“God-Fearing Woman”

I watch a lot of true-crime shows on the ID channel. As I was watching one of them–American Monsters–where the wife of a nascent film director is murdered, I noticed the cop describing her on the footage from that day. He said “she was a good woman, a god-fearing woman.”

I’ve heard that a lot before. It’s a compliment, at least in many Christian religions. I don’t know about other religions. I’m guessing yes. Now, one of the first things that struck me about that was that once upon a time, the Puritans believed that God was angry and rather malevolent (read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, among others). By the Victorian period, that had shifted. God was benevolent. Except then, the world started changing beyond fast and a lot of bad things started happening in the world–wars, disease, economic difficulties, and so on. So the Victorians […]

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Language of Love

Warning: foul language ahead.

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I’ve been reading some romances lately. They do relationships–a whole lot of different kinds, not just romantic–like nobody’s business. There’s a lot to learn from them. Plus I enjoy them, particularly the relationships. Except.

I’ve read a couple books lately of the steamy variety. Explicit sex. I have no problem with this. In fact, bring it on! The hotter the better. No, what’s been bothering me about these two was the language of love. What kept throwing me was the frequent use of ‘fuck.’ Don’t get me wrong. I love the word. I like to use it. With gusto. And I don’t mind it in reference to sex. But both of these books had the lovers saying things very casually like, I really like fucking you. Hey, want to go fuck? Or a man talking about the woman he loves with another […]

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Inciting Event Redux

In the middle of the month, Faith talked about inciting events. She’s dead on and if you’ve forgotten what she said, go read it again. I’ll wait.

At the time of reading that article, I was in the middle of redrafting the second half of my current book. I’d had to rip out about 15K words from the draft and shift gears because I’d taken the wrong road. A common problem of pantsing. I’d reached the point where I needed to plot, not only this novel, but a great deal of the rest of the story.

I ripped back to just around the halfway point and started to work through all the players, the connections, the elements that needed to be dealt with, and generally braiding the story together. You might be asking, what does that have to do with the inciting event at the beginning of a book?

I’d […]

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Predictability

I’ve been doing some reviewing of books off Netgalley. This has allowed me to expand my reading into areas I might not have explored and to authors I might not have known about. I’ve found some gems. But this week, I started reading a romantic suspense and though it was written well enough, I knew in about twenty pages how the book would play out. I skipped to the end and discovered I was right. Now with some books, this predictability isn’t a problem. The journey and the characters will carry me through. This book? Not so much. I didn’t engage with the characters in that twenty pages and I wasn’t interested in knowing more. So that’s a did not finish book.

Predictability as a writer is necessary. There are things a character will not do and if you break out of those limits, then the unpredictability is bad. Readers […]

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Pacing

There’s a lot to be said about developing pacing in a story. Far more than I’ll attempt to deal with today. I just want to talk about a couple of things. So first, what about pacing? Why is it important?

It’s the momentum and progress of your story. You want to keep the excitement going, keep readers wanting to turn pages, draw out tension and ratchet it up, and build a riveting tale. Pacing is the speed at which you reveal things, have action, and move through scenes. Some books are “nonstop thrill rides.” That means that there’s something happening all the time and most of the time it’s scary or unnerving. Then there are stories that are more introspective and slower builds. The things that happen are lower key and not as dramatic or life-threatening, and yet if you care about those characters and what they’re going through, you’re […]

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By the seat of my pants

You’ve heard the discussion before, I’m sure. Is pantsing better or plotting? And I’m here to tell you, I have no idea. I can tell you my experience with both and what I wish for and what I’m doing now.

I used to plot my novels. Don’t get me wrong. I was no John Pitts*. I did not outline a very detailed way at all. It amounted to mostly this happens and then this and then this and so on and so forth. It was easy. Looking back, I think that may be because either I jumped into the story before it was fully formed and did a lot of pantsing on the way, the stories were a lot smaller than the ones I tell now, or, and this one is the most likely, I didn’t have a fully formed sense of the world and characters and so I filled […]

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Success–what exactly is it?

I need to say before I start, that at the last minute tonight, we decided to run off to the mountains to dig for rocks for a couple days. So any comments I will respond to when I get back. Hopefully we come back with cool rocks.

 

I’ve been talking about self-publishing for awhile, and now I want to wrap that up with a discussion of success. How do you know if your book is successful? How do you know if your career is successful?

Here’s the truth: there’s no single target that you’re trying to hit, all the targets move, and only you know what they look like.

Let’s start with that third one, because the other two will become clear in that discussion. Only you know if you’ve succeeded because only you determine the metrics of success. Is it to be published by one of the Big […]

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