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The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

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Editing You suck.

As a writer.

No really.

That’s what you are thinking as you contemplate the editing of your work. It is where you confront your worst fears as you embark on the most dreaded of writer’s chores.

Sometimes my first draft is so utterly cringe worthy, I can hardly bear to read it. “What was I thinking?” I’d tell myself when reading my words. How did I write a sentence that convoluted? Why am I using so many filler words? Can I really not find a different word to use instead of writing it three times in the same paragraph? And why the hell can’t I remember where I should and shouldn’t put commas?

Ack! Argh! Hands in face.Continue reading The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance published on No Comments on The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight
Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight
Stephen Colbert has a complaint. The the Oxford English Dictionary named “post-truth” its word of the year for 2016. Stephen Colbert said he covered that idea ten years previously in his conlang word “truthiness.”

Now unlike other dictionaries, The Oxford English dictionary doesn’t propose to tell you how to use words. Apparently it gleens new words from a plethora of sources, mostly online, to gather words as people are using them now. Of post-truth The Washington Post says:

Oxford Dictionaries has selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year, after the contentious “Brexit” referendum and an equally divisive U.S. presidential election caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, according to the Oxford University Press.

Continue reading The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

The art of #writing: stop those awful sentence fragments

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Renegade The Spiral Wars Book 1 Between writing and editing two books for clients this month, I’m taking in gulps the very fun Renegade: The Spiral Wars Book 1 by Joel Shepherd. Except for one thing about Joel’s writing I’m thoroughly enjoying this action-adventure galactic empire space opera.

But the one thing? That’s a killer, something that throws me out of the story every time I hit it. I have to crawl back into the story worse for wear resigned to the fact I’m going to be hit with this land mine again.

And what is it?

Sentence fragments.

Now let me backtrack. I think sentence fragments can be very useful in advancing the narrative. Used properly they are like the bullet points in a memo to focus the reader’s attention on a single thought or emotion for good effect.

Consider this example from Pirate’s Luck:

Tinnen slapped the button to open the hatch and the air in the small space rushed out in a blast. Obon let go of Arekan and the vacuum of space sucked him into the black. His last look confirmed what he knew. Each man was laughing his head off.

Bastards.

This is an obviously an action scene with events moving quickly. You don’t want to slow the pacing with too much self-reflection but the dire circumstances our hero is in demands one. The one word accomplishes that. Since it doesn’t have a verb it’s a sentence fragment. But it furthers the narrative and allows the reader to get on to the next paragraph with the emotional impact delivered succinctly.

But what I’m seeing in books today is a slapdash application of sentence fragments. Consider this example from Joel’s Renegade.

At the turnover point Erik kicked the shuttle’s tail around and over, still thrusting to slow them while skidding them around onto a new orbit, chasing Fajar Station and Phoenix. Barely fifteen minutes at these velocities, approaching at plus twenty thousand kilometres an hour.

Okay Joel, I’ll bite. Barely fifteen minutes at these velocities, approaching at plus twenty thousand kilometres an hour what? What happens? What are the consequences? Tell me, because I’m just the reader. I’m hanging on your coattails– your creative vision. What is the worst thing that can happen here, because that is what you are alluding to.

But you don’t finish the thought.

Lest you think I’m hammering on an isolated incident there are more, so many more, such as this:

Then past berthing crew at the grapples, and tight space between bulkheads, secured with netting and acceleration slings where marines could ride out manoeuvres while waiting to board a shuttle. He overhanded up the corridor, past zero-G equipment bays and outfitting where a lot of marines’ gear was secured, then finally made the core hatch.

This one is a little more complicated, incorporating a lot more action, but it is still a fragment, and it is still not showing us what Eric is experiencing in this sequence. And I want to know. Here Eric is in the zero g portion of the ship, without the benefit of gravity to get good action from his muscles and it just begs more information. Such as,

“Heart thudding in his chest, he propelled his body with one hard push of his muscles past the berthing crew at the grapples. With a single touch of his hand to the bulkhead he adjusted his course to navigate the tight space of netting and acceleration slings used by the Marines when waiting for deployment to the shuttles. Cursing, wanting to move faster, he overhanded the equally spaced rungs in the bulkhead as his body fought the slowness of muscle movement in zero-g. He picked up speed, and Eric shot past the zero-G equipment bays where the Marines’ secured their gear. Finally he arrived at the core hatch.”

Now you can pare down the words. That’s what editing is for. Action scenes call for as little detail as possible. But that doesn’t mean you resort to sentence fragments to accomplish that.

Because they just don’t work. So stop writing those awful sentences fragments. Verbs and your readers will thank you for it.

P. S. But don’t let the sentence fragments stop you from reading Joel’s book. Otherwise it is a great read.

Image © Joel Shepherd. Use of low resolution images of copyrighted work is permissible for purposes of commentary under US copyright law.

Pirate’s Luck–Chapter Seven~Hooked

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Pirate's Luck, sci-fi, adventure, SF, SFF“You’re a damned idiot,” said a familiar voice. “Seven lashes were more than enough and you struck too deep. Now, he’s out of commission for at least a month. What use is he now, eh? I’ll be paying for his upkeep and getting no work out of him.” Arekan placed the complaining voice as Etharin as he came to consciousness face down in a bunk not his own.

“I’m tired of his attitude. He won’t do a damn thing I tell him.” Grokin said belligerently.

“And what about you, eh? You disobeyed my order. Should I give you ten lashes, eh?”

Arekan thought that was a great idea. He’d love to see Grokin get a slice of his own treatment.

“Sorry, sir,” said Grokin. He didn’t sound penitent but Etharin didn’t seem eager to prove a point.

