Writing Critiques: Online or via Email
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Who’s my hero? Joseph Carrabis. Just finished an edit consult where he kindly, constructively, and expertly ripped my book blurb to shreds! LOVE IT! ‘Atta Boys do you no good. Find someone who will give it to you straight!! Thank you! I owe you. Mine felt soulless. Now I see why. It is humbling to be such a novice at something. I appreciate your help. – Augusta, GA

 
Let me save you some time before reading this post; Do you want to improve your writing? Are you willing to pay to improve?

If the answer to either of those is No then read no further, this post isn’t for you.

Your critique of my novel was priceless. – Hudson, NH

 
Answered Yes to both? Read on.

Your drive for improvement is inspiring. – Houston, Texas

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The 3x Rule

Note: This material originally appeared on a marketing site and dealt with branding. People who know what they’re doing recognize all branding is an application of neuroscience, hence neuromarketing (which may have been a part of neuroscience at one point and now is a buzzword and poorly degraded from its original).
I’m resurrecting it for a friend who’s curious about
The 3x Rule.
The 3x Rule has broad applications – everything from education to marketing to branding to military training and for the purposes of writing, creating memorable characters. You can use The 3x Rule to have your children, partners, peers, et cetera, remember to do something when they need to do it.
I use the
The 3x Rule rule in my writing to lock characters and scenes into reader memory.
Enjoy!


The 3x Rule has six elements:

  1. Memory
  2. Touch
  3. Mirrors
  4. Words
  5. Sentences
  6. Voice

Let’s explore each element separately then put them together.


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Mystery Writers of America “Mystery Writer’s Handbook”

Another book purchased years ago and finally read because a work-in-progress, Search, had mystery elements and I wanted to know ahead of time what I should be doing and what to look out for.

 
Mystery Writer’s Handbook, like most of the writing books I’ve reviewed on my website, is a worthy read for all authors, writers, and writer-wannabes. It’s focus is mystery and its view is broad. Romantic suspense novels fall into the mystery fold. I didn’t know there was such a genre, but I do now and surprise! my work-in-progress with mystery elements is more a romantic suspense novel than not.

Like all writing books, it discusses character, scene, POV, dialogue, description, and the like. Its real power is in both plot – because good plot tends to drive most mystery and the plot techniques are gems – and editing – the chapter on revising and editing is truly a standout. An extra bonus is a short section on contracts. Many of the books I’ve read mention contracts, Mystery Writer’s Handbook provides a roadmap of potholes and things to avoid.

Strongly recommended.

Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class

My first rumination can be found at Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”
My second at Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions
Rumination Part 3-1 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1
Rumination Part 3-2 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2


Now, once you have decided these things, don’t stop and explain them to the reader. Simply develop a feel for the character’s outlook, and try to write from that outlook. To learn how to do this, read books produced by other cultures and eras, not just fiction, but also biographies, travelogues, history, letters: everything from the Venerable Bede to Pliny the Younger to Ben Franklin’s Autobiography to the sayings of Chuang Tzu to Xenophon’s Anabasis. Observe the details. What does the author take for granted? What is familiar to him and what is strange? How does he perceived himself? From this you may learn something about creating characters who are not yourself. Every professional writer must do this. – from On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back

I took a four-week “writing the other” class led by two sensitivity readers a while back. It was about how to properly craft a character with a background with whom the author is unfamiliar.

What became obvious is the instructors were, in my opinion, unqualified. They had no anthro, linguistic, socio, or related training. It seemed their training came from being of a certain racial/ethnic group.

And because I’m a full-blooded Italian who’s never set foot in Italy, I am, of course, unquestionably qualified to speak for the experiences of all Italians everywhere throughout all time.

It’s a wonderful world, ain’t it?

At this point in history…
A writer including a character with an unfamiliar background and getting published is something which could only happen at this point in history (barring vanity publishing) because only at this point in history are people writing stuff and putting it out there with no to little knowledge of what they’re writing about. That attitude among writers and my experience (so far) of sensitivity readers reminds me of my business days when all you needed to claim expertise was to state you were an expert louder than the person sitting next to you.
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class”

Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories

Sometimes a story, scene, or chapter isn’t working as you wish. Sometimes a completed story doesn’t have the oomph! you want it to have.

Here’s a suggestion for getting your story, scene, or chapter working as it should.

Write a one-line summary that tells your story
Let’s say (for example purposes) we’re working with a completed short story. We recognize the story is flawed but are unsure what the flaw is. We write the one line summary Man with a painful past hopes for a better future.

That’s a start and, if that’s the entirety of the story, the flaw (from a StoryTelling perspective) becomes obvious: it’s cliched.

“Hoping” for a better future but doing nothing to get that future makes a character pitiable (maybe) at best. They are the person who complains about their life but does nothing to change it.

Not interesting (especially if it’s the main character in the story).

Rewrite the one-line summary to include some action on the main character’s part which indicates that character is working towards a better future; Man with a painful past sees opportunity for a better future.

Okay, better but still not much and still cliched. If the character sees an opportunity then the reader must share that experience. But if the character doesn’t act on what is seen, they’re even more pitiable than before, possibly a coward, and probably someone the reader would avoid in real life.

Not good.

Make sure your summary includes the threat/challenge/possible loss to the main character if they don’t change!

Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
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