Index

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Rules-headerA notebook for fiction writers and aspiring novelists. One editor’s perspective.

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Welcome to the blog!
……Here’s what’s what.

My name is Dave Workman. I’m an acquisitions and content editor for Muse Harbor Publishing. I began writing Rules of Engagement for beginning (or curious) writers, based on what I perceive to be fundamental obstacles that many of us confront when starting, or struggling through, a new novel. Perhaps I can offer useful advice—or maybe not—although I certainly know what excites me as a reader, and what excites me as an editor who accepts or rejects manuscripts. Thus, these following notes may be worth a look.

1. Good Writing, Bad Advice.
Rule #1: Finish your book.
Rule #2: Don’t listen to anybody if the advice doesn’t resonate.

2. Simple, But Exciting (Part 1)
Rule #7: Write in clear, precise sentences.
Rule #8: Keep your characters moving. (Either push your characters toward drama or pull them away again.)

3. Simple, But Exciting (Part 2)
Rule #5: Continually scene set, character build or move the plot forward. (Nothing else matters.)

4. Exciting, But Simple.
Rule #3. Always write for yourself.

5. Active Writing (Part 1): Active Voice.
Rule #20: Don’t extend a scene past the “just enough” point.
Rule #12: Write only what matters. Leave out the boring parts.

6. Active Writing (Part 2): Active Language (Grammar)
Rule #6: The Jumping Cow Rule (Active vs. Passive Voice).

7. Active Writing (Part 3): Active Composition (Plotting)
Rule #14: Develop your story from A-to-Z. (Know where you’re going)

8. Where To Start.
Rule #11: Get acquainted with your story. (Discover your core elements.)

9. Perfection.
Rule #25: Perfection in writing doesn’t exist.
Rule #4: Do the best you can.

10. Action/Reaction.
Rule #10: In fiction, for every action, provide a reaction.

11. Show, Don’t Tell.

12. What’s Your Intention?
Rule #29: Your characters may remain elusive or distracted, but your prose must remain clear and concise.

13. Focus on the Now.
Rule #16: Focus on the now. (Stay in the moment.)

14. Hammering It Out.
Rule #25: Write one thought at a time. (And don’t worry about the rest.)

15. My Favorite Films About Writers and Writing (A personal aside.)

16. Finding Your Voice (Part 1)
Rule #9: A great novel is not so much what you tell, but how you tell it. That’s a writer’s style.

17. Finding Your Voice (Part 2): Do your characters speak to you?
Rule #12: Shut up and let your characters tell their own stories.

18. Finding Your Voice (Part 3). Point of View: Narrative vs. Authorial Voice

19. Basic Plotting (Part 1): Right Brain (creative thinking) vs. Left Brain (critical thinking). Unfortunately, we need both halves.

20. Basic Plotting (Part 2): Plot Ahead.

21. Basic Plotting (Part 3): It’s all about the drama, dahlings.
Rule #27. Make drama your novel’s constant companion.

22. Action vs. Information: The Oil & Water of Novel Writing.
Rule #26: Don’t mix Action and Information scenes. Keep these two incompatible concepts separate.

23. Dialog (Part 1): Writing Great Dialog: An Absolute Necessity.
Rule #30: Create dialog that (like plotting) accomplishes one of three specific goals: 1) Sets a scene; 2) Develops a character or; 3) Moves the plot forward.

24. Dialog (Part 2): Writing Great Dialog: Balancing reality and fiction.
Rule #39: Never reveal too much relevant information too quickly.
Rule #39A: …but relevant or not, always keep dialog witty and interesting.

25. Dialog (Part 3): Writing Great Dialog isn’t about epic plotting. It’s simpler than that. Rule #41: Great fiction isn’t about ‘what happens.’ It’s about ‘what happens to your people.’ 

 

 


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Huge In East Texas

The East Texas Writers Guild awarded April, Maybe June Third Place in the Young Adult: Book Cover Award category! Congratulations to our own Dave Workman, and to Shalanna Collins.

“The East Texas Writers Guild is proud to announce the top three winners in the Blue Ribbon Book Cover Contest for Young Adult novels.

Linda Pirtle, president of ETWG, pointed out that entries were submitted from across the United States from California to New Jersey, as well as from Great Britain, Australia, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. It was indeed an international contest.”

Entries were judged by a team of artists and designers in the Dallas area.”

You can buy a copy of April, Maybe June right here.
 

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Hello, Portland!

Raindrops Of Love For A Thirsty WorldWe’ll be in Portland April 7-9 for the Independent Book Publisher Association’s Publisher’s University conference, because there’s always more to learn about this wacky business. We’ll be the ones with the MHP tattoos! (Not really. We’ll probably have some sort of identifying lanyards around our necks, though, so watch for that.)

Sorry for that deceptive Read More… link – that’s all there is. Except for this: Eileen Workman’s Raindrops of Love for A Thirsty World is arriving on April 20th – pre-order your paperback or Kindle copy today!

