October Frights – Day One – Nightfall

“Dawn is far more frightening than nightfall if you think about it, John,” she said, flicking the ash of her cigarette onto the ground. “I mean, look around. The dark keeps our secrets. The dark lets us really be free. People say if you shed light on the monsters, the monsters aren’t so frightening. Maybe that’s true, in a way, but what’s more frightening is that the monsters actually exist. When dawn comes, you see how ugly and twisted they are.”

Sabine held the cigarette between her fingers as a flash of silver came out of her jacket. “Don’t worry. Just a flask.”

She could see his body tense for a moment. “If I was going to kill you, you’d be dead already.”

John said nothing. Hadn’t spoken the whole night except to say how nightfall was creepy as the sun slipped down past the tall buildings to make its escape.

“I guess,” John’s voice was thick and gruff from disuse. “But how do you know I’m not a monster, and I’ve got you fooled into thinking I’m just this normal guy?”

Sabine shrugged. “Don’t be stupid. You’re not normal and you don’t have me fooled, but you’re not a monster, either.”

“How do you know?”

“Most monsters don’t ask that question. That’s how I know.” She pinched her cigarette out between her fingers and let the hot cinder flip to the ground, bouncing away on the concrete. “Besides, I can smell them a mile away.”

John made a noise in his throat, somewhere between a laugh and a grunt.

Sabine kept talking. “So you’re in this with me? You’re not gonna back out and break your promise?”

“Yeah, yeah. I didn’t believe in vampires till a month ago, but sure. Let’s go kill some.”

to be continued …


Want to go blog hopping for more October Frights? Come on in and join our October Frights Blog Hop, courtesy of A. F. Stewart.

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The Editor’s Corner – Storytelling Ideas

Since last week I wrote about my progress with Mercy Hospital, I thought this week I’d publish a bit about what many new writers dread: ideas for a story that don’t go anywhere.

Thanks to a constant reader for requesting this installment theme.

“Where do you get your ideas?” is likely the most common question asked of writers. When you’re just starting out writing, it can also be one of the most frustrating things:  trying to think of something to write.

There are many approaches to coming up with ideas, but I’ll focus on just two of them and how to combine them: one, write by the seat of your pants; two, make a general outline of what you want to happen in a story.

Yes, you can actually combine these two approaches. It will help you drive your story and make it work.

When facing the blank page, write any sentence. Anything.

Here’s one off the top of my head:

Dave recoiled at the cold cup of coffee.

Okay, so that’s a start. I can go on talking about Dave and introduce a new character.

But then what? Where does the story go?

The first approach: With the first draft, don’t worry about it. Write it out until you can’t write anymore, and then worry about where the story is going.

The second approach: Don’t even attempt to write by the seat of your pants. Outline this first. Dave is at a diner and Cindy is supposed to meet him. The waitress wants him to leave, etc.

The combined approach: Write the first few paragraphs or a chapter, and then move to your outline to “direct” where these characters are going.

When I write, I use a mix of all of the above, depending on where my weak points are. When I have a clear idea of what I want to happen, I will outline the whole thing from beginning to end. When I don’t know what to write, I just write by the seat of my pants and allow for nothing to make sense until I’m editing. But most of the time, I combine the two by writing the first chapter and then outlining/directing the rest.

Most importantly, if you work with an outline, take your time getting to each point. It will help with the pacing, and you can always edit it later.

Happy writing!


This Halloween, give the gift of reading to a friend who loves horror. Pick up a copy of Now Entering Silver Hollow. And stay tuned for next week’s October Frights Blog Hop, courtesy of A. F. Stewart.

Update – Mercy Hospital

I thought this week I’d let you know my progress on the sequel to Now Entering Silver Hollow. We’ll get back to The Editor’s Corner pretty soon. But since I’ve had a few people ask how it’s going …

I’d say it’s going pretty well for an indie author with a full-time job. While I can’t give out any timelines just yet, I’ve had an opportunity to pick away at editing and have added a chapter so far.

