concept. For me, that’s the ability to
tap into the internet with your mind. So you can surf the internet the way you
peruse your own memory today.
the lyrics to a song. Might take a few
seconds, then you remember. You find
that information in your brain, obviously.
Sort of a local hard drive, to use computer terms.
transparently tapped into the Global internet 24×7. Try to remember the lyrics
to a song. They’re there instantly. Feels like you found them in your brain, just
like before. But you didn’t. You found
the words on a server in Germany. Doesn’t
matter, all transparent to you.
Characters make a great story.
it’s all about the characters. I’ll give
a book 50 to 100 pages. By then if I
haven’t connected with at least some of the characters then I generally won’t
finish the book. Unless, maybe, the plot
is just a killer, like The Da Vinci Code, or something like that. Preferably, I’m looking for the protagonist
to blow me away because most of the time you are reading from his/her point of
it’s enough if the antagonist is blowing me away, such as the Hannibal series
by Thomas Harris.
together a novel that has two or three characters that I can identify with? Or more?
That’s a novel I’m not going to put down.
They make the best
TV and movies too. Think about Breaking
Bad – hell yes the story is outstanding. But the cast, the cast! Walter, Jessie – sure. But also Hank, Skylar, the various
villains. So you don’t mind when they
switch scenes because the cast is great so all of the subplots are intriguing.
Confidence is key
you get in front of the keyboard at the right time of day for you, then you’ll
write. Think about your characters,
where the story is going to go. You
don’t have to have it all planned out.
It doesn’t have to be the next Da Vinci Code in terms of plot
development. It just has to flow, to
take on a life of its own.
thinking about how the hell you’re going to write a 300 page novel. Just start off and let the journey
occur. Think about it and make your
characters come alive and write their thoughts and lives and then let the
interactions occur and you’ll be amazed and surprised and hopefully delighted
by the results.
the high concept. Now what? Well, you
have to have conflict. For me, I created
a moral dilemma between the protagonist, the ‘monster’ Cheslov, and a local
politician who thinks he has a direct connect with God.
the tension at every opportunity. I made
my protagonist an ex-Navy seal so he could pretty much deal with anything. Made Cheslov part wolf, paranormal. Then went into detail explaining how screwed
up the politician is, he’s hooked on drugs due to his wife’s death, etc. Keep ratcheting up.
outline – and write, write, write to fill in the outline. Don’t worry about adjectives or effect or the
best dialogue or even grammar/punctuation.
took 3 months to write. Then finishing
the novel took another 3 years.
ANYBODY read that initial draft. It will
first draft and put it down and thought – hey, this has got to be one of the
best books EVER. The agents will be
beating down my door when they get so much as a whiff of this manuscript! So I set it aside and took a little
break. Felt like I was on top of the
opened the manuscript and started printing and reading (you must print and read
to get the full effect. Not good enough
to read a word doc directly from the computer.
Better yet, print and read out loud to understand how the dialogue
really sounds – helps avoid unrealistic speech.
Example: “What is up with that”
quickly becomes “What’s up with that” when you’re reading aloud).
reading and was horrified at how bad it was.
Thus started the 3 year polishing cycle.
initial draft is the hardest. The initial overall idea of what your book is
going to be about. Who are the
characters, what’s the high concept, where will the conflict come from.
that and start writing, it gets easier.
that initial draft completed – then it’s fun.
Truly. From that point forward,
you only need to polish.
Keep it Direct, descriptive, colorful, REAL
startle the reader through your action, thru events, by an action occurring
unexpectedly. Don’t surprise and startle by using a time related adverb.
and two miles an hour.
struck her knee doing over a hundred miles an hour with the force and
indifference of a mechanical bull.
NOTE: There is
no ‘BEST’ in writing.
Put the reader
inside someone’s head and then leave them there. Being inside someone’s head is VERY
INTERESTING because face it, we’re all voyeurs at heart. Within a few sentences in every chapter, the
reader should know whose head they’re in.
