Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Prompt Your Creative Writing with Color

Get yourself in line, how dare you think. Thinking? Who do you think you are, anyway. How dare you.

Sometimes, a writer's attitude toward the fictional character is as I have described above. That's not true with you, is it? Of course, not. Well, just bare with me for a moment. We'll see about that. What if one of your characters lived in a country at war. Think about her feelings about the war. Maybe, she feels the war is justified, so think of her convictions for a moment. I know, you don't want to discuss politics because like race and religion, it is taboo. Your character (not you, of course) has been taught to avoid those subjects. Have you considered that it is those subjects that gives your character definition?

Well, try it, for crying out loud. Stir up the reader's emotions will you. Have her fall in love with someone of a different nationality, a different political background. Upset her parents who are Jewish when she falls in love with a Christian Black man. "Guess whose coming home for dinner, mom?"

Maybe the main character's parents are heterosexual and she is not. What are you waiting for, have her bring her girlfriend home to dinner. Stir those emotions and let's see what's inside mom's head. Twist the plot. Expose the madness. Will mom come into understanding or will she remain in an abyss of ignorance for the remainder of her life? Let's see mom in action.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Find Colorful Writing in Dialogue and Suspense

Dialogues: A Novel of SuspenseColorful writing is not always the result of fine re-writes and editing. Sometimes it starts right from the character's mouth. Every several thousand words or so, I will stumble across a word spoken from one of my characters that makes me appreciate the character's individuality more. Have you experienced that?

In my upcoming novel, The Doctor's Vice, I hear my character (Ivan) responding negatively toward someone he likes. No one else dare impose his opinion on my character, Saleem, but Ivan does and it's natural. I would like to share this work in progress with you. Hopefully, I'm making it happen.

In the opening chapter where I hope to create suspense, Saleem and Ivan are discussing the need to find a man who can complete the deed they have in mind without attracting police attention.

{I do not let the reader on to particulars at this point}

Later, I'm seeking to continue to elevate the suspense by continuing this scene.

"We're discussing the life of a human being here," Ivan said.

"It is also, business. No?"

Ivan nodded, affirmatively.

"How do we handle this problem?" Saleem asked.


Saleem accepted the cigar and removed an ashtray from the bottom drawer of his desk. The window directly to his back was open where cigar smoke drifted like foggy balloons with broken shapes as the first hint of sunlight cast rays onto the ashtray.

"A missing prosecutor. This will make trouble, no?"

"It's the only way."

Saleem studied his cigar, twirled it with four fingers and thumb, and then inhaled, constantly stroking the shaft. He half smiled. "Great cigar, no?"



"You're welcome, Saleem"

Saleem pointed his cigar towards Ivan. "Discretion is the word...yes?"

"Discretion and silence," Ivan agreed.

Saleem took another puff and pointed the cigar again, "And you can make this happen, yes?"

Ivan nodded.

"And no police."

"No police, Saleem."

"And she shall disappear like smoke in the wind, yes?"

"...but not without repercussions, Saleem."

"Repercussions? Explain."

Ivan explained the many ramifications of a missing prosecutor. "...and it'll create an intense investigation, Saleem."


"And that's fine as long as we cover our tracks."

"Then find me a man who does not leave tracks. Yes?"

"It will be...complicated. Expensive."

"This prosecutor. Louisa Handryman. LH," Saleem said, as he waived his cigar at a swarm of imaginary gnats,"is like unwanted pest, no?"

"All pest are unwelcome."

They laughed.

"Expensive. Complicated, you say. A problem."

"She's definitely a problem, Saleem."

"We eliminate problems," he said, pointing the cigar toward Ivan.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Color is Your Brain?

View the colorful box (above) for sixty seconds or more and elevate your creativity. Immediately, write down what you feel.  At the end of this article, I will confirm what you are thinking and feeling. (In fact, as you read this first paragraph the experience has already taken a positive effect on your life).

Seduce your reader, subliminally.

Subliminal strategies are not new. The first, in the late 1950s, focused on James Vicary's claims that he had inserted split-second, invisible ad messages into movies. In the 1970s, Wilson Bryan Key rekindled the frenzy with his book Subliminal Seduction, which purported to reveal that ads for liquor and other everyday products were riddled with hidden skulls and humping donkeys - Clary McLaren

{Clary McLaren studies the paradox of ad criticism}

Color reflects mood. Consider this. Many corporations spend millions of dollars to discover just the right colors associated with the corporate logo and the ensuing message. Take the popular furniture store "Rooms to Go" for example. Its employees wear bright red, yellow, green and blue. An assortment of excitement. Excitement, like enthusiasm is contagious. A consistent mood develops brand, ever subliminal in the mind of the viewer. As writers, color is not a viable medium, but words and scenes that reflect mood consistent with color is readily accessible to us. Use it.

Here it is: The 50,000 daily thoughts you had in the past have created the person you are today and the life you are currently living and the 50,000 thoughts you are thinking today are creating the person you are going to be tomorrow and the life you will live!

{for additional information on subliminal text, see the link below}


The world reknown jazz musician, John Coltrane wrote on the jacket of the album cover, entitled  "Equinox," something to the following effect.

" The more I developed this music, the more I discovered that the thing I was excavating were parts of my own soul."

Color has an incredible effect on your mood, your perception and your likes and dislikes. It’s programmed into you, and you really have little to say about it. Your reptilian mind is the part of you that is programmed to survive. It’s what makes you instinctively know that fire is bad, that red is danger, and that green is comforting. Humans developed over millions of years and color is a big part of our perception.

Colors Black and white represent polarity and compatability. Words associated with those colors are: perspective, point of view, objectivity, attraction.

The color blue symbolize a reflective mood. Words primarily associated with the color blue are: happy, gay, mellow and introspective.

Bright hues such as yellow, red and orange represent novelty.

The following words are associated with bright colors: accessibility, affordabilty, energetic and future.

Red is the color predominantly used in fast food advertisements because it stimulates the appetite. Orange is commonly used to advertise expensive products because it is perceived as affordable.

I am not suggesting we deceive the reader. I am recommending we plant (early on) the subconcious reality of the character and "show" the actions overtly so that the reader arrives at the same conclusion intended by the writer - an understanding of the character. This is a most effective means of arriving at colorful writing.

Below is a link to a psychological word test. Try it on your characters. Take this test as if you were the character in your story. It will develop tremendous insight into your characters thinking and keep your character's actions consistent with her psyche.

Please, let me know if this helps by commenting and following this sight. May your writing goals be fulfilled.

By the way, at the risk of presumption, the thoughts you felt when viewing the colors and words above were "joy" and "excitement." Your thinking was in line with developing new ideas for an existing story. If you think you were stimulated to start a new story, rethink the proposition. The story you are inspired to write is already in your archives.

{for additional information on subliminal text, see the link below}


Please, let me know if this helps by commenting and following this sight. May your writing goals be fulfilled.

Psychology word list -- Vocabulary test 10

Seduce your reader, subliminally.

Crazy About Writing

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Write and Sell Your Knowledge

Writing Training Materials That Work: How to Train Anyone to Do AnythingAre You an Expert?

