Sunday, January 31, 2010

Short Sentences, Short Chapters

Finished 49; 86,925 word count

Writing Tip: Fast action scene=short, clipped sentences with simple language. This syntax moves the reader forward in the same staccato rhythm of a boxing match. As I come to the climax of the book, I find myself with short chapters as well. In this instance, the brevity of the chapters, the short accounts of where the main characters are and the direction they are going lends an urgency to the writing.
Boy, I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Prepositional Phrases Proliferating - No! No!

finished chapter 48; 85,597 word count

Writing Tip: When I present myself with a string of prepositional phrases, I know it is time to reword.

She tasted the breeze as well as luxuriated in the brush of warm wisps of breath on her skin.

Four prepositional phrases in a row are too many. Three is pushing the limit. This is the way I rewrote the sentence:

She tasted the breeze as well as luxuriated in the brush of warm breath-like wisps on her skin.

All on its own, it looks a little like purple prose, but since it is in Hollee's POV and she is rather flamboyant, it works.

Purple prose = overdone style, usually in descriptions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whoopee! Fight Scene

Finished 47; 84,090 word count

Writing Tip: First, when writing a fight scene, don't have too many participants. In a battle scene you can say the flank took a hit, but that means all the men in the flank are counted as one person.
In a fight scene you have to stage the people in your mind and have your hero tackle one person at a time. Or two in quick succession. But don't, don't, don't have the hero all over the place. You have to move him through his offense and defense with precision.
Also it is handy if your foes are named. Named foes don't have to be labeled the burly man, the thin man, or the redhead. After you've said the thin man did this and the thin man did that, then the thin man did this and then the thin man did that, you and your reader are going to wish the thin man had a name.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sustaining Creativity

Finished Ch 46; 82,270

Writing Tip: Two readers have asked basically the same question. One wanted to know how I kept going and didn't get stopped by writer's block. The other wants to know how I keep the creative spark going page after page.
The answer is in how much you've invested in the story. The best books come out of an author's obsession with the characters and their "what ifs." Life can be awkward when a story has a hold of you. But without that compelling curiosity to find out what happens next, how your characters are going to react, and if the poor hero is going to make it through his/her next personal challenge, you might as well hang up your hat, or in this case, your keyboard.

So when a period of non-productivity raises its ugly head, focus on your characters. Eat with them, go shopping with them, drive the car with them, until you are forced to go to the computer and confine their activities to the printed page.


Writing Tip: Sometimes "the" is not needed.
I'm not really done for today so I am not going to list chapter and word count. But a reader note brought my attention to this passage, and I saw another edit. In the end, my editor has to take the manuscript away from me, or I would tweak forever.

In this sentence:

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

we can take out the "the."
And have:
Tipper gasped as pain shot from her foot, up her shin, and beyond her knee.

I like the second version a lot better.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What's up?

finished Ch. 45; 80,603 word count

Writing Tip: This was a hard chapter, and I know why. Every scene should move the protagonist toward or away from a goal, or the scene should reveal character development. This chapter was weak in those areas. Chapters with strong ties to progress frustration, or character are much easier to write, but this is a necessary chapter and had to be written.
Why is it necessary? Because it is one of those chapters that covers what someone is doing even though what they are doing isn't that riveting. But if you don't let the reader know what this character is doing, the reader is going to be saying, "Yeah, but what about so and so? What's up with him?"
So, since I had to write about what Tipper is doing while the war is going on, I decided to put her in some danger, demonstrate what the advancing forces were like, and put in a humorous defense. I admit, that Tipper's character didn't grow. She didn't move towards any goal except to stay alive, and that is always a worthwhile goal. And the plot did not make any leaps forward. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Show don't tell in dialogue

Finished chapter 44; 79,102 word count

Writing Tip: You don't have to say that the character speaking is embarrassed. You can add a couple of words and say it in the spoken dialogue.

“The main point of your father’s message is that he is proud of you.

Well now then, the main point of your father’s message is that he is proud of you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Implying Culture

Finished Ch. 43; 76,620 word count
broke 400 pages and 75K Hurray!

Writing Tip: Part of developing a world is establishing the culture of the society there. You could say, visiting with this dragon would require certain protocol. Because of his age and position among his fellow dragons, your character needs to dress well, speak in very polite terms, don't whistle, don't hiccup and giggle at the same time, for this is considered to be very rude.
That is telling, not showing.
So how do you imply what is correct behavior?
In this chapter, I had Fenworth instructing Hollee on how to behave while she was talking about something all together different. Other times you might have an outsider watching and reporting the ceremony. You could have someone do everything wrong and another person constantly correcting the first. make it fun instead of an information dump.

Friday, January 8, 2010

First sentence

finished Ch. 42; 74,968 word count

Writing Tip: It is important in a novel, a scene, a chapter to establish who, where, and mood. So as close to the first sentence as you can manage, tell the reader the setting and characters present and the mood of the passage.

Hollee hummed a sprightly tune as she followed Wizard Fenworth through the long tunnel that took them from the statue site to the surface.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More on Names

finished chapter 41; 73,090 word count

Writing Tip: How does one find names, or create names for characters and locations? I have several methods.
Phone book. I open the directory to a page and look for long names. Then I separate two or three into lists of syllables. I scramble the syllables and put them back together until I find a combination I like.
I do the same with names in a friend's family.
I take off the first letter of a friend's name and use what is left.
I do a modified pig latin thing with friends' names. For villains, I use celebrities I am NOT fond of.
I look up meanings in the website that gives you the word (like light) in dozens of languages.
I call my language professor friend and ask him to think up a cool name for something. That's how I got Wulder, which is an anglo-saxon word used for God. Actually it is only part of the word.
I had a friend who worked at Compassion bring me a list of names of children around the world. That's how I got kimen.
The one thing I avoid like the plague is alphabet soup names. Things like A'argriotisdaree'motarbtusnottabyph. Even my tumanhofer names are pronouncable by standard phonic rules.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

They have got to have NAMES!

Finished chapter 39; 69,767 word count.

Writing tip: In the last chapter I had some minor players come on the scene with the purpose of transferring some important information to the villains, so they could act upon it and cause my good guys a lot of trouble. I didn't name them for they truly are very minor charactors. But as I entered into the next chapter and it was time for them to speak, I ran into a problem. The first man spoke, then the younger man spoke, then the first man spoke again, then the character who wasn't speaking moved to another spot and in the end, I just couldn't handle these nameless folks properly. So I gave them short names so that I could keep track of them and so could the readers.
Often the cab driver can just be the cab driver. Or the cowboy is the cowboy. Or the cop is the cop. No names need to be introduced as these people are going to walk onto the set, do their duty, and depart. But once in a while the scene calls for multiple bit players to have labels, and names are the handiest form of label to use.