Just wanted any visitors her to know that I've posted another excerpt from Just Lucky, Book 2 on my author's Face Book page, F.G.Waiss, Author...you can go directly there from here if you like: www.facebook.com/67eclecticwriter/?modal=admin_todo_tour
I wanted to restate something I put up here a long time ago. If anyone who reads this blog, or any other of the pages here, or has read any of my books or short stories or poetry, or for any other reason, has any questions, comments, or just wants to bitch and moan, I urge you to use the contact page and express yourself. You aren't required to enter your email address and you can always use an alias if you don't want to leave your name. I will be glad to answer any questions or respond to commentary right here.
So, don't be shy (unless your name is Shyla...then you may). Speak up! Write up! We might all learn something, and I certainly could use all the learning I can get.
Last time, I discussed the importance of flashbacks in fiction, and how to use them. I realized, between then and now, that the same applies to autobiographies and even non-fiction articles.
I don't read biographies much anymore, though I did when I was younger. Most if not all begin with the subject somewhere in his middle or later years. It usually gives the reader at least one reason why this person is worthy of a biography. Then the work goes back to his birth, early life, and ties those things to the person he became. Much like fiction...or perhaps fiction is much like non-fiction.
If you watch any documentaries on television or You-tube, you'll see the same thing. The person being profiled, or the event or discovery or invention being featured will be introduced first in such a way as to catch your interest. Why is this thing or person important or significant? After that the documentarians (just had to use that word) will provide back ground—flashbacks of the non-fiction kind.
One concern about using flashbacks is how to present them. Interrupting the action...be it a fight scene or a sex scene or an argument or a friendly competition...might be a bad idea...but you can get away with it. If there are brief lulls in the action, flashbacks, if appropriate to the action, can be inserted. And of course it is up to you, the writer, to decide if a lull in the action is called for. I did that a few times in Just Luck, Book 2. But, first, since the book is written in first person and the narrator is involved in the fight, it is more natural to interrupt his own story with brief flashbacks. Also, his narrative style has been well established so an interruption like that presents as completely normal for him.
I'm still reading King's Wizard and Glass. Since I'm only working four days a week, I get in less reading per week.
Most of the novel is one gigantic flashback. Roland tells his friends—his ka-tet—about an adventure and romance he experienced when he was fourteen. It is impressive, romantic, full of triumphs and disappointments, and especially one deep heart-rending tragedy. And here and there a bit of foreshadowing, which is also appropriate in a flashback. I did that in one of the flashbacks in Witchery.
When writing fiction (or non-fiction) it is almost always necessary to provide the reader with a character's background. But it is almost always necessary to avoid beginning the story with that background. A writer must use the first sentence or two—certainly the first paragraph—to grab the reader's attention.
"The Gunslinger was born in Gilead, the son of a gunslinger from a long line of gunslingers."
That is not the first sentence of King's Book One of The Dark Tower Series. Actually, that's not too bad.
Instead, King gifted us with one of the best opening sentences in modern fiction: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
With that one sentence we are given the antagonist, the protagonist, the setting, and the immediate action. We learn about the gunslinger's (Roland's) past through flashbacks interspersed with the action of the present.
Next time I'll continue with discussion on opening sentences and/or paragraphs.
Till then, be well and be well-read.
One other note: I've added a couple of new quotes to the Right Writes page.
For those of you that read this but might miss the notice on my two Facebook pages, I've received a new review of Just Lucky, Book 2: Love and Hate.
You can read the very complimentary review, plus a long preview, here: https://redheadedbooklover.com/just-lucky-2-love-and-hate-fred-waiss/
I hope you enjoy the review, and, more important, I hope you read and enjoy both volumes of Just Lucky--the story of Ron Russell, his friends, enemies, and the women he loved. And his several brushes with death, which he survived because he's...well...just lucky.