Discover free money you’ve already earned.

If you answered, yes, then you are about to discover an exciting resource and additional avenues to produce more income from what you already know.

Free money rest in the bosom of experts. Many experts are learning (as are you) of untapped resources. If you have an area of expertise exceeding fifteen years of experience, then you may have something to offer of intrinsic value.

"Human beings are always in search of ways to resolve personal problems or expand their mental, physical, social and professional skills," says Jean Marie Stine, author of Self-Help & How-To Books.

You may be pleasantly suprised of the many income streams affordable to you as a result of your knowledge. "As our society becomes increasingly complex, more and more attorneys and judges are turning to consultants to explain how things happen," says Dan Poynter, author of The Self Publishing Manual, and over 76 additional titles. "Eighteen million (18,000.000) law suits are filed each year in the United States by 850,000 lawyers. Each case needs at least two expert witnesses," he concluded.

You may not have become rich through your specialized knowledge, bud did you make money?

If so, others can take your how-to information and make more money from it than you ever dreamed. In the words of Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, “Others can take and old product and apply new technology leading to astounding success.”

With the advent of the internet, this strategy is compelling. Successful entrepreneurs often enjoy a variety of experience and a vast knowledge base. They frequently apply new strategies to old business modules (a new razzmatazz, if you will) and become wealthy. They know how to fill a need more efficiently through the use of developed technologies; as a result, they become wealthy.

Take the information websites, for example, E-how, Wanna Learn, How to, Suite 101, etc. Each of these enterprises is extremely great outlets which allow experts to help others and generate an income, simultaneously. These resources are a great help to you. I am about to show you how.

Let’s dig through the gold mine of experiences in your head.

(1) Look at your career and business experience. Can you talk about what you do?

(2) Can you delineate the experience, trade secrets and skills needed to be successful? Do you have a lucrative hobby?

If you’ve answered yes to the above questions, read on.

This writer has witnessed immediate success of individuals who woke up one day and realized the secret within themselves. This writer has written, edited and supported their books on the subject of their respective expertise.

Take Barbara Wright-Sykes for example. Barbara knows more about sewing than any top three experts, combined, but Barbara has always been a rather down-to-earth personality who simply enjoyed her work. She was, also, a consultant to others who sew clothing for a living.

There were books in Barbara. The first book is called “The Business of Sewing,” ©copyright 2005 Collins Publications.

That book changed Barbara’s life, forever. We encouraged each other. I edited her book with joy. Barbara has not looked back and her success sings a piercing song throughout her most glamorous career. If that was not enough, she published “Overcoming Fear, Doubt & Procrastination,” © copyright 1990 Collins Publications. She has since published a series of books, TV shows, radio shows, Audio/Video cassettes, seminars and workshops stimulating world-wide appeal. Barbara is on top of her game.

You too, can exploit your knowledge base, profitably.

How to Discover That Goldmine within Yourself

(1) Ask yourself, what body of knowledge is unique to you?

(2) What are the critical mistakes you’ve made that could have been avoided?

(3) If you had a child entering your profession, what would you tell her?

If you can answer each question with two sentences or more, I can help you write your book. In fact, almost any well published writer can.

By the way, if I may digress for a moment, I practice what I preach. After writing and editing books for others (after helping make other folks rich), I applied the above principles to my own life. I answered the questions above.

The end result? My book: How to Build a Putting Green, ©copyright 2007, and wealth danced at my door steps. (Google me and any of the above mentioned people and see)

That’s not all. Take Jackie Follie’s book: The Entrepreneur’s Handbook, a multi-million dollar best seller in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. I wrote it for Jackie. When Jackie started with this book, Jackie lived in a one bedroom flat—not so, today, by a wide margin. Jackie sold the interest to a publishing conglomerate and retired went into semi-retirement.

The annals of How-to history are filled with many successful people who, at one point in their lives, did not recognize the wealth of material wrapped in their experience. They know today.

You can, too.

Jeff Wuorio knows. Jeff is the author of How to Buy & Sell Everything, ©copyright 2009. Peter Walsh knows. Peter is author of How to Organize just about Everything, ©copyright 2009. Monte Bursch knows: author of Building Log Homes. Need I say more?

If you’ve answered, yes to the above questions, you are sitting on a blank check. The book in you is worth, at least, six thousand dollars a year for the remainder of your natural life plus seventy years (that’s copyright law). That’s for a run of the mill book. What if there is a good book in you?

There’s one in Walter E. Bell. I’m writing it with him. You’ll read about him and this great book called How to Start a Cleaning Service for $5,000 or less, ©copyright 2009 Bell.

Five Steps to Selling Your Expertise

Follow Them

(1) Contact a professional published writer of non-fiction books; preferably, one with international publishing contacts and marketing know-how. Take myself, for example.

(2) Fill in the blank. I can tell you best how to_____________________

(3) Start writing notes, in your own words. It’s that simple.

Ok. I’ve told you what, when, where and how. What you’re providing is expertise. It’s first presented in a book, and then there are by products, audio/video, articles, seminars, workshops, etc.

When? Now! Why not make a lucrative resolution for the New Year, one that brings almost free money? This is money you’ve already earned and left on the table. I had build hundreds of putting greens before I wrote the book and cashed in. See the money I would have, otherwise, left on the table? Don’t make that mistake.

You have three questions to answer that will change your life, forever. You may not have an award winning bestseller in you, but you’ll have many trips to the bank.

What are you waiting on? Grab your pen and paper or keyboard and start typing.

I’ll see you at the top.

S. Barry Hamdani, author, public speaker and consultant practices in Atlanta, Ga., Los Angeles, CA., Houston, TX., Dallas, TX. and the Caribbean. He can be reached at

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How to Get an Agent

Once you recover, try this:

Beyond the basic stuff such as researching an agent's particulars, and writing a concise query letter and blah....blah....blah, are a few unique considerations that may make a positive diference.

Here it is.

Seduce your agent from the very start. You may not write a great query letter. So what? Did you write a good story is a better question. If you really believe so, center your sample chapter around the character. Introduce the most controversial aspect of your charcter. Do NOT fear controversy. If the agent doesn't like it then she is probably not the right agent for your book. This is important because there is something special and elegant about writing the query in your own voice. The reader will know you are authentic.  In a different post on this blog, I wrote about how to seduce your reader, subliminally. That's a great approach to acquire and maintain readers interest, but it is highly inappropriate and utterly ineffective toward grasping an agent's attention. This is no time to be shy. A direct hit is in order. Go directly after the agent with specific delineation of character development from the first line of your query and introduce the chapter that best exemplify this point.

For example, in the Doctor's Vice, I forwarded a chapter that delineates the most controversial aspect of the main character, Smitty. Through the dialogue of only six sentences my agent saw right away that Smitty is a psycopath. Many agents rejected the story because of it. That's good. In fact, that was a turning point towards acquiring the right agent. It's a good thing because she rejected the story for all the right reasons: she did not represent what I know thrillers (the genre) to be; therefore, she was not the right agent for my book. This may sound cocky, but in reality it reflects my commitment to both the story and the genre. Believe in your work and take no prisoners. I did not change my story and rightfully so. As I write, an agent is considering my novel because she represent classic thrillers.

