Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Construction of a Paragraph

When Night Falls, Romantic Suspense.

With all the buzz going around about Harlequin's letter to those "actively writing", I'm sure you'll want more information on that. I belong to Author's Guild, a necessity for published writers and Ninc. Both provide excellent information and help.

Keep in mind that once a contract is signed, that's it. But the translation of terms can be extremely quasi, depending on who's doing the translation.

Then, there's Passive Guy at The Passive Voice, who has a lot to say about everything professional, especially e-rights and self-publishing which top sellers, are leaping into, a real must read. And very intense. I mean, A Real Must Read.
Those are my 2 high points as if this date.

Wild Dawn, Western Historical. Now .99 for a limited time

Secondary, but highly important to writing is paragraph construction. I just went over this with a writer-friend. She believed that if someone is still speaking, all dialogue within successive dialogue, should be in one paragraph.

As I update and edit my early books, I'm finding that I had the same editorial problem as many do today: placing dialogue amid paragraph narrative.

So let's go there: 1.) If dialogue is placed within paragraph narrative, it loses impact. 2.) However, (there's always an exception) if it is quoted dialogue, it's a quasi deal, depending on feel. Feel is really important, but we're not going there today.

First paragraph basics:
*In dialogue, Jane's voice can be tagged by action, such as, "I can help you." Jane looked directly into Mary's eyes, and took her hand. "I really can. Just tell me what happened."

When Mary looked away and withdrew her hand, Jane knew she couldn't lose this one brief opportunity. "Mary, please tell me."

!Let's take this apart. We know Jane is still speaking in both paragraphs by placing a tag line. Action can do as well. But see what is lost in impact, when running the dialogue together:
"I can help you." Jane looked directly into Mary's eyes and took her hand. "I really can." When Mary looked away and withdrew her hand, Jane knew she couldn't this one brief opportunity. "Mary, please tell me."

!Jane is still speaking, and tag lines define who is speaking.
!A tag line can be the name of the other person, i.e. Mary. If it is, no other motion, tag line is needed.
!Now. In a running conversation, tag lines define the speaker. They are not needed for a 2-4(maybe) of short repartee.
!In today's books and epublishing we are looking at shorter paragraphs than years ago. In some paperbacks, (choosing them for size demonstrations), one page can consist of 2 paragraphs. That's a lot to wade through and hold today's readers' attention. We move fast now, chugging right through excessive wording.
!The Ultr-Most important point in dialogue is that the reader knows who is speaking.
Back to Jane's dialogue: In the middle quote, Jane is pressing Mary, thus her reinforcement for impact.

So what about structure of the paragraph for Impact?

The structure of a paragraph, the beginning/middle/end sentences, is highly important.
One of my characteristic rough-draft problems, and everyone has them, is writing for the gusto, getting that story down and alive. (If you're a dreck-writer, be proud. It takes dreck, actually getting the story down on paper, to create a story. Then edit. I need a T-shirt that says, Dreck Writer and Proud of It.)

In rough-draft narrative, I sometimes place the most important sentence of a paragraph at the end, or at the beginning. This is one of the first editing skills I learned. A former editor taught me to place numbers over each line in the paragraph. It's a decision of which should lead, which should end. The weight of the sentence determines its placement. Thus, sentence 3 may really belong in position One. Especially if sentence 3 applies more to the previous paragraph.

By using this method, the construction is more orderly. Excess, superfluous sentences are also recognized. Superfluous Guys cut impact; they absolutely sink it.

So how does one paragraph fit within the chapter, the book?

Ordering paragraphs within a chapter is also important: those building emotion, those dropping dead body/twists.

Sentence Tip: If you have more than 1-2 clauses within a sentence, look at it critically. Watch clauses beginning with to/thats/whens/thens/ands/buts, etc.

I mentioned The Feel of the story.

But that's for another post :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Aislings: Psychic Triplets

I love my Psychic Triplets, Claire, Tempest, and Leona. They're available now in either paperback or ebook form. If you haven't read them yet, I hope you will.

The Aisling Triplets are descended from an Ancient Celtic Seer and the Viking Chieftain who captured her. Each has a unique gift, so unique that the sisters cannot live near each other, or their thoughts will cross... and someone is determined to kill them.

At the EdgeRomantic Suspense Books)
A Stranger's TouchContemporary Romance Books)

For Her Eyes OnlyLiterature & Fiction Books)

A world class pyschic, their mother, Greer Aisling appears through the individual stories, loaded with these triplets psychic gifts.

Claire, the youngest and most vulnerable, Tempest (Who made the NYTs) who's a handful, and Leona, the oldest and fiercest of the three, each have their own romance with that killer in pursuit.

Claire's gift is that of picking up other's thoughts; Tempest has to wear gloves, because she can feel the history of an object and know the thoughts of those who held it; and Leona, sees flashes of the past.

Try putting all those psychic talents too close and you've got a lot of trouble.

If starting to read The Aislings, I suggest starting with Claire in At the Edge.

I loved writing this trilogy, each with a different setting, a different psychic talent and romance, and always with that stalker at the ready.

To learn more about the Triplets, please hit the Triplet Tag....

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Barbara Freethy Hits the NYTs

Today, I'm terrifically excited about Barbara Freethy hitting the NYTs elist at #1. In fact, she's hitting well everywhere. SUMMER SECRETS and DON'T SAY A WORD are hitting high at USA Today's lists, too.
Read Barbara's Blog and see how much work is involved in lifting up her backlist; it covers all jobs: writer, formatting, cover art, promo. Really interesting. Plus she's got super covers, which she does her mighty-self.
Right now, she's got a string of great front list, plus her previously published books for sale. The girl is doing terrific, either with publishers or on her own, raising up her backlist to epublishing.

I'm so glad for her. I believe she's been undervalued in publishing and now, on her own, she's sky-rocketing, a la Konrath/Hocking/Eisler.
Meanwhile, I've just raised up my own, a romantic suspense, WHEN NIGHT FALLS, and have also finished a new one, out of my Cait London brand. I'll have to learn now to market it under a different pseudonym. Just a few more checks and I'll raise it up, too.

After that, a short story that has been cooling, also out of my brand.

All this is a terrific experience, and a steep learning curve. Be sure to follow Barbara's blog, very interesting material.