Typically, when one is trying to improve their skills in a certain arena, they focus all of their practice and learning in that narrow field. For example, a marathon runner may prepare for the long race by spending countless hours jogging long distances, or the golfer will tediously practice his drive. But, in recent years, sports sciences have discovered that one of the best ways to improve an athlete’s performance is to have them cross-train. In other words, the marathon runner may use a series of sprints, and a combination of weight lifting and cardio to prepare for a marathon. The golfer will also lift weights to increase his drive distances. What does this have to do with writing? Read more »
As a reader, and as a writer, I prefer fiction that leans toward the darker side of the imagination. Monsters, terror, horrors, and things that lurk in the shadows are my favorite subject matter. Unfortunately, the genre of horror is difficult to master, and one must avoid the heavily cliched writing and the tropes that come across more as comical than horrific. But, therein lies a cure. Humor.
That’s right, humor.
“What does humor have to do with being scary?”
Glad you asked. Horror and humor often form an unlikely friendship, sort of like peanut butter and pickles, or twinkly vampires and sunlight… Read more »
Okay readers, I have reached one goal I set for myself. I have just submitted a story for the first time since 6/10/2005. I went back and read that story I submitted so long ago, and I could not help but cringe. It was terrible. This most recent attempt is much better by far, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
This brings me to the topic. Where to submit?
If you are an experienced author, this is probably not as much of a challenge for you, but as this blog is dedicated to the new writers out there, I wanted to go through the process I underwent to make my decision.
As writers, we must make many choices during the writing process. We wear the hat of Editor just as often as that of Writer. The editing process forces us to make cuts, revisions, and rewrites in order to turn literary tripe into prose gold. Editing is the writer’s act as a gatekeeper, the solitary protector of the story.
Often, this process is repeated again and again, resulting in frustration, anxiety, and often suicidal deletions of entire stories. How do we avoid this? Simple: start small.
More to the point, we can focus on a small part of the editing process. That small part is looking for key words that pinpoint weak writing. Call these words, Fat Words. We must begin chopping away at these villainous, verbal cads, and whittle the story down to its purest form. So, let’s get started. Read more »
Just finished watching the final Twilight movie.
Now, before you haters, or lovers, of the books or movies get started in some heated argument, that isn’t why I’m posting. I’ve read the books, and seen all of the movies.
“Well, you must be a fan then?”
Not exactly. I had seen the first movie, then read the book for a Popular Fiction class. After that, I went ahead and read the additional three books. Here’s what I’ve learned from them. Read more »
Often as writers, we cling to our old way of doing things. Perhaps our writing method, voice, or plots. But, to grow as writers, we need to be constantly in search of new ways to express ourselves. This can cause friction, both for the writer, and for the reader. Why?
Think about your favorite author. Have they ever written something that made you say, “well, that certainly is not like the other stuff they’ve done.” Perhaps it even made you angry, and you threw the book out the window, hitting some poor old lady who now has amnesia and is wandering the streets naked. Why naked? How the hell should I know. You’re the one that threw the book. Read more »
Last time, we talked about conflict, which is the most important aspect of storytelling. Without conflict, there is no story. But, without characters, there is no point to the conflict or story.
Proper characterization is vital to making your story work. We have all heard the phrase “flat” or “one-dimensional” characters. If the readers can’t connect to the characters they will lose interest in the story. So, how do you convey a character realistically, and in a way that is compelling? Read more »
What is it about fiction that compels us to keep reading? What secret does the writer know, what secret weapon is at his disposal, to ensure we keep turning pages? Is it plot, character, or theme? No. Sure, those things are important, but they do not keep the pages turning.
As Steven V Thulon so aptly said, “Conflict builds character. Crisis defines it.”
Conflict is the key to good fiction, and comes in many forms, but it must exist for their to be a story. No one wants to read about someone who gets up, goes to work, succeeds, comes home and has sex with his runway model wife. There’s no tension, no conflict, and no crises. Boring, except maybe the sex with a model bit. Read more »
I was the Secretary for a non-profit writing group in my state. During our annual conference, we held a banquet to award winners of the writing contest, and to present our keynote speaker. This past year, the speaker was Lee Maynard.
Lee is an award winning author from my home state of West Virginia. I have read one of Lee’s books, Crum, and was very impressed with his work. His writing is like Salinger, mixed with heavy doses of Appalachian heritige. Let’s just say there is a sex scene that involves buttermilk. ‘Nuff said. And, the man himself is like “the love child of The Most Interesting Man in the World and Hemingway,” which was how our President introduced him after saying he was “sexier than Sean Connery.” Anyway… Read more »
Hello friends. Here is post #2 where I take a look at an old story of mine in an attempt to learn from it, just as a Pathologist performs an autopsy to determine cause of death.
Today, we are looking at John Smith Writes a Book.
The story was written tongue-in-cheek, and was meant to address that cliche person who believes they are meant to be a writer, and that the universe will align in their favor once they take the steps necessary to initiate their destiny. Read more »