Monday, September 18, 2017

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Lucid Dreaming; Vivid Writing

Have you ever had a dream, so real, that it lingered upon awakening? 

I have. Often. Bizarre, seemingly unrelated imagery, words, that seem to make sense in the dream world, although, upon awakening, leaves an emotional aftertaste, without much in the way of cohesive meaning. And then, over the ensuing half-hour, or so, the imagery fades away until it is barely remembered. 

But not always

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Looking For Words in All The Wrong Places

Sometimes, the act of putting words on paper—seems easy enough, right—becomes a tortuous exercise in rhythm, not unlike lyrics to a song. You know what you want to say' you know how you want it to feel, and yet the words just do not emerge in the way you have envisioned. Is this your poor vocabulary at work? Probably not. As clinical as many genres appear to be, all are written with passion' certainly a passion for the story, if not the word choice.

And this is where authors encounter difficulty. The reading audience is still there their vocabulary level has, however, decreased. Between failing education models that put more emphasis on 'safe spaces' than hard work, the demand of students to memorize certain things—math facts and vocabulary, to name a few—coupled with a far shorter attention span, requires authors out for commercial success to simplify their work. 

Case in point, go to a book store and pick up a copy of the Twilight Saga or the Divergent series. Even the Harry Potter series of books.  Aside from thicker paper and a larger number of pages, you will also notice huge margins, larger type size and near double-spacing between lines. As you glance through it, you also notice the simplistic language, more dialog and less narrative, thus also requiring less complex vocabulary. Yes, I do realize that the image in the reader's mind is paramount, and that maintaining a decent reading speed is the only way the brain has to process words into imagery; however, at some point the simplicity is danger of reaching the levels of See Spot Run.

The English language, with all its complex, and often inane grammatical rules, has a healthy vocabulary that, when used properly, can invoke masterful imagery. This is a learned skill. It requires building your vocabulary throughout your life. And it should be a point of pride to learn new words on a regular basis. And to use them.

Anything that interrupts a reader's flow detracts from the imagery of the novel. Except a word that they may not have know and which,if they are astute readers, they will jot down for later examination. Alternatively, poor word choice creates the opposite effect it stops the reader who, attempting to figure out why it was there, may lose their rhythm.  

I find this often in spy books, or thrillers. The author, trying to pace out the storyline, interrupts it with needless information, excessive sentence length, or vague descriptors that make the reader stop. I have seen this in best-selling novels, even best-selling series. 

I have also found, since starting to narrate audiobooks, that frequently the written word now spoken, sounds clumsy and out of place. This is a problem actors face when screenwriters offer their characters unspeakable word groupings. 

The solution is not complex. Read aloud the work you have written. Better yet, have someone read it to you. And if you cannot find anyone, use your computer's accessibility feature to have the machine read it to you. It's not perfect, but it will point out areas of poor construction. 

Keep a booklet for words you have learned, along with an example of useage. I love words. They sing. Words like exegesis or eisegesis, aphorism, auxesis, and polemic, to name a few. As a younger writer, I took exception when teachers would correct me regarding the use of the word 'waft'. I would always make my own creation because it sounded more appropriate for the use. The scent of fresh apple pie wifted to my room. Scents should wift not waft, a far harsher word implying a roughness, quite the contrary to thoughts of freshly basked apple pie. If you agree with me, let's start a word revolution; start using wift and help it become mainstream.

Happy writing!

William Gensburger

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A New Direction from Alternative Publishing Services. What Do You Think?

I am often sent short stories and novels, the author asking for my input and opinion, something that I have been happy to give freely, with the acknowledgement that I am rendering my opinion, based upon my experiences as a writer, publisher, editor, and reader.

For me, it is quite clear, where things "fit" within a story structure; where things are a disappointment because of lack of plotting, and also how to correct it. Quite often, the "fix" is a simple one; adjust the sequence, delete the unnecessary material, add in clarifying content, shift the dynamics of the conflict, shift the focal point. Sometime it is more complex; change the characters, change the dynamics of the character interactions so that you are writing to the audience, not to some image in your head that is more idyllic. I've even told authors to shift the gender of characters to better suit the dynamic of the story.

The point is, I have offered this service at no charge for quite some time, and many people have utilized that offering, often for the better. But I have done this while also encompassing the role of publisher which, honestly, is not what my original intention was. Publishing is a tough business when you are honest; which explains why there are so many crooks out there.

