So you can read my books

Saturday, January 21, 2012


"Why do we go on?"

As Gypsy, my ghost cat, lapped from my tumbler of ice tea, I sighed,

"There is no certain promise of success. Often we are mocked by those in our world.

Worse, sometimes we are endured or "forgiven our obsession" by those close to us."

Hemingway looked at me from across the table at Meilori's.

"Backbone," he rumbled.


He downed the remainder of his rum. "Backbone, son. In yourself. In your work. That is the key to surviving this 'obsession' of ours."

He set his glass with a thump on the oak table. "Your backbone is between you and your self-respect. I can't help you there."

He lit a cigar. "But with the backbone of your story or novel ...

The spine of your novel is what you follow on your character’s evolution from what he was to what he becomes. And the change must be big. Why would we follow a bump on a bumpkin’s life?

All good books have one thing in common. They are truer than real life. Why? In good books, anything that doesn’t contribute to the hero’s transformation is edited away.

So find your backbone. What big picture are you painting? Any brushstroke that doesn’t add to that picture, remove.

Ask 5 questions to find your backbone.

1) Who is your hero?

You’d be surprised how many bad novels wobble about in that department, not giving the reader a sure idea of who to root for.

2) What is the problem?

It has to be clear. It has to be primal. And it has to appear insurmountable.

3) How does the story begin and end?

There has to be a “before” and “after” feel to them. The end must be a ringing bell within the heart of the reader.

4) What is the spiritual problem of the hero?

The physical problem must symbolize the spiritual struggle within your hero.

5) What is your novel about?

What is your story’s theme. A young boy learns that true magic lies within. A man discovers lies only make problems; they do not solve them. You get the picture.

What are you waiting for? You want me to lead you to the computer and type the story for you? Writers write. Dreamers dream and die with their dreams."



  1. That's great dialogue, and of course you're right. Time to get writing!

    Oh. And I thought you should know that I bought your book today. Looking forward to reading it! :D

  2. The first one, to clarify, since you have two. :)

  3. Your novels certainly embody all these points Roland. Your characters have clear, measurable growth paths, with vivid goals to achieve.

    Good advice.


  4. And I believe I got the backbone right, even more so than I'd intended.
    The backbone within us is just as important. Sticking to our beliefs and holding our ground, not lowering our standards, no matter how others might view us.

  5. I love the last line of that clip. If things were easy to find, they wouldn't be worth finding.

    Thanks for sharing a bit of Gypsy with us, Roland.

    Off to find my backbone...

  6. Jasmine :
    Thank you so much for purchasing Victor's book. Post a review and you win a Charles Schultz autograph when three more post one! 1 out of 15 odds!

    I live the dialogue out loud to try to get it spot-on. Your praise made my afternoon. I hope you enjoy Victor's & Alice's adventures.

    Thank you, Donna :
    To teach a lesson is one thing, but to live it quite harder! Your encouragement helps me to keep on. I'm glad you got your leaving comments problems solved. Have a beautiful weekend, Roland

    Alex :
    I think Hemingway would say getting our personal backbone right is our primary task, then focus on the literary one!

    You have likened to Robert Heinlein. How cool is that?

    Candy :
    Gypsy's spirit is still with me, nagging me to be smarter! LOL.

    I think that movie will be a modern classic. And I love the last line as well. Do please come back, Roland

  7. Okay, twist my arm! I'm off to find my backbone. :) Thanks!

  8. Helena :
    Sometimes it is hiding, healing from life's punching! At least mine gets that way. :-) Thanks for visiting and caring enough to stay and talk awhile, Roland

  9. Roland, thank you for sending the gift of Ghost Writers in the Sky! I just downloaded it.

  10. Great things to think about, as always. Thanks Roland. :)

  11. Alex :
    I hope you enjoy it. I wrote it to entertain and hopefully give all of us hints on how to write better in the voice of the great masters who have gone on before us, Roland

  12. Lydia :
    You snuck by me just as I was answering Alex, you sly doctor! I hope you find some help and some entertainment in my posts. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Roland

  13. Hi, Roland,

    Great points on how to judge your novel. Thankfully my novels have all those elements. At least I hope so. Lol.

    I have to agree with Donna... YOUR DO!

    Gypsy and Ernest certainly want us to get do work, don't they?

    I guess I should then,

  14. Michael :
    You changed your Avatar! You have lost weight. I know you are proud of the accomplishment. I am just beginning my new novel about Victor and Alice. It is slow going. So many more miles to go. Whew! Thanks for the kind words, Roland

  15. No, I don't want you to lead me to my computer and type for me (okay well maybe)LOL. I agree with you pointers for the backbone. I am trying to force myself to concentrate right now. I am having trouble focusing and getting back to a regular writing schedule.

  16. Melissa :
    That was the grumpy ghost of Ernest Hemingway talking, not bashful me! LOL. Every great writer urged others to write something every day -- if only one sentence that rang true to them.

    Most times that one sentence will at least lead to a paragraph. Hemingway suggested to stop writing when you knew what the next line would be -- that way your unconscious mind would work on it in your sleep! Roland

  17. Great ghost you have to keep you company and inspire you, thanks for sharing that inspiration.

  18. Thank you, Theresa :
    We all need to funnel our dream into activity to fulfil it. Thank you so much for visiting and staying to chat, Roland

  19. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Roland. After being absent for a year in writing and cyberspace, it is the missing gear I've been looking for. Time to tinker.

  20. Siv :
    Thanks. We writers and our muses, even ghostly ones!

    Sabini :
    I am grieved about your aunt. Her pain, at least, is over. I hope Ernest Hemingway's ghost helped in some small way, Roland

  21. My spouse and i ended up being so delighted when Chris managed to deal with his homework because of the ideas he acquired from your own blog. It is now and again perplexing to simply find yourself handing out things which usually many people might have been selling. And we all figure out we've got the writer to appreciate because of that. The entire explanations you have made, the simple blog menu, the relationships you will help to create - it is everything great, and it is making our son and the family imagine that this issue is amusing, and that's especially important. Many thanks for all!
    Bogs Women's Classic Mid Tuscany Rain Boot