(Of course, that means the characters are on the boat, not me. I’m not sitting in a deck chair, rocking back and forth while I write.)
Part of the fun of writing a book is taking the reader on an adventure, and part of the fun of the adventure is having the details be accurate.
When you have your characters out on the water, things change a little bit. I used to have a boat, so I know some of the terminology for a recreational vessel of a certain size, but as an author I have to walk a fine line.
And this applies across the board, whether it’s boating or camping or skydiving, and also whether we are dealing with a gun or ammunition, the way a police officer stands when he or she holds their gun, or even what type of gun it is.
And the dilemma is this:
We need to be accurate but not too accurate.
For example, I know what side of the boat is port and starboard. My reader may not. Some will, but a lot won’t. So I have to write the scene using the right terminology, but doing it in such a way that it doesn’t really matter too much if you read it and don’t know port from starboard.
There’s also the bow in the stern (front and back). Ropes on a boat are called lines. The floor of a boat is called the deck.
And then if there are multiple levels to the boat, you can be below deck or above deck. You can be fore or aft, or for or stern.
So what I try to do is think back to when I didn’t own a boat, and the types of things I probably would’ve known from general knowledge, and I stick to that. If I have to refer to a boat rope twice, then one time I will call it a line and the next time I’ll call it a rope – and I’ll do it in close enough proximity and with surrounding detail to clue the reader in. If the guy throws the line, I can say the other person caught the rope, or that the rope fell onto the deck and draped itself over the railing or something, letting the reader knows the physical characteristics of “the line” so they can get an idea of what it is. (Really, on that one, most readers would probably already know a line is a rope.) While switching between line and rope isn’t completely accurate, it’s going to bridge the gap of confusion for those who aren’t completely aware of boating terminology.
And for anyone who doesn’t make the connection, rest assured: knowing a line is a rope will NOT affect your ability to enjoy the story.
Stuff like that will be inconsequential if you didn’t get it.
I had a boat with a motor. Sailboats have an additional vocabulary for all the rigging and types of sails. They have a keel. Most boats with motors don’t have that. And even with boats that have motors, there’s gonna be an inboard or an outboard; depending on the size of the boat, it may have several motors. It’s gonna have a propeller and a gas line. A small sailboat might not need much of that, but bigger sailboats tend to have motors for when there’s no wind.
And that’s all before you get into things like the head and the berth, which are the bathroom and the bedroom, respectively. I usually have one character correct another character with stuff like that:
“There’s a shopping bag on the table down below, with a new t-shirt and shorts from the hotel shop. The puppy print ones you liked. You can change in the bathroom.”
Constantine shuffled away from the railing. “On a boat, the bathroom’s called ‘the head.’ Did you cut the tags off the shirts? They itch me.”
“I did. Scoot. We’ll put on more sunscreen when you come back. And I got you a hat, too. It’s in the bag.”
Frowning, Constantine descended the stairs. “I don’t fancy wearing a hat.”
“I don’t fancy skin cancer.” Trinn slid her fishing rod out of the holder and cranked the reel, pulling in her line.
Well as I say, this is the type of stuff we run into with every story. If a guy goes in the desert, he’s probably not going to find an oak tree. He might find a cactus.
If somebody goes to Indonesia, and he’s looking for a cab driver who is sleeping in the shade of a tree, you have to find out what kind of trees they have in Indonesia! They might not have oak trees. And the noise in the trees might be from birds we don’t have here.
But as I mentioned, part of the fun of writing a book is taking the reader on an adventure, and part of the fun of the adventure is having the details be accurate.
So the cab driver is sleeping in the shade of a pala tree.
If I do my job right, do you have a good time and feel like you went to a new place, but you don’t feel lost and confused on the way.
Which is probably good advice for any kind of a trip you take.
Robbie shares a few thoughts on including Humor in her writing
‘Is humour an important element is your stories? Do you ever laugh at something you’ve written?’
I am a very serious person. I have always been like that. My mother says I was a serious and self controlled baby. I rarely cried or gave her any trouble. I was what people call an “easy” baby. My mother says it was almost as if I knew how difficult things were for her following my biological father’s death and I made her life as easy as possible. Who knows, maybe babies can sense such things.
