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Showing posts from July, 2019

Writers Gotta Read, Right?—July marches on

It may be the end of July, but the reading never stops. For your browsing pleasure, please check out the lists below. You'll probably find plenty to add to your TBR (to-be-read) virtual or paper-based stacks of books for the rest of summer and beyond. The Booklist Reader has a list of authors and books to tackle for various July events, including Canada Day, the Fourth of July, P.T. Barnum's birthday, and Bastille Day. (Note: the list is nine years old, but hey, some authors never go out of date.) BookBrowse lists their Best book for July 2019 . You'll find all kinds and flavors here. Click on a cover to learn more about a particular book. For the Fourth of July, the Cincinnati Public Library has recommendations for all ages and tastes. To stretch the timeframe a bit, Listopia's Best Children's Books about Summer provides plenty for small fry to devour—251 books in all. Now, to mysteries, because that's my favorite genre.  The Cozy Mystery List Blog

Is the State of the World Affecting Your Writing?

It’s become increasingly obvious that the fate of the world is keeping me from completing my current work in progress. Every day I try to concentrate, then a crisis distracts my attention and mires me in a variety of fears, insecurity, and shock. Where I used to worry about what my main character would do next or what I’d make for dinner, now I worry about the survival of our people from the cold and hot realities of life on this planet, children I don’t know and never will, and the threat of another foolish and unnecessary war. I worry that our government representatives, people we put in place to take care of those things, seem not to worry about anything other than enriching themselves and putting their ideological desires for power ahead of their own grandchildren. Doesn’t anyone consider the consequences? Have they never seen a dystopian movie or read a book where the aftermath of greed, the thirst for war, or the quest for power leaves us destroyed? Hell, if 1984 by George O

Writing Tips With a Touch of Snark

Okay Dearies, Style Maven's Snarky Cousin is back after an extended time away. I do hope everyone had a simply marvelous good time while I was gone, writing those wonderful words of gold. I've abandoned my own words of gold to pop in to remind you darling new writers about a few basic elements of craft. In writing a book, it's not enough to put words on a computer screen and hit publish. Really it's not. It can have the most disastrous effect on readers. There was a time when one took classes - creative writing classes - in which we darling new writers learned important craft elements. One of which is the proper use of dialogue. For instance, if you have two longtime friends sharing a bit of bubbly and some juicy gossip, you totally spoil the moment with awkward exposition. What? You don't know what awkward exposition is? OMG, as the young people might say. Let me bring you in out of the cold. Your two lovely characters are chatting away when they start

When the Writer Has Too Many Ideas

There are plenty of writers out there in the wilderness, many of them beginners, who will wail, “What do you mean too many ideas? I can even nail down one!”  Others will know exactly what I mean. All the while one author is working on a novel, ideas for a sequel are percolating in the back of her mind. Thoughts pop up just before she goes to sleep, then are forgotten by morning. She’s writing contemporary crime fiction, but a historical novel picks at her brain, set in the state where she grew up and full of fictional content against events that really happened and people who really lived during the times. On the other hand, there’s that nagging feeling she’d really like to try writing romance. William Kent Krueger, author of the Cork O’Connor mystery series, tells of that story he’d wanted to write for a long time but didn’t get a lot of encouragement from his agent or publisher. The idea wouldn’t go away, and Krueger finally wrote it as a standalone. That novel is

What Type of Story Gardener Are You?

How often have you answered the question, “Are you a pantser or a plotter?” with “I’m a bit of both” or “I’m somewhere in the middle”, or something along that line? In this video, at around the 50:30 mark , you can listen to Carrie Vaughn and Song of Ice and Fire (better known as Game of Thrones ) author George RR Martin discussing their approaches to writing and referring to “architects” and “gardeners”, which is an analogy Martin has used before instead of “plotter” and “pantser”. Presuming Martin is referring to landscape architecture (as opposed to building architecture, which would make less sense used as a metaphor alongside gardening) this analogy gives us a spectrum of different writing approaches, rather than the more dualistic argument of pantsing versus plotting. The Landscape Architect Like a professional landscape architect who has to produce an extremely detailed blueprint of their proposed design, sometimes down to the actual species and number of plants tha

Writers Independence Day

Known for its celebration of Independence Day in the U.S., the month of July inspired this discussion about a different kind of independence—one desired by a number of fiction writers. This Independence Day, however, is not observed on a specific date. It is celebrated any time an author chooses to step outside the proverbial box when writing a story from the heart. What exactly is Writers Independence Day? A recent BRP comment comparing genre fiction to literary fiction made me revisit those diverse methods of story writing. The person who wrote the comment stated she had not to date found a literary fiction book that engaged her sufficiently to make her finish it. No words exploded off the page to keep her reading. In what way does literary fiction differ from genre fiction? Several years ago, when I began researching how a book qualifies as being one genre or another, I discovered that specific rules dictate the writing of a genre story. These formulaic guidelines had to be

Give Your Book a Listen

Is the story on the page the same as the story in your head?  When you finish revision and final proofreading rounds, it is a good idea to give your finished manuscript a listen.  The process of listening to the narration highlights problems such as: 1. Smoothness of flow. 2. Awkward transitions between scenes or chapters. 3. Repetitive word usage. 4. Clunky, run-on, or repetitive dialogue and dialogue tags. 5. Missing and redundant information. 6. Awkward choreography of action scenes. 7. Boring passages. 8. Ratio of narrative versus dialogue and action. 9. Spelling and grammar errors. 10. Missing words. Unless you can bribe or coerce someone to read your story to you, there are several tools to do the task. Most of them are free, or free for the basic program. Some offer additional voices or functions at a cost. The "narrators" sometimes stumble over words, but it won't insert words that aren't there the way your mind fills in