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Old 08-24-2004, 12:54 PM   #2076
James D Macdonald
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Re: And then

Much earlier in this thread, Uncle Jim disagreed firmly.

I still disagree firmly. The "and then" word cluster is always and everywhere wrong, illogical, and unsupported by any valid laws of grammar.

"And then" can be used in dialog to show that the speaker is illogical, ungrammatical, and wrong.
 
Old 08-24-2004, 01:16 PM   #2077
HConn
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Re: and then...

My dictionary (Random House unabridged, second ed), lists "then" as an adverb. The third definition under adverb is "next in order of time. We ate, then we started home."

A later definition states "next in order of place."

However, several of the example sentences in the definition use "and then" constructions. So I say they're both right.

But whatever you do, never ever ever say "and into". Just don't do it.

 
Old 08-24-2004, 03:37 PM   #2078
Euan Harvey
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Re: Openings

>...Consider the books that are one long flashback, after a present-time opening paragraph.

Speaking of openings, I read 'The Piano Tuner' by Daniel Mason recently (very good book, I heartily recommend it). It starts with a very vivid image, done like a prologue. It's kept pretty short, but it contains some veyr nice imagery. However, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the book, until you reach the final page, and you figure out what the text at the very beginning was talking about.

It worked very well IMHO. Unfortunately, I don't know if all the editions of the book have it. The sample pages available on Amazon don't include it.

Cheers,

Euan
 
Old 08-24-2004, 05:16 PM   #2079
Jules Hall
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inanimate objects

Quote:
[...]
"...it moved on with no sign of acknowledgement."
--
both require an inanimate object (the helicopter) to have anthropomorphic qualities. You were initially correct to complain about the helicopter noticing anything, since it is no doubt the pilot who does, but to acknowledge is akin to noticing, eh?
If the pilot were to notice, he might cause the helicopter to do something in acknowledgement of that. In this case, it seems reasonable to say that the helicopter is giving a "sign of acknowledgement." Similarly you could say that someone in a sword fight was wounded by a sword... obviously it was the person holding the sword who caused the wounding, but the sword as agent can be said to have done it, too.
 
Old 08-24-2004, 06:23 PM   #2080
pencilone
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Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

Uncle Jim & Friends,

I would be interested to know what do you think the ingredients for a real page turner are (and maybe we could discuss all of them, one by one? :coffee ).

From what I've read, if the story is good, there might be a chance of publication even if the actual writing may need more work.

A good story is a story that compels you to read it, to turn the pages and keep on reading till the end, leaving you eager to look for other books written by that author.

A good page turner makes you want to share the joy of reading with your friends, and that's how the word of mouth about a good book spreads.

For instance, suspense... How do you build suspense in your books?

All ideas most welcome ,

Pencilone
 
Old 08-24-2004, 06:43 PM   #2081
Pthom
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Re: inanimate objects

The comment that brought this up wasn't about point of view, it was about "and then" vs. "then." However, the question about inanimate objects "doing" things is a point of view issue, no?

If you make it clear that the woman (let's call her Suzie) thinks of the helicopter as an animate object, because after all, from her point of view, it moves, hovers, makes noise, seems alive, then I have no problem with Suzie's disappointment that it didn't acknowledge (or notice) her waving. This might also work if the point of view is that of another character in the story, say Suzie's mother.

But if the scene is told from an omnicient narrator's point of view, I think that in most cases, we don't want helicopters to notice anything--but do want the pilots of them to. Besides, chances are pretty good that the pilot is a character, even if a small one, elsewhere in the story. Maybe Suzie doesn't know him now, but will later on. Heck, she might even discover he is her long lost Uncle Jim.

No wait. Jim was in the Navy. But they have helicopters. Maybe he piloted one. Maybe he knows if those machines notice things.
:grin
 
Old 08-24-2004, 06:51 PM   #2082
Pthom
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

In a most enlightening 3-hour class taught by Donald Maass at the recent Willamette Writers' Conference, he said the one thing that best keeps the pages turning is tension.

What is it the character wants?
What might prevent the character from getting it?
What will make that situation worse?
And, what will make THAT situation even worse?
Answer those questions.
Write it down in your story.

He said more, and you can read all about it in his book, Writing the Breakout Novel.
 
