Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Links of Interest

CARINA PRESS MUST READ: If you sent a submission to Carina Press from December 15th to 24th, you'll need to resubmit. See here for specifics.

PROMOTION: Social networks. Intro and suggestions for promoting your writing.

AGENTS: Why an agent or editor says "no" in the first few pages of a manuscript.

THE LIFE OF THE WRITER: Surviving others' jealousy.

CRAFT: Writing the bad guy.

AGENTS: The agency contract. What you need to look for and questions to ask.

Yet more:


CRITIQUE GROUPS: Finding the right one for you.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What a Good Fight Scene Needs, CRAFT

A fight scene should be put into the plot not only to liven up the action but also to move the plot forward. Figure out what is at stake for the viewpoint character and the other characters. Make the possible results of the fight, beyond dying, as dangerous as getting killed.

This is the beginning of a fight scene in STAR-CROSSED. Kellen is being transported by two soldiers to his first owner and a life as a sex slave, and one decides to try him herself.

When she invaded his mouth, Kellen heaved with nausea. For the first time, he understood the violation of rape. He fell backwards onto the floorboard with her on top of him. She weighed more than he did. Her hand slid into his pants.

As she touched him, he realized that it would be die or escape. No middle ground of surviving in the harem was acceptable to him. He hit her then, a killing blow to the throat. She gurgled and arced like a woman in orgasm and went limp.

For Kellen, at this moment, death is preferable to what is in store for him, and escape or death are his only options, and the reader knows this, too.

The fight should also offer at least one or two pieces of the viewpoint character's emotional puzzle to the reader as well as telling the reader something about the opponent.

In this scene from THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN, I wanted to show my hero Val's skill at stopping a fight, not in winning one. He's facing his rival for the Queen in an exhibition match that quickly turns real. Prince Gregory also shows his true nature in this fight.

During the first blows, Val concentrated on his defense and let his muscles settle into the rhythm of swordplay.

After several minutes of attempting to get past his defenses, Prince Gregory began to batter at him as if to pound him into the ground. The prince had expected a quick defeat and easy humiliation, not an equal opponent, and his simmering anger about Fira now boiled. He wouldn't be content with pretend wounds and victory; he was out for blood.

The crowd, who had chattered and cheered their local favorite, became completely silent, and the air rang with the tintinnabulation of the singing blades and the hoarse rasp of both fighters' breathes.

Val thought desperately for a way out of the mess.

Gregory's weapon slipped past his defenses and slashed toward his throat. Val dodged, laughing as if having a marvelous time. He praised loudly, "A wonderful strategy."

When Gregory slashed backhanded in a return blow, Val thrust his blade vertically and caught it before it cut him in half. "Excellent. Excellent. You're one of the finest swordsmen I've ever seen."

Gregory blinked as if coming out of a daze but continued to go for blood.

Val laughed and spouted praise for almost a minute before the prince's attack began to ease in its brutality. Their weapons caught each other high in the air, and they stood belly to belly, face to face.

Gregory whispered, "What the hell are you doing?"

"Dying is a messy, bloody, ugly thing. I don't want to kill you in front of Fira, and I don't particularly want to die in front of her either. Where I come from that's not acceptable. If we must fight, we do it without a female audience."

The boy glanced toward Fira who stood white and silent, her hands clinched in painful distress. "I had forgotten...." He danced away, bringing his sword forward. "Another time then."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Links of Interest

CRAFT: How to shorten scenes.

SCAMS: Avoiding writing scams.

CRAFT: Clarifying ideas during the rewrite process. This is a really nice writing blog. Be sure to check it out.

QUERIES: How to write a good hook.

PROMOTION: How to make a book trailer.

REWRITING: One of the best pieces of advice I received as a new writer is "The book you have in your head isn't the same book I'm reading." Carrie Vaughn talks about this and how to improve things.

BUSINESS OF WRITING: Another article on ways to trash your writing career. This topic, gossip.

BUSINESS OF WRITING: Yet another get your head right article. This one is about how professional jealousy can damage your career.

CRAFT: Back story in a sequel.

CRAFT: The character arc--the changes/growth in a character's personality during a story, and how to create it.

QUERIES: What you need to have done or have before you begin querying agents and publishers.

PLOTTING: Why some kind of plot outline is good, even for those who hate outlines.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Showing, Not Telling, CRAFT

QUESTION: Is there one hard and fast way to always show instead of tell?

If you stay firmly in the viewpoint character's head and feel and see what she/he feels and sees, you will never tell rather than show.

