- DL Hammons
- Continually trying to answer the question...can a man of few words write a successful novel?
I'm a Mystery/Thriller/Suspense writer from small town USA who struggles everyday to balance my passion for prose against the need to be a full-time bread winner. Finding ways to devote more time to my writing is the challenge, but for now all I can do is follow this tug at my heart to wherever it leads. I'm here primarily to soak up all the knowledge I can from the writing-centric blogosphere, but I'll do my best to contribute by thinking of new and innovative ways to churn the writing pot.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
WRiTE CLUB is just around the corner, which means I'm starting to get my ducks in a row. It also means I need some help. The biggest change to the contest this year is that I'm heeding past participants suggestions to limit the bouts to a set number (16) spanning a reasonable time period (8 weeks) to prevent interest from spiraling downward. In order to do that I must narrow down what I estimate will be 100-125 entries (500 word samples) to just 32...and that’s where you come in. In order to go about this is a fair and unbiased manner my plan is to create a central repository (via Dropbox) where I will store all of the submissions, then have a selection committee of 12 judges read all of those entries and vote on their favorites, which I will then use to select the top 32. I already have six judges on-board and now I’m looking for six more.
Before you raise your hand, I want to fully explain what you would be volunteering for. This is a big commitment! First you must be open to installing and using Dropbox (a free file sharing program that I will provide complete instructions on how to use). Then you will have the month of June to read what could be 125+ entries, each one approximately 500 words long -- which equates to the length of a small book – and select 32 of what you believe are the best ones.
Oh...there's one more thing...another change this year is that I will be offering everyone who votes during the contest a chance to win a prize. Each vote places their name in a hat for a drawing at the end of the competition. The prize...a choice between an Amazon Gift certificate...or a fifty page critique from EACH OF THE SELECTION COMMITTEE MEMBERS (performed at your leisure). So not only are you volunteering to help pick the 32 fighters, but also providing a 50 page critique.
So, what do you say? Interested in helping shape how WRiTE CLUB plays out this year? If so, leave a comment below (be sure to include your email address), and I will be in touch by the end of the week.
Have a great week everybody!
Monday, May 13, 2013
Hey everybody! Hope the weekend was pleasant for you. Today I’ve asked Nicki Elson, a long-time blogging buddy and author of two novels (Three Daves and Divine Temptation), to take the reins and give you a tour with some different scenery. Ironically she’s chosen a topic that is near and dear to my heart, so I hope you enjoy it. Please make her feel welcome!
WRiTE Club - The Contest that Keeps on Giving
Some of you may know me better as Sissy Grimm or Art Gallery. Oh, how I love a penname, but that’s only one thing I enjoy about WRiTE Club — that nifty brainchild of Mr. D.L.H. in which writers polish up their 500-word samples and square off against one another. When I first joined the contest, I expected to get a few writing pointers and gain insight into readers’ brains, which I most definitely did, but I also got something unexpected — an entirely new editing technique that I now apply to everything I write.
Five hundred words isn’t much, so if you want to leave an impression, you’ve got to make every single one count, which generally means giving several the ax. Polishing those short pieces becomes sort of like a mini-WRiTE Club in itself, with each word fighting for its right to stay in. The dreaded -ly adjectives GONE; they’re unnecessary if the dialog and action already convey “emphatically” or “quickly.” Passive writing KABOOM! Why use two words to say “was walking” when “walked” reads better and takes only one?
Now, we obviously can’t give such intensive attention to each 500-word segment in a 75,000-word novel — we’d never finish — but I find that isolating key segments of the story and putting them under the microscope reveals personal writing rough spots that I wouldn't necessarily note when tackling an entire chapter. Realizing that I’m overly zealous with dialog tags or that my characters are frequently nodding their heads and shrugging their shoulders (what else are they going to nod or shrug?) helps me to be more aware of these weaknesses as I read through the bigger piece, thus making my overall edit more thorough.
One key segment that got the WRiTE Club treatment is the opening scene to my new release, Divine Temptation. This section is important for obvious reasons — it’s the readers’ first taste — but for this story, it’s especially key because it’s far different in tone than most of the rest of the story. DT is a romantically-inclined women’s fiction, but it goes a shade darker later in the book, so I thought it was only fair to give readers a hint of that darkness up front, and yet I wanted to keep the hint streamlined so that it wouldn't be overwhelming.
So who’s up for a little WRiTE Club-style critique? Below is the final version of that 444-word sample — how did I do?
Clawed feet landed with a muffled thud atop the January snow. His balance was instantaneous. Surveying the still forest around him, he watched the pale morning sunlight filter through the bare branches, illuminating nothing but the trees, the forest floor, and him. All active life had vanished from the area moments before his arrival. To joggers along the perimeter of the preserve, the distant ruckus of fleeing animals had registered only as a minor disturbance to the music blasting through their earbuds. His entry point was good.
He shook the white crystals from his talons and stepped through the snow. As he walked, his true form mutated, adapting to the world he had entered. By the time he reached the edge of the forest, he looked like any other man, complete with a pair of black dress shoes, a wool overcoat, cashmere scarf, and fedora. His power in this world had become such that all he had to do was think it, and it was his—for such minor details, anyhow. But acquiring what he truly desired would take more finesse.
The streets along his short walk to the historic part of town were already alive with cars pushing through the slush, carrying their contents to work. It was a new year—time for humans to get back to the old routine and make more money. They had Christmas bills to pay off, after all. His mouth twisted into an unpleasant smirk. This time he wouldn’t fail. This time they’d practically beckoned him forth.
He reached downtown Prairie Oaks, and as he traversed its sidewalks, a glass door swung open in front of him. Along with the earthy aroma of coffee drifted something else. He halted his steady gait and swiveled his head to peer inside. Shooting through the collection of people, his gaze landed on two women. Both of them were middle aged; one was modestly plump while the other was of a leaner build. The latter was the one he sensed. There was nothing in her appearance to set her off from anyone else—thick waves of caramel-colored hair ending just below her shoulders, medium complexion with a dusting of makeup over straight, long features—but there was no mistaking that she could suit his purpose.
While he watched her laugh and talk with her friend, the door swung shut and then open again. This time he detected something new amid the warm air seeping out from the shop, something exceedingly unwelcome. He shuddered and moved on. He had plenty of time; there was no need to jump on the first possibility to present itself…particularly if that possibility came mixed with complications.