 days, give or take some hours (I’m writing this from bed and having to calculate the math in my head so you’ll forgive the disclaimer) until Harry Potter’s 6th movie installment finally, finally is in theaters.
Okay, you’re possibly thinking at a 107 days, it’s a little soon to be getting this excited. That’s like 15 weeks away. (Here I am, trying to do math again.) Perhaps you’re right, but it’s not entirely my fault.
Last week, Warner Brothers debuted the newest movie posters, 6 of them to be exact, each featuring a prominent HP figure. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Dumbledore, and my favorite, Snape. My standard Jack Sparrow pic has now been replaced on my desktop.
Okay, so probably half my fascination with Snape is the fact that Alan Rickman is the actor who plays him; and I’ve always had a horrible, horrible crush on Al. From the moment he prowled onto the movie screen in black leather, sporting that long layered mullet-esque 1990 hairstyle for Robin Hood and making us all gloriously aware he was the only one with a credible English accent, I have adored him.
His voice—I could write odes to that man’s voice—and that handsome, rugged wrinkle in his brow, that lends him both an air that makes him look fierce and tough, and tragic and romantic. Alan Rickman admits he likes playing villains; and what’s best about Severus Snape is that he’s not the typical two-dimensional villain Al normally plays. (Remember Die Hard? Quigley Down Under?) No, Snape is more complicated. Snape is less villain than anti-hero.
What’s interesting to me about anti-heroes is that, well, I like to believe with enough time, they eventually would get their own happy ending. They could be brought from the Dark Side into the light. Their need as characters is redemption; and they know deep down they’ll never be worthy of it. I’ve always had a weak spot for those sorts of bad boys. (Unfortunately those bad boys know it, too. *LOL*)
My friend, who is also a big HP fan, also has a crush on an anti-hero, Lucius Malfoy. I think she falls into the same trap I do: her fascination has much to do with the actor as the character in the book. Patrick Isaacs does bring a certain something to the character; and admittedly, the kid who plays Draco is going to be beating off girls with a stick at this last movie. (Okay, I’m pretty sure he was beating them away as it was, but his poster *whistles through her teeth*, damn, he’s one pretty anti-hero. The suit, the haughty expression, the stance…he’s going to have as many cougars as cubs prowling after him this year.)
Harry Potter isn’t the only series littered with anti-heroes. Lisa Kleypas is great at writing heroes who appear rather anti-heroic at first. Hardy Cates, anyone? Several of her rakes, even. And yet by the end, we’re all purring as loudly as the heroine, content with their happily ever after. Boys Next Door and the bashful nerd turned hunk always make great heroes, but there is something about the fantasy in being the girl who saves an anti-hero from his own self-destruction that just makes the story so much more worthwhile. Almost like you earned the happily ever after.
Okay, okay, I know we’re always talking about anti-heroes a lot. (I can’t help it that half this ship has a weakness for Bad Boys.) Clearly the way to turn a two-dimensional villain into a hunky anti-hero is deepening your character. Elizabeth Lyon’s writing book: A Writer’s Guide to Fiction has an excellent chapter about this. (Actually all the chapters have been really excellent. I recommend this book highly if you’re wanting a reference book but are unsure which would be most useful to you. This is the book, no question.)
The key is that each character should have a meaningful past, in that there should be an event in the character’s past that wounded him so deeply that it left him with a need so intense he is driven to fulfill it (pg. 87). This wound would also leave the character with a weakness; and also possibly a strength.
Let’s take Snape. From the get-go of meeting Snape, you can pretty much determine his weakness is Harry Potter. Snape is flawed by his inability to view Harry without seeing Harry’s father, James, who we figure out soon enough Snape loathed even more than Harry. We don’t figure out why, though. Snape’s villainy towards Harry is downright petty and brattish; and you can almost laugh at Snape in book 3, when Snape is this close to having one of his childhood enemies, Sirius Black, exterminated—and Sirius mysteriously escapes. He all but stomps his foot and starts blaming Harry. But then in book 5, we get our first glimpse that there might be more to Snape’s irrational behavior than meets the eyes. After all, nobody’s perfect—not even Harry’s dad—though it is easy to forget that when the person in question is dead. You never speak ill of the dead.
In book 6, any empathy you might have had for Snape is destroyed after that moment at the top of the Tower. Even in re-reading the book, you wonder, “How could he possibly be remotely redeemable after this?” And in book 7, you wonder, “How could I not have suspected this all along? It’s so obvious.” J.K. Rowling picked her meaningful past events carefully. We get a fuller picture of the book 5 reveal; and Severus Snape has very clear reason to hate Harry’s dad. And even more reason to hate himself, after just one moment of thoughtless speech. Everybody has a story. Everybody has a point of view, even villains.
Snape’s need is REDEMPTION. He would, after all, do anything for Lily; and after being a part of her demise, he will do whatever is required of him to save her son. His weakness is his inability to look at Harry without seeing his childhood nemesis. His hatred is a definite handicap. I would hazard a guess Snape’s strength is his love for Lily.
I think it is the meaningful past that separates anti-heroes from run-of-the-mill villains. We do find out about Voldemort’s past as well, but at no point is he anything but evil. His childhood is just as tragic as Snape’s is, but the two outcomes are so clearly different. Why and how?
What do you think? Why is it anti-heroes are redeemable but villains are not? Do you think to some degree, villains have to be more two-dimensional (black and white, emphasis on the black) to tell an effective story? Who is your favorite anti-hero who has been redeemed (movie, TV or book)? Can you identify the NEED, WEAKNESS, and STRENGTH in that character?
I think we need a word in writing for countertransference. Or maybe there is one and I just don't know it yet.
The reason I've come to this conclusion? Because over the course of one week working on my new MS, I've become desperate to become a pilot.
That's right, I, who gets ill every time I'm in a plane that lands (so, all planes....thank god), have decided that in my "spare time," I should take flying lessons and buy myself a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
I was a bit startled by this revelation (I mean, wow, I've uncovered a secret, deep-set desire to defy the laws of gravity and soar into the sunset) until I remembered that while writing my last MS, I was tempted to throw it all away to become an investigative journalist.
Anyone else noticing a theme here? It seems that I like to take on the characteristics of my heroine. I mean, I know we all inadvertanly transfer our own emotions, values, nuerosis, etc. onto our characters, but I'm managing to take on their characteristics?? They're not real!! I made them up!
