A Writer’s Path is featuring a great interview with spec-fic author Larry Correia. Larry offers sound advice on traditional vs. self-publishing, the importance of marketing, and the absolute necessity of doing your homework so your readers are pulled in by the authenticity of your narrative. The focus of the interview is firearms, modern and antique, but Correia notes that “It isn’t just guns, but any topic where the reader is an expert and the author is clueless.”
So true. Here are some of the mistaken assumptions I’ve seen as an editor and while critiquing other writers:
– A pipsqueak, whether male or female, who’s secretly a “martial arts expert,” deftly pounds a muscle-bound bully into submission. Without getting a scratch. Yeah. Okay, I’ve been in both judo and karate tournaments, and trust me, sparring is ALWAYS strictly separated by sex, rank, and weight. Even among trained fighters, size matters.
– Same martial arts expert rams the bully’s nose bone into his brain, instantly killing him. Wrong. It can’t be done.
– Starting a fire by rubbing two loose sticks together. Please – step away from the computer, go outside – way outside – and spend the weekend camping. It’ll do you good, as well as teaching you a thing or two about life in the wild.
There are countless other pitfalls caused by relying on movies and TV for your research. Don’t do it. A writer needs a storehouse of experience to infuse his fiction with verisimilitude. When I was researching Cameron Obscura, I taught myself how to rappel down a wall. It was a blast, and it provided me with a gold mine of sensory details that made the story come alive.
Oh, you remember sniglets. That was comedian Rich Hall’s term for “words that don’t appear in the dictionary, but should.” Many of Hall’s sniglets were humorous portmanteau words, and some actually filled a need. My favorite was “cinemuck,” which Hall defined as “the combination of popcorn, soda, and melted chocolate which covers the floors of movie theaters.” We’ve all seen it, or at least felt it cementing the soles of our shoes to the theater floor.
Rich Hall grew up here in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shortly after I moved here, he was scheduled to appear at a local comedy club. As part of the publicity for Hall’s return to his home town, the club sponsored a sniglet contest. The deal was that Rich would read the winning entry during his show, and the winner would receive free passes and drinks for 12 friends for an evening at the Comedy Zone.
My entry won. My sniglet was “evandalism,” which I defined as “the act of spray-painting religious messages on other people’s property.” It got big laughs from the crowd, and I got to meet Rich Hall.
The picture posted above, by the way, is of Rich Hall and Moe Szyslak from “The Simpsons.” Moe was based on Rich Hall.
Now you know the rest of the story.
Click to enlarge image
The Novel Fox has just posted the cover for Aztec Midnight on its blog. Be sure to check it out, give it a “Like,” and stay tuned for further developments. I’ve updated my Fiction page with the new image. Now that’s a thing of beauty…
Jacqueline Seewald notes the pressures on police today in her latest blog post. They’re only human, so they’re going to make mistakes. But does that make police less heroic? And can we admire what they go through and still properly scrutinize their acts so we can weed out the bad ones?
“For me, silence had always been another form of communication. After all, you can tell so much just by looking at a person. At home we always knew about each other even if we didn’t talk about ourselves all the time. I encountered a lot of silence elsewhere as well. There was the silence that was self-imposed, because you could never say what you really thought.” – Herta Müller, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize for literature, on the significance of what characters in her novels don’t say.