Category: Historical Fiction

My favourite software for organising a book

Another informative blog by Mary Carroll Moore- artist, author, teacher. Mary is one of my favourite bloggers.

Before I wrote books, I wrote stories, essays, poems, columns, and articles. Short stuff. Short stuff doesn’t require that much organization. I had a good word -processing software. I kept files of the multiple versions of my short stories, for example. I used a spreadsheet to track where I sent writing and what happened to it.

Then I began writing books. Within months, pages accumulated. Way beyond anything my short stuff generated. I was swamped in paper, with no great way to organize it.

I began struggling with my trusty word-processing software. How hard it became to keep track of each version, the corrections I made, and what I’d missed. I literally had to print each draft to double-check it. Sure, I could do a whole-document search for word repetition, for example, but it was beyond clumsy. I began looking around for something more streamlined.

Twelve books got written and published before Scrivener came along. It has saved my writing life. And many of my students’ and clients’ as well.

There have been a lot of programs that try to help writers both organize and write. Some of them include WriteWay Pro, Z-Write, WriteItNow! and Rough Draft. Some writers swear by a program called Ulysses. They offer a list of contents or topics on one side of the screen and an editing or writing desktop in the center. But many are plain text, no formatting ability.  

Scrivener was developed by a writer in Cornwall, UK, who was unsatisfied with the mechanics of what was out there. He wanted to be able to import images, different fonts and text, and other options into his documents–easily–and still have the ability to keep track of the overview via a sidebar list.

To me, Scrivener is light years beyond anything I’ve used–and you may agree if you’ve tried it. It does take setup time, to import your current document, but for the way I write books, it’s perfect. I can craft “islands” or scenes and log them as individual documents on my sidebar list, then begin to group them into folders as my chapters build. If I am missing a scene, I can easily create a placeholder for it on the sidebar list. Best of all, if I decide scene 2.4 really belongs in chapter 10, not chapter 2, I can move it on the sidebar list and it automatically moves in the document itself.  

Scrivener also takes care of the multiple versions of any scene, chapter, or act. The feature called “snapshot” allows you to take a picture of each version. They are stored with the current version and can be accessed in a click. You can decide part of an earlier draft was way better and paste it in with no trouble. Try doing that in Word–yikes.  

Another thing I love about Scrivener is the ability to bring in visual or written research and view it either in the notes or in a split screen as you work.  

There are so many features of Scrivener that I haven’t even tapped, even though I’ve taken four classes on it. I use what I need, and when I’m ready to learn more, I go for another class.  

Scrivener for ipad recently came out. I’m still learning it, but there are tutorials if you’re interested. All versions are available at http://www.literatureandlatte.com both for PC and Mac. They offer a 30-day free trial, so you can test drive before buying.  

It’s good to set aside 2-3 hours to set up your draft in Scrivener. You are given different templates to start with (I use the fiction template). Then you basically copy and paste in your islands, scenes, or chapters from Word or Pages. It helps to sit with someone who knows Scrivener, as I did, while you get set up. There are also some good tutorials here.  

I also recommend taking a class from Gwen Hernandez, who wrote Scrivener for Dummies. Gwen is an excellent instructor and her online courses take you through basic setup and use of Scrivener tools, through advanced levels. Check out her Scrivener Classes when you’re ready to get started.      

I wish I’d found Scrivener many books ago–I’ve only been a fan for four years. But it’s changed my writing life. I can’t recommend highly enough (and I don’t get paid to say that).  

Your weekly writing exercise is to download the free trial, if you haven’t tested it out. If you already use Scrivener, check out the tutorial link, above, and try working with snapshot or one of the other extras. 

Post note by Glennis- I am using Scrivener for my current book. There is an excellent instructional video on how to learn to use Scrivener. 

If wanting more information mail to:joseph.michael@scrivenercoach.com  

Or go straight to- http://learnscrivenerfast.com/

 Happy writing., editing, researching friends. As for me, I’m preparing to update my manuscript of The Fortune Seekers. Major re edit underway to transform it from a novel by a new author to a polished novel. 

See you next week. Glennis Browne


How to describe a person – 7 tips

How to describe a person – 7 tips

Blog from NowNovel.com with appreciation.


