On Using Trademarked Names in Your Novel

On Using Trademarked Names in Your Novel

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I said I wouldn’t write more “Novel Report” posts. If you’re writing a first novel, the story of my progress is probably interesting enough that I should write something about it. If not, you can skip past the italic text to the main article.

My final revision (a fourth revision) took less than a month. I moved on to a proofreading review and found a fair number of spelling errors, missing and extra words, and unclear sentences to re-write.

My manuscript then went out to three early readers for their review. One of my readers was too far away to pass the file on in person. I didn’t want to send it by e-mail because some hackers lurk at e-mail nodes waiting to add attachments and copy attachments that are already there. To get the file to my distant reader, I stole a trick from international criminals. I created a separate e-mail account and gave my reader the user-name and password. I signed in, attached my manuscript to a draft e-mail, and signed out. My reader signed in, opened the draft, downloaded the attachment, and signed out. My manuscript’s only exposure to the net was the email service.

One of my readers has finished their review. I’ve considered their recommendations and made changes where it seemed apt. One big change still to be made is chapter 14. “It doesn’t seem to move the story forward” because it was meant to show relationships. The relationships between friends are already shown through the story. I’m keeping the early part of the chapter because it reveals a family relationship that isn’t shown elsewhere, but the rest will be summarized. Then I will use a chapter break (not a new chapter) before two unidentified characters tell stories about how they’ve had to deal with gangs in the past. This is a foreshadowing that will help shorten chapter 54. It’s my own edit that chapter 54 is too long. The foreshadowing will help cut a bit and removing an unnecessary character from the chapter takes it the rest of the way.

After those two minor chapter revisions and the reviews from my other two early readers, all that will remain for the manuscript is a final proofread. What still remains to be done is the book cover, the e-book formatting, and short stories for promotion.

I included my second try at a book cover with the review copies. My first reader liked the cover. I do not. I’m working on a third.

The e-book formatting appears fairly easy. I already format my word processor documents without white space because I learned technical writing for my job. I learned html and css before I started blogging as part of my computer studies. The guides I’ve found have been clear for me, but I can see how they might pose problems for some writers. They often say much that doesn’t help get the job done and commit the expert’s fallacy of assuming the reader will understand basic steps that aren’t explained. I will be writing my own guide. If it’s really short, it will be a blog post. If it’s too long for a blog post, it will be a giveaway file with a copy-left so that you’ll be free to share it.

The short stories are not zipping along as quickly as I’d like. I have 20 in the works. Four of them now have the outline ready to go, so those will be written and posted on my Killer Stories blog shortly. I could write them faster if I’d use a plot formula, but where’s the fun in that?

I now return you to your irregularly scheduled blog post.

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Novel Report – The Final Revision of Book 5 is On

Writer on Fire

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I’m back in the writing groove and working on the final revision of Book 5. When I finished the third draft, I had the impression there was a lot of revision to be done and it put me off getting to the final draft. After a break, I’ve reviewed the outline and solved all the remaining problems with very few changes. I’m halfway through the revision after less than two weeks. For new readers, Book 5 is a placeholder title I’m using until the novel is published and then I’ll reveal the real name. It’s currently not listed when I search Amazon books and I’d like it to stay that way until my book is up.

When I write these editorials, I prefer not to just talk about my projects. On the other hand, talking about what I’m doing now is talking about what you will be doing when you finish your own novel. What’s coming up now that the manuscript is almost ready?

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The Easy Way to Detect Passive Voice

The Easy Way to Detect Passive Voice

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Passive voice weakens clarity. The difference between active and passive voice is the difference between things happening to a character and the character making things happen. You should write in active voice with only a few exceptions. What does this mean? Is there an easy way to detect passive voice?

Examples

First, some examples of active and passive voice.

Active: “The cook chopped the mushrooms.”
Passive: “The mushrooms were chopped by the cook.”

In the active voice, the subject is doing something or being something.

In the passive voice, the subject is being acted upon or having something done to them.

A longer example might help. Wally can’t get the internet to come up and destroys his computer system.

First, in passive voice.

“The internet wasn’t coming up for Wally. None of his links would load. The three hole punch was in his hand before he could think clearly. The speakers went flying. The keyboard got smashed and several letters flew off. The monitor cracked as the end of the punch hit it dead center.”

Now, in active voice.

“Wally couldn’t get the internet working. He clicked links that didn’t load. He had the three hole punch in his hand before he could think clearly. Wally smashed the speakers off the desk. He smashed the keyboard and letters went flying. He smashed the end of the punch into the monitor and cracked the screen.”

Mixed Active and Passive

Beware of mixing active and passive in the same sentence.

