Words from the otherworld: Dirt healing.



I will be broadening my writing on this blog and adding some more personal elements. Reasons for this will be explained in another post.

I was speaking to a dear friend a while ago who I hadn’t spoken to in some time. As per usual we fell straight back into heart-talk and he expressed concerns about talking to me and feeling like a downer because he wasn’t in a happy place at present. My response was that this is the very time to reach out for support – to trust your friends will be there for you no matter your state.

However, more came through that I felt compelled to share, things that came from my workings as a writer, readings and life experience. We know as storytellers that all great stories/journeys have their black moments – that moment where everything feels hopeless and you think ‘well heck, how the…

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Getting from a concept to a story

The amazing thing about being a writer is that you learn to spot the ideas and ‘what if’s that other people would normally pass by. They’re everywhere, and they’re incredible. And they can also be incredibly frustrating. You can get incredibly intricate and detailed ideas in your head, but for the life of you, you can’t do anything about it. Creating a world is wonderful, but it’s just words on paper unless you have a story to take place within it.

So you’ve got an idea…

This afternoon I had a conversation this afternoon on the subject, so I’ll use that as an example: one character discovers that his friend doesn’t actually exist.

It’s a fantastic idea, and there’s a lot of directions you can go on the subject. So how do you shape that idea into a story?

Find the problem

At its core, every story is driven by…

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A monologue in a novel?


Do writers put monologues in novels? I’m sure they do. Or they have.

My wife, who is a voracious reader, can’t remember any long monologues in the hundreds of books that she has read — at least not the type of monologue I’m talking about.

I like monologues. They are great in plays – a dramatized, well-written monologue can be completely consuming.

But what about in novels?

The reason I bring it up is that I’m currently working on my fifth novel. It’s been a productive week of writing, pushing over 13,000 words. And as I was writing the final scene of court case where the defending attorney was giving his final statement, I decided to go full-fledged monologue. What I mean by is that this monologue could be in a dramatic work, but it’s right in the middle of a novel. There’s no description with it. There’s no describing…

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On Colloquialism in Fantasy Writing

The Waking Den

Language is a powerful thing. So much is wrapped up in that word, so many divisions that separate and define people–Southern Americans versus Midwesterners, Cornish versus Cockney, etc. Any writer knows this. Achieving proper, distinct diction in writing can add a whole other layer to immersive quality.

Unfortunately, it takes time to develop the ear and the eyes in that direction. For the unwary reader, it can stumble them–look how many fumble with the Great Bard’s classic speeches and Twain’s twangs these days, and how many miss out on great works because of them.

I love colloquial speech, but especially in a fantasy world, where readers are already trying to settle their feet and get a feeling for the world they’ll be sifting through, I fear it can be too much. Good colloquialism is something that, when done well, is something you cease to notice very swiftly. But I dare…

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Description, or where the bloody hell am I?

Kate Turville

As a reader I have come across a problem that pulls me out of the story so irrevocably that I’ve put down the book and nudged it away with my toe.  I’m sure you’ve encountered the same problem, but you may not have as much of a melodramatic reaction to it.  I’m talking about lack of description.  The lack of description that is so bad that you’re not quite sure whether you’re in Middle Earth or New York City.


I recently read a book that was supposedly set in an ancient Chinese culture.  It’s funny though, the only indicators that it was set in China were the character’s names.  Otherwise it could have been set in any old medieval world.  There was no effort to show how this place that I was reading about was any different from the classic English fantasy world.  Given that the Chinese culture and technology was…

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Is Your Tale Character Driven or Plot Driven?

Melissa Stevens

Here’s a big question, one you kind a need to consider before sitting down to start your story. What’s going to move the story along? Why will people keep reading? Are they going to like the characters and keep reading to find out what happens to them or are they going to get caught up in the situation and need to find out the resolution, even if they may not like the characters? Yes, it is possible to do a combination of both.

Why is this important? Because it tells you from the beginning what type of thing you need to do or focus on.

For example, most romances are character driven, people read to find out what happens to the people, and the people in these stories are likeable. You have to like the people enough to care what happens to them. On the other hand many mysteries are…

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Climax – still more Resolution, I’m Sneaking up on the Climax creativity and Plots, Entertainment and Excitement

Zen of Scenes

9 October 2014, this blog is about writing in scenes.  I’m focusing on the tools to build scenes.  I’ll leave up the parts of a novel because I think this is an important picture for any novelist.  I’m writing about the climax.

