The Journal, Sunday, 4/9

Hey Folks,

I hope you check out my site from time to time, especially the left sidebar under Writers’ Resources.

This morning I needed a refresher (and ready reference) for the police 10-codes. So I found a reference and added a link under “A-Police 10-Codes.”

Anyway, check that sidebar now and then. There’s a lot of good stuff there.

* * *

Well, as it turned out I took most of the day off. During that time I went to the store. Then when I got back I took the driver’s side seat out of my Tacoma, turned it upside down in the bed so I could get at the seat adjustment mechanism, and fixed it so it will work, then reinstalled it.

I also got a haircut (lost about five pounds).

Then, just as I was about to go back to my novel, I got my fanny handed to me by an editing client. This writer thought I “changed [his or her] work” by adding a few “He said” (6 of them) and “She said” (8 of them) to the front of dialogue in places where I couldn’t tell which character was speaking.

Before I could do that, of course, during the edit I had to read back and forth and figure out who was speaking. Those little tag lines are gold to most readers, but apparently not to this particular writer.

Okay, shrug, so now I know. If I work with this person again, I won’t bother to figure out who’s speaking and add “He said” or “She said.” I’ll just add a comment like “Who’s saying this?” and let the writer go back and figure out who’s speaking.

Live and learn, eh?

* * *

The bigger workshop/seminar I’m hoping to put together will happen or not.

In the meantime, I’m developing a one-day intensive on “Adding Depth to Your Writing.” This stuff is invaluable.

Subtopics will include Depth/Setting, Openings (how to pull the reader into the story), and Grounding the Reader (how to keep him in the story). I’ll also talk about Character Description. Not creating them, but allowing your reader to know them.

I might also talk about Cliffhangers (to establish physical or emotional tension and force the reader to turn the page) and Hooks (keep the reader reading after he turns the page).

I’m not taking signups yet, but letting you guys know first. When I come up with a date and place, I’ll let you know.

Topic: Patience Is a Virtue

Awhile back I mentioned it’s good to practice something new, some new technique you’ve learned, in each new story.

Over the past several novels, I’ve become very good at grounding the reader. I accomplish that primarily by providing intimate details regarding the setting and the people in it.

But as you know if you’re following this Journal, I do a lot of cycling.

Sometimes I cycle back to insert something the characters spring on me later in the story.

For example, say Aunt Marge suddenly pulls a .32 caliber revolver out of her house dress and shoots an intruder in Chapter 26.

If that happens, I cycle back to when she first put on the house dress, say back in Chapter 18, and allow her to take the revolver from her night stand and slip it into the pocket of her house dress.

This accomplishes two things:

One, it negates the “miracle” of the revolver suddenly appearing just when it’s needed.

Two, it makes the reader feel the writer is a genius. After all, how did the writer know, way back in Chapter 18, that our dear Aunt Marge would need that revolver in Chapter 26?

Cycling will remain an invaluable aid for precisely those two reasons.

However, most of the time when I’ve cycled back in my last several novels, I did so because I got in too big a hurry. I rushed the characters through the scenes, especially action scenes, and thereby missed much that they were trying to add.

Like how the setting looked, smelled, tasted, felt and sounded. And the POV character’s opinion of all that.

So most of the time, I was cycling back to slow myself down and let the characters add what was necessary to both ground the reader in the scene and to give the story depth.

So in this novel, the “new” technique I’m practicing is adding that depth and grounding the reader as I go.

I’ll still cycle back at the beginning of every session. But I expect I’ll be adding fewer words to older scenes and writing a lot more words in new scenes.

In other words, I’m taking my time. I’m still hitting around a thousand words an hour, but they’re more substantive words. Words that aren’t rushed and don’t skimp on necessary details.

In still other words, I’m practicing patience as I write. I understand it’s a virtue. I just wish it would hurry up and get here. (grin)

Today, and Writing

Rolled out a little after 3, made coffee and jumped into email and Facebook. I did a little more editing and offered some instruction, then headed to the Hovel at around 6:30.

A good first session, a combination of cycling and writing new stuff. Then a walk at around 7:30.

8:15, back to the hovel for another session, then I wrote the topic above.

9:20, to the house to let them know I’m still alive.

Lousy day for writing. I never got back to the novel after 9:20. Too much other stuff happening, but I plan to hit the ground running in the morning.

See you then.

Of Interest

Over at Dean’s place, a pretty good post on his short story challenge and some other stuff. See “Story Number Eight…”

Fiction Words: 1864
Nonfiction Words: 960 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2824

Writing of The Platinum Blond Perturbance

Day 1…… 1381 words. Total words to date…… 1381
Day 2…… 1864 words. Total words to date…… 3245

Total fiction words for the month……… 104340
Total fiction words for the year………… 218990
Total nonfiction words for the month… 4440
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 61780

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 280770