AM local Zulu

Quite honestly, while a valid technique, it is also a bit of a lazy one. I used it because my stories shifted so quickly to so many locations, across numerous time zones. The Zulu time is Greenwich Mean Time, which is used internationally to keep people in different time zones on the same sheet of music time-wise. One thing I have learned about using headers is that often readers don't read them. Quite frankly, they are a not a particularly good way to start a new scene. I try to back up the...

Business

I read somewhere that there are only about 200 Americans who can make a living from writing full time. I thought I can't be one of 200 people in America. That's too hard. The speaker is Michael Crichton in an interview in USA Weekend (Jan 7-9, 1994). He's talking about his early years, when he was faced with the decision between becoming a writer or going to medical school. His choice was medical school. The current state of published writing in America right now is a strange mixture. There are...

Characters

I've heard it said that there are two ways to write a book. The first is to come up with a plot and then find characters to live the story. The second is to come up with characters and write their story. I squirm out of that by saying do both. Remember one thing though it will be people who read your book and people identify primarily with people, not plots or facts. Another thing to consider is this many times, your characters are your plot. Regardless, you need people in your story. Or maybe...

Dialogue

It is important to remember that psychologists say that a very large percentage of communication is non-verbal, yet on the printed page all you have are the words. There is no tone, no facial expressions, no hand gestures, nothing that in normal face-to-face communication can drastically affect the message being communicated. Because all you have are the words, you must choose them very carefully. A conversation in a novel is not exactly as it would be in real life. Because you are lacking the...

Editing

There are two types of editing story editing (rewriting) and copyediting. Ask yourself the following questions Is there continuity Does every sentence and action serve a purpose in the story Does the story flow logically These and other questions are the ones you ask when story editing. This is the editing that you need most. By the time you finish a manuscript you have read every word dozens and dozens of times. See how the story feels. If you read a lot, then you have a feel for a good story...

First person

I saw the two people walk into the courtyard. They began to argue with each other, and then suddenly, they began to fight. Note Because I wasn't out there, I couldn't hear what they said, which is a limitation of first person. However, I could find out what was said later on by talking to one of the two people. (There are always ways to get around disadvantages.) Or, I could change the story and have my first person character in the courtyard in order to be able to relate what happens but the...

Good characters should be

Heroic They struggle to meet every day challenges or extreme challenges. Either way they show courage and dignity in their battle. They don't have to be nice, but they do have to be good. If you start with a negative character there must be a glimmer of hope the reader can discern that they could change for the better. 2. Believable Give them strengths and weaknesses. Often it is the latter that readers identify with more. And you must give consistent evidence of these traits, not just show it...

How To Get Started

This chapter appears to be in the wrong place. Most how-to-write books place it in the beginning after all, if you don't start, how can you ever do anything I place this at the end because I don't think it does you much good to start unless you understand what you're starting. Some of you may already have completed manuscripts others may not have put word one down on paper. I believe the first half of this book gives you the tools to start and complete a novel. The willpower is up to you. The...

Welcome To The Novelists World

Internal Characteristics of a Writer What personality traits does it take to be a writer Hardware, software and nifty tools for day to day work. Write what you know and know what you're writing. The seed that starts everything and keeps you on track. Gathering the details that will drive the story. Someone's already done it, let them help you. 7. 1 of N Does Not Equal N and Never Complain, Never Explain Two tripwires to be aware of. II How To Write A Novel Putting muscles and flesh on the bones...

Idea Into Story

Given that you have now worked your way through deciding what to write, you face the second critical hurdle Deciding how to write the what. It may be difficult to believe, but sometimes this hurdle can loom much higher than the 'what' question. In fact, you may find that it causes you to reconsider your what. This is the transition from idea to story and it is not an easy one. As I said earlier this is when you must decide the who, what, where, when, how and why of your story. There are an...

How To Write A Novel

Even the Beatles did a song about being a writer with the basic philosophy that it is an easy road to fame and fortune. It is a profession where anyone with access to paper and ink thinks they can join the ranks. The longer I do this, though, the more I believe that it is very important to learn the basic craft of writing a novel before exercising one's genius. If you talk to coaches of teams, they always stress learning the fundamentals first, and I feel the same way about writing. Too often,...

In Closing

Quite a bit of what you just read won't make very much sense or too much sense to you if you are just beginning to write manuscripts. But reread it every once in a while and you will find that the more you write, the more sense it makes. I read numerous writing books when I first began and got quite frustrated because a lot of it seemed very simple or I didn't agree with some of the things that were said. But I didn't truly understand until I tried writing. Then it all begins clicking into...