I am a writer. I have also self-published, and fully understand the pitfalls of doing it yourself versus the dangers of using a publisher, such as myself; most publishers turn out to be Vanity Presses of one sort or another, either with upfront charges, book purchase requirements, or some other way of getting your money up-front.

I sort of fell into publishing. My expertise is in writing, editing, proofing, graphic design, layouts, audio work, journalism, as well as a host of other skillsets acquired over the last 30 years. It is nice to be a publisher, to help others get published, especially with my business model of the writer incurring ZERO costs and royalty sharing. It is a terrific concept if I wish to be a non-profit organization; however, the business of writing really demands a different model, I believe. There is another way.

I would like to shift Alt Publish (Alternative Publishing Services, as the name suggests) to a more fluidic concept; helping authors publish THEMSELVES. This does mean there will be costs, however those costs will be moderate. Allow me to explain further.

The areas that hurt a writer self-publishing are as follows:

•Poor story structure/Plot development
•Bad editing/Poor proofreading
•Simplistic cover design
•Using CreateSpace's free ISBN (screams AMATEUR and inhibits store placement, many of whom are anti-Amazon)
•Poor or no Marketing plan. If you write it, they do not come running.

The actual formatting and layout can be easily learned. Yes, it is a bit time consuming, especially if you lack a sophisticated program like InDesign; however, you can do it on any word processor if you take the time to learn the formatting tips.

As I detailed in my last post, there are millions of books being written, by millions of unknown authors. Chances are that someone in your group of friends is, has been, or wants to be a writer. Or, they have a story that people have told them should be made into a book, or worse, a film!

Here are some questions:

Q1:  If you could self-publish your book in a professional way, with a non-CreateSpace ISBN (and without the expense of buying your own), with a professional cover, a well doctored storyline, and know exactly where and how to market your book, would you be interested to learn more?

Q2:  If you had your own Story Therapist (me) to dive into the structure of your story and offer you an extremely detailed fix, including phone/video conference sessions, without spending a fortune, would that be a good value?

Q3: If I made available (at a low/reasonable cost) a detailed strop-by-step way for you to publish yourself without appearing to look amateurish (and actually look like you were represented by a publisher) would you be interested in reading it? 

This is not a sales pitch. At least not yet! It is, however, the direction I wish to take Alt Publish. Here is how I envision the structure:

1) Evaluating your story/novel. This is a quick, not-detailed, look at your work and whether there is something there to work with. People I have worked with know that I will tell you if I believe the story will not work (I believe it is better to be truthful rather than pump up your hopes while I siphon your money.) If I feel there is a kernel of hope, I will say so. It is up to you if you want to redo it and try again. For this I will charge you $1. Yes, one dollar. Even though it takes time to read your work, this fee represents your commitment. You won't go broke, and I can use it to offset taxes. 

If I believe there is something that can be worked, and if I have an idea of what it is, I will offer you:
2) A detailed evaluation that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses, where and what I would change, and why, along with structural and plotting points. This will be a guide-map, of sorts, that you can use to rework your manuscript. This also includes one 30-minute phone call/video call to discuss my recommendations and answer your immediate questions. And you will, and should, have questions. For this I will charge you $250. You will also receive my e-book on self-publishing (available soon.)

After this, you go off an fix things, based on our conversation, and based on that part of it you agree with – after all, it is YOUR story. That said, assuming you make the changes and have additional questions, need additional opinions, I offer you:
3) Unlimited consultations on phone/video call at the rate of $50/hr (charged in 30 minute increments.)

I will also offer services, such as cover design, ISBN (Alt Publish buys in blocks of 10 otherwise it costs way too much.)  Or you can just read the book and learn that way.  I am also available for hire for Audiobook recordings on a flat rate or royalty share (depending on the book,) and have been doing so regularly.

So does this mean that Alt Publishing will no longer publish authors under the old plan, NO COST | Royalty Share? No. That option will remain, however, I will be honest. Well over 90% of material I get sent is not publishable. Of those, half hold some aspects that can be changed to improve the story.