Prior to speaking with this agent, I had a call from an agent who straddled the fence. She liked the story but was not sure if it were too graphic. Because my story had been reviewed by a few thriller writers whom I respect, I stuck to my guns and concluded this agent was not right for me either. True commitment often comes off as self-centered tyranny, but if you don't believe in your story, who will?  Obviously, I am open to making modifications that does not dilute the story. I am open to criticism, however, I will not make changes that are not consistent to the feel of the story.

Write the best story in you and stick to it. In time, the right agent will discover you.


Colorful Writing Starts Inside Your Character's Head

What's going inside the character's head? The basis of our stories encompass about eight inches of space. An individuals perception of self and the world surrounding the individual is all wrapped up in that small space between the ears: the human brain. One does not need to master the study of psychology to arrive at a basic understanding as to what motivates a character.

For example, think of someone you know well (preferably not yourself-for reasons we will explore, later).  What is the focus of the character's concentration? Is it greed, love, hate, revenge or fear? We earlier explored the six or seven basic fears in the post entitled: How to Write Colorful Openings, dated March 20, 2010. In that particular post we concentrated on opening chapters, however, this pathology is embedded in an individuals psyche throughout the story, and in reality, throughout one's life.

For example, in my upcoming novel, The Doctor's Vice, we explore the psyche of Jon Kayyan. Jon is motivated by greed. Jon's psyche is comprised of several different people I know in real life. Each of them are greedy. Greed often overwhelms sensitivity, morality, respect for others and is counter intuitive of almost any human dynamic that stands its way.

Jon Kayyan's greatest desire is to become rich. The underlying psychological dynamic is compelled by the fear of poverty; therefore, Jon is obsessed with the idea of wealth. There is the resemblance of a Gordon Gekko residing in his brain. His entire world is seen through the lens of poverty vs. wealth.

 Characterization becomes real to the reader when character motivation is consistent. Both the writer and the reader can thus determine what the character might do or say in a given situation.

Eric Berne, clinical psychiatrist and founder of Transactional Analysis discovered the significance of the "Adult" relationship between the therapist and the client toward sorting out behaviors, emotions and thoughts that prevent the development of human potential based on "transactions" or interactions between individuals. Principally, these transactions are performed through each of three ego states: the parent, the adult and the child.

Bear with me, I am not trying to give a class in psychology, but rather, a simple insight into human motivations so that your characters are true, believable and colorful

The adult ego states exemplify thinking. The parent ego state focuses upon that which has been learned (by the parent) and its thoughts, beliefs and perspective is often imposed upon the listener. The child ego state is "felt." The child does not necessarily respond to reason. Although, a single individuals ego state may fluctuate from one to another (child to parent, adult to child, etc.), each individual interacts predominantly through one ego state.

Hang in there with me. Here's my point: An Anthony Bates, or Dr. Lecter does not change simply due to reason, morality or any healthy human dynamic. If the writer attempts to make that change separate from the focus of the story, the entire story becomes implausible. I therefore, submit the importance of studying your characters motivations and stress the apparent necessity of sticking to your guns. In my case, because I write thrillers, the psyche of my madman must develop consistently throughout the story. Any attempts by outsiders to help the character "Smitty" in the Doctor's Vice, must be thwarted, misinterpreted and internalized by Smitty as a personal affront. Why? Because Smitty and most all psychopaths are eternally imprisoned by the child ego state. In other words, they have succumbed to the tragedy of the past, caged by the overwhelming devil that played havoc upon their emotions in childhood.

Writing thrillers is exciting in that unlike most fiction, there is little explanation of the characters background during the outset of the story. By the application of good technique, this rule can be broken. For example, in the thriller, "The Doctor's Vice," I open up when actions that signify the pathology of Smitty's background through the use of conflict to hopefully, gain readers sympathy for Smitty, before he becomes a madman.

My writing is about "what makes people break." That is, informally, my mission statement. I challenge you to get in touch with the mission statement (the constant idea that permeates your writing). In doing so, I promise your characters will leap from the page. Your writing will become far more colorful than before and you will, consequently create a "Brand."

Now you have it. Don't wait or you will procrastinate. Start

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Meaning of Life/why I write

The Meaning of Life

To me, the meaning of life is the arrival of self-actualization, therefore, I challenge you to think on these things.

Why do I write?

I write because I need to write. I was born to write.  I need to author thriller novels. My life is utterly unfulfilled if I fail to write. Writing in this moment is important because I can never experience this moment again. We can never again be who we are today, because we are constantly changing; therefore, it is important to chronicle our feelings, our outlook on life and document the lens from which we see life today, which in turn, chronicles our growth.

A wise man once said, “ An individual cannot step into the same body of water twice, because the composition of the water has changed and so has the individual. "
The same is true with all art. It is consistent with the spirit of the individual, cohesive with his or her genius and a footprint unique to ones calling. It is God’s way of speaking to us through the medium of growth and the nature of growth is change.

Art is not only therapeutic; it is the quintessential experience of who we really are and in a greater since it awakens the genius in others. For example, whether we write a story which moves us or create an oil painting that moves us we discover that form is irrelevant. The point is the true self relates to the inanimate entity that moves us. There is relationship there.

Some relationships are latent, others are manifested. They are effective only when we truly come in contact with who we really are. This realization can be difficult to attain if we are not true to self. Social edicts, the desire to please others and the need to make a living sometimes thwart our growth toward this passion, but the ultimate individual responsibility and the final spiritual reality is to make this contact and hold onto it at all cost. There is the reality of influence which may or may not encourage us in the direction in which we are meant to travel.

The above mentioned realities are clarified for me through my writing. Through the process of writing, that which is latent is soon discovered. Unwanted influences are challenged and entities, thoughts and concepts that do not agree with who I am are brought to light.

A wise man once said “A life unexamined is a life not worth living.”
Words on paper force the reality of self examination to manifest. It is at this point that I am self actualized. It is in that space that I discover and re-discover who I am and where I am going. This experience makes me happy. After all, it is the essential expression of immortality. Long after we have passed into the greater world, our writing yet lives. Art, alone is immortal. History may be forgotten, and legends are subject to prejudicial interpretation, but art lives, subject to the experience of the reader or the viewer; therefore it is always fresh. It may be old in concept but new when experienced. It is experienced in real time as new, because the perspective of each individual who read the work or views a painting is as unique as the individual.

Nietzsche said, “Man looks into the abyss and there is nothing looking back at him. It is at that point that man finds character, and that is what keeps him from the abyss. “
If I could not write, I would be eternally lost in an abyss and without a bookshelf. A person who cannot appreciate art is viewing it from the abyss. If I could not write, I could not dream and would not likely discover why I was born. I therefore, encourage you (my fellow writers) to never give up. For me, it is not about the number of books I sell. It is not about having a popular publisher. It is not about fame. It is about getting words on paper, because I do not choose to live an unexamined life. During my last day on earth I do not want to regret anything, therefore, I am.


