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

The Fat Lady Sings (Again) – to Beat Sheets

CORRECTION: The wonderful Jami Gold has made a correction to this post. Although a number of “Beat Sheets” below are attributed to different authors, they were actually created by Jami herself. She’s drawn from the teachings of Larry Brooks, Michael Hauge, etc. to assemble them, hence their names. The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet was created by Elizabeth Davis. Confused yet?  Don’t worry. All will become clear as you read further.
Two other suggestions from Jami: first, she recommends this link for her Scrivener Beat Sheet: jamigold.com/2013/12/can-we-use-beat-sheets-with-scrivener . And second, she provides a “clearinghouse” link for all Beat Sheets

Time to Edit — Tips from the Web

Across one of my bookshelves, there’s a line of fat white notebooks, each one bearing a zippy, call-to-action name: “How to Write Compelling Dialogue. “Building Blocks of Great Fiction.” “How to Create a Page Turner.” ”The Secrets of Deep POV.” Many readers will recognize these titles as courses offered by some of the best in the wordsmithing business — Pat Kaye, Virginia Kantra, Steve Alcorn, and Mary Buckham, among others. When I decided to transition from jack-of-all-trades writer to mystery author, I sopped up every drop of information these folks could give me. Now, as I’m headed for… Continue reading

Help! I Can’t Write.

No good!

No good!

As far back as grade school, I loved to write. I tried poems, short stories, and eventually, technical writing. I always yearned to write a novel but knew I wasn’t good enough. I’d started a few and the stories simply petered out. What to do?

Through a lot of trial and error, I found that one of my best resources was other writers. I can hear you all now, “Duh!” Of course other writers are the resource. But how do you access and… Continue reading

UnBlock Us!

I’ve done some thinking recently about writer’s block, the self-inflicted wound that almost all wordsmiths endure at least once in our careers. So much has been written about the subject that it almost seems presumptuous to add anything more. Indeed a Writer’s Block cottage industry has sprung up, complete with books, audio tapes, even counselors who specialize in the phenomenon. Nonetheless, I’ll throw in a few more paragraphs in the hopes that they might be of help to anyone battling the wretched affliction. For, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there can never be too… Continue reading

To NaNo or not to NaNo?

NaNoWriMo CrestNovember is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.  Thousands of writers of all ages, from all walks of life, writing in all genres, from just about every country in the world, decide that during the month of November they are going to write 50,000 words – which equates to roughly 1,670 words a day, every day, for 30 days straight.

This, my friends, causes severe perspiration.  There is absolutely no time to wait for inspiration.  You simply apply fingers to keys and pour the words… Continue reading

Dash it all!

punctuation-marks-dashes-hyphensOne of the more common mistakes I see with writers is the use (or misuse) of dashes and ellipsis. When do you use ellipsis? And when do you use hyphens or the longer em dashes?

Here are the rules, as followed by The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) and most publishers:

Use the longer em dash to indicate faltering or interrupted speech. Here are some examples from CMS:

“Will he—can he—obtain the necessary signatures?” asked Mill.

“Well, I don’t know,” I began tentatively. “I thought… Continue reading

Self-Editing, Part 2

In my last post, I spoke about showing versus telling.

You can do that through dialogue, as well. Good dialogue serves to show, versus tell.

On the other hand, if too many of your characters’ emotions are being described through narrative, or through tags appended at the end of the dialogue, then you probably need to rewrite your dialogue.

Words such as she grimaced, she laughed, he bellowed, he growled—in place of he/she said—are the mark of an amateur. Just as unnecessary and clumsy in dialogue tags are the –ly adverbs: angrily, grimly, harshly, etc. Again, your… Continue reading

Self-Editing, Part 1

Recently, I heard a writer describe her editor as “the person who puts the hyphen in anal-retentive.” Had the editor been there, I’m sure she would have been beaming at such a compliment.

Some writers think editing is easy; others know better, especially after their manuscript comes back marked up. Editing deals from the small (hyphens, capitalization, and other minutia that can only be learned after having spent a lot of time with The Chicago Manual of Style) to greater issues of whether a character’s name is suddenly something else or a scene in the story is bogging down… Continue reading

Self-pubbling #3: Platforms and Tips

So, you’ve decided to self-publish and you’ve created your cover. Now, you need to decide which publishing platform you’re going to use. There’s an enormous quantity of self-pubbing information on the net, enough to make your eyes glaze over. I’ll just mention a few sites that might be beneficial. Then, I’ll add a couple of comments.

Three sites I highly recommend are:

http://reviews.cnet.com/how-to-self-publish-an-e-book

An excellent overall and in-depth look at self-pubbing. Includes comparisons of the primary publishing services available.

http://www.self-publishing-coach.com/support-files/self-publishing-checklist-report.pdf

A review of steps to take from finishing your draft to posting your… Continue reading