Nuts and bolts

Art I love – western author George Wilhite

In August 2013, I participated in a Western Mysteries panel at When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta. As part of that panel, I compiled a bibliography of western mystery writers.

A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from a charming man, George Wilhite, one of the authors listed in that bibliography. It turns out there are TWO George Wilhites and I’d mixed up who wrote which books. My sincere apologies to both of them.

2014-11-01 GeorgeWilhite

The western writer is Chair of the English Department at Texas State Technical College-Waco and the author of The Texas Rodeo Murder, rodeo/western short stories, and a textbook called Reading & Writing: Plain and Simple. He’s also interested in historical novels, one about the cowboy strike at Madison Square Garden in 1936, which I think is fascinating because I had no idea that cowboys had gone on strike.

You can check out George’s writing at http://drwrightgooder.webs.com.

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second draft, Writing

Write the Novel – Letting Go

Writing a second draft isn’t a matter of tidying up. That comes later. The second draft is where we take things apart, cut away the dead wood, and reassemble the remaining pieces so that the seams hardly show. For the second draft, the questions for each sentence, scene, and chapter are not do we like this or is it fun to write?

Does it work?

The question is, is it working? Letting go of writing we love that isn’t working is one of the hardest things a writer has to do.

Prologues don’t work. Neither do epilogues. For the second draft, ditch them both. Don’t panic. You still have copies of them and, if you decide later it’s absolutely necessary, add them back, but try at least one draft without them.

Here’s an unfortunate truth, the harder a scene is to write, the more likely it needs to be written that way. Other things that don’t work include long telephone conversations; scenes where people are cooking, eating or driving; monologues; too much back story; and expository lumps. All of those are writing the easy way out. Change backstory to context (See my earlier backstory blog), and rewrite everything else.

The Big Reveal

The big reveal in a mystery is two-fold: who did it, and, often more important, why they did it. We’re talking stakes. Large public stakes (what matters to the world in which the character lives) and large private stakes (what matters to the character). What’s wrong with these big reveals?

  • He forced me to end my pregnancy, and now I can’t have children.
  • I had to cover for him. He’s my real father (or fill in the relationship of your choice).
  • What no one knew was that there were two babies born that night. Identical twins, one destined to be raised with every advantage and one pushed aside to live in poverty.
  • I built this company from nothing. He was going to ruin it. I couldn’t let that happen.

If  your answer is the stakes aren’t high enough, you’re absolutely correct. All of these motivations have been used to the point of boredom. What we want is to keep the reader awake nights.

Is the ending untidy? — It should be.

I don’t mean those time we spend behind a closed bathroom door because we want to avoid keeping our significant other awake while we read until two or three in the morning. I mean those times we lie awake in the dark thinking of the implications the ending created for the character (private stakes) and the character’s world (public stakes). What we want to do is resolve the story without solving the issues.

Pro Se was an episode of Law and Order that I saw in 1996. That was what, eighteen years ago? It still keeps me awake.

A brilliant young man had a severe mental health condition. If he took his meds life was, as he described it, “I feel like I’m pawing through a wool blanket. I get so damn tired just holding on to reality.” He could go through a daily routine, washing, eating, etc., but he was incapable of any productive mental activity. He couldn’t concentrate enough work, read, or follow a television program.

If he stopped his meds he’d have a few productive weeks before he spiralled downward. By the time his spiral began, he was no longer capable of choosing to resume his meds.

He became so unstable that he picked a clothing store at random, and attacked everyone inside with a bayonet. The public stakes were huge: commit him to a mental hospital and, when he was released — as he inevitably would be — he’d eventually go off his meds and likely kill again. The private stakes were huge, too: the longer her was confined to a mental ward, the longer he took his meds, the less likely he’d be to function when he was released. It was a completely no-win situation.

In the end, he was ordered confined, with no possibility of early release to a mental hospital for between 6 and 18 years.

Story resolved, issues not resolved. A great story often has an untidy ending.

Next Tuesday, November 4, we finish up this second draft series with Dawdle and Plant Seeds. The final purpose of a second draft is to slow down in some places and plant seeds for either future books, or for untidy endings if this is a stand-alone.

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Maker, Writer's life

Level Thinking – Polymaths and Imaginary Worlds

Michelle and Robert Root-Bernstein — he’s a physiologist and she’s an independent scholar in creativity studies — first came to my attention in 2009, when they were part of an interdisciplinary group studying creativity at Michigan State University. This research shed light on children and early creativity.

