Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Passive Voice

Finished 38, started 39; 67,609 word count

Writing tip: the subject needs to act, not be acted upon.

He was briefly stalled by two guards at the door to the tent.

At the door to the tent, two guards briefly stalled him.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Point of View

finished Chapter 37, started 38; 66,157 word count

Writing Tip: The point of view character must be clear to the reader at the beginning of each scene. I started a scene with:

Fenworth sat on a rock and contemplated a column he’d just sculpted from the salt-saturated sandstone.

Then realized I was not supposed to be in Fenworth's POV. (I avoid his POV at all costs. Can you imagine being trapped in his roving thought process?)
Hollee is my POV character for most of Fenworth's scenes, but she is in the other room, cooking.
So how did I fix it. With a paragraph that began:

Hollee peeked around the corner to see her wizard.

Simple. And POV purist will be satisfied.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

run, runt, run

Finished Ch. 36; 64,178 word count

Writing Tip: Sometimes the same word of a similar word sneaks into a sentence. I ran into that in this chapter.
I had:
Verrin Schope asked the innkeeper to put several tables together so his party could sit together.
Oops! Rewrite:

Verrin Schope asked the innkeeper to join several tables so his party could sit together.
This wasn't in today's writing but it is something that can happen:
The runt kept running back and forth in the dog run.
Even though runt isn't related to running and run, it still has too much similarity to be allowed.

Friday, December 25, 2009

“Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.” —Oren Arnold

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where'd he go?

Working on Chapter 36; 63,499

Writing Tip: I do this all the time, especially since I have quite a few characters to work with. Someone who should be with the group is never mentioned. I get to the end and think, "Where'd he go?" It can happen with an object, too. The villain is carrying a large pouch of ill-gotten loot. One minute he is at the bottom of a cliff that he must scale, soon he is at the top. How did he transport that big burden? I carefully described how he had to search for handholds and how hot it was and when he nearly slipped. But where was that bag?


Finished 35, started 36, 62,455 word count

Writing Tip: Reread. If I lose momentum, it helps a lot if I go back and read several chapters previous to the one that is giving me trouble. This is not a waste of time. I always edit, tweaking words and sentences and catching typos, etc while I read.
BTW, the name of the book has officially changed to Valley of Dragons.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Moving on?

started chapter 35; 60,233 word count

Writing Tip: I can say that I started Chapter 35 because I put 35 in the middle of the page, hit enter and put Title, hit enter twice and moved to the left side of the page and put ho-hum.
Today was a busy day with a clinic appt. and shopping. And I fiddled with fixing up a few earlier chapters with a word here and a sentence there.
But I am ready to do 35 as evidenced by the page I set up. I almost always put ho-hum as a place setter because I definitely do not want anything ho-hum in my work and almost anything I write to replace the ho-hum will be better. I've set myself up for success.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

First words in a scene

Finished Chapter 34; 60,228 word count Yippee! Broke 60K!

Writing Tip: I started the scene as Hollee admires the cave Fenworth had found for a special purpose. Can't tell you what the special purpose is. Anyway, I re-read that paragraph, and decided I need to back up one step to when Fenworth, Librettowit, and Hollee are "whirling" to their destination. Whirling is a wizard form of transportation. The chapter began much stronger by just backing up one step. We are often told to begin in the middle of action. If you want to talk fancy it's in medias res. Hollee was in the middle of spinning around and around to see the whole cave, but it was much more interesting to begin in the middle of being transported. Think carefully when you begin a chapter or a scene. You want to make a good first impression.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Writing down a sound.

Chapter 34: 59,090 word count

Writing Tip:
A friend sent me this site today. Great place for all kinds of sounds:

Sometimes its good to listen to a sound in order to do it justice in your manuscript.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Finished Chapter 33; 58,240 word count

On Thursday I found out that DragonLight has won the new Clive Staples Award. Pretty cool, eh? Made me feel extra guilty about being stuck in the doldrums and not writing.
You know, God is so good to me. He is faithful, even when I am not.