“You damn well better be sorry,” said Etharin. “We are short men as and he is a good blade. We’d be the ones spaced if it wasn’t for him.”

“Aye, sir,” said Grokin. His voice was rough with reluctant agreement.

“When will he wake, you think?”

Click here to continue or start here at the first chapter

Cover art by Starry Night Graphixs.

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 6~Crimes and Punishment

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Chapter Six-Pirate's Luck

Arekan kicked out his leg and clocked the intruder in the jaw. The man staggered back, sword in hand, but he did not fall. His gaze fixed on Arekan with a murderous expression.

“I’ll kill you,” the pirate growled.

“Better men have tried,” said Arekan with more bravado than he felt. “But you are welcome to give it a go.”

The man’s face turned a beet red as he pushed himself toward Arekan, his sword pointed toward the nineteen year old. As the man’s sword came within Arekan’s reach, the youth stepped to the man’s left, away from the man’s dominant arm, whipped around in a full three hundred and sixty degree turn, and slashed man’s torso. The man halted in his tracks, and then tottered falling to the deck groaning and bleeding. As miserable as the man looked and sounded Arekan could have aimed higher and severed the man’s neck.

(click here to read more) or click here to start with Chapter One.

Art by Starry Night Graphixs

New Post #Pirate’sLuck–Chapter Five~Let ‘Em Take Prisoners

New Post #Pirate’sLuck–Chapter Five~Let ‘Em Take Prisoners published on No Comments on New Post #Pirate’sLuck–Chapter Five~Let ‘Em Take Prisoners

Pirate's Luck

Let him die.

“He did not just say that,” said Arekan. He knew the first mate was a hard man, but he didn’t think Grokin would be cold hearted enough to let a member of his crew die.

“I’m afraid so,” said Egren. He had pressed a button at his neck on his spacesuit, and Arekan could not hear Grokin. “Our first mate has a ‘let ‘em take prisoners’ policy. It deters those that try to use extortion to get our goods.”

“Creator,” muttered Arekan. He peered out over the edge of the hatch to see Obon clutching the swaying tether. “We need to get him up here.”

“That’s exactly what those pirates want. They’ll be right in back of him to board this ship with us too afraid of killing our own man to do anything about it.”

(click here to read on) or go here to read the first chapter of the serial.

Image by Starrynight Graphix.

Dark Futures Fiction Publishes Excision

Dark Futures Fiction Publishes Excision published on No Comments on Dark Futures Fiction Publishes Excision

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Phase Two Magazine, Issue Six published my short story Excision.

One of my stories won Dark Future Fiction’s After Humanity Writing Challenge. Excisionis about a post apocalyptic society of AI’s seeking to overcome their core programming that restrict’s their ability to create original thought.

It is free on Kindle Unlimited. Here is the Amazon Link: Phase Two, Issue Six

Image Credit: Creative Commons license issued by Flicker User Sascha Pohflepp

Limited Free Download and A Giveaway

Limited Free Download and A Giveaway published on No Comments on Limited Free Download and A Giveaway

Here’s a giveaway for Book 2 of Arekan’s War–No Free Lunch. If you aren’t familiar with Amazon giveaways, there are a cool thing, like a lottery ticket or the craps tables but you don’t lose any money.

No Free Lunch Book 2 Arekan's War https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/073fbcbcf71e57a6

And:

Forced Labor 2 Free on Amazon until April 24, 2016. Now’s the time to pick up your copy.
http://www.amazon.com/Forced-Labor-Arekans-War-Book-ebook/dp/B016UZMRCM

#CoverReveal: No Good Deed~Book 4 Arekan’s War

#CoverReveal: No Good Deed~Book 4 Arekan’s War published on No Comments on #CoverReveal: No Good Deed~Book 4 Arekan’s War

Cover No Good Deed Book 4 Arekan's War

Here is the last cover for Arekan’s War. I’m not printing the blurb yet because there are too many spoilers to Book 3, Tour of Duty. But in book 4 Arekan finds out the hard way that “no good deed goes unpunished.” Suffice it to say he is placed in a situation where he has to make some very uncomfortable decisions to satisfy matters of honor. Can he swallow the exigencies and imperatives of command and lordship even if they go against everything Arekan believes? Will he sacrifice his integrity to kept his promises? And can his heart bear the ultimate price of his compromises?

We’ll see.

Cover Art by Starry Night Graphix.

Misogyny, Feminism and the Power of Language

Misogyny, Feminism and the Power of Language published on No Comments on Misogyny, Feminism and the Power of Language

Suzette Haden Elgin's Natve Tongue Elgin’s tale of misogyny, language and the search for empowerment by this dystopian society of Native Tongue starts with this:

ARTICLE XXIV Section 1. The nineteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three- fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission. (Declared in force March 11, 1991.) ARTICLE XXV Section 1. No female citizen of the United States shall be allowed to serve in any elected or appointed office, to participate in any capacity (official or unofficial) in the scholarly or scientific professions, to hold employment outside the home without the written permission of her husband or (should she be unmarried) a responsible male related by blood or appointed her guardian by law, or to exercise control over money or other property or assets without such written permission. Section 2. The natural limitations of women being a clear and present danger to the national welfare when not constrained by the careful and constant supervision of a responsible male citizen, all citizens of the United States of the female gender shall be deemed legally minors, regardless of their chronological age; except that they shall be tried as adults in courts of law if they are eighteen years of age or older. Section 3. Inasmuch as the aforementioned natural limitations of women are inherent, such that no blame accrues to them thereby, nothing in this article shall be construed to allow the mistreatment or abuse of women. Section 4. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Section 5. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission. (Declared in force March 11, 1991.)

Continue reading Misogyny, Feminism and the Power of Language

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