Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Links of Interest

LINKS TO PUBLISHING NEWS SOURCES:
MARKETING YOUR BOOK, AN AGENT’S SUGGESTIONS:  (This is one of those annoying sites where there is no direct link to the individual articles.  This series of articles starts on December 5, 2011 and ends in article 6 on December 15th, 2011.)
WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, PART 2:
WRITING A KILLER THRILLER, PART 3:
DO YOU ONLY LINK TO AMAZON TO SELL YOUR BOOKS?
FACIAL RECOGNITION SOFTWARE:  Food for plot thoughts.
LIST O’ LINKS:  Elizabeth Craig does a better job at finding articles than I have in the last week.  Here’s her list.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Formatting Internal Dialogue

QUESTION: 
I have query about the correct way to convey internal thoughts and sounds.
According to the Chicago Manual of Style:  "11.47 Unspoken discourse: Thought, imagined dialogue, and other interior discourse may be enclosed in quotation marks or not, according to the context or the writer’s preference."
I gather whether quotation marks are used and which type varies from publishing house to publishing house. Is that correct?
ANSWER: The only times I’ve ever seen quotation marks used for interior dialogue in popular fiction is along the lines of -- “Brilliant move,” I said silently to myself.  
The standard method is to italicize the thought--  The bell slipped out of my fingers and clanged loudly as it hit the floor.  I winced. Brilliant move, Byerly.
Some publishers, particularly of nonfiction, will state the stylebook they prefer, but most fiction publishers don’t.  In the case of no stylebook mentioned, use grammar correctly and be consistent.
QUESTION CONTINUED: 
In deep third POV, it’s quite common to have a fair amount of interior dialogue.
I try to ask myself whether the person is posing themselves a specific question or stating some fact to themselves. If they are, I put them in italics, otherwise I don’t. Is this the best way to do it? 
What if they ask themselves a rhetorical question?
ANSWER: You seem to have a firm grip on where you italicize sentences.   For rhetorical sentences, either way would work.  
I tend to avoid italicized internal dialogue because it breaks the reader’s rhythm, particularly if it’s done too much or too little.  Instead, I write so that I remain deep in POV.
For example, to remove the internal dialogue of my earlier example, I’d write: 

The bell slipped out of my fingers and clanged loudly as it hit the floor.  I winced at my clumsiness.  
QUESTION CONTINUED: 
I also have problems with the verb’s tense in internal discourse eg.  She loosened her grip, so the rope slid through her hands and let her feet slide over the knot. Shit – rope burn. Her feet reached another knot. She clung to the rope, her body shaking, her palms sweating so hard they felt cold. This wasn’t working.
Should the last bit be This isn’t working.?
ANSWER: If “This isn’t/wasn’t working” is deep POV, the sentence would use “wasn’t.”  If it’s internal dialogue, use “isn’t.”  
If you’re confused about the tense, pretend it is dialogue for internal dialogue and speak it aloud to see if it sounds right. If it’s a thought, the tense remains the same as the rest of the narrative.
QUESTION CONTINUED:  If you’re trying to signify there is a sound made, does it go inside single or double quotes or can you use italics? 
ANSWER: Sounds are italicized only.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Schedule Note

I just found out that the extended family is coming tomorrow rather than after Christmas for a big meal and an overnight visit.

(Marilynn runs around the house screaming with horror, cleaning and making grocery and to-do  lists.)

Tomorrow's "Links of Interest" will be delayed  for a few days or more which is no great loss since few blogs are being posted with decent writing articles.

Have a lovely holiday.

Marilynn

Monday, December 19, 2011

What Christmas Songs Can Teach a Writer

Christmas is a time to revive old classics in music and blog entries.  Here is last year's Christmas blog.


Marilynn



"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.
"Silent Night"  A few simple images can create powerful emotions.
"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.
"The Christmas Song"  ("Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…." )  Setting alone can show strong emotion and story.
"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.
"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.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Links of Interest

COMBINING SCENES TO MAKE A BIGGER IMPACT:
USING BLOODHOUNDS OR OTHER SCENE DOGS:
INTERVIEW WITH ASSISTANT EDITOR AT GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING:
THE DANGEROUS FINE PRINT OF AMAZON’S NEW LENDING PROGRAM:
KEEPING DESPAIR AT BAY:
MAKE SURE YOU HIT THE RIGHT SPOT WHEN A CHARACTER IS SHOT THROUGH THE HEART:
ANALYZING GHOSTBUSTERS AS GOOD PLOTTING:
THE PREMISE VERSUS THE STORY:
THE FIVE STAGES OF DECOMPOSITION:
PRICE CALCULATIONS ON PROMOTION:
WRITING A KILLER THRILLER:
ONLINE PLATFORMS FOR BOOK PROMOTION:

