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Archive for February, 2015

Next History ~ Recent Reviews

by on Feb.28, 2015, under Books

Next History Amazon Reviews to 2015

5 stars – Absolutely worth your time

An excellent, fantastical story, combining mythos, theology and Armageddon sprinkled with sex and feminism. Very well written, and a compelling page turner. ~ J. Fairman

5 stars – Very well written story; I had a hard time putting it down.

I started this morning before work and now it’s after midnight. What a great read! How to describe this book? …set in current times for the most part, at the Pentagon and other US locations. The heroine, Tharcia, reads out a spell that ultimately changes the world. I don’t want to say anything more, except that I would definitely recommend it. ~ patiscynical

5 stars – It’s all about the journey

…one page in and I was hooked …memorable characters that took the story to such amazing places …cliff-hanger scenes and wild story development …inspire hope in the face of cynicism … fun, captivating, and heartening read! ~ Doug C.

4 stars – Entertaining and engrossing, great read, characters fleshed out perfectly and seem very real

Good book for any age. Thanks ~ Amazon Customer

5 stars – A great cyber punk story!

This is another book I read straight through – the cyber science behind it is fascinating and easily believable as an extension of current technology …fast paced and the plot twists will keep you guessing what’s coming next. I recommend this book to science fiction and cyber punk fans; it is a quality read! ~ Blaine Coleman

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New Worlds, New Knowledge and Emotional Impact

by on Feb.28, 2015, under Writing Craft

Reading biographies on literary agency websites, I often see a statement such as: “I’m a sucker for a believable, well-painted world.”

This tells us a couple of things. Agents are people too, and want to escape the ordinary as they read the slush pile day in and day out. ‘Escape fiction’ is a redundancy, for escape implies a new world to enter, even if only slightly different from our own. As readers we want to see how a downtrodden character (because many of us feel that way sometimes) resolves an ethical or moral question that has great emotional impact for them. We want to learn something.

The new world can be a courtroom, a TV soap, an emergency room, a racing stable. We’ve all entered those worlds with skilled writers as our guide. And what we find is that those worlds are not merely backdrops, but can act as a character. The world performs in the writer’s hands to strengthen our illusion of being there while highlighting the theme or premise of the story.

Agents and readers are looking for ideas with emotional impact. They look for potent characters who are active, and are not afraid of conflict. (Or maybe your character is afraid of conflict, but must face it all the same.)

It is axiomatic that if you put an interesting character on the stage with their worst enemy, you get drama. To flesh that out, you’re investing emotional capital in a struggle between two main characters, in the context of a high-concept idea. So when a man takes his wife to court for custody of their child, you might get Kramer Versus Kramer, or if a man unknowingly makes a pact with the devil, you might get The Firm.

It’s also axiomatic in the publishing world that your fiction or memoir plot has to provide some information or insights to solving problems in the real world. Orson Scott Card’s novels, largely YA, often address themes such as leadership.

A memoir is only impactful in the writer’s interpretation of the events. Readers are willing to look through other eyes if they will learn something about how to handle the world. The same is true of narrative nonfiction… how would you tell about the events of 9/11 through your own eyes, so we could all find out something new?

Newly published authors these days usually come out with a high-concept idea that is story-worthy and can be phrased in one sentence. So, agents are looking not for a story, but for a drama. To put that into marketplace terms, if someone pays $29.95 for your book, and wades through 400 pages of text, they have made a huge commitment. What are you going to teach them and how are you going to make your story dramatic and believable enough to rise to that commitment?

Here’s one way. If you can deliver a solution to a moral and ethical dilemma that provides useful insights into the real world while pushing believable though imperfect characters into conflict in a well-painted yet possibly quirky world, you have met that challenge.

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