Learning how to describe a person so that the reader forms a vivid impression of your characters is essential for writing compelling stories. Read 7 tips for describing characters so they come to life:

1. Focus on details that reveal characters’ personalities and psychologies

2. Prioritize unique character features

3. Describe characters’ body language and gestures

4. Allow internal contradictions

5. Read writers renowned for their characterization

6. Create character sketches to inspire you as you write

7. Use exercises and prompts on how to describe a person to improve your craft

Let’s dive into each of these points:

1. Focus on details that reveal characters’ personalities and psychologies

A portrait of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)

A character’s hair or eye colour doesn’t tell the reader much. When you introduce a character, focus on details that reveal personality or psychology. Here’s Dostoevsky describing his character Katerina Ivanova (who has tuberculosis) in Crime and Punishment (1866):

‘Katerina Ivanovna had just begun, as she always did at every free moment, walking to and fro in her little room from window to stove and back again, with her arms folded across her chest, talking to herself and coughing.’

Dostoevsky conveys the fraught mental state of his character as well as her restless nature. The coughing is a reminder of her life-threatening condition. The fact she continues to pace despite her discomfort suggests her determination.

The acclaimed short story author Alice Munro compresses powerful narratives into short forms. Here, in her story ‘Free Radicals’, Munro describes a recently-widowed woman coming to terms with her husband’s death:

‘She thought carefully, every morning when she first took her seat, of the places where Rich was not. He was not in the smaller bathroom, where his shaving things still were, along with the prescription pills for various troublesome but not serious ailments which he’d refused to throw out.’

Munro creates emotional affect by describing details (Rich’s shaving tools that remain in his absence) to create an impression of the now-absent character.

‘He was of course not out on the half-scraped deck, ready to peer jokingly in the window – through which she might, in earlier days, have pretended to be alarmed at the sight of a peeping tom.’

The details Munro introduces combine character behaviour (Rich’s joking at the window) and setting detail (‘the half-scraped deck’) to simultaneously create a sense of character and place. These details are effective as they show Nita’s process of remembering the mundane as well as touching and characterful elements of her late husband.

2. Prioritise unique character features

A large part of learning how to describe a person convincingly is showing what makes them unique or distinctive. The Victorian author Charles Dickens, a master of characterization, did this expertly. Here Dickens describes the schoolmaster Thomas Gradgrind, ‘a man of facts and calculations’ in his novel Hard Times (1854):

‘The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide, thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of his bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside.’

Although Dickens describes his character’s hair, he uses a striking visual metaphor (‘a plantation of firs’). This leads quickly back to description showing the schoolmaster’s fact-obssessed nature (‘…as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts stored inside’).

Dickens takes the description of Gradgrind as obstinate and fact-obsessed further:

‘The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square shoulders, – nay, his very neckcloth, trained to take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a stubborn fact, as it was, – all helped the emphasis.’

Thus a single, defining detail – Gradgrind’s bullish nature (signalled by his ‘dry’ and ‘dictatorial’ mouth) becomes the basis for most of the description.

If Dickens had simply said ‘he was balding and inflexible and would lecture the students about facts’, this would create some sense of character. Yet the unique details Dickens brings in make Thomas Gradgrind especially vivid.

3. Describe characters’ body language and gestures

Showing characters’ gestures and actions is an important part of bringing characters to life. A character’s movement, body language and gestures can describe a lot about their personality and psychological state.

In the example from Dostoevsky above, Katerina Ivanovna’s anxious pacing conveys her mounting fear over her husband (who drinks away the little money they have). In Hard Times, Dickens uses movement and body language to reinforce the impression of Gradgrind as domineering and forceful:

‘Girl number twenty,’ said Mr. Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, ‘I don’t know that girl. Who is that girl?’

‘Sissy Jupe, sir,’ explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.’

Dickens’ extends Gradgrind’s ‘squareness’ through his pointing. The pupil’s responding behaviour and gestures show the schoolmaster’s dominance. The girl’s own body language conveys both her own bashfulness and the fact that Gradgrind wields stern authority over his pupils.

Dickens could simply use dialogue for the schoolmaster’s inquiry. Because of Gradgrind’s gestures, though, we get a clearsense of his dominant, demanding persona.

