An Interview with Jack Fisher

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

An Interview with Jack Fisher

by Grady Hanrahan

Fiction Submissions – Jack Fisher has had fiction published in over forty magazines. His most recent sales include The Fractal, The Blue Lady, Black Moon, Shadowland, Dread, Frightnet and E-scape. He is the senior editor of Flesh and Blood: Quiet Tales of Dark Fantasy & Horror.

Q: What are the main criteria for a “good” fiction submission?

As an editor, I look for stories that have all of the following in them: a smooth, clean writing style, a unique, fresh and powerful idea, and, for Flesh and Blood, stories that are very dark with a heavy emphasis on the supernatural and the fantastic with elements of magic in them.

Q: What do you dislike most about fiction submissions?

I can’t stand it when a story is sent to me without a word count, an address and when cover letters are written in lower case. How do you expect me to take your submission seriously? How am I supposed to know what to pay you without a word count and where I am going to send it? What also irks me is when the writer pays no attention to my guidelines. I ask for horror, dark fantasy and fantasy stories, NOT SCIENCE FICTION AND NON-GENRE STORIES.

Q: What are the qualities of a “good” fiction editor?

I believe that when a fiction editor takes the time to comment on why the story was rejected makes for a “good” fiction editor. I also believe that a patient and friendly person make for a good editor; someone who wouldn’t mind editing a submission to make it a little better or suggesting other outlets for it.

Q: What are your writing habits, if any?

I prefer writing fiction, especially vignettes. My work is usually laced with some sort of the supernatural, magic and dark, dark fantasy. It’s what I read and it’s what I seek for Flesh and Blood.

Q: What advice do you have for beginning fiction writers?

Practice. Practice a lot. When you’re done writing something, put it away for a few weeks then take it out again, blow the dust off of it and re-read it; you’ll find many mistakes and notice a lot of things you’ll want changed. Never give up. It sounds trite, but it’s true. Send your work to as many markets as you can. Share your work with others. There are many groups out there that offer free critiques that can help a lot! Prepare for the worst. Don’t feel bad when rejected. Stephen King threw away his Carrie manuscript after a slew of rejections until his wife, Tabitha, fished it out of the garbage and pushed him to keep trying. Also prepare for those certain editors who are touch when they decide to offer criticism.

Be courteous. Don’t snap back at editor’s because they chose not to accept your work like I used to do when I started submitting to fiction markets. It’s a turnoff. If they do decide to publish you, send them a letter of thanks to show that you appreciate it and that you’re grateful.

© Grady Hanrahan 1999

Surviving a Book Proposal

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Surviving a Book Proposal

by Teri Brown

When the editor of EI asked me to write an article on book proposals, I thought, “Why me?” Just because I wrote a book proposal and actually sold a book with it doesn’t make me an expert. Experienced, maybe. But not an expert. So now you’re wondering why you should bother to read an article on book proposals by someone who isn’t an expert. I’ll tell you why…. because I survived it and I can tell you how you can too.

Survival Tip # 1

Believe that you can do it. There are quite a few extremely good books available on how to write a book proposal. However, even the best can portray the process of writing a proposal as confusing and rather daunting, if you’ve never done one before. Take a deep breath, tell yourself over and over that it isn’t that hard and that you really can do this. Millions of people do them. The trick is to do a really, really good one that will garner you a nice advance and a big sale. But don’t think of that now or you’ll be to overwhelmed to even begin.

So start on the proposal and remember to breathe.

Survival Tip #2

The library is your best friend. I know you think it’s your computer, but for now it’s the library. While you’re there pick up Elizabeth Lyon’s excellent book, “Nonfiction Book Proposals Anyone Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before You Write Your Book”. This is a great book and fairly non-threatening to the novice. Get to know your library as it will come in very handy for.

Survival Tip #3

Research, research, research. Don’t scrimp on this one. Not only will the research you do now help you to write a great proposal, but it will help you write a great book. You will need to research your subject, your competition, your market and how you plan on marketing your book. Even if they have a top notch PR person they are still going to want your ideas and input and so they should… if you have done your research, no one will know the market like you.

Survival Tip #4

Set a deadline. If you are a major procrastinator you might want to set several. I will have x amount of work done by such and such a date, and then I will have this part of the proposal done by the next date. Even if you miss the deadlines it will give you something to shoot for. It will also help you to work at a steady pace.

Survival Tip #5

Warn your family that you will be rather preoccupied the next few months. If you walk around muttering about statistics or “that other book”, ask them to understand and tell them you will be fine once you send it off to the publisher. Right. Uh huh.

Remind them that there are perks to having a famous author in the family (…can anyone suggest any?).

While these five tips don’t guarantee that your proposal will garner big sales results, they will help you to maintain your sanity while you write it.

Landing An Agent Elements Of A Winning Query

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Landing An Agent Elements Of A Winning Query

Tips and Updates From Writer’s Digest

Every writer knows a strong query letter is essential for getting an agent. But what goes into a winning query and how does one go about finding representation? “Guide to Literary Agents” asked five recently published authors just that, and they all responded in detail. Here are a few of their pointers on the do’s and don’ts of querying.

1. OFFER BENEFITS TO THE AGENT

Mark Lee, active playwright and now author of “The Lost Tribe” Picador, USA), waited three months after finishing his manuscript to start his agent search. “I think writers should put as much effort into their query letter and their contacts with agents as they do preparing the manuscript itself,” says Lee, who worked on his query for three days and sent it to about 14 agents. Within this succinct letter, Lee wanted the agent to get three impressions: this writer is not going to waste my time; this writer can make me money; this writer will be a joy to work with.

2. SET THE HOOK EARLY

For his nonfiction book, “The Phishing Manual: A Compendium to the Music of Phish” (Hyperion), Dean Budnick had specific criteria in mind when he began looking for an agent: someone younger who had (or who wanted) experience agenting music and/or pop culture. Budnick learned the formal procedures of finding a nonfiction agent through lots of reading and talking with other writers. “All I can tell you is I did what they told me to do and it worked!” Part of what he learned was the importance of the query’s lead sentence–he spent about two days creating a killer first sentence. “I wanted to communicate as much as I could about the band and their audience right off the bat to at least keep [agents] interested enough to read down to the paragraph where I start talking about why I should write the book.”

2. KEEP YOUR AUDIENCE IN MIND

Donna Woolfolk Cross, wanted Jean V. Naggar to represent her first novel, “Pope Joan.” “I knew who some of her other authors were,” says Cross. “So I knew she handled my kind of writing, these books did well, and these were authors I liked. I knew she ran a well-regarded, mid-size literary agency. That was enough for me.” So Cross went for it. Cross captured her audience (Naggar) by being direct, emphasizing her research, and then mentioning some of the more exciting events of the plot.

4. FIND EVERY ANGLE TO SELL YOURSELF

Knowing what to say in a query is one thing but making it concise is another. “I think it’s really important to work [the writing] to the bone, to really condense it to the essence,” says Glenn Kleier, who secured representation for his first book, “The Last Day” (Warner). Kleier’s professional side urged him to look at query writing more from a marketing than a literary perspective. “I had to step into [the agent’s] shoes and give her what I thought was important to her,” says Kleier. So, he emphasized in his query that the book was both marketable and timely. He was able to support his stance because he referred to current events relevant to his manuscript, a number of which happened to pop up in the media at the right time (e.g., an “Adweek” article on the millennium appeared the week before he sent the query). Such events were incorporated into the letter and gave the query direction.

5. DON’T SELECT JUST ANY AGENT

Faye McDonald Smith advises authors looking for agents to do some research. Find out if the agent’s clients are happy with the way they are being represented. Next ask what kind of background the agent has. “I think authors may get excited when any agent expresses interest,” says Smith. “But you have to check out that agent, and not just sign up with anybody simply because they identify themselves as an agent. That person may not be working for your best interests and may not be the right person for you. I think it is a matter of trying to have a good connection and the agent’s enthusiasm, and not just settling for any agent who responds to you.”

