So you can read my books

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

R is for RUH ROH (for Scooby Doo fans), RELATIONS & RULES (Toeing the Line!)


has an evocative, lovely post on Origins and her longing for home.

It reminded me of these words from Keats :

The voice I hear this passing night was heard

In ancient days by emperor and clown:

Perhaps the selfsame song that found a path

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien corn

Her talk of Origins made me Reflect on my own which has led me to write of the Turquoise Woman in most of my novels.

Whenever the Lakota pray, they end with MITAKUYE OYASIN (for all our relations).

The worst insult a Lakota can give is to say "you live as if you have no relatives."

When the term "relatives" is used, it refers to all living things, from the tallest tree to the tiniest ant, and the Lakota believe that we are "all related", no matter what colour or creed.

Each of us are interconnected in that great Web of Life, in which no strand is plucked without causing ripples throughout the whole.

Mojo and SugarScribes let me know that some of my Relations are new to my blog.

It is the Lakota Way to point out for Relatives the marks along the trail that will smooth the path before them :

The mysterious Nazca lines.

What fan of the arcane and the supernatural has not heard of them?

But did you know that there were equally mysterious Nazca Lines for writers?

Bet you didn't.

But there are. And you need to know them.

Eagle-eye view.

That is what the Nazca Lines for authors provides.

First Nazca Line - The theme in one sentence.

In an important aspect, a good novel is an argument posed by the author to the reader.

As in : what is more important, love or success? What is love really? And success? How do you measure that? Your theme is your argument.

How do you get your theme seamlessly inserted into your novel?

Usually thourgh the lips of a secondary character. In my THE MOON & SUN AS MY BRIDES, Webster, the one-eyed orphanage headmaster, stalks towards my young hero as the orphange burns down around them.

He jabs at his empty eye-socket.

"You want the truth? You want to understand? That costs, boy. It costs!" {As it turns out Webster is really Wotan, he who you might know as Odin -- and wisdom cost him his eye.}

Second - The Book-Ends :

The Opening Scene and Your Closing Scene.

Some publishers look at the first 10 pages and the last 10 pages.

Think of them as the "Before" and "After" photos in all those advertisements.

There has to be a drastic change in the main character underlinging your theme or the rubber stamp "REJECT" comes down on your manuscript. Ouch.

Third - The Set-Up Lines :

The first 50 pages or the first 3 chapters.

In those you must set-up your hero, the life-or-death stakes, the goal of the story, and all the major characters are introduced or hinted at.

Think of any classic Hollywood movie. In the first 15 minutes you will see that same set-up. You don't have it in your novel? You don't have a good novel. Or least that is what the publisher will think. And he is the one we're trying to sell.

Fourth - The Flaws That Show & Those That Don't :

You should have three major time bombs in your hero's life that need fixing and three minor ones that prevent him from seeing the real problems in his life. Tick. Tick. Tick. BOOM!

Fifth : Let The Games Begin :

Fun. That's what gets readers to come back for a second and third read.

It what gets them to urge friends to read. Let the hero and his circle of comrades have adventure. Let them get away with the loot. Let them thumb their noses at the howling Dark Ones.

It's what would be on the poster if your novel was turned into a movie.

Luke and Leia swinging on that rope. Quigley shooting his rifle over impossible distances. Iron Man streaking across the dark heavens ... to slam into the brick wall of the next Nazca Line ---

Sixth - The Twilight of The Gods :

Or that is what I call it : the hero realizes too late a harsh truth.

The forces of darkness have won. He is alone. There is no hope. He comes face to face with the fool that he was. And then, kneeling in blood and ashes, he decides ...

Seventh - The Phoenix Rises/ The Catalyst Sizzles :

There is losing. Then, there's quiting. The hero decides to fight on. But fight on smarter.

The bad news was really the good news.

It is that moment the reader loves. The harsh realities that every reader faces is tilted on its ear by a carefully sown subplot. The person the hero thought he has lost returns. And the forces of darkness discover you never count a hero down until you see his corpse.

And maybe not even then.

Eighth - The Mid-Point Line :

The stakes are raised. The hero wins. Or does he? The floor bottoms out beneath him. All is lost. The hero was a fool. He obtained his goal, only to discover he had lost the real treasure in getting a tarnished, empty vessel.

Ninth - The Wolves Close In :

What makes a hero?

What ticks inside a proponent of Evil?

The answers to those two questions are what turns defeat into a learning, growing stage in the hero :

The hero fights for others.

The antagonist fights for himself.

The hero is willing to die if those he loves live. The antagonist usually finds a way for followers to die for his cause. He himself wants to live to bask in the glory of winning.

Tenth - Gethsame_Golgotha_The Empty Tomb :

Death. Someone dies. Something important dies.

In every classic movie, death is the seed that is sown to bring a harvest of redemption to the hero. As the shadows close in around our defeated, dejected hero ...

Eleventh - The Sun Also Rises :

Love usually brings the believed lost partner of the hero back to his side. A moment of joy leads to a revelation of a solution.