4. Allow internal contradictions

How to describe a personInternal contradictions make many characters fascinating, because they show human complexity. The tough talker has a soft side they reveal to a select few. The anxious worrier reveals surprising strength at a pivotal moment.

In A.A. Milne’s beloved children’s classic, Winnie-the-Pooh, the character Piglet is full of fear yet he accompanies his friend on a daring mission to spy a ‘Heffalump’ (a fearful monster of their own imagining).

Similarly, in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings cycle, it is Frodo’s simple and faithful friend Samwise who accompanies him into the villain’s heartland, long after characters who seemed more fitting for the task have departed.

When describing characters, think about the small contradictions and inconsistencies people often contain. As a result you will avoid creating ‘stock’ character types, for example, the brave warrior who is invulnerable and unstoppable. Give every Achilles his vulnerable heel.

5. Read writers renowned for their characterization

To learn how to describe a person brilliantly, collect strong character descriptions. Read authors who are particularly noted for their characters. Russian authors such as Anton Chekhov (along with the likes of Dickens) are good examples.

Here, for example, is Chekhov describing his character Mihail Petrovitch Zotov, an old man, in his story ‘The Dependents’:

‘Mihail Petrovitch Zotov, a decrepit and solitary old man of seventy, belonging to the artisan class, was awakened by the cold and the aching in his old limbs […] Zotov cleared his throat, coughed, and shrinking from the cold, got out of bed. In accordance with years of habit, he stood for a long time before the ikon, saying his prayers […]. To whom those names belonged he had forgotten years ago, and he only repeated them from habit.’

Chekhov conveys the age of his character well via his aching with the cold as well as his patchy memory. Chekhov deepens his character description by sharing Zotov’s thoughts in a later paragraph:

‘ “What an existence!” he grumbled, rolling crumbs of black bread round in his mouth. “It’s a dog’s life. No tea! And it isn’t as though I were a simple peasant: I’m an artisan and a house-owner. The disgrace!” ‘

Chekhov combines this portrait of the character’s psychological state with description of his appearance:

‘Grumbling and talking to himself, Zotov put on his overcoat, which was like a crinoline, and, thrusting his feet into huge clumsy golosh-boots (made in the year 1867 by a bootmaker called Prohoritch), went out into the 
Start keeping a journal where you collect character descriptions that strike you as effective. 

Categorise and create sections such as ‘description – clothing’ or ‘description – faces’. This can become a useful source of inspiration to page through when you are sketching out your own characters.

6. Create character sketches to inspire you as you write

It’s easier to describe characters comprehensively when you have character sketches to crib from. The ‘character’ section of Now Novel’s idea finder helps you flesh out characters in greater detail so that you have a blueprint for each actor in your story. Whether or not you use this tool, create a sketch for each character. 

Note down their:

Biography (where were they born? What is their occupation? What were the most formative experiences in their life?)
Interests

Goals

Fears

Strengths

Flaws

These are only some of the details you can work out to draft with a fuller portrait of each character in your mind’s eye.

7. Use exercises and prompts on how to describe a person to improve your craft

If there is an area of craft you struggle with – such as how to describe a person so they come alive – use exercises and prompts. Practicing each element of physical description along with using movement and gesture will help you give characters authentic-feeling depth.

Here are some exercises to get going with character description:

Describe a woman’s face in a moment of anger. Use at least one metaphor (‘Her mouth is a…’)

A woman finds out she has won the lottery. Describe her emotions using body language and movement as she moves from elation to anxiety and back again.

A man has found out his friend has committed a great deception. Describe him approaching from the friend’s viewpoint. Show the friend realising he’s been found out.

Create your own exercises around scenarios from your actual story. This is a useful way to focus on showing the underlying emotion or drama of a scene effectively.

What does engineering a novel mean?”

HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL – By Larry Brooks


It’s fair to ask, “What does engineering a novel mean?”

Home

To paraphrase Webster, to engineer is to create and design large structures or new products or systems by using scientific methods.

But writing a novel is art, not science… isn’t it? Many writers develop their novels in ways anything but scientific.

Which isn’t necessarily the right way to go about it.

Storytelling: Art or Science?

A novel may have 100,000 moving parts that combine in a structured manner, so perhaps we should look at storytelling as both artful and something driven by natural laws (another name for science!).