So far it's only my heroines, and only their career options, so maybe I'm safe from becoming a scizhophrenic like poor Jung up there. And I wonder if it's only the heroine's because I can relate better to women, or because all of my hero's so far have obscure job titles like "super-secret uber bad-ass," the likes of which, I am clearly not. Though I will admit to making plans with a friend to go to a firing range and take "learn all about handguns" class. But that's just good research. Right?
I even went so far in my "countertransference" to check how much, exactly, flying lessons would cost me. Not as much, actually, as you might think. I might even be able to swing a lesson or two.
Oh god, somebody stop me now. In my next book, the heroine's going to be a secretary.
Anybody else have this problem? Or am I clearly on the road to schizophrenia and still in denail? Any tips for picking normal jobs for your characters? Anybody else walking the fine line between research and crazy?
(sorry for the late post this morning!)
It isn’t surprising that Lisa Kleypas is a finalist for a 2009 Rita award for Seduce Me at Sunrise. The story is poignant, passionate, and wonderfully written. I discovered the magical writing talent of Lisa Kleypas by accident. I bought a copy of Mine Until Midnight while browsing at Waldenbooks. The description of Cam Rohan sealed the sale for me. From the first page, I fell in love with her writing voice. Her ability to create original plot lines, and unforgettable characters, inspires me every time I read one of her books. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Lisa, but from watching interviews I find her as delightful as her writing. To witness the passion in her expression as she describes how much she enjoys writing is refreshing, and indicative of her ability to execute emotional depth in her characters.
Tuesday, March 31, is the release date for Lisa’s next book in her Texas contemporary series. Smooth Talking Stranger is the story of Jack Travis. Jack is the brother of Haven and Gage Travis, who are characters from the two previous books in the Texas series. Ella Varner becomes the primary caregiver for baby Luke when her sister Tara abandons him. Ella approaches Jack Travis to question his paternity for Luke. Ella’s life is turned upside down with excessive monetary support from Jack. However, life isn’t so easy for Ella. She finds dealing with 2 am feedings and dirty diapers, is far removed from the life she knows, but more of a blessing than she could have ever realized. Mix it up with some rehashed memories of an abusive childhood, a boyfriend who has the compassion of driftwood, a sexy Texas millionaire who has much more to offer than a pile of money, and the return of some memorable characters like Hardy Cates *swoon* and Haven, this has the potential to be another Lisa Kleypas masterpiece.
If you would like a review from someone who is fortunate enough to have already read Smooth Talking Stranger, wonder over to Smart Bitches Trashy Books and read SB Sarah’s tasty review of this literary treat. While you’re there, take the time to check out the Save the Contemporary Campaign. A contemporary title is featured every month. It’s a great way to spread the goodness of contemporary romance. If you recommend a contemporary title, or pass on a link to the campaign, you are eligible for prizes. What a fun way to promote contemporary romance!
The countdown is on. The minutes are ticking away. It’s not as long as it has been. Very soon, I will hold in my hot little hands a copy of Smooth Talking Stranger. I know I won’t be disappointed. Lisa Kleypas never disappoints!
Lisa, I confess, I want to be just like you when I grow up! Congratulations on your nomination for a 2009 Rita Award:)
Well, I entered the Golden Heart contest in the fall and alas, I’m not a finalist. I’d assumed as much as the manuscript had received some mixed reviews, but it’s sort of like the big break up conversation. You know it’s over and you just have to hear the words.
I’m not ready to give up on the book yet, though. It’s percolating in my files folder, waiting for me to be ready to revise it again.
But yesterday, while I was trying really hard not to stalk my phone like a lion on the Sahara, I decided that there are plenty of things I can do as a Golden Heart Non-Finalist:
1. Celebrate my non-finaling – Honestly, just entering the GH is a big accomplishment. I managed to finish a full length novel. Plenty of folks out there start and don’t finish. So, I’m giving myself an A for effort.
2. Congratulate the finalists – A big shout out to Tina Joyce Butts who finaled in the Suspense category for her manuscript, The Surrogate. And of course congratulations to all the Rita finalists who have been to the boat or who are coming. (Dana Marton, Jessica Andersen, Kimberly Killion, Eloisa James, right off the top of my head.)
3. Be disappointed – I’ve given myself 24 hours to be disappointed. It hasn’t really taken that long. I’m not the dwell in sorrow sort, really.
4. Reevaluate – This is a time to take a long hard look at what I’ve done right and what I could improve. In the right category, I keep writing and I write on a schedule, almost every day. I definitely think my writing is crisper. I’ve tried to make the transition to contemporary. (Maybe right or wrong, we’ll see. But a change anyway.) I need to spend some more time on my technical stuff. And GMC, oye. I’ll leave it at that.
5. Keep moving forward – For me, this means write write write. I’ve decided nothing can make the sting of not finaling go away like producing something newer and better. And that’s just what I’m planning to do. Besides, I won’t have to do this next year (wait by the phone on March 25) if I get published before then. So, that’s my goal. I’m going to avoid waiting by the phone by getting published, just out of spite.
If you’ve entered a contest and not finalled, how did you react? What helps you keep going? Anything else you can think to add to my list? How’d you feel yesterday listening to the Rita/GH call stories? What keeps you motivated in times of disappointment?
Spellbound- Lacuna Coil (Shallow Life)
Haunted- Stream of Passion (Embrace the Storm)
I hate scary movies. I detest them. It's the blood and gore and the whole idea of some idiot running up the stairs instead of out the front door. And they aren't screaming like a banshee either. If I was that terrified that someone was going to hack me up with a butcher knife and was coming at me don't think I wouldn't pierce their eardrums with my banshee cry. Besides, I've always said that someone should be more afraid to be locked in a house with me instead of the other way around. I've mastered the art form of the soundless walk and melting into the dark. You'd never see me coming.
Imagination has fascinated me since I was very young. I am my own worst enemy at night. My imagination is in a constant revolving state of hyper-awareness and every time I turn around my spidey sense starts to go crazy. I sit downstairs in the dark, the monitor light glowing and reflecting from the white walls and my mind starts to turn in gloriously dark ways. Night is eerily seductive. You can be afraid of the dark, yet it lures you into it's clutches every night as you close your eyes to sleep. You can be afraid to sit alone in a dark bar while you sip your vodka straight, yet there's something about the man standing the in shadows of the club that makes your heart beat a little faster. It's the danger of what might happen that is the kicker. You don't have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy fear; you just have to enjoy pushing your limits.
