Fiction Google and Real Places

Google and Real Places

Google is wonderful.  For a person writing thrillers, it’s a critical resource.  Need a Russian phrase?  No problem. An overhead view of a village like Hainburg an der Donau in Austria (my second novel)?  Google Maps has you covered. The uniform of a Florida state trooper?  Google images. But … there is no substitute to actually having been …

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Mechanics Pantser … or not

Pantser … or not

There are two approaches to writing fiction.  A Pantser writes from the seat of the pants. The writer lets the characters pull the story along. An Outliner (maybe we should say ‘Engineer’) lays out the story … the plot line … then begins writing.  So far, I’ve been a Pantser. My third novel has a …

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Mechanics Long words

Long words

My critique groups often lean on me for using bigger words than necessary. Particularly people who read and adore Hemingway. My weak defense is accuracy: I want the reader to get an exact picture. The response is, “in well-written work, sixty percent of the reader’s vision is what the author wrote; forty percent is drawn …

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Mechanics Pitch Conference

Pitch Conference

Ahh, the pitch conference.  Three minutes to explain your darling child of a novel to a polite but dubious agent.  Three minutes for her to ask probing questions that tear it apart. I enjoyed most of the Writers Digest pitch conference in St. Paul, Minnesota last Saturday.  The classes were more reminders of ideas we …

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Mechanics The Writing Paradigm

The Writing Paradigm

Ponderous title, no? The paradigm of writing has been one of my discoveries, the kind that slaps you upside the head and then laughs at you when you look back over your benighted stumble toward understanding and realize that it was always there, obvious. You were just too dense to see it. Webster’s defines paradigm …

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Fiction Art, Wisdom, and the Comics

Art, Wisdom, and the Comics

I must admit that I glance at the front page of the paper, scan the news of the day and go to the comics page for wisdom. So, here you have it.  We writers often miss this truth, vainly trying to lock the reader into our own special vision. (from www.sallyforth.com)

Fiction Big Words

Big Words

Last week, I had one of those epiphanies that come when seemingly unrelated events collide and produce insight.  In my case, three events gave me perspective my habit of (proudly) using big words. The first was wife Beverly chuckling over a John Grisham short story, Fetching Raymond. It’s a wonderfully written story in its own …

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Mechanics What is writing like?

What is writing like?

Roger Cohen wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times about Israel a couple of weeks ago.  He began by quoting a novelist.  The quote is perhaps the best commentary I’ve seen on the process of writing.  He said: “(Writing) is like reconstructing the whole of Paris from Lego bricks. It’s about three-quarters-of-a-million small …

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Mechanics Show Me!

Show Me!

I was privileged to hear jazz singer Kate McGarry interpret Show Me, the Lerner and Loewe classic from My Fair Lady.  Most of my thoughts these days turn to writing, and these lyrics seem to me worth several pages explicating the admonition to Show, Don’t Tell: Don’t talk of stars Burning above; If you’re in …

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