Which natural laws, you ask?

Laws regarding what compels us, what moves us, what holds reader interest, and what constitutes drama versus the static imagery and analysis of a still photograph.

If you accept that understanding readers lies at the core of what makes an idea interesting, then you’ve signed up for the science of writing novels.

But which brand of human-or literary science is this, and how do we apply its principles to storytelling and writing success?

How do we make our novels work?

When we read a novel, we have no idea how the author got there, how the words actually reached the page in the order they did.
And so, using a sea of craft textbooks, workshops, online forums and word-of-mouth resources, we are mostly on our own to determine how the novel we are writing will actually get written.

And here is where the room divides. Twice, in fact.

Because there are actually two conversations where writing a novel is concerned. Two realms of knowledge the writer will experience, because both are unavoidable.

The first is the story development and writing process.
Writing Success Through Process: Plotter, Pantser, or…?

Process, at one end, could be a detailed outline (which can take many forms, none of which is an actual draft) that identifies each scene in context or goes all the way to a full awareness of the entirety of the story’s character and dramatic arcs.

The other end of the process continuum is the absence of any specific awareness of the forthcoming story, a void from which the author embarks on a draft seeking to discover the story’s beats and arcs, and even the ending, as they go along.

The former is a story planner or plotter. The latter is an organic writer, or pantser (from the term seat of the pants).

Most writers eventually do some form of both (even as they lean strongly towards one), a writer’s place on the continuum may vary from project to project.

The liberating news is that neither is right or wrong… because of the other realm that you will face eventually.

Again, that first realm, planner or panstser, is one’s process.

The second realm of the writing experience is an objective assessment of how well the process works from the reader’s perspective.

The first is like interviewing for a job. The second is whether or not you get the job.

This second realm is how the story ends up playing out across its pages. It consists of benchmarks, standards, editorial and reader reviews and the metric of market performance itself, beginning with whether a novel lands an agent or a publisher—or not.
The good news is that there are specific elements, sequences and criteria for all this, the sum of which forms the core of what is known as the craft of writing a novel.

Be clear: your process is not your craft.

Your process is the pursuit of craft. When your process gets you there, and the story is judged competent, it works. And vice versa.
Because there are so many valid ways to write a competent story, your process is not story engineering. Rather, it is the collective menu of natural laws and literary devices that are at your disposal, and how you apply them to the job, be you planner or pantser.

In other words, what you write, and why. The sum of those essences and elements is your own personal version of story engineering.

Process–any process–makes no guarantees.

Putting 80,000 words on paper, with a bare minimum of engineering–a beginning, middle and end–does not mean the story will work. Indeed, if that’s all you believe is involved, success will set a very high bar.

Too many writers, however, believe their process is all the engineering that’s required. They neglect the raw qualitative grist that will render the process effective.

Your process isn’t the thing that gives you access to those qualitative criteria and tools.

There are as many successful organic make-it-up-as-you-go novelists as there are ardent story planners, and neither can lay claim to a “this is how it’s done” winner.

A seductive trap awaits the new writer here. Because when you hear a famous keynote speaker at a conference say something like “I can’t wait to get to my office every morning to see what my characters will do today,” it’s easy to think you’ve just heard the Holy Grail of storytelling, the golden key to your own optimal process.

Certainly what works for Stephen King does indeed work… for Stephen King. That and only that is beyond debate. Unless you are Stephen King, with his experience and innate story sensibilities. Even then, his process may or may not be your best choice. Truth be known, while King is the most famous pantser on the planet, his first drafts are very much like the evolved outline of many a successful story planner.

Choose your process wrong, though, and you distance yourself from the second realm: story engineering that will make your story work.

Whatever gets you there is the best process, because that’s your best shot at optimizing the requisite engineering of a story.

It shouldn’t be about which is more fun or which feels more flexible and creative in the moment. An outline is every bit as pliable in the writing moment as no outline, and only someone who hasn’t tried it can claim otherwise. Even then, they speak only for themselves; it’s not the deciding vote on which process is best for everyone.

Thus, the enlightened writer looks beyond process to understand the true nature of form and function.

And that is what makes such a writer a story engineer.

A lack of this understanding is why so many new writers too often write themselves into a corner or need a dozen drafts to reach a professionally high bar.