Writing Tip: A villain has been captured and Paladin is questioning him. Well, the reader would not want to hear all this information that has been explained in chapters before. So a third party, Bealomondore, is watching the interrogation, and I wrote about what he is thinking and only summarize a bit of what the reader already knows. Ta-duh. No boring the reader. It is very, very bad to bore the reader.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I thankful for you. Readers who give me feedback, who encourage me to keep writing, who tell my when my writing has encouraged them. I'm thankful for this world that prepares us for the next. I'm thank for Jesus who has gone to prepare a place for us. I'm thankful to God for revealing His beauty and His plan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Changing Tense to enliven a scene

Finished 32: 56,894 word count

Writing Tip: My character walked up to a pond and rather than just say that the water wasn't really brown, but looked like it was, I chose to say that the character knew if he held the water in his hand it would be almost clear with some floaties. After I finished the chapter I re-read and discovered the character needed to move out of "he could have," "he would have," and "he knew that," into action. So he dipped his hand in the water, observed the exact color and noticed the floating debris. Must more "in the scene," and much more satisfying for me and, I hope, the reader. The reader is now sharing an action rather than a reflection.
By the way, I think the name of this book is not the Wandering Artist anymore, but Dragon Guard.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Woot! Passed 300 pages!

Finished chapter 32; 56,766 word count

Writing Tip: In this passage, I did something I usually avoid. I like telling straight out tales, and I stick to that in most cases. But this chapter is a turning poin,t and I picked up the challenge of creating image within image.
The country is being invaded, and ordinary men are going to be called into extraordinary circumstances. One young man realizes this, and he contemplates the serenity of the moment he is presently in, knowing that all that is about to change. He picks two things from nature, a dried leaf and a handful of dirt, and looks more deeply into what they are. He doesn't vocalize any great metaphor, but in his analysis of what these things are, the reader should be able to make deep comparisons.
Now, a lot of readers will zip through these two pages and not bother to make the connections. That's okay. But perhaps some English teacher, somewhere , sometime, will torture a class into really thinking about dead leaves and decomposing stuff that makes dirt. And maybe some philosophical reader will mull over these things without the threat of a C- if he doesn't come up with something profound.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anchor lines

Finished chapter 31 and made a big dent in 32 ; 55,851 word count.

Writing Tip: I've been reading Donald Maass' Fire in Fiction book. One section talks about the importance of the first line and last line of every scene. We all know we want to hook the reader on the first page, but I wasn't aware of the concept of these anchor lines in each scene. I'm experimenting with it to see if it works in my writing. (By the way, there are so many ideas about craft, it would be ridiculous to try to implement them all. If one appeals, give it a test run. It may or may not work with your voice, or it may or may not work in this particular piece you are writing.)
The first line of chapter 32:
Fenworth did not take the plate Bealomondore offered him.
And the last:
She grinned as she chewed.
The first one raises a question. Why didn't he take the plate?
The last one gives a concrete image to hold on to. Of course yours is nebulous because you haven't read this section and don't know who she is. But, if you had, you would have a tight grasp on how this scene moved the character who is grinning.
Anchor lines are fun when they work.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm back!

and raring to go.
Almost finished chapter 31 tonight; 55,063 word count

Writing tip: When you are published, don't read your reviews. One person says you copied heavily from Tolkien and Lewis; another says your work is refreshingly different from the traditional rip-offs of Tolkien and Lewis. One says your descriptions stink; another says your descriptions are the only thing that saves your hollow plot line and depthless characters. Sigh. Ignore both sides of the criticism. Chances are you aren't that great, but you aren't that bad either.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Really Writing!

After a non-productive week, it feels very good,
Still on chapter 30; word count 54,078

Writing Tip: don't repeat words and don't forget contractions in dialogue.
Tears surprised Tipper, running down her cheeks. She swiped at them but not before her kimen guide saw them.

Got to get rid of them twice. She swiped at her cheeks? No, cheeks is in the previous sentence. Leave of the second them? No, the sentence ends too abruptly. Running down her face. She swiped at her cheeks? Better. Maybe I'll keep that.

