So you can read my books

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Food Guy's laid out in Bronchitis-Land, so it's up to me to pull up the slack.


1.) You have to look at your words as if seeing them for the first time.

What's on the page is all your readers are going to see : not what you meant to say, not the images that were in your mind while you wrote them ... just your words.

What emotions do your WRITTEN words leave you with? Yes, I ended that sentence that way on purpose. See how I did that? Don't do it.

2.) If you humans want to succeed, you must have talent like Coleridge had.

More important, you must have the discipline of Michaelangelo. Coleridge wasted his talent in drugs. Leonardo wasted his in doing party favors for princes. I tried to tell them both, but no human listens to the wisdom of knowing eyes.

3.) Leave out the boring stuff.

You know what I mean. Pick up a book in the store at random. Slip into the middle and start to read. What do you see?

Big chunky, eye-boring paragraphs. Plaster paris descriptions of places I have no wish to be. Slides of cousin Merle's trip to Idaho. (You've seen one pair of potato eyes, you've seen them all.)


The dialogue should be short, funny, something to bring up your eyes from the page and make you reflect on something that hit you like the memory of your first mistake in public.

There should be danger, love, or laughter ... on every page. Because it may be the only page the considering buyer will ever read.

4.) Like Hemingway told me : the most important gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.

No shit.

While Food Guy was droning the Mormon Tabernacle of snores, I was reading Nathan Bransford first paragraph contest for laughs.

There was this one where a woman lay in this pit of dead bodies, looking up at a ton of rock and more human corpses about to drop on her. Did she swear and get the hell out of the way?

No, she laid there like Hamlet contemplating the state of the world where such a thing could happen.

Uh, excuse me, lady?

I understand depressed. I mean, I do live with Food Guy, and all. But if tons of rock and rotting bodies are about to crush this furry princess, I scramble the hell out of the way ...

and leave the hissing at life's pissiness for when I am safely out of the way, thank you very much!

5.) Your scenes must read true ... fake we can have by listening to the State of the Union address.

You humans read to live outside of yourselves ... in adventures where life makes sense, where you find fun, acceptance, and love. Life is only life ...

when it is real ... or seems real.

When characters are flat, prose puppets, made to do what you want them to do, not what real flesh-and-blood humans would do or say ...

the story seems flat like coke left out on the table a day, no fizz, no sparkle ... no readers.

6.) Last words of wisdom from the princess :

Good writing is true writing. If a human is making up a story, it will be true in proportion to the amount of knowledge of life he has and how disciplined he is. So that when he makes something up, it is as it would truly be.

The more a human learns of life, the better he or she will be able to imagine what a set of circumstances would feel or seem. Do it well enough, and the readers will get a feeling as if what they are reading actually happened.

Last : Write for yourself. And write for a person you know, living or dead, to make that person smile or be caught up in the wonder.

*) My paws are sore. That's all the wisdom you humans can handle. Oh, goody, Food Guy just turned over. The snoring assault has ended.


  1. Hey Gypsy,
    Kind of you to fill in. Your post reminds me of all the times some book or movie female character goes off on adventures in a skirt and high heels. Dumb. I tend to lose respect for them quickly and then the story isn't as fun.

  2. Kat : How true! You won't catch this furry feline, going out hunting wearing stilts! Thanks for writing me, Kat. I'll tell Food Guy you came by.

  3. Look at your words as if seeing them for the first time. Ah, that's the trick. That's why I've come to the conclusion that after this last revision, I'm going to need a beta reader. I know every detail so well that my brain sometimes skims over obvious mistakes. I'm too close to it.

    Hope you are feeling better soon. Gypsy might grumble, but I'll bet she loves it.

  4. Sorry to hear Food-Guy is out with bronchitis but we do love your posts Gypsy! ;) Excellent point on looking at your words as if it's the first time. I like to edit as if I'm an editor considering buying the novel.

  5. Gypsy, you are indeed wise! Great tips here that I'm writing down for (near) future use. Real writing and getting that emotion on every page...I'm working on it. Make sure you leave some hot chicken noodle soup for Food Guy! :)

  6. Wow, apparently I need to get back to Bradsford's page and read some more of those paragraphs. I'm with Gypsy on getting the hell outta the way!

    Great advice. Thanks for entertaining us and yourself through the snoring. Healthy wishes to the Food Guy!

  7. Wendy : Beta readers are good. But as humans, they bring their own sense of what it means to write a novel to your words ... not your sense. Listen to them but listen to your instincts more. Walk away from your novel for a bit. Write a short story or the first chapter to another novel, then go back. You will see it in new ways. But I'm just a cat. LOL.

    Heather : Yes, Food Guy edits the same way as if he were the editor or agent. He envies you going to that conference. Me, too. Beautiful princesses are always a hit at parties.

    Donea : I rolled the can of chicken soup by Food Guy's bed. After that hint, he's on his own! I wish you success in getting published! Thanks for writing me. I get lonely here with just Food Guy for grumpy company!