The more you know about story craft, the better your process will be. You’ll likely use some of both approaches along the way. And you’ll need fewer drafts to get there.

But what is this engineering?

Story Engineering: The True Nature of Form and Function
We live and work in a largely genre-driven world. Each genre has its own expectations about the nature of the story world, the role of both hero and villain, and the depth and flavor of dramatic tension that form the essence of a story.
Even literary fiction benefits from engineering versus random tinkering. Because like genre fiction, literary fiction writers also deliver stories about not just a protagonist, but a protagonist with something to do, a problem or need or situation that demands a response, driven by stakes and potential consequences (motivation and risks), and in the face of some form of active opposition (antagonism).

These are natural forces of dramatic fiction. Your process doesn’t excuse you from them; in a perfect world, it brings you closer to them.

These elements are rarely in dispute. What is more often the subject of debate is the nature, place and pace with which these elements are introduced into a story, and how they evolve over the arc of the narrative to optimize the reading experience in terms of emotional resonance, empathy, and the rise and fall of dramatic tension.

And that’s where the truest form of story engineering comes into play. It’s called story structure, and while it thankfully remains a fluid and flexible author obligation, it is also built upon a core sequential flow that looks pretty much the same every time.

It’s like gravity, that way–a force you can harness, or if not, it can make you crash and burn. It doesn’t care what you call it, it just is.

This flow is the starting point to an understanding of story structure, and therefore, writing success.

It is more than just beginning, middle and end. Overlaying that obvious hopscotch blueprint is a more precise model for the unspooling of a story.

Basic story engineering gives us a four-part story flow which, when stated, won’t surprise you because of its natural, organic obviousness.

Yet it remains the most commonly fumbled aspect of storytelling among authors who haven’t yet developed a story sensibility to know the length and contextual mission of the four parts themselves.

Story Structure: The Four-Part Flow

Here then, is story engineering 101, expressed as the contextual mission of four roughly equal segments of a story.

Every scene within these four segments is driven by a mission that aligns with that context, which is that the hero needs to work for their desired outcome, they can’t succeed too soon or too easily, and the motivation and consequences that drive the progression of it all need to be artfully introduced and spooled out as part of the dramatic reveal.

It looks like this, in roughly equal quartile lengths:

1. Setup

Introduce your hero in pursuit of a goal, present a story world (time, place, culture, natural law), inject stakes and set up the mechanics of an impending launch of (or twist to) the plot (your core dramatic arc). This is what your hero will spend the rest of the story investigating, pursuing and wrestling with.

2. Response

After the setup, the story needs to launch (this is the First Plot Point) and then settle into a lane that shows your hero responding to a new or altered path with stakes in play and some form of obstacle (antagonism) causing the hero to react to something they may not understand (pursue more knowledge). Or if they do, they need to deal with it in a way that keeps their ultimate goal on their horizon.

3. Attack

If the hero is too heroic too soon, there isn’t much drama for the reader to engage with, so we wait until this third quartile to show our hero evolve from a seeker/wanderer/responder to become a more proactive attacker of their problem or goal, both relative to the goal itself and the presence of an equally-evolving obstacle (a villain, storm, disease, approaching deadly meteor, or whatever is the source of tension and drama in the story), moving closer to a showdown and some form of…

4. Resolution

This is where all the moving parts of your story converge to put your hero face to face with their goal, and whatever blocks their path to getting what they need to get.
If this smacks of formula, ask yourself when was the last time you read a genre novel that didn’t play out like this, to some degree.

Nearly every published (and successfully self-published) novel today aligns with this four-part flow to a significant and usually obvious degree—something you can test yourself, now that there are labels and missions attached to the four parts.

Like athletes playing on an identical-sized field within their sport, or painters having only the borders of a canvas to work within, or sculptors having only so much marble or clay to work with, genius and creative freshness is measured on what does fit within the parameters of this model.

There are, of course, other story engineering tools on the writer’s craft bench, all fueling the author’s conceptual appeal, dramatic tension, hero empathy and dramatic tension with understandable, reachable, and predictable paths and outcomes.

If you are a beginning novelist, this four-part structure flow­–the story engineering model–will never steer you wrong; you’ll have the opportunity to see your narrative soar and achieve writing success.