On the reading front, I'm overdosing on Stephen King. I'm still working on Wizard and Glass at work. At home I brought out a big (BIG!) hardback that's been on my bookshelf for a long time, unread. It is Four By Midnight, by King. That's the one I'm reading at home, and I'm about half done.
Four by Midnight is a collection of four stories in that awkward range—too short to be novels but too long to be short stories.
I have a general rule about reading stories or books that I've already seen the movie derivation. I don't. But this time I did. The first of the four stories is "The Langoliers." I'd seen the three-hour miniseries. I must admit that it helped to enjoy the story because I "knew" what the characters looked like from having seen them. And, what a surprise, the movie followed the story about as exactly as one could expect.
The second story, which I just finished, "Secret Window, Secret Garden," I found kind of annoying. It is a story told in limited third person about an author. King seems to like writing stories about authors. He has three that I know of—this one, plus two full-length novels, The Dark Half and Bag of Bones. If he's written more, I haven't seen (or read) them. Both of those have been made into movies.
On the writing front, I am experiencing a bit of writer's block on the fantasy novel. I know where I'm going, I just don't know how to get there. I'm also having to learn how to write a series. This is a first for me. Every time I want to abbreviate an explanation or a flashback, I remind myself that I don't need to abbreviate! In fact, extending those flashbacks is a requirement. Detail the settings! Detail the characters! But don't use too many exclamation points!
So I was writing a scene and I realized it would be a perfect place for the first flashback, to introduce one character and expand the history of the two main protagonists. So I wrote backward.
Flashbacks are a great way—perhaps the best way—to introduce facts about the characters that will be significant in the future. I used several of these in Witchery. I presented anecdotes from Teyla's childhood and her teen years—two of each if I recall correctly, plus two more of lesser detail regarding events from before Teyla was born. Starting the story at the beginning of Teyla's life and proceeding in chronological order, even if only hitting the high points, would be dull. Most readers would never get to the good parts. They'd be bored long before the action—which takes place when Teyla is nineteen or twenty—ever comes. No, a story needs to start with a sentence or two that will grab the readers' interest.
I used fewer flashbacks in Prophecy of Honor, but still there to explain what has gone on in Collin's life that has formed the man he has become.
Both Just Lucky books have an entire chapter that describes the significant trauma the character suffers that makes him and her the people they become.
Inexperienced writers often do not realize this necessity. I was an inexperienced writer...or perhaps I still am...so I know. New writers tend to tell a story linearly. They want to write it the way it will be read. Front to back, beginning to end, the way you'd have to tell it if you were offering it as an oral presentation.
But when creating the story, an author must often go back to add details, subtract details, or change them. As the story goes forward it may be convenient or necessary to change something previously established about a character or setting or even a plot point. So do it. That may be the very best thing about a word processor program. It makes it easy to do that. My very first novel, written in the late 70's, was horrible. There were many reasons for that, but one was that I wrote it with a typewriter and did not have the patience or experience to go back and change things, rearrange things, add here and subtract there that was necessary.
That wouldn't have saved the novel anyway. There were many other flaws, caused mostly by immaturity as a writer. I like to think that I've worked past that particular flaw, anyway. I still have many others to try to conquer.
Football is back. Let us celebrate, but please don't let your interest and viewing of football interfere with your reading or writing.
Thank you for your attention.
I'm inclined to indulge in a political rant, but my urges have been restrained.
So, a few other things.
One thing is to mention, in case folks read this page and none of the others, that I have created an Author's page on Face Book that features excerpts from my four novels. I'll add one about every ten days, to tease you with what you'll find if you read the whole book.
We get more snail mail from Publisher's Clearing House than any other two or three sources, easily. But the mailman tells me that their mailings help keep the Post Office operating in this generation of electronic bill paying and email. But, GEEZ!! I gave up long ago looking through them and jumping through the hoops to get one or two little stamps hidden among dozens to stick on to the one piece of paper to mail back. My wife has more time, though, so she still pursues the dream. I used to go through that on the principle of pot odds.