"You are tired and hungry. I will bring you a cool cloth and you can wash your face. Then you are to lay down and rest."
Better: "You're tired and hungry. I'll bring you a cool cloth. You can wash your face, then you're to lie down and rest."

Got to fix lay to lie. Lay/lie always traps me. And Kimen have a short sentence pattern. Plus this kimen is bossy, so I rearranged the syntax a little bit.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Chapter 30; 53,085 words

My new computer is wonderful. I am rapidly becoming acquainted with its bells and whistles.

Writing Tip: Never, ever, take a break. I'm really joking, but it seems to me that if I write steadily every day, then every day I write steadily. But if life, circumstances, or a sudden bout of laziness keeps me away from the keyboard, then it take several days for me to find my rhythm again. I am glad to be back with Tipper and her dragon. Now I need to pick up some speed.

By the way, we have decided to rename this book. Something with dragon in the title. Wandering Artist will be called something with more of a fantasy ring to it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Laptop!

I am home from Sam's with a new laptop. Now this technologically challenged author must try to get it out of the box.

Overworked Mac

My computer died on Tuesday. Wednesday I took it to the Apple Genius Bar. The genius on duty said I'd have to spend $300 to $1200 to have it fixed. No can do.

So I am off to do some computer laptop shopping.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh dear, Oh dear

I am chagrined. I've been going over the first 29 chapters and beefing up the tension. I beg your pardon for not posting and not writing anything fresh. Sigh. I knew this blog would be good for me. Thanks to those of you who have been encouraging me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Exciting Work Today!

Today we got the first preliminary sketches for the picture book, The Dragon and the Turtle. This book will come out in June of 2010. Our job was to give more suggestions to the artist, Vincent Nguyen, and trim more words out of the text. In picture books, tight is right. We'd already trimmed by quite a bit, so when Evangeline and I got that message, we kind of groaned. Evangeline Denmark is my daughter who has children of her own and is in that phase of her life where she is, out of necessity, an expert on picture books. She's paid attention and knows exactly which books she is going to have to read five times during a week of bedtime rituals. If you'd like to visit her blog it is Breathe In Breathe Out.
So we went through the picture book mock-up and commented on the pictures we loved and made a few suggestions. Then we took a pencil and drew straight lines through text. It wasn't really as hard as we expected. With the pictures in the background, much of the narrative plummeted on the importance scale. We had a ball, and we can't wait to share this project with you All.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Who's Thinking?

Started chapter 29 in earnest; 52,169 word count

Writing Tip: When writing a novel in several POVs (points of view) it is important to tell the reader whose head you are in from the very first lines of the new chapter.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Bec." Lady Peg patted his feathered back. "Did that hurt?"
"A twinge," said Sir Beccaroon, squinting his eyes and refusing to utter unkind words to Tipper's mother.

This scene is in Sir Bec's POV because we are told his thoughts. He's thought something unkind and chooses not to utter them. Lady Peg had the first action, but it was something felt by the grand parrot. We don't know what she is thinking other than what we can surmise from her words and actions.

Where Are You?

Your turn.
Hound me.
Bug me.
Crack that whip.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Haven't started 29: 50,757 word count
Re-reading and adding texture.

Writing tip: Titling this texture is kind of an inside joke. There has been great discussion among authors as to what an editor means when he/she says of a work that it needs more texture. Texture seems to mean anything from deeper characterization, more flavorful descriptions, another subplot, to pizzazz.
One day, texture can mean that the manuscript, which depicts life in the deep south, needs more cultural display in setting and characterization. The next day texture might mean giving the villain a more balanced personality, developing some aspect of his backstory which explains his inclination to do evil deeds to the point that the reader understands and may even sympathize with this horrid antagonist. And the next day, texture may mean to use stronger verbs. When an editor says texture to me, I try to remain calm.
So, when I go back to page one and read for continuity and to give me impetus for the rest of the novel, I say, I'm adding texture.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A and The

Read through seven chapters today and edited, so very little word count change.