The problem is that authors, when told – for free – that they need to rewrite their work, tend to balk at the idea, because they forget that writing really means re-writing, and that like all things, it is a lot of work. Of all the free, detailed critiques (including suggestions) that have been sent back to authors who have submitted to me, only a handful have taken the initiative to actually work through the changes. And of those, most are still revising. It takes time. You cannot just slap a bandage on it and hope that it passes muster.

Here is an example. You all have seen the original STAR WARS film, right? Well, here is a link to George Lucas's rough draft that he submitted. The actual screenplay is floating around out there, but unless you know script format and how to read it, this is easier.

You will note that this drafts is nothing like the famous movie that made it to the big screen.

I firmly believe in self-publishing; but only if you do it correctly. I know enough authors who make a decent living by self-publishing.

I also believe that this is a good direction for Alt Publish. It adds a new dimension that I believe will help the authors, and the company, to grow.

Let me know what you think and whether you would be interested in exploring this further.

Thanks for your ear!


Friday, July 14, 2017

The Best Book Ever Written

Well, I certainly got your attention, didn't I? 

You see, we are wired that way, both skeptics and believers, all wishing for the one absolute truth, the best of everything, whether it be a book, a life changing program, or whatever.

We are inundated, and yet trained, to want to believe. Why do we buy lottery tickets? The chance of getting struck by lightning is higher than the chance of winning. But we have been taught that "someone wins" and so we make that leap to "why not me?"

Okay. Let's roll with that for a moment. Why not you. Maybe. Possibly. But...probably not because life has a sense of humor. 

Did you know that when California first started the lottery, the first winner was an illegal alien (yes, I know that term is non-PC in California these days)? And no doubt he used his proceeds to hire a good immigration attorney. That's the irony of which I write. It could happen to you, but chances are....

As a writer we each hold within us the potential to be the best writer in the entire existence of writing.  Yes, better than the giants. Better than the bestselling authors. Better than Hemingway, a name known globally, or Stephen King, John Grisham, and so on. You have the potential to be better than the lot. But first you need to be "discovered."

ONE MILLION books were published in 2015

And wrote that novel. You finished it, edited it, got a cover designed and put it out there. Whether self-published, assisted-published, or traditionally published; you are published. Well done. But you need to do more.

In 2015 there were 700,000 self-published books.  Over 300,000 were traditionally published. That's ONE MILLION books that were published that year. There were 321 million people alive in the United States that year. 

Another (Pew) study showed that one in four Americans did not read a book that year.  

Worse news still, only about 10,000 authors (from Amazon) made over $10,000/yr from sales of their books. That equates to 1 percent of all the books. 

But don't worry because you have the best book ever written. Now you have to get exposure!

But it could happen to you. I personally know one author who makes high five figures from annual sales, another who makes more, and they all found success — yes, Virginia, that is success — the same way. Do you want to know that secret? Scroll down....




😀 I just wanted to make you scroll.... My apologies. 

There are many things these authors have in common. 

•First, they write a lot. Each author has multiple books, some in series, some as stand-alones, nonetheless, they have volume. 

•Second, each author has worked hard at maintaining an approachable social media presence. You can communicate with them and they respond. 

•Third, each author employs techniques to maintain a fan base. Many give away the first book in the series, knowing that the reader will get hooked and want to read the rest of the series. Others offer different free books for joining their mailing list.

And that is the point of this blog post. 

Having the best book ever written is only half the equation. What you do with it, and how you do it, play equally important parts.  In addition, you have to decide whether your 500 page novel is better as one book, or broken into two books. How do you get reviews? How do you market? How do you approach brick and mortar bookstores and get a book signing, or placement?

There are many tricks and tips that can help you. We cover these in each issue of Books 'N Pieces Magazine, but also in our monthly newsletter that offers exclusive content. 

In each newsletter we offer you advance news, not posted on this Website. You get discount codes for books, freebies and downloads that you can enjoy. We also include content that is not found on the Website, such as marketing tips, writing tips, articles, stories and more, content that is not even in Books 'N Pieces Magazine. At least not yet.

In the near future, Books 'N Pieces will only be available FREE for our newsletter subscribers. And the best part is that signing up is FREE. Click HERE to join.

If you are writing a novel, or have written a novel and are now struggling with sales, sign up for our newsletter and find valuable assistance in your marketing. You won't regret it. What have you got to lose? Click HERE to join.

Thanks for reading.

William Gensburger

Sunday, July 9, 2017

HALF 'N HALF is not just for coffee.