Info

Underwater fights to the death in the waters off Hawaii to murder on the sidelines of the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia to the movement of shadowy military forces to Oahu to the recovery of a secret diary buried in Custer' grave at West Point it soon becomes clear that more is going on than even Boomer and Trace suspect and the novel builds to a shattering climax on the morning of December 7th as the President prepares to make his speech over the watery grave of the Arizona . I have eight...

Making A Living In The Publishing Business

Numbers and The Entertainment Business The reality of how the business works. 32. Marketing And Self Promotion Another hat you have to wear. Now that you know everything, you can get going. 34. Once Published Staying Alive in the Business 35. Writing Groups and Conferences Networking and realizing you aren't crazy, just peculiar. 36. Hollywood, Movie Rights and Screenplays A very strange place and business. 37. Electronic Books, Print-On-Demand, And The Future

More on point of view

Staying in a character's head also makes your character inconsistent if the thoughts are not in line with what he she says or does. And if it is in line, then why have to tell thoughts when the words actions will speak for them That isn't to say don't get into thoughts at all, but don't do it exclusively. When you do have your characters' thoughts, make sure they think differently from each other. Don't write the same way for every one and have them react the same or they appear to be cardboard...

My recommendation on outlining is simple write down everything you think you know about your book

I say 'think you know' because the transition from what you think are startlingly clear thoughts to black and white on paper can be very difficult. I've had great ideas that I thought would make great stories, but when I start actually sketching it out in the real world on paper or on computer rather that in my head, I find things change considerably. One phrase I always say is Details drive the story. This is why, even with an outline, a story takes on a life of its own. No matter how detailed...

Outlining

I have grown fonder of outlining the more I have written. A novel is very complex when viewed in its entirety, most particularly mainstream fiction. Working without an outline is sort of winging it. I say this after have done that for eight straight manuscripts. I think I have finally learned my lesson and have actually gotten to the point of outlining in some degree of detail (about a page per chapter) the entire proposed novel. I'm updating the above paragraph after 22 manuscripts written and...

People in the business

At one publishing house I have been through five different editors in the course of three years and three books published. I've also been through five different publicists in the same period of time at that house. Talking to some people on the inside, what I have learned is that editors and others in the trade work their way up by playing musical chairs. They don't work up at their house they work up by stepping up the ladder to another publishing house. This causes a tremendous problem, given...

Plot

I looked up the definition for plot in the dictionary and it said A secret plan to achieve a hostile or illegal purpose. Just joking. The applicable definition is The series of events consisting of an outline of the action of a narrative or drama. In the next three chapters I'm going to cover major parts in detail the beginning, pacing and the end. In this chapter I want to talk about some structural issues regarding the development of a story. First, notice the definition says a series of...

Politics

Keep these sources of conflict in mind when developing your characters. Remember all characters have to have an agenda goals they want to achieve. That gives them a driving force, even if it is a passive or negative one. Characters can pursue their goals aggressively or subtly. Or they could not pursue their goals, which also says something about them. Motivation is the most important factor to consider when having your character make choices or do actions. Once you have a feel for your...

Research

Once you have figured out your original idea, before you race off and start your story, the next step is to do research. I try to keep my mind open when I'm doing research for all sorts of possibilities for my story. In fact, before you start writing the first word of your novel, I think you should go through the creative process outlined in the rest of the chapters in this section and make sure you know what you want to do before you trap yourself. There are two types of research primary and...

Reviews

I used to say any review is a good review. I said that because a review gives your novel exposure. Most reviews consist of a brief summary of the plot and then a few lines with the reviewer's comments. Be glad that your book has been summarized for you and exposed to the readers of the review. Accept that the reviewer's comments have been written and there is nothing you can do about it. However, there is no doubt that bad reviews can hurt, not only in terms of ego, but also in terms of sales....

Setting

Go to the bookstore and open up a bunch of books and read the first line. You will find the majority of opening sentences have something to do with setting and evoking an emotion in the reader. That's why It was a dark and stormy night is such a clich there is always a large degree of truth in clich s. Setting can be a character in your story think who the antagonist is in Krakeur's Into Thin Air. Mount Everest and the weather. Some writers have totally wrapped their...

Step One Find the right place to send it

The initial thing you must determine is who to send your submission to, in the same manner that the bookbuyer walks to the part of the bookstore that has the type of books she enjoys reading. Whenever I look at a book on the shelf, my eye automatically goes to the little imprint on the spine that says who the publisher is. Sometimes, though, be aware that the name listed may be an imprint of a larger house. For example, Spectra is the science fiction imprint for Bantam. To find the publishing...

Stop

I recommend you do two things before you start marketing a manuscript. 1. Start writing your next one. You learned so much writing the first, that your second is bound to be better. Most authors do not get published on their first try out the gate. Don't pin all your hopes on the first one and the best way to do that is to start writing the second. This also prevents you from spending an entire year trying to market the first and ending up with just a pile of rejection slips. At least at the...

