Category: STRUCTURE

Remick and Ray Interview Max Detrano

We interviewed Max Detrano between February 20th and February 27th, 2014. R&R: We’re interested in the techniques and processes of writing. So let’s start there. First let me say, thank you for including me in this interview process. I am flattered and grateful, though unsure that I have much to contribute. Most of all I want to thank you, Bob and Jack, for all the hours, days, months and years you have devoted to mentoring writers, creating a scheduled place, a sacred space for the madness that we know as timed writing here in Seattle. If it were not for the two of you, I don’t think that would have happened.  R&R: You practice timed writing. What is timed writing? I sit down at a crowded table at Louisa’s Cafe. The timer is set. At two-thirty all heads bow. I write without looking up till the buzzer sounds. I write fast. It’s best done with other people, in a noisy place full of distractions, because that’s what puts me in the zone. Because I can’t cheat. I can’t get up and make a sandwich like I would at home. Once done, I have something. Not always something good, but something. Once upon a time an aspiring poet asked William Stafford if it was true that he wrote a poem everyday before breakfast. He nodded that, Yes, it is true....

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A Short Course in Structure: Small Print Magazine

Coming November 1: Small Print Magazine is a print, online, digital resource. This issue is loaded with fiction, poetry, NaNoWriMo cues and tips as well as craft work. Steve Brannon, publisher/editor is running my A Short Course in Structure in several installments. First installment coming in the Fall Issue, November 1, 2013. Logo and urls below. Check it out. Just in time for NaNoWriMo 2013. Check out submission guidelines for the upcoming issues. http://smallprintmagazine.com http://smallprintmagazine.com/contributors/ http://smallprintmagazine.com/submission-form/ Share this:TweetShare on TumblrEmailLike this:Like...

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Flashbacks and Point of View

Flashbacks and Point of View ©2013 by Robert J. Ray Flashbacks  and POV in The English Patient The English Patient has a zigzag structure that slides between past and present, between desert and Villa, between the Thirties in Africa and 1944 in Italy. Unlike All the King’s Men, which is told by a single narrator, The English Patient has four points of view, one for each of Ondaatje’s four protagonists: Nurse, Patient, Thief, and Sapper. The book  opens in the Nurse’s point of view. The year is 1944. The place is Italy. As the Nurse climbs steep steps to tend the Patient, the writer uses the image of a bird drifting down to set up his flashback structure: “There are stories the man recites quietly into the room which slip from level to level like a hawk.” The image of the hawk informs the reader about the zigzag structure of time-slippage that defines this book. On the third page of the novel, the point of view shifts to the Patient – “I fell burning into the desert.” – and the trap door opens, dropping us into the African desert in wartime, when the Allies fought the Axis over oil. This time-dance between past and present, between Patient and Nurse, continues throughout Chapter One. In Chapter Two, the Thief takes over the point-of-view, then alternates with the Nurse and the...

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Tips for Page One–The Scene Profile–Part Three of Three

This is part three of a three part series on editing, rewriting, and scene performance ©2013 by Robert J. Ray Page One is a big deal. That’s where you grab the reader. If you’re writing a mystery, you open with a corpse. If you’re writing a thriller, you open with your agent in trouble. But what if you’re writing a book about life’s little ironies? A book like Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. A quick look at Amsterdam: it’s short, around 200 pages. The story has no overt violence, no murder scenes, no car chases ,no hitmen, no automatic weapons fired by crazy people. It’s an adult book,  no major characters under forty. The cast is adult, educated people with solid footholds in society. The dialogue is crisp, the characters subtle and snide. Amsterdam is a satire – a good model if you have a yen to write ironic – and its opening—Page One and After—gives every would-be novelist a lesson Page One of Amsterdam opens outside a London mausoleum, where two ex-lovers, Clive and Vernon, are sparring over the memories of a woman named Molly Lane. She’s the character inside the mausoleum. If you turn the page, you meet more ex-lovers (one of them a Cabinet minister) and the husband, George Lane. The story of Amsterdam is the husband’s Revenge Quest on his dead wife’s lovers. Your task is building...

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Rewriting, Editing, Scene Performance: Part One

This is Part One of a Three Part Series on Rewriting, Editing, Scene Performance ©2013 by Robert J. Ray Feedback  Congratulations. Your rewrite is done and you feel good about the manuscript. The story is solid, the subplots writhe like snakes under the surface, which is glassy-smooth. Now you’re smelling money, you’re tasting the tang of writerly fame. You want action. So you print the manuscript, find a literary agent on Google Search, and then you mail the manuscript off. Admonition: Before you send off your pages, get some feedback. The writing business is crazy. The worst mistake you can make is sending off a half-baked product. Definition Feedback comes when you hand your work to someone else and say, Can you please give me some feedback? When you ask for feedback, you give up control. Time to relax, pull out your trusty ballpoint, and take notes. Feedback opens up the manuscript, rips holes in the fabric of your prose. Better to sew up the holes now, before you send off the manuscript to an agent. There are four ways to get feedback: 1. Scene Performance. For feedback on a scene, recruit a group of friends – actors are better at scene performance than writers – and assign roles. Assign one reader for each character; assign one reader to read the narration (action and description). Keep yourself out of...

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©2010-2017 Jack Remick, Robert J. Ray. All rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including text and images, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Short excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray and "Bob and Jacks Writing Blog" with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.