Soda Springs, novel and boot camp;
Behind-the-scenes tips for writers
Writing fiction is hard work. You write . . rewrite . . . root out the underbrush . . . cut, cut, cut . . .
rewrite again . . . banish unneeded characters . . . oust cliches . . . spiff up the language . . . then
rewrite yet again . . . over and over.
Writing a novel is a long trek. When you're finished, your life lies buried in mounds of flotsam
and jetsam a reader never sees in the published book.
So what IF . . . we use Soda Springs: Sex, Love, and Civil Rights as an on-line writer's
boot camp? I'll show you the warts and dirty little secrets that only a novel's author knows . . .
• the false starts
• the revisions
• some of the wonderful scenes we left on the cutting room floor
• Plus . . . I'll show you why we made those choices . . . and the questions they
raise for your own fiction writing.
Use Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights as your personal fiction writing workshop . . . I've salted the discussion
with fiction writing tips, fiction writing hints, fiction writing exercises that will help you with your own
fiction writing. Read it. Enjoy it. Criticize it. Learn from it.
Let's begin with a couple of sections that draw on my efforts to build this website, and to find a publisher for Soda Springs.
Writing for the web
Writing for your website is nothing like writing your novel. It's a genre of its own. Short sentences. Fragments. Graphics. Bullets. "Special effects" you'll never find in a novel . . .
ellipses (in place of commas), words in boldface or colors . . . or Arabic
numerals (e.g. 3) instead of (three).
Get started with these pages:
If you are sending queries to agents and publishers, and feel as if you're batting your head against a kyptonite wall, consider self-publishing. That world has changed enormously in recent years. Here are some thoughts you might want to consider:
As time goes on, I will use Soda Springs
as an example, drawing from it, bringing in material that was cut, edited, added . . . to show from the inside how a novel gets written.
Here's my first hint:
Chapter summaries. One-paragraph summaries of each chapter. (A fiction writing tip we picked
up from our writing groups over the years.) Good chapter summaries give both you and your critique group partners (and your readers) an easy handle on your story line.
Later, I'll develop the following:
The art of cutting: Good fiction writing means deleting entire scenes, pages,
themes, characters . . . even well-written ones. View the secrets that published
novels never reveal: the parts the author cut out . . . plus comments on why we
decided these sections had to go, and useful tips for your own fiction writing.
Chipping off excess: Good fiction writing forces us to be concise . . . to chop out
paragraphs and sentences . . . to shrink each phrase to its essence. Chipping and
chopping are indispensable skills in the hidden arsenal of a fiction writer. See
them here in action . . . plus our comments and lessons learned.
Coloring words: Writing fiction means precise word choice . . . words that
convey the right shade of mood, style, action, emotion. Consider these examples
from Soda Springs . . . and, as always, my comments and lessons learned.
Creating characters: A whole company of players await you in Soda Springs. Meet
them, see how the author describes them, then, link to In our own words, where
the main characters introduce themselves to you.
Painting a setting: Join me for a stroll into the past. At this link, we'll take you to
real civil rights events in Birmingham in 1963, and to examples of the field
research that led to creation of our fictional town of Soda Springs.
Writing erotic fiction: Soda Springs is about love and sex, as well as civil rights.
You'll read some hormonal-charged adventures in this novel. We've tried to show
them in a way that's true to our cast's emotions and actions. Join me in wrestling
with the dilemma of writing fiction about sex without being pornographic: "Exactly how
explicit should this scene be?"
Soda Springs from start to finish (the novel as a process): Writing fiction takes
time. The story evolves. Characters change. Join my journey though the history of
Soda Springs . . . from notes scrawled on a napkin at a Hardee's somewhere off
the Iowa interstate through the numerous iterations on the road to publication.
An interview with the author: So how did this story come about? Are these
characters for real? Are the places real? Did these things really happen? . . . And
lots more: a no-holds-barred interview.
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