A Novel Approach

Chapter 28: Chapter Endings

A good chapter is like a treasure map.  It will lure you in.  It will lead you through uncharted territory. And, at the end, it will not yield the treasure — it will just make you want it more. What … Continue reading

 
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Number 27: A slap from the velvet glove

  “That’s not writing; that’s typing.” Jack Kerouac was on the wrong end of that review, one spoken by Truman Capote but, nevertheless, a review. If there is anything more contentious than the relationship between author and critic it would … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: And our winners are…..

  Entering a literary contest is a bit like eating oysters, or riding a vertiginous loop-de-loop at the carnival, or taking a nip of baby food.  The experience will make one queasy, the rewards are uncertain, and somewhere in the … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 26 What do writers do?

Writers write, of course. So do engineers, judges, shop clerks, and prison guards. What writers do, however, is something different – writers tell us about the world in a new way, a previously unseen way, with a story written from a … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 25 Taking Research to a Higher Level

Part Two: “You are to start tomorrow as their maid. If you do well, you will be paid eight stuivers a day. You will live with them.” I pressed my lips together. Don’t look at me like that, Griet.,” my … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 24 Research and Accuracy in Historical Fiction — In Exquisitio Veritas

Part One: Readers with some passing knowledge of literature might be startled by reading in The Three Musketeers a passage in which D’Artagnan refers to Gulliver’s travels more than a hundred years Jonathan Swift invented them. Dumas had got it … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 23 — Web versus Strand: The Spider’s Dilemma

A single thread can take the spider to the prey, but a web can catch more food and keep it safe until needed. What could this possibly have to do with A Novel Approach to writing? The answer lies in … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 22 In Subordination….

Out of Step “Somebody had decided that all these soldiers marching around town needed recreation, so the pier—a fishing pier hitherto known simply as Municipal Pier and whose claim to fame was that down at the end of it was … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach Number 21 ‘Elementary, my dear…’

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon and Paris policewoman Sophie Neveu overcame one obstacle after the other in a never- ending series of lucky breaks that depended on walkie-talkies that could not work, Swiss banks whose passwords were written by Sudoku gamers, … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach, Number 20: Don’t harvest without first planting the seeds

“Grouard yanked his walkie-talkie off his belt and attempted to call for backup. All he heard was static…” “Au secours!” the guard’s voice yelled. … “Au secours!” he shouted again into his radio. Static. “He can’t transmit,” Sophie realized, recalling … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 19 Dialogue and the Language of Love

Romance is on my mind — today is my and Alice’s anniversary, and all I think about are words of love. For writers, that can be a lot to think about. Writing dialogue is hard enough without having to explore … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 18: Dialogue as Short Story

It all started with a phone call. My father’s voice, quavery with excitement, crackles down the line. “Good news, Nadezhda. I’m getting married!” I remember the rush of blood to my head. Please let it be a joke! Oh, he’s … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 17: “We need to talk.”

Dialogue breathes life into writing. People do talk. Characters must talk. It’s that simple. Dialogue can be written to do anything that omniscience can do, whether it is describing an event or moving from one scene to the next or … Continue reading

 
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A NOVEL APPROACH Number 16: The Basics of Shooting Free Throws

In the middle of all these heavy topics about writing scenes, characters, conflicts and so on, it is easy to lose sight of the basics. This is about as basic as I can get: writing is like shooting free throws. … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 15: Scenes — Writing an Impression

Imagine that you are blind. Someone is reading a story to you. It might be a news story. It might be an essay. It might be fiction. The page is turned and your reader discovers that in lieu of words, … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 14: “May I see what you have in a nice 30 caliber hollow-point?”

Characters are no more interesting than the conflict that defines them. In character-driven fiction the most interesting characters are those whose conflict is that they turn out to be different than anyone thinks they are, including themselves. Let’s consider a … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 13: Characters, First Lesson

An author must be able to write characters, fiction or non-fiction, who are memorable. But — how does one do it? The answer, briefly, is that for each character who truly is worthy of being in your story or book, … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 12 REVEILLE

Writers need more than just something to write about. We need to write those somethings in interesting ways. However, all too often we confine ourselves by the familiar, being limited by our experiences, our acquaintances, and our language. We know … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Chapter (Apollo)11 — Course Corrections

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly (more or less) note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Chapter 10. Elizabeth Bennett and The Caine Mutiny

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 9 — Cart Precedes Horse

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number Eight. “I am born.”

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number 7: Train misses school bus: An introduction to story arc

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number Six: Be serious about your writing

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach Number Five: Caution children, exciting

A Novel Approach Number Five: Caution children, exciting Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Lucy and the Football

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. Join us and follow us. I’ll post the tip on Twitter at JWLBooks, and the full note on Facebook at Jack Woodville London, at the MWSA site, and right here … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach: Number Three –The lowly paragraph…

…can leap tall tales with a single bound, is faster than a speeding gerund, is stronger than the strongest adjective. In the wrong hands, it can make your tale hard to follow. In the write hands, paragraphs can become a … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach — Number Two: Active Voice

Welcome to A Novel Approach, a weekly note about writing. The Military Writers Society of America asked me to write a weekly note with tips on writing, cruel payment (or punishment) for honoring me as the 2011 Author of the Year … Continue reading

 
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A Novel Approach

Welcome to A Novel Aproach, a weekly note about writing. The Military Writers Society of America asked me to write a weekly note with tips for writing, cruel payment (or punishment) for honoring me as the 2011 Author of the Year … Continue reading

 
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