So you can read my books

Thursday, January 6, 2011


We interrupt this awesome, witty post for the following news item {courtesy of USA TODAY/jAN.5/2011} :

E-Books Outsell Printed Ones, To Nobody's Great Surprise
by Matthew Zuras on January 5, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Ah, what unsurprising news a year can bring!

Just as everyone predicted, e-books continued to nibble at the ankles of their printed forebears this holiday season, with between three and five million e-readers activated in the week after Christmas.

Barnes and Noble claimed that it sold a million e-books on December 25th alone,

while Amazon's been outselling print bestsellers with digital ones since October, according to USA Today.

That newspaper's own Best-Selling Books, coming out on Thursday, will show that digital editions of the top six books outsold the print versions in the last week,

and that 19 of the top 50 titles had higher digital sales than print ones.

* Now, back to our regularly scheduled post of hopefully some value --

Some novels idle rough.

Some jerk, sputter, then stall.

Others run smooth and fast.

The difference? What's under the hood.

A few days ago we likened your novel to the concept C.A.R. :

C ..... Conflict

A ..... Action

R ..... Resolution


I. You can put a bow tie on a penguin, but that won't make him Fred Astaire.

(And I wouldn't bet any money on him on DANCING WITH THE STARS either.)

* Calling an emotional moment conflict doesn't make it so.

A.) You and I deal in conflict every day

B.) But authors won't be writing books about us.

1.) Our spouse calls us fat, and our snapping back ...

2.) Conflict ..... yes.

3.) Dramatic Conflict? Usually no ...

unless magic revenge spells fly in the next chapter!

C.) My life on the streets of Post-Katrina New Orleans ...

1.) Conflict? Yes.

2.) Dramatic Conflict? No.

3.) Katrina is old news ... which has a shorter shelf life than dead fish.

a.) Its horrors are only fresh to my nightmares.

b.) There were only losers, no winners. All the villains I saw got away with their crimes.

c.) There was no correcting action I could take,

therefore no satisfying resolution. Only comforting the grieving over losses, that in many cases should have never happened.

d.) Your novel should not be depressing. The reader can be depressed for free.

You're asking her/him to part with hard cash money.

II.) Then, what is Dramatic Conflict?

A.) Let Robert Frost explain :

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.


1.) At least in the mind of your Main Character.

2.) The want must be primal ... the roadblock to it must be overwhelming.

3.) Think Zombie Movies :
a.) You're either Fast Feet or
b.) You're Fast Food.
c.) Life gets cut back to the basics : the quick or the dead or the undead.


I.) Hemingway was right --

A.) "Never confuse movement with action."

B.) What then is Dramatic Action according to Hemingway?

1.) He insisted that the action and its form be solely placed on one individual.

2.) The character needs to dominate that action.

Focusing on a single matador against a single bull distills the larger human drama of all of Mankind against those dark forces that threaten us.

C.) Your hero shapes the kind of action :

1.) Robert Jordan of FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS :

2.) While Jordan is the epitome of the hero in his actions,

he is also in command of himself and his circumstances to a far greater extent than Hemingway's previous heroes.

He is driven to face reality by deep emotional needs.

C.) For action to be dramatic, it must be either ...

1.) A direct attack upon the problem or

2.) A direct defense against it.

D.) Harry Potter writing his Congressman about nasty old Mr. Voldemort just doesn't qualify.


I.) Satisfying.

A.) Simple?

B.) Not hardly. Have you ever thrilled to a great suspenseful mystery, only to gasp out loud at the resolution, "That's it?"

C.) Look at those books that you put down in your lap with a smile. They all had one thing in common :

1.) They lived up to the promise of the build-up.

2.) They lived up to the mood of the prior chapters.

a.) One book I read with gusto. It was about a young painter living above a strip club.

b.) Delightful, picaresque characters, snappy dialog, some truly funny moments, and a pace that never leaves you flat-footed:

c.) "Duncan Delaney and the Cadillac of Doom" is a comic circus of strippers and bikers, cowboys and Indians, and fine art. How could you go wrong?

d.) An ending that put a sour taste in my mouth and drained all the fun out of the entire read. Think Christopher Moore's funniest book, ending like THE GREAT GASTBY.

e.) You can buy a hardcover for a dime from Amazon and see for yourself :

D.) Be true to the mood, promise, and premise of your book. If it takes you a month to write that solution that has your reader gasping in laughter or wonder, take that month.
Because Fallen made me do it :


  1. If Vin's driving, I know something good is under the hood (can you tell I'ma fan?)! Conflict, action, and resolution, things every novel needs! Well put!

  2. You're brilliant. I definately need to add some more CARs to my writing, then.

  3. Love that you are stressing the importance of CAR.

  4. Mr. Roland,

    When I read this post, it reminds me of a character sketch, yet analytical in depicting your point C.A.R. LOL.

    Also, if you don't mind, letting me know the start date of your post on "Fallen" so to catch up on your writing...

    Btw, if you can send me your email address here, I will send you some of my writings in the future? thanks.

  5. Heather : I originally had a photo of just Maria, then I thought of you and your affection for Vin and replaced it with this photo. Hey, we blog friends have to stick together.

    Sash : Thanks for liking my take on the 1 - 2 - 3 of writing. Have a great end of week.

    Mary : I've read several books lately where the author seemed to lose their way and the resolution just fizzled. I thought C.A.R. might be good to bring out of the mental garage again. LOL. Thanks for dropping in and visiting!

  6. Creative Imaginations : Go to my August 27th post for the Word Paint blogfest -- the ghost of Samuel Clemens is substituting for me due to complications from my GHOST OF A CHANCE serial. Oh, and my email address can be gotten by going to my complete profile. Have a great end of week.

  7. I love your CAR posts they really make you think. I wish more of you followers would pick up on these awesome tips. I know they are helping my writing.

    You are the master, Roland.


  8. Michael : If only one friend gets one suggestion that makes his/her writing stronger, I am content.

    Sometimes I think God looks kindest on the lonely pastor with but few in his congregation but teaching still with love and wisdom, looking not on the number of listeners but looking on the number of wounds eased.

    I'm glad that my C.A.R. posts have helped you. I don't feel a master ... just a fellow struggler, passing a few things his bruises have taught him.

    Have a great Saturday, Roland