  8. Gypsy....

    You bad girl, although wise, you are not very nice to food guy.

    Now I know you would never listen to mere human, but this time I think you should. If food guy doesn't get well you will not eat...


    So I suggest you jump onto the bed, snuggle up to food guy, and purr like your life depends on it ... because it does.

    Listen to this friend of food guy. NOW!

  9. Rosie C : Do go back to his contest. The paragraphs are educational and fun. That girl's prose was good ... it was just the mindset of her heroine that rang not true ... let me outta the way of two tons of rock and corpses!! Thanks for writing me. A gypsy princess gets lonely with just Food Guy sick or driving those blood runs.

  10. Michael : I love Food Guy, grumpiness and coughing and all. Sigh, I guess I will curl up to him, after all. But he goes and dies on me, and he's Gypsy-Kibbles.

    Nothing personal, Food Guy, but a girl has to eat! LOL.

  11. Ah, Gypsy,

    But does he taste like your favorite:Tuna.

    Food guy tells me how finicky you can be...


  12. Michael : You do have a point. He'd be mostly gristle anyway! I'll take care of him. I always do. Sigh, put-upon princess me.

  13. Gypsy, great post! And I admire your typing skills! Is that why cats walk across keyboards? To practise?

    So, do you have a sense of where the line is between "real life" and "too much like life"? I have a hard time writing exciting things that could presumably happen to me without verging into the really boring stuff that actually does happen to me.

  14. Great tips here, thanks. Hope Food Guy is feeling better soon!

  15. Gypsy you gorgeous beauty! You are just amazing!!! Thank you for these fabulous no-nonsense tips on how to get a novel worthy of being one!! Yay!!

    Please look after Food Guy! I hope he gets better and rests! Take care

  16. I say that all the time: Write first for yourself, write again for others.

    So true.

    I also say I NEVER write fiction. EVERYTHING I write is true. It must be.

    Otherwise, why would I write it.

    That's why I dig your style, Roland, and reading your post. You're better at thinking my thoughts than I am! At least I understand yours.

    - Eric

  17. get well soon!! Food Guy,
    and nice post Gypsy Cat.

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  19. Su : When Food Guy is gone, I write my own blog. Sorry, for felines only. That's where I get my practice.

    Good writing is distilling. Everything that contributes to the transformation of your character to what she started out as to what she will become ... keep. Anything else that simply restates something already said or is simply pretty ... leave out. At least that's what us cats say.

    Thanks, Ann. I try to keep Food Guy healthy, but he insists on answering those pesky blood run calls in the pouring rain and freezing cold!

    Kitty : Thank you and say HELLO to Charlie for me, too. I try to get Food Guy to listen to my wisdom, but he insists on doing it his way. Male humans! LOL.

    Eric : I know what you mean. When you write (if you're in the groove, it seems as if you writing down something that you remember happening to you.) And trust me, sometimes I have a hard time understanding me ... especially understanding why I did something after the fact. LOL.

  20. Imagery Imagined : Thanks for liking my post. And yes, I'm trying to get Food Guy better. I even gave him some of my catnip!

  21. Thanks for the wonderful advice. You're right, that woman surrounded by corpses should've been swearing or trying to move :)

  22. SH : I know that when I'm surrounded by corpses, swearing and moving are the two things at the top of my list!

  23. when you're surrounded by corpses Gypsy?!!! *edges away from keyboard*

    Very wise advice Gypsy, thank you!

    Can you thank Food Guy for entering my blogfest and mention to him that it starts this Friday and runs through the weekend. (I know how easy it to lose track! lol)

    Oh and tell Food Guy I hope he feels better soon.

  24. I must say, Gypsy, this is stellar advice. Is it just my imagination or are you enjoying your stand-in gig? You aren't planning a coup while Food Guy is down and out are you? No, of course not. You have way too much class for that. Don't forget, we're trusting in you to take care of our boy.

  25. Dominic : I pinned a note to Food Guy's shirt to remind him about the blogfest.
    And yes, sometimes, life near the bayou where FG lives gets "interesting." Zombies aren't just food for Hollywood out here, let me tell you. But I have the moves and the grooves. No shambling zombie is gonna make munchies out of this feline princess!

    VR : I have to admit that I enjoy this gig as muse. But my paws get sore from these blasted keys. No worry about me staging a coup. But thanks for worrying about Food Guy. I know he appreciates it -- and so do I. I need my beauty sleep!

  26. Gypsy is so wise. Lots of good stuff to keep in mind here. Love the idea of a built in shit detector. And I wouldn't do any deep contemplation if a pile of rock and decaying bodies were about to fall on me, either.

    Can you come teach my kitties how to write? Hope Food Guy is feeling better!

  27. Thanks for the nice words, Words Crafter. Food Guy is feeling some better -- still weak, still coughing (I tell him to cover his mouth around me! I certainly do not need his human kooties!)

    Your kitties, I bet, already know how to write. They just send notes to one another behind your back! lol. Just kidding. They're probably afraid you'' draft them into writing for them like Food Guy did with me.