Writing tip: Some people do not realize the difference between the articles a and the. If my character takes a candle from the table that implies he chose from several, maybe just two, but he did have to choose. If the character takes the candle from the table, there was only one. That seems elementary to me, but I play with words all day. Also, if there are rows of keys on the jailroom wall, and the character takes a key, that implies he might not know which one is the right one. If he takes the key from among many, he knows it is the key he wants.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Finished 28; 50,229 word count

Writing Tip: Cliffhangers are fun for the writer and can sometimes be torture for the reader. The object in the author's mind is to stimulate interest in the next scene. The reader sometimes thinks the author's objective is to keep her up all night, always reading one more chapter.
Example: Now he would conquer another country. And the monetary gains he made from his occupation richly rewarded his efforts. Yes, he was a happy man. He folded the maps and prepared for bed. Tomorrow promised to be a busy day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Those Long Names

Started 28; 49,781 word count

Writing Tip: I remember getting very irritated when I read some of my son's fantasy books. What is the use of having a name like N'brt'caeultf'putfieuo? I'd end up reading "N" whenever I saw the name. I determined never to subject my readers to such folly. Thus, I came up with Dar, Kale, Leetu Bends, Wizard Fenworth, and . . . mmm? Those tumanhofers just had to have long names. But the names are phonetic. The new one in The Wandering Artist is Graddenmitersay. It looks hard but it isn't.
I suggest when you make up a fantasy name, to make it easy to read. Irritating the reader is never a good move.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something to do

Finished 27; 48,677 word count

Writing tip: Give your characters something to do while they talk. This breaks up long strings of dialog and reminds the reader of the setting while the conversation is taking place.

The commander decided not to take a chance. "First, don't do it right outside of town. Second, don't leave any witnesses."

Kulson nodded and continued with his meal. Groddenmitersay lifted his empty tankard as a server went by. He needed a drink.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sentence Fragment

Working on Chapter 27; 47,263 word count

Writing Tip: In writing fiction, the author is allowed to break rules once in a while. Below is a sentence fragment. The third "sometimes" is what the villain is anticipating, and therefore, more important. Set alone in a sentence fragment brings attention to this "sometimes."
This can also be achieved using ellipses . . . but that is not as strong as a clean break.

The pretty day would lure the lady from the inn. She often walked, sometimes with her husband and sometimes with the parrot. And sometimes alone.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Natural Dialog

Good start on chapter 27; 47,263 word count

Writing tip:
Listen carefully to the way people really talk. You will find repetition, unfinished thoughts, and asides. I often read the transcripts from news talk shows. Those really show how a straightforward speech isn't straight by any means. Not that what the commentator is true, it just comes out as a bit bumpy. And these people are trained to talk! So when you write dialog, don't forget to add a bit of human error. Not too much, just a bit.

"Yes, yes, I'm sure they did. But that is what alerts us to the fact that they are not . . . rather, what they appear to be doing is merely a cover for what they are really doing."

You've got to Bug Me!

Okay, it has been a couple of days since I've made any progress. You have permission to get on my case. I have three genuine excuses, but excuses don't cut it. So, blast away! Mrs. Paul, you've got to focus. Mrs. Paul, how cruel is it to leave your characters dangling this way? Mrs. Paul, get with the program.

I don't mind.

Hold me accountable.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


The length of time it takes you to say something diminishes the potency of what you say exponentially.
Man, what does that mean?
It means to be concise in any conversation where you want to make a point. Think of it like the point of a needle. A multitude of words broadens the point until it is no longer a sharp, precise point, but a nub that doesn't penetrate.
Translated to writing: Write tight. Don't use an abundance of words to say something simple.
God is good.
That simple statement is potent. But a rambling monologue of how and why and where and when and such and such and more and more diminishes not the truth, but the power of the truth.
The Bible tells us to avoid empty chatter.
Translated to writing: Fenworth and Lady Peg are exempt from this rule because their meandering is part of their personalities.

Proverbs 10:20-22 (The Message)
The speech of a good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless. The talk of a good person is rich fare for many, but chatterboxes die of an empty heart.
Translated to writing: Your readers must be rewarded with a theme, a central truth, a takeaway that creates a desire to apply in their own lives an insight they've seen in your novel. If you hare a chatterbox author with nothing of substance to give your reader, your career will die.