Old 08-24-2004, 07:17 PM   #2083
James D Macdonald
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

Good list, Ptom....

I put up the first two pages of a couple of Grisham novels a while back, and never did anything with 'em (though I'd intended to).

Does anyone want to take a whack at analysing those two excerpts in light of the breakout novel "page turner" checklist?

(If the readers haven't turned pages one and two, odds are they won't be turning pages three, four, or a hundred-and-four either.)
 
Old 08-25-2004, 12:06 AM   #2084
pina la nina
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

re: the page turner list especially the top 4:
"What is it the character wants?
What might prevent the character from getting it?
What will make that situation worse?
And, what will make THAT situation even worse?"

I think, for me, there's got to be a subtle element in there that - for lack of a better word - I'll call "hope."

That for all of problems the characters are facing and for all of the wrong turns they may take, the reader can see resolution happening. Not a precise solution, preferably (unless it's a vague one, like "find and arrest the murderer" or "make peace with self.") But there can be too much, for some readers, of all the suspenseful bits so that it overwhelms. Depresses, even. More suspense and problems are not always better.

The book I'm reading now has such a preponderance of all the aspects of the list - so many thwarted desires, so many people acting impulsively against their better interests that it's wearing me down a bit. It's just not that fun a read and it's just a matter of whether I get my lazy bum to the library before I finish it to know if I'll just leave those characters hanging. I'd call that the opposite of a page turner.
 
Old 08-25-2004, 02:15 AM   #2085
Risseybug
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

re: the page turner list especially the top 4:
"What is it the character wants?
What might prevent the character from getting it?
What will make that situation worse?
And, what will make THAT situation even worse?"


Good, then I did it right. I can honestly answer all of those questions in my finished book.

What is it the character wants? - the main character wants to get home (this is a YA book).
What might prevent the character from getting it? The gate is locked and shouldn't be.
What will make that situation worse? The key that character needs has been stolen by evil sorceress.
What will make that situation even worse? Evil sorceress has captured all of main characters friends and plans to use the key to rule the world, then the universe.

It's kind of cut and dry, but at least I answered all the questions
 
Old 08-25-2004, 02:19 AM   #2086
tfdswift
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Re: inanimate objects

I just want to say that I finally, FINALLY got to the end of this thread. Now I am caught up with the rest of you. WHEW!!!!:jump :party :clap :snoopy

~~Tammy
 
Old 08-25-2004, 02:52 AM   #2087
ChunkyC
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

Well done, Tammy! When I showed up here, it was just shy of 30 pages and I thought I'd never catch up. I'm in awe. :thumbs
 
Old 08-25-2004, 04:00 AM   #2088
Joanclr
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

Quote:
Does anyone want to take a whack at analysing those two excerpts in light of the breakout novel "page turner" checklist?
In my very general, off-the-cuff opinion, I would say that what makes those two excerpts page turners are:

A: The Summons - Instant mystery. What is 'it'? Who is this strange character who sent 'it'? What will happen when 'it' is opened? How will the main character be affected?

B: The Street Lawyer - Instant conflict. Not two pages into the thing and you already have a gun out. Can't beat that. And from the first line, there is a sharp delineation of opposites, someone who doesn't belong, with foreshadowing hints of something being "not quite right."

How's that for a starter?
 
Old 08-25-2004, 04:05 AM   #2089
tfdswift
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

Because I live in such a small rural area, I don't have alot of access to books. I have had to order almost every book that Uncle Jim has suggested reading. I always go to the online card catalog of my local library (which is actually across the state line) and see if they have the book first.

Back a couple of pages, somebody mentioned that some of Karen Ranney's and Uncle Jim's books are in the library. I typed their names into the catalog and nothing came up for them in my local library

So I was wondering if you could tell me some of the titles of your works so I can try to find them to read. We don't even have a book store nearby, so I can check them out.

Usually what I do is have my library order them for me and then if I like them I make the two hour trip to the bookstore and purchase them.

So could you please drop a few titles in here for me to check out? Starting with what YOU feel is your best works. I am sure I have probably missed your website, so if it would be easier just give me your personal website. I have not gone to the workshop site because I am sure I can not afford that.

Thanks.