I was also an easy toddler. I went to nursery school because my mother had to work full time and mother says I never complained or even spoke about school. This characteristic of quiet tolerance has followed me throughout my life. In retrospect, it has not been a good thing for me. I should have realised you…
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What does that phrase invoke to you?
The colorful leaves of Fall?
A horror story, where some scary person lures kids into the forest with the promises of a fun kiddie ride, then kills them?
I know you don’t come here for politics but this isn’t necessarily political.
The news people know this, or should, but we don’t have national elections for president. We have 50 individual state elections, and each state gets to decide their rules for it. So why do they take national polls? It’s irrelevant.
California has (for now) more people than Florida. It doesn’t matter if 55% or 99% of Californians vote Democrat, the state only get so many electors. A national poll that includes California will drive up Biden’s numbers.
But again, the national numbers are irrelevant. Ask president Hillary Clinton. She drove up numbers in California and New York – and got a bigger share of the popular vote. Didn’t matter, because as a representative republic, we use the electoral college. Trump won the electoral college in a landslide.
So… why does our media insist on telling us the national poll numbers when they know it doesn’t matter?
I was at a presentation where an economist asked:
Can a bank earning 2% on its loans and paying 5% on its deposits stay in business?
Almost everyone in the room – bank examiners – said no.
$1,000 x 5% = $50
$10,000 x 2% = $200
So, a bank can pay 5% and earn 2% and put lots of profits on the bottom line.
Here’s what’s going to happen in November.
I know a LOT of democrats. I don’t know very many Democrats who are excited about voting for Biden. I live in an area of Florida that went for Hillary last time and had a zillion Obama signs in yards when he was running for president. I’m not seeing Biden signs. I see plenty of Trump signs and I’ve heard reporters candidly admit as they drive across Pennsylvania in the last election, once they got out of Philadelphia, all they saw was Trump signs.
Now, if 150 Democrats and 100 Republicans live in one area and get polled, the presidential race might look even because the pollsters will stop counting once they get 100 of each so it’s fair. Or Maybe Biden even would have a nice lead. Look familiar? But here’s the thing.
If only 50% of those Democrats go vote (75) because they aren’t enthusiastic, but 80% of the republicans vote because we tend to follow rules and show up (80) – that’s just how we are – then Trump wins. Again.
And he wins the same way he won last time.
The numbers will be different but you get the idea.
The media will scream “How could this be?” Maybe they can’t do math.
But now you know.
Two more things that amplify this.
A candidate for office recently interviewed 5 polling firms and specifically asked what they had changed since 2016 in their polling systems. Only 1 firm had changed anything. Well, the polls were off last time, so they’ll be off this time because they’re doing it the same wrong way.
Republicans aren’t real vocal about voting for Trump. Some are, but most aren’t. I feel if I wore a Trump t-shirt out in public, people would yell at me. Most of my democrat friends don’t feel that way. They post a lot on social media about the issues; my republican friends mostly don’t. Many, many democrats are vocal about the issues that appeal to the left, to the point where their activists are going too far but because they’re on the same team, the rational democrats can’t call the wild ones out. Look what happens in the news if a democrat woman is against abortion. Or if she is pro school choice. She’s shunned – or accosted. So the democrat dissenters stay quiet. Don’t believe me? When Ken Bone said he was going to vote independent, he later tweeted that the right wing was generally disappointed but understanding, and the left wing was filled with hatred.
So, what’s my point?
Trump is going to win – again – and the news media is going to be surprised – again – even though they shouldn’t be based on information that is readily available to all of us.
When I drive around, I see what I see. I wasn’t happy seeing all those Obama signs a few years ago, and I’m wondering where the Biden signs are now. But then I realized I had my answer.
One more thing. We NEED each other, gang. Rs and Ds can be friends. Rs and Ds ARE friends. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Can you tell me the lesson here?
I just wrote one of the best chapter I’ve ever written.
And if I were to read it again right now, every ounce of passion and emotion and tension would be right there on the page.
The problem is, all that stuff probably isn’t there. At least not the way I imagined it in my head when I wrote it.
