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.