Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!
Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!
Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.
Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!
Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."
Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.
Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.
Monday, January 31, 2011
To me, first draft writing is like creating in a vacuum. I fill the empty page with words, hoping that readers identify with characters and find my story intriguing. Without obtaining reader reaction, my writing gauge, I have no way of knowing if I’ve achieved my writing objectives, as if my sonar depth finder hasn’t bounced off the ocean floor to give me a picture of the underwater landscape. Obtaining critiques gives me a map for revisions. The following elements seem to be those I hone with frequency.
• Tone My main character’s attitude and perspective sets the tone of my work. In revisions, I make sure that readers like my main character, feel the character has authenticity, and that the language I’ve used portrays her to full potential.
• Plot Elements Writers know the full story, including the backstory, and forget that the reader doesn’t have this knowledge. What seems like a logical action made by the main character may seem unrealistic to the reader, which blows the writer’s credibility. In revising, any deficit in this logic must be overcome by providing a natural basis substantiating the main character’s actions, bolstering authenticity, or the plot must be adjusted. Plot revisions may require additional research to provide factual data, helping the credibility factor.
• Tension Insight gained through critiques is invaluable for gauging emotional intensity, which also affects pacing. Atmosphere, psychological landscape, pivotal plot elements all contribute to creating tension, but the building block applies to the next revision item—
• Action Bringing more action into a scene doesn’t just mean car chases and gun fire, it may mean cutting those previously crafted feelings that your character reveals to the reader through her thoughts. When I critique others work, the first thing I edit out is, “Sallie thought and realized...,” and ask what did Sallie do? Actions speak louder than words. Your character’s thoughts don’t add action.
• Pacing has more to do with what is left out than what is left in the story. If your story keeps referring to the past, you’re writing the wrong story. Timing, when your character gains knowledge and reacts to it, creates the pace. Revealing too much too soon can blow pacing, as can doing the opposite.
• Word Smithing—which leads back to the first element—tone. Crafting sentences conveying accurate meaning defines word smithing. In writing short stories, I’d add using the fewest words to that meaning. It’s nearly impossible to perfect and is a waste of time to word smith in the first draft. Why smith what may change? Once your critique partners have given you the thumbs-up, sculpting the language appropriately for the characters and plot finishes your manuscript like that top coat of nail polish. One note: An occasional passive tense sentence is normal, but passive language bores readers.
What part of the writing process do you like best? When you revise, what elements do you find yourself habitually rewriting? Have you tried a professional editing to advance your writing?