Before I started writing with Cin, my paranormal "heroine" (she hates to be considered a heroine. She'd rather smoosh the human race under her heel like a bug than save them) I used to dream a lot about people in the dark. About dark smoky clubs with bad lighting and the smell of blood so strong even a vampire would be repelled. The concrete floors would run with rivers of watered down red as the bar manager would take the hose to the club every night as he shut it down. I could feel his frustration running through my veins. I could hear the prostitute's gurgling sigh as she took her last breath in the alley. Immortals blood drunk and mean cornering humans unlucky enough to be standing on the sidewalk just before dawn. The language spoken crude but oddly beautiful before you heard pitiful screams offered up to the heavens. And yet, I walked through the chaos, barefoot and moving like smoke. No one looked up as I stood over their shoulder. No one dared to second glance me. It was like I didn't exist. Yet when I looked into her haunted blue eyes, she saw me- the frightened little rabbit in the snake hole.
Her lips upturned ever so slightly. Her brilliant white teeth stained red. And even though her lips never moved, I heard her say, "Welcome to my world."
For months I walked through her world in my dreams. I stalked down dark alleys and hid in the darkened corners of the club. My feet cold and cut and blackened from the asphalt during those hot summer nights. She told me to stay out of sight. Don't attract attention. Keep my hood up and shielding my eyes. I watched from that bar stool as she worked every night at the bar. I overheard the conversations and saw the gleam in their eyes as she walked by. She was an easy target. At least she let them think that way. There was something feral about the way she moved. She was careful. Careful not to move, careful not to speak. And then I saw him watching her from the shadows. For the first time since I'd known her, I saw her veneer slip. I saw the real her and it scared me.
The shift in her body language changed. If you hadn't spent night after night watching and memorizing you'd never caught it; but I knew as soon as she came up to me and grabbed a hold of my arm, the man meant trouble.
"Don't speak. Don't look. Keep your head down and shut up."
We closed out like every night. We took the back way out, into the alley with the prostitutes lurking. She was small compared to me, but moving much quicker. The shift was sudden, and she fell into a defensive crouch. She shoved me behind her and the toxic glow of blue engulfed the alley. Within a blink of an eye, she went from a seemingly normal being to a glowing light bulb. The electric charge singed my hair and afraid I fell back from her to my knees.
I felt fear. I felt it that night.
He stood at the exit of the alley, twice her size, shadowed by the street light behind him. I knew he was there for her. She thought he was there for me.
The silence stretched on. His eyes were intently focused on me. Her eyes on him. There was a dialogue going on that I wasn't a part of. I watched her shift, and her foot came closer to me as she brought her hand up in front of her palm first. That was the last thing I saw of her, he moved so fast, I never saw his fist coming.
I woke up in a blind panic. The covers knotted around my legs and bound me to the bed. Sweat rolled from my forehead and my heart leapt from chest. Under the Flood guitar rifted as my alarm screamed past my wake up time. I fell from the bed, knees weak, feet sore, arms aching.
The shower only amplified my imagination. The feeling of eyes watching my every move increased each time I closed my eyes. He followed me back. I dreaded the time when I was alone in the dark that night.
Yet, when I laid my head down to sleep that night, I dreamed not of Cin. I dreamed of nothing. The field, the wind blowing through the farmlands and the sounds of trees creaking under the stress of the high winds.
The feeling of electricity short-circuiting the air.
So now that I've revealed that I'm slightly creepy and paranoid in the dark, it's time for you to let loose. What sort of things creep you out? Childhood fears that you've shoved in the closet and long forgotten about- yet they've slowly worked their way into your writing? Does anyone else use their dreams for writing?
Terri talked yesterday about doing things that were good for us as writers, things we should not feel guilty for doing: going to conferences, networking, making the connections to take us to the next step of being a professional writer. I’m going to talk about taking care of your writer self in a completely different way. Not the mental game, but the physical one.
Writing is grueling work. I know you wouldn’t suspect it with all that sitting and typing we do. We’re not exactly ditchdigging here, but all in all, I think on the whole ditchdiggers might be healthier than we are. They’re outside, working hard in a cardio sort of way, sweating, working the muscles, breathing fresh air (mostly). Yeah, I’d never want that job either—much too hard and in sunlight—but I admit, they’re probably in much better shape than I am.
Granted that’s not going to take a lot. I’m not exactly little Miss Cardio. And if my lack of stamina wasn’t bad enough, there’s my posture. I’m a sloucher. I’m constantly holding up walls, doorjambs, and curling up in my office chair in inappropriate manners because it’s too exhausting to sit upright with my feet on the floor for the whole eight hours. I curl over my keyboard, my shoulders rounding skyward, my ears lowering, and I’m literally petrifying into this tight little knot of tension. If my bad posture and bad work habits were not enough, I like to make it worse by going to the gym, exercising with weights, and then not stretching after. (Oh, yeah, right, I’m the only one guilty of this. Whatever.)
I could blame my horrible posture on my job, but I also have that unassuming personality. You know the one I’m talking about. The low self-esteem turtle hunch. The one that says if I round my shoulders and curl up into a ball, I’ll be invisible and maybe no one will notice I’m still that geek from high school.
Yeah, whatever. Everyone still knows I’m a geek. I should do my shoulders a favor and stop trying to be invisible in the middle of a room. It’s not going to work. Invisibility cloaks only exist in Harry Potter’s world, not the Muggles’.
Here is what I’m learning: You can’t be an effective writer if your neck is out of joint. How can you expect to get into your character’s head if you’re plagued by pain? (“A plague on both your houses!”) Be a good writer and take some preventive measures already.
Now there are some writers who ascribe to the House of Pain method of writing, where they’re drinking, smoking, cramped over a computer keyboard, drinking coffee like it’s a nutritional equivalent of fruits and vegetables. I call these people Sadists. Don’t be that writer. It doesn’t make you a nice writer. It saps away your concentration; and I assure you, if you’re using your pain to tap into so you can inflict it on your characters, there are easier ways to do it than to give yourself a backache.
