Monday, September 26, 2016

JK Rowling is a Plotter

Adverb Hating Tonic

So adverbs get a lot of hate, especially the -ly ones, and worse than any, the ones on dialogue tags. A lot of good modern writers, Stephen King, James Patterson, and Brandon Sanderson among them, have argued against wide use of adverbs. Here are some dissenting opinions (and better advice):

In short, any word that is the wrong word should be avoided. Every word matters.

And you can make the argument that instead of using a weak verb and an adverb as a 'booster', it's better to use a strong verb that conveys meaning more succinctly.

Just use the right word:

Who am I to argue against luminaries like King, Patterson, and Sanderson? Nobody, but I don't need to. They use adverbs in their books too, sometimes even on dialogue tags; and, sometimes, often, it's the right word.

My advice is simple. Be against dogma instead. When you write you own your words. Make them the right ones.

I did some analysis of other great writers. One of the greatest, most lyrical writers of the 20th Century is Virginia Woolf. Her first novel, Mrs. Dalloway, has in its first 18000 words:

34 suddenly
25 perfectly
24 really
16 presumably
13 merely
11 extraordinarily
11 directly
9 precisely
8 awfully
8 utterly
8 scarcely
8 slowly
7 gently
7 possibly
7 instantly
6 exactly
6 probably
6 easily
6 naturally

in short 714 adverbs outside dialogue. She also uses adverbs and adverbial clauses in her dialog tags.

Here is some of the dialogue:

“Good-morning to you, Clarissa!” said Hugh, rather extravagantly, for they had known each other as children. “Where are you off to?”

"rather extravagantly" is two adverbs and then an adverbial clause follows "for...children". That's a lot of distraction from "Good-morning to you, Clarissa!"

“Dear, those motor cars,” said Miss Pym, going to the window to look, and coming back and smiling apologetically with her hands full of sweet peas, as if those motor cars, those tyres of motor cars, were all HER fault.

"going to the window to look" is an adverbial clause

does she need "apologetically" there?

I would say yes. This reads well. The image bursts into your mind.

Some adverbs are fine. Really fine. Really. Really.

Self Publishing Guide Link

Link to Selp-Publishing Guide

Useful World-Building Links - most are subreddits (will add to this)

James Patterson Writes a Ton of Novels - The Murder of Stephen King Is One Too Many

This is just crazy. James Patterson just cancelled a novel on the eve of its release. This would be a tragedy for most writers, but Patterson has some slack in his rope. It would have been his 14th book of the year (10 have been co-written):

The book's title?
The Murder of Stephen King
Here's the story:

The promo page now brings up a 404:

Why would he do that? I mean... come on. It's a lot of work to write a novel. Look how much of your life you pour into it. Do you really want to be associated with a book that inspires some Annie Wilkes to take matters into her own hand?
Anyway, I found this old interview where Stephen King gives opinions about best-selling stalwarts like James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer, and Dean Koontz:

It's something less than a ringing endorsement.
For what it's worth Patterson considers himself a fan of King. Patterson has written (or co-written) 147 novels since 1976. 114 have been New York Times best sellers.
He writes... wait for it... IN PENCIL:

Stephen King, John Irving, and J.K. Rowling at an event. Here are J.K. Rowling's answers.

Guest appearance by Salman Rushdie.

George R. R. Martin and Stephen King

This is like the Beatles and the Stones on the same bill.

Stephen King Advice on Creative Writing

I like a lot of what he says here, but so much of it seems atypical to my experience.

Script Abbreviations in Screen Writing


ELS extreme long shot 
MLS medium long shot 
LS long shot 
MS medium shot 
MCU medium close-up 
CU close-up 
ECU extreme close-up 
OS over-the-shoulder shot 
2-S or 3-S two-shot or three-shot 
POV point of view shot 
ZI or ZO zoom in or zoom out 
INT interior 
EXT exterior 
SOT or SOF sound on tape or sound on film
BG background 
SFX or F/X special effects (can be either sound or visual) 
VO voice-over 
OSV off-screen voice 
DIS dissolve 
MIC microphone 
VTR videotape 
Q cue (as in cue talent) 
ANNCR announcer 

SUPER superimposition

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Forks in Motion (Flash Fiction - 500 words)

In Brazil they say you can make food fall from someone’s fork just by longing for it. Tatiane dismissed this notion, but only after thorough experimentation. Once certain, the failure became liberating, providing her with ammunition to sever the bonds with her clingy heritage.

This need for cultural unfettering is real in America. Modern judgments being instantaneous, folkways are disadvantageous to retain. People are busy. Nobody has time to listen to anyone’s explanations, especially in outlandish accents.

So when it happened, she told no one.

Of course it wasn’t just the forks. Errant forks would have been fine.

The voices were the problem. Spirits of candomblé manifested, circling storms around her, cavorting while she slept, following her to classes and her night shift.

There she buttered bread. She poured her love into each delectable slice, adding fresh garlic, sliced green onions, and parmesan cheese browned like her skin’s caramel brûlée.

“How come you care so much?” her coworker said. “It is just a side.”

Tatiane shrugged. How could she explain she made them for Oxumaré, a scarred buxom black woman hovering nearby in the ether? She saw more details now: three wedding rings, the wailing child in her arms, and her beating heart rent by a dagger, blood splashing the unaware passersby.

La Pasta Pronto customers stood in a queue while servers prepared their food. Besides gnocchi, meals always came accompanied by her delicious toast, but before the patrons could bite, Oxumaré’s quick tongue would arrive to sample its perfection. The customers always came second.

Her love life was non-existent. How can you be romantic beneath rings of chanting white-clad celebrants? Sometimes she risked it only to erupt in a coughing fit when the Preto Velho, a spirit of a deceased slave, blew cigar smoke in her face. Her partners would have a hundred unanswerable questions.

One morning they did not sing; instead, they roared. She stumbled outside and headed towards a church, a place she had avoided in America, because the mass sounds surreal in English, barren and soulless.

“I hear voices,” she told the pastor.

“I wish I did,” he said, and she realized he misunderstood, that for him, her voices would be heretical, miraculous, or both. “Sometimes I sit here basking in His silence. Still, I would trade it all for acknowledgment like yours.”

An image came to her, that food on the fork, lifted towards her mouth, the priest watching, so intent. Not far away her Preto Velho, wispy in the domain of another jealous god, croaked gibberish. Her Portuguese was no longer fluent. She had sundered that tie and gained nothing.

Why trade what remained for mere silence?

“Go outside maybe? It’s bitter cold here,” she said, uncertain whether she meant his church or America.

She headed for the sea, that same ocean washing the sunny shores of her native land. Sprawled upon the warm crunchy sand, beside the crashing surf where her spirits frolicked in the spray, Tatiane slept, peaceful at last.