Tag: am writing

am writing

Show And Tell

Authors are continually told to show what characters are thinking and feeling through their actions, rather than exposition. But, as discussed in the posts this week regarding romantic scenes and those that depict mundane human actions, sometimes authors can overshare.   So what does showing look like when it’s done right? I asked the MissDemeanors to weigh in with some of their favorite examples.  C. Michele Dorsey: My favorite example of showing but not telling comes from Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Almost the entire book takes place after a tragic event in which Theo, our hero, loses his mother. Rather than have him tell us about his relationship with her, Tartt shows us by taking us with them on a cab ride and to a museum. Their conversations and reactions to one another show us who they were to one another and brilliantly bond us to Theo for the remainder of what is a very long saga and book. The flavor of the mother/son relationship permeates the entire book. I’m in awe of how she does it. Of course, it does take Tartt ten years to write a a book.  Susan Breen: One of my favorite “showing” examples comes from Silence of the Lambs by […]

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3 Things I Know About The Future… From Dystopian Fiction

A critical part of creating fiction is a careful examination of the world. Storytellers, first and foremost, must be students of the human experience. We have to spend time learning about what motivates people, how different personality types tend to form and respond to situations, how various societies react to different stimuli and challenges, how the setting we all share (the earth) responds to our existence. Sometimes this intense study leads to forecasting rather than fiction. Here are three inventions by famous authors that look like they will definitely come true–for better or worse.  #1. Meat won’t come from live animals.  In her book, Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood writes about chicken that is grown in parts by machines. Her ChickieNobs don’t have eyes or beaks, though they have a mouth-like orifice for receiving tubes of nutrients. It’s meat without the animal.  Such “nobs” are not a reality–yet. But since the 2003 publication of her book, “cultured meat” has been cloned from the muscle cells of beef cows. The process isn’t exactly like the blobs with tubes sticking out of them that Atwood envisioned, but when you hear about the “tubes” of muscle tissue that are grown and stacked to create one of these burgers, she […]

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Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

My subconscious is on some serious stuff. It must take it while I’m asleep.  Last night, I woke up to the frightening music of my dog’s intestinal track (if you have been fortunate enough to have a dog live past ten years, then you understand). As a result, I remembered my ENTIRE dream . I was in Jamaica, chatting with my dead grandfather. He gave me sugar bun, a Jamaican concoction that is exactly what it sounds like: a bread, “bun”, made with raisins and glazed with sugar. I then took my kids out into the backyard where he showed me rabbits dressed up in human clothing, much to my children’s delight. My husband insisted that he had to go because hanging out with dead people was giving him the willies. I let him go and ate the bun.  This will make it’s way into a story–mark my words.  The story for my last thriller, Lies She Told, came to me in a dream–partially. I went to bed, after a glass of red wine, thinking about where I would get my next thriller idea from and I had a nightmare about this woman in a seedy Brooklyn apartment with blood on her hands. I felt that I was watching […]

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What's Your Writing Schedule

I got eight hours of sleep yesterday!!!!! It’s exciting because, for the past month, my writing schedule has had me on two.   I needed to finish a book this month so that I could return to working on an edit for my fourth book, which I hadn’t been anticipating would be as extensive as it turned out.  As a result, my writing schedule was 8:30 to 3:00 (6.5 hours) and then again from 8p.m. to 5 p.m. (9 hours) during the week. On the weekends, I was trying to squeeze five hours per day in. It was crazy and unsustainable past a month, but it did enable me to get this book that had been burning in my brain into a word document. Now, I am back to working on an edit that I anticipate I’ll have six weeks to finish. I am hoping that I’ll be able to work 8:30 to 6:00, a more normal schedule for me.  It’s important for me that I write every weekday. As a former journalist, I grew accustomed to writing a couple thousand words each day and I like keeping that up. I also find that forcing myself to write each day keeps writer’s block at bay. It’s not […]

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Have Laptop Will Travel

I have lived in the same two states my entire life: New Jersey and New York. More specifically, I have lived in Manhattan or within ten miles of it for my entire childhood and adult life (save for four years of college in Princeton, NJ, which wasn’t really that much farther).  I set many of my books in these two states because I’m most familiar with them. After a decade in the city, I feel like I have a handle on the culture of Manhattan and, even more so, its suburban environs where I live and grew up. As a writer and a person, I’m comfortable in my area.  But that very comfort is the reason why I must travel. I need to see other places to gain perspective on the location that most often serves as the backdrop to my stories. When I don’t visit other places for awhile, I can become so immersed in my home that I can’t recognize anymore what’s unique or strange or beautiful or nutty about it. Writers need the ability to see a place as both an outsider and an insider. We need to have the accuracy that comes from immersion but also the distance to point out what makes a place […]

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Trusting Your Gut

As a journalist and now author, I’ve had more than a dozen editors. The best ones finessed my writing and ideas, getting the best story possible out of me and my research. The worst ones used me as a living tool to tell the story they wanted in their voices. The former resulted in some of my best work. The latter in some of my worst. I strongly subscribe to the every writer needs an editor doctrine. But I also believe that every writer needs an editor that respects him or her enough to bring out the best in the individual author. Writers need the freedom to tell their stories the way that resonates with them. The editor can help focus an author’s ideas and tell him or her where they are losing the reader, where the characters are falling flat, where the scene isn’t translating, etc. But the editor shouldn’t use the writer to tell the story in his or her head. It won’t work. It will read as strained as the process of creating the story will invariably become.     

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