First, do some “good posture” exercises. Petrified into a hunched curl over a keyboard is not Survival of the Fittest here, guys. Don’t undo all the good our ancestors did us by evolving into an upright position, by hunching back down again. I think this guy offers some very good exercises to stretch out those key areas and improve our posture. Plus I think one of them is what my massage therapist was showing me to do, and that I always forget to practice. Surprise, surprise. I’m sure my massage therapist has a support group with my dental hygienist. “I tell her over and over and she doesn’t listen!”
Secondly, get some exercise. Take a walk, go for a run, go to the gym and take a class. Try to work in some yoga: it’s good for the muscles and the mind. And as a writer, we know you’re pretty screwed up anyway. You could use yoga.
Thirdly, consume things other than cigarettes, coffee, and chocolate. You get bonus points if you fix something other than a sodium-laden popsicle meal. Some fruits and veggies, guys. You’ll thank me later when you don’t get scurvy and colon cancer.
Lastly, if you can afford to get a massage once a month, do so. You’ll thank me later. You’ll thank everyone later, it feels that good.
Taking care of yourself in these simple ways really improves all areas of your life, including your writing. As women, I believe we tend to take care of ourselves last and feel guilty if we move ourselves ahead of anything on our mental lists. We should really stop. As Erma Bombeck said, the world isn't going to stop turning if we stay in bed when we're sick. Well, I think we should take it a step further and throw some preventive measures in as well. As my yoga instructor always says at the end of each class: Know that this one hour you've taken for yourself makes you a better person for you and those around you for the other 23.
What do you do to take care of yourself and nurture the "physical" writer? And do you also find taking care of your physical self pays off in big dividends on your mental game as well? (I do. Taking care of myself physically gives me a big mental boost that "I'm worth it." I feel like a Clairol ad.)
It's redundant to say the economy is in the crapper right now. We all know it and we're all feeling it. People are losing their jobs left and right and if they haven't lost it yet, they're worried they will. If nothing else, I think this recent catastrophe has reminded us of something we already knew – if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If you follow news about the publishing industry, you're seeing articles about shake ups at the big houses, profits down, new deals reduced, and industry uncertainty about new technologies and how to handle them. Old business models aren't working anymore but no one has come up with a new model that works either.
Lets face it, the news is damn depressing. But, there is one tiny caveat – Romance fiction sales are up. According to an article by Ben McIntyre in The Times, "Publishing may be facing the same problems as other businesses, but some books are booming. Escapist romantic fiction is in the pink. Mills & Boon is selling three books a second, and Cheryl Cole, of Girls Aloud, has signed a £5million deal to write romantic novels."
That, my friends, is good news.
Now I have to admit I stole the idea for the rest of this blog straight from Literary Agent Jessica Faust over on the Book Ends blog. But only because she said exactly what I said to J Perry on the phone days several days before Ms. Faust's post. (Back me up on this, J.) And if you really want to know the ins and outs of this business, I highly recommend reading the Book Ends blog as well as those of agents Nathan Bransford and Kristin Nelson.
I keep hearing people say they won't be in Washington DC for the RWA National Conference this summer because they can't justify the expense when they haven't sold anything. So the question is, are conference expenses only justifiable if you're published? Do you consider yourself in a career as a writer if you're unpublished?
How you answer these questions says a lot about where you might be going, or not going, in this writing endeavor.
The way I see it, once you decide you want a writing career, you take certain steps to make that happen. You do some research and figure out what you want to write. You get started and continue to practice and learn about the craft of writing. You join organizations specifically established for writing professionals. And you network. Networking can be done online, but it's much more effective in person and that means attending conferences.
Is one of the purposes of attending conferences to pitch to agents and editors? Yes. Is it the only purpose? No. There are many purposes and reasons for attending conferences and one of the most important is networking. So why do we beat ourselves up about this expense? We're less likely to feel bad about buying another ink cartridge for the printer, or paying that internet bill every month, or picking up all those new books that are clearly for research purposes.
So why do we feel guilty about conference fees?
You never know when you're going to make friends with the newly published author who asks about your work, reads a little and recommends you to her agent. You never know when you're going to sit down at the bar next to an editor who just happens to be looking for something new, asks you about your work, and loves the idea of a witch who gets her powers from having sex. And none of these events would have happened if you didn't plunk down that cash and attend that conference.
Now, I'm not trying to guilt anyone into attending a conference or insinuate that if you don't attend, you're not serious about being a writer. What I am saying is, if you look at writing and publishing and selling your own books as a career goal, then approach it that way. Give yourself permission to take advantage of every opportunity without having to defend yourself or justify the expense. You do not become a writer when you sign your first contract, you become a writer when you decide to write.
What say the rest of you? How do you think of conferences? Have you attended any? What did you get out of it? Did you make a connection that has helped or you think will help you get noticed/represented/sold? Anyone else think a conference held in Tortuga would be awesome?!
Quartermaster Sin slides down the ratlines from the crows nest, well aware of the dashing picture she creates. As she lands lightly on the rail, she glances over toward the bar, hoping for some quick refreshment. But the bar is empty, no bottles lined up. No bartender. The monkey jibbers at her shoulder, draws her attention to the deck near the bow. There 2nd Chance sits, surrounded by books, charts, sheets of graph paper and scattered highlighters of every color. The barkeep appears frazzled.
- “What’s she about?” Sin glances at Terrio and Marnee, perched on the railing.
- “Don’t know. But it’s a mess.” Terrio sighs. “We be thirsty but she’s hidden the rum away till she’s done.”
- “Send Jack looking for it, he’ll find it. Can’t keep that pirate high and dry. He’ll sniff it out.” Sin chuckled.
- The sound of cursing and crashing comes from below as Lisa and Hal climb up to the deck. Hal shrugs, “She’s good. Can’t find a trace of drink.”
- “She can’t do this! Let’s throw her overboard.” Lisa glares at the bow. “What does she want? Ransom? More blog days?”
- “I asked.” Marnee shudders. “She said something about magic. She casting spells now?”
- “I doubt it, she knows the captain don’t like potions messing up the galley. Santa nearly mutinied last time. Her double boiler was nearly ruined!” Sin sniffed. “Must be some other sort of spell.”
