Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Carol Buchanan On Writing Tricks And Tips

On twitter #scifichat, we got to talking about worldbuilding and various (really good) writers gave tips and tricks describing the end result of what a new writer must accomplish in order to sell.

I kept asking infernal questions about exactly how you go about (inside your head) truly accomplishing this kind of projection of a 3-dimensional world using cold text.  .

Carol Buchanan who has done a Guest post here after I raved about her historical novel, Gold Under Ice,... ....

See APRIL 12, 2011 and APRIL 19, 2011 Tuesday entries in this blog.

...has joined #scifichat from time to time because I convinced her that writing SF/F is pretty much like writing Historicals (which is her field). 

Carol said in a tweet that you have to draw the reader into the story by drawing them into the character.  So I asked her well, but HOW do you do that? 

Most new writers believe they have accomplished it and proudly present their manuscripts to publishers, then explode in rage at the "gatekeepers" who won't buy their work. Your first rejection slips are bewildering, usually because they really lack an explanation of why.

Most editors (as I have noted in a blog series on editing)
really aren't trained or talented in explaining WHY and what to do to fix the problem becuase they're not writers and don't know where the problem comes from in the creative process.

So I asked, and Carol answered with a list of procedures that is actually the list that I learned years and years ago.  (no wonder I like her work).

 ---------FROM CAROL BUCHANAN---------
I think of what I’d want to know when I’m reading a book.
1.      Where are we? To me, that implies landscape, weather. I wouldn’t describe snow falling, but have something happening in the landscape, such as a man driving a team and wagon while a breeze blows away the stench of the frozen corpse in the wagon bed. (God’s Thunderbolt opening) Or the ice breaks (Gold Under Ice).

Carol Buchanan on Amazon

2.      What’s happening? Plunk the reader down in the middle of the story: riding with the man driving the team, rescuing the man in the midst of thick broken ice, holding a glass when a stray bullet shatters it (new novel).

3.      Introduce characters by what they do. William Palmer searches for someone who recognizes the corpse he found (God’s Thunderbolt); Dan Stark rescues the man in the creek (Gold Under Ice); Dan Stark holds the glass that shatters (new novel). [This is as far as the numbered list went.]

4.      Always, always try to keep out of the story. Let it tell itself by what characters do (exterior POV), then think, feel, say (interior POV), one at a time and not too many of them. Stay in characters’ voices.

5.      Don’t rush it. Worst thing too many writers do is to get in a hurry to get their books out there, as if the world will end before they publish that novel. It won’t. But a hurried novel destroys careers with poor writing. When I was a Spur judge I read some real dreck and some heartbreakers, that if they had gone one more draft or maybe two, they would have been so much better. (That year we didn’t award a Spur in that particular category.)

Carol Buchanan
Gold Under Ice
(Finalist, 2011 Spur Award for Long Novel &
Sequel to God's Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of MontanaWinner, 2009 Spur Award for Best First Novel)http://www.swanrange.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/CarolBMTbooks
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carol-Buchanan/54660179059
----END CAROL BUCHANAN------------

Print that out and put it up on the wall over your desk, stare at it while you're thinking. 

Internalize it, do it.  It works.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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