Sunday, November 7, 2010


Randy  Austin's Award
  It was a pleasure to edit this wonderful book, entitled "Wizards Refrain."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writing Resources

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Color your Writing with Foreign Languages

What is Your Favorite Color?

Hello everyone. I have spent some time traveling and making good use of time and the languages I've learned over the years, including spanish. I would like to share what I hope is a thought provoking experience that might inspire you to write.

An effective means of demonstrating character development resides in a character's response to a unique situation. What if your character finds herself in a rush to catch a train, but no one around her speaks her language, and all the street signs, brochures and schedules are written in a foreign language. How would she handle it?

I am spending some time enjoying Mexico and Costa Rica. ( By the way, I speak six languages, therefore, should you need help, contact me) . During an excursion to an island called Las Mujeres, I noticed a few Americans, staring at a sign in Spanish, puzzled. One man started to aboard the boat, changed his mind and returned to the same sign, uncertain that he had the right boat.

What would your protagonist have done in that situation? Would he/she have brought a dictionary, or consulted a tudor, or perhaps, attended a spanish class prior to the trip?

I've found this to be a thought provoking exercise toward tremendous character development without the need of narrative and explanation.

It presents an opportunity to show rather than tell. You know the drill.

Furthermore, the act of providing street signs (in a foreign language) also help create scene development. For example, a man is about to step off the curb into the street where there is no street light, yet there is a sign that he does not understand. A car is coming fast, but a good samaritan grabs him by the hand to prevent an imminent accident. Which part of this scene would your protagonist/antagonist have played?

Another example may be that of a gentleman and lady who recently met. Let's put them in a coffee shop chatting. Let's say they enjoyed one anothers company and the gentleman is about to leave.

" Encantado que concerte," he said, meaning it has been a pleasure to know you, however, since he used the verb encantar, he has made a warm, almost personal greeting expressing feeling.

What if she smiled, turned to leave, stopped, turned around and smiled, again. What if he walks up to her and gives her a big warm hug? Next, looking over her shoulders as he embraced her, he noticed a sign on the wall.

What did it read? Did she help him to understand or was he to shy to ask?

Explorative scenes such as those above can help stimulate very colorful writing because it immediately, takes the reader abroad, vicariously.

During your next trip abroad, take more photos of people and foreign street signs to jog your memory when you return home. You might be suprised how it will help spruce up an existing story and stimulate a new story idea.

Well, what are you waiting for? Pull out those old photographs and see what happens.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Creating Evil Characters

The key to creating an effective evil character involves a two prone perspective. The character must be believable, and, the reader must empathize with the evil character - at some point in the book. There are a few thriller writers who can effectively skirt around the latter notion of making an evil character likeable. However, these great writers tend to present drama, tragedy and suspense in the opening chapter revealing very little characterization of the bad guy.

The Doctor's Vice has a complex plot, so I found it necessary to develop a character the reader could follow and understand.

The process of creating an evil character starts with good research. I had to know what makes a person pathological. And then I researched the actions and symptons of the character's pathology. Next, research professional profiles of particular pathological behavior to create suspense when your character is acting out the behavior.

For example, my upcoming novel, The Doctor's Vice, draws upon research of a child's traumatic experiences at an early age. In this case, a young boy has a terrible experience that lingers with him, gnawing upon his psyche. His undirected anger grows and he begins to interpet the world of adults based on his own inner fears and self-hatred. The reader will understand that the character does not trust....anyone.

I hope the reader has sympathy for the boy and follow him through the opening chapter.

To pull it off, I had to make the reader see, feel and hate the child molester. I had to present the child as helpless, fearful and unable to understand his trauma. I had to make sure circumstances surrounding his childhood made him feel no one would believe him if he were to expose his molester.

To make the boy's fear believable to the reader, I, hopefully, created insight into his mother's greed (which the molester exploited). Greed made her vulnerable to the molester's advances toward her son. Her greed added salt to the boy's injury. Can you imagine what evil is created in the boy's soul?

One thing I've learned from great writers is to avoid the propensity to front load the story with back story information. In other words, show the action upfront and explain later.

When the boy grows up, he becomes an insatiable killer.

Enough of my rambling, let's get to the point.

Here is an excerpt from the Doctor's Vice. Hopefuly, I have created sympathy for the boy, Smitty, which will make his evil acts believable later on in the story.

{The boys are in the basement of the molester's home}

Mr. Boomer sat on the sofa next to the other boys and crossed
one leg over the other so that one side of his hips was raised higher. He flipped off both sandals and dangled his legs like a woman.

"Okay, let's show you how to wrestle," said Mr. Boomer. He then fell to his knees. "Whose first?"

Mr. Boomer looked around the room. The boys looked at each other. All of them had heard the rumors. The man was said to be...funny. He touched boys in private places; however, none of the boys lost interest in wrestling.

Smitty spoke up. "Let's go swimming." He was immediately aware that he should have remained silent.

"You. Smitty." Mr Boomer said pointing toward him. He then pointed at the floor and patted the carpet with an open palm. He beckoned the young, intimidated boy. "Come on Smitty, let's show 'em. The man spanked the floor, again. "Let's do 'er."

"Don't wanna," Smitty responded.

"Whaddya say boys? Is Smitty chicken or what?"

"Noooooo," they yelled.

"Smitty can wrestle," said another.

"Show him Smitty."

"I'm waiting, Smitty." Mr. Bommer patted the floor with the palm of his hand.

"Let's go swimming, everyone!" Smitty shouted.

"I know why he doesn't wanna," Earl whispered to another boy.

The boys snickered among themselves, and then sat on the sofa, in preparation of a dramatic unfolding.

"Don't you wanna swim, guys?" Smitty asked no one in particular. He looked around the room for voter support.

There was unanimous silence.

After another nervous moment, the boys began to giggle. They knew Smitty was about to get the treatment.

I am attempting to sprinkle the story with background information on the character without boring the reader by stifling the action scenes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Writing: How to Write Colorful Openings

We've heard much ado about opening chapters with action. It's among the most hackneyed expressions of writing advice. While action is important, it accounts for only one facet of the dynamic opening. Other fragments of a great opening are: mood, pace, tension and conflict. The makings of such an opening is well within the spirit of every serious writer. I hope to help you to explore what you already have. So, let's dust off that jewel within yourself, polish it and create memorable openings.

Here are the components to great openings: Fear, Dialog, Conflict and Scene.

Let's start by exploiting the most basic human emotion: fear. For the sake of memory, I use the following acronym to describe those fears, L. Podic. L-P-O-D-I-C, which stands for the fear of: Loss, Poverty, Old age, Death, Illness and most of all Criticism.

Exploit one or more fears in the context of conflict.

"Conflict!" is a superior dynamic toward the great opening. Conflict builds tension, sets the mood and allows the demonstration of character development. In other words, you won't have to tell the reader. You can show them through a given conflict. The reader will become lost in the story as each character responds to conflict. So, there's number one: conflict.

So, forget about action. Conflict stimulates action. Conflict speaks to the reader through language, choice of words, the attitude of the character and encourage the reader to desire a particular action.