- “It is.” Captain Hellion strolled over, dismissing last Sunday’s hottie to finish cleaning up her cabin. “She’s looking for the magic of creating devoted fans. She’s got all my Harry Potters over there, a pile of Nora’s books, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, a bunch of Mary Janice Davidson, Eloisa…Sin’s Twilight books…” Taking a breath the captain decides not to continue.
“Oh.” Sin snickered. “I get it. But I’m thirsty, enough is enough! And she can’t mess with my books!” With a grin, Sin marches to the bow determined to haul Chance away from the newest dilemma.
Yes, I want that magic. I want the magic of the devoted fans. The delightfully witty, slightly obsessed, totally charmed fans. I want to inspire legions (well, maybe not that many, I don’t want them marching on my driveway or anything!) … OK, I want to inspire a dedicated fan club. I want my blogs quoted and shared, and talked about. I want fans lined up to sign my books. To bid on signed editions on e-bay. I want to be invited to speak at conferences, to be a guest at pirate weddings… Be on the cover of Pirate Magazine…
I want my fans to dress like pirates and attend pirate festivals. I want them to talk like pirates, collect maps of the Caribbean, try out rum recipes, fall in love with sailing…read all my books. Make up buttons of the clever things I write…t-shirts, hats, journals. Sigh, the whole shebang.
So, how did the rest do it? What is the formula? The spell? Please, don’t tell me it’s kids, ala Rowling. Is it wizards, ala Tolkien? The atmosphere and descriptive beauty of Nora? The wit of Davidson? The characters of Eloisa?
All of the above? We all read stories that cause that inner bell to ring true. That sees us line up to buy the new book when it comes out, dress up like hobbits to stand in line at the movies, (or pirates). (Yes, I did both, though I dressed up like an elf.) What happens to see us devote shelf after shelf to the books, read them until they tatter, stalk Mary Janice… (nevermind.)
What do you think? What does it take to inspire this level of involvement? What was it that made your heart sing at a new cover? Or dress like your favorite character? Write fanfic? Write an actual fan letter?! What did these authors do so right? And how do I do it!!?? I’m keepin’ the rum hidden till I get some answers!
**Gracing the decks once again, it's the lovely and talented and irrepressible J Perry Stone!**
So I’ve been having discussions of late on how to write a sex scene in such a way that it’s original, titillating and without a purple word/phrase in sight. Think this might be easy? Think again.
First of all, let me tackle the problem of originality. Let’s face it, there are only so many positions and some of the more “acrobatic” ones are those I would never try for fear my uterus might end up in my ear. Yes, that pretzel pose on page 35 of the Kama sutra is something I’ve never read in a romance before, but just because it’s new does not make it good. And then there’s the problem of tools. It’s like we’re all trying to describe that peg-in-the-hole exercise in gym class in unique terms, but there are only so many orifices on the human body, so many parts to put in them and so many ways to describe it all. It is what it is.
Which brings me to my second problem. Titillation. Get too creative with what you insert where—food included—and as a reader I start thinking about bathing issues, the problem honey presents when coupled with hair, and the morning after a particularly adventurous session. Urinary tract infection, anyone? Oh I know. In a romance, the author takes great care to speak to fantasy rather than reality, but for me to invest in a sex scene, I need to believe that scene has all the pleasure-potential possible. I can’t be thinking about UTI’s because the heroine forgot to wash and pee after having sex with Mr. Let’s Use-This-Cream-Syrup-And-Pudding-On-You. What’s more, I do not believe making love on a high wire with a woman’s ankles behind her head is the best possible position to achieve orgasm—not for her, not for me—so I’m not going to get all tingly inside when reading your novel: Big Top Love: Sex Without a Net.
Okay, so that leaves me with the various shades of purple. I have a naughty thesaurus listing phrases for multiple saucy things. Need another word for nubbin? I’m your gal. But here’s the thing. No matter how many different ways you put a part/act with the intention of writing it in a way that's new and affecting, take that sentence out of context and it’s going to sound purple. If you take the spice out of the dressing, it’s just spice in all its obvious form. Put it back into the dressing and it’s a glorious culinary experience. Take the sex out of a book—purple. Put it back in—ahhh. So I guess you could say I’m purple-tolerant, especially when it comes to sex. By the time the consummation comes around, hopefully I’m so invested in the characters, I want them to get their groove on with all the ruche-ing, salivating and moistening possible.
The sunshine was warm and a little blinding. It was the first thing you noticed when you stepped off the plane. You could feel the warmth of the sun even as you walked away from the airplane into the nicely air conditioned airport. I felt it haunting me like a bad stepchild, the sun dogged my every step until I stepped outside and faced it in all it's glory. Warmth on my face. The rays soaked into my skin and bounced off my sunglasses. It shines off your hair and windows and buildings and blindingly white teeth and fake tanned skin. It's everywhere.
And I hate it.
I tugged my sweatshirt sleeves down further and let my hair down from a messy ponytail.
"Are you coming or what?" She's very impatient with me. Even though I've been through this a million times, it's all new to her. The last time she arrived in the city that rose from its ashes, it wasn't the sun that was the concern. The shuttle bus was just ahead, into the blinding rays beating down onto the oceans of asphalt and smog. I could hear the constant drone of horns and tires waling on the freeway.
"Yeah, yeah. Watch the cars."
I ducked into the shuttle bus without much sun exposure. I felt it burning my neck and I reached up to pull up my hood.
"It's 80 degrees." He looked from one window to the next and tried to get a glimpse of the next airplane coming onto the runway. "It's nice."
I debated between shooting someone a nasty look from the top of my sunglasses or make like I was deaf.
I made like I was deaf.
I plugged my iPod into my ears and shuffled off the bus with the rest of the herd. Inside, more air conditioning, more people. More tourists with no idea of where they were going or what they were doing. More people going home to places with snow on the ground and their heat blowing at full blast. I couldn't wait to get out of here.
There was no wait in line. As soon as the keys hit my palm I was off running. I weaved and sped and with the windows down, enjoyed the jolt of adrenaline from rush hour traffic. It was nearly dark when we pulled into the driveway. It was peaceful, calm. The light shot over the mountains and made a halo around the mountain tops. The train was in the far distance and speeding our way. I had a seat on the sidewalk and looked up at the sky. It was too bad I needed the sun to survive because I really didn't enjoy being cooked up for dinner like an ant in the magnifying glass. It was beautiful blue with jet streaks of white. The moon full against the palm trees. Life was strange. How can something kill me and keep me alive?
