Monday, December 22, 2014

What Christmas Cards Can Teach Us About Writing

"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."  The only character greater than a villain is a villain who is redeemed.

"Oh, Holy Night"  A powerful story is often best told simply.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"  Sometimes, something innocent can become creepy.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas"  A one-sided romantic relationship is boring.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"  The underdog with a reviled talent makes a great hero.  

"Frosty the Snowman"  A great character often deserves a sequel.  ("I'll be back again, some day." ) 

"Carol of the Bells"  Driving rhythm can pull the reader forward.  

"Do You Hear What I Hear?"  You can tell a story through dialogue.

"Silent Night"  A few simple images can create powerful emotions.

“Let It Snow, Let It Snow”  The quiet, homey moments are often filled with the greatest emotions and memory.

"The Christmas Song"  ("Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…." )  Setting alone can show strong emotion and story.

“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”  A fantasy plot makes much more sense with lots of details.  (“There's lots of room for him in our two-car garage.  I'd feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage.)  NOTE: Best Christmas novelty song ever!

"Good King Wenceslas"  Sometimes, a character is remembered more for kindness than power or glory.

"I'll Be Home For Christmas"  Home and family are two of the most powerful goals within the human heart.  

"Baby, It's Cold Outside."  "This is for your good, not mine" is a great seduction.

“Is that You, Santa Claus?”  Every good thing may disguise a bad thing.

"Jingle Bells" and "Jingle Bell Rock"  The times and tempo may change, but the story remains the same.  

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"  Sometimes, the character's emotions and the message aren't the same.  

"Santa Baby"  With the right voice, even Santa and a chimney can be made into a double entendre.  


“All I Want for Christmas Is You.”  Love is the greatest gift.  

SCHEDULE NOTE: Because of the low number of postings elsewhere because of Christmas, there won't be a Wednesday "Links of Interest."  My Monday article and Wednesday "Links" post will return next week.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Links of Interest

HOW DOES YOUR CHARACTER ANSWER QUESTIONS, A MORE IMPORTANT BIT OF INFO THAN YOU’D REALIZE:


FORMATTING SELF-PUB MANUSCRIPTS:


WHY YOUR CHARACTER NEEDS FLAWS:


GETTING STARTED WITH SCRIVENER:


COMING UP WITH IDEAS:


DEALING WITH PACING PROBLEMS:


FACEBOOK FOR AUTHORS:


IS YOUR ROMANCE SENSUAL OR INTELLECTUAL?


PLOTTING AND PUTTING THE IDEAS ON PAPER:


PUTTING NAKED EMOTION ON THE PAGE:


LET YOUR CHARACTERS BE WRONG FOR THE RIGHT REASON:


MARKETS, SHORT STORIES:


MAKING A CHARACTER STAND OUT:


WORLDBUILDING USING HISTORY:


THE CENTRAL QUESTION IN DIFFERENT GENRES:


THE DANGER OF COPYRIGHT RIGHTS GRABS IN CONTRACTS:


CREATING UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTERS:


REQUESTING PERMISSIONS TO USE OTHERS’ COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AND A SAMPLE PERMISSIONS LETTER:


LAYERING MOTIFS IN YOUR BOOK:



Monday, December 15, 2014

Creating Emotional Resonance

QUESTION: What is emotional resonance, and how I create it in my story?

Emotional resonance in fiction is the emotion shared between the reader and the character or characters in the story.  At its best, the reader not only feels the character’s emotions, those emotions and goals matter to the reader, not just in the moment of the scene, but through the book and beyond.

To give a scene resonance, you must offer visual and emotional cues in the use of your words and images as well as the five senses of the viewpoint character.  Vivid sight, sound, and senses are described which put the reader firmly in the character’s head and world. 

You can also use archetypal images or metaphors which have a strong emotional resonance for humankind. The archetypal image can raise the hackles (absolute darkness), slow the heartbeat (a babbling brook), or turn the stomach (maggots on a rabbit's carcass). The archetypal image can help push the reader's emotional buttons so you can make them feel what you want them to feel. 

Horror writers, for example, use the fear archetype to great effect. Stephen King can go for the archetypal jugular vein with relentless certainty. It is his greatest strength as a writer. His layering of images provokes an emotional response greater than mere words.

The archetypal image can also be manipulated to express changing emotions. In an unpublished novel of mine, the hero and innocent heroine end up in bed. Afterwards, the hero sends her a dozen white roses, the symbol of pure love and innocence. 

As the days pass and the hero doesn't get back in touch, the heroine watches the roses fade as her hopes fade.  When she finally realizes that the roses that meant “forever” to her mean “thanks for the great sex and good-bye” to him, she smashes the vase. 

Her innocence and love have faded completely; her heart is as crushed as the roses on the floor.

To create emotional resonance through the book you must give the main character a worthy goal for the book.  If that goal is emotionally important to the character and the reader, emotional resonance will be achieved.

In other words, if the main character must save his daughter from a horrific fate, then the reader is invested emotionally.  If the main character is just doing his job and the results aren't important, no one will give a damn.  

That goal must remain the focus through every scene, or the reader will lose that investment in the outcome.  The character must also actively work toward that goal, despite outside interference from the antagonist and interior emotional interference.  He must overcome his enemy and his own weaknesses.  