Pablo Picasso said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” This is exactly the lane in which story engineering puts you, once you align with these principles.

You no longer have to guess what goes where, and why.

It’s still on you to conjure up the grist–from the original idea, concept and premise, to the specific story turns and twists. But they now have a place waiting for them to land.

How do you use story engineering for writing success?

If you liked this post, do share it on social media!

Today I suffered the awful emotion of doubt. 

Negative doubt. _______________________________________Those demoralising feelings of doubt. 

Doubt that I could write. That I could really be an author worthy of publishing.

My first book has been published and the painful doubt has now dawned… should I have published? 

Why?

It wasn’t ready as the editing was crap! Hours upon hours of editing ended up showing me up; as a poor writer.

Why do I say this?

Today I began counting the negatives. From those thoughtful people who believe I need to know my writing faults. Who haven’t asked if I really want their opinions. Their negative opinions I mean.

There are those who I know, who have read my novel, but who have said absolutely nothing about it. 

Today I have read that as a negative.

Honestly, why do this? 

Surely some of the silence is – they can’t be bothered talking about the books they read. Or they haven’t even read it. Or their lives are all consuming with more important things than telling me they have read it.
For today one person told me he had read my book. He said he wanted to talk to me about it, with a voice sounding of disapproval. Not looking me in the eye. The ‘higher than thou’ attitude.

What did my mind do? 

Tell myself he hated it; hated my writing style. 

Disagreed with my theology, my interpretation of history. 

Perhaps it is my grammatical errors he wants to talk to me about?
I processed, until I felt the black cloud pass over me. Smothering  my enthusaiam and desire to write. Freezing my creativity.

How rational a response is that ?

What happened to the majority of reviewers who enthusiastically told me they loved it? 

Who can’t wait for the next one. 

Saying,’Keep on writing. I loved to hate the bad guy. Felt for the main female character. Wept at the marriage….’

Those –  the majority, who told me they loved my style of writing. 

Saying, ‘Don’t change anything.’ 

Who didn’t even notice the punctuation marks incorrectly positioned. 

Didn’t see the lack of verbs. 

Loved the large space between lines, paragraphs. Which made reading easy, especially for elderly eyes.  

Chapters? 

Some were short. Some were longer –  ‘Loved it. It flowed naturally. The first part wasn’t slow for them…’
It’s these readers I am really writing for

Those who genuinely like what I am attempting to do. 

As for the self appointed editors –

 – do they read to enjoy the story?

 – or to correct the author? 

            Am I writing for them? 

            No! Definitely not.

Conclusion

Tonight I have decided I will continue writing for my ravers. I love them as they love my uniqueness. They enjoy my ability to tell a story; my way. I love this feeling of being appreciated. I love being an author for those who love my work. 

As for the negative reviewers?

Grammar police –

 I love them as well, but in a different way. I will love them when I ask them to help me editing my second novel. And they agree to help. As this is when their abilities to edit and correct are needed. Yes, I need them. This is when I need those who critique.


Tonight I read my favourite blogging author’s weekly letter.

 Once again she has reassured me of the great writing I am doing. 

 – My ability to pace well. 

 – Have easy on the eye white  spacing in my manuscript. 

 – And more. Thank you Mary Carroll Moore. 

I invite you to enjoy Mary’s blog below. 

May it help you in your writing as her blogs help me. It’s a continual process of learning the craft. 

Glennis 





Paragraph and Line Lengths–How They Affect Your Story’s Pacing 

 by Mary Carroll Moore.

I never paid much attention to paragraph or sentence lengths. I just wrote, felt satisfied if I got the story down. Then, in the late eighties, I got a job as a editor at a publishing company in the Midwest.  
As an editor, I noticed that I had a visual reaction to a person’s writing: how it looked on the page, how dense or light. How much white space or how much text. Even before I began to read, I had a sense of whether I would be engaged, just by how the text looked.

Blocks of dense text turned me off. I was paid to read them, so I did, of course. But I had to work harder to get engaged.  

