Guest Post: Terrance Foxxe ~ To Heck with It All: Part I

Terrance Foxxe, author of In the Dreaming, is back again with another serial. 🙂 I hope he doesn’t mind that I took some creative liberties with the title. 🙂 Anyway, enjoy! And stalk his website.

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Get lazy. Don’t bother with researching squat. It’s not that important. You can fake your way through anything. They don’t call it fiction for nothing.

I have invented many a world. Some familiar, some strange, some extreme. Readers can tell if a story rings true. If it doesn’t . . .

Blues for a Red Planet was one of those created-world stories. I took a manned orbital flight around a living and vital Mars, added a monumental disaster, an exploding planetoid between Mars and Jupiter, had that lone survivor get lucky and land on Earth roughly three million years in our past. His present, our past. What I had pointed out to me was, Earth would have been pelted with debris from the exploding planetoid, too. Life might have been wiped out on one planet, but the other planet would have suffered something terrible. Nuclear winter terrible.

My lone survivor lived in the sun, ate freely, and helped found modern humanity.

Logical progression. It’s not a concept, it’s a writing reality.

What is logical progression? One thing leads to another thing, which leads to another, which leads to another. A bowling ball gets knocked off a roof, hits a window ledge, and gets bounced out into the street. Five stories below is where you are. You hear a strange sound, possibly a shout of exclamation or warning. Maybe you hear the ball hit the ledge, a hollow thwok sound. You look up and see the ball falling. You either let it hit you, or you get the hell out of the way. That’s what logical progression is.

New writers tend to rush the process, and you can’t. Each scene has within it potential. Each scene moves at its own pace. Logical progression demands a scene is what it is, is detailed or not, takes as much time to unfold as it does, builds up a sense of what comes next, or builds up suspense, and does all this within the confines of your character’s perception. What they see, touch, taste, hear, smell, feel, physically or emotionally.

This is their world, after all, and you are simply their scribe. Your characters, they don’t know you exist.

Your characters don’t live in your world, but in their world. Do you know how their world works? Do you know the streets of their city, and the flavors of people you find section to section within their city?

Do they live on a space station, another planet, or as part of an alien culture?

Do you have what it takes in knowledge to define their existence? Can you find that knowledge? Probably, sure.

In building worlds you need to know mast from bow if you’re writing about pirates, and it doesn’t matter if the pirates are on this planet or another, solar sails or canvas sails. You need to know how things work, what to do and why you do the things you do. You need to know the details. God is in the details.

Your characters need to know what the consequences are to their actions. The characters you put in your literary world need to know what to do, but they act as themselves. What they would do, and not what you want them to do. Logical progression. Details.

In writing my second novel I had a lot to learn about Heaven and Hell. I had to learn the story of the Christ. Every word had to ring true in a horror story that relies on Revelations to make my plot points. I had to know the rules my world depended on in order to bend or break them. I had to know the details. Mix in logical progression, how one detail affects my character’s actions and/or reactions, you got movement, you got plot, you got a book.

What not to do!

deus ex machina. God in the machine. Angels coming out of nowhere to save, at the last minute, your hero.

The Soap Opera Effect. Life has its ups and downs, but you don’t go down in a jet every time you board a plane. The people who inhabit the world of soaps do, and they live through it, only to be saved by a fisherman, who then takes advantage of their amnesia, and on and on. Pointless suffering. All of your suffering should have a point to it.

Do your research. Examine, study, talk to people. Your average working Joe or Jane doesn’t mind talking to you about what they do. In fact, most will be thrilled that you sought them out, and are listening to what they have to say. They, indirectly, get to be in your book! And, it’s kind of fun. You don’t get to carry a gun and solve real crimes, but I have witnessed an autopsy. In real life, the inside of the human body reeks.

“Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” – Mark Twain

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Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being royally ripped off and then some, he is the Indie Author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD & In The Dreaming, $0.99, both for the Kindle. Links provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his books. Read them. Write reviews.

He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/

 

 

Guest Post: Terrance Foxxe on Gaining Fame Part Three

Gaining Fame: Part Three

by

Terrance Foxxe


I think most writers fall into one of two cracks in the floor. They either don’t let themselves have fun when they write, afraid of what others might think of them, or they think too much about their own words. Not by choice, mind you. I have been guilty of inhabiting both musty grooves at one time or another. What pulled me through was reading lots of books, absorbing their styles, seeing how their authors put their words together to make their writing work.

The book which drove this point home to me was, The Elements of Expression by Arthur Plotnik. Here’s why. You ever watch one of those documentary films on Public Television, where they read the letters of those whom lived the history? The Gold Rush of 1849 was great for words. Most of them folks were not what you would call highly educated, but their words live and breath, even to this day. Why? They were not subject to the information overload we have to muck through from day to day. They had to reach to describe their world, and their words are elegant, even if crude by our overly educated standards.

