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Showing posts from October, 2020

Dead Whales Can't Wave Back - Consider a Great Title, Please

Following a desultory lurch into relevancy on the part of the panel, one poor neophyte stood and asked the assembled if he should worry about his novel title before becoming published. Did it really matter? He'd received way too many opinions and desired a final tiebreaker. And the consensus answer? Don't worry about your title... Huh? Not long ago, I attended a panel at a mega-large writer conference. It consisted of authors who had recently been published (small presses, mainstream imprints, e-presses). There were about 150 people in the room. Following a desultory lurch into relevancy on the part of the panel, one poor neophyte stood and asked the assembled if he should worry about his novel title before becoming published. Did it really matter? He'd received way too many opinions and desired a final tiebreaker. And the consensus answer?  No. You don't have to be concerned, and besides, the publisher will most likely change it anyway... I sat the

Screenplay Into Novel - Will You Listen?

From the desk of Jeff Lyons (Story Geeks) . Along with the self-publishing revolution has come a series of “mini-revolts.” One of those involves a major shift in the traditional way novels have been adapted for the screen. Creative writers of every stripe are now searching for a way into the ever-growing ocean of print and e-books. Among them are screenwriters hoping to leverage a prose fan base in order to, ironically, get their original script ideas sold as movies or television programs. A Changing Industry Traditionally published novels have always been a lucrative source of literary properties for the entertainment industry. But in the last decade, more and more self-published books have joined the page-to-screen trend and are responsible for building some of the biggest entertainment franchises, supporting billions of dollars in global box office revenue [e.g., Amanda Brown’s Legally Blonde , E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey , Andy Weir’s The Martian ]. While this fits with

Deep and Fresh Traits for Majors

More to know than you might guess. Secondary characters in a story, novel, or screenplay, both major and minor, must be utilized to serve the story in several important ways. They deliver crucial exposition at the right time ("She's not who you think she is."), create complications and interpersonal conflicts that spice or jolt the narrative ("You can't shut me up!"), play a role in ushering the protagonist down the plot path ("If you don't leave now, the game will be lost.") or make it easier for the author to reveal facets of the protagonist's background or personality ("Have you told her you served time in prison?"), become an actual obstacle to the protagonist ("You'll die if you go there."), or serve as an interpretational viewpoint for the reader that better defines or magnifies the jeopardy, setting, or circumstances ("The Master of Dartmoor awaits, and the hounds will be released!")--or some

Four Levels of Third Person POV

Let's get to the point. Yes, we know CATCHER IN THE RYE and HUCKLEBERRY FINN and THE GREAT GATSBY could never have been famous novels without the engaging first person voice of their protagonists. And yes, first person is fashionable now in select genres (only because certain successful novels in the near past were hacked out in first person, e.g., GONE GIRL and THE HUNGER GAMES, thus leading New York publishing to illogical conclusions and a very poor memory for history--think HARRY POTTER or THE BOOK THIEF for starters); however, multiple third person is the best and most cinematic way to relate a dynamic work of fiction, as will be demonstrated. Unless you know you cannot earn the brass ring without remaining a prisoner of first person voice, becoming skilled with third person variations is strongly advised. The "Filter of Traits" - Personalities, Viewpoints, and Tone Before getting around to the demonstration of brilliantly effective third person in action, let&#

No Mediocrity - Push into the "Ugly"

So what's your edge? I just finished reading two very mediocre books, both very atmospheric, but without much story because the story was buried somewhere in that atmosphere (and, in one case, lyricism, as one book was written by a poet and she was so in love with her writing she didn't realize there wasn't actually a story). I'm not going to tell you what either book is because one is a Pulitzer Prize winning 'classic' and I don't feel like debating its merits. The other was represented by an agent I'm going to send my current novel to, so a little self-preservation is called for!  While dragging myself to the final chapters of these books, I realized that what's missing is fear . In writing, a healthy dose of MyGodICan'tBelieveI'mWritingThis!  is necessary. I didn't feel either writer standing too close to the edge (note the title of this blog...). It's your job to challenge yourself. Sit in the dark corners tied to a chair so yo

Writer Groups - More Harm Than Good?

DISCLAIMER: if you believe you are part of a fruitful writer group, Godspeed you. Most likely you are not, but it's a social distraction at least. Regardless, please consider the information below as being useful for reality checking your situation both now and in the future. If any of this rings true for you, you are advised to beware, especially if you are serious about writing a publishable novel. "Traditional critique groups are looking at a work the size of a skyscraper with a magnifying glass. They lack the perceptual distance to see flaws." Before we read my own dark, embittered opinion (just kidding) on the many downsides to writer groups, let's watch a video, then include a few reviews on this topic. Reviews of Sites Discussing Writer Groups - Inherent Fallacies A writer site which shall remain anonymous due to the fact I utterly disagree with their criteria for judging any given writer group as beneficial, shall now be e

Antagonist - Unquestionably the Novel's Most Important Character?

Antagonists are quite often the most memorable characters in literature, regardless of genre. Without them many of the best selling novels of all time would simply cease to exist, their supporting beams cut away, the shell of remaining "story" quietly imploding to ignominy and self-publication. Consider the impact on a scene, any scene, as soon as the author moves the chess piece of antagonist onto the page. The mere presence of a Javert from "Les Misérables," Assef from "The Kite Runner," or Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," immediately energizes the environment. The narrative and dialogue literally crackle and groan with antagonist. What chances do you as a writer have of getting your novel manuscript commercially published,  regardless of genre,  if the story and narrative fail to meet reader demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict? Answer: none. But what major factor accounts for this d