“Don’t care what trmp says.
This is our classroom until The Fauci says it’s safe.”
Art, book, Dragon Keeper's Handbook, Dragons for Beginners, Editing, Editor's Corner, Faulkner, Fiction, mackenziesdragonest, Magic, Molly Bloom, Pollock, Shawn MacKenzie, story telling, Stream of consciousness, Structure, Words, work, Writing, writing and tagged books
Stream of Consciousness – Going with a structured flow.
Dangling Our Toes in the Stream of Consciousness
I love flowers Id love to have the whole place swimming in roses God of heaven theres nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and waves rushing then the beautiful country with the fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours…
So, I picked up Ulysses the other day – as one is wont to do – and dove into the roiling river which is Molly Bloom’s beautifully, rudely fecund tale at book’s end. With my mind groping towards a subject for today, I read not only for the jaw-dropping poetry of the words tumbling across the page, but also for their precise, artful construction.
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Books, Dragon Keeper's Handbook, Dragons for Beginners, Editing, Editor's Corner, Escher, Faulkner, Fiction, Lewis Carroll, mackenzie's dragonsnest, mackenziesdragonest, Pinter, Shawn MacKenzie, story telling, Structure, Time, Words, work, Writing, writing and tagged betrayal
Structure and Time: Castles built on shifting sand soon crumble….
House of Words
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” …Lewis Carroll.
When I was a kid, aside from wanting to be a writer, part of me wanted to be an architect. To design and build houses – and castles – from the ground up. To focus on the 3-D aesthetic of what goes where and how it all fits together. As I grew up, I realized that you don’t have to build houses to focus on the elements of construction. And so today, I want to talk about literary structure, about how, as writers, we are architects with words.
First, let me clarify: I am not talking about plot. Personally, I tend to be a little lukewarm about plot. But I love structure.
And at heart, structure is largely a matter of knowing – and keeping…
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The nitty-gritty of world building. What fun!
Deviling the Details
Those of you who visited the Editor’s Corner last week will likely think I am working in a backasswards fashion. Given that I am never quite sure what I will tackle until I set fingers a typing, I am actually surprised this doesn’t happen on a regular basis.
Be that as it may, last week I spoke about going macro and reclaiming your Big Picture. Today, I want to turn the telescope around and talk micro: the realm of detail and what particular details tell the reader. A character can have breakfast, sure. But a breakfast of corn flakes and black coffee says something very different than eggs benedict and fresh pomegranate juice. A simple suburban house tells us far less about its occupants than a Cape Cod on a corner lot with a thriving vegetable garden around back. John Cheever would certainly never settle for the…
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Pounding one’s head against the rocks….Time to let it be.
Other Eyes and Beatles Wisdom
“It is better to take pleasure in a rose than to put its root under a microscope.” …Oscar Wilde.
There comes a time in every editing endeavor when each wall you face is an Everest and each knot Gordian in its complexity. You have taken your work apart, dissected and resected every sentence, paragraph, and chapter. You know your characters inside out and have removed every extraneous pronoun, preposition, and adverb, but still it’s not right.
Chances are, while slogging through dense literary underbrush, you have not only lost sight of the forest, but also the trees. This is the boundary beyond which all the rules in the world will do you absolutely no good. In fact, chances are you are in this…
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In honor of our audiences….
Audience Appreciation Day
Today, I want to talk about audience, trust, and respect. When we write, a part of us is at least peripherally mindful of our audience. Whether we imagine legions clamoring for our prose, pushing us up the bestseller lists, or focus on a more limited public of our devoted blog and website followers, audience is important. After all, we are in the business of sharing our work, of shouting it to the proverbial rafters and communicating our ideas to best effect. Real or ideal, awareness of audience leads us to choose fitting storylines and characters, as well as structures and language that are both age and genre appropriate.
Sadly, this too often leads people to believe they need to oversimplify or – Goddess…
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When I first wrote this, we were not in the deep freeze of January. Seasonal variations aside, I think the advice still holds.
Packing Up Clutter and Dispatching Our Darlings
This morning the rain – and snow – stopped here in the Green Mountains, the sun came out, and I was finally able to mow the shaggy lawn and begin the arduous spring ritual of uncluttering my life. While this is one of those ongoing projects which I likely won’t finish until the next millennium (I come from a family of long-lived optimists), it is something I mirror in a more manageable way when I sit down to edit and rewrite.
Which is what I am doing right now to a short story I wrote four years ago. It was ok at the time, but I always thought there was something that didn’t quite work. Or could work better. At the time the need to pen two books intervened, but now, up against a block on my chinchilla novel, there’s no better time…
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Time to shatter a few rules….Have fun.
Feeling Frisky and Breaking the Rules
Written by Shawn MacKenzie
Katharine Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”
Today, in the spirit of Ms. Hepburn’s wit and ribald spring, I am going to talk about rules and their breaking.
As a matter of principle, I believe rules should be broken – at the very least bent – whenever and wherever possible. This presupposes the breakage is done with knowledgeable deliberation and no one gets hurt in the process. (Those falling sentence fragments can be lethal!)
Of course, in writing – as in life – some rules are more flexible than others. And some seem downright arbitrary, especially when it comes to fiction. Here are a few of my particular favorites:
Avoid split infinitives. One wishes to generally do this as a matter of clarity, and I like to think this was the rule’s intent…
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Know your words and use them wisely.
The Precision of Words
Written by Shawn MacKenzie
“I do love perusing the dictionary to find how many words I don’t use – words that have specific, sharp, focused meaning.” … Geoffrey Rush
Today, as I was typing away at my keyboard (and deleting and typing anew), I began to think about our writer’s tools. The fact is, as a profession, writing is extremely light when it comes to essential implements. Pen and paper, they’re the basics. Of course, it’s the 21st century, and most of us have exchanged blank bond for a computer screen – to the eternal gratitude of many a pulpwood forest and their denizens. Much as I have come…
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Editor’s Corner -catching up gain – courtesy of The Secret Keeper
Written by Shawn MacKenzie
A Propensity for Prologues
In search of inspiration for this week’s Editor’s Corner, I returned to the brackish well of Amazon e-books and discovered a curious trend, particularly among new authors: prologues.
Prologues, prefaces, introductions….in whatever guise, they abound behind the covers of genre tomes and would-be literary masterpieces. The question is: are they really necessary? Or are they simply catchalls for back story we just can’t bring ourselves to leave behind? If you have chosen to begin your novel other than with the first line of Chapter I, ask yourself “Why?”
Now, I admit I’ve written my share of forwards and introductions, prefaces and preludes over the years. However, as a matter of editorial preference, I find them decidedly annoying in most novels. Nine times out of ten, a prologue serves as a historical exercise, giving background to characters and places, giving hints of what…
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