Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Tuesdays with Story

November 1. 2022

The first word . . .

Know something about the world, and by this I mean the world outside books. This might require joining the marines, or working on an oil rig or a hashslinger at a truck stop in Kentucky. Know what things smell like out there. If everything you write smells like a library, then your prospective audience will be limited to those who like the smell of libraries. From Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson

To zoom or not to zoom,

Four TWS writers gathered around the table. Others gathered around their screens from the east coast to the Mississippi. Here is some of what was said:

— Larry Sommers “Walt’s Mirror” Jack suggested drawing a parallel between the car mirror Walt broke and the mirrors that were originally installed on the first generation of F-4 fighters, to draw past and present together. John suggested moving material from the third paragraph up to the top of the story. Everyone agreed it was a very incomplete work.  Thanks, everybody.

  • Jamie Nelson Noven  New York After All Chapter 14
  • In this chapter, Jack thought it moved well, but he’d like more description of the place and clothing so that it feels more immersive. We talked about the strangeness of the humor checklist and whether there really is comedy going on at this club. Kashmira wondered what would happen if the clothing was reversed, if people were more dressed up than Charlie expected. Larry thought the tense change worked well and that her mental state reflects well her feeling of aging. We also talked about highlighting her choice of auditorium more. Thanks, everyone!

— Amber Boudreau  Second Act Chapters 17, 18 Amber read from the beginning of chapter 18 of her urban fantasy sequel Second Act, but all the trouble came in chapter 17. Jack wanted a bit more out of the fight scene. Not just description but more noise, especially if our protagonist is having a hard time seeing. Larry and John both recommended edits. Jamie wanted the alpha, Richard, to have another reason for sending our protagonist into harm’s way other than bragging rights. Kashmira wanted a better reason why as well.

  • Kashmira Sheth  Nina Soni, Miserable Traveler Chapter 1
  • Kashmira submitted the first two chapters of Nina Soni, Miserable Traveler. John wanted a more active beginning.  Jack wanted a faster pace and would like to see a Diwali scene later in the story. Larry thought the rain scene in the beginning was a little confusing. Jamie wanted Nina’s age mentioned right at the start of the story. Amber had a few small suggestions and Mike liked the story. Judy sent her comments saying that the plane scene was too long. Thank you all for your comments. 

Who’s up next . . . 

On November 15, here’s who will be presenting:

Kashmira Sheth

Paul Wagner

John Schneller

Amber Budreau

Openings available

Our editor . . .

John Schneller will edit our November issues of Writer’s Mail. He would appreciate your news. Email it to him and he’ll include it in the next issue.

Line Editing | written by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency
Today’s post is the second installment of definitions about different types of editing. If line editing, that means someone “fixing” the craft. Sometimes I receive submissions from authors who need more practice in craft. That’s okay! Even the most experienced authors can improve. However, once we’ve agreed to work together, you’ll know that I believe you have mastered craft and that your work is excellent enough to present to editors. I have listed below the most common areas for improvement I see from newer authors (and sometimes even in published books). I wrote the examples offered. None are either intentionally or unintentionally taken from any published or unpublished work: 1. Too many conversational tags. Maximillian sighed. “I wish you would think more of me before you go about making decisions that will affect our lives, Mimosa,” he said. Mimosa glared at Maximillian. “I will do what I want to do when I want to,” she shot back. Maximillian took a swig of his drink before answering. “In that case, we are through,” he declared. 2. Conversational tags that are too detailed. Unneeded adverb: “If only you loved me as much as I love you,” Sebastian told Verona sadly. Sarcasm (or other speaker emotion) is noted when the reader should intuit the context: “Well, Roxanna, you did get up at five this morning; wash four loads of laundry; iron Dwight’s oxford-cloth shirts; go to spin class; cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for six people; work on your novel; and teach school. I don’t understand why you’re tired,” Midge said sarcastically. 3. Conversational tags that aren’t doing the right job or doing the job right. “Give me the gun!” said Dorian. Try: “Give me the gun!” shouted Dorian. “Hand over the package or else!” said Axel. Try: “Hand over the package or else!” threatened Axel. “I don’t like you,” hissed Tawny. Instead, use hissing sounds with, “You slithering snake!” hissed Tawny. 4. Too much unnecessary description of places. When I started writing novels, an editor rightly suggested that I avoid too much travelogue. This tendency is tough to tame when a writer is excited about a recent trip. When writing a description, ask yourself how much the reader needs to know to feel the sense of place enough to believe the story. Accuracy is foremost. Be sure not to have wildflowers blooming at the wrong time of the year for the area, for example. 5. Asking the reader to invest too much emotion in a character who ultimately doesn’t matter to the story. If, as an author, you are giving too much time to a character, ask yourself why. Why has this character captured your imagination? Does the character need her own story? 6. Offer description as appropriate through logical characters. From a detective: The redhead with brown roots and freckles looked innocent enough, but he placed her on his mental list of suspects. From a love interest: Her long, auburn hair shone in the sunlight. Adorable freckles sprinkled her face as a testimony to long summer days spent on the lake. Can you think of other ways to improve your craft?

The last word . . .

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, “I will try again tomorrow.”


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Tuesdays with Story
August 21, 2020

The first word . . .

How to begin a new piece? “Look for a sentence that interests you, a sentence whose possibilities you like because of the potential you see in its wake. I don’t mean a ‘fantastic first sentence’ or one that sounds ‘introductory.’ I don’t mean a sentence that sounds first because it sounds like other first sentences you’ve read. I don’t mean the kind of first sentence teachers sometimes talk about—the one that grabs the reader. The reader doesn’t need grabbing. She needs to feel your interest in the sentence you’ve chosen to make. Nothing more.”

―Verlyn Klinkenborg, Several Short Sentences About Writing

Tuesday evening, oh, so non-political for TWS . . .

Eight gathered on Zoom to critique the work of six of their colleagues, and no one asked are we going to adjourn on time so I can watch the second hour of the Democratic National Convention. Larry lent a casual tone to the evening by every now and then sipping from his glass of wine. Here is some of what was said in the critiques:

Kashmira Sheth (children’s picture book, Dot and Dash!) . . . Kashmira shared her picture book manuscript with the group. Most like the concept. John suggested changing one part of the ending. Jerry asked about the Pentagon doing five things to prepare Dot for the race. Larry asked what Dash means by “If I lose, I am doomed.” Huckle pointed out that a dash with two dots was also a division sign. Thank you all for your comments. (more…)

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