The Non-Fiction Novelist

Helping at-work writers to become novelists

Archive for the month “March, 2017”

Don’t Feel Compelled to Publish an E-Book on Amazon and Other Life Tips

Don’t Feel Compelled to Publish an E-Book on Amazon and Other Life Tips

By  Larry Kahaner

  • Be kind to unkind people. It’s difficult, so do your best.
  • Discover what you love doing – then figure out how to make a living doing it. Too many people do it the other way, end up in a career that makes them miserable and they’ve become trapped by their income. Law students take note.einsteinshow
  • When you have a decision to make, take fear out of the equation. Also, make scary decisions more quickly; the longer you stand on the diving board, the more frightened you become. And, speaking of fear, know that when you see hatred in a person, it usually has its roots in fear.
  • Don’t be overly concerned about taking a short term job that’s not quite to your liking. The benefits of making a living, making your way in the world are immense. Even a lousy job beats sitting around the house in your underwear. See the rule about loving what you’re doing.
  • Relationships are difficult. Be wary of couples for whom their joining always appears to be rosy.
  • Not everyone has to have kids.
  • Growing old can be difficult, but realize it’s a gift that not everyone gets.
  • Be grateful.
  • When something good comes along, take more if it’s offered except for pie. Too much pie can make you sick.
  • Spend money on experiences, not stuff. Never rent a storage unit for more than a few months.
  • Hard work can get you far, but never underestimate how much luck plays in life. Can you make your own luck? No; that’s why they call it luck, but you can be open when it comes along. Try not to be angry at people who squander their luck. Bastards.
  • Say ‘yes,’ to new experiences as a default. Before you die, you will regret more about the things you didn’t do, than the things you did. This rule often applies to having sex.
  • Money can’t buy happiness, but lack of money can make you miserable. Find a happy ratio of work vs. leisure for you.
  • Friends will come and go in your life. Enjoy them while they’re around, and resist figuring out why you like being with them.
  • Don’t feel compelled to write an e-Book and publish it on Amazon. We have plenty of books. Good ones, too. Not that yours would be bad. But it might. So, think twice, please.
  • Everyone is on their own journey. Try not to be judgmental about others unless they’re really doing something dumb, considering an awful tattoo, or are being hurtful to others.
  • Learn a few good jokes and hone their telling to precision.
  • Get a dog, and always be the person they think you are.
  • Don’t think zoos are cool. The animals would much rather be back where they came from.
  • Social media is a time-suck. Read a friggin’ book once in a while.
  • You don’t have to respond to everything said to you. Sometimes you can just smile.

What if the US were run like a corporation and a madman was in charge? Check out my latest thriller “USA, Inc.” now available in eBook and paperback. All my books have a money-back guarantee.

How Readers are Cheated Out of their Imaginations

How Readers are Cheated Out of their Imaginations

By Larry Kahaner

I read a lot of indie books. Let me rephrase that. I read the first few pages of a lot of indie books. Most are terrible, and it’s often clear from the get-go when they’re not going to get any better.

book imagination

Artist: Igor Morski 

I’ve railed about the lack of excellent indie authors (and also praised some glorious finds) so I won’t do it again here, but I do want to explain one of the most flagrant early giveaways that a book is gonna stink.

It is over-description, and lately I’m seeing a ton of it not only in indie authors but some traditionally-published writers as well.

Why do some authors insist on depicting the minute details of a house, a mountain a person? It’s annoying, exhausting and pegs them as amateurs.

There are a few reasons why they do this, I think. First, they believe that it’s easier to spend time getting down to the atomic level rather than thinking about where the story goes next. And they’re right – in a way. It is easier to keep describing something in detail instead of moving the story forward. This takes guts, creativity and hard work.

Second, they believe that readers want this. Some do, but most readers want movement more than anything. They want the story to progress. They don’t want to read a page describing a twig – I just read an entire opening page describing a small branch. Brutal. – or the weather.

Third, they believe that a long description sets the tone for the book. True, but you get more ambience if the description is short, full of emotion, energy and integral to the story instead of borne from the author’s indulgence.

In his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King explains why he doesn’t overly describe characters.

 

“I’m not particularly keen on writing which exhaustively describes the physical characteristics of the people in the story and what they’re wearing (I find wardrobe inventory particularly irritating; if I want to read descriptions of clothes, I can always get a J. Crew catalogue). I can’t remember many cases where I felt I had to describe what the people in a story of mine looked like – I’d rather let the reader supply the faces, the builds, and the clothing as well. If I tell you that Carrie White is a high school outcast with a bad complexion and a fashion-victim wardrobe, I think you can do the rest, can’t you? I don’t need to give you a pimple-by-pimple, skirt-by-skirt rundown. We all remember one or more high school losers, after all; if I describe mine, it freezes out yours, and I lose a little bit of the bond of understanding I want to forge between us. Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

 

Those who are familiar with my blog know that I’m a fan of noir and detective novels. These past writers and their current day successors know how to cram a ton of description into a few words. Following are some recent favorites of mine. Note how these writers don’t nibble at the edges, but get right to point. Some might say the writing is over the top, too melodramatic, but I say ‘bulls-eye.’

 

James Sallis in Drive describes a pickup truck.

“Jodie’s former ride was a Ford F-150, graceless as a wheelbarrow, dependable as rust and taxes, indestructible as a tank. Brakes that could stop an avalanche cold, engine powerful enough to tow glaciers into place. Bombs fall and wipe out civilization as we know it, two things’ll come up out of the ashes: roaches and F-150s. Thing handled like an ox cart, rattled fillings from teeth and left you permanently saddle sore, but it was a survivor. Got the job done, whatever the job was.”

Nic Pizzolatto is not only an author but a screenwriter. He created the HBO show True Detective. Here, in Galveston: A Novel, he depicts a woman that he meets.

“A woman emerged out the room behind the counter, her flesh so grooved and dehydrated it might have been cured in a smokehouse. It was sun-baked the color of golden oak and draped across jagged bones. Squirrel gray hair. Her eyeglasses had a square of duct tape holding them together at the center, and she pushed them up on her nose.

I recommend Dodgers: A Novel by Bill Beverly whose style is refreshing, unique, and at times deceptively simple.

“The town smelled like corn cooked too long.”

 

In Mike Dime by Barry Fantoni, the 1940’s  noir oozes off the page.

“The center of the room was filled by a four-seated, seal gray velvet sofa that Norma Summers had re-covered in gin stains. She planted herself with some difficulty on the arm of the sofa and tried to get me in focus. The flap of her housecoat fell open as she attempted to cross her legs. It let more thigh through than it should have, but her thighs were never going to bother me, and she was beyond bothering about anything but the next drink.”

 

And the last one. Notice how the description in Beggars of Life by Jim Tully seems common, almost bland, until the last line.

Bill had blond hair, and a sharp face. He had blue eyes, a straight nose, and a square chin. He was a heavy-set youth, and his shoulders were broad and powerful. He had no morals at all, and was as irresponsible as the wind.”

I harp constantly about authors not respecting their readers. One way writers dis them is with over-description. They’re saying: “I don’t trust you to have an imagination so I have to tell you everything.”

That’s not cool.

What if the US were run like a corporation and a madman was in charge? Check out my latest thriller “USA, Inc.” now available in eBook and paperback. All my books have a money-back guarantee.

 

 

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