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Into Our World of Anxiety and Fear Come the Raindrops of Human Transformation

Raindrops Of Love For A Thirsty WorldSan Francisco, CA (April 20, 2017) –– A timely spiritual guide to surviving and thriving in today’s pervasive, gloomy atmosphere of alienation and fear, the new book, Raindrops of Love For a Thirsty World, lays out a path to life‐long self‐actualization, and reconnection through a shared consciousness. The author, Eileen Workman, has summoned the profound wisdom of The Life Force in a series of loving messages. These communications come at an opportune time, as we drift in a sea of anxiety and worry, deeply shaken by recent political, economic and social crises, and starved for connection due to divisiveness.

A decade ago Workman experienced a startling spiritual awakening. Abandoning her high‐powered, highly‐paid role in the financial world, she opened up to a channeled gift of eloquent, soul‐stirring passages from what she calls LIFE –– “The Life Force” –– a field of energy and love that transformed her life and her relationship to humanity.

In four parts, Raindrops of Love For a Thirsty World encourages readers to undertake selfexamination in a way that encourages them to fall back in love with themselves and learn to practice healthy self‐discipline, self‐awareness and self‐love.

Part I ‐ Soft Love: The Wonder of Self‐Realization
Part II ‐ Tough Love: The Challenge of Self‐Discipline
Part III ‐ Self‐Love: The Responsibility of Self‐Actualization
Part IV – Life Love: The Freedom of Self‐Governance

As receivers of these compelling, wise messages from LIFE, readers are exhorted to manifest their greatest gifts in the world, which is exactly what the author decided to do when she changed the direction of her own life. This personal transformation and connection to the limitless love of LIFE is the key to a rewarding, meaningful life.

Encourage others to realize that your amazing ingenuity and imagination, when filtered through the perspective of life awareness, holds the power to generate awesome new creative potential . . . This is why I encourage you to trust the living process . . . For you live within a self‐organizing, self‐scaffolding field of living love that manifests as light.

Speaking directly into the heart and soul of each reader, Raindrops of Love For a Thirsty World enables them to wed their minds and hearts in a holy communion. That marriage enables us to move beyond the influence of collapsing social systems and political and economic hostilities. Through the clarity of our newly realized life purpose and enlightenment as received from the Raindrops of Love, we can transform ourselves and the world.

I know how confused you have felt . . . and how you’ve struggled to find your proper place in the world. I’ve watched you grow lost in the dramas of human society. In this precious now moment, you can reclaim your native tongue and commune with me in our mutual language, for the language of Life has been ever your birthright, Beloved.

About the Author

Eileen Workman spent sixteen years in the financial industry as First Vice President of Investments at a major Wall Street firm. After a profound spiritual awakening, she departed the high‐powered world of money and wrote Sacred Economics: The Currency of Life, which questions assumptions about the nature of capitalism. The book is about directing our attention toward the purposeful design of a more compassionate, cooperative, and abundantly flowing economic system from a spiritually‐driven perspective. “ . . . one of those rare individuals who not only talks the talk of the financial world because she worked in it, she also walks the walk of one who has made meaningful changes in her own life to reflect the ideals she believes in.” In her new title, Raindrops of Love For a Thirsty World, Workman calls down the wisdom and the words of the Life Force, inviting us to embrace our fullest capacity as a species.

# # # #

Book Information
Title: Raindrops of Love For a Thirsty World
Pub Date: April 20, 2017
Author: LIFE, as shared with Eileen Workman
Publisher: Muse Harbor Publishing
List Price: $18.95
ISBN: 978-1-61264-207-9
Format: Quality Trade Paperback and Kindle
Distributor: Ingram
Information: www.warwickassociates.com
Subjects: Spirituality, Personal Growth
Rights: World

 

 

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Basic Plotting (Part 3)

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Rules-headerA notebook for fiction writers and aspiring novelists. An editor’s perspective.

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Plotting (Part 3): It’s all about the drama, dahlings.

Books and blogs about “plotting a novel” are as ubiquitous as leaves on a summer tree. I suspect some of these efforts are actually very good. Others? Not so much. That being said, let me cut to the chase. Good plotting can be explained in one word: Drama.

Yup. Tension. Uncertainty. Double-cross. Forbidden love. Hatred. Amnesia. War. Politics. A sinking ship. In other words, drama. It’s all about the drama, dahlings. That’s the secret ingredient; a very, very important element of successful fiction. Writing a book that’s lacking dramatic impact? It probably won’t (IMHO) sell.

And don’t confuse drama as “some little ruckus” that one sprinkles sporadically around a story. Drama isn’t a garnish. Nor is it specifically reserved for those dark, thunderous Shakespearean epics where witches cackle, swords clash and treachery abounds. Drama is a constant that should infuse every fictive work. That should be a rule—and so now it is! Rule #27. Make drama your novel’s constant companion. It lurks upon every page—either undulating or overwhelming—ready to spring or having already sprung, hiding, panting, waiting to lunge again. Sometimes even hiding in plain sight. Waiting to snatch away banality. To consume normality.