We all hate something that's good for us. I'm not going to lie. The sun is good for me in ways I might never understand, and it keeps me happy and alive; but every time I step into it, I feel the heat burning into me, branding me. I try to liken it to that feeling of lactic acid burning in your muscles when you start working them. It's not something you're used to feeling and it feels wrong and your brain starts screaming for you to stop. But you have to keep going or the cycle won't break.
I love writing but it drives me crazy. Insane. I hear voices in my head. I have someone telling me what to write and when to write it and I sometimes find myself while typing reading what I'm writing and saying to myself that I've lost my mind. My characters often find themselves in situations they can't control, can't begin to understand or what to understand. It's because life is a paradox and we're all swept up in the drama of it. Writing about life and characters and plots, we're swept away in the grandeur of it all.
Don't get me wrong. Life is a wonderful thing; but confusing and difficult and one of those things that no matter what you do you're doing it right and wrong at the same time. Writing is this way. There is no wrong way to write. Writing is putting down words on a page for reading material. Even though we hear the little voices telling us what to do, and tell the story they way that they want it told, it doesn't mean it's the right way. It's just a means to an end.
Do you ever relay your vacation stories into your own writing? It's obvious that I couldn't find a real topic to spew about this week and it's now obvious that I didn't come back all mellow and relaxed. Anything that really drives you crazy that you give to your characters to drive them crazy?
In yoga, they have mantras that you’re supposed to chant to help you achieve no mind and become one with God. We have not practiced this in my bi-weekly yoga classes. I mostly concentrate on not falling down, falling over, or falling backward. I sometimes think about being on the beach with Jack Sparrow, but that’s at the end of class, when we’re in corpse pose and in absolutely no danger of falling.
However, as a writer, I am chanting little mantras all the time. They’re over my desk, taped on my computer, written on post-its and napkins, and scribbled on the backs of receipts. Anything that might jolt me into a wave of brilliance when I sit down to write. Something to repeat to myself—bringing myself to a yoga state—so I can get out of my way long enough to write some pages. Any pages. Paragraphs would even work.
My two newest favorite mantras came from unlikely sources: a birthday e-card and a Christopher Moore novel.
Imagine more, think less. I mean that even sounds like something you’d hum in a yoga class, doesn’t it? Here I was reading this adorable e-card, and boom, right there in the middle: the perfect thing to repeat to yourself so you can get out of your own way and write. I spend an ungodly amount of time, staring at the last couple pages of my chapter, then skipping back to the beginning of the chapter. Hell, I might even go back another couple chapters to “catch up and get the rhythm” again, but invariably, I end up getting tired from all that reading and end up shutting down the computer and going to bed.
My problem isn’t so much going as it is getting started. Once I’m going, I can go for a long, long time; but it’s like I spend all my valuable time doing all these unnecessary things. Like I’ve started on a car trip, gotten to the end of my driveway, then remembered I needed my purse. I go back for it, get to the end of the street, then remember I need my lipstick. I go back, and by now I might check to see if I need anything else, leave again, and get a little further down the road before I remember I need the tickets which are on the dresser. It’s no wonder I’m out of gas before I’ve gotten to go on the trip.
Lately with this novel, when I start new scenes or start in someone else’s POV (since I’m a stickler for not head-hopping), I feel like I’m going nowhere fast. I’ll type, knowing the fits and starts I have on the page aren’t likely to be kept, but at the same time, I wonder, maybe I should have the scene start this way instead so my next character can act this way. I have a very vague notion of what I want to happen. I want Character A to fall down drunk at the end of this scene. Okay. Well, that leaves that scene wide open. You’d think with all the possible lead-ins and scenarios, I wouldn’t have a problem finishing a chapter. You’d be dead wrong. I have yet to finish that chapter.
I’m too busy thinking when I should be imagining. It’s enough to make a writer start drinking just to help this process along.
As for the second mantra, let me first say: Christopher Moore is brilliant. Absolutely flippin’ brilliant. Lamb is without a doubt my favorite; and if I recommend Moore to my friends (and I often do), it’s the first book I bring up. It had been a while since I’d read Lamb; and being it is almost Easter and all, it was a perfect time of year for it. You know, being the book is about the lost years of Jesus, as told by his best friend Biff.
So Jesus and Biff are on their way to Tibet (when they encounter the Great Wall of China), when Jesus says something so utterly profound, I almost drove off the road. (Not the Sermon on the Mount stuff; that’s later in the book.) Jesus says: There is no such thing as a conservative hero. Heroes always bring change.
It’s sort of a duh-epiphany, I admit. It’s a chicken and egg thing: you can’t have a hero without change or change without a hero. They go together like cocaine and waffles. That’s the fact, Jack. I know, I know.
But the reminder was nice. A little post-it of that my guy needs to be the most radical guy on the page, the one we can’t bear to take our attention off of to see what he’s going to do next—that’s a good reminder. Heroes are never boring. They always have something going on.
Which is my problem, I think. I have my heroes in the most happening city but they’re both more boring than an old married couple who’ve been married for the last few thousand years. Oh, wait, that is them. You know what I mean. I want them to do exciting, obnoxious things. I want them to taunt each other; I want them to look for other spouses with sincere singlemindedness. I want sexual tension and people walking out of the shower naked.
Okay, admittedly the last has nothing to do with heroes who bring change, but I’m just tired of my story being so damned boring. I mean, I’m the writer here, you know; and if my story is this boring, it must mean I am…and if I’m this boring, then I need another can of frosting to stave off the depression. I also need a few ideas of what I can do to be less boring. Any takers? Ideas? Anything?
Your turn: what mantras have you discovered that help you write (or do anything) more? What do you like to do to help you be “less boring”? What card, email or book have you read lately that has inspired you?
I love stories with a deep point-of-view, stories where you really get deep into a character’s head. By the end of those stories, I feel like I know that character. I think about them afterwards, wonder about them. Sometimes (can I admit this on the internet?) I even talk to them in my head after I finish reading. There’s one hero, in particular, I talk to in my head on a regular basis (shut up, you know you do it too!)