And the Bible tells us to keep to the point.
1 Timothy 6:20 (The Message)
20-21And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith.
So say what you mean and mean what you say. The point is to express yourself in a few words. You will influence people more than if you babble on and on and on and on and on . . .

And the best advice is to back it up with action. Be a living example of the influence of Jesus Christ.
Translated to writing: Show, don't tell

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A confusing list

Finished 26; 46,247 word count

Writing Tip: Fenworth needed some things from his pocket hollows. But the list was giving me trouble.

"Librettowit, Hollee," he called, "look for tincture of trussell, two types of torleo, one blue and the red one, as well, and of course, a bit of croomulite."

Obviously, in Fenworth's speech pattern there are a lot of asides, and a straight list would not sound like our venerable wizard. However, look at all the commas in the example. Rewrite time.

"Librettowit, Hollee," he called, "look for tincture of trussell. I shall need two types of torleo, the red and the blue. Of course there is the yellow, but that is for aching feet and our patient isn't awake to tell us the state of his feet. And Librettowit, didn't we pack croomulite? Yes, yes, I'm sure we did. See if you can't find that, as well."

Now, doesn't that sound like Wizard Fenworth?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Multiple Characters on Stage

Finished 25, working on ch. 26; 45,354 word count

Writer's Tip: I can't use the scene I worked with today because it would give away too much of the story. In this scene I have too many characters to juggle. I have to set the stage and not let the reader lose track of these characters while the most important action is taking place. And, just to make it a little harder, at the same time, the action cannot be slowed by the technicalities of keeping up with the other characters.
So, what to do? I chose in this scene to give the bit players and on-going action in the background. Two are searching for a list of ingredients. One is applying an ointment to another on stage performer. In the reader's mind, the lesser players are all gainfully employed, and I am allowed to do a concentrated, action-packed bit of storyline, giving only two players our full attention. This cannot go on for five pages, mind you. I must touch base with the bit players if only in passing. So and so stumbles, and nearly falls on what's his name. In other words, the bit players become part of the setting. Keeping your characters grounded in the setting is for another day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Working on Ch 25; 44,511 word count

Writer's Tip: So often you hear that good writing is rewriting. I do it as I go. Some people plow through and do their rewrites either in great chunks or starting at the very beginning of a completed first draft.
Today, one, too long, horribly too long sentence needs work:

She held Rayn's limp form against her shoulder, stepped into the shallow water, and followed, her long skirt making each stride difficult.

She held Rayn’s limp form against her shoulder and stepped into the shallow water to follow. Her long skirt made each stride difficult.

Okay, that's better, but the reader isn't so immersed in the story that he is struggling with her.

She clutched Rayn’s limp form against her shoulder. She had to follow. Stepping into the shallow water, she kept her eye on Bealomondore's body. She had to reach him in time.
Her long skirt clung to her legs, constraining her stride, tripping her with every other step. Anger brought tears to her eyes. But the fury gave her the strength to forge on.
He needed help. She would get there.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Passive Voice

Finished Chapter 24 and started 25; 43,110 word count

Writer's tip:
Passive voice is less engaging than active. Writers always want the reader as engaged in the story as possible.
I changed this sentence:
Odidoddex sent out his army, and all the best animals were confiscated.
Odidoddex sent out his army and confiscated all the best animals.

The first part of the first sentence is fine. Odidoddex actively sends out the army. In the second sentence, the subject animals receive the action. If I had said the animals ran like crazy to get away, the animals would be actively running. As it is, they just stand around and get confiscated. In the second example Odidoddex is again being active. Or rather his army is, by his command.
A passive voice sentence can be used once in a while, but it is better to rearrange when possible.
Bonus tip:
A better construction for that second sentence is:
Odidoddex sent out his army to confiscate all the best animals.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sentence Patterns