How to create conflict? I knew you would ask. Here's how. Here are a few techinques. First, ask yourself, who do you know who cannot seem to answer a simple question without filling you in on all the unncecssary details? Who? Write that individual's name down.

What would he or she say if there were an accident? How would this person respond to a broken arm, or, a broken relationship? Is this person very dramatic? If so, start a scene with the idea that something has gone wrong and a character (not unlike the reader) is trying to discover the nature of the problem, but big mouth is telling all the details that led up to the problem, leaving us on the edge of our seats in anticipation of what actually happened. Make the reader want to shake the speaker until she spits it out.

This technique creates tension. I've created an example below, but first, let's explore additional techniques toward creating conflict and tension.

How? Ask yourself, what is your pet peeve? Write it down. Let's say you can't tolerate second hand cigarette smoke. Now, let's say you have legitimate reason to be in a room with a chain smoker. He is unreasonable and does not consider those around him. Let's say the last will and testament will be read in this room. You are rumored to be the principal heir to this fortune. The chain smoker, Uncle Buck is the executor of the will and primary witness to the intentions of the deceased.

So, Uncle Buck lights up.

Number 2, Dialoge.

Allow the dialoge to pull the reader smack into the story before they know it. To do so, successfully, think "scene." It does not matter whether you're writing a scene. It does matter that your mentality is that of a scene taking place.

Earlier, I alluded to a scene of a loquacious individual who cannot get to the point when asked a simple questions. I think of my niece who is the ultimate drama queen. She would not say, " The child stepped on a nail," when she can say, "An ambulance came. They took Johnny. We don't know that it were poisonous, but rumor has it that, in some cases, gaingrene sets in and they have to amputate. In some cases."

Here's an example of an opening filled with conflict and tension. See if you can determine which of the basic fears are involved in the conflict.

"They're laying off eighty six workers next month," he said.

His wife caught the coffee cup that fell from her hand and nearly onto the graphite counter top. A coffee maker whistled as steam rose beneath the hood of the oven.

His wife studied the blue gray smoke as if his words had gathered there: HE'S LOOSING HIS JOB.

Her back yet turned to him, she neatly folded her note -- the one she spent two days itemizing living expenses and past due bills on paper. She folded the paper into even smaller quarters and clenched it in her fist before hiding it within her bosom.

"...cutting back in every department and every category except the fat cats get to stay on. In fact, the top three executives received a big bonus," he said.

A mortgage. Two car notes. Insurance. Three kids and another on the way. One in college. Tuition. Books.

"...and was going to try to get on at the BMW plant, but their first choice of candidates for the three jobs will be among the fifteen hundred people they laid off last year."

Three. Only three jobs. Credit card balances.

"Honey? The coffees ready," he said.

Her mind faded into a world of whistles, steam and bills.

Now, see if you can indentify the fears invloved in the above scene.

Below is antoher example.

The two of them sat at a booth. Jenny shuffled in her seat, fumbled with the handle of a coffee mug and bit her nails. Periodically, she looked up toward the door. She even noticed all movements and comings and goings in the nearby parking lot.

He sipped from his own cup and noticed the way she played with her eggs and bacon.

She answered her cell phone. "...umhmm. Here at the Waffle House. The one on Rockbridge Road. Uhmm. He's here. Okay. (laughter). Cool, girl. Bye."

"That was short. Who was that?" he asked.

"A girl friend," she said.

She shifted in her seat and began biting her nails, again.

"Are you sure there's nothing going on between you and Cindy?" She asked.

"Who said that? Who told you something like that?"

"Are you seeing her?"

"Cindy? Me--" he pointed to his chest --" and Cindy? "

She shoved her meal aside, toyed through her purse and then removed a small mirror and applied lipstick.

"When was the last time you saw her?"

"Who, Cindy?"

She rubbed her lips together and turned her head aside until her dangling ear ring shown in her compact mirror.

"What--two weeks ago?" he said.

"Not last night?"

He hesitated. "No."

"Not at  Barleys in the parking lot last night?"


"Why would someone lie about that?"

"I dunno. You can ask Emmet. Last night I was with him."

She looked up...toward the door. The lady marching through the door had business on her mind. She stood erect with a heavy purse strapped to her left shoulder. Her right hand stuffed inside the purse, she said something to the cashier who pointed toward the table where they sat.

The cashier rushed behind the kitchen door and beckoned the waiters to join her.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Writing: Access Your Resevoir of Experience

As the Bible states, It is better to give than to receive.

During those moments when we are feeling deep emotions, we may want to write our feelings down. Whether we are experiencing joy, pain, sadness or anger, there are descripitons hidden within emotions that adds color to our lives and to our stories. Our feelings are invaluable.

Treat your emotions like a gold mine and mine them. There is great value there. Dig and give away what you find. Others might appreciate it.

Having said that, I strongly suggest we access our own experiences more and share those experiences with others, not necessarily in a story, but in a letter. Write a letter about what you are feeling.

For example, pretend you are with a therapist (you're on the sofa). What do you have to say?

It may go something like this:

Dear Reader,

Today, I am missing a very close relationship. I was married for eighteen years and now that I am not, my life is quite different. I am, yet, adjusting.

I have dated a few people, but, in doing so, I've learned that I do not want a serious relationship, just friends. In moments like these (the present) however, I would like more.

I have to be careful here, because there is a difference in missing a person and missing the relationship. People, often falter by going back and forth, in and out of unhealthy relationships for that reason. Sometimes people do not want to be alone. It's like going back to a job you left. Look, Either you left for a reason or you did not. Here's where we have to trust ourselves.

Lonelines is okay. Pain is okay. Because we are feeling pain from loosing a loved one does not mean we should jump into another relationship with that same person or anyone else; after all, we are always alone. Always.

I've found that once I grew up and accepted the reality of loneliness as a temporary thing, and the state of being alone as eternal, I began to make better decisions.

People who can handle pain are people who tend to make better decisions in the long run, as it pertains to break ups. People who are overcome by pain tend to jump out of the frying pan and back into the pot.

All of the above entail my inner thoughts at the time of the writing.

Now, how do I turn this into interesting fiction. Well, if art imitates life, then I'm on to something here.

Here we go.

He snuffed out a half smoked cigar and stared at a full glass of wine that sat before him, untouched. He repositioned himself in the hammock and put the novel aside. He was on page 31 but could not remember what he had read.

He sat the book aside.

"It's okay," he whispered.

He opened the cell phone, stared at her name and number and closed the phone for the third time without dialing.

The phone rang.

"Hi mom. Fine. No, we're not back together. No. I miss.....the relationship, but I don't miss her. Okay. I'll come, but Mom? I may be alone."

He closed the cell phone and smiled. He really smiled. His eyes smiled. "Relationship," he mummbled.

Larry, placed the phone on the grass beneath his hammock, lit the cigar and took a long drag. Again, he smiled. He stared at the stogie. It tasted better. He licked his bottom lip. Larry then sipped from his glass of wine. He then held the glass in front of him as if it were his lover's face. He shook the glass, ever so slightly, just enough to give the wine legs that ran along the inside of the glass like diluted syrup. He sipped it again, chewed it and smiled.

