In This Issue:
boring the reader: 12 tips for writers – Joyce Davidson
NFW to critique
June 8 at Webb Wesconnett
FWA news about
meetings, contests, and workshops
Stuff from a
Writer’s Quill — Edmund
The Wrong Stuff –
Stuff from Hither
Writers Born This
NFW suspends dues
Meetings of NFW and
Need someone to
critique a manuscript?
The Write Staff
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Avoid boring the
12 tips for writers
shalt not bore.” Writers hear that advice often, but they seldom
find out how to avoid boring their readers.
beginning middle, and ending to everything you compose in any genre
in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, plays, and screenplays. It may seem
clever to end with “cliffhangers,” but these usually anger the
readers. They may ask, “What happened?” When they hear the reply,
“Use your imagination,” they may grumble, “That’s what you’re
the elements in the manuscript: mood, action, sentence length, word
usage, and timing. Review Shakespeare. His comedies have pathos. His
tragedies have comic scenes like the drunken porter in “Macbeth.”
Abide by his example. Tension in a last chapter, however, will be
lost if anything interrupts the steady climb to the climax, not a
late and intrusive description, explanations, or a change in mood.
Maybe as the world is coming to an end, the protagonist tap-dances
with a rose in his teeth. Perhaps, the sentences have grown like
Pinocchio’s nose and short blurbs are in order.
manuscripts aloud to notice unwanted repetition of words, especially
those that are the writer’s favorites or are used several times on
one page. Use word search to discover where synonyms would refresh
the lines. If a word used is several syllables long and readers have
to run to Webster, it better not show up ahead even in a hundred
requires appropriate sentence lengths to control momentum. Don’t
stop to alert the reader about the training of a fighter within the
middle of a fist-fight. Here it is necessary to run the gamut of
synonyms unless a word is repeated for a certain effect. Time the
scene so that the reader doesn’t say to himself, “Enough
from “pushing” an attitude onto the reader. Let him make up his
own mind. It’s better to show an act of kindness rather than to
describe a character as kind.
out the mundane. Action should further the plot, intensify it, or
reveal character. Readers know how to pour coffee and eat a sandwich.
If an author wants to picture the commonplace as a trademark, he
should find another one.
repeat explanations. Exposition can be worked in by many different
methods if the reader must be reminded, but trust him to remember.
Dummies don’t read. Readers know the same information appeared
varying dialogue rarely omit the subject. We often stammer “I, I,
I, I, I …”, but we aren’t going to say, “Ought to go now”.
It’s annoying to come across dialogue without a name or pronoun
which introduces a sentence or a fragment. In the play “January
Thaw” two old farmers are talking about a trip to Canada:
you get to Canada?”
to Canada, Jonathon.”
to Canada. Well, I sure enjoyed hearing about your trip…. “
is written purely for humor. In a serious piece the omission of a
subject in speaking stops the flow. To vary dialogue, change the
lengths of utterances, but don’t leave off subjects.
the flow is dangerous. Read, read, read to sense it. Have a support
group read passages aloud. Sentences someone trips over often need
consideration. Unpronounceable names and obscure words may interrupt
the cadence of lines, too. Recently, in a best seller a
tongue-lashing term, a choker, stopped the story dead. The author
should have been hand-cuffed, for he used the same multi-syllable one
several chapters later.
the manuscript with different questions in mind. Did the author
change names or descriptions like eye color? Did a character say or
do something totally unbelievable before a great new development in
his behavior or attitude occurred? Did an exciting element in the
piece get lost or dropped or simply relegated as actually
unimportant. An author wrote a novel about gruesome attacks on women
and then injected scenes with little children, fluffy toy animals,
and a cute dog. It didn’t work as contrast but rather detracted
from the overall effect of the story. Another after a fascinating
beginning, a horrendous crime, never referred to it again. A third
writer switched back and forth in two barely related plots, which
probably could have been two separate books.
much credit does the protagonist receive? If there is a hero, he has
to accomplish the resolution himself, but it has to be a natural
outgrowth of the plot. His “saving the day” mustn’t be tacked
on because he is the main character. Even professional authors are
guilty of having the hero show up successfully at the end whether his
actions seem false or not.
a writer quickly cranks out one manuscript after another, he or she
may lack the depth needed to make them memorable, but if that’s
what a writer wants, that’s what the wordsmith will get. At least,
he may enjoy the satisfaction that he wrote something.
NFW to critique
July 13 at Webb
The North Florida
Writers will have a critique-only meeting Saturday, July 13,
at 2 p.m. Saturday, at the Webb Wesconnett Library (corner of
103rdStreet and Harlow Boulevard, to the east of I-295).
