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My apologies for the lateness of this post, friends. We’ve been dealing with an ill family friend–the more important things in life than blog posts. But, here are the best writing posts I’ve found over the last four weeks.
For some authors, it is enough to try to make big bucks, but most of us would like to deliver a powerful message at times, too—something that carries extra meaning in our lives, something profound.
One of the biggest problems I see as a copyeditor and writing coach is weak scenes. Scenes with no point to them. Scenes structured badly. Boring scenes, dragging scenes, repetitive scenes. Scenes are the pieces we string together to create a whole overarching story, but all too often writers include many scenes that just don’ work and shouldn’t be in their novel.
All of us are flawed. Over the years, since childhood, we have developed a “face” we present to the world. Often that face is formed by hurts we’ve suffered early on. We start out all innocent and sweet, and then after a few of life’s hard knocks, we hide behind a persona that feels safe. A true hero’s journey will show the process of the hero moving from his persona to his true essence by the end of the story. And this is a great model for novelists.
When we’re on the writing learning curve, we have to learn so many aspects of the craft that we can become overwhelmed. We have to learn how to develop characters, follow grammar rules, include settings and emotion, etc.
The best antagonists are those we fall in love with, despite knowing that they shouldn’t triumph in the storyline, or we truly develop hatred toward. Either way, they stir emotion. When writing, there are actionable steps you can take to add to the impact your antagonist has on readers. Keep in mind that your work is an art, and should be treated with creativity and natural flow, but you can never learn too much about writing. The advice in this article will give you some solid foundations from which to create your next villain.
In the first post in this series, I introduced the notion of the “Internet of Bookish Things” to describe how (e)books were now nodes on the Internet that could record how books are being read. And in last week’s post, “Reading Fast and Slow – Observing Book Readers in Their Natural Habitat,” I began exploring what we can learn about readers using this new “superpower.” Today we will continue this exploration by looking at how the attention of readers decays while progressing through a book.
I’ve been doing a lot of editing this past year. I’ve edited a collection of women in science fiction stories for Baen Books called Women of Futures Past, after I couldn’t find my favorite stories so that I could give them to my science fiction class students. John Helfers and I are co-editing the Best Mysteries of the Year (no official title yet) for Kobo’s publishing arm. With Dean Wesley Smith, I act as series editor for Fiction River.
Scenes must have a point to them or they shouldn’t be in your novel. I’ll repeat that. Scenes must have a point to them or they shouldn’t be in your novel. You need to find your “moment” and build to it, and the first scene really needs a kicker of a moment to hook the reader. Too many scenes are poorly structured, but there’s really an easy way to look at them.