So I’m going to let it rest and I’m gonna come back to it tomorrow or the next day. I’ll have a fresh perspective and I’ll be able to see what’s missing and really fatten it up until it is dripping with emotion and has everybody clinging to the arm of the chair with white knuckles because of the tension.
I’m within a week of finishing Primary Target and within three weeks of requesting beta readers.
HOME STRETCH, BABY!
Nicole B Dolan
Storm P Brown
Chicquito Joaquim Crasto
Patrick Hyndes Darnell II
Today was purge day!
I’m so happy.
I know there have been a few books and movies about a purge, where society gets rid of their undesirables or whatever. This was not that.
So what is the purge in Dan parlance? In DanSpeak?
I’ll tell you
When I am putting together a book, when I’m starting to think about how this would be a neat idea for a scene or that would be a neat idea for a plot, I dash off a quick note to myself and I throw it in a folder on my computer. By the time I sit down to make the outline – I like to use outlines so I know where the heck the story is going; that way I get there – I have lots of story prompts. Ideas to write for scenes or dialogs or subplots.
One idea might be, “Oh, the killer turns out to be the Butler.”
The next one might be, “No wait it’s the maid!”
You get the idea.
Many, many times they are ideas that are dialogue, created to flesh out a complicated plot point. (You can have two characters summarize something pretty quickly in dialogue. That makes for a good conversation to read but it doesn’t necessarily make for a good story to read.)
I will also want to throw in some “red herrings.”
What are those?
Suppose I’ve got you thinking we are looking for the killer the whole time, and suddenly the butler shows up with blood on his hands! We are all thinking: maybe he did it.
But really, he was… I don’t know, butchering a hog for dinner, and in fact the maid had blood on her hands, too! She was actually killing the wealthy billionaire whose house they all live in. (I don’t know. I don’t write stories like that. Not really. Maybe a little.)
Anyway, the red herring is where you make the reader think the bad guy is one person and then you get later to expose that it’s not that person.
I can’t tell you how much FUN writing red herrings is.
Red herrings are a blast.
There are several in Primary Target, the 2nd book in my wildly popular Double Blind series – maybe. If I told you, they wouldn’t be red herrings anymore!
So all these ideas get thrown into a folder. And then I start numbering them. I say, well, this will be chapter 1; this idea would be chapter 2… and then I have these other miscellaneous things like, Here’s how this type of gun works and That’s not really an idea, that’s more like research.
And as you might guess, or maybe you wouldn’t guess this… Well, let me back up.
I guess I should explain, and say not every idea that goes in the folder turns out to be one that I can use in the story. Or could use it all. Or should use.
And so I might have said, “What if the maid jumps out at the end and kills the butler!” But I also might’ve said, “What if the maid kills herself in the opening scene?”
Probably, the maid can’t do both. So of those two conflicting ideas, one gets chosen and one gets purged.
And some other stuff that gets purged is research information, like “What if they all fly to Spain” and then I have some information on Spain. I keep it for a while, and when I decide I don’t need it, purge! Or the description of a character that I ended up not using. Purge!
Some of the stuff from the purge is a good idea that’s just not gonna be used in this book. That stuff goes into an idea folder of things I should look at writing down the road. Other times, I’m like, that’s a good scene for this character but not in this book – so I will stick it in the folder for the next book, and maybe I can use it there. Maybe it’ll be the one after that.
But – and this is probably the scary part for a lot of people – there might be 50 or 60 ideas in my story folder, and probably 30 or 40 got purged today.
Again, doesn’t mean they were bad ideas. It just means I don’t need them or it’s too late in the plot to introduce something new or whatever.
And so, the purge.
Once the purge gets done, what’s left? A handful of bullet points that need to be addressed before “The End.”
And then a few little scenes that make everything tied up with a satisfying little bow at the end.
Maybe one or two little hooks baited so you click over to preorder the next book in the series.
All said, there are 20 remaining things to address – five are main story points and the rest are little pieces that help wrap those five main ones up.
I’d say more but I don’t want to give anything away.
But suffice it to say once the purge happens, we are in the home stretch – and probably no more than 30 days away from requesting beta readers. In fact, For Primary Target, my goal is to have it done before October 1.
Will I make it? Not if I keep writing this instead of that! So stay tuned!
That’s it for now. Talk soon!