“Jim picked up the laundry and plans were made for the day.” The second part is passive and needs to be re-written. “Jim picked up the laundry and made plans for the day.”

When is Passive Voice Okay?

Passive is okay when what is acted upon is more important. “The warehouse was burned down sometime shortly after midnight.”

Passive is okay when the actor is unimportant. “The tidal bore can be seen at 8am and 8pm.”

Passive is also okay in technical and scientific papers where the person doing the acting is not mentioned. “The test was given to 452 subjects. Non-lethal doses of cyanide were injected in half the subjects. Sugar water was injected in the other half.”

Passive voice is also useful when an object becomes a subject. “The gamers decided to go with the SWAT team format for their new game design. The SWAT team concept had been written by Kyoshi.”

The take-away from this is to be sure the subject of a sentence is the one taking action rather than receiving it and you will easily detect passive voice.


Article by Ivan Izo.

Lester Dent’s Prolific Writing Method

Lester Dent's Prolific Writing Method

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Lester Dent wrote hundreds of books and short stories. He is best known for the 159 Doc Savage books he wrote under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. While we have to guess the methods of many prolific writers, Lester Dent told us his secret.

Lester Dent’s Formula

Dent used a Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot which he claimed was good for any story of 6000 words. The link I had to the full text now gets flagged as a risky site by Firefox, so I’ll summarize it.

Start with a different murder method, a different goal for the villain, a different location, and always have a threat hanging over the hero. You need at least one of those differences to start your story. Get the hero in trouble immediately and have him take action. Within the action, introduce all the other characters as soon as possible. Keep the story moving with more action, complications, and plot advancement. Have a surprise plot twist at each 25% mark in the story. In each quarter, pile on the trouble, the complications, and keep moving the plot ahead by having the hero figure out more and more of what’s going on. The plot needs to be written in a way that causes the action to be continuous. In the third quarter, the hero needs to have a serious defeat and appear to have failed. The final surprise plot twist leads into the final quarter of action, complications, and everything is coming to a head. Bury the hero in trouble and have him escape using his skills. Wind up the story with one more twist as all questions are answered and the hero defeats the villain in a final great conflict. Be sure the story leaves the reader with a good feeling.

While researching Dent, I’ve found his plan adapted for screenwriting and video game design. I’m sure it’s been used for full length novels as well. There’s enough going on in his plot to fill a novel.

Barbara Cartland, author of over 700 romance novels, used the same basic outline for all of her novels. Not Dent’s. Her own. I wonder how many of the other authors who produced 100s of books used formulas.

I also wonder if we can dump the pulp element.

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Escape Endless Revision

Escape Endless Revision

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As any writer knows, it’s possible to revise forever. At some point you need to decide it’s done and move on to another project.

Two years ago, I found myself endlessly revising blog articles. The following two paragraphs outline my dilemma and solution.

I revise my writing too much. I know this because I find myself getting bored of endlessly revising articles. It seems like I’m going around and around the same group of 50 or 60 articles eternally. An article idea must have a couple of hundred words before I promote it to a first draft. The first draft must be worked on until it’s long enough and has all the components that make an article. Then, I have four revisions before I’m willing to call it finished. Even when I go through the finished articles, I won’t release them as blog posts until I’m certain they are good enough.

The endless revisions must end. But, I don’t want to stop writing. What to do? A different kind of writing is the answer. A different subject. A switch between fiction and non-fiction. A switch between articles and a book.

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Keep Your Characters in Character

Keep Your Characters in Character

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If you base your characters on people you know in real life, it will be easy to remember their personalities.

Examples: Mother, father, sisters and brothers, other close relatives, long time friends and co-workers, characters in a novel series, characters on TV or in a movie series that you’ve been watching for years.

You’ll never be lost on what a character would say. Just imagine what the real person would say.

To make it really simple to remember who represents who, write your story using the real names. When you’re done, use Find and Replace to change all the names to the fictional characters.

As your completed writing builds up, you will be able to base future novels and short stories on your own characters instead of the real people.


Article by Ivan Izo.

23 More Ways to Generate Article Ideas

23 More Ways to Generate Article Ideas

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I’ve previously written about Places to Get Article Ideas. The following list suggests more ways to dream up and research articles.

1. Write about something that pisses you off.

2. Write an anti-article. For example, six ways to gain weight fast. The idea is that readers will use the tips in reverse.

3. Review your article ideas list for ideas you keep passing up and consider the opposite bias. Can’t get going on an article about how to proofread? Write one on when you shouldn’t.

4. Look for ideas when you are nowhere near your keyboard. While driving, shopping, working, or out with friends.

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