Why should I bother with understanding how a short story is constructed, or a novel? Everybody does their own thing when it comes to writing.

Because I read both novels and short stories most of my adult life, I had a sense of what they should be. I had absorbed enough about novel and short story construction to write a novel and short story. I realized there were many similarities between novel chapters and short stories. What I didn’t realize were their differences. Both need hooks in order to start. A novel needs a big hook, preferably one that will carry the reader through to the end of the book. That big idea behind the story. One that dangles or promises, leading the reader deeper into the novel.

A short story needs a hook, too. One that starts the conflict, or exposes the conflict within. Short stories have an end, hopefully with an ending that leaves you saying “good story!” A resolution to the conflict you started with the beginning hook.

And what are hooks anyway? Reader grabbers. The very first sentence every reader will read. Lookee here at the hooks I wrote.

“I intend to swallow alive and kicking from humanity’s womb the greatest minds and things history has ever produced.”

Leslie Tharp roused tired, as she always did exiting hibernation.

Percible Traynor held charge over most of the Eastern Seaboard whether anyone knew it or not.

Bryan-with-the-bright-green-eyes saw it coming.

Rafe Dehi paused on his way out of the truck stop’s nasty, stinky rest room long enough to wash his bloody hands, then he was back on the bus like nothing ever happened, stuffing the little red bag Tomas (whatever his last name was) had into his duffel.

“I want nothing to do with this.”

Six different hooks. The power of voice.

Here’s one more thing to think about. Novels are between 70,000 to 150,000 words. Those really thick paperbacks you buy and read, they’re about 250,000 words. Short stories are between 100 to 17,000 words. The average for a novel is about 100,000 words. For a short story it’s about 4000 words.

Guess what? A story is only as long as a story should be. A novel should only have as many pages as it has. If it tells the story within 70,000 words, you have a scrawny novel, but a novel nonetheless. If it takes 200,000 words, that’s what it takes. If the story is good, it doesn’t matter how few or how many words it takes. My novels average 90,000 words.

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Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being royally ripped off and then some, he is the Indie Author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD & In The Dreaming, $0.99, both for the Kindle. Links provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his books. Read them. Write reviews.

He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/

Be sure to check out Part One and Part Two of this post. 🙂

Guest Post: Terrance Foxxe on Gaining Fame Part Two

Gaining Fame: Part Two

by

Terrance Foxxe

You have to know the rules, and there are rules for everything. There are exceptions to the rules that are rules unto themselves! Writing for clarity of thought, and clarity of form. This clarity is what you give your reading public.

I may spend five or six months jamming away on a manuscript–I’m one of those writers that like to do that–only to pick it apart line by line to get it all right. Write the book, and then make it sing. Ignore the rules if you must, but you’ll learn. You’ll learn you can’t ignore even one rule.

When writing works, it’s doing a job. Voice is part of writing well, and I didn’t get it for the longest time. Voice was what I was lacking most. My stories craved voice.

What is meant by “voice?” This is my voice. You’re reading how I speak. But my voice can change when I want it to. I simply pretend. I become the character. “I am the story.”

Verbosity can be your friend when exploring voice. Don’t be afraid to overwrite your manuscript. You can always delete unneeded words at a later date.

Another example I’m sure you can understand, and I mean no disrespect against the writing styles of Stephen King, but he can get a little “golly gee whiz” at times. Now read The Green Mile, and after that read The Eyes of the Dragon. Two perfect and wonderful examples of his voice. Both different, both Stephen King.

The closest I get to across the pond is watching Doctor Who. But, I do a lot of homework, and I understand voice. This little bit starts my very first novel. My boring, had promise but lacked something, novel. What it lacked was voice. It lacked a layer of excitement. By inventing the narrator of this story, giving him a unique voice, allowing him to tell the story, I added a subtle layer of needed sophistication.

I, am a fool. The Fool, and my emperor requests a gratifying tale from me, but which compelling narrative in my vast repertoire shall His Fatassness receive? A questing yet witless knight, braving outlandish elements of fable and fantasy with a personal code of honor sufficient to turn any stout stomach? Or, perhaps, an adventurous yet resourceful thief in his perpetual pursuit of liquid wealth, tight wet fellowship and heady spirits? Alas, with both I must provide a companion, and I’m not feeling generous.

The Empress, in turn, invites a poignant tale within whose dark heart exists a riddle. May I pluck the knotted hair off her pointed pale chin and from under her bulbous reddened nose for such an unsatisfactory suggestion.

The Lovers stop their perpetual grope to propose forbidden love as a topic. They should stick to the task in hand and let me tell the story I wish.

The Executioner puts in his recommendation, but tonight is not a night for bloody revenge. The Hierophant wants redemption with ascension. The Hanged Man, dangling such as he does, says nothing.

Then it comes to me, inspirational lightning, pinning me down with a wondrous tale that must surely gratify all. A fantastical saga from long ago, when there existed such things as space and time.

