So you can read my books

Monday, March 19, 2012


{This weekend I was moving both days. Still lots to do. But I couldn't forget my friends.}


Congrats to Hart Johnson and Theresa Milstein!!

I've talked about the ending ...

about how the beginning is shaped by it.

Now, what Hostess bakeries already knows:

It's the middle that makes the product.

You like that creamy filling? Me, too. It's what brings me back. The icing entices me. The devil's food cake is the taste pleaser at the end. But it's the filling that makes the cupcake.

The title and the hook of a first sentence will snare the reader. But it is what lies between the beginning and the stunning end that will keep him turning the pages until he reaches that finely honed climax.

Have you heard a good joke told badly?

Sure. We all have.

Have you ever had an agent or her intern write that your tale did not hold together? Now, what the heck does that mean?

It means you told a good joke slightly off focus.

Eric Trant once wrote me something profound. You don't just slap some wood together and hope you get a table. You start with the proper measurements and a firm idea as to what kind of table you want to build.

Have you been told your tale doesn't hold together?

1.) Perhaps the pieces don't fit properly.

When you build a table, you use wood that has already been planed and sanded smooth :

Try smoothing each page you write as you write it. Look at it closely as you finish and edit it to the best of your ability at the moment. Start with the next page. Edit it.

At the end of the chapter, print that rascal out. You will discover flaws and rough spots you never saw on the computer screeen.

Trust me. It works. I got the idea from that rookie, Dean, ah what was his last name. Oh, yes. Dean Kootnz.

2.) The end in sight is great, but listen to the characters.

Aim for the ending you planned. But if the characters twist in your hand and suggest a great new ending. Listen. It is your unconscious mind speaking.

The new ending will prove to be fresher and more novel than what you originally started out with. And since it is more in keeping with the evolved characters in your book, your tale will feel more together, less patched together.

3.) Write hungry.

Always write, knowing you could do better. Aim higher. Try harder. Settle for nothing but your best. Try to make yourself laugh, cry, be surprised at the twists the characters' evolving personalities take you.

4.) Write true.

Listen to your heart. If the beautiful sentence you just wrote rings false for the story, for the character, for the ending, edit it out. Save it for another novel. Or don't.

Never call attention to yourself : isn't this a grand piece of prose. Always ask how can I draw the reader into the story to LIVE it not read it. Hear the characters talk in your head.

You'll pull back occasionally and say, "Hey that doesn't sound like Jane. That sounds like me. Or it sounds like Eden."

If a character says something in your head that puzzles you, go with it. Keep writing. Wait until the end of the chapter before going back and re-reading the whole thing. Your unconscious is handing you a great surprise for your readers. If you don't immediately know what it means, neithr will your reader.

Don't waste or throw away that gift.

Follow these points and your novel's middle will be more than creamy filling. It will be the meat and potatoes of your tale.


  1. The middle's the best part for me too. Great tips! It truly does help to print the story out. Maybe the computer screen blurs our mind to certain things.

  2. Great points. I owe my book to the characters in it for they surely helped me write it. There were times I sat down at my computer with an idea only to be led by the characters in an entirely different direction.

  3. Excellent advice.
    I only write true to me.

  4. Excellent advice. When a scene isn't working, I ask myself what the characters are thinking. It takes me right out of it and lets them speak clearly without me filtering it.

  5. Wonderful words of wisdom here, Roland. I suppose that's why it's important to ensure against the "sagging middle". You've the reader interested with the beginning. Now the next part is to keep them that way with balance of conflict, dialogue and voice. Easy-peasy right? LOL!!!

  6. Hi Roland .. oh oh moving again - what a pain .. but I do hope life will be easier once you've moved. Just packing and unpacking is bad enough .. my thoughts are with you .. and I sincerely hope the apartment offers you a very delicious creamy middle ... with thoughts - cheers Hilary

  7. I never edit on the computer screen. I remember a conversation with a book seller who'd been in the business for decades and he told me he could tell when a book had been edited on the computer because of the types of mistakes made.

    The table analogy sounds exactly like something Eric would say!

  8. Listening to our heart is vital, so very true. Excellent advice! And wow, where do you find these amazing pictures? They are so inspiring!

  9. Congratulations, Roland! Just read the good news on Michael's site.

  10. Christine:
    Yes, in print certain mistakes stand out. Can you believe the classic authors like Mark Twain and earlier hand wrote their manuscripts!

    Certainly the ghost of Mark Twain takes over whenever I write him!

    True to you is some of the hardest writing there is at times, right?

    What a great idea. I'm going to snatch it.

    Yes, Easy-peasy! Right after we do that, we'll establish world peace! :-)

    The new apartment is grand. The ghosts have all followed me - even Gypsy who is still roaming all the corners for her special one!

    L. Diane:
    I edit in all forms, but like you, I do my last in print! Eric is something, isn't he?

    What with the weariness of the move, the name of the great artist refuses to come to me. But I have noticed that whenever I use his painting, my hits from Germany skyrocket!! Thanks for visiting!

    Thanks for being happy for me. Benny Goodman's band is now wailing SING SING SING (an instrument - go figure, says Victor) and the mood of it fits!

  11. I love when my characters say something puzzling. You're right -- if it puzzles you, the author, it will dang sure puzzle Dear Auld Reader!

    It's funny how if it you stick to an enigmatic entry, especially dialogue, it somehow works itself out in a way that surprises you, the creator.

    You ever wonder if God worked like that? Maybe we were an entry He wasn't expecting in the story, and He shrugged His shoulders, kept on writing, and was just a little bit shocked by what came out.

    Now that I think about it, I don't think God ~has~ a backspace.

    - Eric

  12. I saw Michael's post and had to come by to say congratulations!!!! That is awesome!

  13. Thanks for the mention and congratulations again to you.