Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tricks and Treats


Happy Halloween!  My mind is full of tricks as well as treats—both the sugary kind and the writing kind. I thought that I'd share some, but
Photo by earl53
not the yummy chocolate or caramel stuff since I haven't figured out how to download high calorie goodies.  

Some treats:
An article written by H.M. Lewis in the July/August SCBWI Bulletin: “Smart Research for Dummies.” It highlights the benefits that writers might find in some of the For Dummies books. Believe it or not, this was interesting enough for me to label it a treat. Body Language For Dummies by Elizabeth Kuhnke, for example, snagged my attention. Suggestions on how to give my characters another way to communicate? I'll take them.
To learn more about the For Dummies books (on writing and almost everything else), check out www.dummies.com

The list of finalists for The National Book Awards, which were announced last week. I love reading award-winners.  For more information: http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2013.html#.UnFeb5EsvlI

Another treat is when my mind stirs up the “perfect” ending to a story that I am writing, especially when this solves more than one story problem. I’ve only experienced this kind of an epiphany once or twice, but it can be more delicious than an entire bag of Halloween candy.

Writing inspiration that comes from reading a novel written by another author. I love this treat. A story can be different in every way from what I am writing, yet inspiration, unrelated ideas, and lots of insights pop into my head about my own work as I read. Yummy.

Some Tricks:
Novels with ho-hum stakes. When I start reading a story only to realize that the stakes are not high enough, I taste sour disappointment. Why not? If I don’t care all that much about whether the protagonist reaches his or her goals, there's not much point in reading. When I mutter “So what?” it's only a matter of time until I put the book down, usually with a sad sigh.

A character that does something that I can’t believe he or she would ever do, and without reason or justification. My trust disappears. Or when a character says something not in keeping with his or her personality, also without reason or justification. What? I am left feeling as if I’ve been tricked. I no longer trust that I know this character. 

Computer irritations. This can be anything from a computer glitch that means my writing, edits, research, etc. has not being saved to some craziness that allows my computer to eat my work. Any techno-nightmare that ruins my writing day falls into this "trick" category.


Are there any tricks and treats that you enjoy? Or tricks that make you want to throw candy at your computer? 

Wishing you all a Happy Halloween!




38 comments:

  1. I agree about low stakes. I also don't think life threatening danger is a high enough stake. I need to be drawn in by the emotional risks!

    Happy Halloween, Cynthia!

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    1. That is a great point, Emily. Often emotional risk is much more powerful than physical danger.

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  2. One trick - well irritant - for me when reading a novel are the errors! Especially when the novel is published by a proper big publishing company! I mean don't they have armies of copyright editors etc? LOL! I'm currently reading a mystery story where the POV is in the first person only for text to then refer to the narrator in the third then back again. LOL!!

    Another trick - the dreaded blank page!

    A treat for me would be some inspired words covering said dreaded blank page! :-)

    Take care
    x

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    1. I agree! Errors can pull me right out of a story, especially something like a change in POV. No Halloween treats for that publishing company. : )

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  3. Besides chocolate one treat is a book with a satisfying ending. It doesn't have to be all happy, but I don't want it be all all downer either.

    A trick would when I've wasted my time reading a book where I never connect with any of the characters.

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    1. A great treat followed by an equally great trick, Bish. A satisfying ending is a must for me. And to be honest, I usually can't finish a novel where I don't connect with the characters.

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  4. Body Language For Dummies sounds good.

    Your trick list is similar to mine. ;)

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    1. I hope you don't have to deal with too many computer headaches. And I may have to blog about Body Language for Dummies if I end up reading it.

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  5. Great metaphors, Cynthia. I'm just glad you are unable to download calories! It's always a "treat" to read your blog posts.

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  6. I've heard good things about some of the Dummies books - I'll have to take a look :)

    A trick we've got right now is it's pouring heavily for the poor little trick or treaters. A rotten trick by Ma Nature :)

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    1. That is sad, Jemi! Especially for the little ones that get so excited about dressing in their costumes.

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  7. I absolutely love those 'epiphany' moments--I want more of them!

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    1. Me, too, JeffO. If you figure out how to lure them in, please let me know.

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  8. Hey, Cythia,
    Hope you're doing well. Treats for me would be how to craft articles and tricks for me are the same ones you detest. I like feeling that I know a character, so when they do something incredible I lose faith too. I've been safe lately from the computer crazies. :)

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  9. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who gets frustrated with an unreliable character.
    And, wishing you continued peace and quiet with your computer.

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  10. Oh, yes to all of these. I especially enjoy finding inspiration in unrelated 'anything' :)
    Happy Weekend!

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    1. Isn't it funny where inspiration can pop up, Carol?
      Happy weekend to you, too!

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  11. Funny you mention low stakes. I'm in the middle of writing a manuscript and brought the first pages in for a critique from my group. Good thing I did--they said the stakes weren't high enough. So I've made them higher. I hope you had a fun Halloween!

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    1. Wonderful that you were able to find a way to up the stakes, Theresa. That's a treat. : )

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  12. Thanks for sharing the links. They DO sound like treats. And I agree about computer glitches - the worst kind of "trick."
    I am afraid my stories always start off with low stakes and I gradually, gradually, have to heighten them. Wish this wasn't so hard for me.

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    1. You're not alone in this, Ruth. It can be hard to beat up on our characters after we've come to know them so well.

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  13. I'll check out the finalists. I'm sure I'll see books I want to read.

    I want high stakes in a book. They make me flip the pages to see what happens.

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  14. I LOVE Dummies books. They're written just for ME. :D

    Because I read before I go to bed, and I'm tired, I need high stakes to keep me awake and turning the pages.

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    1. Wonderful to read an endorsement of the Dummies books, Stina. Thank you!
      I wonder how many times you have become involved in a novel and have read past your bed time. : )

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  15. Ah, technology. Love it when it works... ;)
    Hope you had a great Halloween.

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    1. And I need a bottle of aspirins when that technology doesn't work. : ) Thanks, Lynda.

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  16. Great picture to go with the post! I have read some of the Dummies books and they are helpful. :)

    I don't like unreliable characters either! Interesting post.
    ~Jess

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  17. I hate when I hit keys unexpectedly and some window I don't want pops up. :) Thanks for including the list to the NBA finalists. I hadn't known they were announced.

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    1. You are most welcome, Marcia. I love when the finalists are announced.

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  18. Oh, great list of "tricks." (and treats) The one about "ho-hum stakes" smacked me between the eyes, as I've been contemplating what the forward thrust/goal of my WIP's first 75 pages were...(nothing?) LOL

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    1. Ho-hum stakes tend to smack me between the eyes, too, Carol. It can be hard to put our characters in the deepest trouble possible. Good luck!

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  19. Hi Cynthia! Hope Halloween was a blast for you this year. Can't believe how fast the days are slipping by. Can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  20. Just dropping in to wish you Happy Thanksgiving!

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  21. Hi, Cynthia,

    Checking in with you. I hope you are well.

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  22. Obviously I've been away for a few months. Stopped in to say hello again, wish you the very best and hope this message finds you in improved and hopefully great health.

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