1. The beginning
2. The rising action
3. The Climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement

Announcement:  By the time you read this, I suspect my new series novels, Ancient Light will be published.  Ancient Light includes Aegypt, Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness.  If you are interested in historical/suspense literature, please give my novels a try.  You can read about them at http://www.ancientlight.com.  I’ll keep you updated.

Today’s Blog: The skill of using language in a large degree comes from the ability to put together figures of speech that act as symbols in writing.

Here are my rules of writing:

1. Entertain your readers.
2. Don’t confuse your…

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Philip’s Blog Spot – Character and Plot in Teen Fiction

As written in Publishing Weekly, Nell Zink plays with the idea of Plot VS Character. They’re two essential elements of any story, right? Zink writes how in today’s coming of age novel, there are so many instances where boy meets girl and the characters drive the novel.

Is this really a bad thing? In my opinion, no, I’m a strong believer in the character driven novels, for instance, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The coming-of-age-novel presents characters tackling the issues in today’s society: depression, school, making friends and (the driver of this genre) the love interest. Now it gets interesting.

Charlie, the protagonist, travels through his first year at school feeling awkward and at first only making friends with his English teacher. Yet he discovers the importance of being the outsider and then has the perk of being a wallflower; seeing people from the…

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Let there be conflict.

Just Add Story

There are many pieces of potted advice given out to writers. This is the sort of two or three sentence idea that is intended to address a specific problem. Or sometimes a favourite observation. Or just a favourite response.

Not that they can’t be helpful. One reasonably common one is that every scene needs a conflict.

Usually when people hear the word “conflict” they think of two people in strong disagreement, perhaps so strong as to warrant a physical altercation. Trench warfare is a conflict. Armed robbery is a conflict. Domestic violence is a conflict. But so is a mild difference of opinion. In writing, the term seems to have a unique definition.

Of course, a lot of conflict will be heated and/or violent. In writing, this is where weapons often come out and characters can be injured or killed. In real life that tends to bring down the force of…

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What’s the Best Way to Plot?

A Writer's Journey

First a progress report on my own writer’s journey.  Just had a few issues surface that needed to be dealt with, soul searching, as it were.  Still in progress but for us writers that just means more logs on the fire of creativity, right?  That being said, I keep running into the argument about how one should plot a novel every time I read a book on writing.  Should we outline or should we just write it all out and get it done first before heavy editing?  Or as some put it, should one use a formula or rely on the muse?

The first technique, outlining, is all about knowing the lay of the land before you start the trip.  A synopsis, detailed character backgrounds on all major and important minor characters, and a chapter by chapter outline are written before any writing on the novel is started.  This may…

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The Daunting Task of Flashbacks


Yesterday evening I banged out the first flashback scene that didn’t sound like something out of a telenovella or daytime soap opera. Call it egotistical, but I’m counting that at an achievement.

Abydos is a story that utilizes flashbacks to move characters forward, which is terribly inconvenient considering these are the scenes I struggle to write the second most (preceded only by fight scenes.) Normally, I would’ve erred against a plot element that would prove so frustrating. Yet, in this case, I just couldn’t work the flashbacks out of the plot line – no matter how hard I tried. Time and time again, scenario after scenario, they simply proved too integral – too important – to the story. Without them, Abydos would never live up to its potential. It would simply remain a shell of what it could be.

And I just couldn’t have that.

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Generate Nerve-Shredding Story Tension—Power of the Secret-Keeper

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 9.47.12 AM Image via the award-winning show “House.”

It’s tempting for us to create “perfect” protagonists and “pure evil” antagonists, but that’s the stuff of cartoons, not great fiction. Every strength has an array of corresponding weaknesses, and when we understand these soft spots, generating conflict becomes easier. Understanding character arc becomes simpler. Plotting will fall into place with far less effort.

My POV? All memorable stories are character-driven. Plot merely serves to change characters from a lowly protagonist into a hero….kicking and screaming along the way.

One element that is critical to understand is this:

Everyone has Secrets

To quote Dr. Gregory House, Everybody lies.

All good stories hinge on secrets.

I have bodies under my porch.

Okay, not all secrets in our fiction need to be THIS huge.

Secret #1—“Real” Self Versus Authentic Self

We all have a face we show to the world, what we want others to see…

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