So you can read my books

Saturday, August 9, 2014


 "A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere."
-Mark Twain.

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

Seems that old blood center has changed up the rules a mite, and he is gonna have a fine time of it this weekend, trying to out solo Han Solo!

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.

Now, you want to see how a new twist on vampires is done right?

Check out THE STRAIN by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan:

Brrr.  I'm a ghost, and I simply refuse to fish with wiggling worms after reading that there book!

Old del Toro will keep you up nights with that book and the two that follow it!

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 in Virginia City, most of my critics toted six guns!

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.) 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 our memories.



  1. Having just finished a book that would have been so much better if cut by about 400 pages, I do agree that less is often better, as is finding that powerful word. The Roosevelt quote really made that clear. I imagine most authors, most published and famous authors, I mean, go through a lot of rejections and trials before being published and finding their readers.

  2. Wise words! I'll have to check out The Strain. If Mr. Twain's ghost got chills from it then I've GOT to read it!

  3. Inger:
    Give my best to Samson and Faith. I pray for your husband and you daily. :-)

    We can't imagine that Roosevelt quote any other way, can we? The right word does that for prose.

    The rejections are some of the worst parts of writing, and that is for sure!!

    Keep the lights on while you read. And should you hear a faint scratching on your back door as you read, DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR!