In today’s Journal
* Quote of the Day
* Topic: Let’s Get It Right
* In other news
* Of Interest
* The Numbers
IMPORTANT: See “The Return of Boss Kickstarter” at https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/the-return-of-boss-kickstarter/. Dean and Kris are offering some astounding stretch goals, many of which you can receive for a paltry $5 donation. You can check it out and donate if you want to at http://kck.st/3jRjlBP.
Quote of the Day
“If you make [the details] right for the people who know, then the other people will get a lot more out of it.” Sam Eliot on the authenticity of weapons and clothing in the film, Tombstone
Topic: Let’s Get It Right
I’ve tried to explain the concept in today’s Quote of the Day to writers for years, and I’ve never heard it explained more succinctly. Authenticity and specificity should matter to fiction writers. Period. Obviously, they mattered to those who wrote the script for Tombstone.
For example, that’s why I advocate always calling the mechanism that automatically feeds the cartridges into the action of a semiautomatic rifle or pistol a “magazine” instead of a “clip.”
It’s why Lee Lofland talks over and over about writers who write (wrongly) about combatants smelling the stench of cordite in a modern gunfight. Cordite hasn’t been used as bullet propellant for several decades.
It’s also why I advocate never representing a human body part as having human traits: a nose doesn’t smell; a human smells with her nose.
Likewise, eyes don’t see or “rake over” or peruse things. Ears don’t hear or listen. Fingers don’t feel surfaces, legs don’t race along the street, and fists don’t pump in the air or hit things.
In every case, THE CHARACTER is smelling scents or seeing sights or hearing sounds or feeling textures. And interesting events might catch a character’s attention but they don’t catch his eye. That would probably be devastating.
And no, “The reader will know what I mean” is not a valid excuse.
The last time I broached this topic, one writer took offense, commenting that maybe writers who are younger in the craft are not aware of these nuances. She was right. Writers who are younger in the craft might not be aware of these nuances, or might not have thought about them or realized them yet. The point is, writers who want to improve their craft can do so. Writers who care, learn.
We all have a choice: we either learn as we go or we stop learning and our craft becomes stagnant. And the instructional purpose of this blog is to help writers level-up, not to excuse the ignorance of certain craft elements.
The more authentically we write — that is, the more correct we are with the information we present in our stories — the more quickly we’ll be rewarded with a growing readership who trusts us to tell a good story and present factual information in our fiction.
Years ago, I was reading a novel about US Navy SEALS in which the author wrote that during the upcoming assault on an enemy compound, the team “would employ the proven technique of SNE: Silent Neutralization of the Enemy.”
That’s fine, except the author presented “SNE” as if it was an ipso-facto technique, something that was actively taught during mililtary training.
Only it isn’t. There is no formal “SNE.” There is only common sense. When attempting to breech perimeter security, it’s better if the guard you take out isn’t able to alert others to your presence. Is that really something that has to be taught formally? I don’t think so.
The same writer had the combatants firing their weapons until the “clip” was empty. The only combatant in the story who made use of a “magazine” loaded it into his “revolver.” Uh, no. A revolver does have a magazine of sorts, but it’s universally called a “cylinder.”
Yeah, I didn’t finish that novel.
I’m of the (old?) school that believes if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. In writing, that means being as authentic as possible in your representations.
In other news, first, thanks for all the well-wishes. I appreciate it more than you know. And I’ve started writing again. I’ll report fiction numbers the next time I post to this Journal.
Talk with you again when I can.
See “US Publishers, Authors, Booksellers Call Out Amazon’s ‘Concentrated Power’ in the Book Market” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/us-publishers-authors-booksellers-call-out-amazons-concentrated-power-in-the-book-market/. Read this, especially all of PG’s take, especially the comparison at “Amazon is a Big Bully That Exploits the Peons” (scroll down).
See “Dream Making” at https://mystorydoctor.com/david-farland-writing-tip-dream-making/. Specifically for Dave Farland’s thoughts on the sources of ideas for stories.
Fiction words yesterday…………… XXXX
Nonfiction words today…………… 770 (Journal)
Writing of (novel)
Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the month……… XXXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 309655
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2810
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 133970
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 443625
Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 5
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 12
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 50
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 208
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31