Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hooked on a Phrase

I have recently discovered that I like the phrase "a little" a lot too much. Someone is always smiling a little, laughing a little, or sighing a little. I'm a little over it. I'm searching them out and destroying them. "A little" is just the first on my hit list of phrases that must go.

What are your inadvertently overused phrases?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stop It

One thing that you must stop doing is reading every blog post, article, and book about THE ELEVENTY ONE THINGS YOU ARE DOING THAT MAKE YOU A HORRIBLE WRITER. If you read all of these articles you will inevitably see that you are doing that, and that, and that, and oh dear God even THAT wrong. You will terrify yourself into a state of being unable to write at all. If you are doing it, if you are reading these things, stop it right now. If you aren't doing it yet, don't start.

One of the many highly contentious debates amongst writers is plotting and outlining versus just writing, seeing where it goes, and spending more time editing later. If you find yourself spending so much time outlining and filling index cards with character descriptions that you never actually get around to writing line one of chapter one, stop it. Stuff it all in a box so you can refer to it later if necessary, and then just start writing. A sentence, one sentence. All the outlines and note cards in the world will not serve you if you cannot put one sentence on paper. I am not disparaging outlining. Many writers use it fantastically to their advantage. I never could. I spent years outlining and making notes and making little character cards and never got a book written until I just sat down with a random, out of order scene in my mind and ran with it. Honestly, I do have to refer back in my manuscripts sometimes for full names, former names, and other details, but I'm okay with that. I keep buying little notebooks and telling myself I'm going to start making notes...but I'm almost afraid to stop what I've been doing, and break the spell.

If something is stopping you from actually writing, put a stop to that thing. Put something on paper, or your hard drive, or whatever, and then fix it later. You can't revise it if you never write it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Page 398

From The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice:

"Somebody knew what the light had been like in the late afternoon on the day that Troy fell to the Greeks, and someone or something knew what the peasants said to each other in their little farmhouse outside Athens right before the Spartans brought down the walls."

That is my favorite line from a book. It isn't necessarily my favorite book...I don't think I have a favorite book...but this is my favorite line. I first read it 22 years ago. Something about that line stopped me, made me mark the page. I still have the same copy of The Vampire Lestat. It moved with me from North Carolina to New York and back twice. I have always been able to reach out for that particular book with the corner of page 398 folded down, and read that line. And it always strikes me the same way that it did when I was 17.

"Somebody knew what the light had been like in the late afternoon on the day that Troy fell to the Greeks"

Somebody did, indeed, and perhaps, in our subconscious memory, it is all of us who ever watched dust drifting in a sunbeam on an afternoon, that sunbeam slanting in through a window, filled with the dust of books and cat dander and shed human skin cells. The dust in the light of the late afternoon in Troy that day was probably comprised of dirt floor and threads of linen robes and perhaps, perhaps, in the case of Marius, the narrator, the pages of the book in which he fanatically recorded the history of the world as he saw it.

The history of the world as every single one of us sees it is nothing more, and nothing less, than the fantastic, sunlit bits of what we leave behind, illuminated for a moment in a sunbeam.

Consider all the skin cells that you shed in a day. Consider your pets, your clothing, what you track in from the yard...consider your books.

Tomorrow, go to a window that admits the afternoon light, and see what exists there, in a sunbeam. Consider the fact that, if you live in a house that was ever inhabited by someone other than yourself and your family, you could be watching bits of them drifting in the sun.

Consider the fact that in the late afternoon on the day that Troy fell to the Greeks someone your age, your sex, your race was idly mesmerized by the dust in a sunbeam, just before their life fell to shit.

I grew up with the dead, in a house where my ancestors lived and died. We looked out the same antique, wavery window glass and saw the sun at the same angle, and dust in it. I read Marius's words from Anne Rice's fingers and I saw that sunbeam, that same sunbeam that slants across every great and minor event of every generation that has ever walked the earth and I determined to write books that brought that dusty beam of light into the life of every one of my readers.

And, like Marius, and Lestat, and so many of Anne Rice's other characters, my characters remember that sunbeam only faintly, only dimly, because they exist now in a world of total darkness.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

I was tagged by my friends Dorothy F. Shaw and Allie Sanders for this meme. 
Writers, here are your rules for the Lucky 7 Meme:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 authors.
5. Let them know.

I posted 7 sentences from my first book. They happened to comprise a full paragraph and don't contain any spoilers. Hope you enjoy.


“It's the blood,” he said. “But it burns off pretty fast, unfortunately.” He took a washcloth from the shelf behind me, soaked it under the tub's faucet, and cleaned the dirt from my wounds. Then he went over my leg with peroxide. “That's that,” he said at last. “I think that you shouldn't bandage your leg. Leave it open to the air, and wear something loose.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Treat Your Fans Well

I just witnessed an exchange on Twitter where the executive producer of a very popular show responded with impatience and sarcasm to a question asked by a fan of said show. I wonder if that fan who was treated rudely will continue to watch the show. I will, but I'll always be a little bothered by the rudeness of the producer. It wasn't necessary. People miss details of storylines on television shows and in books because, well, life intrudes. The dog barks, you look away from the television or miss a sentence when you go back to your book, and then you find yourself wondering "When did that happen?" Imagine asking the author or producer that question and being treated with disrespect. The whole situation made me resolve never to be impatient when the day comes that I'm lucky enough to have fans asking me "dumb" questions. If you've become successful enough that people go out of their way to ask you about something that they missed in your storyline and you treat them like crap, they aren't the ones being dumb.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Still here

It's been a busy, draining (haha) five weeks. I'll try to get a new post up this weekend.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Work In Progress Line

I didn't want her to ever get to the point where she got to be not hungry. I wanted her to go on and on forever with the story, like Scheherazade, putting off the terrifying inevitable.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tea and Vampires

I made a cup of Chai tea and read about bloated, ruddy corpses floating in blood in their coffins, and corpses that ate their own shrouds.