Alt Publish is pleased to introduce the Half 'N Half program for our digital books. 

The concept is simple - download and read the first HALF of the book for FREE before deciding if it is worth finishing. You can download a pdf, .Kindle, ePub edition. 

We're so sure you'll want to finish that we are making this offer to you. Even better, our digital book prices are low, lower than a cup of Starbucks! So make the choice today. Try out the Half 'N Half program.

All That Remains by Robin Melhuish

A trail of love, deceit, and corruption, uncovering one of the biggest undetected robberies in history.

“A gripping story that grasps the reader in the first few pages.  Robin has a special gift for guiding his readers through a historically accurate maze.”  -Kurt Koontz, Author, "A Million Steps"


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Have you turned your book into an AUDIOBOOK yet?

Think outside the box, the book box that is. If you look at sales statistics you will find that audiobooks account for almost a third of all book sales, surpassed by e-books, with print in third place. This would not surprise you. Many people commute to work,  long and boring drives, train rides, carpool and more. Many people prefer to listen, rather than read. Teens, especially, are more likely to listen to a podcast or audiobooks.

So how does that work?  The easiest way is to use a service like Amazon's ACX service, the production arm of  Here you have the option of being a producer or a rights holder (publisher).  Narrators will either work for a flat rate based upon the finished time, not the production time, or elect to royalty share.

I just completed the narration for bestselling author, JC Ryan's The Tenth Cycle, an excellent series of 8 books, and I am now recording the next in the series, The Ninth Cycle: Antarctica. The process is straight forward. You need a professional quality microphone, a relatively sound-muted room, and a decent audio editor. Background sounds, hisses, pops, and breathing sounds, to name a few, must be removed. The finished product is uploaded chapter by chapter, and after Rights Holder approval, must pass the ACX audio team before being released.

I am also recording the audiobook narration for Robin Melhuish's novel, All That Remains, now available from Alt Publish no available in print no digital editions Online.

Audiobooks are a solid tool for enhancing your sales, no one you should not overlook. You can check out my narration of The Tenth Cycle at Let me know what you think in the comments.

Friday, July 7, 2017

"All That Remains" is a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book.

Alt Publish is pleased to release: All That Remains by Robin Melhuish, available in print, digital/.mobi (epub available upon request.) Please learn about the book below, and also visit our other pages using the menu link above. 

Deep in the Soviet Occupation Zone of defeated Germany,1945, a baby girl is born and abandoned. From the shards of the war, she discovers an uncomfortable truth. And the uncovering of the official lies about the capture of Himmler's Nazi fortress, leads to a hunt for the proceeds of the biggest, undetected robbery in history

“So many twists and unexpected happenings. I was only sorry when I turned the last page. A SUPER READ!”  -Kasia Macioszek 

"Robin intricately weaves an intellectual cast of characters against a backdrop of page-turning plots. Historians have often asked how could these atrocities have happened? Robin's book accurately explores the events, politics, and emotions that would ultimately draw a worldwide response to the unthinkable. Great book." -Natalie Hurst, News Anchor, KBOI-2 TV

“A gripping story that grasps the reader in the first few pages.  Robin has a special gift for guiding his readers through a historically accurate maze.”  -Kurt Koontz, Author, "A Million Steps"

“This book pulls you right into the story without getting trampled with backstory before telling the tale. And what's more, it doesn't stop throughout the entire book. A fun roller-coaster ride that will keep you spellbound, I guarantee it.” -Cliff Hitchcock, Award-winning Insurance agent, and musician

"Compelling, intriguing & insightful.  A tender, yet nicely factual look at a painful piece of history." -Tracey Miller, Global Support, Riptide Sports

“So many twists and unexpected happenings. I was only sorry when I turned the last page. A SUPER READ!”  -Kasia Macioszek 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The July Books 'N Pieces Magazine is out.

The July edition of Books 'N Pieces is available and packed with material.

Read as a PDF
Read as an ePub

Read as an Issuu flip-page magazine

In this issue, an interview with bestselling author JC Ryan (The Tenth Cycle), Twitter marketing tips from Andrew Hood, Problems with self-publishing by Robin Melhuish, short stories, and more.

JC Ryan discusses all his books 

If you enjoy BNP Magazine, please share it with a friend and help us to grow. 

Be sure to join our mailing list so you are always updated.

