Archive for February, 2006
February 28, 2006
Cinch that Belt!
Today let’s work on Syntax and Tighten the Writing. By doing the former you will achieve much of the later.
Syntax is the patterns of formations of sentences and phrases from words and the rules of the formation of grammatical sentences in a language.
Don’t you just love Webster definitions? They make everything so unclear.
In plain English Syntax means the word arrangement and sentence structure.
Remember that old song by Tom Jones, and later Joe Cocker, “You Can Leave Your Hat On”? It was sexy, vibrant, and made you want to, ahh… er… just leave your hat on.
The phrasing is great for lyrics and dialogue but oh so wrong for narrative. Why? You should never end a sentence with a preposition. Yes, it sounds right. Yes, we talk that way. Grammatically it is incorrect.
How should it read? “You can leave on your hat.” Sure doesn’t have the same impact does it?
Frequently grammatical sentences don’t have the same effect. If you find this to be true, save the prepositional endings for your dialogue. Sometimes you can’t help but use them in narrative because you need that force or dramatic effect. It’s okay but do it sparingly.
Here’s an example of what Redmond O’Hanlon, Into the Heart of Borneo, Vintage 1987, got away with in his novel;
“My companion, James Fenton, however, whose idea the venture was, enigmatic, balding, an ex-correspondent of the war in Vietnam and Cambodia, a jungle in himself, was a wise old man in these matters.”
I don’t know if Fenton did this as a joke on his editor, if it got missed in the edits, or he wanted this sentence to read as written. But I will guarantee you won’t get away with this type of writing with today’s editors. Be sure to read your work aloud and correct any sentences that are convoluted.
ALOUD is the key word here. Read your work aloud. I can’t stress this enough. It’s the only way to allow your ear to pick up the errors. Sure you’ll feel stupid doing it, even if you are home alone locked in your closet. Get over it. We all experience the same reaction. Here’s your option; let your book go to an editor with written garble and expect a nice form rejection in the return mail.
When you read aloud look for;
• Does your intent come across – action, suspense, romance, sorrow?
• Does something detract from your meaning?
• Fine-tune your sentences until they sound perfect, rhythmic, to your ear.
To further Tighten the Writing get rid of unnecessary words. It will make your writing sound stronger. Those expendable words are, but not limited to;
• A little
• At the present time
• Began to
• By means of
• Considering the fact that
Be concise, don’t ramble on with your descriptions. Think about the sections you skim or avoid when you read a novel. Don’t allow that to happen to your reader. Make sure you haven’t flooded a section with so much back story or description you are boring the reader. Get rid of the excess because most of it won’t matter.
Please don’t write you book via Roget’s Thesaurus. Today’s editors want meat in a book, not fat. Your reader doesn’t want to be written down too. Use the everyday words of your speech and not some $20.00 word that has your reader reaching for their Webster’s.
Avoid clichés like the plague. Get the idea? You are a writer – so write something new.
I’m not being bitchy here. I want you to get published. We should have millions of new books available from the reliable E-publishers and on the shelves of every type bookstore. But if you don’t do your job the numbers will be low and our future generations won’t have the role models they need.
Break out your manuscript, once again, and read it aloud. We’re almost done. Friday we’ll Line Edit.
Until then, Happy Writing…
February 24, 2006
Yak, Yak, Yak
“Hi, Liz. How are you today?”
“Well hi, David. I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m just fine. It’s really good to see you.”
“Likewise. What’s new?”
HELLO! Time to wake up. I know you’re bored beyond relief with that less than scintillating dialogue, but the example was necessary. Why? To show you what kind of dialogue will irk your readers to book burning. As an aside, the only good thing about that above example is the punctuation is correct.
Yes, people really do talk mundane. It’s called idle chitchat and we use it all the time. As a writer you’d better not shovel that kind of crappy dialogue down your reader’s throat or the only sound you’ll hear is the toilet flushing away any future sales.
Your dialogue must;
• Push your story along
• Give insight to your characters
• Be active
You owe your reader a good story. They expect it. They deserve it. You had better deliver.