Subplots

Subplots are everything in your story other than your main storyline. Basically a story is similar to a bunch of threads woven together to make a rope. You've got to make sure everything in your story ends inside of that rope to make it a strong one. If strings extend beyond the main area of the rope, those strings will unravel the entire rope. The rope, from the diagram I used earlier, is that storyline that springs from your original idea and drives to the climax resolution of the story. Note...

Symbolism

Remember those Literature classes where the teacher went on about Faulkner's use of the color yellow in Soldier's Pay Did they call it symbolism The example I'm going to use is Richard Russo's superb book Nobody's Fool. It was also made into an excellent movie, from which Paul Newman was nominated for an Oscar. The opening of the book is several pages spent on the old trees overlooking the main street in the town the story is set in. The trees were once the pride of main street but now they are...

The Contract

A typical publisher's contract will include at least the following (if you are representing yourself, contact the Authors Guild and they will send you a full length suggested contract.) -Delivery of an acceptable manuscript by a certain date. -Corrections after acceptance cannot exceed 10 or you are charged for composition. -Who has rights. If you are going with hardcover publisher, that publisher will also usually control the paperback rights (along with 50 of the royalties.). -You usually...

The critical components that editors and agents are looking for in a novel are good characters revolving around a good

Why Because that is what readers are looking for. Not only does the idea by itself have to be top-notch, but it also has to fit the publisher's needs at the time. I don't think you should write for the market but you most definitely need to understand the market when attempting to break into it. Your original idea is the first thing that gets looked at, long before your writing does. Your background and I mean more than just your writing background also plays a determining role in how a...

The Literary Genre

I have added this after attending a writers' retreat where I read one of the participant's manuscript. It was about a woman and the way her life changed in response to events in it and her own growing maturity as a person. It made me reevaluate some of the things I've taught and written in this book. My focus used to be on action driven stories because that is what I did. It is what I did because it is what I was capable of doing. If I were capable of writing War and Peace, The Sequel I suppose...

The most important thing to remember about your beginning is you have to hook the reader very quickly

Hopefully within the first sentence. James Hall, a best-selling writer, said that he spends an inordinate amount of time going over his opening once the manuscript is done, refining it, making it the best it can be. Some writers spend too much of the beginning giving background information setting up a hook. You don't have that luxury. I recommend going to the bookstore and simply taking books off the shelf and reading the opening paragraph, the opening line. You'll start...

The Original Idea

The original idea is the foundation of your novel. When I say idea, I don't necessarily mean the theme, although it could be. Or the most important incident, although it could be. It can be a setting. It could be a scene. It could be a character. It is simply the first idea you had that was the seed of your novel. All else can change, but the idea can't. It might be a place a person an event a moral whatever. But you did have it before you began writing and you must remember it as you write. If...

The Pace Of The Story

The beginning can be fun to write and the end is most certainly exciting, but the bulk of the novel lies between. Wherever you decide you want to start, you must get to the end in a manner that doesn't lose or confuse the reader. What you want to avoid is what I call the 'remote control effect'. This effect is when you write as if you have pause, slow motion, fast-forward, stop, etc. etc. buttons. A novel should play out with a smooth pace but many writers jerk the pace around and in the...

The publishing company and your editor

When you get that first contract offer, you will probably be so excited you'd sign anything. Having an agent will help, but even that's no guarantee the contract is a good one. I bring this up because, sad to say, writers as a rule are not treated very well by publishers. Not because publishers are mean, but because usually they don't have to treat writers well. There is no union and your only rights are the ones in the contract and even then, you need an expert to point them out to you. This...

The Publishing Process

As discussed earlier, it all starts with the submission. So let's discuss how submissions are handled. There are two ways cold submissions and requested submissions. The first is your brown envelope in the mail to the publishing house you looked up in The Writers Market. No one at the publishing house specifically asked for you to send your query. That makes it a cold one. The trend nowadays in the major houses is to not even deal with cold submissions which makes the role of the agent an ever...

The Reader

I have to occasionally remind myself that I spend many months full-time writing something that will be read by others in several hours. I also have to remember what mindset the reader approaches my novels with. I have to both tell a story interesting enough to keep the reader's attention (intellect) and tell it in a manner that the reader enjoys (emotion). As a writer, you also need to be aware of these things. Don't forget what the reader knows. If the reader knows something that a character...

The Submission

The submission is the first step in entering the world of publishing and, for most writers, the last. (Note for the purposes of this chapter consider the terms submission and query mean the same thing also, this is the same thing you will send to agents). Understanding the flow of the submission will greatly increase your chances of receiving a good look. The process I describe below will make more sense if you think of it as a replication of the flow a person goes through entering a bookstore...

