Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Comma Cop

Today I'm slaying commas. That tiny little squiggle is making my shoulders ache.

Once upon a time I was quite judicious about my commas. I would argue with anyone about natural cadence and pacing. Commas were often either irrelevant or downright detrimental.

And then I began to learn Comma Rules. About how a comma is needed to separate thought, to separate action, to separate subjects, to connect a sentence, to look good on the line. Forget the pattern that flows naturally with the words. Forget pacing. Commas are Necessary to Make Readers Read Each Word.

I learned the rules.

And I caved to them.

So today I fight back. I'll reclaim the pace a good crime fiction story should have.

Historically, authors have almost come to blows with editors who tried to enforce the Comma Rules. I've determined that this is one more Really Good Reason for going indie.

How about you? Do you love commas or avoid them whenever possible?

CR: Darkness on The Edge of Town by J. Carson Black.

It's all better with friends.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Elizabeth George Interview

One of the very best books about the process of writing I have read is Elizabeth George's Write Away. To my delight I found this wonderful interview from William Kenower at Author Magazine.


CR: Darkness on The Edge of Town by J. Carson Black (and the cool thing is, I happen to be in Tucson at the moment, where the story is based).

It's all better with friends.

Friday, February 3, 2012

When Something Doesn't Feel Quite Right

Well, I finished my first draft of the new manuscript on Thursday. I posted a little about the emotional aspects on Crime Fiction Collective today. I'd love for you to pop in and comment.

But here, at Suspense Novelist, I'd like to focus a little bit on how I got there. How I was able to finish it in the first place. What my process was.

Writing the last few scenes sat in front of me for days. I didn't exactly ignore them, but I wasn't completely on board with a couple of the aspects I'd carried over from the original manuscript to try and use again with the new one. I didn't really know I felt this way until I realized there was something making me reticent to keep writing. Something felt off.

As writers, we need to pay attention to our instincts. To our own bodies. When we feel uncomfortable, we're probably on to something important. Rather than muddle through and end up with something I hated (and readers would hate at least as much), I took a little time and tried to figure out what felt "icky."

Most of my ending felt great. It hummed. It connected. But one little element felt contrived and totally amateur. Something my husband would hate. With the help of my morning pages brainstorming session, I came up with an alternative. Not nearly as melodramatic, but equally absorbing. At least I hope so.

The take-away here is to have a plan, but be willing to veer from that plan when necessary. Pay attention to whatever reluctance you might have about a part of your plot, or a character, or a setting. Examine it. Decide whether it even merits a place in your story. When you are fighting something, there's probably a very good reason.

CR: California Fire and Life by Don Winslow.

It's all better with friends.