So you can read my books

Thursday, May 23, 2013



We all know what to leave out:

1.) It’s Open Season on anything ending in –ly.

2.) Clunky sentences and long paragraphs that dull the readers’ focus and wither her/his attention-span.

3.) Any word that you wouldn’t pay a quarter to keep in your manuscript. Ernest Hemingway learned to write lean when a foreign correspondent. EVERY WORD cost his employers money.

Elmore Leonard suggests: “Leave out the boring stuff.”

In reverse logic: we leave in the riveting stuff:

1.) Primal is riveting.

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA is riveting. Why? Because the fish means more to the old man than just something to keep hunger at bay. Catching the fish would say to those who jeer at him that he is not old and useless, that he is still a man.

2.) Sex is riveting.

Without it, the species would end. But we don’t live for abstractions. We live for attractions. Flirting is only verbal fondling. The act doesn’t have to be literally on the page, blow by blow. Still, the sparks should be seen,  and the heat felt.

3.) Danger is riveting.

But only if we care for the characters at risk. And the danger must flow out of the natural development of the narrative – not just be thrown in for spice out of nowhere.

4.) Empathy is magnetic.

We care for characters to whom we can relate. So we leave in those prose strokes that resonate with the pains, the dreams, the struggles of our readers – the search for love, the endurance of loneliness, the tragedy of being misunderstood.

5.) Great dialogue sparkles.

No clichés – even for teenagers, for clichés or even modern slang has a very short shelf-life.

Think of your favorite movies.

 Each one had snippets of dialogue that had you repeating them to your friends. Try to make your novel someone’s favorite in a like manner.

6.) Poetry in prose.

Ernest Hemingway said the secret to writing great novels was that they contained poetry in prose.

Make each first sentence on a page memorable by use of metaphor, dialogue, or simply tilting an image on its ear.

Each of us must do that in our way. Read a page of Hemingway or Zelazny at random to see how they did it.

“She gave him a look that should have left bruises.”

“The sea was harsher than granite.”

*) I hope this has helped in some small way. Roland
Please read and vote for LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE UNDEAD:
Here is the video of the melody, Adiemus, which Victor hears within his mind as he struggles to make it through a mystic ordeal for the sake of innocents depending upon him in END OF DAYS:


  1. I think you nailed it, especially that last one. :)

  2. Oh no, I have to get rid of my -ly words. What ever will I do?

    "She gave him a look that should have left bruises."

    L-O-V-E this.

    Another great post, my friend.

  3. L.G.:
    That last one is hard!

    I've been on the receiving end of some of those looks!

    Thank you for saying you liked this post. I sometimes feel as if I am playing to an empty house. May today go well for you -- and you, too, L.G. and Alex

  4. What do you leave in? The heart of the story, and all the veins that lead to it.

    The Old Man and the Sea highlights the importance of the spirit we each have within us, the spirit to push ourselves, to believe in ourselves.

    The hard part is discerning the poetry in prose (which makes us sigh) to those 'little darlings' we always have to kill.

    Well said, Roland, as always.

  5. i am leaving it all in... we, well at least me do not talk in complete sentences... so why should my writing? though i don't write books, i write quick passages and doll them up with my art/design.

  6. I love my -ly words too. And my prose will never resemble poetry :(

    Good thoughts Roland.


  7. love your examples. and points. i heard my inner whiner "but it's so haaarrrrddd!" :)

  8. i came back cuz i forgot to listen to the video and WOW! i knew it right away-i have one of the videos to this song on my ipod. love it!!!!

  9. Read and voted for LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE UNDEAD :)

    Another good post!

  10. ...I'm a firm believer in points 4 & 5. For those are the ingredients that separate a book, from a page turner.

    As for those -ly words, I've been known to let a few slide here and there. If kept on a tight leash, they can be least somewhat ;)

    Well done, Roland.


  11. D.G.:
    Yes, without the heart, a story is just a corpse of prose.

    Easy rules to write but hard to follow!

    You listen to your heart as you write and you will never go wrong.

    I love my -ly words too!

    Words Crafter:
    Good prose rules are always hard to follow! Ouch! And isn't AIDIEMUS a beautiful melody?

    If you hit the NEXT CHAPTER tab at the bottom of the prologue you can read the next three chapters, too! Thanks for voting!!

    Thanks, Elliot:
    Your prose is always great to read! My home internet is down, so I have to use the center's which is haphazard -- hence the short comments! Sorry, Roland

  12. Verbal fondling... it. The look that should have left bruises too! Great post Roland. Helpful. :)

  13. Gotta agree with Ernest there, you need a bit of poetry in there to make it flow!

  14. Somerset Wedding Girl:
    I'm with you there. The threads of poetry in our prose bind it together to impact the reader in a way drear prose just wouldn't. :-)