Friday, June 30, 2017


Once a month we will email you our newsletter filled with things you won't find on our WebsiteInterviews with authors, publicists, agents,  publishers, marketers, screenwriters, tips,short stories, poems, artwork, contests, giveaways, samples, and much more.
And it is FREE! 
Simply click the link above and sign up. It's easy and quick. You can unsubscribe anytime and we will not spam you - you will hear from us once a month only. You can also catch up on back issues - the link will be in the newsletter. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Buy your copy of ALL THAT REMAINS today!

All That Remains, by Robin Melhuish, is now available for purchase in print and Kindle formats (ePub is available by request - email and we will hook you up.)

This book is engrossing and as you will read from the reviewers below; a page-turner. What you may not know is that there are TWO cover versions, one for the US and one for everyone else. You see, in Europe, any Nazi imagery is illegal. Depending where you live, you can get one of the cover editions, but not both, however the book is available worldwide.

Order TODAY in print and Kindle HERE. If you need an ePub edition, let us know.


•Deep in the Soviet Occupation Zone of defeated Germany,1945, a baby girl is born and abandoned. From the shards of the war, she discovers an uncomfortable truth. 

•The uncovering of the official lies about the capture of Himmler's Nazi fortress, leads to a hunt for the proceeds of the biggest, undetected robbery in history


“So many twists and unexpected happenings. I was only sorry when I turned the last page. A SUPER READ!”  ~ Kasia Macioszek 

"Robin intricately weaves an intellectual cast of characters against a backdrop of page-turning plots. Historians have often asked how could these atrocities have happened? Robin's book accurately explores the events, politics, and emotions that would ultimately draw a worldwide response to the unthinkable. Great book." -Natalie Hurst, News Anchor, KBOI-2 TV

“A gripping story that grasps the reader in the first few pages.  Robin has a special gift for guiding his readers through a historically accurate maze.” 
-Kurt Koontz, Author, "A Million Steps"

“This book pulls you right into the story without getting trampled with backstory before telling the tale. And what's more, it doesn't stop throughout the entire book. A fun roller-coaster ride that will keep you spellbound, I guarantee it.” -Cliff Hitchcock, Award-winning Insurance agent, and musician

"Compelling, intriguing & insightful.  A tender, yet nicely factual look at a painful piece of history." - Tracey Miller, Global Support, Riptide Sports

“So many twists and unexpected happenings. I was only sorry when I turned the last page. A SUPER READ!”  ~ Kasia Macioszek 

Order TODAY in print and Kindle HERE. If you need an ePub edition, let us know.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The June Books 'N Pieces Magazine is Ready For You


Flip page:

With each issue BNP gets stronger. Our readership as grown–which reminds me, if you have not signed up for a FREE subscription, please do so HERE, or

It is my hope that as we continue to add subscribers (free, by the way), and attract  even more notable authors, artists, photographers, and even musicians, that we will be able to include some minimal advertising for the sole purpose of being able to pay our contributors. 

"Well, don't you want to make money from advertising for yourself?" you ask. While that would be nice, I did not start BNP to be an advertising machine. I started it because I have a passion for writing and wanted to offer writers the chance to get showcased, if their work was good enough.

BNP also serves as a publicity arm of my publishing business,, another company that puts WRITERS FIRST! How? Because there is NO COST | NO RISK when you publish with us. Of course, we expect your writing to be of a high caliber to start with–we are NOT a Vanity Press–and we put our money where our mouth is; we make no money unless we can get your book to sell. We royalty share. That puts the burden on us to market your book (unlike most companies that just print it and list it on Amazon.) 

Jas T. Ward, Author 
We also work with you, a close relationship that includes lots of communication. Here is what one author that I have worked with in the past, had to say about working with me:

"“William’s suggestions and expertise were invaluable in helping me complete my first book series and become a bonafide author. He kept me informed through a process that included revisions, editing, titles, cover designs and all the other aspects of publication which he handled as a contractor for BYCT Publishing through his company Alt Publish. He was always prompt in returning emails and answering questions, professional in his suggestions and comments, and he did what he said he would do. My experience with him was highly positive and energizing, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” 
                                                                                                             ~Jan Hill, Author, The Brylee Hawkins Series.

If you would like to submit to the July issue of Books 'N Pieces Magazine, please send your material to and we will check it out.

