Tuesday, May 18, 2021

3T Writing Tidbit

 

The internet abounds with idea generators. One of my favorites is TV Tropes.

I had a scene in Biting Oz where vampire hero Glynn is making out with human woman heroine Junior in her third-floor bedroom when her parents came upstairs to investigate.

The scene was funny--I mean, dark sexy vampire and parents--but not funny enough. TV Tropes to the rescue!

If a character needs to hide, make the places successively more cramped, inaccessible, and obvious.

Poor Glynn went from under the bed to a dark corner of the room to bracing Spider-man style on the ceiling.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

2T Repeat Performance - What's In a Name?

 I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 22, 2010 for Samhain Blog

Come on baby—Bite My Fire in print

The first Biting Love (red-hot romance, acid humor, and alpha vampires) is out in paperback! Elena O'Rourke is an Irish-Latina cop in the small town of Meiers Corners, Illinois, USA. Elena is hungry for two things—her detective's shield and a good lay. Big blond master vampire Bo Strongwell is perfect for the lust, but is actively interfering in the case that would cinch the badge.

 Bite My Fire is also my first story title to riff a song title. As a musician, I'm a huge fan of songs, of the lifetime of meaning sung in a few stanzas. Meaning is compressed even more into the song title, so each word must do double, triple, even quadruple duty. That sets up resonances and echoes and cross-echoes—yeah, like floating in a water park tidal pool, it’s pretty cool.

*Bite: vampires and the type of humor

*My: Elena, taking a bite of her world, and being delightfully bitten by Bo

*Fire: her gun and the heat level of the romance

 Warning: Jammed with hot explicit sex, graphic fanged violence, and acid cop humor. May contain donuts.

(2021 note: This is the theme that also gave us The Bite of Silence and Biting Me Softly.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

3T Writing Tidbit

Oh, those whys!

One of the things I didn't understand the first time I  got notes from an editor was so many whys. Why did the character do this and why was the world the way it it was? Why didn't the hero do this or that--and why did he then do the other thing?

The reason I didn't understand was because I hadn't yet learned to put myself in the place of the reader. I knew the answers in my head, or I could make them up. The reader...didn't.

Your reader will have questions, valid questions about things in your story. Here's one.

Why is the hero going into that vampire-infested lair...?

One way to handle revealing the answers is to have an internal monologue. I must rescue the heroine. Another is to have non-point-of-view characters ask. "You're going into a vampire-infested lair with only your wits and fists? Are you nuts??" Another way is to show the reason. The heroine appeared briefly in the third-floor window. "Hero, you promised you'd protect me from this lair of vampires--!" A clawed hand wrapped around her face, yanking her abruptly out of sight.

Whatever you choose, always remember the reader's valid questions must be acknowledged in some way in the story.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

2T Repeat Performance - Are You Happy

 I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 15, 2010 for ARRA

Are you happy?

(Or how to feel good about buying books.)

Really ask yourself. Are you happy?

My husband sends me articles. Oh, not the painfully silly ones or the ones so twee (sweet) they suck your lips into your esophagus. (My rule of thumb: I only forward it if it makes me laugh out loud or think a brand-new thought.) Anyway, just last week he sent me a link to a New York Times article titled “But Will It Make You Happy?”

Lots of people think more money will make them happy. Then you hear about the missionaries who visit the poorest people in the world, and it turns out those “poor” people are happier than the missionaries.  Necessities aside, money itself isn’t an automatic happy.

So, if not money, then stuff? Well, the article pretty much stomps that idea too.  Mr. Smith’s 3G Stuff may make him happy--until Mr. Jones gets 4G stuff. Then Mr. Smith is unhappy because he wants 4G stuff too.

Here’s my bet. You, dear reader, are pretty happy.

Why? Because, according to the article, the only type of spending that actually correlates to happiness is leisure spending (after the basic needs are met). Fun experiences like vacations, fun activities like golf or computer games. Diversions like TV or movies.

And where do we get the most experience and entertainment for the least money, the most bang for the buck or delight for the dollar?

Right. With books.

Readers who belong to groups like ARRA increase that delight by talking books with other people. Sharing books, in book clubs or with friends (or with other readers who become friends), taps an even bigger promoter of happiness: strong relationships.  The shared experience of quoting great lines, the shared anticipation of a favorite author’s upcoming book--the only thing better to my mind is shared chocolate. (I’m not going to say how that works. I’m an erotic romance writer. Let your imagination soar.)

So are you happy? I can’t answer that question for you, but I can say that if you’re here, you’re a reader who shares--and that’s a great start.

Thanks for having me back as a guest blogger at ARRA!

 

Mary Hughes is an author, a computer programmer and a flutist. Bite My Fire, ARRA nominee for Favourite Erotic Romance and the first book in Mary’s Biting Love series, just released August 3 in paperback. It’s available at several Australian booksellers including Borders, Booktopia,  and Angus & Robertson.

 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

3T Writing Tidbit

 What's the difference between a movie, a television show, a play, a musical, an audio book, a graphic novel, a novel? There are differences in how you can tell the story and what kind of story you can best tell. Musicals, movies, and television have the added emotional element of music but often lack what's going on inside the character's head. Visual elements make for differences, too.

But there are some elements of basic storytelling that cross boundaries. This one I learned from Thunderbirds Are Go (2015), an animated children's adventure about five brothers who run a high-stakes rescue service in the near future, aided by their grandmother, their adopted sister, and a British lady and her very accomplished chauffeur. 

SPOILERS: John Tracy in Thunderbird 5, the space station, has created a simple game AI. The AI is nearly destroyed and, believing everyone is out to get her, does a 2001-Dave on John, kicking him out of the space station and nearly killing him. He manages to get back in and she continues to try to protect herself, escalating until (as I remember it) she endangers everyone on the planet. 

At that point John, to prove not everyone is trying to control her, takes off his helmet and challenges her to vent the atmosphere, placing his life in her hands.

AT THIS POINT there is a close up shot of everyone we're close to, reacting in shock and sorrow to John's decision. His brothers, his sister, his grandmother, the lady and her chauffeur. Gripping, gut wrenching, lending even more impact to an already emotional scene because we not only see John sacrificing his own life--we see how the loss of his life will affect those he holds dear. Plus it draws out the tension.

It's the turning point and the AI becomes friendly, though still playful. We again see reaction shots of all John's loved ones, this time in relief and joy.

We can use that technique effectively in books, too. We can draw out the tension and magnify the impact of an emotional high point by showing the reaction of non-point-of-view characters (best if they're characters the reader actually cares about). Even better, bookend an important turning point with non-POV characters to enhance both the before and the after.

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.  

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

2T Repeat Performance - Ebooks vs. Print

 I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you! (And wow, has the world changed in just ten years...)

Originally published July 27, 2010 

Why does it have to be ebooks vs. print books? Can’t we all get along?

Do you ever skip while reading? Do you do this? If I don’t like the first paragraph on a page, I’ll check out the bottom of the facing page. If it’s interesting, I’ll read the stuff in between. Otherwise I flip the page.

My Palm shows me one paragraph max. I either read it or I don’t. There’s no way to see what’s coming.

A true ebook device may show a few more paragraphs, but most of them only have one page visible at a time. And there’s no easy way to stick your thumb in and page to the middle, to see if your favorite character ever comes back or if it’s time to throw the book.

Fact is, you read slower on an ebook reader, according to a study reported on msnbc.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38108599/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/)

So the same book that hits big in print might flop in ebook. Ebook sentences must be shorter and the point made quicker. It’s not because people who read ebooks can’t fathom Kirkegaardbit’s because of the format.