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Showing posts from November, 2020

Ruthless F. Scott on "Darling Killing"

When it comes to rewriting, a writer must make hard choices. Fitzgerald warned us writers about the danger of becoming way too attached to something you’ve written. "Keep an objective eye on the whole piece," he says, "and if something isn’t working get rid of it."  In a 1933 Saturday Evening Post article titled “One Hundred False Starts,” he writes: I am alone in the privacy of my faded blue room with my sick cat, the bare February branches waving at the window, an ironic paper weight that says Business is Good, my New England conscience–developed in Minnesota–and my greatest problem: “Shall I run it out? Or shall I turn back?” Shall I say: “I know I had something to prove, and it may develop farther along in the story?” Or: “This is just bullheadedness. Better throw it away and start over.” The latter is one of the most difficult decisions that an author must make. To make it philosophically, before he has exhausted himself in a hundred-hour effort to

Writer Ego and the Imaginary Bob

You begin your first novel with equal parts ignorance and false optimism. Many months, or even years later, you finally learn the enormity of your mistakes. Those popular writer magazines and the  sociable little group of amateur writers that looked like a great plan, at first, now appear unreliable and even time wasting. At this juncture, you will either deny reality, quit altogether, or else vow to become a true and humble apprentice to the art of novel writing .  Ne confondez jamais une seule défaite avec une défaite finale.                                       - F. Scott The process above is nearly inevitable for the vast majority of aspiring authors, and only the eternal narcissist is incapable of achieving a productive second stage. We've discussed this subject more than once. Of course, such a personality will always disagree and fume like a child, but what about less volatile, less serious forms of counterproductive ego? About a year past, a screenplay writer

What the Classics Teach us About Exposition

The literary science of accomplishing exposition is set in stone.   The inexperienced writer dumps it like rocky weights on the reader's head (or not at all).The experienced author delivers at the right time and place, fusing it within the narrative flow so as to avoid the appearance of artifice. But wait, let's provide a simple definition before going further:  " exposition" is that sum of information which must be delivered to the reader to enable them to fully understand the plot of the novel going forward. Generally speaking, the reader learns exposition in a similar manner to the way life teaches it, e.g., upon moving into a new neighborhood, you learn the background history of the neighbors a bit at a time. They tell you about themselves, and others, as circumstances and conditions permit. By combining these fragments, you are finally able to perceive the entire picture of neighborhood society.  The example above should give us a clue as to the best methods for

Best 10 Steps for Starting the Novel - All Genres

As you explore the nooks and literary crannies of NWOE, you'll find considerable words devoted to warning you away from foolish and terrible advice.  But what about professional, tested, and proven advice? Below are ten bullet points for aspiring authors designed to help them overcome any confusion or misdirection when it comes to starting the novel. However, before you investigate, make certain you've already prepared by reading this sensible prologue . Note: the list below makes a base assumption that the writer is a relative novice and currently searching for direction and focus--the same stage every one of us passes through. For those in the second stage, or higher, the list might well begin further down. Nonetheless, we cannot stress enough how important it is to fully understand your genre. Eat and breathe it. Know the currents in the market, what makes for a "high concept" story in this context. You'll never be published otherwise. KEY CONCEPTS : genr

Brilliant Fiction Narrative in Four Stages

From Drab or Quiet to Can't Put It Down.    What's one of the best ways to ensure a publishing contract? Master the art of writing fiction narrative, of course. But what does that mean, and are you sure you know the difference between relatively quiet  narrative and cinematic, verve-packed narrative? Are you setting your standards high enough? Are you aware of the level of craft and attention to detail necessary to make you into a great writer? And btw, why shouldn't you strive to be a great writer? All it takes is work. New writers set standards for themselves while often remaining ignorant of just how high their standards must be raised in order to become as competitive as possible in the current literary or commercial book marketplace. Rather than tell, let's show examples of how to take reasonably good fiction narrative and transform it by making it as competitive and energetic as possible. We will add imagery, metaphor, emotion, more active verbs, and bett

The Seven Sins of Novel Rejection

From the Desk of Agent Richard Curtis   *****  (Best of Writer's Edge) "The truth is that if all other things are equal, the author with better writing skills is the one who will rise out of the pack. " As the stakes continue to rise in the publishing business, writers are adopting a wide range of strategies to advance themselves out of the midlist and onto better-selling plateaus. I myself have recommended a number of such strategies. Recently, however, as I respond again and again to the question of what one can do to escape midlist oblivion, it's begun to dawn on me that many writers have been ignoring the most obvious answer: write better .  The truth is that if all other things are equal, the author with better writing skills is the one who will rise out of the pack. Instead of reviewing what's selling these days and who is buying it, I thought it might be worth reminding you about some of the most common and flagrant writing transgressi