Tag Archives: Metaphor

16 Apr

Talking About Revision

When I teach Novel Revision Retreats, I need a variety of ways to explain this thing called “revision.” Lately, two ideas have helped.

Plot: Aiming for Bull’s Eye

There are two things novelists must do when writing a story. First is figure out “what story are you telling?” Second is “what is the best way to tell that story?”

What story are you Telling. This is a plot question. http://www.flickr.com/photos/failafo0sa/2547622/
Especially when talking about the plot of a novel, a metaphor that helps me is to think of a draft as an arrow that hits a target. The first draft is way off bull’s eye. The second draft hits one ring closer to the center because you focused on selecting great scenes, revised those scenes, layered plot layers and subplots, all the while avoiding the most common pitfalls. Successive drafts should sharpen your aim, until you’re hitting in the red circle. Many stories sell successfully when they just hit that red circle in the middle; the really great stories hit smack in the middle of the bull’s eye. It’s worth that last revision to try to hit exact center.

Voice and Character: Sharpen the Focus

What is the Best Way to Tell This Story? The second question is about voice and character.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/magec/3572376881/
Generic descriptions, no inner life and a so-so voice — these are indications that your camera lenses needs to be focused. You can do this with great sensory details, showing the character’s attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and by careful attention to language. Each successive draft should sharpen the focus on your character and how s/he views life, in particular, the events of this story. Like hitting bull’s eye, don’t be satisfied with almost-in-focus; work until each detail is sharp and crisp, revealing the inner life of your character.

10 Mar

Sky challenge

Craft Challenges for the Writing Life

Whatever you write – novels, poetry, picture books, nonfiction – it’s important to keep your craft growing and improving. I take this seriously and find ways to challenge myself.

One way has been the Friday Ideas group, which has kept me searching for viable picture book ideas.

This year, I’m taking the Sky Challenge. Read More

24 Oct

An Apt Phrase

When I’m writing or revising a novel, one of the fun games I like to play is the search for an apt phrase.

An Apt Phrase

some buried caesar
Lately, I’ve been listening to recorded books of Rex Stout’s classic detective series about Nero Wolfe, the overweight, orchid enthusiast. His sidekick, Archie Goodwin, tells the story and does all the legwork for Wolfe. In Some Bury Caesar, Goodwin is smitten by a femme fatale and calls her “Trifle.” At one point, he mocks himself and says that he’ll gladly buy her “a string of cellophane pearls.”

“A string of cellophane pearls.”

Wow! What a phrase. It captures the playfulness of the relationship, how Goodwin tries to downplay her effect on him, her love of jewelry. In fact, as most apt phrases do, it says more than you can say by dissecting it.

Metaphors, simlies, descriptions, great verbs — where ever I can work it in, I try to have at least one apt phrase in every story. Sometimes, the phrase just happens; other times, I have to work at it. But I make it one of my revision goals to search for the perfect apt phrase.

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