Saturday Summation – 06 May 2017

Bits and pieces of things that caught my eye not only for my own interest, but enough to want to share with you, too…

Hey. Long time no linking, yes? Let’s start getting back into the swing of things…

Writing Stuff:

One of these days I’m going to read my copy of Donald Maas’ Writing the Breakout Novel, but until then, I sure am glad he is a regular contributor to Writer Unboxed. His most recent post talks about pulling readers in through “spells, palls, and poisoned apples” – ie: having your characters become enthralled or embroiled which usually means the reader will fall in line with the same trap. Check out his guiding questions to get you going.

Looking for a concrete way to show not tell? Consider how your characters show love for one another. Fae Rowen gives some suggestions of how characters can show love through real life examples and fictional ones. I know this is one of my favorite ways to drop in character connections (and to read them… I definitely notice them even when the action isn’t explicitly explained) and I think it’s good to note that this kind of thing doesn’t have to mean romantic love; it can and should include friendships. Who doesn’t like to read about a best friend showing up with a bag of french fries and fountain Dr. Pepper to demonstrate how clearly they know you?

Author Jenny Cruisie frequently analyzes TV shows for storytelling techniques, but as agent Janet Reid says, movies are good, too, especially for their compact amount of time to hook and keep its audience. I mean, make sure you are using similar category movies to compare with what you write. Fast and Furious Nfinity isn’t going to help with the pacing in my Oprah-endorsed novel. (I don’t think it will help with any novel at all at this point, but, anyway…) For me, there’s pacing examples, but I most love movies that have balanced storytelling and authentic characterization (ie, not over-the-top, cliche, etc). Her is a good movie for this. That movie had you believing in love with an AI and the premise was probably the most realistic look at our future that I’ve seen in a while. Hidden Figures does a great job with compressing a timeline with authentic character behaviors and even though the end is a bit too Hollywood for my tastes, the rest of the drama was balanced in the ideas of Maas’ post I listed earlier – we are enthralled by both characters and situation. Anyway, check out more of what Reid says and the example movie she mentions.

 

Reading Stuff:

Here’s a thing… you know how when you’re looking at a product on Amazon and see the “add to cart” button… and often assume that it is automatically choosing the actual Amazon source link (as in, you’re getting it from Amazon, not a third party seller)? Turns out, this “buy” box is now a changeable thing. This may or may not matter on everything, but it turns out, it can affect an author’s book sales. I recommend reading the post for full explanations and details, but tl;dr upshot is: if you are buying books from Amazon, take a moment to help the author out and make sure the seller choice you click on really is from Amazon.

 

Publishing Stuff:

Chris O’Brien starts a post this week with “There is a current trend, specifically on LinkedIn, to pronounce certain careers dead.” And honestly, it’s a trend all around to pronounce things dead. What does that even mean, to claim something is “dead”. Once upon a time print books were on the verge of being “dead”. Land lines are now considered “dead”. Who even uses email anymore? Right? Well, you can imagine I will refute. And I do… but in this case, I will bring us back ‘round to O’Brien’s point in that the role of literary agents is not dead. At all. (And since were sort of on the topic, print books went back on the rise in the past couple of years. A RESURRECTION!) Probably the key point in his post is that, like any other profession and industry, literary agents have learned to adapt to the continuing changes.

 

Miscellaneous Stuff:

This is just kind of a miscellaneous thing to drop in here, but since we’re talking a bit about authenticity – Bill Gates has once again reminded us that he doesn’t think technology should overtake all parts of our lives. His kids (and hey, my kids, too!) didn’t have a smartphone unit age 14. Limit screen time. I like this article mostly because of the authentic nature. My partner and I are huge tech people, but I think because of that, we try to recognize its limitations, too. I think we sometimes expect the big tech giants to be all about tech all the time, but then we peek into their personal lives and think, huh, guess not! Also, for a long time I’ve really held a lot of respect for Bill and Melinda Gates.

 

Recommended Reads:

Yeah, so the last time I listed some recs was December, so though there were many I rated 4- and 5 stars, I’ve limited my list to those I wrote reviews:

Dark Matter – Blake Crouch (A) (my Goodreads review)

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie (A) (my Goodreads review )

Funny Girl – Nick Hornby (A) (my Goodreads review)

Truly, Madly, Guilty – Liane Moriarty (A) (my Goodreads review )

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas (YA) (my Goodreads review )

The Mothers – Brit Bennett (A) (my Goodreads review)

American Street – Ibi Zoboi (YA) (my Goodreads review)

Still Life – Louise Penny (A) (my Goodreads review)

The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertelli (YA) (my Goodreads review)

Currently reading: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold in print and A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny by audio.

Song of the Week:

My ten-year old told us his fourth grade class will be singing this song for their music concert next week. And as much as I sometimes grow tired of people responding to all who express their rage over what is happening in our country with “Be Kind!” as though fighting for justice is unkind… I can’t argue a group of elementary students singing this song by Lori McKenna (and don’t tell me it’s Tim McGraw’s, McKenna wrote it) and trying to emulate its spirit.

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