A Curmudgeonly Look at Poetry

POETRY (002) by Gordon LongI know poetry is supposed to be creative. You don’t have to follow the rules if you don’t want to. You just put your pen to the paper and write. Then you dump it all on us and expect us to appreciate your art.

Well, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. I get about one book of poetry a week sent to me for a review. I turn most of them away, and it’s not because I’m an old curmudgeon, or because I’m a stickler for “proper English.” The first reason is that I try to read them out loud following the format they’re written in, and it all sounds like gobbledygook. Continue reading “A Curmudgeonly Look at Poetry”

Should I Write My Book in First Person?

FIRST PERSON point of viewMy advice for most writers; if First Person doesn’t suit your writing style, your story and your genre, don’t use it.

If you want a good rundown on positive reasons, look at Ingrid Sundberg’s five-point analysis; all five are valid. Her next post is “Six Limitations of the First Person POV.” Read that one, too.

 But It’s Easy

Yes, deceptively easy. As in, easy to do, hard to do well. In fact, First Person is one of the hardest styles of writing to do properly. Note that I use the term “style,” because First Person is more than just putting “I” in as the main character’s pronoun. It’s how you write it that makes the difference. Continue reading “Should I Write My Book in First Person?”

Getting it Right: Time and Distance on Foot and Horse

monks-1077839_640 courtesy of pixabay.comCharacters in many genres, especially Fantasy and Historical Fiction, often travel by foot. Especially when time is part of the conflict, the author must have a clear idea of exactly how far apart everything is and how long it takes to get from one place to the next.

Note that many authors ignore this kind of detail completely. In many Fantasies, actual distances are never mentioned. However, it is useful for purposes of veracity and suspense to be able to use the time factor. Personally, I spend hours with maps and a calculator on all my books. Which is why I am passing this information on to you. Continue reading “Getting it Right: Time and Distance on Foot and Horse”

Creating a Dynamite Four-Sentence Opening Paragraph

opening scene, window with curtains, breeze blowing inI began my writing career in drama, and when I start a new chapter of a novel, the first thing that comes to mind is the dialogue. Bad idea. When you come into the middle of a conversation, you always feel like you’re missing something, and I suspect my readers react the same way. So I went looking for a metaphor that would help me write an effective opening paragraph for every chapter. And to do that, I had to figure out what readers want at the beginning of a chapter.

And then I had a thought; starting a chapter is like entering a new room we have never been in before. What do readers want to know about that unknown room? Continue reading “Creating a Dynamite Four-Sentence Opening Paragraph”