Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ramble On

By Keith Fisher

I wrote three blogs this week but I couldn’t get excited about the subjects. Tristi Pinkston tagged me for the Moaning Meme but I couldn’t get riled up enough to rant. (Perhaps next week.) I’m still recuperating from the huge family reunion we hosted a couple of weeks ago. The ladies in my family had girl’s night out, and they went to Lagoon for two days. I was left alone for a night.

I’ve heard a lot lately about the new Harry Potter book. I can’t wait to read the book she writes next. It should be a great test of her writing abilities. After all, how do you top the success of HP?

I know I’m rambling, but it’s been that kind of a week.

I’ve been getting great feedback from the proofreaders of one of my manuscripts. One of those readers pointed out an error in tense that I began to fix. Then I remembered why I wrote it that way.

In his book, Stein on Writing, Sol Stein suggests some ways to give exposition and back-story without making it sound like an endless flashback. He said to write in the present and give the story immediacy. Try to tell the past in the dialog that happened then. If you must write a flashback, segue into it, then write like it’s happening now. He said to avoid the words had or then. According to him, the cardinal sin is to use the word had twice, such as: Evelyn knew she had had enough.

Using had in that way is grammatically correct, but it sounds funny—it often puts your writing into the past tense and into the realm of flashback, back, back, back,
(Is there an echo in here?)

The point is to keep the reader in the story. He suggests that if a reader senses a flashback, they tend to read past it in order to stay in the immediate story.

So I’m debating with myself. Should I keep it the way it is? Or should I bite the bullet and do it the way my English teacher wanted it? Send your comments and tell me what you think.

On a related note, one of those wonderful appreciated, tremendously helpful, kind, thrifty, brave, reverent . . . proofreaders, is a blogger and offers writing advice. I expect my mistakes will be part of a blog soon. I’m biting my nails.

By the way, remind me to tell you about the appreciation program I’m developing for my proofreaders. I can’t tell you about it now, because you’d all want to read my manuscript and I need to get it finished.

I’ll keep you in mind for the next manuscript though. It should be done in a month or two. If you want to be a proofreader, send me an email and I’ll put you on my list.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Last Tag

By Keith Fisher

Years ago I saw a cute cartoon of an old man lying on his death bed. He motioned for a young man to come closer. When the young man did, the old man gestured to come closer still. The young man leaned down with his ear to the old man’s mouth, the old man touched the young man on the cheek. He said, "Last tag." and died. The young man was mortified. Who was he going to tag now? The old man was dead and the young man would be IT forever.

I just discovered G. Parker tagged me for this game on her blogsite. Then I found that Kerry Blair tagged me too. Lest you think I’m not a good sport, I decided I’d better play. To Gaynell, Kerry, and any others who might have tagged me thanks for thinking of me. Since everyone has already played I won’t be able to tag anyone. I guess I’m the victim of the last tag.

What were you doing ten years ago? Selling a house, buying a new one, and getting ready for a new arrival in our family.

What were you doing one year ago? Learning to be a typesetter, and re-writing a novel.

Five snacks you enjoy: Soft, cold, and gooey—depends on the day, and time of day

Five songs you know all the lyrics to: Love at home, Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, Peaceful easy Feeling in fact most of the 60’s and 70’s music. (I’ve been listening since it was new). Number five would be Happy Birthday to you.

Things you would do if you were a millionaire: Buy a castle in Scotland, write best sellers like a young lady we all know. Actually, I’d start businesses in areas on the decline. (Create jobs in places that can’t support the next generation.)

Five bad habits: Coveting Nichole’s convertible mustang, internalizing innocent comments, procrastination, messiness, and snoring.

Five things you like to do: Family things, being in the zone with my writing. Camping, hunting and fishing.

Things you will never wear again: Most of my wardrobe. not because I don't like it but because they don't fit.

Five favorite toys: My computer, Camp Trailer, Swamp cooler (this time of year), Fishing pole, and Nichole’s Convertible (Have you checked the garage, Nichole).

Where will you be in ten years: sitting on my front porch with a shotgun threatening my daughter’s boyfriends. I will have my laptop beside me (still doing re-writes).

Five people to tag: Anyone who wants to play.

That was fun, stay tuned next week for an amateur writing workshop where I re-hash lessons I’ve learned before.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gone Fish’n

By Keith Fisher

We’re hosting 70 or so this week in a family reunion so I didn’t have time to edit. Please excuse this rough draft.

Last week, I took my daughter fishing. She’s nine and she’s a girly girl. She likes catching fish but she says ewww a lot when she disembowels them.

Judging by how much she nags me to take her fishing, I think she’s wise beyond her years. She knows she needs to capture moments with her dad before he can’t make them anymore.

At one point during our day together, she got bored and decided she wanted to fish with a lure. She was continually casting out and reeling in, when she hooked a big one. I enjoyed helping her with the struggle of landing it, but I noticed it was harder than it should’ve been. When she pulled the fish close to shore I discovered the reason why.

She had hooked the fish by the dorsal fin and had to pull it sideways through the water. It wasn’t an easy task, but she did it. Stupid fish, I thought. It didn’t know enough to get out of the way of the goofy looking man made bobble.

She said, "That was awesome." I said, "Yes it was awesome. My heart was full.

I began to think of all our life’s awesome moments, tucked away in our brains. Many people wish they could retrieve those moments from their gray matter in order to share with future generations. But they never do it, thinking they can’t write.

As writers we have the talent, and we’re developing the skill to tell the stories and transplant the feelings that go with them. It is our blessing to share those moments with our posterity. Or we can transform them into fiction and share it with everyone.

There are millions of moments writers draw from to tell a story that will touch the hearts of their readers. We all have similar moments in our memories. I hope you can use the moments to write a story that sparks a memory. While you’re at it, Live life and make a memory.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Comparing Apples to Oranges

By Keith Fisher

I was going to write a patriotic piece for Independence Day, but with all that has been written, I decided to post something else.

Have you ever asked somebody—usually someone close to you—for an opinion about your book, and they say, “Well you’re not insert their favorite author here ”?

Dealing with rejection is a common thing in the writing business. We learn to develop a thick skin, but being negatively compared to another writer is hard. Especially when that writer doesn’t even write in the same genre.

When asked what kind of books I write, I often say I write LDS fiction. I’m writing four mysteries, one historical, one fanfic*, and the rest are adult contemporary fiction. “A little like Dean Hughes,” I say, when pressed further.

I like having my work compared favorably to his Children of the Promise and Hearts of the Children series. I also loved Midway to Heaven. Being compared UN-favorably to him may not be fun, but I could use the criticism to improve my writing. Or I could reject the opinion out of hand.

I am developing a response for those I reject. I’m going to wipe my brow and say, “Phew . . . I was afraid I might be copying. I’m glad to hear I’ve developed my own style.”

In having others read my work I discovered a distinct difference in taste. Even though I write for everyone, some people aren’t going to like the way the story is told. So I’m adjusting to the largest group.

I’m not giving up on the others. I figure I can do what Dan Brown did. When everyone begins to talk about my book, the others will wonder what they’re missing.

Hang in there, consider the source, take comfort in the good reviews, and write for the largest group of readers.
Keep writing.

*Fan fiction (also commonly spelled as fanfiction and frequently abbreviated to fanfic or occasionally just FF or fic) is a broadly-defined term for fiction about characters or settings written by fans of the original work