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. 

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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.