I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My A-Z of Writing Tips: Know, Keep, Kill (and Who is Saint Giovanni?)

A trifecta of writing wisdom today:
  • Know the rules before you break them
  • Keep your character in the moment to avoid "telling"
  • Kill all your darlings - get rid of all those pieces of writing you've loved from the start but no longer have a place in your manuscript*
* As Mary Kole says: Lavish description at an inappropriate time is probably a signal that you need to kill some babies. (Translation: cut some of your favorite passages, not actually go down to the nursery and go on a spree.)

How about you: What's your best piece of "K" writing wisdom? 


Have you heard about Rane Anderson's awesome project, "Who is Saint Giovanni?" I call it a project because it's not just the title of the YA paranormal romance novel she's written, it's a whole lot more. Over the next year, Rane will be posting her book online, for free! Click here to read all about what Rane is doing, and more importantly, why she isn't going down the "traditional" publishing route. You can also win some free stuff for helping her spread the word. I think it's amazing when authors do something so generous (and so different).

The first chapter of Who is Saint Giovanni? was posted on The Lit Express on April 11 (click here to read), and Rane will be posting a new installment each week, including illustrations, until the book is fully online (and available for free). Make sure you check it out if you haven't already.

Here's the Preface, which Rane kindly let me post here:
There’s a girl. She’s standing behind me. I don’t see her. The image of her forms in my mind. She’s angry. No. Hurt. She likes music. Bob Dylan. The Beatles. Golden-brown eyes and a warm smile. That’s her. Oh, and that smile. It will burn in my memory for an eternity. I close my eyes. There it is. It’s a rosebud of a smile yet to bloom. It will. I’ll make it bloom.

She’ll hate me.

My heart is hammering inside my chest.

I’ll love her.

She likes black-and-white movies. Jogging in the rain. She has a broken heart. A broken family. There is no breeze here in the graveyard. My skin imagines a breeze, a tender touch, a hand on my shoulder sliding to my chest. It will happen. She will do that.

I hear her step closer. Her name is forming. E. It begins with an E. Thoughts as sweet as a sunset. As bitter as vinegar. That’s her. Emily. That’s her name. The girl I will love is named Emily. It’s the name of a poet. It should be the name of a sonnet. Emily. I smell her perfume. No. Shampoo. Eucalyptus and…lavender. Gentle as her soul.

Her soul. My next breath is sharp. I hold it. I shake my head, hard. I bite my lip. Her soul. I see myself taking it. Soon.


Grandpa said...

I learn something new every day e.g 'trifecta';
The first wisdom sounds like what I practiced during my working days - learn the rules but don't always play by them;
How do I keep my character "in the moment"?
Cannot - I love babies!
I would love you to visit my 'K' in a few hours to see if there's any hidden wisdom there...


Life on The Farm

Rachael Harrie said...

Hi Grandpa. “In the moment” is one of the ways to show without telling – you basically have the characters experience things as they happen. So rather than saying “Steve was attacked with a knife” (which is a summary of what happened, and “telling”), you describe what happened in detail as though it were happening in that moment. Eg, “Steve spun and flinched when a shadow lunged toward him. A flash of light glinted in the dark, a streetlamp reflecting off the blade of a knife. Steve’s mouth fell as the knife arced toward him. He tried to scream but his throat was locked shut, and all he could do was watch, watch, watch while his death approached.” (That sort of thing anyway) :)

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

Kill babies? I thought it was kill your darlings? Babies? Hmmm. (I'm just teasing...) Interesting style with Who is Saint Giovanni...

mooderino said...

Excellent advice.
Moody Writing

Wendy G. Ewurum said...

I am reposting....nuff said and kudos to Rene'

Wendy G. Ewurum said...

You post of today, I'm posting it on my blog. I think it's great.

Cally Jackson said...

I love love love that preface. I will definitely be following 'Who is Saint Giovanni' as it unfolds.

Thanks for sharing it with us!

Jules said...

Love the trifecta and I think my darlings have killed me :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Brooke R. Busse said...

At first when I say those three words, I thought this post was going to be whether you should kill off characters or not.

Vicki Tremper said...

I can't think of any other K advice, but that preface was amazing! So intense!

TL Conway said...

The preface sounds great! Thanks for letting us know. I'll try and head over to check it out.

As for the trifecta, I LOVE to make my darlings just to kill them. No, really. I killed one character because I liked her too much. Great fun. :)

Laura said...

Your A-Z writing tips are good. I've picked up a few tidbits reading along today. Maybe you will put them all into an ebook.

San said...

Great K wisdom today, Rach; though, I had to squint a bit to make sure I shouldn't head to the nursery ;)

And what a fab idea for Who is Saint Giovanni. Love the preface and the fact that we get to read online for free. What a deal!

Thanks again for a great K!

Carol Riggs said...

Noooo, I don't like killing my darlings. ;o) But I try to do it anyway...

Cool about the St. Giovanni--I've seen that on her blog. Great cover!

Michael Offutt said...

You know...when you run your third crusade, there's gonna be so many people that enter your head will explode. I think to preserve your sanity, you should enlist help.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Rach,

Thanks for the advice and the shout out on Rane's book.

I had to do tons of killings on my first novel. It hurts, but when it has to be done it's a mercy killing. lol.

I hope all is well with you.


E.J. Wesley said...

That's a lot of Ks, Rach! :-) J and K are both difficult letters, so good job!

Lord help us when X, Y and Z come along.

Karen Walker said...

What a great blog you have here. So glad I found you thru the a-z challenge.

Rachel Morgan said...

Ohmygosh I want to read Who Is St Giovanni! That preface was beautiful, spine tingling, captivating... Thanks so much for sharing it 'cause this is the first I've heard of it. Hope you're well :-)
xx R

Rane Anderson said...

Rach: First, THANKS for the mention. <3 <3 I can never express how appreciative I am that you have brought all of us writers together for the crusade! I've met some great people.

In the old days, (back in my teens hehe) I hated to cut anything from my manuscript. I thought, "Well, I wrote this and it should stay! It's important!" But...yeah...I've learned since then. I get attached to little snippets of convo or a description, but if it doesn't move the story forward---EDIT !!! !! ! Great advice.

J.L. Campbell said...

I didn't realize that the book was being published like that. Certainly innovative. I put it up on my review blog yesterday.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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