"Now that's a glass of wine," he said.

Life is good when you know what you're feeling. Larry nodded, approvingly.

He finished the novel and dialed.

"Hi," he said. "This is Larry. We met at the library...last week? Yes. Thought I'd invite you over to my mother's for dinner tommorrow. Sure, then I'll take you home immediately, afterwards. Okay. Thanks. See you then."

Larry toasted to the open air, alone. He sipped and smiled.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Writing: Don't Give Up

Do Not Give Up!

You may be closer than you think to becoming a published author.

I briefed nine manuscripts this past week. The authors were rejected by one of my clients, a major publisher. Three of those manuscripts were great. So, why were they rejected? They were rejected because they were not quiet ready for publication, that's why.

As a freelance writer, I am pulling for the writers of the above mentioned three manuscripts. As a paid editor, my responsiblity to my client is to toss the manuscript and go to the next one, however, I cannot. There's trouble going on between my ears. The writer in me is a nagging moralist that makes me feel like I've betrayed all writers by supporting the rejection, but the publisher is paying my bills. So, what do I do?

I contact those writers and offer what a rejection letter does not. You guessed it: I offer advice.

Why am I writing this particular post? I want you to know that your manuscripts may be closer to publishing than you realize. In honor of my client publishers, I am not at liberty to mention names, just yet, however, many good books are turned down simply because editors do not have time to read them. If only I had more time. I would edit the good manuscripts for free. Yes, I would. I cannot help myself. I love this game.

How I love this game.

A wise person once said, "If your game in life is not worth playing, find another game."

I agree with the sage. Great manuscripts are worth saving. I'm asking other editors out there (no, I'm begging) to please, please take an otherwise rejected manuscript home this weekend and give the writer a few pointers. It will reward you. If the good manuscript is published, you'll have yourself a most loyal writer. Remember, loyalty works both ways.

Sure, you might say, but Barry are you doing what you're requesting of us?

Yes, I am. Well, to an extent, I am. I don't have time to read complete manuscripts that are already rejected, however, I will help correct what I call "bad chapters" to an otherwise good book. Some of you (editors) have good manuscripts with a couple bad chapters that turned you off, please, don't outright reject it. Contact me, I will help with it.

So, do I practice what I preach...or what?

For those aspiring novelist out there whose editors have directly pointed out bad chapters, yet you don't know what to do with them, send me an e-mail. Please be brief, as time is of the essence. Send me a summary of the problem. Summary. That's a two pager. If I agree to help you, I will request a chapter. We will work with it over a couple of days, at which time you may be ready to move to the next problem with your manuscript.

How's that for service?

Remember, I have time to review one chapter only....the bad chapter that is otherwise, inhibiting the publication of a good book. Most books have a hindering spirit....somewhere within the text, prior to publication.

Hang in there and someday soon the mail carrier will arrive with an exciting acceptance letter.

So, there it is. Don't give up. Define the chapter(s) that's hindering the progress of your book and do something about it.

So, what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Writing to Mesmerize the Reader

(c)copyright 2010 Hamdani

We want to capture the reader's attention, right away, do we not?
Assuming we agree, let's explore means of arriving at that objective. Here are a few tips.

Use the epithet to handcuff the reader's imagination to a given passage. I suggest you write and read poetry to develop the technique and modify your style over a relative short period of time. Use unusual words and phrases to accompany your prose. These words should incur in place of the name of a person or thing, thus the epithet.

{Bare with me. I've included two examples, below. I won't leave you hanging}

Allow your writing to fluctuate from prosaic to insidious to the poetic and back, again, thus elliptic. This is a panacea to otherwise boring narrative. Here's how to do it.

*Give them deliberate obscurity.

*Emphasize the magic of the elliptic.

{continue reading. These techniques are included in the examples, below}

Why? Because adverbs are otherwise relative to the reader's interpretation, but obscurity evokes emotion. Emotion gives the passage crediblity relative to the reader's personal experience or judgement. In other words, obscurity allows the reader to identify with a character or event from the reader's past.

Everyone knows a Smitty and a Fenetriss (characters in my story as depicted below). The roles the characters represent are fiction, but the personalities are not.

*Write a poem about your protagonist/antagonist and watch the magic happen.

The master of this talent, in my opinion, is Emily Dickinson, poet extradionaire. Emily Dickerson could have patented her technique. It is an extreme economy of speech, second to none. The language she used is intrinsically special in that it is elliptically compressed. Her intellectual reticence stops you in your tracks, compelling you, the reader to "feel" her.

{I don't claim to be an Emily Dickerson, but you get the point}

She used metaphors to explain what prose (independently used) cannot. Make a point to read one of her poems each week and see what happens to your writing.

The technique requires a major leap from your present topic to another by the emission of words and then you must revert to poetry, and return to prose, again. To employ this technique, effectively, you want to use words and images that are undefined and allow the reader to attach the face or self-invoked image.

For example, you may resort to words that create images....words like: God, the devil, angels, demons, guardian angels, spirits, a presence and so forth.

Here's what I want you to accomplish: use an economy of words by exploiting silence, elliptically. For example, in one of my upcoming novels (a thriller), I explained the antagonist as such:

It was not Smitty's words that destroyed you. Havoc took place between a few deliberately spoken sentences. His dark eyes remained still beneath thick brows that were becoming of a demon with the appearance of a normal man, except little of Smitty's demeanor was normal. Looking at him gave one the perspective of a person viewing the body of a relative at a wake. One's soul became instantly fragmented by the possibility of being left alone with him. He was a dark place, a sinister element that should not have breathed.

And when he gave you that half-smile, that grimace becoming of nearly every known serial killer, you were immediately aware of your human frailties. He made you want to pray.

His smile offended God.

This technique is not limited to a particular genre. For example, I used it in a romance scene, below.

It was not her words that magnetized the man's heart, but the things Fenetriss didn't say. It was that space between the words spoken and the actual meaning conveyed that made her lover stutter; a place superior to wit and one step below Godliness. When Fenetriss spoke, and just before their lips met, a most sublime silence captured him, even before she closed her eyes. At that very moment, he realized that his propensity to become better or weaker was solely up to her.

He could only hope that her half-smile pleased God.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Need an Agent

(c) copyright 2010 Hamdani

Most writers need an agent. You've heard of the legendary catch 22: the agent need you to have a published book, and the publisher need you to have an agent.

Look forward to upcoming post on this topic. We plan to have fun with it and too keep ourselves informed on the latest.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Develop Colorful Writing Techniques


Discover The 5 Sense Approach to Colorful Writing,

Try the 5 Sense approach, and hone your creative writing skills. This approach does not provide a panacea to all your writing problems, however, if practiced, this technique will make your writing practically jump off the page. It only takes about fifteen minutes a day to develop this technique. I promise, if you continue to read this blog, your writing skills will improve, dramatically.

Here goes.

We are going to exploit the five senses to arrive at very colorful writing. Use this technique with prose, poetry, non-fiction and writing in general. I write suspense, a necessary ingredient in my genre which is the Thriller.