I’ve been reading a wide variety of books recently. Some have stuck out in my mind, and others I’ve read and set down without thinking about again. One I read recently was brilliantly plotted, had a great theme, and excellent writing and pacing. But I didn’t identify with the characters. I kept thinking, this should be such a good book. On paper, it had everything, but at no point, was I drawn into the story.
Another book was less well-written from a technical standpoint. There were plot holes and adverbs and sentences of telling. Yet I couldn’t put it down for a second. When I did have to put it down, my head was swimming with the characters – what were they thinking? Feeling? What would they do next? Would they get their happy ending?
The difference was the characters – I knew them, I loved them, and I couldn’t rest until I knew how their story ended, and I couldn’t have cared less about the writing itself.
So as a writer, to get to that character depth, we have to know that character really well. To other writers, getting to know a character sounds like a normal, necessary part of writing. To non-writers, it sounds a little nut-so.
For instance, last week, I was struggling with a character. I probably had that squinty ‘what the hell am I doing?’ look on my face, because Mr. Coxswain politely said, “Everything going okay?”
“No,” I said. “I don’t really have a handle on Naomi’s emotions right now.”
*weird look out of the corner of his eye* “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. I just need to be her for a while today.”
*weird look takes on a distinct ‘am I going to have to commit her?’ flair* “And, uh, how are you going to do that?”
“You know, just sit real still and be her.” At this point, I ran off, upstairs. Half an hour later, the hubs carefully stuck his head around the bedroom door, to find me lying on the bed, perfectly still, and staring at the ceiling.
“How’s it going?”
“Really good! Naomi’s been numb for a long time. And bam! She’s pissed. It’s a big shock to the senses.”
“Oh. Well, then. Good.” *at this point, he began thumbing through the phone book for any ads that read, ‘Have a crazy wife? Send her here!’
Luckily, he didn’t find any such ad (apparently mental health facilities use some other marketing strategy), and I’m writing away with Naomi’s emotions on a better track.
There are plenty of other ways to get in touch with a character’s emotions or stories. So, let’s hear it! Anybody else use my insane method? How do you get to know your characters? Which characters stand out in your mind, long after you set the book down?
I joke about my reading addiction, but I am a writer because of my love of books. Through reading, I found a love for characters, and the desire to write stories. I admit, when I first thought about writing for a living, I assumed authors were all very profitable. I soon discovered that just because an author has a book on the shelf at the local bookstore, does not mean he or she is rich and prosperous. I did some extensive research on royalties offered by different publishers. The percentages took some wind out of my sails. I met a few authors through book clubs, and found they had a day job as well as a writing career.
The discovery of how hard writers work in comparison to the royalties was a revelation. Not only did I appreciate published authors more, it changed the way I purchase books. I used to browse for hours on Amazon and E bay sleuthing for a collection of my favorite author’s work. I was all about the “lot” of 10 books for the low price of 3.99. I also love the used book hyperlink on Amazon found right below the new book price. Just one click away from a bargain book price for a like new book. Why should I pay full price for a book when I can buy a barely used one for a few dollars less? Because if the author in question is new to the scene I want them compensated for their efforts. I’m not bashing consumers who choose to purchase used books. The industry provides a means to find out of print books, and hard to find titles. I have no quandaries about trading a used book for a Janet Evanovich or James Patterson book at the paperback exchange. They are multimillionaires, it’s the authors who want to write full time, and can’t manage it, that I want to support.
Used booksellers argue that if a book is sold once then the author and publisher is paid their dues. Maybe this is true, but it doesn’t seem fair that actors get royalties every time a rerun of their sitcom is aired, but a writer only prospers from the initial sell. It’s hard for an author to sell the number of books needed to receive the highest royalty, when there’s a used bookstore in most every town. Some publishers have gone as far as submitting letters to Amazon about placing the used book sales in a different venue rather than offering a link for used books next to the full sale price. I can understand this, but I can also see how much Amazon does for authors by providing a means for author’s work to become popular and available to readers. It’s a double-edged sword, and I’m not sure of a solution. I would feel better if someone could verify that the used booksellers on Amazon who sell the “used” version of a brand new release are being counted toward total sales, but somehow I find this doubtful. Maybe the fault falls on the publisher in regulating who purchases large lots of newly released titles. Book sales are slipping through the cracks, and that is disturbing to me.
It only makes sense that with the rising wealth of used book sales that the cost of new books may have to compensate to make up for a lack of sales. Some new authors may be discovered on the shelves of a used bookstore, which precipitates the reader to buy new releases of their work. However, you have some readers who patiently endure the waiting lists for new releases at the local library. I was surprised to discover that in some countries such as Canada and Denmark, public libraries give a small portion of payment to authors or publishers every time one of their books is checked out. Now this is interesting. I find it amazing that some countries can afford to do this when my local library had to reduce their hours because of lack of funds.
I love cruising through my local used bookstore, but there is just something about the feel, and smell, of a brand new book. My pulse rate increases when I step inside the doors at Border’s. I honestly can’t imagine how it would feel to see my own book sitting in full view on the shelf. One thing I do know. Writing is not an easy business. It’s hard to become published, and even harder to make a name for yourself. Authors who make it to the shelf deserve every penny they earn. One can only hope that avid readers are educated about royalties and choose to support authors by purchasing new books, but in the present economy, it’s not a given. I understand the need to find a bargain, but I don’t bargain when it comes to newly published fellow writers.
Before I started writing with the intention of publishing, I don’t think I ever noticed writers. I knew who wrote different stories, I had authors I liked, and I would buy their books. I’d read the inside flap for blurbs from authors who liked the authors I liked and I’d use those as recommends for my next buys. I got recommendations from my friends and my family.
Now, I check out websites, look for blogs, and visit their biographies on their publishers’ websites. Authors have forums, newsletters. They’re on Facebook and Myspace.
I can’t tell whether I do these things because that’s what we do in this technological age or if I do that because I’m a budding author and therefore more interested in author-ly things.
But either way, I’ve found a plethora of information about authors and their work by visiting their media outlets. This makes me wonder, what works?