For more “Tips and Updates From Writer’s Digest,” visit  https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs

Writing Romantic Comedy

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Writing Romantic Comedy

by Shirley Kawa-Jump

Quick — tell a joke. On paper, in the beginning of a novel. Then hope that a few thousand readers will not only get the joke, but remember you as a funny writer. Then repeat that for the next 400 pages, all while juggling plot, realistic characters and enough conflicts to fill a church. Sound difficult? It is, as anyone who has tried to write comedy will tell you.

There are techniques for writing comedy well, however. Some authors have an ingrained funny bone; others need to learn to pump up the humor. “I will warn you, however, that it ain’t easy being funny,” said Lynn Michaels, author of Mother of the Bride, her latest comedic release from Ivy/Ballantine. “Some days it’s just damned hard work. On those days, having a skewed view of the world can be most helpful.”

Michaels said her husband, Michael, is the source of inspiration for her sense of humor, which has become more a part of her books over the years. “I have a pretty loopy sense of humor, but Michael is a walking-talking study in timing and deadpan delivery. I’ve spent the last almost thirty years with him laughing my butt off.”

Holly Jacobs, who writes for both Silhouette Romance and Harlequin Duets, said she felt her voice lent itself to comedy. “It has to do with word choice and writing structure. My voice seems to have a comedic quality–it just sort of comes out that way.” Jacobs focuses on the humor strengths in her own life by writing books that focus on real-life humor, like children who refuse to behave.

To keep the story lines fresh, and remove the tendency toward slapstick, Jacobs said she will take a new look at her work. “Sometimes, if a scene isn’t working, or the book is sort of languishing at one particular spot, I find that I’ve made a wrong turn. Or, maybe worse, I’ve made a predictable turn. Rather than turning right, which is what you’d expect, I take a sharp left turn. When I do that, I tend to find the story picks back up.”

Pam Hanson, who is half of the mother-daughter writing team Jennifer Drew, said when she teamed up with her mother, who had sold 19 books already, the pair found their combined voice lent itself to comedy. They ended up writing for Duets. Hanson said writing comedy well springs from a number of approaches. “Barbara and I both like to see humor arise from people’s reactions to situations (could be because of some of the situations we’ve found ourselves in!) so one way to punch up the humor is to go back and see how characters react to wacky situations they’re placed in. In our March 2002 Duets Stop the Wedding! the hero and heroine stumble onto an unusual wedding reception, complete with an Elvis cake. Their reaction is where the humor in the scene comes from along with some other antics!”

The number-one requisite for writing comedy is having a sense of humor, said Jacobs. However, authors need to remember that story is the top priority in a book, not chuckles. “Even if you’re writing comedy it’s important to remember to create three-dimensional characters. Though these characters are funny, they tend to take themselves seriously. They have problems, they have goals. They love, they get hurt. If you make your characters too slapstick, your readers won’t be able to identify with them, and if readers can’t do that, then odds are the book isn’t going to work for them.”

Some authors excel at humorous one-liners, others create larger-than-life characters while some work on funny plots. Michaels said her books tend to be situational in humor. “It’s not the characters who are necessarily funny; it’s the situation that they find themselves in. The more irony in the situation — or the set-up, or whatever you want to call it — the more raw material you have to build a comedy.”

However, she added, the focus for her, as with the other authors, is always on the story. “Strong, believable characters are the foundation of any good story, comedy or drama. A cockeyed view of the world your characters live in also helps.”

On days when the funnies refuse to come, Hanson said she and her mother try to relax and wait for inspiration. “Eat M&M’s, check e-mail, shuffle papers on my desk around…and not try to force it!” she advised. “Then try to think what exaggeration of a similar situation could make it funny. If all else fails, eat more M&Ms!”

