Archive for July, 2013

ELMO LIVES ON

Good news!
My novella, Elmo’s Sojourn, already published by Melange Books in their anthology, Curious Hearts, will be released as an eBook.
The projected date of release is February of 2014.
Elmo is a character I’ve grown to love. He began life in a short story which grew into a novella due to my curiosity. I wanted to know what would happen to him in his other-worldly adventure.
In Elmo’s Sojourn, Elmo is a retired Los Alamos scientist who tinkers in his cellar with used scientific gear gleaned from Los Alamos dumpsters. He invents a way to travel through wormholes and begins an adventurous life on a distant planet.
I’ve since written another novella, Elmo’s Invention, in which Elmo is a young scientist recently married and working in his cellar on a time machine with unexpected results. Hopefully, more of Elmo’s life and adventures will follow.

July 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

FAULTS IN MY WRITING STYLE

As mentioned in my last post, I would like to discuss my writing style or lack there of.
I have this fault when writing novels, but it really rears its ugly head when I write short stories. I think about the story I’m going to write for quite some time before I put one word on paper. When I’m finally ready to begin writing I am in such a rush to write the story, my first draft is always written with pencil and legal pad, I tend to write a bar-bones story lacking details that would make it more readable and interesting. Hence, one editor said my stories were like outlines.
Let me demonstrate.
Betty was cooking dinner when Harry walked into the kitchen.
Earlier in the story, who the characters are, may have been established. If not, this sentence raises many unanswered questions. Who are they? What is their relationship? What do they look like?
To give some depth to the scene: What is Betty cooking? What are the smells? What does the kitchen look like? Not all of this may be important but some detail will help form a mental image to help the story along.
I hope to improve my style in my upcoming work and in the stories I have yet to publish walking the fine line between detail and padding.

July 12, 2013 at 7:17 pm Leave a comment

GEORGE R. R. MARTIN VS JIM BUTCHER, PADDING VS ACTION

In my last piece where I discussed how my approach to reading a book has changed since becoming a writer, I mentioned that I noticed that some authors overwrite. They add a vast amount of unnecessary detail which pads, and in my opinion, slows down the story.
I, on the other hand, feel I don’t give enough detail. I have had stories rejected where the editor said that it wasn’t a story but an outline. I hope to remedy this and will discuss it my approach to the ‘fix’ in a future piece.
The example of an author that gives far more detail in his stories than I feel is necessary is George R. R. Martin. I know this may ruffle some feathers and that he is all over the bestseller lists, but I stand by my observations.
I have read a couple of his books and what I find is an opulence of description that is totally unnecessary. If there is a banquet, he describes in great detail what people are wearing. There is nothing wrong with this, but to go on and give the history of garments and belt buckles I find does not add anything to the story and slows down the action to a crawl.
Another fault I find in his very popular series is a total lack of advancement in technology and the life of the characters. In one story he talks of a sword that has been in the family for a thousand years and is in use by the current generation. In the course of a thousand years, shouldn’t some advance been made in warfare, for better of for worse.
I have read another fantasy series, The Codex Alera, by Jim Butcher. His stories are fast paced and not padded by details that add nothing to the story. His characters use ‘furies’ which are natural powers of the earth. In one story he explains that the culture once used an advanced technology which is now long forgotten. Since the discovery of the ‘furies’ the technology became obsolete. I find this detail more satisfying than believing that no advancement has occurred in a thousand years.
These are the observations I have made as a writer. If you want, let me know how right or wrong you think I am.

July 8, 2013 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

READING AS A WRITER

I’ve always been an avid reader to the point where it’s almost an obsession. I cannot remember the last time I was not in the process of reading a book. If I go anywhere where there is the slightest chance of waiting, I feel naked if I do not bring a book along.
I’m sure most writers would agree that being a compulsive reader is a prerequisite for being a writer.

What I would like to discuss in this piece is how the appreciation of the book I am reading has changed. I began writing fiction approximately twelve years ago, and since then I have noticed that the qualities I look for in a book are different. Before I became a writer I was just appreciating the story at face value. Now I look for much more.

Now, when I read a book I look for character development. I look for descriptions of the character and how this sometimes leads to overwriting of the book. I will discuss this in an upcoming piece giving examples. Plot is something I examine, wondering if the author outlined the story or if events occur which the author did not see coming. In my writing, I sometimes use a dynamic outline with nothing cast in stone. I also have events occur that are created during the writing process.

Another quality I look for in a story is background information to explain details in the story. In science fiction, horror and fantasy not everything needs to be explained, nor should it be. But there comes a point where some background is necessary.

These are some of the changes I have in mind when reading. I wonder if other writers
approach a story differently since they began writing.

July 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm 2 comments

THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD by H.P. LOVECRAFT

Our lab-mix, Millie, has not tolerated the thunderstorms very Here in southeastern Pennsylvania we have endured, for the last week or so, and continue to endure almost daily rain and thunderstorms.
well. My computer table is rather small with a printer beneath and all the necessary plugs and cords. During one particularly violent storm Millie squeezed all of her 61 pounds under the table while I was working. I fear that if I decided to turn on the vacuum cleaner during one of these events I would surely send poor Millie over the edge.
These storms, however, provided the perfect atmosphere for my latest reading endeavor, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H.P. Lovecraft.
The background of a good thunderstorm forms the perfect atmosphere of a story full of the nameless and unspeakable.
Unlike most of Lovecraft’s writing efforts, primarily short stories, this work is a short novel, one of his longest works. The story begins with Joseph Curwen and follows his activities during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Curwen is consumed with certain mystical activities involving obscure chemistry and strange chants. Charles Dexter Ward is his great-great-great-grandson and follows in his relatives footsteps.
I love Lovecraft’s stories and his style of writing. However, I think he would have some difficulty finding a publisher in today’s market. This effort is almost exclusively narrative. As usual, the atmosphere of the story is rich with the bazaar and implied bazaar, but he occasionally violates the writer’s rule of ‘show don’t tell’.
Yet, no matter how archaic his work may be, I still enjoy his stories a great deal.

July 1, 2013 at 7:08 pm Leave a comment


Calendar

July 2013
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Posts by Month

Posts by Category