David B. Coe: Point of View, Voice, and the Choices We Make

I’m sure that some of you saw the title of this post and groaned. I have written about point of view on this site quite a bit. I talk about point of view on panels and in writing workshops all the time. I have said again and again that, to my mind, point of view is the single most important narrative tool we have at our disposal, because it brings together character development AND plot AND setting. How does it do this? By coloring all that our readers experience with the emotions, thoughts, perceptions, and knowledge of our point of view characters. You’ve heard all of this before, and many of you are probably sick to death of it. Sorry. But it really is important . . .

I’m not going to give you the whole “Here’s why I care so much about point of view” thing today. I’m sure […]

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D. B. Jackson: On Plotting — Keeping Things Fresh

Last week I began the discussion of keeping books and story lines fresh as we move through a series, by talking about character, and in particular shaking up familiar dynamics between (among) two (or more) characters. I focused my post on the core relationship found in the Thieftaker books: the rivalry between my hero, thieftaker and conjurer Ethan Kaille, and his nemesis, the brilliant, deadly, and beautiful Sephira Pryce. The basic dynamics of their relationship had long since been established in the first two books of the Thieftaker Chronicles, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry. Now, in the third book of the series, A Plunder of Souls, which was released a week ago today, I fundamentally altered those dynamics by introducing a new adversary for Ethan, Captain Nate Ramsey, who antagonized Sephira and forced her into an unlikely alliance with Ethan.

But there are other ways to keep a storyline fresh, even […]

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The “It” Factor

My wife and I are addicted to “The Voice.” I’ve been a Blake Shelton fan forever, and I love the blind audition portion of the show, when the judges have to make their initial decisions based on a singer’s voice, not their look, age or size. As an old fay guy, I find this appealing. Of course, every subsequent round they watch the performance so things like appearance and stage presence do count, but they count in real life, too. Every once in a while, along will come a performer that just has “it.” You know what I’m talking about, they’re going to be a star. “It” is almost indefinable, but it’s that little spark, that something that separates that singer from the herd. Maybe they look different but have the chops to back it up. Maybe they’re just so damn charming onstage and off that you can’t help but […]

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On Writing: Knowledge Versus Wisdom

I love doing the puzzles in my local newspaper. (Kids, newspapers are collections of paper that are delivered to your home each morning. They include all the interesting stuff that you saw on Twitter and YouTube yesterday . . .) I do the Sudoku, the crossword, and, my favorite, the Cryptoquote. The Cryptoquote is that puzzle that gives you an encoded quote; you have to figure out what each letter represents to discover the quote and its author. I bring this up, because this week I solved a puzzle and discovered one of the best quotes I’d ever heard. It’s from Miles Kington, the late British journalist:

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

Yes, this does have something to do with writing. In fact, it has everything to do with writing. This site offers a lot of knowledge, and, […]

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Writing Exercises: Word Choice and Voice

ConCarolinas was nearly a month ago — it’s hard to believe how quickly the weeks are flying by. A week from tomorrow Thieves’ Quarry will be released, (Woot!) and I hope all of you will go out and get yourselves a copy in one format or another. The book also makes a great gift!

But I digress . . .

ConCarolinas! Right. During the convention, Faith, Misty, and I did several panels together: One on the first five pages (led by Faith), one on word choice (led by Misty), and one on voice (led by yours truly). During my panel, I mentioned that I had worked up a series of exercises that were designed to help writers develop their voice or voices for projects, and today I’m going to describe those exercises.

As it happens, I also have a couple of exercises to help with word choice and I’m going […]

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Easy Talking

In comments last week, Sagablessed asked “I would ask one of you how make dialogue in the ‘real-world’ seem so easy.” So I thought I’d do my best to answer. As you all should know by know, everyone’s process is different, so all we can really do here is offer suggestions to hopefully guide you to finding your own way. I hope the others will join in with their suggestions as well.

For me, much of my writing happens in my head long before I ever put hands on keyboard, and that means that I’m hearing conversations between my characters. I do my best to transfer the exchanges I hear onto the page, with attention paid to particular word choices and cadence. Everyone has his or her own way of speaking. Some people’s voices are more heavily accented than others. Some are singsong, and others are flat. There are […]

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An Exercise in Voice: Results

First off, I want to thank everybody who participated in my Voice Exercise post two weeks ago. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to go read it, and to read the stories everyone submitted.

I was actually quite nervous about trying this in a blog format, because it would’ve been so easy for people to cheat. Normally I do it in classes, where it’s pretty much impossible to cheat. But it’s clear to me that people followed the rules that I established, so now I’m going to drive the point home:

No one can ever write the story you will write. Do not ever tell yourself that there’s no point in trying to tell a story because it’s been done before. It may have been, but you have not done it, and that means there’s still something unique you can bring to it.

I gave you guys six […]

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