How do you write exciting dialogue? Good question and there’s no definitive answer. Following are some clues to help you.
Look at your manuscript. Read the dialogue out loud. Check for the following;
• Does each character speak in a specific voice? Or do they all sound alike?
• Are you conversations pertinent to what’s happening at the time? To the progress of the story?
• Does your dialogue carry emotion?
• Does your dialogue make the reader want to skim and go onto the next section or read every word?
Read your written dialogue out loud. Listen to the sound and rhythm of the sentences. Correct or delete as the case may require. Next, and this is the important part, have someone else read the same passages aloud without knowing what’s happening before and after. Hearing your words from another person will help you pull it together and notice the weak spots.
If you’re writing erotica, please remember couples think and talk during sex. Even if one of your characters is shy, can’t say what they’re feeling, they are thinking. Turn their thoughts into short sentences. It will add more depth to your character and meaning to your story.
Tuesday we’ll work on Tighten the Writing and Syntax. Until then, Happy Writing,
February 21, 2006
Kick It Up a Notch
Show Don’t Tell is a confusing phrase that has many new writers yanking out their hair. What does it mean? How do I do it? Leave those Clairol locks in place because the explanation is simple.
Showing is action. It is what your character is doing at that moment. Telling is a passive writing, a way of explaining what your character is doing. It can also be considered author intrusion, a big no-no to editors.
Here are a few examples;
Telling – Liz had on a red suit with a white rose in the lapel and a white linen blouse.
Showing – Liz plucked a white rose from the bouquet on the coffee table. Carefully she slipped the short stem into her lapel then glanced in the mirror and smiled at how perfect its creamy color looked against the red jacket. She tugged on her blouse cuff, gently so as not to wrinkle the linen.
T – There was shouting from the balcony.
S – Shouts echoed from the balcony.
T – The dog show was judged by Frank.
S – Frank judged the dog show.
T – Mary was sad.
S – May sobbed.
In many cases showing requires more words to paint the right picture and that’s a good thing if the scene requires them.
To easily locate the places where you Tell, hold down the Control key while you press the letter F key. It will bring up a Find and Replace panel. Type in the word ‘was’ without the apostrophes and press ‘Find Next’. Read each sentence and/or section that appears. Should it or could it be more active? You may be surprised at how your novel will improve by this simple exercise.
Thursday we’ll discuss dialogue and just how important it is to your story.
Until then, Happy Writing,
February 20, 2006
Hotclue is on a Roll!
Good morning, everyone. Tomorrow’s the big day for Show, Don’t Tell but today the hottest blog for info is over at www.bethanderson-hotclue.com/blog.
Beth is being inteviewed by Hotclue and has tons of info for all of us writers. So jump on over and be sure to visit the websites Hotclue recommends.
See you Tuesday,
February 16, 2006
She Did It Again!!
More good news to share with all of you. Sherrill Quinn has received another, yes – another contract for a new story. Torrid Press is printing her new story this coming winter. CONGRATULATIONS, Sherrill!
Now you all have to head over to www.sherrillquinn.com for all her great news and a hot blog.
I’ll be back Tuesday and we’ll continue with editing. Our topic will be Show, Don’t Tell.
Sloane said @ 4:39 pm
| Hot Damn
February 15, 2006
And the Winners Are…
in the Valentine Hero Hunt through the Triskelion Authors;
Each lady received a beautiful bouquet on Valentine’s Day and a $20.00 gift certificate for Triskelion Publishing.
Congratulations Ladies and Happy Reading!
Sloane said @ 9:26 am
February 14, 2006
HAPPY VALENTINE DAY!
Head on over to Triskelion Publishing at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TriskelionInferno/ for a free copy of “My Valentine Hero”. While you’re there meet some of the hottest heros in books today.
I love you Studly!!
Sloane said @ 12:54 pm
February 13, 2006
Brazen Vixen Conquers Publishing Word
Wonderful news for Sherrill Quinn, a fantastic erotica author, she has been offered a contract from New Concepts Publishing for “The Praetorians: Discovery”. Be sure to check out her web site, www.sherrillquinn.com, for the release date.
Way to go, Ms. Quinn!
