Taylor's Random Thoughts

I have an opinion on just about everything. Hopefully, you will find my rantings and meanderings amusing.
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EPIC Writing Conference

Went to the annual conference of the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition (EPIC) earlier this month. The conference was chaired by well known erotica author Desiree Holt. She did a fantastic job -- great speakers, accommodations, tours (including a ghost tour) and food.  EPIC has been the voice of epublishing since 1998. If you're an epublished author, publisher, editor, or artist, this is an organization you'll want to join. Find them at http://www.epicorg.com.

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Rules for Writing: Rule Number 3

The third rule of writing is: there must be CONFLICT in your story.

Conflict is a clash of wills, ideas, desires, and/or actions. (Conflict also includes the conflict of man-against-nature, but I couldn't figure out a good word to describe it in the previous sentence.)(Survival?)

Conflict can be either internal or external. Internal conflict is inside the character. External conflict is outside the character. 

Some rules of thumb on conflict:

Start the story with a seemingly insurmountable conflict.

Make the conflict well motivated. Have it grow out of the characters and what they feel, what they believe, and the choices they've made in their life so far.

The more conflict there is, the more interesting the story.

A story without conflict is like vermicelli without sauce -- booorrrrinnnng.

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Rule Number 2 for Novel Writing

Every novel must have a theme.

If there is no theme, the story is unfocused. Theme will keep the story on track as the characters act in ways to support the theme.

So what is theme?

Theme is an underlying statement about life which expresses a universal truth with which the reader can identify.

Theme is not plot or subject.

Plot is the series of actions which move the theme forward.

Subject, by itself, is not theme. To make subject into a theme, add a verb. For example, a romance novel is about the subject "love." To make "love" into a theme, expand it into "love heals," "love endures," etc.  To focus it further, elaborate. "Love endures" becomes "Love is stronger than death," "Love outlasts the years," or "Love but  one, and that one forever."

Theme is terribly important -- take it from someone who has (inadvertently) tried writing without it.


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Writer's Muse and Writer's Block

Over the years I've tried everything to evoke, invoke, and provoke my writer's Muse: how-to articles, supplications, incense, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, mantras, deep breathing (in through the nose, hold it for four, and out through the mouth), bribes, meditation, and even threats.
Nothing worked.
Until...wait for it...
...hunkering down and charging forward into the valley of writing (even without knowing where I was going) did the trick. Which is to say, working HARDER was the kick in the pants my Muse needed.
The same "trick" applied to what I once called writer's block.
Did you know that on her web page Nora Roberts says she has always worked eight hours a day, every day? No missing muse or writer's block there.
I rest my case.
p.s. I talk big, but have to admit that my "working harder" has rarely hit eight hours a day for very long. I think I might be lazy. Anybody know the cure for that?
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How I Learned About Point of View

Point of view did not come to me intuitively. Far from it. I wrote blithely and confidently for over a year without ever realizing my characters' POVs were hopping more than a frog in Calaveras County.
So I bought "Characters and Viewpoint" by the great writer Orson Scott Card (love his stuff). I read the book, but still didn't understand POV. I re-read and re-read it. Nothing sank in.
On the fifth reading the floodlights came on. Success! I finally understood how to stay in a character's point of view.
Then I heard about a thing called hot, deep first person POV.
Guess what? I got it right away.
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Rule Number One for Novel Writing

Some day I'm going to make a list of the 100 most important rules of novel writing.
Since a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, here's the first (not necessarily the most important) rule: never end a chapter with the viewpoint character falling asleep.
Because it gives the reader an opportunity to put down your book.
You want the reader to identify with your character, but not so much so that they decide "this is a good place to stop because the heroine is dozing off and nothing's going to happen."
That's Rule #1. Now to figure out the other 99!
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