So you can read my books

Thursday, August 4, 2011


{" A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere."

-Mark Twain.}

Samuel Clemens, ghost here, to help Roland out a mite.

Seems the saw-bones told the boy he has heat exhaustion and should take it easier for a day or two.

Well, I was standing right next to him, stretched out and looking all peaked, so I volunteered to do today's post.

I even had an idea from VR Barkowski's post of yesterday :

And I think my little cyber-column might help out you pilrims a mite, too. After all, I was a newspaper man a'fore I became the great literary genius the world knows and loves.

Now, on to my gem of a post :

My quote next to my picture seems a bit self-evident, don't it?

Well, just read THE PASSAGE by that Justin Cronin fella or THE TONGUES OF SERPENTS.

Both meander worse than a sluggish Mississippi at ebb tide.

But they got published you wail. I was wailing, too ... after I read them.

Sure they got published ... after a string of good writing by said authors.

But Cronin pushed his readers at a distance with page after page after page of narrative summary. Leave the lecturing for the classroom, Justin.

Naomi Novak, poor girl, just seemed to lose her fire, having no danger, no crisis breathing down the neck of her heroes. She managed the impossible : she made a book about dragons boring.

I struggled like you pilgrims to get published. I learned my craft in the newspapers at which I worked one after another clear across this nation.

And I learned a few rules. I'll even share a few with you :

1.) The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.

Ever hear two people tell the same joke? Both tell it differently. One always tells it better.

One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. Talk to the heart of your listener, and you will never go wrong.

2.) Told or unfold?

Histories belong in the classroom. Novels are the place for scenes.

A scene takes place before the reader's eyes. He sees the mysterious stranger being feared, not being told what a hoodoo he is. Your hero runs down the alley, ducking zinging bullets.

The reader sees it happen. He isn't told about it after the fact.

3.) What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.

I've read a good bit of what passes for novels these days. They're leaner and meaner. No more Norman Rockwell, exact details down to the slightest freckle.

Novels today are impressionistic like the paintings or a film by that Hitchcock fellow. Why, the most horrific story I ever heard centered on a monster only hinted at, never seen clear ... and the more fearsome because of that.

4.) Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Less is more when it comes to writing. If you hit the poor reader over the head with your point, you'll blunt your point and won't do much for the reader either.

5.) The best words are actions.

What did that Anton Chekhov fellow write?

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

Actions pulls your reader into the flow of the story. Preambling just shoves him back to being a distant observer, not a participant.

Give the reader the taste of the wind, the feel of the grit in the badly cooked food, and the ache of a broken heart.

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain and the noise of the battle.

No second-hand prose. Draw the reader into the sound and feel of the actions. He will forget he is reading. He will become a part of the world you have created.

6.) The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Franklin D. Roosevelt originally wrote in his famous speech of December 8, 1941 "a date that will live in history." Later the President scratched out "history" and instead wrote "infamy."

And that line still rings down the corridors of time.

The amateur writer draws attention to himself ...

why, isn't that a beautiful description I've just pounded you over the head with for five pages?

The professional author knows that to draw the reader's attention to himself with mechanics is to draw it away from the story.

You want the reader to be so absorbed in your world that they're not even aware you, the writer, exists.

7.) Writing, I think, is not apart from living.

In fact, writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice.

Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.


  1. So true. Love your points in the told or unfold. Great post.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  2. ...well said, Samuel. When reading someone's work, there's no better enjoyment than being so immersed in the story that you suddenly realize the sun has set, the kids have packed it in and gone off to bed, and even the dog has called it a night. But that's okay, because the story was that good, its smells lingering in your nostrils long after the book has been replaced for a pillow.

    Hey Sam, keep Roland out of the sun for a while. Plenty of liquids and shade ;)


  3. Do you really have heat exhaustion? Wish I could send you some of my A/C your way. So you're saying that as long as an author is publishing enough great books then he'll be able to get...ah...less great books published? I've noticed when writing in series that there comes a point when the author loses that charm that captured the readers...not trying to be judgmental here, but isn't that the moment when they should end the series and move on to something else? As writers we're entertainers. No sense just going through the motions. Is this a new take on show but don't tell thingy? Books nowadays are expected to start off with a bang. Society has become so loud. I do have to say that there can be such a thing as too many details though. I will skim over to the good part of the story. LOL, I remember the quote about "damn". So the best writing entices all our senses...very well said. Have a great day, Roland! I hope you cool off soon. :)

  4. Thanks, Raquel :
    I hope your book sales are doing extremely well!

    Elliot :
    It's this darn oven of an apartment I stay in too long writing on the internet!

    Love your own writing in your comment. Samuel liked it so much he says he will steal it sometime in the future! The scoundrel. LOL.

    Matthew :
    Isn't the art of good writing just that? Elusive yet essential. Thanks for dropping by.

    Laila :
    Yes, I had a little brush with heat exhaustion yesterday. I still have to work though since we are understaffed at the center.

    I think, like you mentioned in your comment to yesterday's post, that Laurell K. Hamilton has lost her taste for Anita, making her adventures too erotic for many : the orgy of the evening sort of thing.

    I'm glad you noticed how some authors have lost their fire for their characters. Some say Charlaine Harris has done that for Sookie and company. She is just writing to fulfil her contract for X number of further books. I don't even like the prose Sookie anymore.

    I prefer Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, involving a heroine I can still like.

    I'll try not to stay here in this oven for too much longer. You have a good day, too. Roland

  5. 'To say what we're unable to say,' I love that! Wise advice from a sage man! How wonderful of him to help you out Roland while you recover. ;)

  6. Heather :
    Samuel's ghost has been my unseen bantering partner for years now. He makes me laugh in some dark times. LOL.

    Thanks for visiting and chatting. It means a lot, Roland