Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Unless a character is talking to himself, how does an author add (meaningful) dialogue to a one-person scene? What about a one-person chapter (or three)? Should we invite another person into the scene for the purpose of avoiding an all-narrative chapter, or is that a cheap way out? Can a chapter work with no dialogue? I’m still pondering the question…
In my new project, a paranormal thriller set in a gritty area of San Francisco, my main character spends quite a bit of time alone, especially in the first few chapters. Or, at least, that’s the way I intended to write it. Several sets of circumstances have thrust him into this situation, and I noticed by the end of the second chapter I had no dialogue. I remember learning at various writers conferences and workshops I’ve attended that dialogue is important. Without it, the chapter becomes a descriptive passage, which some may find boring. I’m also mindful of the ‘show and not tell’ rule.
Personally, I love dialogue, it’s just that it didn’t/doesn’t belong in these two chapters: didn’t/doesn’t – I’m still wavering on the point. Unsure if a lack of dialogue would be an issue for readers, I went back and added some, with my character talking to himself. We all do it, so why not my character? Well, the problem is he’s just killed a man, so he needs to stay hidden and quiet; therefore, he would not talk to himself – at least, not aloud.
I considered using internal dialogue, but struggled to carry it through two whole chapters. It’s only thought and not real spoken conversation or a real interaction with another character. Stunned by what he’s done, my main character’s only thought is of escape – getting far away from the scene of the crime. So, I took it out and brought in a second character – someone who may or may not be linked to the killing. Even though I’m only three chapters in, the addition of a new character has changed the entire direction of the story and presented new challenges. This may be a good thing – I’m not yet sure.
The first two chapters include plenty of action and suspense. Why did he do it? Will he be caught? Who did he kill and how will he get away? As I re-read these chapters, I’m back to the question of whether the dialogue fits, or if it is even needed. I’m undecided. I’ve looked for other unique ways to bring in dialogue, but it’s difficult to do without bringing in unnecessary characters.
I added a little bit of backstory and tried to bring in snippets of old conversations there, but it felt forced and didn’t work for my first two chapters. The paranormal element to the story is not yet relevant, so I can’t use that. My MC does not have a volleyball or any other imaginary friend with whom he can share a conversation. During a hot-foot pursuit, I had my MC bump into a stranger on the street, mostly for the sake of adding dialogue. It worked for this scene, but I’m going to have to find more unique ways to add dialogue in later one-character scenes.
I never realized how tough it is to write chapters with only one character. It’s quite a challenge.
Authors: how do you handle one-character scenes/chapters?
Readers: do you need dialogue in every chapter?
Know a kid who is being bullied? Waffles and Pancakes is a charming and inspiring story for children. Written by Cindy Springsteen, it is a great lesson for children about bullying, dedicated to all those who’ve faced the pain inflicted by bullies. Waffles and Pancakes is available in paperback and as an eBook.
About the Author:
Cindy is the author of the Waffles and Pancakes books, and lives in Long Island with her husband and two children. She has won numerous awards for her poetry and spent many years researching and writing. More Waffles and Pancakes are in the works. To find out more about Cindy Springsteen and her inspirational books, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or take a look at her website.
I love to eavesdrop. While some people might find it creepy to listen in on the conversations of others, I don’t. It’s not like I position myself to engineer it and secretly listen in to private conversations. People talk in loud voices and air their personal business in public places. It’s true, the juicy snippets make me prick up my ears, and I always have a notebook and pen handy to jot useful tidbits down. It’s also true I sometimes ride the bus and sit in busy cafe’s for research, to watch people and listen to what’s going on. Public transport is a fantastic way to pick up ideas for great plot lines and interesting scenes.
On a recent twenty minute trip into town, I learned about one male passenger’s whole life including where he grew up, his failed marriages and the causes behind them, job losses and divorce. Everyone on the bus heard his story. Fair game to use any interesting bits, as far as I’m concerned. He doesn’t know me. If I used anything he said, and if he ever reads any of my books, he will never know he contributed. And he clearly didn’t care who heard him.
What I struggle with is using elements from the stories I’m told by people I know, people who’ve shared parts of their lives with me. If I have their prior permission, or if they’ve unloaded for this purpose – for me to tell their story – no problem. But sometimes I don’t want to ask for their permission. I don’t even want to suggest I might like to use what they’ve told me in a plot line because it feels unkind and tacky, as though I’ve lost my compassion as a friend and think about them only in terms of how I can use them in my work.
The thought that a situation so troubling for them might make compelling reading for someone else seems insensitive, and I wonder if by asking permission to use it, I’m somehow making light of their struggle. To use it without their permission seems wrong, yet I hate to let an opportunity for a great story slip by. I’m not looking to benefit from anyone’s personal tragedy, more I’m looking to write a good story I believe readers will find believable, compelling and be drawn to. As journalists always look for good stories to report, writers always look for good plot lines and most of our (best) fiction is ground in the truth.