I learned about pacing: how fast a story moves for the reader. Pacing is half mechanical. Long or short sentences, big or short words, all affect pacing. Shorter sentences and shorter words usually read faster. Longer sentence require the reader to slow down and work harder.  
Seeing writing from an editor’s eyes–what a change that was. Writing became much more than just telling the story. I began looking at my own writing and changing the sentence and paragraph lengths.  
Whenever I read a piece of writing with same-length paragraphs, I noticed a sleepy feel. Another clue!
A blog reader wrote me about this: “Paragraph [length] must be terribly important because as I read and change them the adventures seem to grow in importance.” She’s absolutely right.  
She wanted me to share any rules I knew about how to work with paragraph lengths. There’s aren’t really rules–it’s a kind of rhythm you begin to catch as you gain in writing and editing skill, but here are a few guidelines I picked up as an editor. See if they are helpful. If so, try one as your writing exercise this week.
Working with Mechanical Pacing 

1. Print your pages and lay them side by side. Squint at them. Notice where you have large blocks of text. Notice the white space. (Thanks to writer Alex Chee for this tip.) This is very hard to see on the computer screen, easy to see in an e-reader or printed out.

2. Go back into your document. Read the dense paragraphs out loud. Look for any natural pauses where you could break them.
3. Break out dialogue. Any place you have dialogue embedded in a paragraph of other text, separate it out.
Here’s an example from a recent class–a before and after so you can see the difference. The writing is still rough, but the paragraph changes made a big difference in pacing.  

Before

Sandy climbed the stairs and felt her belly heave. Pregnancy made her feel like a sea mammal, only she didn’t have the luxury of water to buoy her up. Swimming through the hot Alabama air wasn’t her idea of blissful motherhood. She could hear the phone ringing inside the apartment down the short hallway. It was probably her sister. It had been weeks since she’d promised herself to call Jeannine and get someone to come for a couple of hours in the afternoon, just to help with groceries or laundry. Jeannine’s idea had rankled at first, and Simon wouldn’t hear of it, but her sister said she’d even pay the first few weeks, an early birthday present for Sandy. Sandy didn’t want to buck Simon but as she grabbed the top of the railing at last and pulled herself up to the landing, she promised herself she’d call as soon as she got inside and turned on the a/c.

After
Sandy climbed the stairs and felt her belly heave. Pregnancy made her feel like a sea mammal, only she didn’t have the luxury of water to buoy her up. Swimming through the hot Alabama air wasn’t her idea of blissful motherhood.  

She could hear the phone ringing inside the apartment down the short hallway. It was probably her sister. 

It had been weeks since she’d promised herself to call Jeannine and get someone to come for a couple of hours in the afternoon, just to help with groceries or laundry. Jeannine’s idea had rankled at first, and Simon wouldn’t hear of it, but her sister said she’d even pay the first few weeks, an early birthday present for Sandy.  

Sandy didn’t want to buck Simon but as she grabbed the top of the railing at last and pulled herself up to the landing, she promised herself she’d call.
As soon as she got inside and turned on the a/c.

Synopsis written by a Reviewer

A Synopsis;

                    THE FORTUNE SEEKERS – Dan and Charlotte        Creative History written  by Glennis Browne
Once the reader is past the introductory pages, the journey begins. It’s a story inspired by real events; allowing the reader to explore their imaginations of times gone past.

Short chapters and well spaced paragraphs makes easy reading.

Part thriller, part historic events. This ‘can’t put me down’ book becomes excitingly rakish .   

The scenes and fine descriptions of the hardships combined with the dedication and love, gives the reader an interesting insight of life from the 1700s in Wales. Moving on to the trials of stamina and determination. Finally arriving in Australia as settlers and seekers, in a new life of adventure.

The Authors sequel is awaited as this story comes to finality.

A story well suited for a T.V. Series

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The Fortune Seekers – Dan and Charlotte
Owen S Powell

Owen S. Powell . J.P. M.Sc.

Environmentalist.

11..11..2016

#CreativeHistoryReview

When your life is on hold…

We all experience this at some time. When your life is on hold.

  •  Perhaps because of illness – yours or some one else’s. 
  • Or you are awaiting the birth of a baby. 
  • Experiencing both excitement, fear , anxiety  and hope. Such difficult times to go through.

This week I felt for two loved ones struggling while their lives are on hold. They are unable to do anything about it. Knowing that to move on requires some one else to enter their lives. 

