October 1, 2013 by Kiersi
Photo by woodleywonderworks (flickr)
A big part of every author’s quest–to agent, to publisher, to first and second and third book–is finding his or her own voice.
In the writing world we talk about “voice” a lot, both when discussing individual books, and also about careers and an author’s career trajectory.
Wikipedia calls voice an author’s “style.” When I think about authors whose voices I know, and know well–Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling–there’s more to it than just the style of writing. There’s a way in which the story is told that I notice, that stands out. The way in which the plot twists, the secrets unfold, the characters develop. Sure, I could easily recognize a paragraph from Harry Potter, even if all the character names were changed; but it’s also the cadence of Rowling’s writing. It’s the underlying creepiness of Stephen King’s (even in a decidedly non-creepy book like 11/22/63). It’s the total suspension of disbelief in Neil Gaiman’s. (more…)
Category How-to | Tags: diary,journaling,voice | 12 Comments
October 15, 2012 by Kiersi
Part 2: Giving Your Novel Personality
Photo by GSCS (Flickr)
I finished my major developmental revision of Devil’s Fire (August 2013) on Friday. Let’s just say I learned a lot of lessons–and I am so grateful to have two great editors behind me. So, let’s get down to business on some tips I picked up during this revision that were either requested by my editor or worked their way in to make the novel more interesting, passionate, and cohesive.
1. Make even supporting characters interesting and quirky.
Give us reasons to think they are still real people, even if they are mainly in the background. Obviously, you want to know your protagonist’s thoughts, feelings, habits and biases–but best friends, husbands, parents, even mere acquaintances (aka, plot devices) should be fleshed-out people, too.
Sometimes all you need is to emphasize one or two unique traits–and they can even contradict each other. Is your protagonist’s best friend kind of a stereotypical jock, who we later find out is gay? What about a mom who loves to make snacks for her kids’ friends, but can’t even make apple slices and peanut butter without messing it up? A tech-savvy grandma. A bitchy blonde alpha-girl who can’t cheerlead to save her life. You get the point. (more…)
Category How-to, In Progress | Tags: Devil's Fire,dialogue,revising,rewriting,supporting characters,voice | 6 Comments
September 26, 2012 by Kiersi
The last two weeks have been a flurry of revisions (thus the relatively infrequent blog updates). I’m reworking the first novel in my Fire & Brimstone series, titled Devil’s Fire, to be released by RainTown Press in 2013. And boy, has this revision been a total bear. I’m working with two really fabulous editors at the Press who have cut open the seams on problems with the manuscript, and given me some great suggestions to make this the best final product it can possibly be.
But, as is often the case, large-scale developmental edits aren’t easy, or time-efficient. My deadline is Oct. 5. Let’s just say I’m losing some hair.
Nevertheless, I’d like to share some nuggets of wisdom I’ve discovered during this latest rewrite, and perhaps you will profit from my pain. (more…)
Category How-to, In Progress | Tags: characterization,Devil's Fire,editors,Fire & Brimstone,RainTown Press,revising,rewriting,voice | 11 Comments
January 21, 2012 by Kiersi
Originally posted on The Short Story Showdown
Forty-inch flat-screen Sony television, wall-mounted: $579.99. A slightly smaller version of the same television, ceiling-mounted in my bedroom: $399.95. A hyper-realistic oil painting of a diner, framed in sleek black: $74.90, plus a $5 tip to the cute girl behind the desk at the frame shop.
State-of-the-art blender: $134.99. State-of-the-art coffeemaker and espresso machine: $282.70 (on sale). State-of-the-art food processor still sitting in a box, waiting to make pesto that will never be made: $99.99.
And then the prize of my collection: a Harper all-leather black couch with white stitching, mahogany feet, red throw, and matching white-and-black checkered pillows, which ran me somewhere around $4,000 for the matching set of loveseat and chair. (more…)
Category Writing/Free Reads | Tags: couch,short-shorts,voice | No Comments
January 10, 2012 by Kiersi
My Brother the Wolf
Originally posted to the Short Story Showdown in response to Showdown #3: In Transit.
I’ve been changed long enough that sometimes I forget I was once a man. I think I had red hair, or maybe it was reddish-brown. Something fierce and proud like that. Now, my hair is coarse and marbled with brown and black and tan and white, just a muddle of forest colors, and rough to the touch. The nose at the end of my snout is dry and cracked. The long tongue that hangs from my jaws is tired from lolling to and fro as my thin, powerful legs carry me mile after mile, farther and farther away from home.
The minutes turn into hours turn into days, and they are still following my trail. I think I’ve been on the move for a week now, maybe two. I’m not sure who “they” are; they found me in the kitchen of my house, cooking curry with my wife. One was a bear, a great brown grizzly who came in through the front door but took the wall with him. His brother, a white tiger as big as my leather couch, shattered the window and sunk his jaws into Samantha’s neck. (more…)
Category Writing/Free Reads | Tags: animals,horror,short-shorts,supernatural,voice | 4 Comments
December 10, 2011 by Kiersi
A Short Story
I first noticed him on Dark Ride 2. He used the default avatar every time: plasticene, off-white skin, a crop of brown hair, brown eyes and a blank, empty smile. In the winner profile screen, the UI displayed him standing with a trophy, waving his arm at us. To and fro. To and fro. Sometimes I would count how many times he waved before my time to ponder my second place loss ended and we moved on to the next course.
Player. That’s what he went by. You can see why it took me a while to notice him—to see the pattern. (more…)
Category Writing/Free Reads | Tags: short stories,videogames,voice | 4 Comments
October 6, 2011 by Kiersi
Daddy’s Little Occult Supernatural Monster
Inhaling cold air feels different when inhaled horizontally, from the crouching position.
I spend a lot of time in the crouching position. Usually waiting, but often watching while waiting. Also sniffing. Sometimes I even reach forward and scratch behind my right ear.
Mostly just waiting, though. (more…)
Category Writing/Free Reads | Tags: fairy tales,fantasy,short-shorts,voice,YA | 4 Comments
September 24, 2011 by Kiersi
View all chapters
Each foot buries itself in the sand. His legs shudder, swallowing the impact. The grains of shattered seashells wrap around his bare toes, tugging him downward, tugging him into the earth.
Above the sky glows red as embers, but no sun circles overhead. (more…)
Category Writing/Free Reads | Tags: beginnings,characterization,The Mirror,voice | 5 Comments
September 23, 2011 by Kiersi
Outfoxed, by Dylan Meconis
The Fairy Tale is constantly being reborn. The two examples that struck me recently are My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, a collection of forty re-imagined fairy tales by contemporary writers, and a short comic titled Outfoxed, by Dylan Meconis (@quirkybird).
Before today, I didn’t realize that fairy tales contain an essence, something that distinguishes them so clearly from just any short story. It was simply: “I know a fairy tale when I read one.” I’ll be looking for your input, readers, to add to this list of characteristics that clue us in to the fact we’re reading a fairy tale.
1. A fairy tale can happen anywhere. (more…)
Category Commentary | Tags: endings,fairy tales,the plot thickens,voice | No Comments