Over the holidays I was talking to my brother, who is a carpenter in Fort McMurray in the Alberta Oil Patch. Because he spends a lot of time living in camp, he is a voracious reader, so when he talks about books, I listen. His comment was that a lot of the authors he reads do not pay enough attention to their tradecraft.
As a carpenter, his objective in every project is that everything is plumb, level, and square. It is easy to slack off and not bother. Boards are usually cut off square in the mill, so if you jam them together tight, they will usually align themselves square to each other. However, if they are even slightly off, your project will not end up completely square. Which is no problem, until some day, later on, you try to match it up to another project. Then, if the other piece of work isn’t quite square either, the errors always multiply, and the two will never fit together, and in the end it will all look like crap. And if the first project is, for example, the foundation of a house, the whole rest of the structure is going to be problematic. Continue reading “8 Elements of Tradecraft: Is Your Writing Plumb, Level, and Square?”
by Dale E. Lehman
Are you satisfied with your writing? If so, something’s wrong. After all, who writes to perfection? If our writing is to grow, we must constantly hone our craft. In what follows, I’ll share four secrets essential to improvement; key practices I’ve learned through decades of experience.
Let’s begin with that tired cliché about writing being a solitary business. If you’re like me, you spent years writing privately and sharing with nobody. You liked what you wrote. Sometimes you amazed yourself with a character or a turn of phrase or even an entire story. Sure. It’s easy to amaze ourselves. Amazing others? Not so much. Continue reading “The Top 4 Ways to Hone Your Writing”
Lately I’ve had quite a few editing jobs, working them in between my own writing and promotion of my latest book. I enjoy editing. I’ve always had a critical eye and an analytic brain, so very often anomalies in the writing will jump off the page at me. The caveat, of course, is that this art we practice is a highly subjective one, so while there are guidelines and style manuals to set general rules, those rules can and are broken regularly if the story requires it.
But I’ve noticed an interesting side benefit from my editing work. It points up for me, in spades, the crimes I may or may not have committed. Continue reading “How Editing for Others Helps My Writing”
The other day my partner Mark and I put down the flooring in a spiffy new building project in our back yard: an ‘Accessory Dwelling Unit’, or ADU as the city likes to call it. It’s actually a mother-in-law apartment for my parents to use when they decide they can’t hack the Arizona heat and yearn for some fresh, cool, northwest air. This tends to be every year about the time the temps in Phoenix scream into the triple digits. Go figure.
How does that relate to writing, you ask? Continue reading “How a Novel is Like Flooring”