~~Tammy
 
Old 08-25-2004, 04:24 AM   #2090
HConn
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Re: inanimate objects

Tammy, my library website has a page where I can request that they buy books or do an ILL (Interlibrary loan).

If you enter the ISBN of a book you want to read, they might be able to find it in another system nearby.

Have you tried that?
 
Old 08-25-2004, 09:26 AM   #2091
James D Macdonald
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

In The Summons, our protagonist won't get around to opening that darned letter for another two pages.

Oh, and Tammy? Interlibrary loan really is your friend. I live in a town of 2,500 (55 miles by road from the nearest bookstore) -- and I can get anything I want.
 
Old 08-25-2004, 10:46 AM   #2092
tfdswift
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

I know. I use interlibrary loans, but I need some titles first (hint, hint)

~~Tammy
 
Old 08-25-2004, 11:33 AM   #2093
HConn
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

Uncle Jim's Home Page.

Karen Ranney's Home Page.

I'm sure they have bibliographies there.
 
Old 08-25-2004, 03:19 PM   #2094
maestrowork
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Re: inanimate objects

Yeah, give him a letter than wait for him to open that darn letter... that's suspense.

However, if you do that TOO often and not deftly enough, it's coy. And if you (the narrator) say/imply the "hey, I know what it says, but I'm not telling you -- when will I tell you? I'm not telling you that either," it's downright criminal (IMHO).

Suspense can be really fun, and it doesn't stop at thriller/mystery/horror. A love story can have lots of suspense, too, if done right.
 
Old 08-25-2004, 08:36 PM   #2095
James D Macdonald
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Re: inanimate objects

In the case of The Street Lawyer, the character's problems go from "Oooo, I'm standing next to a smelly bum," to "How do I get the smelly bum out of the office?" to "How do I avoid getting shot in the head?" all inside two pages.
 
Old 08-26-2004, 03:55 AM   #2096
LiamJackson
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

Quote:
In The Summons, our protagonist won't get around to opening that darned letter for another two pages.
I'm a character-driven reader. Until I had some insight into the protags character, a sense of his history and background, I didn't give a hoot whether he opened the letter or not. I figured he'd get around to it, when he got around to it.

Once I had a sense of the setting, and more importantly, the personality of the character, my interest level increased by several points.
 
Old 08-26-2004, 04:15 AM   #2097
maestrowork
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Re: Analysing The Ingredients For A Real Page-Turner

What kinds of characterizations interest you? Does the protag has to be likeable? Quirky? Strong? Interesting (and define interesting)? Or at least show some kind of humanity for you to care if he opens the letter or not.

I'm character-driven as well. I accept, to a point and with certain genres, some type of suspense (person getting killed, forex, in a thriller's opening chapter) without having to care about the person. But suspense is so much better if you actually care about the character.
 
Old 08-26-2004, 12:45 PM   #2098
JimMorcombe
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The Summons

In the Summons, Grisham is not giving him a letter than waiting for him to open the darn letter.


He is beginning his novel by telling us about the characters in it. But rather than just tell about the characters, he is enclosing it in an element of suspense.

Note that Grisham obviously had control over the title of the book. The opening wouldn't work as well if the title didn't alude to it. The title makes the letter assume enough importance for the suspense to hold through two pages.
 
Old 08-26-2004, 12:55 PM   #2099
JimMorcombe
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The Street Lawyer

Grisham breaks all the modern rules about putting a hook in the first paragraph or in the first line. You don't rush Grisham.

He introduces characters. He makes the characters so real you feel you know them and live them. Who else can start a book with a slow, boring trip up an elevator?

In the first paragraph Grisham engages our curiosity. We want to hear the gossip about the street bum. Thats the word I always think of when reading Grisham: "gossip".

We like to know things about other people and Grisham tells us about other people, all kinds of useless things about other people that are really interesting and have nothing to do with the plot.

However, in the Street Lawyer, Grisham is really setting up a "hook". He takes his time, he gets us involved and two pages later, we are his. Hook, line and sinker.
 
Old 08-26-2004, 04:56 PM   #2100
James D Macdonald
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Re: The Street Lawyer

I'm confused there, Jim --

What't the difference between putting a hook in the first paragraph, and engaging our curiosity in the first paragraph?
 
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