Lauren Jefferson, Author, Artist
We are also testing new waters, offering a full-color print version on Amazon, and introducing e-reader formats. Right now you can also download an ePub version or a PDF version (which you can view on Kindle, by the way.)

Enjoy this issue. A lot of effort went into the production. I'd like to thank Jas T. Ward and Lauren Jefferson for allowing me to interview them (watch for some big names soon), also to our contributors, Robin Melhuish, Lauren Jefferson and Mike Wells–you can visit them all from links within the publication.

Please share this link with our friends, encourage them to subscribe at  and let us know what you thought of the issue in the comments. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


May 2017 Books 'N Pieces Digital Magazine

Enjoy this issue of Books 'N Pieces featuring romance authors Devika Fernando, Arabelle Sheraton, YA author Fiona Ingram, with a short story by Henry Ohaegbulam (First place winner in our contest - different story), and mentions of Mike Wells, Robin Melhuish, book reviews, articles including The Changing Face of Writing, artwork from Kath Loste, a crossword, to list some of what is inside. 

Please share it with your friends. 
Help support this FREE publication.

Encourage people to subscribe - it's free and helps us to stay in touch (we don't spam - promise), and if you are a writer, artist, poet, musician and so on, and would like to submit material to us, please use the links on the menu to do so. 

Thank you and enjoy this issue - All links are active. 


PDF | ePub - click to download them. If you are using Kindle, please use the PDF file or email it to your Kindle account. NOTE: Download speed may take a few moments.

FLIP PAGE (note: you can expand to fit your screen)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It's All Been Done Before....

Let’s face it; nothing is original. Stories have been passed along in one form or another for centuries. Early stories were passed down orally, from one generation to another. At some point new ideas were regurgitated old ideas, in the same way that movies seem to all be variations on a theme.
What’s a writer to do?
Accept that the word *unique* won’t apply to your story; nonetheless you can present a story in a way that has the benefit of not being done before. This is because your stories and your characters are yours. Who can complain about that?
Offer me fun characters and a solid tale and I will get caught up in the book and forget that it might be like this book, or that book, or reminds me of a short story I once read at school.
So perhaps it is not about uniqueness as much as it is about freshness, interesting presentations, unexpected turns and twists.
Screenwriters face this challenge. Having created a masterful story, they must pitch it to producers, people too busy to devote much thought. Making it a quick visual, the writer will often compare the story to movies that have been made before. “It’s like Titanic meets Term of Endearment,” he might say, evoking the huge tragedy with a personal loss so that the producer can quickly decide whether the idea has merit.
Book readers for publishers are the same. With lots of manuscripts coming in, a reader, usually not paid a whole lot to care, must get through one pile before the next pile comes in. The reader won’t compare your story to something else; instead, he reads the beginning and if you have done your job right, he has the urge to turn the page. If not, your hard work is summarily rejected and the reader moves on to the next manuscript on on the pile.
On of the mistakes new writers make is languishing in their opening. No one cares how pretty the sunset is, unless it is toxic and immediately kills the main character. No one cares if she woke up, her hair a mess and her makeup smeared, unless there is some relevance to the plot in a string enough manner to incite the reader to turn the page.
In screenwriting there is an old saying. If there is a gun on the wall, someone needs to use it by the third act. In other words, don’t tell me about the gun if it is just ornamental with no relevance to the plot.
After lots of time and effort, you manage to sell your book. Happily, the feedback never mentions the similarity to another book. Readers liked it and sales are good.
And yet somewhere, another writer starting out, having seen your book, is put off by the thought that you wrote a unique book, and anything they might do will be compared to your book. Exactly how you felt.
Write well. Do your best. Offer the reader a tight plot, solid characters and well paced and you will be fine.

What is Truth?