Jacobs distances herself from comedy when she’s stuck on a scene. She said she reads books that are not humorous, such as historicals or non-fiction. “I don’t know why it works, but it does work for me!”

Michaels said authors should take the pressure off themselves to be too funny. “You don’t have to be laugh-out-loud hilarious on every page. A smile will often times do just as well,” she said. When a scene falls flat, Michaels tries a number of tricks to make it funnier. “Dialogue is an excellent way to punch up humor. Being flip or sarcastic can lighten things up. And description. Find funny ways to describe things. You’ll get a smile even if you don’t get a laugh. Take a look at your scene. Have you got a prop or two lying around you can make use of? I got stuck in a scene like this in the book I’m finishing now. Fortunately, I’d put a hedge apple tree in this scene, so I had my heroine throw hedge apples at her sister’s house to vent her anger. Doesn’t sound particularly funny out of context, does it? But it works in the book to get my character out of a dark and very un-funny moment.”

Learning to write humor can seem like a daunting task, but all the authors interviewed said comedy can be a taught technique. “I really recommend analyzing romantic books and movies to see what works and what doesn’t,” said Hanson. “Look at the pacing of the stories and see where the humor comes in and why. And be wary, if the humor feels forced, it probably is.”

For more information, see Building Humor into Your Romance, by Anne Marble.

Copyright © 2002 Shirley Kawa-Jump

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About POV

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About POV

by Kathy Carmichael

Kathy offers a monthly question and answer blog that presents a subscriber’s question and answers offered by other subscribers or by Kathy herself.

There is plenty of great advice here for the writer to glean.

Example:  This month, my question went out to various members of the Mid America Romance Authors (MARA) chapter. The question is: Do you use secondary character point of view (POV)?  Why or why not?

… read more

Does Your Plot Need a Subplot?

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Does Your Plot Need a Subplot?

The beginning of every bestselling novel starts with “What if?” What if a jagged, black, hairline crack suddenly appeared in a clear blue sky?

If you’re a writer, your mind is already racing. You’ve turned every telescope in the world that direction, you’ve sent fighter jets up and you’ve thought of at least three main characters — a scientist to figure out what’s happening, his hysterical wife and perhaps the egotistical head of the research department who just won’t listen.

That, my friends, is how a plot becomes a novel and it is by far the most exciting part of writing fiction. But will we need a subplot?

Read the rest…

Writing the Novel by the Numbers

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Writing the Novel by the Numbers

(But it’s not all that easy)

By Jack Bludis awa Jack Burns

Originally titled: Mystery by the Numbers

In answer to the question about how novels get written:

There are several ways to write a novel, one is to wing it, which works if you’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of writing. Another is to do bits and pieces and string them together, this works too, but it can drive you crazy.

Most how-to books are aimed at the novice or even at the storywriter who has not yet taken on the novel.

The basics are simple — and this is how I usually do it:

  1.  Create the lead character and show him or her in action in the opening sentence — usually with some dialogue. This gets the story started. (Some [writers] may want to do a background biography of the lead character, but I usually create characters whose bios come out in the writing.)
  2.  Once you have a few characters and know where the story is going, do an outline. (I usually do the outline after I’ve done about fifty pages, maybe after three or four pages of story..)
  3.  Break the outline into chapters or sections. (It’s a good idea to have key dramatic events in the beginning, and at the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 marks of the story.)
  4.  Write the book, following the outline as best you can, but allow for interesting sidebars which may become subplots or even major plot incidents that enhance the entire work.
  5.  When you’ve done your first draft, go through it again, moving scenes for dramatic effect. In the case of the mystery, make sure you plant all the clues and red herrings you need. In other genre, make sure the required genre incidents are properly spaced. Romance novels usually don’t have a love scene on every page. Nor is the historical novel a simple recitation of fact.
  6.  Rewrite the novel with the [scene] changes. This is not necessarily a complete rewrite if you are using a computer or word processor. But, you must go through it from the first the the last page to assure consistency. [You don’t want to hold Aunt Martha’s funeral in chapter three and find her alive and well, and talking to the hero in chapter 9.]
  7.  When you’re finished, polish, polish, polish. Make it the best book you can make it — but don’t be obsessive.
  8.  Proof read like it’s a composition in English 101, for which you must get a perfect grade.
  9.  Send it out.
  10. If it gets rejected, send it out — again and again and again. Step #9 and #10 are the lesson it took me years to learn.

