Saturday, September 21, 2013

Realiism in writing?

I just read an article about a bunch of PETA activists who showed up a motorcycle event throwing water balloons filled with red water to protest them wearing leather. Bikers are sensitive people and protective of their leather which they consider the only attire that can truly handle the wind and cold when riding. The title of the article was "When you mess with the bull - you get the horns." I don't know what they expected to happen but police found them wrapped in duct tape and thrown in dumpsters, and one hapless soul was duct taped to a tree and used for a urinal. I'm thinking that they just did not think this through before protesting this group and should have stuck to little old ladies wearing animal fur.

Why am I talking about this? Because it reminded me how often I see things in real life that simply would not be believable if written into a book. It happens all the time.

Getting the realism right without becoming unbelievable to readers can be a problem. Back in my early writing days I had a New York editor reject me because the western-themed book I was pitching that had some rodeo scenes in it was "just not how cowboys would talk in a rodeo." When I asked if she had ever been to a rodeo she said no. I've ridden in them, and even put one on for five years as the event manager. Which one of us would you guess would know more about appropriate dialogue?

I was, of course, but actually she was right. As I learned more about the craft I learned that we should never try to 'reproduce' dialogue but should hint at it. Large stretches of dialogue in a heavy brogue gets very tiresome to read very quickly. I would have gotten that explanation, but telling me I didn't know how they talk was not the right way to put it. But again, too much realism can put editors off and cause a project to be rejected.

I would love to see some feedback on this. What have you seen in real life that people simply would not believe if we made it up and wrote it into our books?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'll miss being at the ACFW Conference but I have a conflict, and the agency will be well represented with Joyce, Jim and Linda.

But it is less than a month until I am on the road again headed to the 2013 Class Christian Writing Conference in Albuquerque NM. This is the conference that I have attended the longest, starting as a fledging writer nearly 20 years ago when it was in Glorieta. When it moved to The Ghost Ranch in Abique NM I moved with it and Saundra and Mom started going with me.

It was at this conference that I actually came to terms with how I would use my faith in my writing ( detailed in my writing testimony at ). Mom has passed on, but Saundra will be with me as the conference undergoes another change and will be held at The First Baptist Church in Albuquerque October 17-19th. Linda Gilden and Gerry Wakefield do a terrific job with it and I always enjoy working with it very much.

A unique feature of this conference is the fact that they produce an anthology with the participants each year so if you are a beginning writer looking for an early publishing credit you can leave the conference not only having had a great educational and training experience, but with a publishing credit in hand.

You can find more information and a registration form at where you will also find the faculty, the schedule, and all of the information you need about the conference. They have a special deal going right now, and if you are registered for the conference and want to refer a friend as well, you can earn a $50 Amazon Gift card in the process.

It's a great conference, and I hope to see you there.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Writing Resource Links

I've had a huge library of writing links here on my personal website at for many years. I have them separated by topic and a lot of my writing friends use it often. I originally put it there not only for that reason but so I could easily access it myself anytime and anywhere.

I'm afraid I don't have time to maintain it as I should but there are still a lot of good links there. These days the maintenance is being done by users who write me to say a link no longer works or to suggest a new link to be included. I get a lot of these from teachers who say their students are using the list. That makes me happy.

Many of the links are not an individual site but rather a list of links itself. I just had one suggested to me that is just that, a very good list of history site resources. The site is at and was suggested by Mary Hubbard who manages the content for the site. Their list of resources is much more exhaustive than the history links that I've placed there.

I did an estimate once that between the number of links I have collected there and the number of links that are on the various resource lists that are there that something over 10,000 writing related links can be accessed from that library. Small wonder that I don't have time to get in there and maintain the list and still have time to service my clients.