I find that once I establish a routine, my body can react in a bad way if I stray from my writing schedule. I can physically get the shakes. Even when I had my day job, I made sure to write every evening and on weekends. How do you capture those big ideas that can spring on you any time of day or night?
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Do you keep notebooks all over the house or a voice recorder? The best ones, I pull over and reach for my purse where I keep a small notepad and pens. Or better yet, get someone to drive you so your genius is unfettered. Is there a place where you consistently get your big ideas? My usual day is writing am until pm with short breaks to care for my dogs and grab a snack.
YES, I have a daily goal. I generally shoot for words per day and do rolling edits to keep my progress going on the overall project. But social media and emails are a time drain. No sneak peaking as a diversion when you hit a wall. Pick another way to shake out the cobwebs.
Do you read your work aloud? After all these years, I still read my edits aloud. Do you use the first third to a quarter of your book to set up your world building and character introductions? On the other hand, I am flexible enough to see new ways to add twists. I want to be open to new character motivations too. More times than not, I have found better books by staying open to my endings. How rigid are you? Have you ever been pleasantly surprised with an ending you never expected, just because you followed a rabbit trail or discovered something new about your main character?
How open are you to criticism?
Does it matter who gives it? I think of their criticism as a collaboration to make the book better. I may not always take every suggestion. Only the author should decide what makes sense for the world they are building, but pick your battles. Keep an open mind.
In the Arms of Stone Angels
Add any new questions or tips that you have found a must to your process. Any brisket tips? Which of your books, past or present, turned out to be the biggest challenge for you? Share what made it harder to write and what you learned from the experience. Books have influenced my life since I was in elementary school.
My senses still respond with joy when I enter a library. What about you? What author or book got you hooked on the idea of writing your first novel? Tell us about it and your journey. Jordan Dane JordanDane. My feedback follows. Please help this author and provide your constructive comments, TKZers. Anna perused the mutilated body.
Damage to the head. Impressive gash in the temple and the empty eye sockets. Do you think a man or animal killed him? The cuts to the head and upper torso were massive and random. It was hard to recognize the face with most of it eaten.
The salty Oregon coastal breeze wafted into the cave opening. It mingled with the stench of rotting flesh warming in the sun. The smell of death has many scents. Looks like damage from an octopus beak to me. Sliced open the soft spot near the temple to get to the soft stuff inside. A grisly sight to behold. More hideous than the one she saw one night long ago. Same result. Different circumstances.
You being a marine biologist in this area, thought maybe you might have seen someone hanging about the coastline lately. Deep sea. But a person can get lost very easily if they want to. Ray wanted nothing to do with people after being discharged and returned to the states. The hatred and name calling were too much to take. One of the reasons Momma and Pa had moved so far out in the woods of Oregon. Homesteading far away from the prying eyes of local busybodies. Small towns are like that. It was a way of life. Tentacles most likely grabbed his head and the beak started gnawing away.
The author jumps into dialogue without over-explaining the action. Anna whoever she is to the investigation as an expert is examining the body, up close. The ME or coroner would take charge of the body and would not leave the corpse behind or bring in anyone at the scene to give an opinion on how the person died. That would be done in the autopsy, if the examiner needed the assistance. For avid crime fiction readers, this opener would read as implausible for these reasons. I had to query it online. Most octopus or squid can cause harm to a human, but not death.
The Humboldt Squid is known to attack a human being en masse and there are videos of these attacks. Very creepy. Is this story about a giant squid or octopus? If this story is about the JAWS equivalent to a giant octopus, introducing that possibility through Anna in the first scene seems too soon. It would be best to build on the suspense. Then the reporter asks Anna if she knew the dead guy, without offering an identity. This excerpt reads like a first draft with details stripped out.
A reporter would be the last person allowed onto a crime scene when the body is still exposed.
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Also, if I were the reporter who got beyond the police barrier, I would be taking photos with my phone. Asking questions is secondary to getting those gruesome pics. Why would the eyes have been eaten out of the body? Would an Octopus be so selective? Seems like a delicate procedure to focus on the eyes like that. A reporter would not. The author must do the research to make this more plausible.
Maybe make Anna be the person who spotted the body on the beach and called it in to the police. Major No No. Not even her last name. The excerpt below feels out of context. I would prefer the author stick to the action and layer in more details of the setting and the feeling of standing over a gruesome body than to read the details below that could be pieced in later when they fit better. What are the waves doing? Are they a calm ebb and flow of water or do the waves dramatically crash onto a rocky shoreline?
The Oregon coast is mostly rocky, but pick a spot and describe it so a reader from the area recognizes the setting. How does the sea mist and air feel on her skin as she stares down at a grotesque corpse? Sand carried in the wind and salty sea air can feel gritty on the skin.
The brackish water has a smell that can mingle with the stench off a putrid corpse.
Is the body tangled with seaweeds? Have other creatures crawled onto the body as the ocean laps around it?
I would recommend focusing on selective details that ADD to the setting and the emotion the author wants the reader to feel when they read this intro. What is she wearing? Does her clothing and other details say anything about who she is? Proper footwear?
Small Town, Big Dreams : A Dane Jordan Sports Novel
How does she fix her hair? Are her nails short or long, polished or not? If Anna is the star of this story, the author could set her up better than the way she comes across in this intro. The reporter seems to know more than she does, for example. I have some suggested changes listed below:. Pair Anna up with a detective that might challenge her. Have there be friction between them because she is an outsider and not a detective. If she proves to be a necessary expert where the detective is forced into using her, the friction you start with will only enhance the story line.
Any dialogue in an introduction like this could be like reading a game of cat and mouse. Have him obviously trying to get her insights then try to get rid of her, while she keeps adding things that make him wonder if she might help him more. Do they know each other from the past? That could be fun. Tease the reader with what killed the man and not spill the beans right away.
Milk that. I can hear the dialogue between the detective and Anna now. He thinks he knows how the guy died. Body dump. The sea and its creatures did the damage, but what if at the end of the scene, Anna breaks the news that the man died from a rare octopus attack. That could be a chilling start.
Like I said before, this reads like a first draft and stark, bare bones writing. Many of the typical beginner mistakes are not raging in this intro. Yes, the lack of crime scene research would be a deal killer for me as a reader, but if the author has a good foundation on writing, the research can be learned and developed.
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Sign up now. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Aug 20, Andrea rated it it was amazing. I really liked it If your looking for a great football novel I recommend this one. This book involves a lot of football so football fans you'll love this one. I myself am a football fan so I could understand it a little bit better but still I recommend this to anybody its great and really good. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Darnell G. Darnell G. Books by Darnell G. No trivia or quizzes yet. Welcome back.