Guest Post: Faster Editing with Track Changes

Today we welcome Cyberdyke to Mostly Mystery for a guest post on Track Changes.  I use this in Word but didn’t realize that it was common in most programs so am thrilled to add this to my toolbox.

I recently gave an article of mine to a friend to proofread. I recommended that she use Track Changes, as it would make it faster to see her suggestions. She had no idea what I was referring to. Every writing/word processing program has a form of Track Changes which can help you do just that.

Track Changes are a way… Continue reading

Stuck? What Next?

I think we’ve all been there.  There’s a point in the novel where you get stuck. Computer-Guy-300px Nothing’s working or you just can’t see what’s next.  For plotters, this may be a place where you have the outline but whatever is supposed to come next doesn’t seem quite right.  For pantsers, it’s the same thing except we might not know what the next beat or plot point is.

What to do?  There are a lot of different ideas on this.  You can try to power through it.  I’ve never found that… Continue reading

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

Novel Writing: Making It Personal

Have you ever wondered whether or not the books you read have names, places, or happenings that are actually personal to the author? It’s like thinking about songs that you loved and wondering how they came to be written and what they mean to the composer.

ThreeMayKeepASecretFrontWhile only my first mystery novel, Three May Keep a Secret, is actually published, I have two more coming down the runway. The second, Marry in Haste, will be out June 22, 2016, and the third is done except for the last chapter… Continue reading

So Who’s Telling This Story Anyway? And other tips.

images[6]Point of View has always been important but seems to be a bit of a hot topic these days. It’s a powerful device and one of the first decisions a writer needs to make. Getting it right the first time saves a lot of time in re-writing.

John Gilstrap recently spoke at the meeting for my local writers’ group, Riverside Writers. John writes commercial thrillers and so it was with great interest that I listened to the tips he had for us. While this blog is mostly about mysteries, I found… Continue reading

Ten Rules I Remember About Naming Characters

character-names-268x300As a former teacher, I’m well aware of the old joke about the pregnant teacher who can’t think of a good name for the upcoming baby because each name she thinks of has some darker association with a former student. “I can’t name him ‘Ben’ because of that teenager I had in class named Ben who was always whispering obscene things under his breath to the girls who sat around him.” This problem doesn’t matter when naming characters rather than children.

When I’m writing mysteries, I keep a notebook full… Continue reading

Book Review

I just finished a mystery/thriller by a New York Times bestselling author,nyt courtesy victorfarmington library.org someone whom I’ve read sporadically over the years, usually quite happily. This particular book is set in the 1980s but was published not long ago, so it’s not one of the author’s early works. Yet reading it was a slog when her technique and years of writing experience should have made it a slam-dunk.

We all know the phenomenon that happens when a book is truly good — time is suspended as we enter… 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

On the Right Side of the Law

I’ve always liked stories about lawyers and the law,atticus “To Kill a Mockingbird,” starting me off in a big way in childhood. Being from the South, the book has always had a special resonance with me, and, really, who doesn’t love Atticus Finch — or Gregory Peck?

Now that I’m writing my own novels, I’ve learned to appreciate lawyerly books – and movies and TV —  even more, not just as pure entertainment but also as little instruction manuals on how to tell rich and satisfying tales, no matter the… Continue reading

But and Therefore – A Tool For Your Storytelling Toolbox

How many of us have been telling a story, gotten through one part and said, “And then…”  I think we’ve all done it. I know I have.  And it works to keep the story moving.  In writing, it’s a bit different.  I attended a workshop this past weekend and while I learned a lot of things, the most important was to substitute “and then” or to know that if my scene ends and you would say “and then,” that it’s not working as well as it should be.

So what should we be saying?  The answer is “but” or… Continue reading