Month: April 2014

Show me Your Weakness

We all like strong characters. Yet we don’t. You know what I mean. Well, maybe you won’t, but you will soon. I’ve actually posted about believability before, but this is a little different. Here are some examples. Rocky Balboa. Determination. Drive. The incredible ability to take a punch, and with a cut below the eye, make a comeback. Determination puts him in the ring, often where he shouldn’t be. His weakness is his love of fighting. But that same love, and the desire to win, grants hi victory over bigger, faster, and better fighters. John McClane. Die Hard. Die Harder. Die Hard with a Vengeance. You remember this guy? His weakness is his tragic relationships with his (ex) wife, daughter, and nearly everyone around him. He has one passion: getting the bad guy, even if he has to bend the law to do it. His strength is his determination. In every story, he gets his ass kicked, over and over. His relationships are stretched, always near the breaking point. Every one he comes up against is strong too. He does not come up against weak men and easily overcome them. Instead he is victorious through iron will. We all want to identify with that and believe that if push came to shove, we would do the same. We identify with both his strengths and weaknesses. Katniss Everdeen. Hunger Games?...

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Reading Between the Lines

A few of us had an interesting discussion at a writer’s group this weekend, and we really did not come to any hard conclusions, except we know some things about the fiction market, as it appears from data. So I thought I would ask you, the readers, what you think. Ready for the question: How much description is too much? Before you leave a comment below, let me outline what we do know as authors, what we are taught in classes and workshops. Then fire away with your opinions. Show don’t tell. This is a nebulous, editorial term bandied about, and it is a lie, of sorts. Modern readers seem to prefer being shown, through action, rather than told how a character feels. And new writers tend to over tell, and not show the story enough, so when we are ‘told’ to show and not tell, we end up with about the right amount of telling (most of the time). So what do you prefer? To live the story through the senses of the character (be shown the story), or do you want a narrator to tell you what is happening? Leave out the part the readers usually skip. This is another famous rule, one of Elmore Leonard’s top ten. These rules are often hotly debated, something readers usually don’t hear (or care) about. But what we are told,...

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Here, Taste This

What Scotch Night can teach us about Books and Reading There were perhaps a dozen of us, although I never got a definite head count. And there were at least a dozen bottles of Scotch on the bar. Plus a Japanese whiskey. It was a tasting party, so no, we did not plan to drink a bottle each. However, we did all get quite buzzed, even sampling several varieties. Like nearly everything else, all that tasting made me think about books, reading and writing. There are some clear parallels. Some people like, and relate to different regions. Scotch is created in different regions, or settings if you will, and the taste of the scotch takes on the character of that setting. From peaty lowlands to the woodsy highlands, even the smooth, almost sweet 20+ year olds, everyone likes a different region. Some are even more popular than others. Books are set in different regions as well, most often the region the author is from or familiar with. That region has a character of its own, and some readers like certain regions better than others. From settings in the Northeast and along the East Coast by Allan Leverone, to tales of the deep South by Heath Lowrance, to my own works set in the Northwest, there are a variety to choose from. Each story inevitably takes on regional characteristics, just...

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Fear

So often, fear rules our lives. But it does not rule as much as hinder. Fear is often fed by society. We are told to make a living before we pursue our dreams, because we fear poverty, even homelessness, so we must save for a rainy day, plan for retirement, because when something goes wrong, not if, we must be prepared, right? My experience is if you prepare for the worst, you will receive the worst. After all, it is what you expect. I freely admit, I have trust issues with people I do not know, or even those I know a little. They seem okay, but there is that part of nagging suspicion at the back of my head. What is their motive? Why are they being nice? Where does that come from? Fear. When the new Blue October album came out, I fell in love with the song “Fear.” One of my favorite lines is: “I used to fall, now I get back up.” So last night, at their concert here in Boise, I bought two things: Justin Furstenfeld’s book, Crazy Making, and a t-shirt that says “Fear” on the front, and has my favorite line on the back. The concert was a great set: hits old and new, not a few with real meaning for my wife and me. “She’s My Ride Home” was our anthem...

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