 Its difficult when you are tired from too many years of work, and can’t see any way of ending it. When your body is no longer giving you the energy you had previously. As you are almost seventy years of age. And your wife not far behind you.

The only way ahead  is for someone else to respond to their own lives also being on hold in some way.

This  situation is about waiting for a buyer to purchase their Motel Business.

Bream Lodge.

A Fishermans paradise. A business opportunity

It’s a great business. In a great area. Profitable.

  • Offering a location for fishing  groups and families, schools, church, scouting and elderly groups to stay. 
  • With land on which to play a game of cricket. A playground and games room to entertain in.
  • Where boaties explore the beautiful location of the Gippsland Lakes and Rivers.
  • As the Twin Rivers Bream Classic Fishing Competition is an annual attraction to Bream Lodge.

  • Another location advantage
  • Where schools and Olympic Rowers come to train, being accommodated in new, purpose built bunk houses.  
  • Where BBQ’s and open fires entertain. 
  • Where hire boats await the guests.
  • And where a purpose built group camp kitchen and entertainment building entertains and relaxes.
  • Great fully equipped bunkrooms
  • After which guests return to their cosy, warm, quiet self contained motel to rest. 

The important thing I discovered when visiting this Lodge, was that the asking price is affordable. 

Most suitable for families or couples who want a change in direction. Providing a home with an income for less than a home costs in the large cities of Australia and New Zealand.

I imagine it will suit those desiring to leave the rush and expense of big city living. Choosing a rural, river lifestyle, close to Lakes Entrance. Where larger towns of Bairnsdale and Sale provide whatever Lakes doesn’t. Situated on the Princes Highway – what position is better?

And yes, there are good schools close by. 

The new Motel owner will enjoy sending their guests to delightful bays such as Metung and Nungurner. 

Close to beautiful locations

And the newly completed jetty made for the rowers and boaties, at Johnsonville is close enough to walk to. 

Plus, the added value – Opportunities for expansion await a purchaser. Caravan park and swimming pool possibilities.

On the Motel boundary horses feed in the paddocks. 

As I write this blog, the possibilities seem endless for the right buyer. 

Providing an opportunity for a great lifestyle as it has been for the present elderly owners many years ago.

May those reading this blog, please pass this on to family and friends who also are at that place. 

  • Where the change of life style is over due. 
  • A dream is to solve the 70 percent price hike in house purchases currently in Sydney. 
  • Affordability is the key to the attractiveness of this business opportunity.

If interested click on: http://www.breamlodge.com 

 – where the following page will open to you.  Thank you

The video for The Fortune Seekers has been launched 

The video for my book has been launched.
You may view my video at the link below.
YouTube: https://youtu.be/tGmaalu4RHc 
This is a recent review from Germany. An honest and encouraging appraisal. Thank you Andrew Griffith

It was hard going at the beginning, to be brutally honest. The Calvinist upbringing of the two brothers was mentioned a bit too often and I sometimes felt that their language was not consistent with their ages. Adult thoughts in a child’s head, if you know what I mean.

But I gradually got drawn into the story and by the time the boys had their seminal experience in the pub where Dave got laid and Dan got drugged, I was hooked.

I enjoyed the rest of the book. 

Some highlights: I loved your cameo appearance, ghosting through that Welsh graveyard! The descriptions of Dan’s life at sea and the gold mining section were quite convincing, obviously well researched. And, I have to admit, I shed a tear when Dan took Charlotte to the registry office to legalize their marriage.

In a nutshell. the book got better and better as time went on and I am sure your next work will be brilliant from the first page. Keep on writing!

The Fortune Seekers – Dan and Charlotte is available:below from three websites. In hard or soft cover and as an ebook. See below for ordering information.

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The cover of The Fortune Seekers, released August 2016

Carcoar  NSW Australia – delightful town, authentic homes in 2016

Dressed in white…how did they keep their dresses white and clean?
Bottles and glasses, medicines and potions
 


The original Gundagai bridge today 2016  – The 1850 flood destroyed the town. Read of Charlotte’s experience in the remains of the old town in The Fortune Seekers.

Order your copy from 

Www..Xlibris.com

http://www.Amazon.com

Www.Barnesand Noble.com
Enjoy.   Glennis Browne