And yet, don’t confuse drama with impending tragedy. Yes, a tragic tale is fraught with drama. A child’s death, a war, an emotional breakdown, a marital conflict… all dramatic, fictive situations that a writer can utilize to build a story. But what about light-hearted romance? What about comedy? Realize that every romantic tale is laden with great gobs of interpersonal drama. And comedy, even slapstick comedy, is simply drama interpreted through a playful or joyous lens. But it’s still about drama, first and foremost.

Don’t believe so? Think of any comedic film. (I’ve discovered that remembering a film sequence is far easier than remembering a specific snippet from a book. And easier to dissect as well.) For instance: Notting Hill. Lovely romantic comedy—and filled with drama. The Holiday? Filled with drama. Annie Hall? Filled with drama. The Princess Bride? It’s a Wonderful Life? The Hangover? Drama. Drama. Drama. And drama. Remember Finding Nemo? The little guy loses his mother and 99% of his siblings. Gets lost at sea. Almost eaten by a shark. Captured and confined to an aquarium. Makes a daring escape. It’s funny—but it’s also constant drama!

Groucho Marx once said,“Comedy is when you slip on a banana peel. Tragedy is when I slip on a banana peel.” And yet both banana-based scenarios contain drama—both genres must provide a continual tool bag of genre-specific dramatic moments to survive, and to thrive in its fictive form.

Refer again to Rule #8, which states, in part: Keep your characters moving. You’re either pushing characters toward drama or pulling them away again.

I can’t really give a writer much additional structural information on basic plotting. Have an idea? Play with it! Test it! My personal belief has always been: write what you feel, write what you want. (So long as it’s dramatic, of course.)

And do understand that dramatic plotting isn’t always about remarkable external circumstances, about drooling zombies or horrific wars or big ships slowly sinking. Good plotting is also about (and sometimes only about) great character development. (Check out: The Madness of King George. Or Before Sunrise. Or Pride and Prejudice. Beautiful films, with stories predominately carried by superb dialog.) I’ve often said that if you lock two interesting people in a closet and give them great, dramatic dialog, I’d rather read that book than about all the Transformers in the world.

So, yeah, successful plotting is a combination of great dialog, great timing, great suspense (comedic or tragic) and certainly great writing in general. Good drama is larger than life. Deeper than reality. Great plotting is the result of daydreaming that begins with a single, simple “what if?” concept.

Another secret ingredient: Daydreaming.

Another word or two about “creative dreaming.” (More about creative daydreaming in Plotting: Part 1.) Remember when people (probably your parents, your teachers) told you that daydreaming was a waste of time? Well, don’t believe them. Daydreams have their place in the creative brain. If you’re a novelist, daydreams have a crucial, creative role to play. Every daydream is a potential novel.

Think not? Pick a daydream. Any daydream. A friend once told me; “I sit in front of a monitor 8 hours a day and crunch numbers and hammer out Excel spreadsheets. There I sit, day after day, thinking about running through a sun-drenched field filled with wildflowers.” That’s it. That’s her daydream. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? But what happens when that particular daydream belongs to a writer? Sooner or later that flowered field is going to lead me toward…? Maybe a dark, encroaching forest? Over a rickety bridge laden with cackling crows? In the distance, might I glimpse the crumbling spires of a deserted castle? A forgotten cemetery? A cave deep beneath a massive granite outcropping?

Any writer worth their salt will, of course, move forward for a closer look. Am I simply out for a stroll? Perhaps. Or am I searching for someone? Running away from something? Sounds like a more potential dramatic scenario, right? (Because I can also build a plot backwards as well as forward!) As I push my way through the tangles of underbrush, maybe I come upon a forgotten, weed-choked mansion, hundreds of years old. Intriguing. Broken windows. A shattered doorway. After a few moments of exploring, I hear a child crying from somewhere deep inside….

Or, perhaps I hear the faint echo of a woman laughing. Or the sound of a gunshot. Or an ominous growl. And at that point, my daydream has officially become a plot concept. Maybe not one I write down (yet), but one I might consider. Where do I go from there? Can I transfer that same curiosity, that same excitement, to the page? Can I find a sufficient creative flow to ask-and-answer these same “what if?” scenarios for another few hundred pages?

Basically, that’s how a book starts. Frankly, that’s how it ends too—a constant stream of carefully sequenced daydreams that the writer weaves together, page after after page. Oh, and while keeping up the story’s dramatic impact at every possible moment!

And, because it’s important enough to say again, here it is! Rule #27: Don’t confuse drama as “some little ruckus” that one sprinkles sporadically around a story. Drama isn’t a garnish. Drama is your story’s constant companion.
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