My upcoming release, Stone Cold, is a psychological thriller. Part of the idea for one of the plot lines is born out of a real-life tragedy. I can’t ask the person’s permission to use it because they are dead, but I wonder if I should have discussed it with their family. It happened a long time ago and it never occurred to me back then that I’d ever want to use it in a novel. Over the years, the tragedy and the facts surrounding it nagged me. I believe my friend would have encouraged me to write it. I don’t have direct contact with the family members, and they don’t know me, so maybe it doesn’t matter, yet something about it still tugs at my conscience. In real life, it didn’t turn out okay, and that’s the source of my dilemma. In fiction, I can give it a fitting ending and give the bad guys what they deserve. Fictional justice. I hope my friend would approve.
Some people argue that it isn’t necessary to use real life tragedy to create good fiction, but I find movies made out of real life tragedies stir the strongest emotions within the audience. I’m sure there are many examples, but the two I want to use are the Titanic and The Impossible; the latter being a new release based on a true story of a family’s survival of the 2004 tsunami that struck Thailand. I enjoyed both these movies and never felt the fictionalized aspects detracted from the real life tragedy or demeaned those who lost their lives. The devastation of the real life events were immense, yet pleasure was gained from the story itself – from the survival, the triumphs, humanity and the way people pulled together to survive – not from the real life tragedy. I came away from both movies with empathy for the real life victims, people I don’t know. If using real life tragedy, whether on a large scale or from a personal event, in a movie or a novel can move us and make us care about what happened, I don’t see it as wrong or unnecessary. To me, it’s even more compelling because aspects of the story are based on real life events. Real life events create believable fiction, and it makes me care more.
Whenever we fictionalize the truth in our novels, writers twist the facts and alter the identities of anyone upon whom we base a character to protect their privacy. Wherever necessary, we also modify the circumstances to make them unrecognizable to any particular person. Ethically speaking, even with a disclaimer, is this enough? If a writer wants to use the real life tragedy of someone they know, even if indirectly, and they have protected the identity and privacy of the real life characters, should they obtain permission first? Is there a time when it is not okay to use real life tragedy in fiction? When is that time?
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Blood Atonement, Brigham Young, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mike Leavitt, Mormon, Salt Lake City, Utah, Utah Territory on January 15, 2013 | 3 Comments »
In 2007, when I travelled through Utah, Salt Lake City, I met numerous Mormons who tried to convert me. Since then, I’ve been intrigued by their religion, so when A Mormon Massacre, by Joseph Rinaldo came out last year, I wanted to read it. It’s fascinating and reveals shocking truths. I posted my review over on Amazon, Goodreads, and Shelfari.
Today, I’m pleased to welcome Joe to my blog to tell you a bit about his book:
On September 11, 1857 in Utah Territory on a beautiful plain called Mountain Meadows, a group of militiamen called Danites, disguised as Paiute Indians, at the direction of Brigham Young, attacked a group of Arkansas emigrants who were making their way west to California. The wagon train of Arkansans unexpectedly fought back, leading the attackers to try a ruse. One of them, appearing in his own clothes, claimed to have brokered a peace treaty with the “Paiutes”, and offering to lead the settlers who were still alive out of Mountain Meadows to safety.
Low on ammunition and with many of their number wounded or dying, the settlers had no choice but to trust this man and go with him and his party of Mormon “friends”. The Mormons separated the men from the women and children, and each of the men had an armed escort. The women and children were kept at their campsite until the men had disappeared over a hill. The sound of gunfire alarmed the women, who began screaming and running with their children toward the location where they had last seen their husbands. All pretense of “helping” the settlers dropped, the Mormons began killing the women and any children they judged to be younger than eight years old. When the killing was over, nearly 150 emigrants lay dead, and a number of very young children had been taken back to the Mormon stronghold to be raised by “adopted” fathers and mothers in polygamous families.
Though historians disagree on whether it was really Mormons or indeed Paiute Indians who perpetrated the slaughter, evidence supports the theory that the LDS church, determined to possess the rich wagons and supplies of the travelers, was behind the murders. Following the massacre, Brigham Young was seen driving around in one of the settler’s wagons (the best of the lot) with his wives dressed in the clothing of the dead women. In 1999, bones were discovered on Mountain Meadows, but before a forensic investigation could take place, the Governor of Utah, Mike Leavitt, allegedly a direct descendant of one of the militiamen involved in the massacre, had the bones recovered and gave orders that they never be disturbed again and that no one ever reveal their existence.
A Mormon Massacre: In modern-day America, Jeremiah Cameron, a descendant of some of the victims of the Mountain Meadows massacre, learns about his ancestors’ deaths and vows to expose the truth. To further fuel his desire for revenge, he discovers that his mother, in a previous marriage, had been the victim of a polygamist husband who brutally abused her. This is enough to spur Jeremiah to join the Mormon Victims Action Committee; they train him in covert operations and insert him into a Mormon sect to learn all he can about the alleged abuse of women within this polygamous group. Jeremiah uncovers horrors he can barely believe, including the practice of the ritual of Blood Atonement, wherein “sinners” were tortured or killed to save them from damnation for the sin of apostasy or adultery. Once he has the evidence to expose this LDS sect as a group of murderous fanatics, can Jeremiah escape to tell his story to authorities, or will he be caught and punished?
