How’s That Novel Comin’?

In October of 2015, I shared Left In The Cold – A Short Story with my faithful and wonderful readers and followers, who are, as I’ve said, faithful and wonderful.

Right now, I have included this short story in a novel I’m working on, which describes what happened to Jane and Livingston after their incident with this strange creature.

I’m almost 57,000 words in, and it’s not one of my typical horror stories. Oh, rest assured it’s weird fiction, all right, but it’s more character-driven than plot-driven. I thought for sure it would be plot-driven throughout, but Jane’s voice is too strong for that.

So yes, this novel is coming along, and I’m in the final third of the tale.

As for Silver Hollow, the editing process hit a technical hiccup today, but I’m working on fixing that. I hope to be on track soon, because I’d like to have it published in time for Halloween. I’m almost finished editing chapter two now, and it’s fun. I look forward to having people read it and (fingers crossed) enjoy it.

Silver Hollow takes place in my own private universe, as do all of my stories. In my universe, the world is just a tad different. I’m hopeful the differences will serve as a reminder that you, dear reader, are no longer home, and the world you’re visiting is not one of sunshine and rainbows. And in the rare times the sun shines, it scorches the visitor’s neck and the rainbows are solid and capable of strangling him or her. Ha ha.

Actually, the sun shines a lot in my universe, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something sinister slithering just beneath the surface, ready to break through any minute and leave the world in ruins.

I discovered the same thing is happening with the novel, Left in the Cold. There are good things that happen in it, but when I reread the work, I notice an underpinning of dread that seems to just lie there in wait. It’s like a metaphor for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Everything is going well but the person is just waiting for that moment where everything goes wrong.

And in my stories, it will. Just give it time.

I am a writer. You can get some cheap entertainment by reading one of my short stories for under a buck. I also hang around Twitter and Facebook sometimes. Come follow me and we’ll be weird together. Or not. I respect your non-weirdness.


Is your end sagging? More on Fixing Pacing Problems

Last week, I mentioned Janice Hardy’s article on fixing pacing problems. But there’s one issue that really gets to me on a personal level as a writer, and when I read other people’s work. And that’s writing a good ending.

In that post, I mentioned what to do when an ending seems rushed, as that’s my own personal demon. But what if your problem is the opposite?

If you’ve ever read a book or watched a movie and, with respects to Kevin Murphy, said, “this thing just keeps on ending,” then you’ve faced a pacing problem. The end is dragging on and on and it seems like twenty-thousand loose ends are being tied up to the point where you’re ready to throw the book across the room or get up and walk out on the movie.

The worst part is when it’s your work that just keeps on ending, and rather than being satisfying and digestible, the work is on life support and tying your stomach in knots. You know your reader will scream, “just pull the plug already!”

If that’s happening to you, here are a few things you can do to fix them:

  • Are you over-explaining the end? Not every detail needs to be wrapped up and spoon-fed to the reader.  Give a satisfactory climax to the ending and your reader can use their imaginations about what happens to the others involved, as long as it’s mostly wrapped up.
  • Start your ending for some characters in the previous chapter. This is a good way to kill off or send a character out of town without having to explain it at the end.
  • Leave the reader hanging. Not only does that give you a chance to write a new novel later, it allows the reader to stretch their imaginations and decide for themselves how it ends.
  • Stop at the climax or shortly after. This ties in with over-explaining. Rather than continuing with an epilogue or another chapter, end just after the climax and don’t concentrate on the aftermath.
  • Start over. Make your character learn absolutely nothing from his or her experience, or go back to the start and begin again. This is a good one for dark-themes and noir novels, or for plot-driven science fiction and fantasy.

Sometimes I will write three different endings and let my beta readers and editor look at them. I take all their feedback, and then pick the best one or the one I like the most and fix it accordingly. Remember, anything and everything can be fixed in edits.

No matter what ending you choose, if you notice it’s sagging, be your own cosmetic surgeon. Try out one or all of these endings and see if it doctors your story just right.

Too Much or Too Little: Pacing Problems

Janice Hardy, back in 2011, wrote an article on Fiction University about pacing problems and how to fix them, called Move Along: Fixing Pacing Problems. Five years later, it’s still relevant.

If you’re a writer, you know that pacing is important. Personally, my greatest issue I’ve worked hard to overcome is rushing the ending. I have all this tension built up and then SPLAT–the end. Oops!

My coping mechanism is to actually reduce my daily word count by half when I get to the final third of my novel. If I did 3,000 a day, I shoot for 1,500. 2,000? 1,000. You get it. This way, I’m forced to take my time getting to the ending so I can build up the proper tension for the denouement.

No matter what your pacing problem is, Janice has a solution for you. Give it a read–it might help!

I’m a writer and I like to edit people’s work for fun and to feed my pets. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for the entertainment value. If you need a work fully edited for a reasonable fee, contact me.

Writer’s Resource: Literary Devices

Even if you’ve had writing workshops and lessons, it’s often helpful to have a reference resource.

One of my favorites is Literary Devices. I found it one day while trying to justify the use of Polysyndeton and explain to a friend that they really weren’t true run-on sentences.

While the trend is for short, staccato sentences, there is beauty in the flow an prose of a long sentence. When used appropriately and sparingly, it can put rhythm into your writing and make it sound hurried and rushed if you want action. It can also stretch out the pacing when used properly. It’s a flexible device.

Literary Devices has plenty of examples and definitions of diverse devices that you can use in your writing.