To create the strongest emotional resonance, the hero must lose also something of great value to win.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Links of Interest

HOW TO COPYRIGHT YOUR BOOK:


THE WRONG WAYS TO ESCAPE A BAD PUBLISHER:


USING A LIST OF WORDS NOT TO USE IN YOUR EDITING:


LINKS TO GOOD SELF-EDITING TIPS:


THREE GREAT REVISION TIPS:


THE PLOT REVERSAL:


FORENSICS, FINGERPRINT LIFTING IN ADVERSE CONDITIONS:


ADVANCED PROMO TIPS FROM GOODREADS:


AMPING UP YOUR STORY:


WORLDBUILDING, UNDERGROUND STRUCTURES, CAVES, ETC.:


COMING UP WITH MOTIFS FOR YOUR NOVEL:


TIPS FROM SUCCESSFUL WRITERS:


NAILING YOUR CHARACTER’S PERSONALITY:



Monday, December 8, 2014

Literary versus Genre Fiction, Defining the Debate

A debate I often see on various websites is the value/worthiness of genre novels in comparison to literary fiction. Usually, it’s genre writers fighting back at what they perceive as a slight against what they write.  Unfortunately, most don’t have a clue about the difference between popular genre and literary fiction so their arguments make little sense.  I thought I’d rectify that problem.  

The simplest comparison between literary fiction and popular/genre fiction is that literary fiction is about the telling of the story, popular fiction is about the story itself. 

In literary fiction, the author is always evident through the flashy style and the use of complex structure.  Plot isn’t important. A common technique found in literary fiction is the frame story where someone in the present is looking into the past, or the end of the novel is revealed at the beginning.  In other words, time in most stories isn't linear, and the reader doesn't read primarily to know what happens next and how it turns out in the end.  This technique emphasizes character over plot.

In genre fiction, the writer should be invisible, and the reader should be part of the story and not really aware of the writer and the way he's putting the story together.  Anything that breaks this "dream state" is a failure on the writer's part.  

In literary fiction, the opposite is true.  The language draws attention to itself, and the reader pauses to think, "My, what an excellent use of metaphor and language!  I think I'll reread that again."  This is what the literary writer aims for.

In recent years, since the big publishers now demand decent sales from literary writers, authors have been using genre techniques in literary fiction or vice versa in order to widen their audiences.  Here are some of these mixed literary/genre that I’ve read.  

THE ART OF DISAPPEARING, Ivy Pochoda, Literary contemporary fantasy.

THE VANISHERS, Heidi Julavits.  Literary fiction with paranormal elements.  

THE NIGHT CIRCUS, Erin Morgenstern. 

THE THINKING WOMAN’S GUIDE TO REAL MAGIC, Emily Croy Barker. 

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, Deborah Harkness.  

THE HAWLEY BOOK OF THE DEAD, Chrysler Szarlan. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Links of Interest

TIPS FOR WORKING WITH BOOK BLOGGERS:


FINE TUNING YOUR WRITING:


ONLINE TOOLS FOR AUTHORS:


TIPS FOR RESEARCHING YOUR NOVEL:


WORKING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA WITH THE SECOND BOOK:


TRICKS FOR CATCHING TYPOS:


BREAKS FROM WRITING CAN BE GOOD:


DEALING WITH YOUR INNER CRITIC:


DESIGNING A FANTASY CIVILIZATION:


EARLY THOUGHTS ON AMAZON’S KU PROGRAM FROM AUTHORS WITH BOOKS IN THE SYSTEM:


ALTERNATIVE TO FEEDBURNER TO SEND BLOG ARTICLES:


TEN WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK ON YOUR BLOG:


WRITING FIGHT SCENES:


PLOTTING THE CHARACTER-DRIVEN NOVEL:


USING MOTIFS:



Monday, December 1, 2014

The Creation of Copyright

 "As for the myth that people wouldn’t create if they didn’t have control over their copyright,  I’ll just point out thousands of years of culture before copyright was invented. Not that anyone can be bothered to remember about… oh I don’t know… Shakespeare when it comes to the ‘necessity’ of copyright. Too inconvenient an example I guess."  A comment from someone on the copyright debate.

You were obviously listening to pirated music when you should have  been paying attention in class.

Shakespeare made his living as an actor, an administrator for a number of acting companies, and as the playwright for his company.  The writing fueled the income for the company, and Shakespeare got a larger chunk of the income because of his writing.  His acting companies also had very rich and influential sponsors.   

Despite the fact that ideas were stolen right and left by Shakespeare and every other playwright from each other and famous works from the past, the language of the plays was strictly those of the individual writers.  Ideas can't be copyrighted, but the expression/language of the idea can so, surprisingly, our concept of copyright was followed.  Without copyright and print production, a vast majority of other playwrights' works have disappeared.  Shakespeare's still exists because of the folios.

Before the invention of the Gutenberg press, creators of plays depended on rich sponsors and performance to make their living.  The rich sponsors controlled the content and the political and social aspects of the works.

Novels came into being in the perfect storm of cheap printing, a growing, educated middle class with the income and time to read, and writers who were willing to produce those novels for the income.  The writers depended upon the income, but some had sponsors or a publishing house willing to fork over enough money (advances) to keep the writer eating while he created.

Copyright came into being, not because writers were greedy parasites, but because that period's version of large-scale content pirates who were greedy parasites began to devastate the publishing industry and its writers so the publishers, writers, and various governments had no choice but to create copyright.

If someone could wave a magic wand and make copyright disappear, many writers who need income so they can write would again be forced to go back to rich sponsors.  Would you really want Donald Trump, the Kardashians, and various political and social groups to control what you could read?

If the Kickstart model were followed, only the most popular ideas and types of books would be created so you'd be forced to read what the vast majority of people want to read.  Again, would you like to spend your life reading what now passes as bestsellers?


Copyright protects readers as much as it protects authors, and it is the greed of the pirates and their readers that makes such things as DRM and copyright necessary, NOT the greed of authors.