The public is welcome to attend.
the critiques, someone other than the author of respective works will
read aloud the submissions (up to 10 double-spaced TYPED pages of
prose, and reasonable amounts of poetry or lyrics). Authors may not
defend their work, but they may attach questions they would like
answered (e.g., “Is the scene on the beach convincing?”). Authors
should listen to the words and rhythms of their creations. .
meeting dates and locales:
10 – 2 p.m., Webb Wesconnett – Speaker: Melanie
14 – 2 p.m., Webb Wesconnett
12 – 2 p.m., Webb Wesconnett
news about meetings,
DiGenti, the regional director of the Florida Writers Assn., gives
readers the FWA Blog post about meetings, contests and workshops for
NE Florida writers. Click
access the blog.
Stuff – Forensic
the link below to find where often sane and sensible writers (and
editors) have stumbled in their writing:
webs. com/theforensicgrammarian. htm
paperback collection, “The Wrong Stuff: Findings of a Forensic
Grammarian,” is available online at Amazon.com and Barnes &
Nobel’s website. Go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3PF180.
on each link to go directly to the story.
writers who gave us the American century
that F. Scott Fitzgerald's
star shines brightly, and deservedly so. But it's probably time we
reappraised his old rival, Ernest Hemingway.
can make us care
Pain says, “Nature writing is being touted as
a new literary genre for new times. Most of us live in towns and
cities but we are all keen naturalists now – at least by proxy.”
Actually, the genre has been around for ages, but, if it receives a
new prominence, so be it. Pain discusses books about the gingko tree,
pigeons, and the elusive goshawk.
J.X. Malady writes about an organization in the U.K. that strives to
protect the apostrophes to be found in geographical names. Even so,
he notes that the apostrophe is a relative newcomer to punctuation,
appearing in the 16th Century and having its usage
expanded in the 17th Century.
Damien Walter tweeted he”d “literally kill” to interview the
multiple award-winning author Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman replied
“What if the person you had to kill was … Harlan Ellison?” Here
Ellison talks about running away from home, the rights and wrongs of
paying to read books and how his job on this planet is annoying
Revising your writing
Blame the Modernists
Fehrman discusses “The Work of Revision” by Hannah Sullivan, an
English professor at Oxford University. Her book explains how
self-editing became the first commandment of literature. Handwriting
led to one approach (largely minimal revision), but the typewriter
and typesetters yielded a product that encouraged changes and
revisions. Not discussed in the Boston Globe column is the phenomenon
of a type of writing produced by word processing: “Word processing”
prose is often dashed off, formatted, and then sent out to the
two persons ever read the same book.
check out the names of writers who were born this month, go to this
webs. com/birthdaysofwriters. htm
list includes novelists, poets, playwrights, nonfiction authors,
writers for the small and silver screen, and others.
for your favorite writer? Hit “find” at the website and type in
your favorite’s name. Keep scrolling to find writers born in other
misgivings, the list generally omits lyricists (to avoid the plethora
of garage-band guitarists who knock out a lyric in two minutes to go
with a tune). Often lyricists are accomplished in other writing areas
and may cause their inclusion (e.g., Bob Dylan, Johnny Mercer, Cole
some writers fret about identity theft and will only say they were
born in 1972 or whenever. Typically that means they don’t get
included on a “born this day” list. Recommendation: Writers may
wish to create a “pen birthday”; that way, their names stay on
the public’s radar.
you see that we have omitted a writer, give us his or her name (and
preferably a way to verify the belly-button day).
North Florida Writers has suspended its membership dues for an
indefinite period. The treasury has stabilized at a comfortable
level, and the NFW does not have any appreciable expenses. Members
suspected we could go without dues for a couple of years and perhaps
more. During this period, anyone may attend and participate in the
monthly meetings. (Even with dues, writers were free to attend a few
meetings to see if the NFW would suit their needs.)
a listing of meetings of the NFW and other groups in Northeast
Florida, click here
poets, and playwrights will find useful tools at
you have a finished manuscript that you wished critiqued or
proofread, then look for someone at
Howard Denson (hd3nson@hotmail.
Joyce Davidson (davent2010@comcast.
Kathy Marsh (kathygmarsh@bellsouth.
Richard Levine (Richie@HIDDENOWL.COM);
Frank Green, Dan Murphy, Howard Denson, Nate Tolar, Joyce Davidson,
Margaret Gloag, Richard Levine, Bob Alexander, JoAnn Harter Murray,
Carrol Wolverton, Margie Sauls, Stewart Neal.