Mark Hayes’ Passing Place: Location Relative

I read Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful” in Harvey Duckman Presents V7 and was (am still) amazed by it (I reviewed it in Why It Works for Me – Mark Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful”). I reached out to Hayes and learned “The Strange and the Wonderful” is part of the Passing Place mythos, so asked for an autographed copy of Passing Place.

It took a week to read the book because 1) I’m a slow reader and 2) I was savoring it. Passing Place is a fine meal, an elegant respite from the world’s chaos. I’m leaving the following review in several places and the baseline take-away is READ THIS BOOK!
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Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Oct 2021’s Great Opening Lines)

I wrote in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 3 – Some Great Opening Lines) that I’d share more great opening lines as I found them.

It’s been eight months since I posted some great opening lines. It’s been a while and it was worth it to find this gem; Mark Hayes’ Passing Place.

“The Greyhound pulled away into the thunderous summer storm, leaving in its wake a dishevelled, world-weary figure in the dark, deserted bus station.” – Mark Hayes’ Passing Place

Scene, tone, atmosphere, mood, setting, and character in twenty-four words.


I don’t know how he did it and Hayes put me smack in the American midwest. I’ve been in hellacious thunderstorms on several continents and tying the storm to the Greyhound bus nails it. Anybody who’s traveled America by bus has had these experiences.

The Greyhound pulled away… – Isolation, loneliness, being left behind

…into the thunderous summer storm,… – Beautifully rhythmic and alliterative, the storm is thunderous. It is loud. Banging. Crushing.

…leaving in its wake… – again we’re being left behind, isolated, alone.

…a dishevelled, world-weary figure… – The leaving bus and the storm are already deserting and crushing the spirit of this (as yet) unknown character and here it is stated to prove our sense of him or her.

…in the dark, deserted bus station. – Everything from the above and more so. If you as reader aren’t collapsing under the weight this poor character is carrying, stop reading because you’re not getting it and you should. Beautiful, beautiful, and beautiful. I wrote in my complete review of Hayes’ Passing Place how impressed I am by this book, here’s a sample of its power.

Read it. You’ll be better for it.

Do you have any great opening lines you’d like to share?
I’d love to know them. There’s a catch, though. You have to explain in context why a line is great. Saying a line is great because it comes from some great literature doesn’t cut it. Quoting from archaic and/or little known works doesn’t cut it.

Feel free to quote from archaic and/or little know works, just make sure you give reasons why something is great. I stated the Great Opening Lines criteria back in Great Opening Lines – and Why! (Part 2 -What Makes a Great Opening Line?).

So by all means, make the claim. Just make sure you provide the proof according to the guidelines given. If not, your comment won’t get published.

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.
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Why It Works for Me – Mark Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful”

The Why It Works for Me series are my opportunity to share with others particular pieces of writing which stand out (to me) and why (as in “this piece of writing taught me something about writing, encouraged me to be a better writer, engaged me, captivated me, educated me, …”).

As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s one thing to know something is good, it’s a better thing (in my opinion) to know why it’s good and then be able to copy what’s good about it, to learn from it so you can be as good and (hopefully) better.

This time out, Mark Hayes’ “The Strange and the Wonderful” in Harvey Duckman Presents Volume 7.



Toing and Froing

We’re going to build on elements from Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories and Flashback as Story Frame to deal with another story challenge that often leads editors and publishers to stop reading and reject a story: Toing and Froing (To-ing and Fro-ing), something I first wrote about in Quit Stage Directing.

Simply put, Toing and Froing occurs when the writer/author has their characters move around or do things for no real story purpose; there’s no character development, no character revelation, the atmosphere doesn’t change, no plot elements are furthered or revealed, the movement is irrelevant to any established or impending plot points, the movement is unnecessary to the dialogue, et cetera.

The end result is weak writing, exposition, narration, and lots of uninteresting things happening just to fill the page. Most writers/authors fall down on “movement is unnecessary to the dialogue.” They’ll have two or more characters talking and feel the characters should be doing something while they talk.

The desire to have characters do something while talking is good, the execution is usually poor, and now we’re dealing with attribution via action which I’ll cover in another post.

Eating my own dogfood
I’m currently editing Cicatrix, a work-in-progress last picked up and put down in late Feb 2019.

What follows is the ninth scene in the story. I’ll share the scene’s original form first with brightly colored “Problems” buttons after each weak paragraph. Click on the “Problems” buttons for examples of that paragraph’s problems. Next I’ll share share a rewrite with brightly colored “Solutions” buttons. Click on the “Solutions” buttons for explanations of why the rewrite is better.

PS) this is more for my edification than yours. Feel free to disagree. Please make sure you explain your disagreement and offer suggestions for improvement. Always happy to learn, me.

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