Finding Your Character

By Bob McCrillis

I like to write in the first person. That POV helps control my natural desire to tell rather than show. That means that there is a lot of dialogue in any of my stories, which brings up a continuing problem – losing the reader in the dialogue.

Everyone, I’m sure, has had this experience. I’m caught up in a book when I realize that I’ve lost track of who’s speaking. Then I backtrack to the last speech that’s tagged and work forward again. While this may not be a fatal error, anything that takes me out of the story spoils the flow of the narrative and provides me the opportunity to decide it isn’t a very good book and move on. At the very least, it’s an annoyance.

The easy solution is to tag more speeches. Duh. The thought of all those “saids”, regardless of how artfully I conceal them by using synonyms, strikes me as beyond boring. In the back of my mind I also have the Elmore Leonard rule to not replace “said” with a synonym. He says that the word should disappear into the background. I call this the said-balance solution – to have enough tags to keep the reader on track but not so many that he gets bored. Continue reading “Finding Your Character”

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Avoiding Seduction

By Bob McCrillis

Got your attention, didn’t I? Certainly generates more interest than Paperclips: the pros and cons.

Yes, I was serious last week when I told you I’d be talking about paperclips this week. The modern “Gem-type” paperclip has been in production since the late 19th century. The exact date of its incarnation is in doubt but there is general agreement that it was in the 1890’s. And, in my opinion, has been helping disorganized people become even more disorganized for the past century and a half.

The little twist of wire’s utility as a missile in the office or classroom is well known. It also provides raw material for the Zen-like chain making that gets all writers and other office drones through conference calls. It can even, reportedly, be used as a make-shift lock pick. It, oh yes, also holds sheets of paper together. Continue reading “Avoiding Seduction”

Hope for the Disorganized

By Bob McCrillis

As you may have gathered from some of my earlier posts, I am organization-impaired. I’m sure that must be a recognized affliction since there appear to be so many sufferers in the world.

Symptoms include spending an hour searching for the yellow piece of paper with the title and premise for the story about the Grizzly bear who learned sign language, or the certainty that you’ve already re-written the scene you’re working on, and drawing a complete blank when you try to remember the clever password you came up with for Writers’ Market.

I’m convinced that, somewhere in the compost heap of information on my desk, there’s a best seller. All I have to do is dig it out, then try to read my handwriting. Continue reading “Hope for the Disorganized”

Finding a Character

By Bob McCrillis

With all kinds of worksheets and techniques to flesh out your characters, I thought you’d be interested in mine.

Here’s the situation: Someone had to help my readers understand the progress of the police search for my protagonist. If I had been writing in the third person, it would have been easy – the omniscient narrator could just tell the readers what was going on. Or I could head jump among the characters to keep the reader up to date on the closing loop of the police.  Since I was writing strictly from my protagonist’s point of view, someone has to tell him how close the cops are. Continue reading “Finding a Character”

Writers Guild Updates

By Linda Donaldson

A reminder – our June meeting on the 17th falls on Father’s Day. We start at 1 pm and meet till 3 pm. Please bring 10 copies of any work you’d like to share up to 3 pages long, and remember to put your name and email on your work for further feedback.

Anne Kaler began our May Writers Guild meeting by announcing our Literary Journal plans for this year. The former Fall 2017 issue, with the theme of “Justice and Mercy,” will be posted mid-June as the Summer 2018 issue. The Editors have chosen the theme “Transformation“ for the Winter 2018 issue with the deadline of October 31, 2018. Submission guidelines will be posted soon on the blog. Continue reading “Writers Guild Updates”

Left Brain, Right Brain

By Bob McCrillis

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do. How many times have we heard that old saw?

There is an ocean of advice out there for the would-be author. We have our choice of webinars, seminars, boot camps, and retreats. Each one promising that, with their system, we will release our inner book. Trust me, I’ve drunk deeply from this well. No matter what course or system, step one is always, always prepare an outline.

Bob cropped tightI diligently took notes on such arcana as story arcs, critical turning points, characterization, and the primacy of points of view. According to the books, my next step — the first that called for actual writing — was to prepare my outline. The more detailed my outline, the better. The outline should include major and minor turning points, and the critical conflicts. My next task was to complete detailed worksheets describing my characters. With that done, writing your novel is mere word play.

To this I say, Balderdash! And again, Balderdash! Continue reading “Left Brain, Right Brain”

What Genre Do You Work In?

By Bob McCrillis

I admit, I thought the question was a little silly the first time someone asked. Genre, unless you were an English Literature professor, was a euphemism for formula and no one wants their work to be viewed as something written to a formula.

Bob cropped tightIt didn’t take long to discover that the question of genre is critically important to the people who sell books. Readers tend toward books similar to the ones they’ve already read and enjoyed – hence the popularity of a series. If you’re in the business of selling books, knowledge of the preferences of the market is critically important. Continue reading “What Genre Do You Work In?”