So you can read my books

Monday, February 21, 2011


Fiction is not reality. It is something slightly different, yet the same.

Like Mark Twain said, "Fiction has to make sense."

I.) Fiction reflects reality through a mirror darkly ...

A.) That mirror reflects society's face with all its ...

1.) Blemishes

2.) Scars

3.) Hopes

4.) Its dreams and the smiles despite the inner pain of most of the people you walk past on the streets.

II.) Fiction distills reality, revealing more truth than reality does in a shorter span of time.

A.) Fiction prunes out anything that doesn't propel the story and themes forward.

B.) Fiction is more intense and dense page by page than our lives are day by day.

III.) Fiction is a crucible ...

1.) holding our characters to the fire to purify and hone their spirits so that they are stronger, purer or broken or shattered at the novel's end.

2.) We are the blacksmiths, hammering our characters on the anvil of adversity. If our characters are having a good time, our readers grow bored.

IV.) As in reality, adversity introduces our characters to themselves and to the reader.

1.) Unlike reality, all dross events are sifted from the narrative.

2.) The best fiction reveals the characters of our players in what they do and why they do it.

3.) Shallow fiction makes prose puppets, forcing the characters to do things, not letting their actions flow from their inner natures.

V.) That is why everything in fiction serves multiple purposes. Like packing a solitary suitcase for a long trip, each item, each scene must serve multiple functions.

1.) Life is often haphazard, cluttered.

2.) Fiction must never be those things.

3.) Fiction ultimately relates seemingly unrelated items and scenes.


a.) Parents give a gun to a young boy for his birthday instead of the bike he wanted.

b.) How does that relate to anything?

c.) It was the same gun that his older sister used to commit suicide.

d.) Based on a true incident from M. Scott Peck's PEOPLE OF THE LIE.

VI.) Like a skillful mother, an author should be doing 2 things at all times in the same scene or action.

A.) As in the prior example :

1.) The gun wasn't just an inappropriate gift to a young boy.

2.) It was a silent message : We want you to kill yourself, too.

B.) Likewise each scene should propel the story forward, upping the tension and suspense at the same time :

1.) As with the above example :

2.) Boy now knows his parents want him dead.

3.) What does he do with that knowledge? What can he do? He is just a young boy at the mercy of insane parents.

VII.) Each incident should ...
1.) Set the scene in the context of the character's thoughts.

2.) Reveal the hero's character by what he or she makes of the situation and what she does with it.

3.) Moves the story along with suspense and tension.

VIII.) A spear has no branches.

1.) Streamline your prose to chisel the story in crisp detail and image.

2.) Chunky paragraphs sink your prose into the sea of boredom.

3.) Don't tell the reader your character is this or that.

4.) Show your character in action, revealing his or her thoughts about the situation.

5.) When you have the reader make up his own mind about the character of your hero and villain, your story will become more "real" to your reader, making it take on a living existence for him or her.

IX.) As a woman is the echo of the girl she once was, by the end of the novel, your main character should be the result of his past decisions, realizations (true or false), and his actions.


  1. More fabulous advice Roland - I like 'Chunky paragraphs sink your prose into the sea of boredom.' Thank you.

  2. yes, fiction is not a reality, but a good story has the essence of bringing out the fiction to something real and believable.
    Good advice, Roland.

  3. I wish James Joyce had read this entry. Seriously though...this is good advice. Thank you.

  4. Margo : Try for laughter this early in the mornring is always my motto. I'm glad you enjoyed my post. Thanks for visiting.

    Imagery Imagined : You nailed it. Thanks for liking my post.

    Michael : It was a whole different kind of publishing market when Joyce became a wilde childe in it. Thanks for liking my guidelines. Roland

  5. Brillant! I loved this. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I'm glad you got something positive out of this, Shelly. Roland

  7. What a great post! Fiction is not reality but it has to feel real.


  8. Thanks, Jai. Always good to see you here. Have a great Monday, Roland

  9. Definitely advice to write by. I have copied this and printed it out. Thanks Roland.

  10. That you liked this enough to print out means a lot to me, Ann. I hope it helps in some small way. May we both reach our publication dreams this year! Roland

  11. Excellent. I wish I had your confidence. When I think of fiction, I think every book is unique and there really are no set rules--some writers tell...some show. Some lament in beautiful prose and others shout scary, wacky things to the reader. The fruit under the rind can be sweet and it can be sour. Thanks for visiting my blog, where I post many experimental forms of my writing.

  12. Hi,

    Absolutely wonderful post, Roland.

    But like every darn thing fiction nothing can be set in concrete!

    Take "chunky" paragraphs for instance: yes, in a thriller or horror such can slow down the action, even throw a reader out of sinc with what's supposedly going on.

    Then again, sometimes well-written chunky paragraphs can keep a reader locked in on the action and enhance the experience.

    Try writing a sex scene in short paras, and it'll read like a "wham bam thank you ma'am" scene. That's OK for those who are not into foreplay and mutually extended pleasure times. :o

    Playing to hard fast rules is for hard fast action heroes, but even the best of the best usually get bored with sex on the run! ;)


  13. Some great stuff here, Roland. I stand by your very first line, that fiction is reality--different yet the same.

  14. Such wonderful writing advice Roland. I learn something every time I come here.

    I'm so far behind I haven't even seen the first part of Deathly Hallows. Grrrhh. I'm probably the only one in blogger land. How embarrassing :)

    Well, sometime I'll fix that.

    I love the wolf picture. I bought your novel but have only been able to read the first few pages. I have to find some unbusy time. I hate having a book I haven't read yet.

    Have a good day Roland.


  15. Provocative post and I could not agree more.

  16. The Desert Rocks : You're right. There are no rules carved in stone but one : no turn off your reader.

    Whatever method of writing gives you confidence will allow you maximum flow of your muse. Go with it. Thanks for commenting. And come again!

    Francine : These are just guidelines, not commandments. I don't have the Moses beard for that! LOL.

    But chunky paragraphs tire the eyes of modern readers. Short paragraphs do not have to create short scenes. It just breaks up the space to ease the eye of the weary agent.

    On the contrary, shorter paragraphs eases the eye strain for the reader so that the scene of romance can last longer without dulling the eye of the reader.

    It is no accident that James Patterson has chapters of no more than three or four pages. Alas, our modern readers have shorter patience with long chapters and paragraphs.

    I only give these hints as guidelines that I have seen work for other authors. Thanks for the humor and perspective. I always need that! Roland

    Lydia : I'm glad you got something good out of my little post. Do come back.

    Donna : Isn't that wolf graphic special? I think old wolfie will be up there for a few more days. I like him. And I hope you enjoy my book when you get a chance to read it. Like you, I am so far behind on needful things, it is not funny!

    Melissa : Thanks. I write these posts as guidelines to make you think, sift through my words, and keep what makes sense to you. Please come back again, Roland

  17. Hi,

    Don't get me wrong, I like writing short paras, bt not all editors like them.

    I have an editor interested in one of my conteporary romances, and I yelled "Shit, shit, shit" when she got back to me with revisions: her request "lengthen the paragraphs, you're writing a romance not a thriller!"

    I'd spent bloody weeks chopping those damn paras on advice from a crit partner before sending it off. You don't want to know what the crit partner said, suffice to say the air would have been blue had she been in the room with me and not talking over the phone. Needless to say she's flummoxed by it all.


  18. More pearls of wisdom my friend.

    You have some fantastic examples for us to learn and grow.

    Thanks for watching over all of us fledglings.


  19. Michael : In the blogverse, we each have one another's back. That's what makes our writing community so special and great, Roland