Sep 3, 2014

Aug 26, 2014

Aug 25, 2014

Getting Yourself off the Page

When you're thinking about author intrusion (or any element of craft) remember that I'm not suggesting that you change the way you compose your first drafts. Each of us must allow ourselves to create in the way that’s most comfortable and natural for us at the moment. But in a career that spans a decade or two, you also want to remember that what works for you today may not work tomorrow. Your process may change as you become increasingly comfortable with certain skills, or as life impacts you along the way. If you’re aiming at having a long career, expect changes. It’s easier to adjust if you know they’re coming!

As with most areas of the writing craft, avoiding author intrusion is something you want to watch for when you’re revising your scenes, your chapters, a particular section, or the whole book after the first draft is finished. Maybe you’ll write a scene, read it, revise and polish it before you move on. Maybe you prefer to write the entire first draft and then revise. Maybe you prefer another method of revising. They’re all okay, so do what works best for you.

But when I say what works best, I don’t mean what’s easiest or what comes most naturally. I mean do what consistently brings about the most positive results in your work. Do what creates the strongest scenes and makes your work the best you’re capable of writing.

Also, keep in mind that you will never completely rid your work of every instance of author intrusion. The goal isn't to be perfect. We all know that's not possible, and a book that's too perfect may lose the spark that brings it to life in the first place. Bits and pieces of author intrusion will sneak into your work from time to time, or you may choose to leave something in for a particular reason. Sometimes there’s no way around it. But your book will be stronger if you strive to minimize the accidental instances of author intrusion in your work.

Dancing on Coals Online Workshops

Aug 8, 2014

Dancing on Coals Online Workshops

Aug 7, 2014

Aug 6, 2014

Avoiding Genre Cliches

What is a genre cliché?

A genre cliché is anything that’s been done so often in a particular genre that it’s fairly predictable. You don’t really need to explain it. It just is. Every genre has them, and so does every sub-genre. A few years ago, I was talking to a senior editor (not my own) from a major NY publisher during a conference luncheon. Somehow, we began talking about time travel romances and she said how tired she was of the same-old plot devices. She said that wished that just once someone would send her a manuscript in which the character made the choice to travel through time because every book she saw was about a person transported accidentally into the past.

The point is that no matter what it is, if other writers have done it repeatedly, it’s probably a cliché.

One quick way to find out if you’re writing with genre clichés is to hand your manuscript to someone who doesn’t read your particular genre, and then watch where she stops reading to ask you either how or why? Why did the heroine say that? How did he know this was a new planet? Why did the hero do that? How does she expect to find that? Why did he turn around and walk away? Why did she snap at him? How did she know to look there? Why did she make love to him? Why does he think he’s in love with her?

That doesn’t mean you won’t get nods from undemanding readers who don’t notice that you’ve just had the character do or say something unbelievable. Some readers won’t care that yet another hero has just imagined the heroine lying in his bed, her hair spread out across the pillow. But most readers and editors these days are too well-read to miss the clichés.

So you might want to ask yourself before you write that “Hero walks in on Heroine naked” scene just how often that really happens, how likely it is to really happen, and what you’re accomplishing by making it happen. Is it realistic and true to life, or is it the easiest way for you to show that the couple is sexually attracted to one another? 

This is not to say that those scenes don’t work on some level. They do. That’s why they’ve been rehashed so often they’re now clichéd. But they’re old and tired and predictable … and boring. Your job is to find new, unique, and realistic ways to accomplish the same thing. 

Dancing on Coals Online Workshops

Aug 5, 2014

Dancing on Coals Online Workshops