Thursday, May 26, 2011

O'dark thirty

Translation: It is entirely too early for "them" to be out there on the golf course mowing before 5 AM. Who can possibly love golf enough to welcome the intrusion into their sleep hours? (Not me!) Yesterday morning they were out with gas powered saws trimming the trees at the crack of dawn. Really, guys?

It isn't all that different to get caught up with writing the next Great American Novel and not think about anything else.

Here are some things to think about. If you're going to write a historical novel, study the time period. That means do more research than read other historical novels.

There is something to be said about the maxim, write what you know. Several years ago, someone was writing a novel set in Southern California - my neck of the woods, so to speak. They had never been to America. The story premise was interesting, but it should have been set somewhere the author knew.

One thing about the beach scenes in Kathryn's Beach that strikes universal is the inclusion of the spray and the gritiness of being on the beach. (Go to the video page of and watch both videos.)

When we lived in the Midwest, we would watch movies set in the western desert. I always perked up when I saw areas in the Mojave Desert in California, because I spent equal amounts of my childhood in that high desert region. It is much different from the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

Besides setting, switching to dialects or nationalities requires attention to detail. Consult a local person to read your ms for authenicity. The homeless woman in Kathryn's trilogy speaks with an Appalachian drawl. Did I get it right? It isn't critical because that was her street persona, not the real person she was. But it is believable enough to pass inspection until her real identity is revealed.

Basically, don't get caught up in the rush of writing and forget that someday someone will read it. And if that someone is not your mother, lover, or best friend, they are going to notice things like the moon rising at 2 AM or the slight misspeaks your characters do.

There are thousands of people with laptops ticking out a novel. If you want published, you have to get it right because someone else out there is determined enough to pay attention to the details. The Cactus Rain team notices this stuff.

If you want to get ahead of everyone else, print your ms (yes, on paper) and read it aloud. Yes, ALOUD. You can be sure I will do that to your ms before offering a contract to publish.

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