Writer’s Block. What is it? Is it a myth?

Oct 24 2021, 1:42 pm in

   The term writer’s block is subjective in that it means something different to each person who uses it. My first writing mentor was a no beating around the bush person. She said writer’s block is inadequate story preparation/development.  Owie. Harsh? You betcha. But, bottom line that’s what it is for me. I will say I prefer to soften that definition to saying it’s my writer’s brain telling me to stop. Something isn’t right. Now, it would be nice if writer brain would tell me what the problem is but noooo, I have to figure it out myself.  

How?

When a scene isn’t working my first thought is about POV.  That is, if I’m writing deep 3rd.  If there is another character who has more to lose switch to their POV.

Does the scene have enough conflict and emotion?

Am I writing this character’s correct conflict and emotions? Should a character be crying or throat punching some one?

And there is show vs tell.  I think telling, too much narrative, is a story stall for newbie authors. Yes, they’re getting the story across but it doesn’t feel right. I will say the more you write the easier to identify what hold ups are.

Read the authors you admire and want to emulate. Reread passages you like take in the pacing

I get encouragement from writer quotes. Here are a few on writer’s block to drive you around that the corner.  

“Writer’s block is a phony, made up BS excuse for not doing your work.” — Jerry Seinfeld

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands.” — Jodi Picoult

“I don’t believe in “writer’s block”. I try and deal with getting stuck by having more than one thing to work on at a time. And by knowing that even a hundred bad words that didn’t exist before is forward progress.” — Neil Gaiman

“I tell my students there is such a thing as ‘writer’s block,’ and they should respect it. It’s blocked because it ought to be blocked, because you haven’t got it right now.” — Toni Morrison

“When I have writer’s block it is because I have not done enough research or I have not thought hard enough about the subject about which I’m writing. That’s a signal for me to go back to the archives or to go back into my thoughts and think through what it is I am supposed to be doing.” — Annette Gordon-Reed

What do you think? Does writer’s block exist? If you’ve experienced it, what’s your method to beat it into submission? 

One thing I know for sure, this writing stuff sure ain’t easy but I sure love it.

                                                                    Rita

 

Addressing FEAR and Working on a Positive Mindset.

Oct 21 2021, 5:43 pm in ,

 

I believe many of the things we tell ourselves and the excuses we make have roots in FEAR.

Getting ready for the November NaNoWriMo let’s address the things you tell yourself as to why you can’t write.

  • Fear of emotional discomfort.
  • Fear of failing.
  • Fear of rejection.

 Fear of emotional discomfort comes from both internal and external sources. We tell ourselves all kinds of crap. I’ll never be published. It’s too much work. I can’t do it.  I’m not good enough. Then there are the probing or derogatory questions from family and friends who know we are writing. Isn’t that book finished? Aren’t you published yet? When are you going to quit your day job? Tell me about your book tour. How many cities? How much money are you making? Grrr.

Now, if anyone asks you about money remember I know a lot of places to hide bodies.

Fear of Failing can be failing to produce. Sometimes we say we are too busy with life so we have excuses not to finish a book, blog, article. Is this legitimate? Or, are you protecting yourself from that fear of failing? If you believe there is not time for writing make a list of what you do during the day. In what you wrote down can you find an hour’s worth of activities you can give up, sacrifice to write?

Then there is the fear your plot or story is no good.

Fear of rejection. We can be afraid to finish our work because then we’ll have to submit to agents and editors. Someone you don’t know will read your literary baby. It might be rejected. Let me tell you, being a writer and thinking you won’t be rejected at some point is like being a boxer and thinking you’re not gonna get hit.

J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers. Harry Potter has earned over 400 million in book sales.    

Stephen King had 30 rejections on one book.

Rejection is part of the process.

How do you overcome these fears?

THINK POSITIVELY

I’m not talking about being that goofy Polly Anna crap. I’m talking about preparing yourself for life’s ambushes. You can get through any thing if you are mentally prepared. Remember those cutting remarks you can get from family and friends? You can’t stop them from happening but you can control how to react and your internal dialogue. You can also control how much time you spend with these negative nellies. Hang out with people who get you.

