Help! I Need Fish

Question marksWhen is a Clue Not a Clue? When it’s a Red Herring.

I’ve just unearthed a cozy that I started and abandoned a few years ago after an idea for a paranormal seized my imagination. The desertion was made easier by the fact that my mystery was floundering.

All my life I’ve devoured mystery stories. My trips through the library stacks began and ended in the section where all the spines had yellow Sherlock stickers. Since whodunnits and gothics topped my reading wish lists, it seemed like a no-brainer to choose the mystery… Continue reading

Unexpected Learning Opportunities

Literary opportunities can pop up when you least expect them. This past weekend provided one for me. Town HouseIt was Marblehead’s annual Fourth of July extravaganza—fireworks and a special five-day event called Festival of Arts. From July 1st through the 5th, our town celebrated all forms of art including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpting, photography, crafts, films, and writing.

4th Photos

 

 

 

 

I availed myself of the opportunity to view the hundreds of exhibits… Continue reading

Escape Your Writing Distractions

book by MargoLike many of my friends and compadres, I have a wish list. Right up there at the top is beloved, prize-winning novelist. Yes, beloved. I want my readers to love me. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen unless I publish a novel.

I do have a finished manuscript that is crying to be heard. All I have to do is tweak it–a lot. How hard could that be?

My writing day goes something like this. I pull up my manuscript and begin to read, trying to get… Continue reading

Twisted History: Playing the “What If” Game

TwistMost story plots are based on previously written fiction or our own history. Writers love to reach out and give the past a little twist, playing the “what if” game in the hopes of creating ideas unique enough to propel their story onto the best seller lists. You see “what if” all the time in Science Fiction where the ordinary and known world is flipped upside down. The lure of Science Fiction is the possibility that what you’re reading might actually materialize in the future. We readers are fascinated and disturbed at the… Continue reading

Likeable Villains??

I just attended a great workshop taught by Carol Bugge entitled Villains, Heroes, and villainSidekicks–Crafting Characters that thrill readers (and SELL books). The workshop was put on by Sisters in Crime, New England.

I needed to learn more about villains and give them their proper place in my work. Not only do I leave their development until later, but, sometimes, I don’t figure out who they are until it’s absolutely necessary. I have one cozy set aside because I can’t decide who did it. But, I’m learning.

In order… Continue reading

Purloined Prose or Synchronicity?

Purloined PlotsHow many times have you read a book, seen a movie, or watched a TV show that bore an uncanny resemblance to others you’ve encountered? I’m not talking about those endless remakes. Nor am I talking about déjà vu.

When a story line follows another so closely that you recognize the plot, does that mean that the author has stolen the plot from someone else? Probably not. Could it be synchronicity? Google defines synchronicity as the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible… Continue reading

Grab a Group

lonelyWriting is such a solitary occupation, that I’ve often felt at a loss as to my literary abilities. I can look at a piece of writing and think it’s award material, or I can look at the same piece of writing and think it’s garbage. I’ve noticed that most of my insecurities attack me right after I’ve finished reading a riveting book.

I know. I know. One of the Golden Rules–Don’t compare.

That’s why input during the creative process from other writers is so important. Without help from someone… Continue reading

Theme? My Story Has a Theme?

 

Begin bookAs we all know, writing, especially fiction, is not as simple as deciding on a story and penning it. Each chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence must work together to tell the story you want and ensure reader satisfaction. A story has many crucial elements: plot, characters, pacing, setting, point of view, etc. Then there are things like arcs, story and character, to consider. It’s hard to believe how much goes on behind the scenes of each printed page. As an author in the midst of editing, I often find… Continue reading

After “The End”

My masterpiece is finished. I’ve gone over and over it, and received many critiques. Am I ready to publish? Not quite. It’s now time to send it to a real editor, and the state of my budget is very much on my mind. I know editing is a vital aspect of creating a successful book, but it isn’t cheap. Even though I’ve pored over the words until I’m cross-eyed, and writing peers have given me wonderful suggestions, an editor will look at the manuscript with fresh, professional eyes that can spot not only punctuation and grammar mistakes but also plot holes, pacing problems, and other potentially fatal flaws in my… Continue reading

Winning With Flash Fiction

ChinaFlash Fiction or Micro Fiction are terms used to describe a story that is very short, usually under 300 words, although some flash fiction can run up to 1000 words. According to Wikipedia, flash fiction in China is often called Smokelong due to the fact that the reader should be able to finish the story before he finishes smoking a cigarette.

As a writer, I’ve found that working with flash fiction has helped me with my longer work. Because of its brevity, I’m learning to write tight, telling a coherent and… Continue reading