Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Defensive Tactics- Available for Pre-sale on Amazon

In a world of corruption and moral relativism, how far will you go to protect the ones you love?

Paul Stephens has it all--a wonderful job at the FBI, a potential new girlfriend, Emily, and a great apartment. Even when Jimmy, a friend from his past, unepectedly ends up on his couch, Paul manages to keep it together, despite Jimmy's eccentric ways and sudden interest in Emily. But when a plan to arrest a corrupt judge puts Emily's life in danger, Paul is forced to make decisions that put everything on the line. And with Jimmy along for the ride, anything can happen as they race to save Emily.

Full of suspense, action, and surprises, Defensive Tactics navigates the maze of burgeoning relationships and the rigors of investigation to ultimately show just how much the bonds of friendship can endure.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Writing Process- Part Two- The Story

Whether it's Dr. Seuss with his silly rhymes, or Brandon Mull writing about magical places, or Stephen King telling a frightening tale that will make it just a little bit harder to sleep at night, one critical need remains constant through genre and stylistic approach; the ability to tell a compelling story. Grisham and Twain, Hemmingway and Faulkner all persist as reader favorites, not because of the way they conjugate verbs or punctuate their sentences, but rather, people love them because of the stories they tell.

Sometimes authors get so excited about writing in first or third person, or using free-indirect discourse, or making their sentences longer, or shorter, or making the language of characters distinct with crazy dialects, that they forget their main purpose in writing a story; the story. Sure, we want to know the characters, their strengths and weaknesses and we want to know about their surroundings, their thought processes and motivations, but all of those things, as interesting as they may be, should be included in the writing as a way to advance the story.
The individual components of a story are not all-important in and of themselves. For example, amazing rims on a car, or new spark plugs may be great, but only insofar as they increase the value of the car, and make it go. Great rims don't mean much if the car is stuck in the driveway. Likewise, a beautifully constructed sentence won't have much value if it detracts from the mood or rhythm of the story.

Have you ever felt that the author was simply writing to impress himself, or is so enthralled about writing chapters and chapters about the sewer system of Paris that you've totally lost interest in the redemptive story? I have. By focusing on the reader, instead of the author, the author has an opportunity to stretch beyond his own comfort level and create something for others to enjoy, not merely pages to be tolerated as a sidetrack back to the story.
Hopefully an author's "ideal reader" is not himself. If it is, he will probably be enthralled with his own work, but will not likely expand his audience very far.
Focus on the story. Make the words count. Use literary tools to help you succeed in telling a compelling story. But remember, the simple act of using literary tools does not make writing successful, the story does.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The "Ideal Reader"

Throughout his book On Writing, Stephen King often refers to the "ideal reader". What is the "ideal reader"? you ask. Let me explain.

The ideal reader is the person you are thinking about when you are writing. On my first book, Defensive Tactics, my wife Mica was my ideal reader. As I was writing, I found myself asking, "What will Mica think of that", or I would imagine her laughing at a particular joke or scene. I was writing for her appreciation and to her sensibilities as she was representative of the general audience I was attempting to appeal to.

On my second book, Crater Lake: Quest for the Prison Key, my ideal reader was my 11 year old daughter. Crater Lake was written for a different audience in general, but just like on the first, I found myself wondering, what will Lindsay think about this or that, and I wrote scenes that I knew she would appreciate. What will scare Lindsay? When I figured it out, I wrote it. What will make her laugh and what will she think is dorky. I tried to avoid the dorky.

Even though my ideal reader was different for these two books, the concept is the same. I couldn't wait for them to read what I had written for them and ultimately, when I was finished, I listened to their feedback and made some corrections where I had miscalculated.

Thinking of someone you know well and respect, and what their reactions will be to certain content, can help guide you in the writing process. It places the focus on the reader, instead of the author. What the reader enjoys and finds funny, or frightening, or exciting and cool, is much more important than writing something that only I find interesting.