By Pat Sollner
I’d had trouble with my protagonist, Katya, all through the long nights last winter. My fellow Incubees puzzled over her motivations. Worse, I had a hard time seeing her clearly. I’d call her by her nicknames, Katka, Katyoosha, and Katenka, but she’d just take her place on the page, arms folded across her chest, lips tight. I opened writing books, did one exercise after another to find out about her, and even discovered her hidden desires, but when I put her in a scene where she could act on those desires, she went back to the folded arms position.
If only I’d been superstitious, I would have written with a lucky pen or a particular pencil in a special notebook. I could have written only at dawn or dusk, or ordered my study according to the principles of Fung Shui. But I wasn’t superstitious. Read More →
By Michael Nolan
This from Writer’s Digest: “How To Start a Novel Right.” (June 6, 2013)
Including backstory in the opening pages is the same as saying to the reader, “Wait a minute—hold on. Before I tell you the story, first there’s something about these characters and this situation that you need to know.”
Ha! Don’t buy it! They mean you should open your novel with a Big Boffo scene guaranteed to hold the readers’ attention with “action.” Reach out and grab ‘em by the short hairs, the reasoning goes, so the reader, having ingested a full two pages from Amazon’s “Look inside” section, can’t resist hitting the Add to Cart button. Of course, the problem is far bigger than Amazon (if such a thing is cosmologically possible). Big Boffo signals a regrettable dimming of imagination and attention on the part of the reader; worse, that of the writer. “I want to know the story now!” insists the reader in the WD projection. “The folks have had me on Adderol since fourth grade, and I’m not about to slow down for anything as lame as characterization or nuance or any of that other stuff.” Read More →
Go Figure: Musings from the Mind of Rob Wilstein
Like Sands Through the Hourglass, So are the Days of our Lives.
So true. So true. And so insightful. When you think about those grains of sand, dropping, one by one, inexorably, through the hourglass, we mortals unable to act, paralyzed in our efforts to turn the glass over, reverse the march of time, reset the clock on the incessant parade of the days of our lives, you discover the power of cliche.
Such too is the power of the soap opera, the bastardized descendant of Shakespeare, the daytime poor relation of Breaking Bad and The Wire, a form of entertainment developed to sell soap to bored housewives, to novelize the trials and tribulations of small town America in the most banal manner possible. Read More →
By Mandy Syers
If you keep chickens and a novelist about the homestead then you know how similar egg laying is to novel writing.
In a chicken an egg is formed over a 25-hour period. The yolk is released from the hen’s ovary, membranes and the albumen (the whites) are added, and finally the shell is put on, whereupon she lays the egg.
The novel, which can take up to 25 years to complete, undergoes a similar process as the writer transforms a vague notion into a published book for readers to crack open and enjoy. Read More →