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Category: About Writing

A Disappointing Trend

A Disappointing Trend

An Awesome Story Unfinished

See the source imageThere is a disappointing trend among some young writers/authors. Last night I finished what could have been an awesome story/series by an author I’ve never read before. An author I will never read again.

This is the second book I’ve read like this and if this trend continues, it will be devastating to the rest of us.

An Author’s Promise

As writers, authors and story tellers, when we publish a story we are making promises to our readers. We promise to give them the best story we can write and polished to as close to perfection as we humans can achieve. We promise to give them a complete story, not a partially written story.

 

 

What is a Complete Story?

At the least, there are three acts to a story: the setup, the confrontation, and the resolution. Or, to explain further, the setup tells what the story is about, the confrontation builds on the setup, raising the action. It is also the story’s midpoint of the story. Every story should contain a pre-climax (which begins the final action), a climax (the big “showdown”), and finally, the post action or closure ending the story.
As writers, we promise to give our readers a complete story. No, this is not necessarily written anywhere, but as every professional, experience author will say, it doesn’t have to be.

The Lie

I think what bothers me the most about this trend, is that I feel lied to. I feel the author has intentionally misled me to believe I was getting a complete story. Instead, she gave me the setup and maybe the midpoint. I don’t know for sure, I’d have to buy her next book and most likely a third book.
Instead, I wrote a review explaining what I found wrong with her presentation. The worst part, this author is a wonderful storyteller. If she had given me a complete story, I would have become a loyal reader, eager to read the other books in her series, and this blog post would be a glowing book review.

Greed

All I can think is that authors who do this are greedy. They saw a way to make more money selling incomplete books. I feel sad for anyone who follows this trend.  Yes, sure, they may make money in the short term. But, as a writer as well as a reader, I don’t believe they can fool all of their readers all of the time.

 

See the source image

Do they?
Eventually their readers will realize they’ve been duped and yet another reader (or two or more, if they write reviews) will be lost forever. Or, if these authors are as intelligent as they appear, they’ll lose the greed motivation and get back to writing good stories. The type of stories we should all be writing.
Thanks for reading! This is this writer’s life…

 

Splintered Love No More…

Splintered Love No More…

The Sad Demise of Splintered Love

 

I am sad to say, Author S.J. Hermann has ended the existence of his amazing dark-love collection, Splintered Love.

Now for the good news. The stories will live on, each available as a single story!

Coming Soon to Amazon

Leap of Faith – Could one find true love again and if you can, what if it came from an unusual place.

Inner Beauty – Today’s society is based on a person’s looks and not what they carry on the inside.

Desperate Souls – What would you be willing to give up for love?

Reckless Thoughts – You find your true love, then you carelessly throw it away.

Forever Love – Love is eternal.

 

From my interview with S.J. Hermann, an excerpt from my personal favorite, “Leap of Faith.”

For more on S.J. Hermann, including his amazing series soon to be on the big screen, The Morium Trilogy

Website: www.authorsjhermann.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Writing_Novel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJ-Hermann-250758318466659/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.j.hermannwriter/

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SJHermann

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9784255.S_J_Hermann

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Originally posted January 17, 2010

One of the requirements of my horror-writing education is to read every story listed on pages 18 – 22 of ON WRITING HORROR by the Horror Writers Association

ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin is on this list.

As a child sitting on the sofa between my two older sisters and often through the cracks between my fingers, I watched the movie ROSEMARY’S BABY. To this day I still have a vivid recollection of semi-naked old people and the black bassinet that gave me nightmares for weeks to come. But, in spite of those memories, I was determined to fulfill my horror-education requirements. So, yes, not only did I read the book, but I loved it.

Ira Levin is truly one of the greatest writers I have ever read. He has the rare gift of horrifying you one minute and making you laugh hysterically the next. In truth, as I sit here, six years later, revising this blog post, Rosemary’s Baby is still on of my favorite books of any genre and one I am sure I will read again and again.

Mr. Levin’s main character, Rosemary Woodhouse, is a naive mid-western Catholic girl transplanted into the big city with her actor husband. As in all good suspense stories, there were subtle clues dropped here and there as the story unfolded. Rosemary was everything a woman in her situation should have been. The rape scene midway through the book was intense, the result of ultimate betrayal by her devious husband.