One of my new favorite authors is Jessica Andersen. She writes an exciting new paranormal series about the Mayan End Date. Her website (www.jessicaandersen.com) is Mayan inspired as well and it piques my interest for her books. Some authors don’t go to this kind of effort for their websites. I don’t think that a less exciting website or no website would keep me from reading their stuff, but I think a really nice website can definitely help.
Some publishers promote promote promote, others not so much. Same for agents. Personally, I love Kristin Nelson’s blog (www.pubrants.blogspot.com). I feel like everyone checks it out. Therefore, her authors get exposure in part because she seems so cool.
But as a fledgling author, I feel a bit overwhelmed. I haven’t sold anything yet so I’m not ready to start promoting. However, forewarned is forearmed.
So, what do you think are the best ways to promote? Whose websites do you really admire? Suggestions for marketing for the rest of us?
As writers, we're totally consumed with words-the style, the quality, the grammatical correctness, the tense, the appropriateness, the number, the... ACK!! Before you know it, you're curled up in a corner with a glazed look in your eyes, mumbling verses like:
I write them short
I write them long,
But still can't weave
An author's song.
My keyboard's hot
But still no words
That sound much more
Than worthless turds.
Been there, done that. No matter how hard it is to write and re-write, words are our business and their importance can't be overlooked. Here's an example of how vital communicating the right word can be.
The Lone Ranger was ambushed and captured by an enemy Indian war party.
The Indian Chief proclaims, "So, you are the great Lone Ranger. In honor of the Harvest Festival, you will be executed in three days. But, before I kill you, I will grant you three requests. What is your first?"
The Lone Ranger responds, "I'd like to speak to my horse."
The Chief nods and Silver is brought before the Lone Ranger, who whispers in Silver's ear. The horse listens, then gallops away.
Later that evening, Silver returns with a beautiful blonde woman on his back. As the Indian Chief watches, the blonde enters the Lone Ranger's tent and spends the night.
The next morning the Indian Chief admits he's impressed. "You have a very fine and loyal horse but I will still kill you in two days. What is your second request?"
The Lone Ranger again asks to speak to his horse. Silver is brought forward, and once more he whispers in the horse's ear. Silver takes off across the plains and disappears over the horizon.
Later that evening, to the Chief's surprise, Silver returns with a brunette, even more attractive than the blonde. She enters the Lone Ranger's tent and spends the night.
The following morning the Indian Chief says, "You are indeed a man of many talents but I still kill you tomorrow. What is your last request?"
The Lone Ranger responds, "I'd like to speak to my horse....alone." The Chief is curious but he agrees and Silver is brought to the Lone Ranger's tent.
Once they're alone, the Lone Ranger grabs Silver by both ears, looks him square in the eye and says, "Listen very carefully you dumb ass horse. For the last time, BRING POSSEEEE"
Poor Lone. So, how can we tell if we're communicating the right words? Well, there are a few of ways I use. I won't kid you, they're all difficult as heck, but they work most of the time.
- Find overused words like really, that and just and only. I use two ways to do this and both are good.
Use the Search feature. Each time one of those words is found, read the sentence and make sure the word is required for the meaning you're trying to convey. If not, cut!!
Read your work out loud. Yes, all of your work, even those hotter than blazes sex scenes. If you have to take a flashlight into the closet to be alone, I can't emphasize enough how helpful this can be, and for more than finding unneeded words.
- Reading aloud helps you notice words repeated in close proximity. *He wore a serious expression. "We're in serious trouble," she said. "Yes," he answered, "I've hardly ever been in such a serious position."* And that's before they got into bed.
- Unneeded words bog down your writing. Pay particular attention to the ending of sentences and words immediately after verbs. *He shrugged his shoulders before answering.* What else would he shrug? his shoulders is not needed. *"Get out," she said to her.* If there're only two people present, leave off to her. *Her heart pounded in her chest.* Well, yeah. *I must get out, she thought to herself.* Yes, if she's thinking, she's doing it to herself, no need to say it.
- Turn your work over to someone else to read. The trick here is to find someone you trust. It's okay if they like you, but it's not a necessity. J As long as they'll be honest about what they read and help you make your work as powerful as possible-meaning with the right words used in the right way-you're okay. The sad truth is, the same way you easily see errors in someone else's work, your critique partner will see them in yours. Damn it.
- Think about what you want each scene to mean. Does each sentence, each paragraph help you accomplish your goal? I can't tell you the number of times I've had to cut words I really, really love because they don't help the scene get where it needs to go. The same goes for scenes within chapters. This is tough to get used to, but if you read your work and you're going through 2-3 pages of narrative, take a step back and make sure you can't turn that into dialogue or action. Readers have short attention spans and often don't appreciate your genius in narrative. What's a writer to do? Cut!
- And of course (which are unnecessary words, but hey...), make sure the word you've used is the word you meant to use. As shown above, there's a big difference between posse and uh, you know, the other word. But if you need another reminder, here you go.
It was a hot Saturday evening in the summer of 1964 and Fred had a date with Peggy Sue. He arrived at her house and rang the bell.
"Oh, come on in!" Peggy Sue's mother said as she welcomed Fred in. "Would you like something to drink? Lemonade? Iced tea?"
"Iced tea, please," Fred said.
"So, what are you and Peggy planning to do tonight?" Peggy Sue's mom asked when she brought the drinks.
"Oh, probably catch a movie, and then maybe grab a bite to eat at the malt shop, maybe take a walk on the beach..."
"Peggy likes to screw, you know," Mom confided.
"Really?" Fred raised his eyebrows.
"Oh yes," she continued. "When she goes out with her friends, that's all they do!"
"Is that so?" asked Fred, incredulously.
"Yes. As a matter of fact, she'd screw all night if we let her!"
"Well, thanks for the tip!" Fred said as he began thinking about alternate plans for the evening.
A moment later, Peggy Sue came down the stairs looking pretty as a picture, wearing a pink sweater set and a pleated skirt, and with her hair tied back in a bouncy ponytail. She greeted Fred.
"Have fun, kids!" her mother said as they left.
Half an hour later, a completely disheveled Peggy Sue burst into the house and slammed the front door. "The Twist, Mom!" she angrily yelled to her mother in the kitchen. "The damn dance is called the Twist!"
Thanks for letting me sub today-I feel so like a Pirate! Also, heaven knows, I don't have all the secrets about word hunting. Please share your techniques, problems or questions.