Scribbling for the Sound of it

I came across a link today (via K.M Weiland) to a post on AuthorCulture with a fun challenge to write a sentence illustrating redundancy.  I played around with the idea today while multi-tasking, in true IT fashion.  What I finally came up with ended up more like a tongue-twister than a redundant sentence, but once I began to hear it in my head I stopped thinking about redundancy and was struck simply by the way it sounded.

In my recent fiction writing efforts I had forgotten how much fun words can be, not just for their precision, but simply for their sound.

I’ve posted the sentence I wrote below along with a challenge of my own.

“He knew he didn’t know what he didn’t know, but knowing he didn’t know it didn’t mean he didn’t need it and he knew he needed it more than he needed to know it.”

Okay.  Now it’s your turn!

The challenge:

Using alliteration or assonance, or both, craft a sentence that’s simply fun to hear.  Write something, anything!  Don’t worry if it makes sense (think Dr. Seuss if that helps), as long as it sounds interesting then post it in the comments if you’d like to share.

As for me, I’ve started hearing all my neglected poetry calling out for me to come and play this weekend.

Maybe I will . . . it sounds like fun!

One Guy’s Perspective on “Guys” in Fiction

In a recent blog post, Dawn Metcalf posed a question about what makes good guys in fiction into “great” guys who do more than serve as a mirror for the heroine of the story, but who are strong in their own right.

I thought I’d give it a shot.

A strong “guy” character in fiction is one who is confident in who he is (which doesn’t mean he’s not vulnerable), he has a distinct personality of his own making him interesting in his own right, and he doesn’t become someone else with the introduction of a love interest.  That’s not to say that falling in love (like having children) doesn’t push people to be better versions of themselves for the sake of those new relationships.  It certainly does!  (Or at least it should.)  What it DOES mean is that a strong character (male or female for that matter) is one who doesn’t stop being the person they are – the person the other character fell in love in the first place.

I’ve always believed a healthy relationship is built around two people looking together in the same direction, not two people (or even just one of them) looking only at the other.  For the story to carry on after the romance ensues, strong characters are those who expand the scope of their own interests, even their lives, to include the other without completely trading in their independence for dependence (or even worse, co-dependence).  It’s a delicate balance.

Nevertheless, each of the characters had a life before they met and each needs to continue to have a life after they meet, albeit an expanded one.  After all, where’s the excitement, or the conflict (fictionally speaking), in a relationship where one partner is merely hanging on the heels of the other doing nothing but waiting to be needed?  Without that underlying, ongoing tension which keeps them independent yet together, the romance is over.  Even if the characters themselves don’t appear to be bored with each other, the reader almost certainly will be.


The “Creative Writer” Award

Creative Writer Award Real life has taken the forefront for me in recent weeks, as it should, and so my writing and this blog have fallen off my radar.  However, this week I received the “Creative Writer” award from YA Highway novelist, Michele Schusterman, and I’ve found myself considering how I might, in moderation, begin to revisit this space.

Consider this a first step.

The award: It’s a fun and simple challenge to tell six outrageous lies and one truth about yourself then see who can guess the truth.

Sounds harmless enough, so, here goes . . .

1) I have nine children.

2) Over the years I’ve worked as as babysitter, a library page, a bookstore clerk, a restaurant busboy, a glass installer, a landscaper, a programmer, an administrative assistant, a youth minister, a data processor and a clown.

3) I once stood on a table in my college campus food court at the University Place Hotel in the midst of the lunch crowd to serenade my future wife in apology for not getting her anything one year for Valentine’s Day.

4) I worry about everything, but somehow I’ve never had performance (audience) anxiety.

5) Because I’ve never looked my age I’m often mistaken for Justin Bieber.

6) I am wanted by the police in three states.

Any takers?  What do you think?  Leave your guesses in the comments below.

In the spirit of playing along, I’ve also decided to pass this along to a few other writers to see what they might do with it.

Jennifer Walkup, Megan Powell, Anna Staniszewski, Dawn MetcalfTracy Clark & Heather Petty.

Have fun!  I look forward to reading your lists if you decide to play along.

Judging a Book by Its Cover – Boys and YA Literature

Boys: No YA Literature There’s been lot of discussion lately in the blog and twitter spheres on the subject of boys and YA (young adult) literature. More specifically writers and others are asking why more boys aren’t reading YA. I’ve followed a number of these discussions with interest, but for the most part I’ve been fairly quiet on the subject. However, a recent discussion (Where Have All The Young Men Gone? : Guys In YA) on YA author Dawn Metcalf’s blog has finally motivated me to join the conversation.

Most of us are familiar with the expression, “Never judge a book by its cover”. In other words, don’t assume what something is like based only how it looks. This expression is usually offered as an admonition about people and prejudice, but here I want to consider its literal meaning with regards to actual books. Continue reading

My WIP in Limerick Form

shamrockThis week’s YA Highway Wednesday Road Trip is celebrating the limerick in honor or St. Patrick’s Day.  Followers were asked to write limericks for their favorite book and/or WIP (work-in-progress).  Several months ago the folks a YA Highway issued a similar invitation to write haiku.  I had fun writing for that one so I thought I’d join in this week too.

As with my haiku, I’ve written one limerick for my current WIP and another limerick for the entire series for which it’s a part.

My current WIP:

Raven Academy (Book 1)

Connor thinks it’s a school just the same
as all others with different names,
but it’s part of a plan
in which he’ll have a hand
in revealing what pow’r has it claimed.

The Citadel of Kidrodell (the series)

Kidrodell is a land out of time
and the home for a new kind of crime
when the good at first sought
by its exiles is fraught
will the threads of Earth’s history unwind?

Finally, I’ve taken the easy way out of deciding what other books to “limericize” by simply choosing one I most recently finished and which I thoroughly enjoyed.

BONESHAKER (by Cherie Priest)

Briar Wilkes and her son are estranged
by Leviticus’ deed, unexplained.
Now Seattle’s walled tight,
full of zombies and Blight,
and Steampunk will forever be changed!

Organize Writing Resources Using Google Reader

YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday This week’s YA Highway Wednesday Road Trip is about Favorite Helpful Sites for writers.  I’ve decided to play along this week and share a tip I picked up from my day job where part of my time is spent supporting and configuring information search tools.  Three simple words . . .


I know many writers already use Google Reader as the portal for their many blog subscriptions.  It’s a great way for the information you want to come to you (Yay RSS!) so you don’t have to go looking for it.  (Of course this works for anyone, not just writers.)

But did you know you can use Google Reader as your own personalized search engine? Continue reading

Being Fashionably Late Within Your Story

Big BenIn my previous post I suggested ending your book in the same way you would consider ending a party.  Today, I decided to continue the party analogy by looking at how to best begin your book – by being fashionably late.

The expression ‘fashionably late’ is likely familiar to most of us.  It’s is used to refer to someone who shows up at an event, such as a party, after the time the event was scheduled to begin.  This doesn’t, however, apply to those who simply got mixed up and arrived late by accident.  Being fashionably late is something done on purpose.

Okay, so why would anybody want do that?

One possibility is to create the impression you’re too busy and important with other social engagements to be anywhere on time.  However, I’d like to believe most people aren’t so self-important as all that.  The reason I’m sticking with for people to show up late is that it’s more fun.

Anyone who’s ever attended a party knows it takes a little while for the guests to loosen up.  It starts with people clustering into small groups, eyeing the refreshments, and wondering who’s going to be the first to break the ice.  While this might be a nice setting for an intimate chat with a few close friends, it doesn’t sound much like  a party.  Experienced partygoers at this stage might not even stay for the h’orderves.

Being fashionably late then means waiting to show up for the party until after the ice has broken, the music is hot, and the people aren’t just staring at the snack bar – they’re eating and drinking freely out on the dance floor.  Everybody’s already having fun!

So how does this apply to my book?   Continue reading

Ending Your Book Like a Party

Book Party Balloons(This post was inspired by a recent post on Magical Words about book endings.)

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard when throwing a party is to end it while the guests are still having fun.  This may seem counter-intuitive, but in truth it makes a lot of sense.  If people leave the party feeling good they’ll want to come back again next time. If you milk the party until its all fun is gone, concerned your guests will miss out on something if you don’t, their last experience won’t be of fun at all.  It will be of that awkwardness that comes from trying to figure out how to politely get their coats and slip away when no one’s looking because they’ve had enough. Probably not quite the lasting impression you were hoping for when you planned the party to begin with.

The same can be said with your book. Continue reading

The Manuscript Style Sheet

Until today, I had never heard of a manuscript style sheet.  I was introduced to this term in a post by Mary Robinette Kowal about her upcoming book: Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor, 2010).  While you’re there, why not visit the rest of Mary’s site to learn more about her and her work.

In the world of information technology a style sheet is a master file used to easily manipulate the look-and-feel of an entire graphical user interface system (e.g. a blog, website, certain software applications), but in the world of publishing the style sheet (a.k.a. “style guide”) serves as a Continue reading