In the ink well

Dog Ear

January 8, 2015

Writing humor (DOG EAR)

’m not a comedic writer but occasionally I’ll slip a joke into the book (if warranted). I don’t think I did for Fire and Bronze (since I burn the troubled Elisha alive by the end of it (actually, from the very first line)), it was hard to go ha-ha with that. Early ReTyrement had some humorous moments and some funny bits. But Don’t Jettison Medicine (my book for doctors to decide if they should be doctors) had short funny exercises. And that’s the trick – it’s easy to write a witty character who says funny things over the long haul. […]
January 1, 2015

After the story (DOG EAR)

o I’m in Stephen Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane right now, a saga that a reader-chum at work convinced me to try. This has been on the back of my mind since my roomie in college (all those long years ago) raved about it. And it’s the usual fantasy novel. A lot of walking and a lot of strange names, races and titles. And while I can’t do anything about the travelogue, I remembered what I should do for the baffling syntax. Yeah, you got it. Flip to the back. And there’s the glossary. I can’t tell you how many times […]
December 25, 2014

Absolutely True (DOG EAR)

avid Barry frequently uses the phrase “This is absolutely true” and “I am not making this up” when he’s making a central point, the quirk of base reality set against the background of his humor. Writers should take note of this. We need to occasionally have a point of absolutely true quirkiness in the center of our characters, something that makes them real. My own life has its quirks, but it’s pretty much a point A to B life-path. Nothing major. But if I were writing it, I’d have to mention the cat-feeding story. See, the wife is all but […]
December 18, 2014

I Hate (DOG EAR)

was struck by two things while I went around my Saturday errands (if you must know, a trip to the dump and then the blood bank (26 gallons!). The first was an NPR piece on a 13 year old who got mentioned on the sports broadcast for predicting something about sports (don’t ask me – I have no idea what they are talking about)). He’s got a twitter feed with a bunch of people and he got a nugget and published it – it went viral and now he’s on easy street (you don’t think that’s not going to show […]
December 11, 2014

Torpedoes Los! (DOG EAR)

 can’t tell you how many times I’ve posted Indigo out. It’s been launched at agents for about two years. At first, three would go out and as soon as two rejections came in, I’d launch another barrage. Then, as noted HERE, I realized it had been months. Inertia – just part of getting old.   What is confounding is how much pressure I put on myself about this. I actually worried. And worrying about submissions is like worrying about a trip to the corner grocery story (the what?). I’ve got submissions down to a science. I’ve got different letters for […]
December 4, 2014

Getting older (DOG EAR)

hen I was young, I was reading a book on anime (this was back before Akira, and if you don’t know what that was because you are too young or too old, shame on you). There was a picture of a Japanese artist sitting in front of a pyramid study room in his back yard, something someone had told him to make. It was supposed to give him all sorts of mystical triangle powers of creativity. “All I do is sit in there and drink sake,” he told the interviewer. I didn’t understand that – if you can draw so […]
November 27, 2014

The Last Argument (DOG EAR)

his is a story I just submitted in a short fiction contest. Rules: 750 words, about space and funny. It didn’t make the cut. So let’s share it here. Enjoy! When the Imperial BattleScout Last Argument broke from null space over the third planet of an unassuming (and unsurveyed) system, every sensor station klaxoned dire warnings. The captain of the hulking survey ship nearly tripped over his ceremonial scimitar as he dashed from station to station and leaned over shoulder after shoulder, his buggy eyes reflecting their lurid displays. The indications of a sprawling civilization were there. Huge space stations, […]
November 20, 2014

Fury (DOG EAR)

poiler alert! If you haven’t seen the movie Fury, you might want to skip this until you’ve seen it. So, still here? Let’s look at how (as writers) we need to make sure our bit characters have their own motives to ensure our worlds feel realistic. Fury is a movie about a World War Two American tank crew. At the end of a very busy day, they are assigned to hold (at all costs) a crossroads to keep the Germans from punching through a weak spot in the lines. Of course, the rest of the tank platoon gets ground into […]
November 13, 2014

Showdown (DOG EAR)

ou’ll remember last week’s piece, where I talked about the difficulty of getting a bookstore to move on a decision for stocking a few copies of Early Retyrement. And that I said I was going to go in and get some sort of resolution here. Well… Okay, so Sunday I went to the theater at noon and saw Fury, a good movie with a scene I’m going to comment on next week (and if you don’t like spoilers, you’d better go see it). Enjoyed myself. But I knew that I was going to drop in on that store on the […]
November 9, 2014

Erotica 101: Timing (DOG EAR)

obody likes their time wasted. People who dick with their phones at a traffic light. Or who wait in line at a fast food counter and only then look at the menu. Even one minute commercial spots are a mind-numbing waste of time. So why do you think your readers feel any different? If you are writing a novel, you have time to bleed in suspense. Characters can be developed. Clues (if appropriate) can be distributed. You can toy with foreshadowing and cast your mood with clever wording. Heck, if you are writing in 1870, you can take hundreds of […]