For those of you who have read The Truth About Alex, there is a few deleted scenes that never made the cut. The pace of the book was rather quick, and the scenes I mentioned would have dragged it down. They were short, to be sure, but unnecessary. Every published book, I’m willing to bet, has scenes removed from the final product. It’s a time when the author has to play surgeon, and although it can be a painful affair, it teaches you to have thick skin. You want the story to be the best it can be for your readers, am I right?
It’s hard to let go. Once you’ve written your entire book, lean back with a glass of wine and enjoy your magnificent accomplishment, the last thing on your mind is the cutting room floor. No, no, no. It’s perfect just the way it is. It’s your baby. Every scene has its place and purpose, and you may be the first person in the world who has written a perfect book! If that’s the case, you need to read my First Draft Blues for an awakening. Not to damper the mood, by all means celebrate! Just know the final product might not closely resemble what you’ve just written. Set it aside for a few months. Then, go back and read it. You may find that your perfect book isn’t so perfect, and there may be some much needed tweaking.
What about you? Have you ever had to slice away at a manuscript? How did it make you feel?
Many writers are afraid of a blank page. The white background with that beguiling curser blinking back at you, beckoning you to paint the page with words. How do you start? The first sentence of a story or book can be pivotal to a reader; a deciding factor on whether or not they will continue your tale or begin flipping through television channels. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, states that he puts a lot of effort into the first sentences of his books. That’s because a reader shouldn’t have to struggle through back story in order to discover what’s going to happen, it should just happen. Sure, characters have a past, but there’s an old saying among authors: show don’t tell. Your story’s beginning shouldn’t be a history lesson. Some like to open with dialogue while others prefer action. You hold the cards to your characters past and personality, and if you show your hand too early everything will grind to a standstill. Nobody wants that. Your story has to move, it has to put one foot in front of the other, one word after another. So, think of the situation, the engaging moment that will draw your readers’ attention, and just start walking.
Let’s talk for a second, you and I. Come on, pull up a chair. Comfortable? Great.
I recently asked one of my colleagues what his new book was about. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get an idea of what the story was about. The only thing he could tell me was that his character is amazing, and that’s it. Is it possible to write an entire novel based off of this concept?
That got me thinking: what is it that’s driving your story? Is it character? Plot? Maybe it’s a bit of both. TBS loves to announce that ‘characters are welcome,’ but are they enough to carry a story by themselves? The world doesn’t revolve around a character. He/she has to be doing something, or is in some way affected by the people or events in his/her life. That’s where the story emerges. Sure, Dr. House is smart, but I think he might fall into the category of being so smart that he’s stupid. Where he excels in his trade, he stumbles in his personal relationships. That isn’t enough to be a story, however. What he encounters and how relationships affect him can determine how he functions in the day to day, but suppose a code black is paged in the hospital and the place goes on lock down. There’s a mad man inside, and Dr. House wants to protect his patients at all costs. Maybe he attempts to outwit the assailant and saves the day. Not only is that a story, but it’s quite revealing in regards to character growth.
Maybe the slogan should be ‘stories welcome.’
Then again, maybe I think too much.
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Just wanted to spread the holiday cheer with some free Mystery Books, courtesy of Renee Pawlish! If you eat mystery books for breakfast like I do, go ahead and download until your heart is content!
A lot of people ask me what type of software I use for writing my manuscripts. To be honest, it can be easy for some writers to get too caught up in picking the right program. It can potentially distract the writer from doing what is most important: writing. As long as you are getting the story out, putting words on the page, then it really doesn’t matter what type of software you use. Maybe you don’t use a computer at all to write your magnificent novels. There are plenty of people who still use journals, pens, pencils, crayons, whatever! As a matter of fact, the first full length novel I ever wrote started out on napkins. Although not ideal, at least it got the job done.
In all fairness, I’ll answer the question. I write using a popular software called Scrivener. It keeps everything organized, but it can be a bit daunting for someone who is not used to it. Lately, though, I’ve shifted over to iA Writer. It’s a simple program that opens right up. It has night mode, my favorite, and organizes scenes and chapters with a swipe on my trackpad. Planning is fine, and Scrivener is really great for that, but when it comes to actually typing out a story, iA Writer has been my go to application!
What about you guys? Do you prefer one method of writing over another? What has your experience with Scrivener been like? Let me know in the comments!
Remember, get those words onto the page!
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What makes a great character? Someone who you’ll follow all the way through a story, his/her journey to overcome whatever dangers have been presented?
A colleague suggested readers are not interested in imperfect leads anymore, that part of the fantasy is indulging in the concept that there exists a perfect character that’s not only highly attractive, but also holds extraordinary abilities. Was there ever a time when books followed an imperfect main character? Sure, I’ve read quite a few books where that’s just the case. From an alcoholic private eye who’s dying of cancer and decides to take on one last case, to a humble Hobbit having a grand adventure thrust upon him. These sorts of characters are becoming less known in the modern realm of fiction, however.
A strikingly handsome detective who always out smarts the villain is a much more satisfying read to many people. These characteristics do not make our heroes great, but super. Ever watch CSI and marvel at the fact that a small team of super humans can solve incredibly intricate cases in forty-four minutes?
Not everything in the world is so cut and dry, and not every person is so, well, super. Often enough, a well rounded character is going to be a better one, in my opinion; someone who has faults, who makes mistakes, because these are the things that make a character relatable. Likable, even. You want to see them struggle, as morbid as that sounds, because you want to root for them to succeed in the end. To overcome not only the obstacle represented in the story, but their own personal demons, their own private remorse and uncertain thoughts making them wonder if they truly are up to the task. These are some of the qualities and imperfections I like to discover in a lead character. They make me enjoy the ride, and sympathize with their journey.
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This is the last day for an awesome chance to find your next favorite mystery book or author!