Get your pen and paper or put your fingers on the keyboard (a-s-d-f, j-k-l-;) and close your eyes. Forget about the entire story you're writing( for a moment) and focus on a single scene in your book. Begin this exercise by focusing on the sense of sight. S-I-G-H-T.

Close your eyes for about a minute and bring to mind all that you see. Next, open your eyes and write single words and phrases (not becessarily sentences) based on what you saw, however, sentences and fragments are okay. It's not about rules of grammar, it's about creativity.

For example, I'm doing it as I speak.

Step 1.
I'm about to close my eyes and concentrate on a scene in my latest novel. I'm going to think of the antagonist, Smitty. I'm focusing on the sense of sight. Here I go.

I've opened my eyes and I'm writing:

Smitty. Ponytail. Eyes that shifted. Clean face. Tall. Salt and pepper hair. Dark. Beneath a tree. Wind blowing. Shadows. Lights inside. Looking through window. They don't see him. He saw her. Flashes of light....a television screen?

Step 2.

I'm closing my eyes and foucsing on the sense of sound. S-O-U-N-D. This is what I hear:

Wind blowing. A dog barked in the distance. A machine hummed. Air conditioner? Plates rattled. A door slammed. A car door shut. Voices. Voices disappeared. Slence.

Step 3.

The sense of "Touch."
Brittle tree bark. An insect crawling on my skin. A brushing leaf. bit my tongue.

Step 4.

The sense of "Smell."
Supper. Something roasted. greenery. Something moist, perhaps mildew. Smoke. Pollen?

Step 5.

The sense of "Taste."
Chocolate. Mint. blood. shampoo. dust.

Okay. Notice, I did not attempt to make sense of my writing. I simply wrote what was there. Now, we can go back and allow the writing to flow.

He stood beneath a thick sycamore tree, safely camoflagued by thick branches looming overhead. An insect crawled over his gloved hand an onto his wrist. Probably an ant. Shadows danced as a strong wind rustled leaves above his head. He stepped back, away from the street lamp and into the edge of the treeline.

He saw her, but she couln't see him.

Her lights were on across the street. The kitchen window was open and he smelled supper. It would be her last meal. It was a roast, fresh from the oven. He could almost taste it, but he didn't; instead, he tasted blood. His blood.

"Dammit!" he whispered. He had bit his own tongue.

Smitty removed a chocolate from the top pocket of his hunter's vest. Smitty was a hunter. Smitty hunted people.

He smacked the chocolate twice, and then swallowed. He rubbed his salt and pepper ponytail and tucked it into the first layer of clothing, a t-shirt. He then fastened the hunter's vest about his neck, creating a snug fit. Happy that his ponytail was secure and not likely to lose a strand of hair for police forensics to discover, he half smiled. Half smiled, but not yet confident that he would get away. Perfection requires rehearsal and he always rehearsed....three or four times before the action took place. He rehearsed. That's what made him good at it.

A car pulled up. The neighbors were on time. All four car doors opened. The couple and both children departed. Their voices emerged from the car but soon faded as they approached the front door. A small dog barked from inside the house.

He leaned against the trunk of the thick, moist Sycamore tree and rehearsed his plan of attack. He noticed a flash of light. Probably, a tv screen. He checked his watch. In fifteen minutes, she would turn off the tv and go to bed. He had rehearsed. A feeling of confidence swept over him, a power engulfed him. It was a complete confirmation of his superiority. Now, he smiled, completely. Twenty minutes later she would fall asleep, and then...Smitty would make his move.

Smitty was certain of one thing: He would get away.


Exploit the readers mind by alluding to what is sensed. Notice, Smitty does sense that everything is usual. Nothing is out of place. Smitty is, therefore, ready to act.

In the first and third paragraphs, I broke the rules of composition by using sentence fragments. For example, "probably an ant." Later, I used "his blood....." It's okay to break the rules, infrequently, for effect.

Now, I've demonstrated how to use your basic senses to pull he reader into the story. It doesn't matter whether you're writing romance, mystery, poetry or suspense. Employ this technique and watch your writing jump off the page.

I suggest you thumb through your manuscript and locate elongated narratives that does not move forward. There, apply this technique.

Try it. If it works for you, I would appreciate a comment on this blogsite. If I am helping you, I will share more information, but you have to let me know.

Sell more books. Use the sense God gave you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Writing Non-Fiction (How to Books)

(c) copyright 2010 Hamdani

Some writers believe non-fiction writing is more challenging. I think it's the opposite. Why? Because non-fiction limits us to a set of facts. Fiction, on the other hand, allow the imagination to run wild. Sometimes,as a result of imagination, we consequently, run upon bestsellers. That's not to imply fiction is not without format or rules. It is. For example, I write fiction thrillers. These books demand short scenes. Short scenes create suspense and impact. They make the reader turn the page (provided the writer is talented). So much for fiction; after all, this session is about non-fiction How-To books, a most lucrative category. I should know. I have a great seller out there.

We maintain tighter parameters when writing non-fiction. The free flowing imagination of the writer becomes inconvenienced by the truth. The truth is not always interesting, however, and is often flat boring. That is especially, true, when writing a litany of facts. Such writing is more effective that sleeping pills. In fact, it is a healthier and environmentally safe. Safe, because there are not plastic containers to toss, healthier as an alternative to overcoming insomnia (safer than pharmaceuticals). Save your money and spare yourself the 100s of side affect of taking sleeping pills (......may cause internal bleeding, hypertension, migraine headaches, suicidal tendencies, encourage bad writing and cause people to tear up viable manuscripts). Okay, I made up some of those symptoms, but you get the point, don't you? Poor writing, writing a list of facts is boring.

Seriously, here's the key to writing effective non-fiction.

* write what you know. (You've heard that somewhere before
haven't you? Right. That's because it's true. It works).

* Offer accounts of human experiences, not just facts.

Here's what I mean by that. In my book, How to Build a Putting Green (c)copyright 2007, I didn't limit the book to a list of facts. I, like all good writers, revealed several accounts of my experiences (not all good experiences) to demonstrate to the reader the things that can go wrong. In other words, laugh at yourself. They'll understand.

Maybe you're writing about your experience in starting a business.

Make it human.

Talk about your greatest fears when first starting out. We're you afraid that you were one of the few women to ever start a business in your particular industry? Maybe, you didn't have the assets sufficient to obtain a bank loan. Maybe, you later learned that most people do not, but you succeeded, anyway.

You don't have to give away your trade secrets to make your book interesting; you simply have to give. A wise person once said, "....they don't care what you know until that know that you care." So, don't be foolish, love 'em. Love the reader and the story will happen.

What were your greatest pleasures? I'll bet you can remember when you landed your first major contract, can't you? Remember, the dinner? Cocktails? You probably celebrated the night with your most significant other, didn't you? Then, tell us about that, and then get back to the facts.

* Employ a good'ole no-non-sense editor. Find a skeptical
editor who happens to be a good writer.

