Thursday, July 31, 2014
Part of the Indie Authors Series
Sometime last year, I was very surprised when, after I’d posted about my then-recent novel, Sutherland’s Rules on Facebook, a well-known pro writer friend chimed in that he’d read and loved it. A few months later, when another author I enormously respect told me how much she’d enjoyed the book, I was stunned.
My shock wasn’t so much that they thought the book was good: after years of writing and critiquing, of editing anthologies of other people’s work, and with a prior successful book (Aegean Dream) under my belt, I knew I could write decently. No, what astonished me was that either of these authors, both of whom are traditionally published, would even consider buying a book by a self-published author1.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Pulling from the archives today, so here's a revised look at filling plot holes. Enjoy!
Whenever you deal with something as complex as a novel plot, there are bound to be some holes here and there. They're not critical flaws, but if left undressed, they could put readers off or make the story feel contrived.
One of the more common plot holes is to have a scene where your characters are doing what they need to do for the plot to unfold, but the reasons might be weak or non-existent, and you want to find a way to make it all seem logical. Often you can change a detail in a previous scene so that a later scene makes sense.
Things to Look for to Back Fill Your Plot:
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Characters have a way of evolving in a story, sometimes for the better, sometimes to the utter frustrations of their creators. Despite those hair-pulling moments, though, a character who comes to life on their own often turns into a star. Please help me welcome Robin Leemann Donovan to the lecture hall today, to share the story of one such character.
Robin is president of the advertising/communications firm, Bozell and author of the blog, Menologues, a humorous yet informative look at the trials and tribulations of menopause by someone who’s been there. Menologues is republished on two commercial sites: Vibrant Nation and Alltop, and has won regional honors for social media at the AMA Pinnacles and PRSA Paper Anvil awards. Her first book in the Donna Leigh Mystery series: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? won an AMA Pinnacle award.
Robin was born and raised in New Jersey but lived and worked in Connecticut for a number of years before moving to Nebraska in 1999. Starting her career as a high school English teacher, Donovan moved into advertising in the early 80’s. In 1999 she accepted a job offer from Bozell. Donovan lives with her husband and three bulldogs, Jasmine, Roxi and Sadie (Sweet Pea).
Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound
Take it away Robin...
Monday, July 28, 2014
Writers the world over just shuddered when I said that. The experts tell us to never use adverbs--adverbs are bad, adverbs are evil, adverbs will sneak into your room late at night and strangle you in your bed.
Well, not really.
Poor use of adverbs is bad, but adverbs are a perfectly good tool in any writer's toolbox. Many have equated them to a heavy spice, like cayenne pepper. A dash spices things up, but too much makes the dish inedible. Some writers, especially those just starting out, think they must kill all adverbs and never ever use them or their work will be rejected.
Again, not really.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Real Life Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and I diagnose it on the blog. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.
If you're interested in submitting to Real Life Diagnostics, please check out these guidelines.
Submissions currently in the queue: Four (+ one resubmit)
Please Note: As of today, RLD slots are booked through August 23. The Sunday diagnostics will shorten that some if my schedule permits, but I wanted everyone to be aware of the submission to posting delay.
This week’s questions:
1. Tosha is 8 and Daniel is 10 - does this come across as likely in this opening scene?
2. Is there any sense that trouble is coming?
3. I'm not sure if my narrator is omniscient or if it's 3rd person, but shifting from one to the other. Either way, is it working all right?
4. Is it more showing than telling?
Market/Genre: Adult Short Story
NOTE: There's also a revised snippet about the boy trying to drink away his problem for those curios to see how the author reworked it.
On to the diagnosis…
Friday, July 25, 2014
This week's Refresher Friday takes another look (with a few tweaks) at supporting characters and how much page time we should devote to them. Enjoy!
Everyone knows the protagonist is the star of the show, but supporting characters can be just as critical to the story. They’re the ones influencing your protagonist and causing changes in the plot. Without them, your story can feel empty, but how much time do you really need to spend on them?
It depends on their function.
The supporting characters needs to feel credible in whatever role they’re in. The fewer scenes they get, the harder it can be to lay the groundwork for whatever their task is. If the task is simple, they can show up and vanish and readers won't mind or notice anything wonky. Like a waiter at a restaurant, for example. Little is required for that role to be believable in that situation. But if the character has more impact on the protagonist or the plot, you might need better reasons for her being there.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Part of the Indie Author Series
Even though the stigma of self-publishing has decreased over the last few years, it can still be difficult for indie authors to find ways to gain recognition and respect for their books.
Book awards are one way to help overcome that hurdle. Some of the best awards give the winners media exposure (leading to more book sales), cash prizes, and opportunities to speak with agents/editors from traditional publishing (if that’s a path the winner wants to consider). Beyond that, having an award win, or even an honorable mention, adds credibility to you and your book.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Just a heads up that my monthly post is up over at Pub(lishing) Crawl today, where I'm talking about the benefit of cause and effect in your scenes. Come on over and say hello.
Waiting for a critique it both exciting and terrifying. Did the beta readers like it? Does your story suck? Is it as brilliant as you thought or did you utterly miss the mark? As tough as waiting can be, the really hard part comes after those critiques come back and you're not sure what to do with all that advice.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Part of the How They Do It Series
No matter what stage of your writing career you're at, at some point you're going to lose steam and need a kick in the pants to get going again. Fatigue happens to everyone, but it doesn't have to keep us doesn't for long. Please help me welcome Susan Dennard to the lecture hall today to share a few tips on how she keeps going when times get tough.
Susan is a reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels–and not novels about fish, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues. She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband and Irish setter. Her latest book, Strange and Ever After, released this week. Her debut, Something Strange and Deadly, as well as the prequel, A Dawn Most Wicked, and the sequel, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, are available from HarperTeen.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound
Take it away Susan...
Monday, July 21, 2014
I'm a fan of deep point of view (POV). I enjoy being in the head of a character and feeling like I'm experiencing the story as they do. The more distant the POV, the less I connect to the characters. But this isn't true of all readers, and many dislike that close feeling. They'd rather sit back and watch a story unfold with a safe measure of distance between them and the characters.
With so much focus on deep POV, it's easy to think that's the "right" POV to use, but there's nothing wrong with a distant POV if that's how you choose to tell your story. A narrator who hovers over the tale and describes it all to readers is just as valid as a tight in-their-head narrator.