First thing in the morning –THINK POSITIVELY.

THIS IS BIG. Establish a habit of thinking positively about yourself. When you wake up in the morning make your first thoughts about the day POSITIVE. Before your feet hit the floor–think positively.

Build confidence by learning your craft. When authors learn their craft they can be confident in what they are doing. Knowing GMC, the concept of Show vs Tell how to build characters with emotion helps a writer move forward? Think of what you know now compared to when you first started writing. Doesn’t make any difference if you are a beginner or multi-published, or in between we all need to keep learning our craft and growing. Success is 10% talent and 90% hard work.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone. You may still have a long way to go but be proud of how far you’ve come in the writing process.

Being in a writers group, knowing you are not alone in how you feel is a big plus. Only other writers know how you feel because we’ve been there. Your mama and hubs can love you to the moon and back and want to help. But when you have yourself wrapped around the flag pole chasing plot bunnies other writers know what you are going through. Writers are a generous lot. You can come to the group ask for help vanquishing your fears, or rant and get support.

Getting off the X and moving forward is freaking scary but you can do it.

 

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” Erma Bombeck 

                                      Happy Writing 

                                                                Rita

 

Studying Writing Craft.

Sep 23 2021, 1:24 pm in

Why study writing craft?  An English teacher said you should write a book. You have a degree in English Lit. You studied how to write Poetry, Drama, Novels, Prose, and History. You know how to put sentences and paragraphs together about random characters. You know all the ends and outs of punctuation. What can you learn from studying craft?  

Craft teaches the heart and soul, the very art, of writing.

 Let me ask, does one go out and construct a 20 story building without studying the craft of architecture? No one sits in the cockpit of an Airbus A380 until they have mastered the art of being a pilot. Ballerinas and athletes practice, practice and practice some more. When it comes to the creating the most elegant, soul touching, timeless work of art, a book, I feel we must constantly study, practice and improve our talent.   

 Every time I pick up a craft book or examine notes from craft classes I learn.  

 Do you know how develop the story and character’s Goals, Motivation and Conflict? GMC are intrinsically bonded together.

 Characters need a concrete, definable Goal. Behind that Goal, there is an internal, value-based reason for the Goal. The deeper the Motivation for character’s actions, the more emotionally compelling the story will be.

 Conflict. Conflict on every page, both internal and external. And yes, you must have both types of Conflict in every scene you write. Internal Conflict is a character’s beliefs and values getting in the way of what they want. External Conflict is something or someone getting in the way of, preventing the character from achieving their Goal. Conflict is a big part of the story because it delivers excitement. The reader keeps turning pages to see if the character reaches their Goal.

 The story needs an active, definable Goal that the character wants desperately. A reason for the character’s Goal as well. Two sources of Conflict, internal and external obstacles that prevent the character from getting the Goal.

 Got it? Good. Now it’s about that story and scene structure. Three acts. The opening story hook and chapter ending hooks to keep the reader turning pages. Then we begin to layer in emotions bringing a reader to feel everything a character does with evocative writing. Honing Show vs Tell skills. Avoiding clichés, head hopping and using weak words and phrases.

 Bottom line, readers want a good story and to connect with characters. Studying craft helps writers achieve that.

                                              Rita

ON WRITING

Sep 12 2021, 10:27 am in ,

 People ask, “how do I get published?” Simple answer, write a good book.

 Okay, how do you write a good book? Definitely not a simple answer.

 I believe you must be a good storyteller. Ask any author how long they’ve been writing. Most will tell you since they were children. We wrote our stories down, acted them out in plays, created picture books, or told them to our families every chance we got.

 So, you’ve established you’re a good storyteller, now what? Presenting that good story in a manuscript takes some doing.  Would you be surprised to learn books follow a story structure? There are rules to follow?  Some will say following those rules takes the creativity away. I say… well, let’s say I don’t agree. 

 Story structure is vital. In many ways writing a good book is like building a house. With blueprints you build a house. The basics: a foundation, walls, roof and some way to get in an out are a given. Then you get creative. You decide if the design is colonial or modern, where you put the windows, what color paint is your choice.

 There are book blueprints also. You set up the story, how the story turns and how the characters resolve the issues. You decide the story goal, motivation, and conflict. That is, what do the characters want?  Why do they want this?  What is going to get in their way of reaching their goal? Where you set your story, this world or another, in the Scottish Highlands, Las Vegas or the inner offices of a metro police station you need those things. If you heroine is tall, short. A blonde or redhead, a cop or a milkmaid, your choice. Be creative. That is the story telling part.  

 I do not assume to tell you how to write or how to reach your publishing dream. This is your career you have to figure out the best way for you. I suggest you start with these tips.  

Identify the genre you write. 

Associate with authors who have the same goal. 

Begin writing. Build a lifestyle that nurtures and supports your writing. 

Study craft. – Goal. Motivation. Conflict. Story structure. Emotion. Character development. Dialogue. Setting. 

Don’t just start stories, finish them.

Once your manuscript is finished decide what type of publishing, Traditional or Indi, is for you. This takes research. Do the work, research and do more research.

                                                      Happy Writing

                                                                  Rita

Using The Sense of Smell In Writing.

Sep 8 2021, 1:05 pm in , ,

 Humans can detect over ten thousand different odors.  

 Our scent receptors are capable of smelling a piece of clothing and determining if it was worm by a male or female.

 Nothing conjures memory more than smell. Scent is a memory bomb trigger. Memories elicit emotions and we want to provide that in our writing.   

 Using smell effectively is not as easy as using other senses. We provide details to map out other senses. When we see something, we can describe it using visual adjectives like red, blue, bright, big, and so on.

 For touch we can examine textures—a damp, thick Fisherman’s Sweater with fish scales here and there. Describe the crispness of the hair on a lover’s chest. That would be the guy BTW. 

 That feeling when someone gently touches your hair and you’re home alone.

 As the author you relay to the reader what a character tastes. It is sweet, salty, sour. Bitter. Pepper hot.

 But who can map out a smell?   

 It’s nearly impossible to describe a scent to someone who hasn’t been exposed to it. We use words such as smoky, floral, fruity, sweet, but we’re describing smells in terms of other things (smoke, flowers, fruit, sugar).

 Describing how smells make us feel—disgusting, intoxicating, sickening, pleasurable, delightful hypnotic— uses word pictures to bring out a reader’s emotional response. 

 “Eww. You stink.” Or “Eww. Get away. You smell like my brother.”   

  It’s more describing how the smell makes you/character feel.

 Again, what we want in our writing.

 Smell is the most evocative sense. Pheromones are nature’s romantic calling card. Writers rely on it to increase intimacy between heroes and heroines. Studies have been done proving women are more attracted to men who smell the least like their own genetic codes. I think it was in a German study, women were given men’s sweaty, stinky t-shirts and asked which they liked best. I dunno maybe it was an early Bachelorette show. Any how they found their brothers and fathers shirts to be the worst smelling.   

 When you use a sense description make it applicable to the character.

 A truck drive is more likely to describe senses in the way he experiences them. “Dinner smells like burning tires.” 

 In the movie Apocalypse Now Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) is often quoted as saying, “I love the smell of napalm.” That alone, taken into context of the movie is intense. But the quote is not complete. It reads: “Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell? The whole hill. Smelled like… victory.

 That is chilling. It eludes to the horrors of war that the character faces, and the way it’s warped Kilgore’s mind.

 If you think you think using smell isn’t important in your stories consider we can’t taste until we put things into our mouths. Can’t see if our eyes are covered. Can’t experience touch unless we make contact with someone or something.  Can’t hear if our ears are covered.  We always smell with every breath. Always. If you cover your nose to stop smelling, you will die. So, yeah, I think using scent in a story is important.

                                      Happy writing

                                                      Rita

Inspirational Quotes

Sep 7 2021, 12:49 pm

Sharing my favorite quotes that get my motor running. Some are deep and touch the soul. Others make me smile.    Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If  you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer you’re a waiter.”                                                                                                       ~ Dan Poynter

 

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

 

 

 

“Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” ~ Ann Landers.

 

 

“If you want to write for the love of the craft, write stories.  If you want to write to make money, write ransom notes.”   

 

“Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.”  ~ David Barr Kirtley

 

 

 

“It’s better to create something others criticize than to create nothing and criticize others.” ~ Ricky Gervais  

 

 

Writing Cliché Free

Sep 6 2021, 4:00 pm in

 Ever been dinged in a critique for using a cliché? I sure have. What is a cliché?  Here are a couple general definitions.

  • Something that has been overdone to the point where it is now predictable. A fad that has either died or is dying out.
  • Something that is lame and unimaginative, and, more importantly, has been done many times before.

 These are very applicable to our writing.  I know you all have heard of the writing oracles Some One, They Say, and They Said. Their teachings and sayings have often been quoted in an effort to prevent me from using dreaded clichés. I shall be referring to their words of wisdom here.

 I think, to a degree, clichés are unavoidable.  I suggest we take clichés, bend and twist them and use them to our advantage.  Fresh writing or cliché busting.

 In the movie, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, the Cannibal, Lector, a brilliant physiologist, kills and eats part of his victims. Ewww! Think of all the Hollywood tough guys the director could have picked to play Lector.  Each and every one, evil, and diabolical.  He chose Anthony Hopkins, a five-foot- six, middle aged, English Shakespearian actor whose only screen roles to date had been portrayals of gentle men. The performance Hopkins gives is chilling. Big cliché buster.

 On more than one occasion, the oracle They Say has made it clear we should not open a book, or a chapter, with our characters in bed. It’s cliché. They Say is also against opening with descriptions of the weather.  It was a dark and stormy night.  It was a bright sunny day.

 Try these.

It was a dark and stormy night on a planet that didn’t have nights or storms.

It was a bright and sunny day. The first in the hundred and twenty years since the war.

Simple, and for me, cliché busters.         

Some One is against using cliché sayings.

 Take a look at the following clichés.  Can you bend and twist them to something new? Make them fun?   

An oldie but goodie.

Pick of the litter.

Pay backs are hell.

I know it like the back of my hand.

Slept like a baby.

 I’ll take the last one.

A detective asks his partner. “How’d you sleep?” 

His partner replies, “Like a baby. I woke up every two hours.”

 They Said makes it clear we must stay away from stereotype cliché situations.  Say my WIP is about a middle-aged Italian widow who loves to cook.  She has two grown sons and she is constantly talking to them about marriage.

 What image of the widow do you conger?  A short plump woman standing in her kitchen stirring spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon and lecturing her sons they need to get married and give her grandchildren?

 Or, a hot Italian cougar with her own TV cooking show who is desperate to get her sons to break up with the boring women they are considering marrying. Cliché buster.   

 I do agree with They Say about descriptions having become predictable.  Just once (yes I used just) I’d like the description of the handsome Lord in a historical to be a bit off.

 “Lord Brilliantly Handsome stormed into the room. His cravat appeared to be on backwards, his waistcoat was on inside out, his breeches buttoned askance and dear me, his boots were on the wrong feet. Where had his Lordship been and what had he been doing that led him to such disarray?”

 Or, the beautiful heroine has a penchant for wearing so many ribbons in her hair you can barely see said hair.  

 Oh, come on, you know you’d like to see it happen.  

 

 Bottom line is, listen to our writing oracles. Avoid being a lazy writer.  Don’t use the same overused, predictable, unimaginative, boring clichéd openings, character descriptions, settings and situations.  Spin them, twist them, make them your own to thrill and amaze the rest of us. Go through your WIP. Can you identify a cliché you could rewrite? 

                                                      Happy writing, 

                                                                              Rita

 

 

 

 

 

What Outlander Taught Me About Writing.

Sep 6 2021, 3:00 pm in , ,

 I believe no two people read the same book or see the same TV show.  We read/watch with our own POV. Our world views and experiences. Everyone’s mileage differs. This is my perspective on the Outlander books. 