I am a strong believer that fellow writers can make great editors. We know what to look for. We can, also, readily identify the boring points. We, often, know how to spruce it up.

* Do not try to organize your thoughts. No-no-no. The
truth is often spontaneous and not often organized. Just write
notes. Don't stop to organize notes when you're in-the-zone and your writing is flowing. Have a cup of coffee, tea or whatever you drink or
smoke and reminisce on moments in the past...exploit the economy of emotion.

Focus on memories that makes your cry, or re-generate anger, hostility, sadness or joy. Write it down, and have another sip. (I'm just kidding about the smoking part. Really, I am).

Now, let's get to another fact. Ask yourself, What would you change if you had to do it all over again? Maybe, you would try a different approach. Maybe, you would sign on a different partner. Maybe, you would choose a strong drink and try a different profession, altogether. In any case, list those facts. It might go something like this.

* Never enter a negotiation unless you are fully aware of
the concessions you are willing to make.

* Know the advantages of negotiating your book deal on the
publisher's turf (at the publishers office).

* Know the benefits of negotiating the book deal on your own
turf (in this case, we're alluding to your own terms).

Here's what I'm getting at. A non-fiction book has a more distinctive market. A golf putting greens book is written for whom? You've got it. It's for golfers. Believe it or not, some people have asked me: Barry, who is the book for? (They arrived on that short, happy bus. They were a few cans short of a six pack....know what I mean?) Anyway, the market for your How-To book is somewhat obvious, however, that doesn't mean peripheral market members won't buy your book.

Here's an example. Years ago, I met a young African American man by the name of Ian Fitzwilliams, a Canadian. Ian owned a small business. He sold colorful cookbooks. He made several million dollars selling cook books, door-to-door. He made the cover of a popular Canadian business magazine. I can see him in my mind's eye, on the yellow magazine cover where he sat on a pile of cook books stacked some six feet high.

I was curious about this man. I contacted him and posed a few questions, one of which is, "How in hek did you sell so many cookbooks, so soon, and why did the cooks buy them?" No, he wasn't offended.

Ian answered, "Barry, it's not so much that people cooked, but they did believe if they bought the book, they would (cook). Get it?

C'mon, not all of you are on that proverbial slow bus that I mentioned above.

The same wisdom applied to my book, and may very well apply to yours. Not all people who bought my book were good golfers, let alone good at putting, but they believed that if they bought the book they would become so. In reality, they may or may not. That's not our problem, as writers. We give them the how-to information and it's up to them to apply it.

So, what are you waiting for, start writing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Explore Effective Writing Techniques

Before I get into the exploration of writing techniques, I must ask, again, please....please...please do not submit single space manuscripts. It is difficult to edit. Publishers will not even bother to read them. Single space manuscripts create problems from the start. One: your quote of the page count will be inaccurate. That's because a properly spaced (double spaced) manuscript is twice as long.

'...and please..please, please start chapters on the right hand page. Never mind there is space at the bottom of the left page. No problem.

I've been up since 5:30 a.m. editing book manuscripts. Two are from famous authors. I can hardly believe the transition errors they're making. Look, they are doing many things well, but that's not what they pay me for. We learn from our mistakes...our failures....therefore, I point them out.

Double space your manuscript and know your word count. Word count is more important than page count. For example, there are roughly, 250 words to a double spaced page. If you have 200 pages, you have approximately 50,000 words.

Now, let's explore some writing techniques.

Transitions and Point of View. This is a major challenge to most writers, beginners and experienced writers alike. I've committed this error many times over the past. I did so in writing my most popular book. I've received many notations from editors and publishers such as, "C'mon Barry, whose speaking here? Whose point of view is this? How much time has passed in this story since we heard from this character?"

I have since become much better. It's all about writing experience, folks. Anyway, I just finished editing a fine manuscript. It will make a fine book. It is a fantasy...a grown-ups Harry Potter, if you will. I am not yet authorized to mention its title or author, although, the manuscript has a copyright. But here's the point.

Let's call the writer, "Randy." Randy is a good writer. He created a wonderful love scene. He writes romance well. Randy, however, had the female lover killed, and dismissed the event as just part of the story. This happened one or two paragraphs after the reader fell in love with her.

That's a no-no. Never. Never say never? I'm saying it, loud and clear. N-E-V-E-R! Once the reader falls in love with your characters (whether you're writing romance, mystery, Suspense,etc.) do not kill strong characters, too soon, and casually dismiss them. Prepare the reader for such a tragic event. Treat this "good" character like a protagonist. Make the reader cry.

If she must die, do so cleverly and with great drama. Exploit the reader's emotions in the scene. For example: ....he returned to the picnic area. He saw Mary, there on the blanket. Mary was not moving. "No," he whispered to an evil thought. A most dreadful point bothered him. His heartbeat hesitated. He stooped. He hoped his actions were simply paranoia. That's all. He felt her wrist, and then her throat for a pulse. No.No-no!

Mary. God help. Mary, Move. Do something. Mary did not move. A most horrible reality flirted with the peripheral of his mind, snatching the handle of his heart. He breathed heavily, frozen in place. This was not happening to Mary, but there was no pulse. God don't let it be so. She can come back. Give her back. God. Please!

Mary was dead!

His Mary. Dead.



Now, having said that, if it is necessary that Mary dies, let her be killed by the villain, or let her die at the fault of someone else. Maybe her husband was supposed to bring her medicine and failed to because he rushed away to the picnic or to a televised football game.....his favorite team played.

The point is, we need someone to blame. It's easier to blame a killer, the villain. If we lose the romantic character to a death, we must have a foundation for revenge in the same space and time in which we lost the character, otherwise, the story will not seem plausible. The reader wants revenge. What a statement it makes about mankind. God help us!

When creating serious suspense, you may have to break the rules of English composition, grammar and everything else that makes English professors moan. Technically, they're right, but we write to snare readers.

Let's take good suspense writing a step further. Let's pretend Mary's mother insisted that Mary's husband take good care of Mary by giving Mary her daily dosage of medicine. Let's say we created a real cliff hanger at the end of the last chapter. It should go something like this: ....his phone rang. The phone was now an alien alloy mechanism in his hands. He dropped Mary's wrist. No pulse. Again, the phone rang. It was Mary's mother.

Let's Create even more suspense. Let's make the husband do the wrong thing. Let's write it so that he does not answer the phone. Later, the mom will wonder why he didn't bother to answer or return her call. What if someone sees it as a suspicious death? Maybe they think the husband, intentionally, left the medicine at home. What if the couple were unhappy? What if Mary had a large life insurance policy? What if her parents were well off and he was broke? What if one of them were cheating?

Let's start a new scene in a new location. It may read something like this:

She was awakened not by a sound, but by a relentless feeling that something had gone wrong. Her daughter, Mary had said something important during the dream. Mary's mother sat erect on the sofa. She focused and remained still, as if any slight movement might displace the details of her dream. Every day she took a nap, but nothing ever bothered her the way this dream had. This dark thing in her mind meant something.

The point of view must be obvious in the reader's mind, as demonstrated above. I will write more about POV, later.

Until then, write.

I think you get it.