SPEECHTAGS ARE OF THE DEVIL (he said)

James R. Tuck

Gather around kids, today we are going to talk about the evils of speechtags. You know what speechtags are. They are the he said, she saids of the literary world. Those little tagalongs that hitch rides on lines of dialog like hobos on freight trains. Some people like them because they are unobtrusive and easy on the eyes. They think you should use them exclusively, never deviating from the simple four letter word with a pronoun prefix. They feel the he/she said speechtag is simple, elegant, and unobtrusive.

They are wrong.

Speechtags are downright diabolical in their blandness.

Worse, they are a virus in your manuscript. They breed like little parasites of laziness. They are the tribbles of your writing and you should cut them out like the infestation they are.

I hear you saying: “But James, if I don’t use them how will my reader know who [...]

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LETS TALK ABOUT GODZILLA (no spoilers, I’m not that much of a jerk)

James R. Tuck

Okay, I saw the big lizard this weekend.

It was good but not great.

Godzilla looks amazing, totally rocked that.

Here’s the thing that happened that moved what should have been the third best movie of 2014 (after Captain Americas Winter Soldier which is so amazeballs it should be illegal, and Gaurdians Of The Galaxy which will be a close second to CAWS in the amazeballs category) into just a good movie level….not dollar movie, but not full priced, more like matinee from 2000 priced movies.

(55 bucks for three tickets, popcorn and drinks when the Tucks went Damn)

Okay, how this relates to story.

Godzilla is an action movie. It’s a disaster movie. Those both come with tropes. They are loaded with audience expectations. Now these really often become very rote and we can see them coming from a mile away and that suxxors….so the makers of Godzilla avoided [...]

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WORDS HAVE POWER AND CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

James R. Tuck

This was brought home to me in a very real way recently and it’s all Gillian Flynn’s fault.

Firstly, if you aren’t reading Gillian Flynn then you should be. The woman is TALENTED.

I was reading DARK OBJECTS at Jordancon so I carried it with me and before a panel started John Hartness picked it up, read the opening section, and exclaimed the same thing I did when I read it in the bookstore: “That’s a great f**king opening!”

“I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it.” ― Gillian Flynn, Dark Places

See what I mean?

So here is where she changed my life.

In the book SHARP OBJECTS the main character goes back home to the little town she grew up in. In [...]

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WE NEED SOME ROCK STARS UP IN HERE. (or why be normal? you’re a writer fer pete’s sake)

James R. Tuck

I’m back!

Here at ye olde Magical Words where the water’s fine and life is easy. Missed y’all.

So lately I have just discovered that Craig Ferguson exists in the world. Now I’m not a late night talk show fan but I am a youtuber and based on the weird stuff I watch youtube (or the all seeing eye of Ra) kept suggesting I watch Craig Ferguson clips. Well I withstood that pressure for months until one day I said “screw it” and watched his interview with Krysten Ritter from Don’t Trust The B In Apt 23 cause I watched that show on netflix and actually laughed out loud.

You know what I discovered?

Craig Ferguson is a honey-badger.

Craig Ferguson don’t give a crap if you watch his show or what the studio wants or what his guests might be trying to promote. He just does what he does, [...]

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THE WORST CHRISTMAS POST EVER (or: seriously don’t read this if you are prone to the holiday blues. Contains sorrow, loss, and others)

James R. Tuck

I’m a writer.

As writers go I’m not very emotional. I do not have gigantic mirths nor gigantic melancholies. I do not battle depression. I am very even-keeled and stable almost to the point of being a bit emotionless.

But the holidays occasionally make me a bit maudlin.

It happens.

In this, my final Magical Words post for 2013 I’m going to share some of that. This is an intensely personal post that really has nothing to do with the season. It’s been written for a while and I have pecked at it whenever I feel the need. But it relates to my current WIP which is not genre at all, but a literaryly-minded mainstream book. (It’s all very new so no news on it other than I’m near 10k in and it feels really special)

This is your last warning though: from here on out it might be a [...]

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PLOTTING WITH BUNNIES (or whatever other animal you like. Want a hippopotamus? By all means, plot with hippos.)

James R. Tuck

Character and Plot. The two things you need to make a book. (Please don’t cite me examples of books that have one but not the other. Those are outliers and not the main thrust of books.) Generally speaking those are the requirements.

Now for most folks, myself included, character is actually pretty easy. They come swaggering up in our heads all badass and near fully fleshed out. The plots? They’re a different story. Plots are tricky little devils and hard to get hold of sometimes.

But that’s because we overthink them.

We do. As writers our brains are moving 90 to nothing and cruising top speed down multiple tracks. We mix our plot up with the following things: Character, Backstory, World-building, Themes, and Motives.

But we don’t need that for the actual plot.

The plot is the skeleton you hang all that meat [...]

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DRINK YOUR HATER-ADE (or editing)

James R. Tuck

I don’t know what kind of writer you are. You might be the kind who works each sentence until it’s perfect before moving on to the next one, lining up the words in exacting order for the most impact and literary explosiveness.

If so then this blog might not do you much good. lol

This advice is for the writers like me. The indulgent ones who spew words on their first drafts, who write with an abandon of language, allowing all the sentences to run amok on the page. I sling phrases and concepts around during my first draft, just acting like they are free and I can have as many as my greedy little, or not-so-little fingers can conjure.

The result, for me anyways, is a first draft bloated like Elvis on a toilet and full of sentences that I love, words I adore.

That’s all fine and [...]

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