 The first of the 8 books, (book 9 come out November 2021) written by Diana Gabaldon, was published in 1992. There is a Starz TV series, first aired in 2014. Season 6 will drop February 2022.  Outlander is about a woman, Claire Randall, sometimes called the Sassy Sassenach. In the mid-20th century she sets her clocks back too far when Daylight Saving time ends and lands up in 18th century Scotland. Her goal is to get back to the 20th century. But there is a hot Scot, Jamie Fraser, affectionally know to many as Kilt Daddy, whose goal is to keep her there. The Sassenach’s motivation is to get back to hot baths, toilet paper and a husband. His motivation is love. He loved her from the moment he saw her. Sigh.

 Conflict is behind every bush. Redcoats waring with Highland Clans. Waring 20th and 18th century morals and values. Will she make it back to the 20th century? There are times when I have to slow down to catch my breath. Other times I can’t read fast enough to find out how, or if the character gets out of the pickle the author puts them in.  

 The author intrigues me most with her characters emotional connections and journeys. Everything between tender to brutal, funny to heartbreak is on the page. She states the language of sex is emotion. Her intimate scenes are more about emotions than physicality and they are hot.

 Gabaldon weaves her fiction around historical events. She immerses her characters in actual places and events. To the point the settings and events become characters. When the very name of a place is mentioned, a reader is able to conjure up the image. Not so much because of complicated physical details but because of the addition of sensual details.

 In book 6 of the series, a Breath of Snow and Ashes, the kiddos get into Cherry Bounce, a high content alcohol drink that tastes like industrial strength cough syrup. The scene has little mention of taste. There is plenty about the effects on the wee ones and reactions from the adults. The reader can’t help but smile if not laugh out loud.  Again emotions.

 As the Fraser family grows so do sub plots. The reader becomes as deeply involved with secondary characters as they are the main characters. Every single character elicits emotional responses from me. One character has his hand severed. O. MY. The death of a beloved child.  Some characters we absolutely hate. These books have many villains. They cause emotional and physical havoc. With love and compassion on every level the reader literally feels what the characters do, experiences what the characters experience.

 I adore the way Gabaldon uses animals as characters. Ian’s dog. The family mule. Sassy Sassenach’s chitty. Kilt Daddy’s horses. They have their own personalities. Their interactions with humans is amazing. The readers become emotionally vested in the animal’s stories.   

 Okay, I’ve rambled long enough. My point I’m trying to make is the story isn’t simply being told. I feel I know Kilt Daddy, Sassy Sassenach, their family and their connections to each other. When something happens to them, I feel it. I have an emotional connection to people, places and animals in this book.

 How does Outlander speak to you?  Does it give you ideas to improve your writing?  

                                                           Rita

 

 

 

Writing Romance Suspense/Thrillers

Sep 6 2021, 2:00 pm in , , ,

In Romantic Suspense/Thrillers there are two distinct stories. The suspense/thriller and the romance. 

 A strong romance is woven together with strong suspense, mystery, or thriller elements to constitute integral parts of the plot.

 In this genre the action moves fast and the story takes place over a relative short period. I write contemporary thriller/action adventure and the stories take place over a couple of weeks and less. An author has to weave in a plausible romance and bring it to a satisfying conclusion (don’t forget part of a romance definition is the HEA or the possibility of an HEA) in a short timeframe.  Not easy to develop quick emotional and physical relationships.  

 If your characters are meeting for the first time on the pages of your story how can that plausible—I emphasis plausible—relationship develop so fast? What about the sexual aspect?  Characters getting between the sheets fast is crazy tricky. Of course, if the characters have a history, good or bad as long as they have a touch point of knowledge, it’s less complicated.

 If you plan on writing sex for a hero and heroine who just met it is important you know yourself and your own boundaries. Know what YOUR comfort zone is. If you can’t envision it, or don’t agree with characters getting hot and sweaty together fast, for goodness sakes, don’t do it.

 For example, I’m not comfortable with a 2o something woman meeting a man, two hours later being in bed and two weeks later being in a happy ever after relationship. Nor am I comfortable with someone that age knowing the man she’s just met is the one that fast. It would be impossible for me to give her the experiences that would allow her to make these decisions. Be clear here. I am NOT saying someone that age is incapable of making that decision, I’m saying I can’t write it to happen fast.   

