Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing Quote

Short and sweet, here is the quote of the day:
I amazed at how people think they if read a few novels,they could write one. That is like getting a tattoo and thinking they could then open a tattoo salon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Often I use the term, 'storyline,' when referring to mss. The recognized industry term is 'plot.' Plot is more than a beginning, middle and end. It is more than the outline from which the story is built.

Plot is the most important element of fiction writing. The plot has to deliver for the reader to feel satisfied with the story. There are style expectations for each type of plot. The reader expects those elements and it's the writer's job to deliver.

First time writers who haven't studied writing often forget about the reader's expectations and the industry demands while in the midst of the feel-good high of writing. I would submit that there is a bio-chemical/emotional high to writing that is as addicting as the one people who exercise feel.

The point of writing, the craft of it, is the reader and the integrity of the art. Much like photography where anyone can take a snapshot with their phone, that doesn't make it a professional photograph (and don't get me started on photoshopped images).

Just so you know how this all fits together, the second important, nearly equally important, element is character. Characters have to have dimension. In one of the first writing classes I took, one assignment was to categorize a list of characters in a story [we read] as flat or round. The character's action and words (dialogue) fill in the life breath to make them real for the reader. By the way, there needs to be a balance of both types of characters in the story.

If there is no plot, the story is simply a collection of words that recount an event in part or in whole. That is largely why I'm not a huge fan of memoirs. Unless well done, they are [to me] much like reading a history book and it isn't a shared history, so why should I [as the reader] care?

There are lots of books on the subject of plot development, here is one I recently read: 20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B Tobias, published by Writer's Digest Books. If you're looking for writing resources, check out Writer's Digest Books. Most of their books are pretty good. A few, I found to be dry reads. Also, shop around and price compare. I found substancial discounts by doing that. Be warned, though, their book list is like sending a kid to a candy store with $10 in their pocket.

Just to cover the legal requirements, I have not been compensated monetarily or in kind to mention the book, author, or publisher in this post.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Quite simply, anyone can tell a story if they start at the beginning and go to the end. However, some people have trouble knowing where the beginning is and start before the beginning. Some people try to put in every detail of the backstory. Other people drop in things they forgot to mention and later need to tell to make something make sense or work.

The other important part is to know when to stop. When there is a group of listeners who become restless, then it is likely that it took too long to get to the point, or the storyteller kept going after it was finished.

But more than that, a writer has to engage the reader to care about the characters and what is coming next. Just because a person can tell a story, doesn't mean they can write a novel.

Make sure you write about people who other people can care about and put them in a setting that the reader can experience too.

Write well. Tell your best story.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"What's all the haboob about?"

It must have been a slow news day or we are mesmerized about weather with all that is going on around the world.

Most people heard there was a haboob in Phoenix last Tuesday. (Google it, there are plenty of YouTube videos of it.)

A haboob is a wall of sand, much like a desert Tsunami. It's approach is visible on the horizon. It churns as if waves coming inland.

When it hits, it is like a tan blizzard, obscuring the houses across the way from view.

As long as one isn't driving in it, it is interesting to watch the sand blow sideways since the desert sand is not fine like beach sand.

Oddly, when there wasn't even a breeze, a tree fell over in my yard this afternoon. It was good timing since tonight there is another haboob from the opposite direction. I suppose all the sand will return to where it was a week ago.

This has nothing to do with writing or publishing, but since I had so many emails about it, I thought I'd mention it.