Ira Levin wrote his story at a time when everything was in question, including religion. Mr. Levin accurately portrayed society’s mindset during the 1960s with a conclusion grounded in the most basic of human relationships, the bond between a mother and her child.

On a personal note, I think reading Stephen King’s Introduction, though profoundly well-written, may have been too in-depth a read prior to the story itself.  Because the information given was so complete I do not believe I enjoyed the story as much as I may have if I had read the story first before the Introduction.

Other books on the list from ON WRITING HORROR:

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

I AM LEGEND and HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson

….and many others

Interviewing Your Characters

Interviewing Your Characters

Upon inspiration of the essay by Tina Jens in ON WRITING HORROR, I have created a character sketch I am using much like an interview sheet. In my mind’s eye I invite my fictional characters into my office for an interview. So far it has worked like a charm. My questions are pretty much standard but the difference is it is not me who is answering the questions. They are.  My approach is that this is their story and I want to know them as I would an old friend from high school (per suggestion by Tina Jens.)

I had created a list of characters using my previous method of simply coming up with them as I wrote my new novel but the process was tedious and boring. Following Tina’s suggestions, I created a new character sketch to get to know my characters for who they are, separate from me. My protagonist, who I had previously named Sandy, was a middle aged woman and I had given her blond hair with gray streaks and gray eyes much like my own, was all wrong.

The woman who walked in my office was entirely different, even her name. She was younger, tougher with dark hair and eyes. Her entire persona is one of a lonely but self-assured widow on her own and looking for a change. While Sandy was also looking for a change she was married and more dependent upon her husband.

My second “interview” was with my evil, sadistic antagonist. I was nervous about the interview because this character was to be the epitome of evil complete with horrific appearance and behavior. The “man” who entered my office was again, very different. I found him compelling and alluring with a definite darker side concealed beneath his attractive appearance. At the same time, he was forthright with a definite sense of humor about the story that is to come.

I have four more interviews to do with my previous version of this story still in the back of my mind. What will become of this story? I have no idea. It’s truly in the hands of these fascinating new characters. One thing for certain, I won’t be bored!

Thanks for visiting my site. I would love to hear your thoughts…

Getting to Know Your Characters

Getting to Know Your Characters

Another tidbit from a few years back that has changed my writing life forever….

In between the required reading in ON WRITING HORROR, I’ve been studying the various essays by the gifted writers enclosed within its pages. The latest nugget of wisdom came from Tina Jens titled “Such Horrible People.” Ms. Jens describes characterization in such a creative and entertaining way that not only have I soaked up her insightful words, but I do believe they have changed the way I write forever.

Within her essay, Tina Jens describes getting to know your characters as well as you would your high school buddies. Their ins, their outs, their quirks, fears, flaws and successes. What makes them tick? Getting to know your characters so well that they are sitting there beside you writing your story for you. Your job as a writer is merely a stenographer, they are in control. After all it’s their story, right?

Yes, I’ve read lots of articles on developing characters but never in such a clear, open manner where it is not only practical, but brings the knowledge down from my gray matter to application. Thank you, Tina Jens, for such an intelligent and entertaining essay.

So to put into practice this new-to-me character-creation process, I’ve interviewed one of my main characters for my current work-in-progress. As it turns out she is nothing like the puppet I created. I got her name, hair color, age and even personality totally wrong. The character that arose from this interview is stronger, more dynamic and a complete improvement over what the puppet-master (me) had created.

Rather than feeling the pressure of creating this novel purely out of my own tedious, task-oriented agenda, I am excited to see what she and the other main characters will show me as their story unfolds. I have more interviews today. One I am particularly nervous about, my villain. He’s a dark, angry creature whose fiery home was recently disturbed. Wish me luck….I’ll keep you posted.

Thank you, Tina Jens and the Horror Writers Association…and to you, thanks for reading!

When Writing…. A Good Rule of Thumb

When Writing…. A Good Rule of Thumb

When writing a story, you are your own best immediate gauge of how good it is. Does it excite you, hold your interest and keep you on edge? Are you emotionally invested in your story to the point of potential embarrassment?

If not, then you need to either change it or start over. If you don’t have an emotional reaction to your story, your readers won’t either.

Here is one of my favorite quotes, one I keep on the wall of my office, and what I try to live by when writing my stories…

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