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Brief History of Narrative

Narrative has dwindled in importance since the first novels. Compare a novel of a hundred years ago to one today, and you'll see what I mean.
What you'll find is that descriptions, dialogue, and narrative have all simplified. 
Descriptions aren't as detailed, and you certainly won't find long pages of descriptions of the countryside, the houses, or the clothes. 
The narrative has become more intimate with the author less intrusive. The reader is put dead center into the character's head and thoughts, and the intimacy tends to only be for one or two characters, not every character in the novel. 
Instead of omniscient, the current standard in fiction is third and first person. Most fiction is written in warm third person with occasional forays into cold third person. Hot third person tends to be only used in romance which is about emotions.
The paragraphs are also shorter.
The dialogue carries more story weight because it must give the reader more information about what the characters are thinking and seeing as well as advancing the plot. 
In other words, much of the fat of the novel has been trimmed because modern readers want only the meat and bone of the story.
The fourth wall is never acknowledged anymore in genre narrative because of the more intimate viewpoint. You will never see this in a contemporary novel-- "Do not despair, gentle reader, for Becky will soon get her comeuppance." 
A rare exception is in some chick lit and Buffy lit urban fantasy where the main character "talks" to the reader.
Constantly shifting viewpoints in third person has never been used in fiction except in the romance of the last twenty-five years where a bastardization of omniscient and third person developed more from ignorance of narrative techniques than deliberate choice. At its best, it is close to the norm of omniscient; at its worst, it is annoying and rather nauseating in a motion-sickness sort of way as the reader is jerked back and forth between two heads and offered considerably more information than is necessary. 
Few writers can write well using shifting viewpoints, and it is the kiss of death for most editors when they are looking at submissions because it shows the writer doesn't know what the spit they are doing. 
As an interesting side note, video techniques are changing viewpoint. Editors frown at sentences like, "His hand ran up and down her back." They prefer, "He ran his hand up and down her back." Body parts should not act independently according to editor thought. 
However, many writers now prefer, "His hand ran up and down her back," because they see this as a close-up in their mental video of the action, and it is beginning to creep into published writing.
In a few years, this type of video technique may be as common in genre narrative as the other changes we have seen.

SCHEDULE NOTE:  My Internet connection keeps going down so Wednesday's "Links of Interest" may be delayed.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Links of Interest

FORMATTING KINDLE AND SMASHWORD EDITIONS OF YOUR NOVEL:
WORKING WITH AN EDITOR:
PICKING AN AGENT WHEN YOU WRITE MORE THAN ONE GENRE:
NETWORKING WITHOUT NETWORKING:
HISTORICAL LINKS:
ACTION/ REACTION:
THE DANGEROUS NON-COMPETITION CLAUSE IN A PUBLISHING CONTRACT:
THE MOVIE THOR AS THE HERO’S JOURNEY:
WHY A NOVEL MAY NOT GRAB YOUR INTEREST:
CLEANING UP YOUR WRITING/EDITING:
FREQUENT QUESTION ON THE MONEY SIDE OF PUBLISHING:
HORSES IN WORLDBUILDING:
CUTTING SCENES TO IMPROVE PACE:
CREATING THEMATIC RESONANCE:
MAKING YOUR CHARACTERS STRONGER:
UNDERSTANDING ROYALTIES:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Too Much Information

You want to start a novel at an exciting moment that involves the main character which will draw the reader into the story to see what will happen next, but you can't give too much information, too soon.
Instead, you give the reader just enough information to understand what's going on.
For example, the main character faces an angry goblin in a dark alley of some major big city.
She can hear cars and a police siren which, unfortunately, is moving away from where she is. Mentally or aloud, she cusses her luck for choosing a job like this.
The goblin knocks her gun out of her hand, and it lands in the sewer drain so she lifts her hands, whispers a spell, and flames shoot of her hands, but the goblin doesn't go down. The injury makes him even angrier. 
We now know she's a magic user of some sort, the world is ours or isn't ours by little details, that magical creatures can enter here, and it's her job to stop them, and she is in seriously deep poo because she is now defenseless against a furious goblin.
Later, you'll tell the reader about her role as a Guardian of normal Earth and, later still, about her home on a parallel magic world, but you'll do it in bits and pieces like clues to a puzzle the reader is trying to understand.
Having these clues of the world and trying to understand it is as important a puzzle for the reader as the plot, and it's as enjoyable. Don't cheat the reader by giving away too much.