Who were these people?

  1. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer
  2. Dian Fossey
  3. Leonardo da Vinci

Most people would peg Dr. Oppenheimer as a scientist, or mention his connection with atomic bomb research. But it would be equally correct to say that he was a student of Greek architecture and classic civilization, art, and literature.

Before Dian Fossey studied gorillas, she was an occupational therapist.

Leonardo is hardest to pin down. Scientist? Mathematician? Engineer? Inventor? Anatomist? Painter? Sculptor? Architect? Botanist? Musician? Writer? Let’s call him a polymath, which describes a person knowledgeable in many areas.

What the Root-Bernsteins and their group discovered was that the degree to which children create the details of imaginary worlds can be an early clue to which of them will become polymaths as adults. Polymaths tend to become very, very good at what they do.

All children create imaginary worlds and unseen friends, but not all do it to the degree of J. R. R. Tolkein. He began practicing the creation of Middle Earth as a very young child. He was reading by age four, writing by five, and before he had begun his formal schooling, his mother taught him botany, Latin, and foreign languages. Throughout his childhood he took notes on all the places he visited; drew maps; invented flora, fauna, and languages; and probably spent more time in Middle Earth than he did at home.

Looking back, one thing I value from my childhood is that my mother believed in classes, even if she and I didn’t always agree on what the class should be. I wanted tap-dancing; she put me in ballet because it was more lady-like. China painting was a disaster, we won’t even go there, but I did manage to wangle a few ceramics classes. And no matter how much I pleaded, never, ever music because she’d had a horrible experience taking piano lessons as a child.

What these classes had in common is that I was forced to face the empty dance floor, the pristine china plate, or the amorphous clay lump. I learned at an early age to start anywhere because the first few attempts would go by the wayside as the real work began to emerge.

Those classes also fed the imaginary worlds that constantly spun out of my head. The garden creatures who lived in our back yard, under the fig tree, danced ballets in the moonlight, even if a few of them remained miffed that they weren’t allowed to tap dance. Drawing class turned into maps. Other classes segued—often by very complicated and tortuous journeys— into codes, ciphers, secret messages, puppet-kings, costumes, hand-decorated menus for special celebrations, high drama, and low comedy. Never a hand-painted china set, though. People in my imaginary kingdom were forced to content themselves with lop-sided ceramic bowls.

Later in life I learned I could go back and pick up those missed things from childhood. I took my first music lesson at age 30. I was never accomplished at music, but I had a devil of a good time and even wrote one small original composition, about 3 lines long. The instrument I took up was the bagpipe. Maybe there is something to be said for getting what you want to do out of your system before turning 30 because goodness knows what decisions you’ll make for yourself when you’re old enough to decide for yourself.

I recommend that every writer sign up for classes, preferably ones where the students start with a blank something. A empty stage. A clean piece of paper. A length of cloth. A chunk of wood. An untuned instrument. Something where you can start with the most basic of skills and build from there. It will do wonders for your writing. And if you’d like to come to my place for show-and-tell, the garden creatures and I usually have tea about four in the afternoon. Bring your tap shoes.

Michelle Root-Bernstein has a new book out this year, Inventing Imaginary Worlds, from Childhood to Adult Creativity Across the Arts and Sciences. Check out that book and her website about imaginary worlds.

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second draft, Tips, Writing

Write the Novel — Kneading the Details

Here we are plowing through our second drafts. We’re working on strengthening our voice and building emotional muscle throughout the story. What are we going to do about those ragged lumps?

Ragged lumps

Chances are that we wrote a lot of our first draft without close attention to detail. We liked a character’s name or made up a business name, and used it. Perhaps we have a character with an easily misspelled name and have a sprinkling of Johnsons and Johnsens and Jonsons, all referring to the same character. We set a scene in whatever place occurred to us: a coffee shop, an office, a service station and so on. Likely, we also have notes to ourselves to check facts [Can penthouses still be rented rent on the Chicago Loop or are they now all condos?]

The second draft is where we knead these ragged details into something smooth and shiny, just as bread dough is kneaded.