Into Chapter 24; 42,726 word count

Writer's tip: Variation of sentence patterns is essential.
My first rendition of this part of the scene came out like this:
He took off his wizard's hat and fanned himself for a moment. He jammed the hat back on his head and glared at the river.
Reading this again, and especially if read out loud, it sounds clunky.
I didn't change much but the slight shifting of the sentence structure makes a world of difference.
He took off his wizard's hat and fanned himself. After a moment, he crammed the hat back on his head and glared at the river.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hacking Aftermath

It took two hours on the phone with tech support to fix the problem with MSN. Evidently I was hacked there first and then facebook. I haven't gotten facebook solved yet, but I've spent to much mental energy on this.
I did get to change some crucial passwords (like the bank and credit cards) changed. I should be safe for a while.


Well, yesterday someone hacked into my accounts. I have spent quite a bit of time changing passwords and tracking down gunk that resulted from this invasion.
I will be back to writing sometime today.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Strong Verbs

Into chapter 23: 41,264 word count

Writing Tip:
The sentence was:
Hollee ran along the path beside the river and spotted two tumanhofers and two kimens. She ran back and bounced on the log that was Fenworth.
Two rans so close together is not good. And ran is so generic. So of course, I changed the verbs to something more visual.
Hollee zipped along the path beside the river and spotted two tumanhofers and two kimens. She raced back and bounced on the log that was Fenworth.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


finished chapter 22; 39,809 word count

Writer's Tip: It is a good practice to end a chapter with something that motivates the reader to go on to the next chapter. It is called a cliffhanger from the old movies that ended a segment with the heroine hanging from a cliff, waiting for the hero to find her and rescue her.
I broke this rule in chapter 22. Worse than that, I ended the chapter with the heroine going to sleep. What does a reader do when the heroine goes to sleep? Well, at night, the reader is likely to close the book, turn out the light, and go to sleep, too.
But I think I may have saved the day, but adding some hints of problems to come. Here is the paragraph. Tipper is talking to her minor dragon.
"The others should catch up soon," she whispered to her crooning dragon. "Wake me when you see them. I don't like being alone." She closed her eyes. They popped open again when Rayn objected. "Of course I'm not really alone when I have you. I beg your pardon. Goodnight."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Author Intrusion

Started Ch. 22; 39,006 word count

Writer's tip:
Author Intrusion occurs when the author slips out of the current POV and adds information that does not directly connect with the POV's observations. I had a minor one today.
His end had slipped into the water.
He spotted his end thrashing in the water, out of reach.
The second sentence keeps the reader in the POV's head and it evokes a more active vision. Also, the words out of reach generate a feeling of apprehension. Uh-oh! How's he going to get it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What are they doing?

Finished ch. 21; 37,774
Writing Tip:
I had a problem today. My POV character is eavesdropping on a conversation. He can't see them so, of course, I can't relay what the characters are doing. It could have been straight dialogue, but that would have been boring. I interspersed the POV character's thoughts as he listened to these two offhandedly talk about the POV character's imminent death. But I also had to make it clear that the two were moving out of the room. So I came up with this incredibly bulky sentence.

Bealomondore listened to two people grunting and the wood crate scraping over the stone floor as they maneuvered it toward the door.

First of all, Bealomondore doesn't know they are going to the door, because he can't see. But just because he can't see, doesn't mean the author doesn't want the reader to visualize. Two people doesn't stimulate any visions. As I edited, one cumbersome sentence became a paragraph.
So, here is the rewrite.

Bealomondore listened. Edrina and the young man grunted as they shoved the crate across the floor. The noises moved away from the stairwell, probably toward the door leading to the common room.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Humor - irony

Part of chapter 21 done; 37320 words
Writer's tip:
One pattern of humor is two straight sentences and then the unexpected twist.
My dog chews leather shoes.
Old ones?
No, I think the mailman's shoes are new.
I can't give you the exact sentences from chapter 21 one where I used this pattern. It would give too much away. It did involve a sword and a nightshirt.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Finished Ch 20; 36038 word count
Writers hear the advice to avoid -ly words. This is good advice, but when people are talking they often pepper their sentences with the -ly adverbs. Eliminating them makes the conversation sound stiff and unnatural.

