Tag Archives: writers

Writers are always turfing up plot ideas

Creative inspiration is everywhere. The writer’s trick is to filter the chaff from the sublime.  And sometimes it takes a while to realize the merits of an idea that’s fallen from heaven.

Does the new idea fit or blend into another plot that’s on the agenda? Does it provide a needed twist or fillip to the ending you’ve planned? Mull it over for a bit.  Sometimes quiet manual work gives the brain opportunity to concentrate on inner thoughts. Forget housework! I have in mind potting plants, raking the yard or walking alone on a trail with no obstacles so your mind can wander.

Sometimes a new plot idea can serve to take a series forward. I already have two full plots for books that will follow “The Murders at Elk Bend” which was published in November. A series brings new writing challenges, but endless opportunity to try new story lines.

I suspect plots need to be edited just as words do. They need to be kept fairly simple, driven competently to a finale, but with spice thrown in.

As a writer, I tend to overcomplicate a plot trying to weave in more story lines than necessary. On the other hand, as a reader, I know I don’t want to guess the action too far in advance. I like a full cast of characters and I don’t want to know, without some initial puzzling, what’s going to happen too easily. I appreciate a little weaving and bobbing on the part of the writer.

And I very much appreciate the effort it takes an author to provide a terrifying twist or two!  Readers will keep coming back to a writer who surprises them.

 

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Writers or Pickpockets, it’s in the details…

If writers are more observant than other people, which seems likely, their craft may be continually fed by the details, the ephemera, the detritus of life’s events. Authors may unconsciously employ the trait to craft and tweak their work. 

On the other hand, pickpockets are probably more observant than the regular guy on the street. They, too, employ their powers of observation to do their work.

Now that we’ve established the wide spectrum of society in which the observant can flourish, let’s hone in on the writers’ use of the skill. 

A skill it is, one that may arise at a young age, but one that also sharpens with use. It is a considerable tool when combined with good recall or spectacular note-taking ability.

An observation noted is one that can be recalled and used with flavor and wit.

I try to write down odd or humorous things I see, if only to provide color in my dark stories of murder and mayhem. Once, in a mountain resort town, I followed an old car in traffic. Bored by the delay, I noticed the car sported a sign warning ‘CAUTION! STUDENT DRIVER!’ When the driver pulled ahead slightly, I noticed the tailpipe was the size of a coffee can. Out came the pencil and notebook.

As a teen, I worked in a mountain town as summer help. There was a rumor of a guy who lived in his car, which was stuffed with junk, and held a dead calf in the back seat. It freaked out every teen who heard the story.

One day, we saw him! He existed. The rusted blue sedan, paint job long oxidized, was crammed with junk. The windows were filthy. But as he drove slowly past, I peered into the back seat, almost fearful of what I’d see. It was stuffed with trash, newspapers, boxes, but no calf, I am happy to report.

Writers can sometimes be in a crowd of people and feel an undercurrent or see two people communicating in subtle ways. They can spot the unhappy face in an ocean of joy.

Then again, writers can simply be in a crowd, enjoying the event like everyone else.

Nothing wrong with that.

Just look out for pickpockets.

Writing fiction: How much description is enough?

Writing a fictional story is a revealing activity. The author’s writing ‘voice’ invariably becomes a unique one, telling a story in a way that no other writer could. But a novice writer’s voice evolves, alters, refines, as it grows in experience.

A dinner conversation with an aspiring author sparked a question: What is the right amount of description to use? When is enough enough?  

The aspiring writer (I have only just left that category with publication of ‘The Murders at Elk Bend,’ or I would include myself in this spot) was concerned that he would not be able to help the reader draw a precise mental picture of the setting of his novel. He was comparing his descriptive abilities to that of famous and popular Western writers of past days. Dazzled by their descriptions of desert, mountain or prairie locations, he was worried about offering his readers a similar experience.  Plot, characters, dialogue offered no worries to him. He was solely concerned about how much literal description would be expected.

I spoke reassuringly of every writer’s unique voice and how that overrode most readers’ critical eyes for detail. I encouraged him to simply begin to type out that story, bit by bit, so he could see the results. I’m sure when he does, he will be delighted with his production. If he has no worries about plot, characters or dialogue, he already has many of the tools he needs to create the story.

The reality is, writing is a craft that must be practiced.

I tend to over-write descriptive passages that become obvious upon subsequent readings.  So, out comes the editor’s pencil.  After I have whacked unnecessary adverbs and so on, I am much happier with the flow of words. 

I enjoy descriptive writing in others’ books, and it is natural that descriptions of setting, clothing, cars, weather, physical characteristics will make their way into my writings.

I just have to play the heartless editor a little more than I would like.

‘The Murders at Elk Bend’ for Amazon Kindle readers

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A copy can be downloaded at the link below.

Newspaper reporter India Banks has returned to an old mountain resort in the Rocky Mountains where she spent many youthful summers. She brings her big-city investigative expertise to this small town where a series of killings is causing a crescendo of fear.

http://www.amazon.com/Murders-India-Murder-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00AG0LRW4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356817928&sr=1-1&keywords=paden+webb