The Writing Cycle

After the idea comes the actual work. I view writing as a continuous four-stage cycle. Stage 1 The idea. After the main storyline, you need to know where you are starting each time you sit down to write. Where is the story at that point, and where is it going in the immediate future I usually do this a chapter or two ahead at a time. Always remember your one sentence original idea. I like to start every day of work by reminding myself of it. Stage 2 Research. Often I find upon researching an...

Writing Groups And Conferences

Writing tends to be a solitary profession and, as mentioned earlier, one without an apprenticeship program where you can make a living while learning the craft. Writing groups, conferences, and writing programs try to address some of these problems. There are pros and cons to each things to be gained and things to be lost in participating in any of them, but that mostly depends on what you want. Writing groups are usually local several people who enjoy writing band together and start meeting...

Preface

Point of view is the most critical style element in writing. It is also important in reading this book. I've been making a living writing for well over a decade and with each year and every new manuscript come new lessons learned. Over that time period I've also taught writing novels and getting published at various workshops and for numerous organizations. I've seen numerous ideas, stories and manuscripts in the course of teaching, helping other writers, and judging contests. I've been...

Rejections

Why a whole chapter devoted to rejections And right after the chapter on submissions Because guess what's coming shortly after you start sending out your queries Rejection is a fact of life in the writing business and something you will face. I have approximately eighty rejections for each of my first two novels. Every publisher my agent sent it to soundly rejected my fourth manuscript. This despite both having an agent representing me and having my first novel out in hardcover. I am currently...

Appendix Example Synopsis The Line

What if a secret military organization has been covertly manipulating our government's policies for the past fifty years and now appears to be planning a coup In 1995 Boomer Watson is a member of the elite Delta Force on a classified mission into the Ukraine when everything goes wrong the target, instead of radical Ukrainian politicians, turns out to be NATO nuclear inspectors. Returning from the apparently botched mission, Boomer is relieved of his command and sent to Hawaii to get him out of...

Series of progressive complications ever rising risks

I heard an interesting story one time that goes as follows There once was a very poor man who lived in a kingdom. All he had was his son and six beautiful horses. One day the king came riding by and saw the horses. The king offered to buy the horses for a very large sum of money. The man refused. His neighbors told him he was crazy not to take the money because the king's offer was a very good thing. He replied I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is. Two days after the...

The Five Biggest Problems

After looking at manuscripts and concepts for years, I made a list of what I considered the top five problems. Initially, the first several years, I focused on perspective as the major problem. As time went on though, and I learned more about writing, I changed that opinion. If a manuscript's major problem is perspective, then at least the writer got out of the starting gate. To my dismay I have found that many writers never make it out of the starting gate. I then decided that not having a...

What Genre Books Does Stephen King Write

Decide where your book fits if it does fit . No one likes hearing it, but there are certain guidelines to follow when writing in specific fields. If you are writing an action suspense novel, then your primary emphasis is on action. That's not to say that you shouldn't have good characterization, but you should not emphasize the characters at the expense of slowing down the action. Remember the perspective of the reader when they bought your book, or picked it up to read, why did they do that...

Book Dissection

You've got your original idea and you've done your research. Now, before you begin to write your book, you should find a novel similar to what you plan to write that is already published. Then you should sit down with your razor sharp brain and cut it apart to see all the pieces. Then put them together again to see how they all fit. You have to ask yourself a number of questions 1. What was the original idea the author started with How close is it to mine 2. How did the author translate that...

Appendix Sample Cover Letter

Presidio Press 29 April 2000 31 Pamaron Way Novato, CA 94949 Dear Ms. What if a secret organization of West Point Graduates has been covertly manipulating our government's policies for the past fifty years and now appears to be planning a coup against the President THE LINE is the story of Boomer Watson, an officer in the Army's elite Delta Force and Major Benita Trace, assigned to a headquarters in Hawaii where the President will be arriving in one week to give a speech at the 56th anniversary...

Appendix Sample Chapter Outline Chapter

Nashville 9 Nov 11 PM 0400 Zulu -Kelly Reynolds gets tape and letter in mail from a male reporter friend as she comes home late at night. -she listens to tape intercepted radio conversation between AF jet pilot participating in Red Flag US vs. Soviet simulation fight out of Nellis AFB getting caught by tower Dreamland Nellis AFB call sign for violating restricted air space over Area 51. Pilot reports being forced down by strange object, then goes off air suddenly. Male friend says he is going...

Third person deep insight shifting point of view

We start in Joe's point of view, and then shift when it is necessary. Joe looked up from his cup of coffee and saw John and Ted walk into the courtyard. Joe could see that they were arguing and he knew they were still probably upset about their earlier confrontation over Madeline's boyfriend. In the courtyard, John could see Joe watching them but he could care less. John was still uneasy about their earlier confrontation over Madeline's boyfriend. I still don't accept it, Ted...