To be. Is, are, was, were. The most used verb in our (or probably, any) language. It has a purpose and a place in writing and in speech. But use it too much, and suddenly your stories become bland and dull. Want to know how I know? Because my editor challenged me to take every instance of the verb “to be” out of the story I owe him.
John Hartness, you’re a cruel man and I love you for it.
You see, I agree with his assessment. The problem with “to be” lies in its calm. When someone screams or leaps or scrambles or argues, something happens. I, the reader, ride along on the wave of action the writer creates. If I use various forms of “to be” instead, I run the risk of my action falling flat. Let me illustrate.
With “to be”:
She was dark haired, and […]
Continue reading To Be Or Not To Be?
I love going to cons. Very often it’s my only chance to see people I adore, since we don’t all live close enough to have coffee dates. But not only that – it’s just fun. I got home from Congregate a few hours ago. While there I moderated a panel on diversity in SF/F and its fandom (which was incredible! I wish you all could have been there!) served on panels about the Weird Wild West, settings in fiction, and Kickstarters, read my work out loud to an appreciative audience, and appeared as the middle bottom square in a truly hysterical version of The Hollywood Squares (John Hartness sat next to me, and I just can’t describe how crazy the whole game was!) Friday night I shut down the bar with a bunch of people, and Saturday night my husband and I flitted from room party to room party until […]
Continue reading What the Actual?
I have a terrible habit of guessing who the bad guy in within the first fifteen minutes of a mystery show. Or I suppose it’s not bad that I guess, but that I announce it out loud to the person watching with me. And because television is based on formulas, I’m most often right. (I have learned to keep my mouth shut in movie theaters, for which my husband is grateful. *laughs*)
The other night I started reading a new author, and within three chapters, I’d already guessed the bad guy and his motivation. Sometimes an author intends for his reader to know who the villain is right away, but this book is trying to keep it a secret until the big reveal at the end… and there I was, already nailing it. Which means that the author didn’t do what he wanted. The writing was solid, but the author […]
Continue reading It’s All In What You Consume
I was on vacation at Edisto Beach all last week. My family rents a house there every summer, and we spend the week building castles in the sand, swimming in the ocean and playing bocce on the beach. Every year, while we’re there, my husband and I start fantasizing about living on the coast. It would be much better for his asthma, since we currently live in the worst part of South Carolina for people with allergies and respiratory issues. For me, it would be going home. I’m very much a creature of the coast, and I’d prefer to live somewhere that the air actually moves now and then. (Even now, after living here for decades, it still creeps me out to walk outside and realize there’s not a breath of wind at all.) In years past, we’ve toyed and talked but done nothing concrete about our wish to move.
Continue reading Planning It Out
Hey folks, I’m on vacation this week, but I’m still working. I’ve got a short story rewrite, another short story to outline, and two not-yet-released novels to read, all of which is pretty cool stuff to do even if I am supposed to be taking a break. Reading is a vital part of being a writing pro – you’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, and who’s writing what. This week, I want you all to take a minute and tell me what you’re reading. Title, suthor and a quick synopsis, and maybe your thoughts. I think we can all benefit ftom knowing what other readers like.
I’ll start… Half Resurrection Blues, by Daniel Jose Older. It’s a noir urban fantasy, and so far pretty good. Carlos is both dead and alive, and works for the Council of the Dead, keeping things between the worlds of the living and dead relatively […]
Continue reading What Are You Reading?
Well, another successful ConCarolinas has come and gone. I’m a little sad this morning, since for the last three days I’ve been surrounded by a thousand of my closest friends, so it’s a little quiet around here now that we’ve all gone home. *laughs*
But one of the nice things about going to cons, either as a writing professional or as a fan, is all the great ideas you come home with. During breakfast Sunday morning, I was asked if I’d had any new projects come my way, and at that moment, I hadn’t. An hour later, I had. It can happen just that quickly. (Before you ask, the new project is still in its birth throes, so as soon as I have solid information to share, I promise I will. It’ll involve some of you, after all, so feel free to be excited!) One writer I talked to received […]
Continue reading Ah, Con!