Here’s a little taste of my progress. Keep in mind this is still going to have massive editing done to it, so the finished product may or may not have this in it:

2017-09-17 progress

So yes, I’m over 66,000 words now, and I still have a couple of chapters that need to be added. Now I’ve been writing this for some time, and I’ve recovered from two data failures, the death of my dog, and a new job that currently takes up to 14 hours of my days (including the commute). But I still pick away at the manuscript when I have a chance.

Once this second draft is finished, I will go through and do a third draft which is the developmental edit. I’ll look for consistency, continuity, make sure the story cycles aren’t too far out of whack, and then make sure my plot makes sense (somewhat, at least).

Then, the fourth draft will be a copy edit. Clarity, grammar, spelling, etc. All that good stuff. After that, I send the cleaned up copy “out” for a professional edit which is both developmental and copy. When it gets back to me, I’ll accept or reject the edits as needed and create my fifth draft.

The fifth one gets sent to my new proofreader, Jay Willison, for scrutinizing. I will also proofread it myself and let my editor take a final look at it. Three sets of eyes typically catch all the proofreading errors.

Then, the sixth draft will get a final coat of varnish, and I will set it up for publishing using the Pronoun platform. Print and eBooks will be available for your eager eyes and hot little hands.

I’m going to take advantage of NaNoWriMo 2017 to help me stay on track and get this process staying in motion, and I will update you periodically.

Until then, catch up on my weird world through Exit 1042 and Now Entering Silver Hollow. Happy reading!

-Anne

The Editor’s Corner – Polysyndeton

Last week I took a break to bring you some poetry, and I’m delighted it was well-received. This week, I bring us back to The Editor’s Corner to talk about polysyndeton.

I can just hear you now: “Anne, are you making up words now? We’re still early on with The Editor’s Corner, for crying out loud.”

But no, this is a real word that comes from the Greek “bound together.” This is a literary/writing device that allows for what people might think is a “run-on sentence,” but it’s not. Specifically, it is used to bring rhythm, repetition, and emphasis on the connected ideas. It can also bring a sense of excitement to the reader, and get them to pay attention to the change of pace in your paragraph.

I’ve heard people complain about run-on sentences, but when I read them, I recognize when it’s polysyndeton at work. It’s not something you want to overuse, but careful placement of it will help pace your work.

Of course, this is not an easy device to use, which is why some people complain about run-on sentences. It takes work and experience and skill and all of your knowledge on how to avoid a run-on sentence.

(See what I did there? That was polysyndeton at work.)

Here is an example of polysyndeton from Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ – note the emphasis and urgency it creates for the reader:

“Let the whitefolks have their money and power and segregation and sarcasm and big houses and schools and lawns like carpets, and books, and mostly–mostly–let them have their whiteness.”

By not separating these ideas, Angelou made the idea far more powerful and moving for the reader. It paints a vivid picture rather than giving you a laundry list that might make you yawn, instead.

That’s all there is to it! Next time you have a powerful passage you’d like to express to your readers, give polysyndeton a try. Just be sure to use it sparingly.

Happy writing.


Grab a copy of Silver Hollow and Exit 1042 and get to know the author and what she enjoys about writing by visiting Anne’s author page. You can also check out her Facebook and Twitter. You know, if you want to be entertained.

The Lady of the Roses – A Poem

I took a break from The Editor’s Corner this week to bring you a poem I’m working on. It still needs some revisions, but I like the way it flows so far.


 

The Lady of the Roses

She walks among the roses fair
symphony playing through the air
muted, soft, and gentle still
this Lady with the Iron will

her passion, now, feverish delight
bothered all throughout the night
bringing him upon his knees
ignoring all his crying pleas

to stay. To stay and never wander,
the Lady shakes her head to ponder.
Why should I go? Why should I stay?
To hear you cry “won’t you come play?”

The night has passed, The Lady walks
to whispers of the wind and stalks
of grass bowing to their knees
Lady of the Roses, won’t you please?

Delight, delight, she shakes her head,
and returns into her lover’s bed
He turns a quiet gaze—her face
is peaceful with a rose’s grace

She sleeps in deepest red repose
This Lady of the Darkest Rose.


© 2017 by Anne Hogue-Boucher. Reprint with express permission from the author.

The Editor’s Corner – Adjective Abuse

Last week I threw you a red herring to pull you off track for copy editing. But now that’s over, this week we’re back to talking about adjective use, or rather, adjective abuse.