Determining the truth when you write a novel seems to be an important aspect of the process. The question remains, what is the truth and why does it matter?
I present this question because in the creation of a written product, the truth, or what is considered the truth, is not relevant. The truth is simply that, which you as an author, have determined to be valid within the creation you have made. In fact, suspension of belief from a reader’s point of view, is a requirement for the success of your story, and quite often requires a suspension of what is otherwise accepted as a truth. So in effect, there is no truth other than that what you have created.
The truth of a novel is contained strictly within the context of the novel. The participants or characters of the novel act in accordance with the truth of the novel, which may be totally different than that of the real world, and is what makes it fiction in the first place.  Often rules do not apply in fiction that would apply to us in the real world. Often times rules are bent in order to provide a plausible believability for the reader. It is the reader, at the end of the day, who must decide that your work is both believable and acceptable. The reader doesn’t care that you have fictionalized the truth, only that it has been believable within the context of the story you have told.
Do we really believe that spies run around shooting people in broad daylight and no one moves to stop them?  That alone would eliminate the credibility of any James Bond novel/film, or any Jason Bourne film. The reader accepts in that world, people can be shot by suave spies and no one stops.  In fact, the film industry has adjusted our level of disbelief that super beings can destroy cities and no one thinks it odd. Or a man can dress as a bat in his hidden cave beneath his mansion and just because he is wealthy no one makes the connection.
These are aspects of truth that are missing from our novels and films and allows us to enjoy the premise.
So as authors, while we rely on the framework of reality to construct the world of our characters, we are not limited to the truth which we expect to carry over from the real world; for even in the real world, the truth is elusive, subjective and prone to exploitation, as needed.
Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? You decide.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Wordy!

Amateur writers have a tendency to use more words than needed to convey their story. 

For example, you might read: 

It was a bright blue morning, and the splinters of sunlight pierced the solitary cloud that floated above the old, Victorian house.  There was a buzz of crickets filling the air, birds chirping melodiously, and an old Ford truck sputtering along the highway in the distance. Hannah flung open the creaky wood screen door and stepped out into the freshness of the field. She had a busy day planned, however this one moment of peace filled her with joy.

The first thing to ask is whether any of this, overly descriptive, narrative is relevant to the story?

Does the setting matter before the story itself? Usually the answer is no.

Part of the joy of reading is that the reader fleshes out many areas of the story. How a character looks, beyond the basics conveyed by the author should be up to the reader – it’s more important that the character’s personality, history, or relevant past information is presented, as opposed to what color shirt he/she was wearing. Unless that is relevant, of course.

In the example above, Hannah goes to the store and gets held-up at gunpoint. Taken as a hostage, she overhears the criminals’ plans. They want to blow up the courthouse to destroy the ringleader’s past criminal history. 

Ok. Stupid story. And also a long-winded start. There is no relevance to the setting within the context of the action of the story. A new writer needs to grab the reader and keep them turning pages. The only way to do this is by starting your novel at a critical point, keeping the unnecessary exposition to a minimum.

Hannah Malone left her rural farmhouse, not realizing that within a matter of hours a gun would be pointed at her face, as she was dragged into a waiting van. How could she have known; random acts of violence occur all the time – there was no predicting it. It was only when the cold steel of the gun pressed into her cheek, and the masked man, who had grabbed her arm, was yelling at her to move, that she realized her life might end.

Which of the two story starts grabbed you?

Get to the point! No one wants to wait. 

Readers want to know what is going on and they want it NOW!  Only you, as the writer, will not just give them the information; you will meter it out in controlled doses, furthering the rest of the information that the reader needs to know.

This is the difference between amateur writing and a writer growing with their words. Being a writer is not about rich descriptive passages. A writer is the creator, controller and actors of their work, usually sitting alone with pen or computer, often talking to themselves, spitting lines of dialog and cringing or laughing, depending how it felt. 

The writer will stop at a line, decide against it and delete it, or else refine it, twist it, change vocabulary to affect the impact of the line. 

An excellent way to refine your skill as a writer, especially when writing the start of a novel, is to study the first pages of many other novels.

Here is an excellent example.

Here is a snippet of the first page of popular author, Mike Wells’ Lust, Money & Murder, Book 1.  You will note that he is thrifty with his descriptions, offering just enough to give the reader an image to flesh out, while focusing on the action in the scene.

I’m sure that you want to know what happens next. 

You can read the entire chapter HERE

Be sure to visit Mike’s website HERE where you can download the entire book for free.

A polished writer offers a tasty read. Each line points to the next. Each word carefully measured in its importance to the plot. 

The skills you need come from writing, as well as studying the writing of others. Seeing how another writer frames his/her story, can teach you techniques that will help you to develop your own style.

Let me know other ways you learned to refine your work. 

My thanks to Mike Wells for allowing me to use his book as an example. 

Watch for an interview with him on this site.

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