Not Wired for Conflict

I’m reading Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron. One particular section made me think.   She mentions a successful business man in his 60s, married to his high school sweetheart, with successful grown children. He brought Cron an 800 page novel, and, noting the absence of conflict in it, she asked him how he felt about conflict in his own life.  “He frowned. ‘I don’t like it,’ he said, tensing. […]

Thinking in Style

I sometimes absorb writing styles from my reading, then use that voice in my head as I’m thinking to myself. Do other people do this?   The most recent example was the other night when I started The Twelve, by Justin Cronin. The title came to me via some reading list so I had no idea who Justin Cronin is or what kind of novel The Twelve might be; like […]

Editing Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

I’m reading Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein, but not for the first time. Many, many years ago it was my ‘bible’; the good book that I read from before going to sleep. As an agnostic faux-intellectual college student I latched on to Heinlein’s unconvinced, usually cynical attitudes toward politics, government, society, and found solace in the advice of Jubal Harshaw and in the commune of the Nest. […]

Novel development

With the help of NaNoWriMo and the 3DayNovel I have finished four novels, but after a year and a half on my current main WIP, I’m still stuck. If you don’t mind, I’m going to have a discussion with myself, using you as the audience.   It’s a big challenge. The character now has far more elements to her than any other character that I’ve written—the result of having danced […]

Writer’s Block?

If I search this blog it tells me that by January 14 of this year I was already stuck for the ending of my current novel. That means that I’ve been stuck for over six months. The four novels I’ve completed (three successful NaNoWriMos and one 3DayNovel) all came in around 60,000 – 70,000 words (the 3DayNovel finished at 23,000 and was expanded later). This current WIP stopped at about […]

One theory why Dan Brown writes so badly

Dan Brown is infamous in the world of grammarians. One of my favourite resources, It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences, criticizes the first sentence of “The Da Vinci Code” Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery. The author, June Casagrande, questions whether “vaulted” adds anything useful to “archway”, but she […]

Writing in Sentence Fragments

Sentences are supposed to contain a subject and an object. Incomplete phrases should be included in the same sentence as the main clause, joined to it by commas or semicolons or the like. Paragraphs should be built from related sentences, and split when you change speaker or focus. Them’s the rules.   A deception.   Not a complete sentence. Used — not only as a complete sentence — but it […]

Using the Unreliable Narrator

I thought it was going to be easy. I thought it would be obvious. I decided to use an unreliable narrator in my writing exercises blog. I thought the result was interesting, so I worked some more with it and showed it around for critique.   A narrator can be unreliable by lying, or by not providing information and lying by omission. When you discover that the central character of […]

Writing Review: Divergent, and other YA

More results from my project of working through some top reading lists. Next up: Divergent, by Veronica Roth. Divergent comes right after Looking for Alaska, and having speed-read The Hunger Games the weekend before seeing the first movie, and Blink & Caution a year or so back, all good YA genre novels. Blink & Caution is probably the most challenging read because it’s written from two alternating perspectives— those of […]

Technique, and Rock and Roll

At some point — somewhere around one or two years ago — I made a conscious effort to focus less on larger elements and to pay attention to how I worked with phrases, sentences, paragraphs; the elements of writing in general as opposed to the elements of a novel or of fiction that you learn in school. My theory was that the larger inspirations could be explored and developed at […]