Monthly Archives: July 2011


Well, S.K. is on vacation so you’re stuck with another blog post from me.  (Hope you’re enjoying the beach, S.K.  Without me.  Yep…enjoying mojitos on the beach, with the waving palm trees and parrots……without me….).  (I’m only slightly jealous.  Slightly.)

Anyway.  Angsting aside, I just read a fabulous blog post by Jane Friedman called Why Take the Time to Read Your Work Out Loud?  As the title suggests, she talks about how important it is for writers to read their works aloud as part of the editing/polishing process.  Most of the comments that I read concur with her argument…as did I.

I completely agree with what Jane Friedman and her commenters said about reading aloud.  Kind of like changing the font and the page layout, reading out loud makes you see the text of the story in a different way.  I think maybe your brain receives the information differently when it is heard rather than read.  I can read the same chapter twenty times, skimming it over in my word processor, but when I start reading it aloud, all of a sudden I hear the poetry of the text (for lack of a better word).  How it flows, how the sounds fall, how the sentences roll off the tongue…or get stuck on it like a piece of dog fur.  Like the others noted, I get a sense of where I get bored, or where the descriptions don’t work, or the dialogue sounds clunky or repetitive…or even those places where I accidentally wrote in inconsistencies (“Wait, she’s sitting down, but a paragraph ago she was standing up….”).  It’s also great for catching typos that I would otherwise unconsciously ignore.

But the post and comments got me thinking about something else.

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Wrangling Runaway Stories

J. Leigh would like to officially apologize for not blogging in ages.  J. Leigh has been very busy.

J. Leigh will now stop referring to herself in the third person.

Funny how so often my ideas for blog posts are spawned by the various and sundry issues I face while trying to write.  So right now, I’m struggling with what I imagine is a common predicament for writers — stories that just won’t behave.

As I embarked on the sequel to Down a Lost Road, I decided to be a responsible writer and start with a plot outline.  Then I got carried away and actually started a chapter outline.  So there I was, doing a fairly reasonable job following my outlines, when all of a sudden my characters went and got themselves into trouble.  Seriously, I don’t know how they did it.  One minute, they were traipsing along the outlined path, and then, just like that, everything went wrong.

It totally wasn’t my fault, but I wrote them into a corner.  Literally.

So now what?

Let me make up a fictitious example of a runaway story, so I don’t go giving away exciting spoilers about Subverter.

Let’s say you have a character, Bob.  Bob is a rather ordinary soul who is summoned to undertake an extraordinary adventure to SAVE THE WORLD (might as well be cliche, right?).  So Bob goes on a QUEST.  On his way he meets two MIGHTY WARRIORS named Bill and Ted (heh. O.o).  They have a nice chat about SAVING THE WORLD, then Bob goes on his way.  Two cities later, he runs into the SUPREME EVIL BADDY‘s henchman, Vator and Soron.  In your plot outlining, this was the point where Bob secretly spies on Vator and Soron, discovering the true extent of their EVIL SCHEMES, then escaping unnoticed to warn the Impressive Duke of Aussom of the threat.

But unfortunately, as your fingers move over the keyboard, strange new words start flowing onto the screen.  Bob falls from his perch above Vator and Soron, landing right in the midst of their EVIL SCHEMING.  After a moment of shock, when Bob might have gotten away, Vator wields MIGHTY MAGICKS and delivers a devastating wound on poor Bob, while Soron LAUGHS MANIACALLY from the background.  Vator is weakened by his mighty spell, and Soron is laughing so hard his evil eyes are blinded by tears, so Bob seizes the opportunity to claw his way into a DINGY CELLAR.  There he locks himself in as he quavers on the edge of unconsciousness.

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