Whose POV. And don’t switch
around within a chapter without a white space separating paragraphs.
“Said” nearly always works.
best character development tool. Keep it
simple, no need to state the obvious.
Let your reader fill in the blanks.
we leave,” Fran asked. She wasn’t sure
about the color of his tie. Funerals
required a certain degree of somberness.
watch. He thought about five o’clock
traffic on the cross town. He didn’t think
they should take a chance with that mess.
“We should split in half an hour,” he finally replied.
we leave,” Fran said. Wow, was he really
wearing that tie to a funeral? Staring
at his watch now. Come on, this isn’t a hard question. We need to leave soon, that’s the point.
in half an hour,” Jim said slowly.
color. Blonde is a person who has blond
distance. Past refers to time.
stomach-cramp speed, passed the barn.
Clutched his gut and ran some more.
Great Edit Searches with Microsoft Word
challenges of writing a novel of any length is the fat fingering. Misspelled words are easy to find. But basic mechanical mistakes are harder. My final draft had about 80,000 words and I
swear to God, every time I read it I found some small mechanical issue.
smart and figured out some universal searches that helped. A LOT.
special characters should be entered into the ‘Find and Replace’ box, ie not
the search field.
or ^^ for “any character”. The advantage
of ^^ is that you would also pick up numbers.
letter” followed by a paragraph mark.
Will find any sentence at the end of a paragraph you forgot to end with
followed by a space then capital Z. Do
this ^^ A thru ^^ Z. This will find any
sentence within a paragraph you forgot to end with a period.
letter” followed by a space then a period.
Finds any sentence you inadvertently inserted a space before the period.
quote, space, “any letter”. This will
occur normally but this can also help find where you used a period instead of a
comma for dialogue.
consider a tree limb in a park and how you might describe it, smell a familiar
smell and let your mind run – all of these ‘experiences’ … feel them and bring
them back into your novel as you polish and make it shine and breathe life into
That’s the best part. Oh, it’s so hard to get that gem established
at first. But once you do, it’s your
gem. And it may never sell, it may never
make millions of dollars – but it’s your gem and you can publish it and you can
get it in print and you can show your friends and one day your children and one
day, many years from now, you’ll read that work as a different person, as an
older person. You’ll wonder who wrote
You’ll be amazed all over again.
Buy from Amazon:
Greg Kiser is happily
married to a wonderful and inspirational wife, Serena, and has two beautiful
children – Miller and Grace.
Greg graduated from Southern Polytechnic University
in Atlanta with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Greg also earned his MBA from
the University of South Florida. He is currently a Director at Cisco, a high
tech fortune 50 multinational corporation.
Greg has written extensively for fortune 50 high
tech firms in describing next generation networks and painting pictures of the
true evolution of technology for the consumer.
Click below for excerpts
across the sky. A dirty gull in the lead carried some morsel in its mouth that
the others wanted. They swooped and turned and pecked at his tail until he
dropped the scrap. It landed in the water and was devoured from below by a
school of pinfish.
He smiled at the silly selfish birds. They were like people in their behavior
and conviction that the entire group should starve before merely the strong
should eat. Responsibility therefore fell upon the truly bold to take what they
deserved. Any real mother and, indeed, true creator would be pleased to observe
the strongest of her children satisfying their appetites.
Predation, after all, is not violence. Merely the act of survival. To filter
sick, weak animals from the herd is a vital part of any healthy ecosystem.
going off in his shirt pocket followed by somebody swinging a sledge hammer
into his back. He reeled sideways and dropped. Adrenaline flooded his body like
a heavy drug as his central nervous system fired out of control and the outside
world was transformed into a macabre slow motion picture show. A strobe light
flicked off and on like someone beating a drum in his brain.