 Ergo, I write with heroes and heroines over 35. They have experience. To my way of thinking —my comfort zone— they are more capable of making a decision about going into a sexual relationship after a short time and handling any blow back. A 36-year-old woman who has experienced a lot in her life knows the ramifications of hooking up.

 You MUST know your characters. What they will and will not do and why. I mean the down deep why. While these issues are vital in every story, it is even more important in the fast pace RS genre. You must know what circumstances will drive your heroine to hit the sheets quickly.  BTW I say heroine because I firmly believe she is the one who makes the decision as to the when and where.

 In my first book, Under Fire, the H&H go home together after they first meet. I totally knew my heroine. What event formed her values and beliefs and was behind all her decisions. The day the H&H met, she suffered two huge setbacks in her story goal. Going with him that night breaks all her personal rules but she decides to console herself with some sexual healing. Give in, just once, to her own needs and the reader knew this. She leaves his bed before he wakes thinking she will never see him again. In a few days this comes back to bite her. It also begins the resolution to her story goal. 

 As for the HEA in this story, these two people were NOT looking for a relationship but found something in each other that filled a void they didn’t know existed. As the author, I knew it did. Knowing your characters inside and out allows you to understand what they fear, what they want, and what they need. You use it to get them to work out their problems together and rapidly establish a bond. With each other’s help they face their fears, they change, and are rewarded with love and in the suspense novel get the bad guy in the process. This is an over simplification but I hope you get what I mean. 

 When the H&H have a sexual history getting them into a speedy relationship is always easier. In my third book, Point of No Return, two experienced intelligence officers from different agencies have an affair that lasted more than a year. You can read how they met in the prequel No Holding Back. The hero broke it off for his own misguided reason. They come together again working to find the same bad guy. With their history, the sexual tension lasts for only so long before they give in. Their HEA is very complicated. Again, I know them completely.

 Another way is to use what some call survivor sex. After two people share a near death experience sharing the life affirming act of sex is always a possibility. As an author, you can put friends, detective or business partners, who have worked together for years and know each other completely into that death experience and life affirming sex. The act changes a relationship to full blown love and HEA. On the surface this looks to be the easiest choice. Honestly, it’s the most difficult for me to write. To get a good balance of conflict you really have to know your H&H.

 I can probably come up with a hundred more scenarios but this is already too long.

Bottom line

  • Dig deep
  • Know yourself
  • Know your characters inside out.

                             What do you think?

                                                       Rita

Writing Rules. Yes? No? Maybe?

Sep 6 2021, 1:00 pm in

I present to you, in all their glory, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Writing.

  1. Never open a book with weather.

If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a character’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. 

Rita here: I think there are exceptions like: It was a bright and sunny day on a planet where the last bright and sunny day was eight hundred years ago.

  1. Avoid prologues.

They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.

  1. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.

  1. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” …

…he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin.

  1. Keep your exclamation points under control.

You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.

  1. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”

This rule doesn’t require an explanation. 

Rita here. I purchased a thriller audio book ‘everyone’ was talking about. I listened and had to buy the book. Why? I wanted to count how many freaking sentences the author used suddenly and quickly. Quite honestly, it was easier to count the sentences NOT containing those words. It was edited by a NY pub. OMG!

  1. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won’t be able to stop.

  1. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. 

Rita again. I like this rule. 

  1. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.

Even if you’re good at it, you don’t want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.

And finally:

  1. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he’s writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character’s head, and the reader either knows what the guy’s thinking or doesn’t care. I’ll bet you don’t skip dialogue.

Rita here. (will that chick ever go away?) Three books this summer, THREE, I skipped more than read.)

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing.

Rita here dancing around – Yes. Yes, and YES. I would rather read a book that has some typos, maybe a plot problem mixed with a couple of continuity errors that is a great story with a brilliant voice than some grammatically correct, with all the proper punctuation, book that has been so stripped of voice by editing that it becomes a chuckawalla book (a book you chuck against the wall and move on)    
 

What do you think of the rules? 

                                                     Rita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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