So you can read my books

Monday, September 24, 2012


{Image courtesy of the genius of Leonora Roy} 
Some novels idle rough.

Some jerk, sputter, then stall.

Others run smooth and fast.

The difference? What's under the hood.

Some time back, I likened your novel to the concept C.A.R. :

C ..... Conflict

A ..... Action

R ..... Resolution


I. You can put a bow tie on a penguin, but that won't make him James Bond.(And I wouldn't bet any money on him in SKYFALL either.)

* Calling an emotional moment conflict doesn't make it so.
A.) You and I deal in conflict every day

B.) But authors won't be writing books about us.

1.) Our spouse calls us fat, and our snapping back ...

2.) Conflict ..... yes.

3.) Dramatic Conflict? Usually no ...

unless magic revenge spells fly in the next chapter!
C.) My life on the streets of Post-Katrina New Orleans ...

1.) Conflict? Yes.

2.) Dramatic Conflict? No.

3.) Katrina is old news ... which has a shorter shelf life than dead fish.

a.) Its horrors are only fresh to my nightmares.

b.) There were only losers, no winners. All the villains I saw got away with their crimes.

c.) There was no correcting action I could take,

therefore no satisfying resolution. Only comforting the grieving over losses, that in many cases should have never happened.

d.) Your novel should not be depressing. The reader can be depressed for free.

You're asking her/him to part with hard cash money.

II.) Then, what is Dramatic Conflict?

A.) Let Robert Frost explain :

Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.


1.) At least in the mind of your Main Character.

2.) The want must be primal ... the roadblock to it must be overwhelming.

3.) Think Zombie Movies :

a.) You're either Fast Feet or
b.) You're Fast Food.
c.) Life gets cut back to the basics : the quick or the dead or the undead.


I.) Hemingway was right --
A.) "Never confuse movement with action."

B.) What then is Dramatic Action according to Hemingway?

1.) He insisted that the action and its form be solely placed on one individual.

2.) The character needs to dominate that action.

Focusing on a single matador against a single bull distills the larger human drama of all of Mankind against those dark forces that threaten us.

C.) Your hero shapes the kind of action :

1.) Robert Jordan of FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS :

2.) While Jordan is the epitome of the hero in his actions,

he is also in command of himself and his circumstances to a far greater extent than Hemingway's previous heroes.

He is driven to face reality by deep emotional needs.

C.) For action to be dramatic, it must be either ...

1.) A direct attack upon the problem or

2.) A direct defense against it.

D.) Harry Potter writing his Congressman about nasty old Mr. Voldemort just doesn't qualify.


I.) Satisfying.
A.) Simple?

B.) Not hardly. Have you ever thrilled to a great suspenseful mystery, only to gasp out loud at the resolution, "That's it?"

C.) Look at those books that you put down in your lap with a smile. They all had one thing in common:

1.) They lived up to the promise of the build-up.

2.) They lived up to the mood of the prior chapters.

a.) One book I read with gusto. It was about a young painter living above a strip club.

b.) Delightful, picaresque characters, snappy dialog, some truly funny moments, and a pace that never leaves you flat-footed:

c.) "Duncan Delaney and the Cadillac of Doom" is a comic circus of strippers and bikers, cowboys and Indians, and fine art. How could you go wrong?

d.) An ending that put a sour taste in my mouth and drained all the fun out of the entire read.
Think Christopher Moore's funniest book, ending like THE GREAT GASTBY.

e.) You can buy a hardcover for a dime from Amazon and see for yourself :

D.) Be true to the mood, promise, and premise of your book.
If it takes you a month to write that solution that has your reader gasping in laughter or wonder, take that month.
DAWN OF WOES will come out next year.

To see the introduction of Higgins, the werewolf cursed with human consciousness in her wolf form see END OF DAYS  :


  1. Yeah, we can read the news and be depressed!
    Excellent points and tips.
    Think mine might be a little sports car - not a lot of muscle, but it goes really fast.

  2. Alex:
    Lately, mine seems to be a Model T!

  3. I like this idea. Thanks for the food for thought! Thanks also for stopping by my blog today. Have a great week!

  4. Karen:
    It was a pleasure dropping by your blog tonight. Thank you so much for visiting mine in return! :-)

  5. For Whom the Bell Tolls is sitting on my bookshelf to be read. I'm nearly finished Rival. Time has been short lately.

    As always, good points to remember and useful when writing scenes as well. I generally write scenes first to get the words moving.

  6. D.G.:
    I understand. My prayers are with you on those things that are consuming your time.

    I liked FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS so much that I got a leather-bound edition of it for my collection.

    I hope you've enjoyed what you've read of THE RIVAL. Any tale that ends with a duel with Andrew Jackson atop horses with drawn sabers can't be all bad! :-)

  7. This was a wonderful way to express on how our novels should run.:)

    Tweeted and Fb'd

    Hugs and chocolate,

  8. Well said, Roland! I will have to bookmark this one. :D

  9. I'm looking forward to Dawn Of Woes! And your acronyms!

  10. Carrie:
    Thanks for bookmarking this one!

    DAWN OF WOES will probably be out by the Ides of March. But first I have to finish THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT! Whew!

    I love my acronyms! :-)

  11. Coming from someone who knows nothing about CARS---This is great post and excellent advice!

    Still laughing at this one..."You can put a bow tie on a penguin, but that won't make him James Bond"