Then the pain stopped and he lost his eyesight and his world went perfectly
The world didn’t go black, more like a white out on a winter mountain. He felt
like he was sliding down a soft hill, falling to whatever awaited him at the
He saw a shape and as he began to pick up speed he knew someone somehow shared
this odd journey. He was conscious of his heart the way you might be conscious
of your hand if someone held it. He knew who was with him.
“I’m coming to be with you,” he said.
“Son, I’m not ready for you to come home just yet,” his mother said with a
“Not sure I have much choice, here,” he said.
“You always have a choice. About everything. It’s up to you if you’d rather
live or die.”
“How is it up—“
“And it’s not just you, now, is it? Goodness, no. You’ve got your friend out
there who can’t make it through this without you.”
It was important for him to get a point across. He knew this was fleeting and
he fought an overwhelming sense of urgency. “Mom, I still have so much to
learn. But I’ve learned a lot, haven’t I?”
His mother’s spirit smiled and her aged eyes looked weary. “Not enough, I’m
afraid. You don’t belong here. Go back and help your friend and you’ll see. God
has special plans for you, son. Special plans. You will learn so much.”
He thought about trying to slow his descent. But the temptation to close his
eyes and accept the fall was overwhelming.
here?” Mitch asked again.
“You are a most impressive young man. Of course, they told me you have this
ability. Somehow you know things you are not supposed to know, yes?” Cheslov’s
eyes widened in reproach. He reached beneath his coat and removed a long cigar.
Snipped the tip using a guillotine cutter that looked like a worn, hungry
mouth. Lit it up with a battered, gunmetal Zippo. Leaned back in his chair,
took a deep drag. Exhaled a thick, hot, blue stream of smoke.
“Which is why you find yourself here. In my home.” Cheslov’s face saddened.
Then he continued, as if explaining to a child. “I am sorry, young friend, to
have to say this to you. That this is not a place a man wishes to find himself.
This is not a room from which people live to see a new day. No, my friend, this
is a room in which people take their last breath, see their last light. Hear
their last sound.”
Mitch remembered a long ago camping trip.
Cheslov smiled warmly down at him. “Why were you meeting the Deter bitch?”
Mitch said nothing.
Cheslov raised the cigar cutter to his face and a raven eye peered through the
opening. He smiled as he slid the blades together. “What was your intention?”
Mitch started the process of extracting himself mentally from his surroundings.
He ran number patterns through his head to take his mind beyond the pain and
the possibility of what the lunatic might do next. There was only one place
this was heading.
Of course he wouldn’t answer any of the lunatic’s questions. The best strategy
to resisting interrogation is to simply not provide any information at all.
“Where is the file?”
Once you start to give up information, even about minor unrelated topics, it’s
hard to stop and easier to give up important information. The answers to the
current questions didn’t matter in the least. The only thing that mattered was
to protect Kate. At any cost.
“With whom have you shared it?”
Mitch said nothing.
Cheslov walked to the head of the bed and slowly examined Mitch’s fingertips.
“You wear your micro on your index finger. Painted with green resin. Quite the
fashion statement. To whom have you sent the file?”
Mitch said nothing.
Cheslov grasped Mitch’s left hand and held it the way a man might hold the hand
of his son. Mitch felt a softness to the giant’s touch.
“Why do you not answer? Are you afraid?” Cheslov gazed down at him with a not
unkind expression. The giant’s thick, dark eyebrows rose as if trying to coax
Mitch to speak.
Mitch said nothing.
“I’ll ask you once more,” Cheslov said and a note of sadness crept into his
voice. The hesitant father who does not wish to punish but is left no choice.
“You have nothing to gain by continuing your silence. And quite a bit to lose.
Yes, quite a bit.”
Mitch stared at the overhead ceiling. Focused on the intricate wood carving.
Cheslov spread Mitch’s fingers.
Mitch said nothing.
“Tell me. With whom have you shared the file?”
Mitch said nothing.
“Enough of these games,” Cheslov said.