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Tuesday Tips: Reverse, Reveal, Surprise

by | Sep 13, 2011 | Ask Amy Videos, Writing Advice & More | 4 comments

”Writing

Some of y’all who “like” me on Facebook know I’m deep into edits on a thriller WIP. Yes, I’m channeling my inner child to try my paw at some fiction writer-icity. Only time will tell whether readers will lap it up or howl and bare their teeth but it’s great fun for me all the same. Sort of like brain-candy as a break from some of the more serious nonfiction topics of daily work such as expressing puppy anal glands (EW!) or de-skunking your pet (double EW!). Actually some of that could make its way into my fiction since one of the viewpoint characters is a service dog. Hey man, it’s what I do!

DANGER! KNOWING TOO MUCH?

New writers are often told to write what you know. But there’s danger in that, too. When the author knows so much about a particular topic, info-dump-itis becomes a huge risk. (Guilty.) So in a way, writing about what you DON’T know might make more sense, and indulging in research only to the point needed to move the story forward. I really could care less how bullets are made, or why this gun sounds differently than that one. When I read a thriller I just want the gun to shoot when it’s supposed to.

BAD RESEARCH KILLS STORIES

But I also know readers who become distracted and jarred out of the story if the cop-hero carries the wrong firearm. I wouldn’t know or care. But I’m offended by authors who get dog/cat facts wrong in their novels–I’ve stopped reading at least one BSA for that reason when the hero/vet-tech gave her SAR dog Tylenol for muscle aches.

CHOOSING THE “WRITE” WORDS

How much is too much? What’s not enough? Just show the tip of the iceberg instead of dropping the whole lump-‘0-ice into the brew that takes the steam out of the story.

At least that’s what I believe Mr. Finder says in the latest video, below. I plan to take a page from his pacing playbook, too, and tape these three words above my computer: reverse, reveal, surprise.

JOSEPH FINDER SPEAKS

The past several Tuesday Tips have featured a series of video tips from Thrillerfest and best-selling authors. These include tips from Karin Slaughter,  a video of Michael & Daniel Palmer’s Thrillerfest Song,interview with master author R.L. Stine, Ken Follett, and  John Sanford.  Last week’s video featured pacing tips from Andrew Peterson and Jeffery Deaver.

Today I’ve got the next installment of that panel.  You can check out a boatload of Thrillerfest pictures here.  Where else but Thrillerfest could you get so much bang-for-your-buck with James Rollins interviewing a whole panel of best-selling-authors! Today the video offers tips on pacing and character from best-selling author Joseph Finder.

How do you manage characterization in your novel without resorting to the dreaded info-dump-icity? Do you season in details like salt and pepper–or do you throw everything in the pot to boil and worry about diluting the broth later? Is it important for the author to know all of that backstory to write valid, compelling characters? What’s YOUR biggest hurdle in the fictioning process? (Hey, I’m a writer–I can make up words if I want to!). Please share!

This video is only a small taste, of course. You can get the full deal recording (and those of the other panels) of CDs, MP3s and DVDs of Thrillerfest here.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

4 Comments

  1. Tiffany A White

    GREAT tips, Amy! Keep up the good work with your edits.

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      Thanks Tiffany–I did actually print out those three words and have ’em in front of me as I edit the fiction WIP.

      Reply
  2. Angela/Curiocat

    Choosing the ‘write’ words is a beautiful video in more ways than one. Thanks for sharing it. Reverse, Reveal and Surprise fits perfectly on a sticky note.

    Great blog!

    Reply
    • amyshojai

      *S* My cat removes all my sticky notes…I need industrial kitty-proof tape.

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Blog Treasures 9-17 « Gene Lempp's Blog - [...] Amy Shojai brings us some of the writing tips she learned at Thrillerfest in: Reverse, Reveal, Surprise. [...]
  2. Tuesday Tips: Racing Pacing with Jamie Frevelletti « Amy Shojai's Blog - [...] and two weeks ago Jeffery Deaver and Andrew Petersen weighed in on pacing. Last week the awesome Joseph Finder…
  3. Tuesday Tips: Carla Buckley, Pacing Ebb & Flow « Amy Shojai's Blog - [...] of John Sanford and pacing and Jeffery Deaver and Andrew Petersen weighed in on pacing. The awesome Joseph Finder…

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