Monday, April 23, 2012

Salman Rushdie on Truth in Literature

Truth isn't realism?  It is truth.  Writing is not about reporting back events that you have seen it is creating them to be seen.

But isn't some truth stranger than fiction?  Isn't it that the truth that inspires the most authentic of fiction?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury, writer of Fahrenheit 451, offers up his love of books in his interview.  I love how Ray has intimate relationships with writers and how they were friends for him.  I couldn't agree more with him. During my childhood books were my escape from my reality.

I love how he used the UCLA typing room as his office to write Fahrenheit 451.  And how he describes the characters as people that talk to him through the books.  I have this too but in the last novel I wrote they all seemed to be pretty pissed off at me...there was a lot of cold shoulders.  This current work in progress they all have something to say and fight for my attention.

Ray made me smile when he stated, that "we all need to jump and we will build our wings on the way down." Just write and the skills will develop, for those who persist.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quirks are okay

We are all a little on the kookie side.  Love this video

Plotting your story

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When I first started writing I would have a flash, maybe a dream that gave me a feeling in the opening scene.  From that I would blindly sketch out some kind of convoluted tale. There would be random adventures but there was no knowledge of the format of novels and an over exaggeration of the increasing tensions.

It was after that very first know the one where I wrote myself into a corner then built a fort around myself with no doors...pitiful, that I realized I need to go back to basics and learn more to do better next time.    

I really like this lesson series.  He lays it all out complete with examples and walking you through the build up and conclusion. I don't think this is the only way to build plot, or to plan a story but I do think that knowing and be able to work with the basics of storytelling enriches you as a writer.  It strengthens your craft.  

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kevin O'Brien on keeping people terrified

O'Brien's story is inspiring.  We all fail sometimes and our lowest periods in life can proceed our greatest achievements.

I truly enjoyed the section on outlining.  I always worried I was too detailed.  This was helpful in as a form of laying it out.  I also was interested in the section on writers groups. I have never been able to have a writing group.  I don't know where to find them...they hide in plain sight I am sure.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts talk about writing

Nicholas Sparks is not one of my favorite writers.  Having never truly witnessed the kind of relationships that he prefers to write about it is tough for me to relate to him.

When he talks about never loving writing...I do agree.  There are times a get so aggravated and irritated with the story and myself.  I love when he said that he continues to write because it is a self driven need to be better than the last. That is what I am in the middle of now.  I was not in love with my first  book.  This one is a chance at redemption.

I could not let N pass with the mention of Nora Roberts...

Nora is amazing. She is adorable and so funny to listen to her stories.  She writes so fast...and it is the nuns fault. Too bad I didn't spend more time with those nuns.  I sure could use some of her writing speed.  I love how she said that the muse is crap!  She said, "that Sister Mary's responsibly will kick the muse's ass." So true.

Habit is the key.  You can fix a bad page but not a blank one.  Love her. Now to go back to my habit.

Toni Morrison's Motivation

I love hearing her talk.  It doesn't matter what she is saying it sounds super smart.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Margaret Atwood Creative Process

The opening story cracks me up...if you have to sit and wonder all the time what to write about maybe you need to find another passion.  I have had several people who hear I am a writer and feel the need to tell me they are too but they haven't actually written a thing.  Gotta love those people...wish all the competition was like that.

Always carry something to write on. I do carry notebooks and I have been known to text a note in my phone for story ideas or a character sketch. When I am forced to abandon my preferred hermit lifestyle and engage in social activity I always feel more comfortable sitting in a corner and watching the action around me with a pen in hand making up the story that is unfolding in front of me.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Elmore Leonard- writing wisdom

Elmore Leonard wakes up and won't let himself get a cup of coffee until he has found his flow for the day.  Rules that he lives by...write.

He says he knows that readers skip through novels but they won't skip through dialogue. This interested me. Dialogue is one of my favorite ways to reveal characters, background and scene. So much can be said by what is not said.

He stated that in the first 100 pages it is all about the characters.  They are auditioning to be the book.  I truly love this idea.  I struggled with my main character in my first novel. I think we were in a power struggle he didn't want to do what I wanted him too.  It is like he says in the video...his character didn't have the right name and so he didn't speak but as soon as he found the right name Leonard couldn't shut him up.

I enjoyed this interview, Leonard reminds me of my Grandfather.  Says just enough and in such a way that it sticks with you. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drew Keller- Keys of storytelling


I think if I did all of the steps that Keller suggest that I would never get started.  I would be instantly overwhelmed and upset. But if a list of lengthy steps gets your creative juices flowing...this one is for you.