“Get on with it, Fool,” commands The Emperor between mouthfuls of roasted meats and tiny sweet cakes, quaffing at will wine made by old, ineffectual, impotent and incontinent gods. “You’re milking it.”

“Of course, Majesty,” I say, thinking about a large chunk of that moldered meat lodged deep in his throat, stealing what he calls his pitiful excuse-of-a-life out of him.

I must confess I am milking it for all it’s worth. I’m a bit of a ham. What fool is not? To draw the audience inside the story is my vocation. To keep them enthralled by the narrative is my gift. I endeavor to give generously.

“A proper piece of pretentious nonsense must have an appropriate beginning,” I say, “and this chronicle is without exception. The question here is not where to begin, because I know where to begin. The question here is who to begin with?”

And I think Xavier Collen will do nicely.

That’s him, the spry old fart pacing the carpet around his desk. Top floor of the Collen building, London proper. A titbit of prime tattle from the queen herself, no less, set his shallow money obsessed thoughts spiraling down the loo, and that was just the beginning.

The point of view shifted with the scene transition. My Fool narrates this novel; from first person present, to third person past present. I let him tell the story for a reason not evident until the very last paragraph of the novel. He became my voice for A Changing of the Guard, coming soon.

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Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being royally ripped off and then some, he is the Indie Author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD & In The Dreaming, $0.99, both for the Kindle. Links provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his books. Read them. Write reviews.

He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/

Stop by tomorrow for part Three. And if you missed part one, be sure to check it out.

Guest Post: Terrance Foxxe on Gaining Fame Part One

Today Terrance Foxxe is back for another series. 🙂 This time on gaining fame. Please be kind to Mr. Foxxe over the next few days as he takes over my blog. 🙂

Gaining Fame: Part One

by

Terrance Foxxe

Ignore the rules.

And there are so many of them. Sentence construction, punctuation, grammar, format. Did you know my The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, The Unabridged Edition is 12 x 9 ½ x 3½ inches thick? My Illustrated Oxford Dictionary by DK Publishing, Inc., isn’t as impressive in height or length, but it is two and a half inches thick, with hundreds of sweet illustrations. I use both of them each and every day. You should see my arms.

It’s one thing to know the word you want to use, it’s another to actually spell it and use it in its proper context. I want each sentence to be understood. Everything together takes the reader from the beginning to the end of your story. The skill of the writer is to impart meaning and emotional impact.

I’m published, intelligent, and it has taken me years of working completely and utterly alone to learn how to choose or spell most of my words correctly, punctuate for clarity, and not make a grammar goof. I won’t go into the many, many mistakes I’ve embarrassed myself with, but there have been a few. I still make mistakes, mind you. Nobody is perfect.

During my journey I had to figure out what I was doing wrong, and what I was doing right. To that end: There are eleven books I think are worth the money I paid for them.

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, The Unabridged Edition.

The Illustrated Oxford Dictionary by DK Publishing, Inc.

The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer. Collier Books. This nifty little tome takes your across good grammar’s landscape. Chapter headings are as follows: Recognizing Good Grammar, Points of Grammar, Capitalization, Punctuation, Expressing Numbers, Spelling and Choosing Words (including words most often confused) and Signs and Symbols.

Punctuate It Right! by Harry Shaw. Harper Perennial. Subtitled: A complete, authoritative, quick-reference guide to modern punctuation and related mechanics of writing, showing what marks to use, when, where, how, and why, including a detailed glossary of “punctuation for clarity.”

Webster’s New World Thesaurus by Charlton Laird. Warner Books.

Thesaurus of Alternatives to Worn-Out Words and Phrases by Robert Hartwell Fiske. Writer’s Digest Books. Which, to me, is a good way to keep clichés out, or think up new clichés to replace the old and worn out.

The Elements of Expression by Arthur Plotnik. Henry Holt and Company. A must-have read if you want to understand the force words can have, and the voice lurking inside of you.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Illustrations by George Booth. Subtitled: How To Edit Yourself Into Print. Harper Perennial. This book can teach editors what’s what.

The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing.

20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them)
by Ronald B. Tobias. Writer’s Digest Books.

Make Your Words Work by Gary Provost. Writer’s Digest Books. It’s one of the easiest books to read and understand. The man walks you through everything, and gives you homework. Do your homework, write well. Have fun, write well. Never be afraid to tear it loose and write well.

Eleven books out of thirty-five. Eleven books that will make you a literary hero.

Those books are the only books I want to read again and again, because they helped me the most. They helped me understand punctuation, grammar, plotting, editing and voice. Tools of the trade.

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Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being royally ripped off and then some, he is the Indie Author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love, $2.99 USD & In The Dreaming, $0.99, both for the Kindle. Links provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his books. Read them. Write reviews.

He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/

Stop by tomorrow for part two!