Like movies?

Like movies? I do. Are you a discerning moviegoer? You should be. Stephen King writes about his love of the cinema. It helped form his imagination. Gathering from his success with the written word, King paid attention to dialog in the movies. Rule of thumb: If movies open with an over-long car chase or drop a demolition derby in the middle, screenwriters ran out of words. Shame. Well-written scripts…

What If?

Earlier, I wrote about beginning a story with a question: "What if?" Ask yourself that question while digesting that morning's news. Example: A candidate declares for office—a high-profile state or national race. Might that news item prompt a "What if?" Perhaps the candidate was involved in a deadly high school prank twenty, thirty years ago. Maybe he was one of three buddies who bullied a fourth…

Do you start with an outline?

People invariably ask, “Do you start with an outline?” Yes and no. A writer has to have a genesis for a story, perhaps even a general idea of where the tale is headed. But that’s not a preordained sequence I commit to paper. My characters are rarely fully formed when I begin. I may know who my protagonists are, but getting inside their heads is a process, not something put down in an outline.…

Which Came First?

As an illustrator for newspapers, and now as an author, people ask me, “Which came first?” I wrote occasional feature articles during my journalism career but was always an artist first. Now retired, I spend my time writing. I didn’t stop drawing after taking up writing. Authors have to train their minds and writing skills to “keep their hand in.”  Think of short writing exercises as a form of mental…

Prologues

The late great Elmore Leonard advised authors to avoid prologues. His answer to prologues was to "drop in a backstory anywhere you want to." Ordinarily I'd follow his advice. After all, he had a good track record as storyteller. I handle prologues two ways: All three of my novels have them. I used brief prologues to introduce the background for my stories. I labored to make them concise and intriguing.…