Terry “Tales from the Greenhills” Melia and I talk about Writing, Authoring, and Publishing

The amazing and incredible author Terry Melia talked with me this past Saturday. It was a fun chat and we covered lots of ground, hopefully some of it will be useful to others.

Here are two excerpts starting with using your own emotional experiences to add realism write fiction events

 
and one with some advice to writers.

 
You find the full video on Terry’s YouTube channel (and we both hope you do and comment).

Attribution via Action

People who’ve worked with my in critique groups or in my trainings know about attribution via action because

  • I use it often in my own work and
  • I use it often when editing/critiquing someone’s work as it tightens scenes considerably.

Almost a year ago I wrote

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.

in Toing and Froing and now, for various reasons, here’s that post.

Attribution via Action became increasingly important to me when writing my last novel, Tag. I noticed the actions I used for attribution purposes were stale, generic, didn’t apply to what happened in each scene.

I’ll defend myself with “It was a first, rough draft” which is true. I recognized the problem and made notes in the manuscript to fix it during rewrite, which I will because I tend towards anality about such things.

And still, it’s better not to have such issues in any draft, especially first drafts, as the more corrections necessary the more time taken not publishing and promoting the immediate project and all projects together.

So as I often do when I recognize a weakness in my own work, I gave myself exercises to improve my storycrafting and storytelling. In this case, use attribution via action specific to what I want the reader to experience when they read the sentence/paragraph/page/scene.

I’ve also learned from workshops and teaching that the term “attribution” isn’t in vogue any more.

Sigh.

So some definitions/explanations first.

Speech Tags
The reader has to know who’s communicating in a scene. Knowing who’s saying what is often more important that knowing what’s being said. This is done by identifying the speaker with what they’re speaking.

Words like said, talked, shared, spoke, … are now called “speech tags” and use to be called “attributions” but far be it for a writer to use a single, exact word when a weak, two word phrase can almost do the job not as well.

Said, talked, shared, spoke, … are fine words and they are weak because they lack emotional content until we use a adverb modifier such as said angrily, talked quietly, shared emphatically, spoke loudly, …

A thesaurus helps because said angrily becomes hissed, talked quietly becomes whispered, shared emphatically becomes emphasized, spoke loudly becomes shouted, … becomes … and so on.


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Mani He (part 3) now on Bewildering Stories Issue 949

Continuing the success of Mani He (part 1) and Mani He (part 2) in Bewildering Stories Issue 947 and Bewildering Stories issue 948 respectively, Mani He (part 3) appears today in Bewildering Stories issue 949.

And if that’s not enough links for you in one paragraph, wait, there’s more!

Mani He originally appeared in Magic 1995, Crumb Elbow Publishing’s Read ‘N Run Anthology 1996, and my self-published Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires in 2016.

It’s wonderful to know a work is so appreciated it’s anthologized again and again, and again and again.

 
Many writers contributed to Bewildering Stories Issue 949 and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading them all.

Please be sure to comment.

It means a lot to us.

From the Casebook of Ima Flush, HDP Certified Space Plumber, Quadrant 6E now in Harvey Duckman Present V9

Yes, it’s true…the long awaited and no longer a special plumber’s issue of Harvey Duckman (Volume 9) is now available for your reading pleasure.

 
Many writers contributed (including Peter James @Brennan_and_Riz Martin, Kate @KateBaucherel Baucherel, Liz @LizTuckwell1 Tuckwell, Robin @robinmoonwrites Moon, Will @will_nett Nett, Mark @DarrackMark Hayes, A L @ALBuxton2 Buxton, and Craig @CKRoebuck Roebuck). My offering is From the Casebook of Ima Flush, HDP Certified Space Plumber, Quadrant 6E.

This story has a strange history.

But then again, what story of mine doesn’t?

The special plumbers issue – which this story was written for – never came about. Kind of. The issue had been talked about for several years. It was on again off again and the seesawing (frankly) became tiring. I hadn’t written anything for it yet so no worries.

Then I drove to a master telescope maker to have our telescope repaired (it’s a beautiful Schmidt–Cassegrain I originally purchased back in the 1990s to learn astral-photography. finally getting back into it). I’m driving along and listening to music (must listen to music) when the protagonist, Ima Flush, appeared in front of me.

Naturally, I swerved.

After people stopped honking their horns and getting back on the highway, I listened to what Ima told me.

Even had to turn down the music. A bit.

Turns out Ima likes classic rock, too!

She had an amazing story to tell.

Here…let me share just the title. I thought Ima was changing her mind. No, she was sharing her genesis with me.

And an amazing genesis it is…

“From the Casebook of Ima Flush, HDP Certified Space Plumber, Quadrant 6E”

[no, that was true when we started, not any more]

“Choices made Manifest Through Self-Awareness”?

[too wordy and obscure]

“The Opening of Ima Flush”?

[no, nobody’ll remember the reference]

“The Silver Ring”?

[no, ditto… ah, I have it. how about…?]

Breaking Through

(Yes! That’s it!)

Hope you enjoy.

Throughlines

a recurring character/setting/element anchoring the reader in the story that keeps the reader interested

I use throughlines in my own writing and mentioned them previously in Using One-Line Summaries to Write Better Stories and Writing Mentoring.

Recent conversations demonstrated confusion; some people thought a throughline is the same as a plot line, some thought a throughline was an expanded TOC (Table-of-Contents), some thought…

I appreciate the confusion.

I also appreciate Einstein’s “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Therefore, I’m either about to explain throughlines to a six-year old or demonstrate I don’t understand it myself.

Let me know which I achieve.


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