Names

  • Set up a table with first and last name columns. List each character, with their name correctly spelled. How many characters have first names beginning with the same letter? With the same last letter? If there are two characters with the same name — first, last, or both — is that an accident or an intentional choice, made because it is intended to increase confusion. If needed, rename characters, spreading their names throughout the alphabet so there aren’t, say, five characters whose last names begin with L.
  • Have we inadvertently created a series of names? I read a story recently in which the three main characters were named Sears, Macy, and Bloomingdale. It was very distracting.
  • Do a quick Internet search for each character’s name. Quick means to look at the first 1 to 2 pages of results. What we’re looking for is to make sure we haven’t inadvertently used the name of a sports star, performer, politician, CEO of a major company, etc. That my protagonist has the same name as a woman running a flower shop in Cincinnati won’t stop me from using that name. However, I’d seriously consider changing a character’s name if it turned out he is a well-known quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals or a U. S. Senator from Ohio.
  • Do the same kind of quick search for any businesses for which we created a name. Turns out that there are at least six Longhorn Construction Companies, in four different states. This is not a really good name for my fictional company, which is about to unleash an ecological nightmare.

Places

Rather than using random locations, if we set scenes in places that reinforce our theme, we have a subtle and powerful way of focusing readers’ attention. Let’s imagine that our story is about greed. Where would we find greedy people? Where would we find the opposite, altruistic people or needy people? Instead of the random coffee shop, office, and service station, let’s relocate the scenes to a downtown mission kitchen, a bank president’s office, and a Mercedes-Benz dealership. The locations are essentially the same — an eatery, an office, a car place — but by tweaking them slightly we add texture to the story.

It’s also a good idea, if we can, to reuse locations, having each visit serve a different purpose and a different outcome. Have our protagonist visit that bank president’s office three times. The first time he’s in awe of how palatial it is, and he gets asked to leave. The second time, he comes with more clout, maybe a warrant, and realizes it’s just an office with great carpet. The third time, the previous bank president is no longer there and his successor is having it redecorated. It’s going to be even more palatial, but now the protagonist can distance himself from the greed represented by the decor and walk away.

Killer research

The second draft is the place to tie up all of those niggling research questions because when we move into the third draft, we will be spending our time dealing with nitty-gritty editing details. It pays to have the story as right as possible by the end of the second draft.

Yes, it is possible to rent a penthouse in the Chicago Loop. My character is paying $6,500 a month in rent for one. Hmm, wonder where he’s getting all that money?

I hope you’ll be back next Tuesday, October 28th, for Second Draft — Making Hard Choices. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but some of our favorite parts are likely on their way out.

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Art, Ujaama Grandmothers

Art I Love – Ujaama Grandmothers, Calgary, Alberta

The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF)  is a Canadian organization, working with community-level organizations which are turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa by providing care and support to women, orphaned children, grandmothers and people living with HIV and AIDS.

Through the SLF Grandmothers-to-Grandmothers Project Canadians have raised almost $2 million for African grandmothers. Link to the G-to-G Project

One of the Calgary, Alberta supporters of the Grandmother’s Project is called Ujaama Grandmothers. They sponsor several fundraising projects every year, including a fabric and yarn sale in the spring; a handmade craft fair in the fall; and other projects throughout the year. For more information on the group, here are links to their Facebook and web pages.

Grandmothers’ Facebook page

Grandmothers’ web page

Their volunteer activities is truly art I love.

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second draft, Tips, Writing

Write the Novel — Build Emotional Muscle

If real estate is location, location, location, a novel’s second draft is emotion, emotion, emotion. Many writers, myself included, write the first draft focused on what comes next. The second draft is where we need to spend more time on why does what come next matter?

My heroine is a young woman, Marcie, whose best friend, Lorraine, recently died from a poisonous spider bite while on a Caribbean vacation. The island’s police department’s opinion is that her death was a tragic and unavoidable accident.  Neither Lorraine’s mother nor Marcie believe that. Marcie has been interviewing Lorraine’s co-workers who were on vacation with her, and she’s sure Lorraine’s death had something to do with a research project Lorraine’s company is doing.

A sub-plot is Marcie ditching her current boyfriend, who’s a jerk, and getting involved with a police constable she meets in the course of her investigation.

——-

I’m working on the second draft of the scene where she breaks up with the boyfriend. Here’s how it played out in the first draft:

Marcie works at a small manufacturing company in an industrial area. She has to work really late one night, so late in fact that hers is the only car left in the parking lot. She doesn’t feel safe walking to her car alone, so she calls a couple of friends who live close to where she works, but neither of them can come and help her. She calls her boy friend, whose watching a hockey game, and can’t be bothered. This makes Marcie so mad that she throws caution to the wind and leaves.

