So you can read my books

Wednesday, August 10, 2011



Of not taking these writers’ advise :

Hilary Mantel :

Read BECOMING A WRITER, by Dorothea Brande. Then do what it says, including the tasks you think are impossible. You will particularly hate the advice to write first thing in the morning, but if you can manage it, it might well be the best thing you ever do for yourself.

This book is about becoming a writer from the inside out. Many later advice manuals derive from it. You don't ­really need any others,

2 Write a book you'd like to read. If you wouldn't read it, why would anybody else? Don't write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book's ready.

3 If you have a good story idea, don't assume it must form a prose narrative. It may work better as a play, a screenplay or a poem. Be flexible.

4 Be aware that anything that appears before "Chapter One" may be skipped. Don't put your vital clue there.

5 First paragraphs can often be struck out.

6 Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction.

When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that's the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. People don't notice their everyday surroundings and daily routine, so when writers describe them it can sound as if they're trying too hard to instruct the reader.

Michael Moorcock (Author of the Elric fantasy series)

1 My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt.

2 Find an author you admire (mine was Conrad) and copy their plots and characters in order to tell your own first stories, just as people learn to draw and paint by copying the masters.

3 For a good melodrama study the famous "Lester Dent master plot formula" which you can find online. It was written to show how to write a short story for the pulps, but can be adapted successfully for most stories of any length or genre.

4 If possible have something going on while you have your characters delivering exposition or philosophising. This helps retain dramatic tension.

5 Carrot and stick – have protagonists pursued (by an obsession or a villain) and pursuing (idea, object, person, mystery).

Lester Dent’s Master Plot Formula :

Lester Dent (1904 - 1959) was a prolific pulp fiction author of numerous stories, best known as the main author of the series of stories about the superhuman character, "Doc Savage."

Sample :


1--Shovel the grief onto the hero.

2--Hero makes some headway, and corners the villain or somebody in:

3--A physical conflict.

4--A surprising plot twist, in which the hero preferably gets it in the neck bad, to end the 1500 words.

DOES: It still have SUSPENSE?
The MENACE getting blacker?
The hero finds himself in a hell of a fix?
It all happens logically?

These outlines or master formulas are only something to make you certain of inserting some physical conflict, and some genuine plot twists, with a little suspense and menace thrown in. Without them, there is no pulp story.

These physical conflicts in each part might be DIFFERENT, too. If one fight is with fists, that can take care of the pugilism until next the next yarn. Same for poison gas and swords. There may, naturally, be exceptions. A hero with a peculiar punch, or a quick draw, might use it more than once.

The idea is to avoid monotony.

Vivid, swift, no words wasted. Create suspense, make the reader see and feel the action.

Hear, smell, see, feel and taste.

Trees, wind, scenery and water.



1--Shovel the difficulties more thickly upon the hero.

2--Get the hero almost buried in his troubles. (Figuratively, the villain has him prisoner and has him framed for a murder rap; the girl is presumably dead, everything is lost, and the DIFFERENT murder method is about to dispose of the suffering protagonist.)

3--The hero extricates himself using HIS OWN SKILL, training or brawn.

4--The mysteries remaining--one big one held over to this point will help grip interest--are cleared up in course of final conflict as hero takes
the situation in hand.

5--Final twist, a big surprise, (This can be the villain turning out to be the unexpected person, having the "Treasure" be a dud, etc.)

6--The snapper, the punch line to end it.

HAS: The SUSPENSE held out to the last line?
The MENACE held out to the last?
Everything been explained?
It all happen logically?
Is the Punch Line enough to leave the reader with that WARM FEELING?
Did God kill the villain? Or the hero?

Wasn't talking SIN fun?



  1. Lots of information for me at this time of night--I should check your blog out before I start writing in the morning--rather when I've already written 5,000 words, swam 85 lengths in the pool and answered my email.
    I can tell this is excellent information and if it entered my bloodstream by osmosis, well then tomorrow will be a better day.

  2. Good advice and references Roland. Thanks for the info.


  3. The Desert Rocks :
    Wow! 85 lengths of the pool. I could do that if the lengths were of my bath tub! I hope my posts help you write a smidge better. I, myself, need all the help I can get. LOL.

    Donna :
    I try to be helpful. We're all in the same life boat! Have a great mid-week. I'm still melting. HELP!

  4. I've got to read that book! It sounds excellent. Already I'm learning from the tidbits you've shared with us.

  5. Thanks, Heather :
    And read Lester Dent's entire Master Formula for the laughs at least. LOL. Roland

  6. Great advice! Thanks for posting these, Roland.

  7. Hi Roland. I've posted a piece of ducttape over Megan Fox's face on my PC...just letting you know. Could you put Angelina back on?

    I'm a little late in commenting, not feeling like my chipper self today. I agree with the benefits of writing first thing in the morning.

    About the first two paragraph and not writing anything important in them: how are we supposed to hook our readers with the first chapter like agents keep harping then? know, start off with a bang?

    I like your advice on world-building. Ditto on the shoveling grief on the hero.

    FYI: talking sin is always fun. :)

  8. Granted, certain things need to happen in a melodrama, and you'd better make sure they do, but writing to Dent's framework would make me absolutely nuts. That is wild!

    Thank you for mentioning Dorothea Brande's book. It's one of my favorites. I love thats she considers writing a discipline and with hard work it can be learned. None of this esoteric "genius can't be taught" stuff.

  9. Hi Roland .. Interesting post .. and the tips involved that emanate from it .. could well be useful - thank you .. Dorothea Brande's book .. might just have to get that sometime .. Cheers for now - Hilary