Monday, October 26, 2009

The Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches

Cliches cause writers problems. The debate on whether a cliche is ever appropriate in a manuscript often appears on various writer's sites. The conclusion of the debate weighs heavily on not using them except in character dialogue. The writer then faces the task of identifying less common ones.

Our local library conducts a sale each Spring of books removed from their collection and ones donated by community members. As a Friends of the Library volunteer, I help set up the display and see the books that are available.

I was delighted to spot The Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches. The alphabetical arrangement of cliches along with a definition provides 534 pages of useful information for the writer.

An extra bonus was a recipe for "Coffee Steak Marinade" tucked inside. All for the "awesome" price of one dollar. "awesome: Slang for "wonderful," "terrific," originating in the second half of the twentieth century and used widely by youngsters. It transferred the original meaning of awe-inspiring, dating from the seventeenth century. A New Yorker cartoon caption had it (Dec. 19, 1983): "Third Grade? Third grade is awesome!"

Visit your local library book sale. I've purchased several writing reference books there.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

If you've read Donald Maass' book "Writing the Breakout Novel,"you were probably, like me, anxious to get his next writing book. In May, my mentor, DiAnn Mills' suggested this book to take our fiction to the next level. When Writer's Digest books offered it, I ordered it. The name of it is "The Fire in Fiction." I recommend this book for advanced writers. Beginners would find it confusing and not a litte daunting.
True to Maass' companion workbook for the breakout novel, the author gives projects and learning assignments. In fact, a quick read would be to turn to the practical tools highlighted at the end of each chapter. Maass breaks down the parts of a novel--the characters, scenes, plots, tension--and shows ways to bump each item up a notch. Not only heros, but villians get a second look. I love the way he suggests picking someone in your own life that's memorable, then asks you why. Maass makes you think, really concentrate on each aspect of your manuscript. Following this book's direction, you examine the goal for each scene. One of my favorite techniques to strengthen my book Maass calls "the tornado effect."
Nearer the end of the book, the reader learns to make the impossible plausible and create reality out of terrible situations. Maass' own quote says it all. "Effective storytelling doesn't minimize problems, it exaggerates them."
Again, Donald Maass proves to be an excellent writing teacher or coach. If we must dig and study to grasp what he has to say, the rewards will belong to those who put forth the effort.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Note of Apology

For two weeks, we've had an absence on our blog. Some of our contributors have been terribly ill plus as in the case of my household we've been fighting the flu.

I just wanted to apologize for the lack of posts and say we should be up and running again next week.

Thank you for your patience!
Debra Calloway

Monday, October 12, 2009

Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson

Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson, © 1999, 2002 Dee Henderson, Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

My reading appetite goes through phases. There are seasons when I will read nothing but non-fiction titles. Recently, I drifted into an almost insatiable craving for good fiction. I wanted plots that I could lose myself in; characters so distinct that I would recognize them on the street.

One of the books meeting this criterion was Danger in the Shadows by prolific author, Dee Henderson. This title is the prequel for her famous O’Malley Series and won the coveted Rita Award, the highest national honor given for excellence in romantic fiction.

Sara Walsh, the heroine of the story, is the daughter of a wealthy British diplomat. When Sara is six, she and her twin sister are kidnapped. During the nine-day ordeal, her sister, Kim, dies from dehydration. Sara continues to battle the demons of trauma on top of survivor guilt.

The story doesn’t end when Sara is found and freed. One of the kidnappers escapes apprehension and goes on to stalk Sara for the next twenty-five years. Sara is forced to live under tight security, led by her brother, Dave, an FBI agent. Limitations on her freedom preclude Sara from leading a normal life.

By chance, she meets ex-NFL star, Adam Black who persists on getting to know her. His efforts compromise her cover, and the stalker resurfaces in her life, placing Adam in the crosshairs as well.

I won’t tell you what happens next. This book is a page turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat, while whetting your romantic predilections at the same time. I highly recommend Danger in the Shadows to satisfy your yearnings for good fiction.

Writing Tip of the Day