Make the Reader Work!

One of my grossest errors when I first started writing fiction was to tell the reader exactly what was going on, why, and what the characters thought about it.

How boring is this?

Another pastime of mine was to observe snakes. There was something mystical about snakes. Some people thought they represented an evil power, but there was also a long-standing tradition associating them with healing powers. At any rate, they fascinated me.

Show, don’t tell!show-dont-tell

I’d never even heard of that most elementary of all writers’ maxims. Continue reading “Make the Reader Work!”

About Different Types of Fiction

For a change, I’m including a guest post. Thanks, Lucy Adams, for an interesting and thought-provoking article.

Why do people read books? pen-631321_960_720What are the reasons that they are among the most important inventions of human civilization? You know the answer, although you may not be aware of it.

Today I want to talk about two of the largest concepts of fiction, but let me start from afar. Continue reading “About Different Types of Fiction”

Re-Vision

It’s one thing to say I have completed the first draft of Aquila – all 34½ chapters – but quite another to say my book is finished.V+Aquila

I’ve benefitted greatly from the constructive and critical feedback I’ve received over more than two years through kindly colleagues in the Ubergroup on Scribophile and through less tolerant friends at the OtherWorlds Writing Group in Zürich. Considering all the – sometimes contradictory – remarks and suggestions was a major job. Then I started on some other issues I knew needed attention.

The next stage was a chapter-by-chapter Combo Check with Pro Writing Aid (Have a look at their Special Offer), which revealed a huge number of stylistic weaknesses, such as sticky words, far too many adverbs, repeated words, long sentences and overuse of things like ‘think’, ‘believe’, ‘then’, ‘heard’, ‘just’, etc.Revision ToDo's

A professional editor requested a double-spaced hardcopy, so I had two drafts printed. The second is for my own use – to read aloud (my wife has volunteered as a captive audience) and for further reviewing.

There’s still a way to go and – unless the editor says it’s unworthy of publishing – one of the next steps will be to have a cover designed.

Aquila won’t be on the shelves tomorrow!

My new office

IMG_20151217_161526Snow-covered Alps in the distance, a red kite complaining about having been chased from its realm by angry crows, a waxing moon and last rays of sunshine at 4 pm on the 17th of December!

Having completed the first draft of my book, much revision is called for. One approach I’ve discovered is to read it out aloud, chapter by chapter, and listen to what it sounds like. What better place to do that than a hunter’s hide at the edge of the woods? The deer, foxes and hares don’t object.

Historical Novel Blog Tour

Intro 

As an author of a mere half of a book, I feel greatly honoured to have been invited by the enterprising Tiffani Burnett-Velez to participate in her Historical Novel Blog Tour, mingling with such illustrious writers as Meara PlattDouglas HawkinsA. David SinghClaudia LongGreg MichaelsBarbara Eppich StrunaEleanor Parker Sapia. Thanks for the privilege.

Who you are, where you’re from, your writing credits

The bearded one

I wrote this bit under palms in the Brazilian jungle, sipping a freshly-made caipirinha. All nine family members – including two charming grandchildren – were visiting our daughter-in-law’s relatives for Christmas.

Born in (old) Jersey GB, my father was Swiss, my mother of French Huguenot stock. I studied physics in London and met my Finnish wife in Geneva during a research project at CERN. After many moves, we have settled in a beautiful village near Zürich, Switzerland. I’m now facing the prospect of retirement. Continue reading “Historical Novel Blog Tour”

What’s his face?

Many aspects form a novel – plot, pace, voice, character arc, setting, backstory, etc. But a novel wouldn’t be anything without characters. And readers want to get to know the main players. Among other things, they want to discover what they look like. And that, in turn, means they want to see their faces.

I’m not good at faces. Legend has it that I didn’t recognise my mother, although we had arranged to meet outside a certain shop. Often it’s only when an acquaintance I haven’t seen for a while does something – raises their eyebrows, speaks or walks in a characteristic way – that I realise who they are; their personality shines through.

Q: How can I, who don’t notice faces, learn to describe my storybook characters’ appearance?

Continue reading “What’s his face?”