The business has an alarm system, with a time lock and an over-ride code, so people working late can get out, but once the door has closed, they can’t get back in again. When Marcie gets to her car she discovers she has a flat tire. She has to walk all the way home. By the time she gets there, she’s so angry at her boyfriend that they have a fight and break up, thus paving the way for her to meet the constable a couple of chapters later.

——–

How did I do in the first draft?

  • Does this scene connect in any way to my main plot, solving Lorraine’s murder? Not really.
  • Are there high stakes here? Breaking up with her boyfriend is important to her, but will the reader really care?
  • Is Marcie behaving consistently? No. She’s afraid to walk across a parking lot alone, but willing to walk several miles to get home?
  • Is Marcie showing that she’s a tough, smart heroine? Not really. She has a cell phone. Why doesn’t she call a cab? Or AAA or a garage to come and fix her tire? Come to think of it, if she’s that worried, why does she leave the building in the first place? Spending the night on the receptionist’s couch might not be comfortable, but at least it would be safe.
  • How’s the emotional quotient? Not terrific. She gets mad and does something stupid. Then she gets mad and does something likely stupid. Not much range there.
  • Is there anything else about this scene I don’t like? Phone conversations are notorious tension killers and I have three of them – two with friends and one with the boyfriend.
  • Is there anything about this scene I like? I do like the one-way alarm, that she can get out of the building, but not back in. That forces her to take action.

Fixes for the second draft

  • Find a way to relate this to the main plot.
  • Raise the stakes.
  • Expect Marcie to behave consistently, and act like a tough, smart heroine.
  • Raise the emotional quotient: give her more an emotional range, and varied responses.
  • Make the phone calls much less a part of the scene or delete them all together.
  • Keep the one-way alarm.

Second draft rewrite

Marcie has to work really late one night, so late in fact that hers is the only car left in the parking lot. She doesn’t feel safe walking to her car alone. She considers spending the night on the receptionist’s couch, but she’s emotionally drained after spending all day talking about Lorraine, and she wants the comfort of sleeping in her own bed. It’s a wide open parking lot and her car is parked under a light. She could see if anyone approached her. She calls 911, explains the situation to the dispatcher, and asks her to stay on the line until she’s safely in her car. The dispatcher isn’t keen to do this, but Marcie stands up for what she needs, and the dispatcher agrees.

When Marcie gets to her car, she’s horrified to discover that her car is full of snakes. She screams.

The police dispatcher gets a lot more interested in what’s happening. She’s sending a patrol car and advises Marcie to go back inside the building, which she can’t do because of the one-way alarm. She sees an unmarked car turning into the gate at the far end of the parking lot. It has a flashing red light on it’s dashboard. Relieved, Marcie commends the dispatcher for getting a car to her so quickly.

The dispatcher says she hasn’t yet dispatched a car and, in any case, it would be a patrol car, not an unmarked.

Marcie runs for her life. The car speeds up and aims straight for her. She manages to hide and hears a siren approaching. The person in the unmarked car pulls a U-turn in the parking lot, and crashes through a wooden barrier to get away. The patrol car tries to follow, but the car gets away. The patrol car returns.

The dispatcher convinces Marcie that this is the officer she dispatched, so Marcie comes out of her hiding place. The officer, who’s going to be the new boyfriend, is very kind to her. Together they go back to look at her car. Not only is it full of snakes, but there’s a note taped to the steering wheel. “There are a lot more where these came from. Stop asking questions.”

Now that has emotional muscle.

I hope you’ll be back next Tuesday, October 21, for our next instalment about second drafts — how to knead a story like a baker kneads bread. It’s vital to make raggedy bits come together.

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Art, I made this, Maker

Art I Love — a folder to hold notes and other things

Two years before I retired, I said to myself, “It took four years in university to prepare for my career. What are the chances I need two years to get ready to leave my career?” Since the answer to myself was that sounded like a great idea, I started on a self-study mission.

Since I’m a highly touchy-feely learner, I process information much better if I take notes. The notes accumulated. I had printed, stapled information all over the place. Since I was also learning to do pamphlet binding at the same time, I decided to make each set of notes into a booklet.

