Writing Rules – Part II

(Yes, I’m thinking of making this a series)

By Bob McCrillis

Who knew?

While poking around on the internet to find some of Ray Bradbury’s earliest short stories, I discovered his twelve rules for writing. Elmore Leonard wasn’t the only one – imagine. A celebrated author, presumably with a busy schedule, took the time to codify his rules and tips.  His willingness to share them with the world was, to me, even more shocking – why encourage competitors?

My much-boasted-about short story per week for a year effort came from the first of Mr. Bradbury’s twelve rules:

  • Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”

Continue reading “Writing Rules – Part II”

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Guild Notes, 2019 Class Preview and BookFest

By Linda Donaldson

Cindy Louden opened our August Writers Guild meeting opened with a preview of the 2019 Writing Center’s classes with final dates to be announced.

Linda Wisniewski will offer a Beginner’s Memoir series of classes for six weeks in May and June. She will then offer Advanced Memoir classes monthly from June through October.

Pam Varkony, author, speaker and last year’s recipient of the Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year award, will teach two classes next year: one on essays, op-eds and exposes, and the other on marketing your writing through web and social media. Pam plans to offer each of these two topics at three different times – morning, afternoon and evening – June and July.

Writers Guild meetings will be held next year at 1pm to 3pm on the third Sunday of the month from March through October. Continue reading “Guild Notes, 2019 Class Preview and BookFest”

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”

Upcoming Meeting and Calls for Submissions

By  Linda Donaldson

Happy Summer to all you Writers Guild members and followers! We meet this Sunday, August 19th from 1pm to 3pm at the Cultural Center at Pearl S. Buck’s scenic Green Hills Farm in Perkasie. The gardens are blooming and the setting is inspiring. Come join us!

Here’s a list Anne Kaler has shared of upcoming submission deadlines for several publications with links to their details. First up is the ubiquitous Chicken Soup for the Soul series. We show links for their overall guidelines as well as a list of quite a few upcoming deadlines. Continue reading “Upcoming Meeting and Calls for Submissions”

The Crash

By Bob McCrillis

Over the holiday week, the Goddess of Rhamnous, Nemesis, schooled me on my dangerous tendency to hubris.

As you know, I’ve set myself the project of writing a short story every week for a year – as recommended by Ray Bradbury. Quite proud of myself after the first four weeks, I added a page for the resulting stories to my website.

“I’m accepting the Ray Bradbury Challenge,” I crowed. “Just watch how great this will be. My stories will be good and can only get better – and I’ll have fifty-two publishable stories,” said I.

Should have known better. Continue reading “The Crash”

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”