James Scott Bell- Get Some Skin in it

This convicted me like a good Sunday service.  The first novel I wrote had nothing of me in it.  It was observation, mechanics, and going through the process. It was not until I started again that I felt I had something in the game. This work in progress I am in, is me.  It is a reflection of parts of my experience.  It is my  art.

Preach it Brother Bell!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Inspiration Monday

Spent my day off deep inside my work in progress. It was glorious.  I feel like I have to budget my words here.  I have used them all up and don't have many left.

I need to go back and write. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Harper Lee

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Harper Lee wrote a single book, "To Kill a Mocking Bird." Sometimes one is more than enough.  Could this be proof that there is at least one novel in all of us?

Harper Lee grew up a rough and tumble girl, much like her character Scout.  She witnessed her father go through a similar case as the one portrayed in her novel. Unlike her father character in the book, her dad fell apart after the case.  He stopped being a lawyer and would rarely leave the house.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gracious Galbaldon

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When I finished my first book I went through a reading summer researching and the craft and the habits of other writers.  One of the books suggested that as a writer one must create your own network of writers that you enjoy.  Diana Gabaldon was one of my top ten. I think her biggest strength is characterization. She creates entire clans of rival families each with very distinct troubled and yet balanced personalities.  There are some you want to marry, some you want to fall off a cliff and one that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. 

Out of all of the writers that I sent letter to...and it was a huge stack she was the only one to write back...twice.  That makes her the very best writer that ever was.  I adore her.  

Fugacious plots

Fugacious definition
passing quickly away, transitory, fleeting.
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How do you arrive at your novel's full plot? I think most of us have a scene that comes to us, or maybe a character, it could be an opening scene that comes in our dreams.  Rarely do we "see" an entire plot, those have to be crafted and explored. The exploration process is different for everyone.  

F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying, "Character is plot, plot is character."  Instead of creating an arc he might have spent time getting to know his characters with free writing until they revealed their story to him. 

Lauren Weisberger's "Devil Wears Prada" was mapped out on a basic linear progression chart. 

Devil Wears Prada Plotting
J.K. Rowling used a spread sheet to track the coming of age story of Harry Potter. 

Harry Potter Spread Sheet Plotting

It all depends.  Don't you love that answer?  I have used the spread sheet, the linear progression chart and had to write a novel to get to know my main character. It is important that as new writers we try all different methods.  Chuck Wendig over at TerribleMinds has 25 suggestions for plotting. 

What methods do you use and find work the best?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Enigma of well written prose

"Easy reading is damn hard writing." 
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Before I started to pursue my life as a writer I would read books, throw them down in discuss irritated with the awkward prose and dragging plot lines. Then I started to write.  This quote couldn't be more true.  The smoothest sentences are the ones that I had to wrestle with, cut, twist, rework and rip apart.  Once you mastered that one there is always the next, and the next.  The life of a writer is this unending line of work of love.   

C.S. Lewis in response to a fan letter offered this advice to a young writer. 
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean "More people died" don't say "Mortality rose."
4. In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do my job for me."
5. Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
 Advice like this sounds so straight forward. However, the implementation of it is the true challenge. It is almost debilitating to get started if you starting thinking of it.  The key is to write ugly, get it out.  Once it is out the real work begins.  Take it one sentence at a time.  Torment each sentence, paragraph and get violent with your edits.  When you think you are done hand it off to your beta readers to vet out as much of it as possible.

On this Easter weekend what prose are you tormenting?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

David Baldacci- Done in 3 Acts

Simplicity is best...begin by breaking writing down into three parts.

It is good to know that he writes stuff that his wife doesn't like. And I love that he has written books that don't work. No matter how far he is into them.

Easter break...I have to get my head right and focus.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Clive Cussler- You've got to believe

Sometimes dreams come true.  It isn't a mistake.  
Hard work, dedication to craft and you too can be an "over night" success.  

Monday, April 2, 2012


I have to admit...I have had a crush on Tony for a while. It could be because he is a giant like me.  No...I think it is because of my first trip to Europe.  His book was the only one I took with me on a 2 month trip through Europe.  I read it a couple of times. I lost 40 pounds that summer.  I credit it to Tony.  He inspires me.  I hope you feel it too.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Advice from the King

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Not the Vader!  The force wouldn't allow it.

Listen to the King.  He can teach us all a lesson or five hundred.