Take the example of fear.  If you are afraid, you don't just think to yourself, I am afraid. If you think that, you really aren’t that afraid.

Instead, you may feel a shiver run down the spine, your heart will pick up speed, your body could tremble, etc., etc.

If you write about what the fear feels like, that's showing.  If you just say that the character is afraid, that's telling.

How do you get so firmly in a character's head?  Part of it is practice.  Part of it is acting.

One of the most popular methods of learning acting these days is called The Method.  The actor is supposed to immerse herself into the character so that she isn’t acting, she’s actually the person.

One variation of The Method is called Being in the Moment.  I like that as a metaphor for what a writer does.

Put yourself in the moment of the scene.

When you are ready to write a scene, close your eyes and imagine where your viewpoint character is.  What surrounds her?  Are any of the objects around her of importance?  How are they important?  What are the sounds?  The smells?  Who else is around her?  How does she feel about them?  How will she physically react to them?

Now open your eyes and start typing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Links of Interest

AGENT INTERVIEW: Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency.

WHY AN EDITOR SAYS NO: Editor at Del Rey counts the number of reasons she said no to a book. All these books are from agents, not slushpile.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Agent Jessica Faust explains sell through.

MARKETS: Questions about selling a mystery to a small market. Pros and cons.

MEMOIRS: Tips on how to write one.

CHARACTERIZATION: How you can use multiple modifiers to re-examine your character.

TAXES: Writers and taxes

AGENT INTERVIEW: Ginger Clark talks about what's hot right now in sf and fantasy as well various things people should know when querying an agent.

PROMOTION: Working with a publicist. (January 12th blog)

CRAFT: Shortening a work using characters. A really excellent article well worth the read.

CRAFT: Where does a story begin?

VOTE FOR ME! Remember this blog and its articles when you are nominating and voting for the best writer sites of the last year.

ASK ME QUESTIONS! Have a writing question? Write me via this blog's comments section.

Monday, January 11, 2010

All a Matter of Opinion?

The idea that all critiques are subjective isn't accurate.

The craft of writing has certain requirements, and if those requirements aren't met, the error is as obvious as a math mistake for a critiquer with a good eye for craft.

These mistakes can be everything from grammar to novel structure.

Perpetuating the idea that everything is subjective in writing enables new writers to ignore accurate criticism and blame everyone else when they are told something in their book doesn't work.

VOTE FOR ME! Remember this blog and its articles when you are nominating and voting for the best writer sites of the last year.

ASK ME QUESTIONS! Have a writing question? Write me via this blog's comments section.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Links of Interest

CONTEST: The Jim Baen Memorial Book Contest

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The 15 things you need to know between "the end" and "send."

NEGOTIATING CONTRACTS: Part 5 of Kristine Rusch's series. When do you and when don't you need someone else to negotiate the contract.

EBOOK FORMATS: A feature on how to format an ebook for the most popular readers.

WHAT AN EDITOR IS LOOKING FOR: The top 10 questions a Dutton editor asks herself when she is looking at a submission.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The difference between distributors and wholesalers in getting your book on the bookstore shelf.

HOW MUCH AN AUTHOR MAKES: Fantasy author Jim C. Hines talks about his publishing come from 2009.

CRAFT: The difficulties of making analogies in made-up worlds.

VOTE FOR ME! Remember this blog and its articles when you are nominating and voting for the best writer sites of the last year.

ASK ME QUESTIONS! Have a writing question? Write me via the comment section of this blog or at marilynnbyerly at aol dot com

Monday, January 4, 2010

Using Chat Dialogue in Fiction

QUESTION: I need to include multiple lines of on-line chat dialogue in my story. My question is about rendering the punctuation of it.

For example, in a rapid fire online chat exchange with short snappy one word answers, in real life, the writers would be unlikely to use much punctuation including periods. Can I eliminate them in my rendition of it to the page?

ANSWER: As long as what you write is clear to the reader, I see no problem with doing the punctuation or lack of it as you wish. Just be consistent.

One thing to consider is who your reader is. If your book is aimed at younger readers, they will be much more comfortable with nonstandard punctuation than the older reader.

To differentiate the chat dialogue from the regular text, I suggest you narrow the margin on both sides of the page by another inch and use names in the same way as in movie and play scripts.

JANET: OMG OMG Dirk asked me to the prom.

MARY: WTF He asked me, too!

VOTE FOR ME! Remember this blog and its articles when you are nominating and voting for the best writer sites of the last year.

ASK ME QUESTIONS! Have a writing question? Write me via this blog or at marilynnbyerly at aol dot com.