Adjectives are fine, but too many of them can wind up being boring and repetitive. Yes, they’re useful in telling a person whether or not their soup is hot, or if it’s cold outside. But too many of them signal to an editor or publisher that the writing is weak, and that there’s more “tell” than “show.”

As you already know, you want way more show than tell. Some tell is fine, but too much makes the reader disengage.

When you’re a writer, you want engaging reading that’s creative, not a play-by-play report.

This goes hand-in-hand with the overuse of adverbs, remember.

But don’t despair! There is an easy fix for it that you can do right now.

Instead of:
Lonnie was cold.

Try:
Lonnie stepped outside and pulled her jacket around her. She shivered, mindful of the patches of ice on the pavement.

With the first one, you get it. Lonnie’s cold. In the second one, you’re walking with her, outside, pulling your jacket around you and trying to avoid the ice patches on the ground.

That’s all there is to it.

For practice, go back over one of your old drafts and find where you’re using adjectives. Rewrite the passage to show the reader what you were trying to say with your adjective.

Happy writing!


If you’d like to read some snazzy adjectives used sparingly (ooh there go those adverbs again), pick up my works. It’s great for horror and weird fiction fans. 

The Editor’s Corner – Red Herrings

Welcome to another edition of The Editor’s Corner. Let’s fish around and see what kind of devices we can reel in here: red herrings.

Okay—enough with the puns. I know you didn’t come here to laugh and/or roll your eyes at my punderful style.

What is a red herring?

A red herring, in literature, is a distraction technique that you will see mostly in thrillers, mysteries, and suspense. They catch the reader’s attention and lead them away from what’s actually going on in the novel.

Some red herrings are obvious and can be spotted by seasoned mystery readers. For example, in The Da Vinci Code, the Bishop Aringarosa is a red herring designed to lead the reader to believe that he is the criminal mastermind when he is innocent. A reader of mysteries with loads of experience might raise their eyebrow at that name. The direct translation of aringa rosa in Italian is “red herring.”

For many mystery readers, this was an eye-rolling moment. For beginners, it likely got them hooked on mysteries for a lifetime.

It’s important to have your red herrings be a little more subtle in order to have the reader stay engaged.

How?

There are a couple ways to accomplish this:

  1. Make your culprit seem like a red herring. You can do this by exposing the culprit at the beginning, but the culprit has a good distraction of his/her own that throws your protagonist off the main trail, and into a bunch of other red herrings, only to be brought back to the culprit in the end.
  2. Put in more than one red herring and make sure your culprit is obfuscated somewhat in the beginning, only to reveal he/she has been there all along.

This is not a copy editor’s pro-tip. This is from a developmental editor’s perspective. If your editor can spot your red herrings too quickly, they’ll mark up the manuscript and typically advise you to change it around.

And here you thought I was a copy editor all along.

See what I did there?

Ha ha!

But in all seriousness, if you are tackling a mystery or thriller, a few red herrings can delight your readers as they try to unravel the mystery in front of them.

We’ll go back to copy editing and then hop back to other devices in the next installments.

Until then, happy writing!


Horror fans who know Cthulhu devours red herrings as an appetizer and enjoy Lovecraftian horror with a twist can find their way to Silver Hollow

The Editor’s Corner – Dialogue Attribution

Welcome to another edition of The Editor’s Corner! I am your host, editor and writer Anne Hogue-Boucher.

Last week, I wrote about adverb usage, and as a side note, feel free to use them often in your first draft. I do. I use them as placeholders when I’m trying to get out an idea and then in my second go-around, I’ll take them out and replace them with stronger writing. I just use them as reminders of the mood I wanted to set for the passage.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move onto tip number two.

Today’s tip is about dialogue attribution, and for many of you, this will fly in the face of what your English teacher taught you.

I will tell you now that your publisher/editor and English teacher often work at cross-purposes. Your English teacher is trying to help you expand your vocabulary and improve your ability to be more flexible with it. Your editor and publisher are trying to help you not look like a neophyte writer.

So don’t be upset if you find this contradicts what you were taught. Just remember that this is for a different arena.