"I'm fairly sure these were planted here by Obidoddex."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Word Choice

Starting Chapter 20; 35,657 words
Writing Tip:
Word choice is so important. A few changes make a world of difference.

The setting sun reflected off the smooth surface, making the water look pink.
"making . . . look" just doesn't have any ambiance connected with it.

The setting sun reflected off the smooth surface, tingeing the water an unreasonable pink.
By changing making to tingeing, I also got rid of the look. It also reminded me that Bealomondore is an artist. He thinks more poetically than another might.

I played with an adjective for pink. Unbelievable? Salmon? Impossible? Sunset? Brilliant? I finally settled on unreasonable, but I wouldn't doubt that my crit partners may make me change it.

PS This comment is being inserted after the original post. The crit partners approved of unreasonable pink.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Too Much

Finished Chapter 19; 34,534 words

Writing tip: I wrote a sentence and then looked at it with my editor eye. I began trimming.

Her tight muscles complained as she followed Rayn’s directions to slowly stretch each set to loosen them.

It was just too long, saying more than was needed. First of all, why say "to loosen them"? I already said they were tight muscles so it is pretty apparent the stretching was done to loosen them. I have pretty intelligent readers. Authors should respect the brain power of their audience.

Do I have to say "each set"? Nah. How many of you quickly stretch? I didn't hear anyone say, "Me, me!" So slowly gets deleted.

Now the sentences says,

Her tight muscles complained as she followed Rayn's directions to stretch.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Oh dear: Still Chapter 19; word count-33,903
As you see, yesterday was not particularly productive. But I do have a
writing tip: Smiling is one of the things our characters do that can be really taxing for the author. While we have other words to chose from (sneer, smirk, grin, beam), the list is slim. So we might resort to -ly adverbs (broadly, widely, stupidly, sadly, wisely, disarmingly). Aack! One of those used every ten chapters is probably acceptable, especially sadly. Sadly tells you a whole lot about the mood of the scene. He smiled sadly at the news his grandmother passed on and is no longer in pain.
Here is the way I got around the problem in yesterdays punt word count. (Picture author beating head against wall over lack of productivity.)
Notice how the line about the smile (called an action tag) sets the tone for how the rest of the man's dialogue sounds in your head as you read.

“Good afternoon.” His smile reinforced his cheerful greeting. “Business has been rather slim these past few weeks. We’re mighty glad you stopped. Come ashore and rest a bit. My mom makes the best traveler’s stew on the river. We’ve clean, soft beds, and bathtubs on every floor, and even a shower on the second.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Chapter 19; 33,702
Writer's Tip: Not lost like a the TV show, but a lost character. As I looked over the scene I wrote yesterday, I realized a very important minor dragon was on the first and second page, but disappeared on the third, fourth, and fifth. No, he is not gifted with invisibility. The other characters were busy, and I just forgot him. So I went back and placed him on each page. He fit into the action on each page, so it wasn't to arduous. It is not necessary for every character who is known to be in the scene to appear on every page. However, ignoring someone for three whole pages is rude. Not only you have forgotten his presence, but the reader has as well. When he suddenly appears again, it knocks the reader out of the story. And that is not good.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day One

Presently I am working on the sequel to The Vanishing Sculptor. This one is The Wandering Artist.
I'm on chapter 19; word count is 32,519.
Writer's Tip: writing tighter. Eliminating verbosity for clearer meaning and/or smoother reading.

First draft of the sentence:

Tipper gritted her teeth against the pain that shot from her foot, up her shin, and beyond her knee.

Edited version:

Tipper gasped as the pain shot from her foot, up her shin, and beyond her knee.

The red flag in the original sentence is the word "that." As soon as I saw "that," I knew to reread and rewrite if possible. A writer does not have to eradicate all "thats" from her work, but it is good to see if the sentence would benefit from rephrasing. I switched from "gritted her teeth" to "gasped" not because I wanted fewer words but because I acted out in my mind what reaction I would have to the first time I took a step on an injured foot. I would grit my teeth on the second step. On the first, I would be surprised by the severity of the pain.