Pot odds is a poker term that means (more or less) that your bet—your investment—makes or does not make sense depending on how much you risk against how much you have to gain. So I figured that the cost of a stamp, plus twenty minutes of my time would be good pot odds for winning a million dollars. Not anymore.
The current odds of winning PCH's $1,000 a day for life...or a new car priced at $50,000...are 1 in (drum roll) 6,200,000,000. That's one in 6 billion, 200 million. That is, one in the number of people on the entire earth in 2001.
Here's another: the contest to win one million dollars has odds of one in three billion, one hundred million. That is almost one thousand times the population of the United States.
The chance of being struck by lightning in a lifetime is about 1 in 12,000.
The odds of winning $1,000 in PCH's current contest are 475,000 to one. If you were to find someone willing, bet them one dollar against one thousand dollars that you will be struck by lightning in your life time. Your odds of winning that bet are about four times better than your odds of winning that thousand from PCH. Pot odds no longer apply.
On another subject, there are a certain number of rare excellent people in the world, and I am privileged to be acquainted with one of them though only through the cyber and print worlds.
If you go back to my 5/13 blog, I included a totally unsolicited but glowing review of Just Lucky, Book 1. That gentleman, Larry, when I asked, said that yes, he'd like a signed copy of Book 2. The cost was a few cents under $20, including postage. He sent me a package that contained an envelope with $20. It also contained a can of macadamia nuts, three boxes of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, a 2019 calendar featuring girls of Hawaii, a word-find puzzle book featuring Hawaiian words, and a book of Hawaiian ghost stories. Oh, and a Hawaiian bottle opener and a zippered insulated bottle wrap for one pint bottles.
Larry, if you are reading this, Mahalo Nui Loa, Hoaloha!
For the rest of you, please keep reading. And writing.
I have no good excuse for taking so long between posts. It does help if I have something to write about, and there's been very little.
One of the most important rules of writing is: Show, don't tell. I usually keep this in mind and seldom fall into the trap of telling. A really good example of showing a situation instead of telling appears in my novel, Prophecy of Honor. If I was to tell it, I would have said that the five Keeps in the Free Lands are named, and the man that is in charge of the keep is titled the same as the name of the Keep. So, the main character, Connor, has the title of Honor because he is the leader of Honor Keep.
But I never told the readers that. I showed them. First, we see almost immediately that his subordinates address him as "Honor." Later, when his friend, Lars, visits, Connor greets him as "Fair" and we find out later that Lars is the leader of Fair Keep. Later still Connor greets the leaders of the other three Keeps by their titles before the ritual is finished and they address each other by name. I showed the custom, gradually. One of the traits of the new or inexperienced writer is to be in a hurry to establish any new or unusual customs, technology, or linguistic characteristics. They do that by telling the reader about them right away instead of having the patience to show the readers in the natural progression of the story.
Apparently I have suffered a regression in my skills because that is exactly what I did.
I was re-reading the first few chapters of Saving Atlantis in preparation for submitting those first chapters to an agent. And I realized I was reading something where I was telling instead of showing. No wonder the agents have all declined. Of course, that might not be the only reason...
So now I must go through the manuscript, make sure that is the only occurrence of this crime, and then fix it.
And, if the word subtraction is enough, I might be able to add one of the subplots back in.
On the reading front, I finished The Waste Lands and have started Wizard and Glass, Book 4 of The Dark Tower series.
And on your reading front, I have Just Lucky, Book 2: Love and Hate available for those that want a signed copy. I've sold several already and answered demand for a few more, including one to Hawaii. And no, it's not going to the volcano.
Thank you for reading, and please continue to do so...my writing or someone else's. If you like humorous mystery, try Anne R. Allen's novels. If you like crime fiction, C. Hope Clark's stuff is very good. If you like fantasy, besides my two novels, Anthony Wedgeworth's Altered Creatures fantasy novels are worth the price and the time. I'm reading one of his most recent creations right now.