Then the booklets accumulated. They were peeking out of other books, lost on shelves, and one was even found at the bottom of a laundry basket—I think I’d taken it to the laundromat to read while washing clothes. Then I decided to make a booklet folder. This is the result.

Since I’ve managed to fill this folder, it’s about time to make a second one.

For the makers in the group: art board base for front, back, and spine; covered with quilt batting and cotton fabric; machine and hand embroidery; pages Arches watercolor paper, folded at bottom to make a pouch; sections sewn into spine; edges of pouches closed with decorative paper; and strap with button to hold closed.

Front of folder

Front of folder

Side of folder, showing pamphlets inside

Side of folder, showing pamphlets inside

Open folder showing two of the pamphlets I made

Open folder showing two of the pamphlets I made

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My point of view, Writer's life

Level Thinking — Getting Ahead of Sneaky Viruses

This blog has nothing at all to do with writing, but a lot to do with a writers’ life. None of us want to lose valuable time because we’re laid low by a sneaky virus. And viruses can hide in the craziest places.

Today, instead of my writer’s hat, I’m wearing another hat—that of ex-public health nurse—so I can pass on tips and research I’ve gathered about unexpected places that we can pick up viruses. After all, it is October and the cold and flu season is just over the horizon.

Splatter patterns

Those of us that watch or read forensic-based mysteries know all about splatter patterns, so let’s look at how water splatters affect virus transmission. When I flush my toilet with the lid open, water and things in the water are aerosolized into an invisible cone-shaped spray, which can spread up to six feet in all directions.

Do you have a box of tissues on top of the toilet tank? In all probability, that tissue sticking out of the box is contaminated with microscopic drops of body effluvia. How about a toothbrush and drinking glass sitting beside the sink? Ditto. How about that bar of soap for hand washing. Ditto.

Faucets and ice/water machines

The other place that splatter pattern is important is in sinks. When I wash my hands, or dishes, or dirty washcloths, etc. under a faucet, microscopic drops of what I’m washing off flies upward and attaches itself to the underside of the faucet. When the next person comes along, what’s on the underside of the tap is washed onto their hands or into their drinking glass.

This isn’t so much of a concern when doing simple hand-washing. If I use soap and running water, I’ll rinse off not only what was on my hands originally, but whatever I picked up from the underside of the faucet.

Getting a drink of water is a whole other matter. Not only are faucets a problem, but if I refill my water bottle or a glass I’ve drunk from under an ice/water dispenser, my saliva is aerosolized onto the dispensing spout, ready to be washed into the next person’s glass or bottle. That’s why some ice machines and water coolers have signs that say, “Don’t fill water bottles here.”

Sanitizing wipes

Does your grocery store supply those pop-up, wet cloths to disinfect cart handles? They work great, but only if the container is closed between people taking a cloth. If the container is left open, the wipes not only dry out, but become contaminated. A person doesn’t have to cough or sneeze to expel air-borne viruses. Just breathing is enough to do it. So if someone with a cold breathed on the open wipe container, that little piece of wipe sticking out of the top of the container is now full of virus.

Food

Delivery people, store employees, and possibly other customers have handled those groceries you just brought home. How many of them had a cold or the flu? This isn’t so much of a problem with things like canned or jarred food or boxes of dry food, such as pasta. However, viruses can live up to 72 hours on containers kept in a dark, moist, cool environment like the inside of a fridge.

Finally, expect all communal food not opened in your presence to be contaminated, whether it’s those sliced oranges under the plastic dome in the grocery’s fruit-and-vegetable section, or leftover birthday cake in the break room, or jelly beans on my co-worker’s desk.

How to get ahead of sneaky viruses

  • Mom or grandmom were right. Always flush the toilet with the lid down. If your toilet doesn’t have a lid, sit there until flushing has finished.
  • Store things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and water glasses inside a cupboard, not where the aerosolized spray will reach them.
  • I keep a spray bottle of vinegar beside my bathroom sink. Before I get water to brush my teeth, I spray some vinegar on the underside of the faucet—that little place where the screen is—rub it with my finger, then run the water for a couple of seconds.
  • When checking into a motel, clean the faucet, either with soap and water or one of those antiseptic wipes. I take a bleach pen with me when I travel. The first thing I do when I check into a motel room is to use a damp washcloth with a few drops of bleach added to wipe down the three dirtiest places in a motel room — the underside of the spigot, the light switches, and the TV remote. How do we know those are the three dirtiest places? A researcher swabbed motel rooms to see what would grow. The culture plates from some TV remotes were so overgrown with bacteria that they could not be counted.
  • Wiping down the spigot of an ice or ice and water machine is a good idea, too. And then, dispense ice or ice and water into a clean glass and pour it into your water bottle.
  • If you have a choice between getting water, including water to make tea or coffee, from a kitchenette sink or a bathroom, take the kitchenette every time, even if it means a slightly longer trip. And remember to wash the underside of the spigot.
  • Help the next person along. Close those sanitizing wipe containers.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be standing there when a cake is cut or dip and chips are opened, take all you plan to eat then. I’m not too keen on my co-workers knowing exactly how many taco chips I plan to eat, but putting my entire serving in a bowl and walking away with it is a lot safer than coming back an hour later and picking up a second or third serving. And, of course, absolutely no second dipping. Yes, the remaining dip/salsa/etc. immediately turns into a bacterial soup.
  • Food containers destined for the fridge should be washed with a mild disinfectant solution, rinsed well, and dried before they go in the fridge. This includes take-away or doggie-bags brought home from restaurants.

In the words of the late, greatly-missed Sergeant Phil Esterhaus of Hill Street Station, “Let’s be careful out there.”

I hope to see you — hale and healthy — next Tuesday, October 14th, for the second part of my writing a second draft series. This one will be emotion, emotion, emotion because that’s what second drafts are all about.

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Writing

Write the Novel — Strengthen Our Voice

I quoted this last week, but it bears repeating.

“You can always fix plot—you can’t fix voice.” ~ Barbara Peters, editor, Poisoned Pen Press

The second draft is where we strengthen and enhance our writer’s voice. What is voice? It’s the qualities we embed in our writing to such an extent that a reader familiar with our work, faced with several sample paragraphs, could invariably tell which one was ours.

At the simplest level, voice is our writing style

Do we hold ourselves to a high standard of correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

How do we construct sentences and paragraphs? How frequently do we use simple sentence verses longer, more complex sentences? No one is going to confuse Ernest Hemingway’s voice with that of Bulwer-Lytton.

How often do we use or avoid using qualifiers and distancers?

  • A qualifier is a word that hedges our bets: She was pretty good at tennis./She was good at tennis.
  • A distancer is a word that puts distance between the characters and the reader: If Dennis were going to steal the truck, Tom imagined he would do it tonight./Dennis would steal the truck tonight.

On and on through the hundreds of choices that writers make as we craft words.

At a deeper level, voice holds out a promise of more to come

It’s the way we pace a story, what we tell, and what we withhold.

It’s how fair we play with the reader. Are we honoring a fair contract with the reader, one that shows enough that the reader has an ah-ha moment of recognition that she/he knows the character, but still leave enough room for the reader’s imagination to flourish?

It’s the degree we’re open and honest with the reader. If we’re faking it, readers will know.

At the deepest level, voice represents our values

What’s this story worth to us? What’s our audience’s respect worth to us? Where have we let something slide as good enough in the first draft? How much effort are we going to make to turn good enough into above and beyond expectations?

How bang-on is our research?

Is our character development deep and convoluted enough?

Are our characters saying, doing, or thinking things they would never say, do, or think? It’s important to differentiate between what we believe and what our characters believe. I might have a sad, but realistic, understanding that justice is rarely done, but if my character absolutely believes in justice then my voice when I write that character has to reflect that.

Think of voice like the man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz, but in a nice way. It’s what forms and sustains the story we want to tell.

I hope you’ll be back next Tuesday, October 14, for the next part of Second Rewrite — Building Emotional Muscle.

For those of you in Canada, Best wishes for a marvellous Thanksgiving next Monday.

Can hardly wait for the pumpkin pie next week

Can hardly wait for the pumpkin pie next week

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Art, I made this

Art I Love — Cross-Stitched RCMP Emblem

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emblem

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emblem

I said to myself, “Cross-stitch: How hard could it be? After all it’s just a lot of identical stitches, one after the other.” As it turned out, about 2,500 identical stitches, an 11.5″ x 13″ design worked on 18 count linen canvas. 5 years of my life. My first cross-stitch piece, and certainly my last on this scale. A lesson in persistence, driven forward by how much I loved the colors, and my conviction that a needle and DMC embroidery floss weren’t going to get the better of me. Sometimes we just have to plow through to the end.

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