Sloane said @ 6:10 pm
| Hot Damn
February 11, 2006
Psst, want to be the first?
Happy days are here again! If you want to see something BEAUTIFUL go www.bethanderson_hotclue.com. It’s the brand new website for Chicago crime writer Beth Anderson and the most gorgeous site I’ve seen in ages.
While you’re there, be sure to check out her book “Second Generation”. It is a fantastic read.
Have a good weekend,
Sloane said @ 10:42 am
February 7, 2006
That’ll Never Happen to Me!
How often have you heard negative news and were positive such a thing could never happen to you? Ten, twenty, one hundred times? I’ve always felt that way. Always sure things happened to other people but not me. Apparently yesterday was my comeuppance day.
Studs was showering and I figured it was a good time to reconcile the checkbook. It’s not my favorite job, but with the Quicken program it’s easy. As I’m going down the list doing my little click thing, I see two checks that cleared for over $100 each. Now I’m positive I’d voided those two checks, but you know how it is with something you were sure of but have to recheck and it still doesn’t make sense? There I was flipping back and forth between the statement and the checkbook, repeatedly, trying to figure what I did wrong.
Like a nice, polite citizen, I call the bank and tell the faceless person on the other end there seems to be a problem with my account. She pulls up the record in her computer and informs me the checks were written by another person against my account.
Okay, I’m blonde but it doesn’t take a Mac truck to make me realize there’s a more serious problem here. Also, I’m out several hundred dollars and not at all happy. Then the nicer, politer lady on the phone tells me there’s a third check written by the same people against my account. I’m stunned and at a complete loss as to what to do. The lady tells me she’ll take care of everything and will get back to me. Yeah. Right. About twenty minutes later she does call back. She recommends I close the account, go into the bank to sign forgery affadavits, and it’s also necessary to file a police report.
Studs agrees, but he’s got a problem. You see, these three checks were written in consecutive order to the other checks in our register. All I can say is – I’m very confused. He looked up the address for the forgers. Bingo, they’re listed in the phonebook. Not making too much sense to me.
We go to the bank, sign the papers, but can’t get any more information. At the police station the detective was nice but explained it was pretty much a lost cause to find the forger.
On the way home, Studs asks if I want to drive by the forger’s house. Hell yeah! I’ve never seen a crack house and here’s a great opportunity. What a shock when we pulled into an upscale subdivision.
Studs drives by and I see an older woman through the open drapes. I wanted to stop and talk with her but Studs was against it. Of course I insisted and am grateful I did.
To cut a long story short I’ll recap the lady’s info.
Her daughter was the fifth in a line of identity theft. When the girl got her bank statement she noticed three checks written against her account, in consecutive order, that she didn’t issue. She called the bank and went through the same routine as we did.
Since then, this young woman has had checks cashed against her account in the thousands of dollars all across the state of Illinois, she lives in Indiana. She had to get her drivers license and credit cards changed. She too was not going to let this go and discovered the other people before her had the same problems but worse. One of them had a high-end Lexus purchased under this scheme. All these people banked at the same bank branch. I’m at the same bank but a different branch, different city, same state.
She has been working with a detective in her city. He told her the FBI were called into the case because the fraud has crossed the state line and escalated into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apparently the concensus is that it’s an inside job and the bank is working hard to uncover the person or persons responsible for the fraud.
When I left I told the girl’s mother how sorry I was her daughter had to go through all this. The lady sadly smiled and said that within two weeks I’d be in the same situation. I must have had a puzzled or shocked look on my face because she told me all this had happened to her daughter within the last twelve days.
Over a martini, which I desperately needed, Studs and I rehased it all. We couldn’t figure out how the bank had so much personal data to afford an employee with the ability to go to such ends. I pulled out the paperwork we all complete to open a bank account. There is was, in black and white, name – address – phone number – social security number – driver’s license number. What more could any criminal need to ruin your life?
Please be sure to scrutinize your bank and credit card statements carefully. If your bank statement contains photo copies of the checks, thoroughly look those over as well. Immediately report any discrepencies. And good luck.
Sloane said @ 10:21 am