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Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

I hope all of you out there in writing land will take a break and enjoy some homemade ice cream, hanging with family and friends and of course, fireworks. It’s supposed to be 105 here in Central California today. What? It shouldn’t even get that hot on earth. I will definitely be trying to keep cool.

I was reading a writing sample recently, and it got me to thinking about a problem we have often seen in our critique group. We call it the “getting your motor running” syndrome. Often times, a writer will go on with pages and pages of back story before they finally get to the interesting part, the action, which is where the scene should start. No one is immune, even seasoned writers.

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to know the back story. It’s just so much more interesting and easy on the reader when it is woven in through dialogue and action. If you go on for three pages about how your character grew up in a barn on an island in Alaska, I may lose interest before we get to the part where he is being chased by speed boat through the Pacific Ocean (and I totally made that up, so any resemblance to your characters, living or dead, is purely coincidence.) Working in the details is no easy thing.

Sometimes I will start a chapter and write a few pages that end up on the editing room floor because they are back story. But when I get to writing the scene, I know what I need to work in, and what can be cut. Pacing is a tricky thing, but the pay off is good when done well. Think about some of your favorite writers. They keep you turning the pages, right?

By the way, the picture is a Dodge Charger, a nod to my dad, and a reminder to get your motor running.

Have a great Fourth!

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