A Mormon Massacre, available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback at http://www.amazon.com/A-MORMON-MASSACRE-ebook/dp/B008R26S18 and http://www.amazon.com/A-Mormon-Massacre-Joseph-Rinaldo/dp/1477505911. Read the reviews, take a sneak peek inside, and get a look at the cover of A Mormon Massacre on Amazon today.
The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch: Well plotted with a maze of riddles and clues
Bleed For Me by Michael Robotham: harrowing story of corruption, perversion, abuse of power, and murder.
Happy New Year everyone.
My first post of the new year is a review for FURIES, a historical thriller by DL Johnstone, set in ancient Roman times. For those unfamiliar with Johnstone’s work, he is also the author of the bestselling crime thriller Chalk Valley.
Furies is a tale of greed and corruption, set in Alexandria in ancient Roman Times.
The story opens with the losses faced by Roman, Decimus Tarquitis Aculeo, a man of former wealth and stature. Questions surround the investments he made which have led to his ruin. Deserted by his family and friends, he is determined to find the man he blames for the disaster, the man he believes tricked him and stole his wealth, and recover what he has lost. The search leads Aculeo deep into the criminal world, where he must first face his own enemies and regain their trust.
As he hunts for the explanations behind his defeat, he learns shocking truths about the man he blames, and encounters violence from others who try to stop him. When he stumbles upon the body of a murdered slave at the temple of a God, and another body floating in a canal, he finds himself on the trail of a murderer, with only a strange type of healer to trust. As he gets closer to the murderer, he recognizes a connection in the clues to his own pursuit of his lost fortune.
The Author introduces the reader to a rich cast of characters and delves deep into the history of an ancient Roman city, providing a flavor of life in Alexandria, its commerce, beliefs, Gods, wisdom, knowledge, life of the poor, and the good and the evil behind its power. Some of the ancient names are difficult to pronounce, which some readers may find slows the pace a bit; however, the story moves well and includes plenty of unexpected surprises. The story appears well researched, and the author’s knowledge of the era in which he writes is impressive. The intrigue and appeal of the ancient world is evident in his book.
Johnstone builds the suspense and maintains the tension all the way through the book, provides an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion, and delivers a creative crime thriller.
HIDE AND SEEK is entered in the annual Preditors & Editors Readers Poll for 2012 published novels, under the mystery category. This poll is currently open ( until January 14th 2013) and honors both print and electronic publications for the year.
If you enjoyed HIDE AND SEEK and have a spare moment, I’d love to have your vote. Thank you in advance.
NOTE: Voters are automatically entered into a drawing for prizes from P&E sponsors.
Lorado Martin loves junk, and he loves digging through the estates of the newly deceased. Here, author, CJ West, tells us the story behind his new release, Dinner at Deadman’s.
My Lorado Martin Mystery Series is loosely based on the life of my brother, who lives in two very different worlds. The first world is junk. Yard sales. Estate sales. Stuff people leave on the side of the road. You name it. If it has value, my brother can spot it at thirty miles per hour. And he brings it all home.
Each book in the series will include several valuable things he’s found while I’m writing. I incorporate his treasures into the story and tell you a little about what they are, why they are valuable, and how you can find similar valuables yourself. If you’re an eBay junkie, or can’t help stopping at yard sales, you’ll enjoy the antiques and collectibles mentioned in the books.
Today’s topic is something for the kids.
While I was writing Dinner At Deadman’s, my brother was offered a collection of toys that would make any ten year old boy lose sleep for a month. Someone had been saving Matchbox army vehicles and plastic figures for years and decided it was time to get rid of them.
When he told me how many pieces he bought I was amazed. There were 8 large bins brimming full of cars and army men. The pieces and Lorado’s real life reaction to the collection is included within the novel.
In July I visited some good friends who also happen to read my books. One of the boys was having a birthday, so I decided to combine the parents’ love of books with the boy’s birthday present and give him something straight out of Dinner At Deadman’s. Here is the collection I assembled.
The 2,000 men and dozens of vehicles didn’t make a dent in my brother’s collection. But it took over an hour for us (yes I had some help!) to set the pieces up for these photos.
Playing with these guys brought back memories for me. When I first saw the collection I was in awe of the sheer numbers of pieces. The shiny helicopters, all in mint condition, grabbed my attention first. When you are a kid, you get a helicopter, maybe two. This collection held fifty identical helicopters in one bin! What kid wouldn’t want them for his airbase?
My brother spent days with these toys, but he wasn’t excited about the pieces he had fifty or a hundred of. He spent his time researching rare models. The thing I’ve learned about buying large lots is that there are a few pieces mixed in that are valuable. In this case, one vehicle paid for the entire lot of 50,000 pieces. The trick was finding that one piece and a few more like it.
When you read Dinner At Deadman’s, you’ll learn about finding the treasure mixed in the chaos. I hope you’ll join me and dig in.
So, did you play with toys like these? Or were you a Barbie girl?
C.J. West is the author of seven suspense novels including The End of Marking Time and Sin and Vengeance, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor).