rules

Starving Review Update: Submission Rules and Such!

A quickie update as I prepare for upcoming events, I have revised the submission rules for a Starving Review.

In essence, review submissions are open … kind of. I will be taking a VERY LIMITED amount of submissions, books that make in impact on me from authors that can impress their true passion and wit on me. So do your best and if I don’t get back to you, do not feel ignored or insulted.

Monday Musings: Sometimes You Have to Paint in the Lines

I’m an author, which means that I am also an artist.  Artists are often considered to be iconoclasts, people who don’t follow the rules and don’t draw inside the lines.  Rules are made to be broken, right?  I could go on and keep spouting all sorts of tired sayings about the subject, but I won’t.

What I will say is that this stereotype isn’t always the truth.  An author, any artist really, must often step outside of the boundaries, yes, in an effort to strike creative gold.  Even more so, an indie author has to go above and beyond the norm, unsupported by the usual publishing establishment.  However, there are times and places where even the most indie of the indie has to step back and follow some guidelines and rules.

You see, there is an establishment of sorts out there to help indie authors.  There are people and resources that can help you, no matter how ‘indie’ you may consider yourself, and those things might have rules to their use.  Also, there are rules to writing, rules to grammar, that you might be able to skirt around, to ignore from time to time but can’t ignore every time.

What this means is that sometimes you had better follow the rules or else you won’t get anywhere.  Especially if people are trying to help you, provide you with services, you behoove yourself to make their lives easier by following their rules and guidelines.

What this means means is that if you are going to send in a review request, PLEASE FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES!

Until next time, good reading, good writing, and good luck!

Plot and Motivation: A Room Full of Chekhov

Today’s Plot and Motivation article is about a classic principle of drama: Chehov’s Gun (though it applies to far more than firearms, as we will see).  The best way to put it is to let the codifier of the principle, Anton Chekhov, put it this way:

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.

What this means in broader terms is that you shouldn’t devote time to description or characterization that isn’t important to the plot of the piece.  It seems, like many rules of drama and plot, to be common-sense; why would any writer devote energy and pages to unimportant matters?

The problem is that sometimes what the author thinks is ‘important’ really isn’t, at least not to the plot and characterization of the story.  We are often blind to our own problems and anyone who has attempted to edit their own work will attest to this.  An author may decide that it is vital to the plot, for instance, that extra details need to be added to a character when, at the end of the plot, those details are never used.

Take, for example, an author is writing a story and decides to spend a whole chapter developing and describing the protagonist’s parents and their relationship.  One would figure, by the end of that chapter, that the parents will either be vital to the plot or that the plot (or a major sub-plot) might be the relationship between them itself or changes to that relationship.  And yet, the author then plows into a space travel yarn with the protagonist leaving the planet and never again are the parents or that relationship figured into the equation.

Why was it even included, yet alone taking up a whole chapter?  Perhaps the author had originally intended to reference it again, but the plot moved away from it.  Perhaps he/she thought there was some elemental characterization that needed to be shown but, in that case, would it have been better to find another way to do it using story elements that would be more important to the novel?  The point remains that once you introduce a plot element, especially if you devote real page space to it, you need to find a way to use it.

In a way, the principle of Chekhov’s Gun is closely tied with foreshadowing, something we talked about earlier.  They both serve similar purposes, so most principles using one should be applied to the other.  Both are vital tools and important rules to remember to use in your writing.

How many Chekhov’s Guns do you use in your stories?  Do you find there are exceptions to the dramatic rule?  If so, what are they and how did they work out for you?  Talk about it in the comments below.