This may not be the best way for everybody to write a novel, but it is how I do it; and I am sure it will work for others.

___________________

The Big Switch by Jack Bludis, not by Jack Burns. It’s the first time he’s using his true name on a piece. He wrote that he doesn’t mind being known by both names, but if you look for The Big Switch at your local book store, check under the Bludis name. The Big Switch be available in July at bookstores, at Amazon and B&N on the net. (He’d prefer you to ask your local book stores about it before you buy it on the net.)

The All Purpose Plot

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

The All Purpose Plot

By Jack Bludis awa Jack Burns 

The basic plot work for most stories, novels and screenplays — Here it is.

A sympathetic lead character has a desperate need for something — knowledge, success, love, a solution, to avoid danger.

He or she makes an effort to reach success or achieve what he needs.

Every effort gets him farther from his goal or deeper into trouble. She doesn’t screw up. It’s just that every effort either creates or uncovers new obstacles.

Every new obstacle is larger than the last, and when he reaches the end, the last obstacle must seem insurmountable. It will require her most inventive choice to reach the desired goal.

BUT

When things look the blackest, he or she manages to get himself out of it through effort, intelligence and ingenuity.

Each scene and chapter should have this same kind of plot structure, but in the case of scenes and chapters, you have something left over — a question unanswered, a problem to be solved, or a mystery that impels the reader to read on. One trick is to have several plot threads going at once.

One thing that I have observed in most books I read — and I think it’s a carryover from what is called “the screenplay paradigm” is that there is a major twist in the story about 1/3 of the way through and another 2/3 of the way through. Usually this is a surprise or shock — the lead’s friend is really her enemy, the man she is in love with is still married, the clock on the mantle is really a bomb … and of course, you need your solution at the end. [Don’t leave any questions unanswered.

Why Your Story Conflict Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Why Your Story Conflict Isn’t Working (And How to Fix It)

Conflict is one of those aspects of writing that has caused more than its fair share of writer frustrations.

Like many writers, I’ve spent countless hours creating conflict in my novels. I’ve thrown exciting obstacles in my protagonists paths, I’ve developed sinister antagonists to thwart my heroes, I’ve devised cruel ways to put my characters through mental anguish — and my beta readers still told me, “This book needs more conflict.”

Because despite what we “know” about conflict as writers, the concept isn’t so cut and dry.

It’s not just about the obstacles in the path, or the bad guy with the evil plan, or the mental anguish of the hero. It’s not the plot or the character arc, even though we often talk about it like it is.

It’s a tapestry woven from multiple aspects of writing that work together to create a feeling that victory will not come easily to the characters, and it leaves readers dying to know what the protagonist is going to do about it.

Over the years, I’ve pinpointed the three most common reasons writers stumble over conflict.  https://thewritelife.com/author/janice-hardy/

Read more…

5 Tips for Writing Conflict into Your Book

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

5 Tips for Writing Conflict into Your Book

By:  MARTIN CAVANNAGH ©

When you sit down at your desk to plan your novel, you’ll probably first want to sketch out your plot, characters, and setting. That’s a good start — but you don’t want to stop there. Very often, aspiring authors ignore one of the most central tenets of storytelling: conflict.

Think about all your favourite books. Where would they be without their central conflict — whether it’s the struggle between protagonist and antagonist or the personal demons the central figure encounters in their biography?

Read more…

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