Thursday, May 12, 2011


Good Morning All:  It's turning out to be a cold May in CA.  We're still building fires.  This morning have one in living room, as well as, my office.  I tell myself not to complain, especially when I see the film of all the terrible flooding in the south and midwest.  My heart goes out to those people.
I just finished a book a few weeks ago that reminded me that research can be a tricky thing.  I adore research.  It's the most enjoyable part of writing a book.  You get to discover all sorts of new information and to become familiar with a different time and place.  Best of all, you get to choose the subject!
Of course, it's a pain in the butt when you read and read and are only able to glean, maybe, one useful thing from a 400 page book!  Aaargh.  There's a lot of information that's the same no matter how new or in depth a book may be, but every now and then, as you wade through book after book, article after article, you find something new -- which makes it worthwhile.
But here's the thing: when you start writing your book, you have to be careful not to let your research show.  It has to be slipped in under the radar, being a natural progression of the story and added in tiny increments, or at least not overwhelming the reader with all this fabulous stuff you've learned.  I know there are times I've worried that I've given the reader too much info in one gulp and I've gone back and pared it down.  I still probably overdo it some time, but I try not to and I'm very conscious of it.
I had a friend who wanted me to read her book and reluctantly I did.  I always hate to read someone else's work 'cause what if I hate it?  What do I say?  Fortunately, I thought my firend showed a lot of promise, but the one thing I noticed, sometimes over the story, was the research.  She'd done a lot of research and she crammed the story full of her research forgetting that it's the story that the readers are interested in.  The book I read recently that brought this to mind had the same problem.  I liked the story and in the beginning I liked the research, but there came a point when the research began to bore me and took away from the story.  Okay, maybe I just get bored easily but I found myself skipping over large chunks of the book because, well, I wasn't interested in learning that much about the particular subject covered in the book.  Don't get me wrong, it was good book, just too many facts and advice for me and it ended up in my 'tossed' pile and this is a writer I usually collect.
So my advice to any writer, new or seasoned, is do your research, our readers are a savy bunch, but do not  let it show. You may be crazy about the subject and delighted with all you've learned and eager to show off how much you've learned, but readers might not care a rap.  So feed it to your rearders in sips and teaspoons -- and not too often :-).

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Love Quotes

Hi Everyone:  Zounds it's Friday and I've not done my blog yet.  Had a crummy night last night, was up until 1:30 AM -- stuffy nose, blowing, sneezing.  Nothing serious, just uncomfortable and unable to sleep.  But back to quotes... I have several favorites and here's another one: "A manuscript, like a foetus, is never improved by showing it to somebody before it is completed." Unknown
I don't know who unknown was, but they were right on the mark.  For me, my story line is a nebulous blob out there and having someone poking at it only disrupts my initial ideas.  I once submitted a synopsis -- hate them -- and I ran into what I call 'petrie dish editing'.  Now the story wasn't clear in my mind, but this editor started complaining about an element of the story.  In this case, I think it was something to do with an Indian Chief named, Corn Stalker.  I hadn't planned for his role to be major, at least I don't think so, but Corn Stalker was involved in some interesting things back then (if memory serves) and I wanted to incorporate them into my story or at least mention them in passing.  Well, of course after the editor put in her two bits worth, I abandoned that part of the story, but I've always wondered what shape that book would have taken and if it wouldn't have been a better book with more historical fact in it if the editor hadn't done her petrie dish editing.  She had no idea how I would use the material, no idea where it would lead, or how it might enhance the story, but immediately objected to it. I'll confess I didn't know precisely how I would use Corn Stalker either but she certainly put paid to that idea before it was even fully formed. And of course, that's one of the reasons I hate submitting a synopsis -- I haven't a clue in hell where I'm going with a story -- just a hazy outline and, in this case, I changed my hazy outline before I even knew what it was.  Might have been some great stuff.   Oh, well, it happened years ago, but I still wonder about the book I would have written except for...petrie dish editing.