The lessons learned in the prior pages are brought to bear. The forces of darkness have learned nothing. The hero has learned a great many things. He brings them to his arsenal of weapons.

One by one, he and his comrades and his love dispatch the enemy.

Until it is just the hero versus his arch-foe.

New surprises are thrown at our hero. He takes his hits and keeps coming. He may die, but he will not be defeated. Nor is he.

And The Lines Strikes Twelve - The "World" is changed.

Triumph isn't enough. The world must be drastically changed -- for the hero or for everyone. But changed it is.

Final Image :

It echoes the first image we got in the book.

But this image has more depth, brought by the dark colors of death, pain, and revelation. You have made your point in the argument you proposed in the novel's beginning.

You know your reader will close your book with a sad sigh at a great experience ended. And maybe, just maybe, if you've done your job right ...

your reader will turn to page one again to read your novel with renewed delight at knowing where you are going to take him/her.


And talking of eagle-eye views, here is a music video that is a life lesson all by itself :


  1. Well said! I strive to write the kind of novel a reader will want to read again and again.

  2. Heather :
    That's my dream as well. I wish us both luck in our publication dreams! Roland

  3. I love that quote about Ruth in the corn, and I like how you put that. The book is an argument put to the reader. Nice stuff~

  4. Thanks, Leigh :
    I tended to go over my own self-imposed word limit on this one, but I tried to soften the prose bruise by the pictures. I'm happy you loved that quote about Ruth by Keats. It's one of my favorites, Roland

  5. I got to where you wrote that there were Nazca lines for writers and told myself to stop reading. For now. I have to come back tomorrow when my brain isn't fuzzy so I can pay attention. This sounds really interesting and I want to actually 'get' it.

    Gotta go do some daycare stuff. Take care of you!

  6. Thanks, WordCrafter :
    I worked 15 hours straight, driving 300 miles yesterday. Whew!

    I'm still not recovered from that!

    Thanks for liking what you read, Roland

  7. Very interesting word play on the quotes. Your tips are always amazing :)

    Love the opening picture. I could see that hanging in my front room. The Eagle Rebirth was cool too.

    Thanks for sharing this stuff Roland.


  8. Donna :
    Yes, isn't the art of Susan Seddon Boulet amazing?

    I always like to play with quotes, don't you know? Me and Mark Twain.

    I never tire of that Eagle Rebirth video. I hope your mid-week is great.

    Yesterday, I worked 15 hours straight, driving over 300 miles. I'm still tired! Roland

  9. Wonderful way to start the day :)

  10. Wow! thank you so much for including me in such an amazing post!
    After reading it, somewhere inside of me started shouting: write a novel!!
    as you know I am more of a crafter than a writer, in fact, I had never written anything before I started my blog, and at the beginning it was such a challenge, well, still is, and on top of that writing in English! I apologize for all the grammar mistakes.
    Thank you anyway, I just thought that it was really sweet of you.

  11. I like the concept of eagle-eying it. It's those details, though, that kill you!

    As in, how the heck did they measure out that spider?

    - Eric

  12. Great post, Roland. It's interesting, but my goal isn't to write a book someone will read again and again. I rarely read a book more than once (Major exception: THE HOBBIT). When I read a truly great book, I take something away from the experience that stays with me always. That's what I hope for my readers.

    Do you think this is maybe a genre difference?

  13. Keats rules.
    Ruth is my middle name.
    Anything with a picture from Star Wars makes me happy. (=

  14. Jo :
    Keats does rule, doesn't he. And he underappreciated in his own time. Typical, right? I love the Ignorance Star Wars picture.

    VR :
    I re-read many of the Spenser novels for the wit, love, and friendship involved in the mystery whose end I already know. But you have a point : fantasy and Sci-Fi novels are re-read typically due to the awe, wonder, and marvels contained in them. Or it could just be within the individual reader whether they re-read books.

    Eric :
    UFO enthusiasts point to the intricate, enormous ground lines of Nazca as proof that they could only be done with aid from flying craft. Cue the spooky music, right? LOL.

    Noemi :
    Your blog is lovely. And I noticed no grammar mistakes, so they must have been minor or ones that I have seen so often as a former English teacher that they caused few ripples.

    You might start with a short, short story : something they call flash fiction, a thousand words or so. Your evocative longing for your place of origin was truly beautiful. Thanks for visiting, Roland

    Siv :
    It was a great way to start the morning for me to see a comment from you, too. Have a great weekend, Roland

  15. Another wonderful post. The video was very beautiful and inspiring. It's always tough to make changes and a lot of times painful, but so worth it when you come through it all and can look back and see the beautiful difference it made. A great way to end my day, thank you! I plan to have pleasant dreams.
    Have an amazing day/night!!
    Heather :)

  16. I hope your sleep is healing and peaceful, filled with only happy dreams. Thanks for visiting and commenting today. It has been another grim one in the field for me. Have a great Easter, Roland