So you can read my books

Sunday, August 19, 2012


{"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero;

but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."

~G.K. Chesterton.}

You heard of Dick Tracy's Crimestopper's Tips?

Well, I have my GOOD PROSE TIPS.

GOOD PROSE TIP #1 : Your story has to breathe :

J R R Tolkien said there was an exhalation and inhalation to the flow of his novels.

I. Breathing in a novel that seem natural takes labor :

A.) Inhale - Setting the scene.

B.) Exhalation - Conflict or action.

C.) Try only one or the other and ...

it is the reader who will suffocate. You need both for a healthy novel that breathes life in the mind of the reader and in the flow of the story.

D.) To set a scene takes detail :

1.) The ghoul is not lovely ...

No, rather Alice has eyes of blue fire and skin born of moonbeams.

Her beauty is of a fae princess whose last breath has just escaped her still lips.

2.) Father Renfield is not a scarecrow (too much of a cliche) ... rather he is so skinny you can almost smell his bones.

II.) Conflict is not always action but will pitted against will, goals striking sparks from one another like slashing sabers.

A.) Sometimes Lucifer has a point :

The world your reader lives in is not black and white. There are shades of gray. The right path in life is seldom posted. And many times in our lives, the road signs lie.

A good conflict is when your protagonist must fight someone whose case he can understand but must resist due to the methods of the antagonist.

B.) There can be only one :

Often in real life two goals can exist that are both valid, both necessary -- but the existing resources or the reality of the situation mandates that only one goal can succeed.

III.) For your novel to breathe, your characters must seem real as the breath in your readers' lungs.

A.) Torn between two lovers :

If your conflict involves two worthy adversaries that might, in different circumstances, have been friends -- then whatever conflict you place them in is notched up in the hearts of the readers.

B.) Sometimes the good guy is a prick.

The sergeant bellowing orders at you is an ass. But he gets the job done with the fewest casualties -- not because he cares but because he has a reputation to uphold.

Suddenly, he is wounded.

The rest of the squad leaves his butt on the battlefield. You're tempted to as well. But you know it is his experience and skill that will get all of you out of this situation alive.

You go back for him to the outcry of your teammates and the insults of the sergeant. A grudging friendship develops between you and the sergeant.

A chasm gets wider between you and your former teammates.

You begin to realize that their sullen insistence on refusing to acknowledge the sergeant's attempts to be a better leader, a better man makes them worse than the sergeant ever was.

C.) Your characters must talk the talk.

They must speak in believable and absorbing dialogue :

1.) Speak Easy --

Speak your dialogue aloud. You'll hear flubs in the flow of the words you never would otherwise.

2.) Speak True --

Each character has their own distinct past and status : make their words reflect that.

What shows would they watch? What food would they like? What has their past done for the way they view life and others? Their words must reflect the answers to those questions.

3.) Say What?

Have fun with the dialogue. Aim for the reader to have fun as well. Does one of your characters get all the great lines? Change that.

In real life, everyone comes up with a great zinger once in awhile.

{Don't miss D.G. Hudson's review of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH and END OF DAYS. She added fun and zest to them: }

*** For smart zingers, you can't do any better than LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN. Listen to the vibrant life of the dialogue from this trailer :

Listen to the first version of THE THING (Yes, it's was a League of Five favorite) : everyone gets in a great line all through the movie. So the fear and tension is highlighted by a three-dimensional cast of characters.

And in the following trailer for said movie, watch how the captain revealed his quiet cool and compassion without saying a word

but merely kindly taking a gun from a hysteric soldier.

(Also it's a bit amusing as well for those who take notice of details.) It's a bit of understatement we all should aim for in our novels :


  1. Hi Roland .. I love the way you've applied Inhale, Exhale here .. and how both are always needed .. in any walk of life.

    I'd love to do a writing course with you - as you bring everything to life - it's so easy to visualise .. not to do -but to understand .. til our little minds let us entangle ourselves again with our own stories.

    Great read .. cheers Hilary

  2. Awwww poor The Thing from Outer Space!! It's scared and alone and these humans keep hurting it! Oh dear!

    :-) That would be my story I think - introspection from The Thing!

    Take care

  3. I didn't watch the videos but loved how you explained of how a novel should flow all the way to dialogue.

  4. Excellent points, Roland -- particularly the shades of grey. Flawed heroes and villains with hearts of gold appeal to readers (at least they do to me).

  5. Reading dialogue out loud works wonders for me. You give some excellent points for enhancing wips.

    PS(I hope she doesn't get the head of McCord - that's not so good for spirits.)

    I'm still getting comments on my two book review of your Legend of Victor Standish and End of Days.

  6. Hilary:
    I once taught creative writing in high school. I would love to do it for you and all my blogging friends. But the best classes are physical for me so there can be a fun give and take. Sigh. Thanks so much for visiting and making my morning brighter.

    LOL. Charlie would be on the side of The Thing I think! :-) Like you, I often find myself feeling sympathy for the monster in some movies! Writing the tale from the monster's perspective was done to award-winning success by John Gardner in GRENDEL. See? You think along the same lines as the greats!

    You really should watch the trailer for LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN. The dialogue is a hoot.

    It really means a lot that you found this post enjoyable. My last two were basically the sound of one hand clapping! Ouch!

    I live in a world of grays so, like you, flawed heroes and villains with hearts of gold appeal to me. It adds depth to the stories for me. Samuel McCord and Fallen, the last fae, are examples of such in my work. Each are time bombs you know will go off eventually ... and you wait with expectation for the explosion. :-)

    I am so happy that your reviews are still getting comments! I was afraid I might chase viewers from your delightful blog. I will go check them out now.

    This has been my one weekend of the month to have off. I slept most of it. I didn't even take in a movie this time!

    Though I did manage to buy one of the last two DVD's of THE HUNGER GAMES. As I watched, I kept thinking how Victor would liven things up in those games! And if the ghoul, Alice, had been with him ... well Snow might have fallen!!

    Reading dialogue out loud or speaking it as you are writing it does help me.

    The vampire, Abigail Adams, does finally catch up to McCord in my latest collection of short stories, but it doesn't go as she planned! :-)

    Sam tips his Stetson to you for being concerned for him. ;-)

  7. Fantastic post!!

    I agree with you and have made it a habit to read my story aloud before it goes to a beta reader.

    Thanks so much for finding me on twitter...I look forward to reading your work!

  8. Maryellen:
    Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to say you enjoyed what you found.

    I speak my dialogue aloud as I drive my blood runs at night (I am a rare blood courier). It helps sharpen my words and keeps me awake!!

    I am glad to have found you on Twitter. I look forward to reading your work as well. :-)

  9. Great points, Roland! I really liked how you showed how details can make a difference. Using all of your senses to write descriptions works well, too. :)

  10. Vicki:
    Exactly! The more senses you can have the reader experiencing through your prose, the more real it will become to her or him! Wise lady. :-)

  11. As always, great tips here Roland. BREATHING is so important. I do my best to have ebbs and flows in my writing to give the reader a chance to catch up.

    Love your details ... Your description of Alice is flawless.

  12. Michael:
    I had incentive to describe Alice well. She has very sharp teeth! Thanks for the compliment.

    Ebb and flow is a great way of putting it. We need both low and high tides in the ocean of our novel! I've missed your comments. Thanks for dropping in! :-)