Tag Archives: Writers Resources

They Don’t Mak’em Like They Used To

How many times have you heard “Boy, they sure don’t mak’em like they used to.” ?  And I’ll have to say, I’m certainly glad they don’t.  Take for instance your average house–in the good ole days bricks were laid right on dirt with no foundation.  It makes for a nice Dr. Seuss look-alike dwelling but hardly better than the concrete foundations of today.  True, some of the craftsmanship in the ornate trim work has been lost, but I’ll trade that for a roof that’s not constructed from 2 x 4’s.

How about the one, “I sure would like to live back in the olden days.”  I don’t know…would I rather drink a bottle of liquor or have a shot of Novocaine to have that pesky tooth pulled? Four men holding me down and a forty percent blood alcohol level with little pain relief tells me that things are a lot better today than a hundred years ago…at least in the dental profession.

Oh!  I forgot one more thing…did you want to eat tonight?  Well, just in case you did, better clean up the ole rifle Tex.  Times a wastin’ and we’re all out of firewood…and don’t forget to draw some water from the crick.

Now on to the world of writing. The quill pen was commonly used by 700 A.D.  The first pens were made from bird feathers.  The major problem with these writing implements was their longevity.  After about a week the writer had to once again chase a bird down and unceremoniously jerk another feather from its wing.  This lead to a larger than normal population of flightless birds who attempted to evolve into penguins, but falling way short, died ostracized from their bird brethren and featherless reminders of man’s insatiable appetite to write with things that don’t last.

In 1795, Nicholas Conte developed the process used to make pencils.  Now at long last the world could write to their hearts content.  It soon came to the attention of these ecstatic writers of the word that mistakes were inevitable.  I want you to follow me close on this.    In 1844, Charles Goodyear patented the process to make erasers more commonplace.  This brings in a bit of thought provoking thought that would provoke the average thinker.

How did the human race tolerate and manage such a stressful situation with fifty years of mistakes and no foreseeable solution?  Answer:  The war of 1812.  On a sad note, the pencil sharpener was not patented until 1897.  No further information is available on this bleak period of history.

To sum up:  You can push that button and watch as the magical computer comes to life allowing you to start that great American novel you’ve always been meaning to write or start rubbing two sticks together and the next time you go out for dinner make sure you bag a duck, cause you’re gonna need something to write with.


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Turn the Page

When’s the last time a book held you spellbound? I mean a real page turner? The kind that tells you in that seductive voice, “just one more page and you can go to bed.” You embrace    the lie. Even though you see it for what it truly is you continue to read on turning page after supposedly last page. Or how many times have you fallen for this ruse– “Just finish this chapter and then you can go to sleep,”?

You finish the chapter and close the book. You pause and reopen the book, thumbing to where you left off.  “Hmm” you say as you gently whisper the number of pages in the next chapter.  “One, two, three, four…I have time for one more.” This parade of pages continues night after night until sleep deprivation causes loss of job, spouse, even the dog turns a deaf ear.

“Oh, had I only listened to my conscience when it wisely suggested sleep. It implored that nothing good could come from this.  I didn’t listen and now I’ve lost it all.” Or could there be another reason– a covert operation–a conspiracy where authors plant subliminal messages in their books that, much like that little bunny and the bass drum, keep us going and going and going.

I think “not” to either scenario.  What we have here is simply a well written novel that captures and holds you hostage until the last page and if it packs that one, two wallop you’ll find yourself fondly day-dreaming back to the nights when the crisp pages turned so fervently in your hand.

Now, let’s turn it around.  You are the writer and not the reader of this “novel to end all novels” novel (three “novels” in one sentence?…pretty snazzy, eh?)  The big question here is “how do you write such an instant classic?”…well…don’t look my way, I haven’t a clue. However, here are some of the things that I believe help me write a better story.

I immerse myself within the story and as I write, I try to portray each character from their expression’s to their mannerism’s and even how they speak or how they would sound in my mind’s ear as they deliver their lines.  Would they rub their chin or shuffle their feet or squint shading their eyes?  What are the surroundings like?  The reader requires detail but not so much as to drone along with the description.

Beware of unnecessary lulls within the story line else your audience become bored.  I like to write  action into my stories and even though there are times when the story must slow down, I try to keep the reader on the edge of their seat more often than not. Grab your reader’s attention early, preferably in the first page and don’t let up until the last page and if necessary the back cover.

Just remember, keep it moving, keep it interesting, don’t be shy. Write yourself into impossible situations– for once you find the way out you will have realized some of your best work.  If you find that any of this helpful, please let me know.  I could use a few good tips myself.


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Who came first, the publisher or the agent?…wait!…I know what you’re thinking. He’s asking  THE question!…    You know…THE question that’s plagued mankind since the dawn of time, rearing its ugly head when the first stone chiseling cave man, Rocky Stoningway, tried to publish the gripping granite tablet, “The Old Man and the Cave,” and the riveting sequel “For Whom the Boulder Falls.” I will admit it was easier then, as there was only one author, (the aforementioned Rocky Stoningway), one agent (Cenozoic and Sons Tablet Chiseling Agency L.L.C.)  and The Big Bang Publishing Co. Ltd. (the only publisher).

Today there are hundreds of agents and publishers to service thousands upon thousands of writers. The problem, other than the shear number of writers to publishers, is that most publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Which means…drum roll…enter the agent. Agents would rather represent published authors… Talk about a rock and a hard place. It’s more like a catch twenty-six and a half or something.

The conundrum in all of this is that all three parties have valid concerns. Writers want to be published and certainly should be if their work warrants it, as many do. Agents have to be particular about who they represent  else they lose credibility with their publishers. And publishers stand to lose a lot of money if they take a chance on a book that doesn’t sell. I’m not trying to pass myself off as some all knowing authority on the subject–I’m just relaying my personal experiences and what I’ve learned along the way.

It’s a tough business if a business is how you care to look at it. I prefer to embrace the passion I have for the written word, work tirelessly (but not if it truly becomes work) in order to publish, and go to all ends marketing the book. If your novel is the greatest book ever written that won’t be known if it’s never read. The one thing you’ll have to learn to accept is refusal of your work. Just never give up. (My therapist says in another year or so I should be able to handle rejection again.)

If you take anything away from this let it be this…work hard, develop thick skin, marketing is essential (no one’s going to sell your book for you) and above all, have fun…gotta run I’m late for my therapy session.

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