Ready?

Never use anything but “said” and “asked” in your dialogue attribution. Everything else is a surefire way to mark you as an inexperienced writer.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

“There’s a monkey in that tree,” John hollered.
“Shoot it!” Matt screamed.
“Why? It’s not doing anything,” John growled.
“It’s stealing my bananas!” Matt insisted.

Why is this wrong and why does it sound like a greenhorn wrote it? A couple of reasons. This is not really showing the reader what’s going on, and it becomes a tad redundant. We want to show the reader what’s happening to draw them into the scene rather than tell them what’s going on in it. Showing brings the reader in and gets them involved. Telling makes them passive, and not invested.

It’s also redundant. Everyone is hollering, screaming, growling, and insisting. Do you get it now, reader? Are you sure everyone is in an uproar? Here the reader might roll their eyes. They get it. Stop smashing it in their faces.

So let’s clean it up and see what happens:

“There’s a monkey in that tree,” John’s voice echoed off the rocks that created a barrier from the shore.
“Shoot it!” Matt waved his hands at John. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead.
“Why? It’s not doing anything.”
“It’s stealing my bananas!” Matt ran his hands into his hair and pulled, bending over as he fell to the ground.

If you have an exclamation point (use those sparingly, by the way), then ‘screamed’ and ‘hollered’ aren’t necessary. You also don’t always need to attribute your dialogue if it’s clear who’s doing the talking, so even ‘said’ and ‘asked’ become words you can use less.

Rather than reusing ‘said’ and ‘asked’ repeatedly, show the scene to your reader. Make your reader hear John’s voice echoing off the rocks. Make your reader hear Matt’s insistence and panic/outrage.

“Do you understand now?” I asked the reader of this blog, who may or may not be scowling at these words. “It’s not that your attribution is wrong, just that it’s less than professional. So give it another go, and see how much better you can make it.”

That’s it for this installment. Questions? Send me a message on Facebook.

Happy writing.

The Editor’s Corner – The “Deadly” Adverb

It’s been 10 months since I did my first edition of The Editor’s Corner (a bonus piece, in fact), and I think it’s high time I gave it another go with my first official tip. Considering all the writing I’ve been looking at these days, well, I think there are a few things that need to be addressed.

When I was a professional editor, I got to review people’s writing before it was published, and I wound up seeing some common errors that beginners make.

These mistakes can make it more difficult to get published.

I thought it might be fun (or at least informative) for aspiring writers out there to get some tips from not only someone who is published, but also helped (and helps) others get their manuscripts ready for publishing.

So, here’s the first tip, tongue-in-cheek named:

Use adverbs sparingly. That doesn’t mean you can’t have one or two, but most of the time, there’s a much stronger way to say and show what you mean to your reader.

Here’s an example:

Instead of: “I wouldn’t do that,” Brett said calmly.

Try: “I wouldn’t do that.” Brett leaned back in his chair, arms loose by his side.

That’s it, cut your adverbs down and try building a stronger way to say what you mean. When you can’t do that, then maybe throw in an adverb now and then. For the most part, though, publishers will zero in on your use of adverbs and it will scream to them, “new writer ahead, unprofessional, unskilled.” Klaxons will sound in their heads and they are far less likely to take a risk on publishing your work.

NaNoWriMo is coming up this November. That’s just a little less than three months away now at the time of this writing. Time to hone your skills and get ready.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to eliminate the use of adverbs all the way down to one per 1,000 words. After that, try one every 2,000 words. Do this until you have rid yourself of that pesky gadfly.


Anne Hogue-Boucher likes to rid herself of adverbs as often as possible. You can read the results in her current works, and even follow her around on Twitter and Facebook.

And the Winners Are…

Well, I randomly chose three winners for my book giveaway, but two were stuck together, so I’ve added a bonus winner!

Haunt Cadia, Arnold Terrell, Lisa Baucom Judy, and Kristy Graham each get a free, signed copy of Now Entering Silver Hollow.

Come on over to my Facebook page to find out how to claim your prize. Congratulations!

I’ll be going on hiatus for awhile here on my blog, but I’ll be back with more on The Psych Writer and writing tips when I return.