A Visual Way To Fix Your Pacing

Pacing is one of the hardest things to get a handle on in your writing. Some people have a natural feel for it. You ask them how to get it right, and they say, “Well, you just sort of sense it.” Not much help for those who don’t have good instincts along those lines. Back when I was first learning to write screenplays, I was having so much trouble getting the pacing to work that, in desperation, I figured out a way to assess the script’s pacing using Excel. This may or may not work for you, but I share it with you now. Continue reading

Read Something New!

Lately, I’ve been noticing a trend with things that I’ve been asked to crit. Many pieces are very well written, but, frankly, out-of-date. By that I mean, they read like something from 20, 30, even 50 years ago. When I talk to these authors, we can have extensive and full conversation about books they read when they were teenagers, the classics in the field, etc., but I quickly discover they haven’t read anything published in the last couple of years.

I’ve got bad news for you, folks. You need to be up-to-date on the classics and what’s currently selling.¬† Continue reading

Does Your Tech Always Work?

So, I just spent three hours trying to fix a 2-year-old printer that mysteriously fell off the network. I was able to figure out pretty easily that it wasn’t talking to the router, but when I tried to re-sync the two of them, I somehow hosed several of the router’s settings and then completely lost the internet. The router is 9 years old, and we can’t find the manual to look up what the factory default login information was. Fortunately, I now have internet on my phone, so I was able to turn off the wi-fi on it, get online using 3G, and figure out how to log into the router. I fixed the router, then got the printer working again, but using a wired connection to the router. I still don’t know what’s wrong with its wireless setup, because its status pages say everything is fine, but it’s simply not showing up as an available printer unless it’s hard wired to the system. Continue reading

Grow a Spine

We had an interesting debate in my crit group the other night. One of my fellow writers stated that he thinks the theme of a story or novel — he describes it as the “this story is about X” idea — is the framework that the entire piece hangs on. I responded that I think that’s a fine approach, but not universal, since many novels are so rich that two different readers can walk away with very different ideas about what the theme is. I prefer to hang the story on the change the main character undergoes, with every scene illustrating that. My fellow writer felt that this approach ignores the theory that a well-formed character doesn’t necessarily change — anything they do through the course of the novel is the only thing they¬†could have done in that circumstance — and, hence, they end up the exact same person they were at the beginning. Continue reading