June Rodriguez
JUNE: I have been writing on my NaNoWriMo challenge this past week and found myself in the middle of a plot problem. So I pulled out one of my favorite writing books to look for help. “Goal, Motivation & Conflict” by Debra Dixon http://www.debradixon.com/gmc.html is a great back to basics book to help with most of the plotting problems I have been stumbling over. Her info on character GMC including the antagonist GMC helped me see the holes in my story and flesh out a major character. I have a sagging middle problem also.

DORI: I got a lot out of attending Ms. Dixon's workshop with you and Jackie, way back when. She definitely helps make the fundamentals understandable. Sometimes it is helpful when we're stuck to go back to those tools to refresh our recollection in order to move forward.

SARAH: Sagging middle? Maybe we should do some sit-ups!! LOL I agree with you ladies. I didn't take the class with you, but I have learned a fair deal reading the info you have passed along. I'm looking forward to learning more about her principles. Kudos, June, for sticking to your NaNo commitment! I think that's wonderful.

JUNE: The rules for writing can be vague. I wonder why we are told that we can’t break them but I see those rules broken all the time by the big sellers. The rules seem to be an arbitrary thing. So the real rule is “Don’t write like a best seller until you are one.” Is that an oxymoron?

DORI: Rules? What rules? Kidding aside, I think you are right that first you have to "know" the rules before you can break them, and second a debut novelist will have a harder time getting away with "breaking" the rules than a best seller. All writers have to know the rules of the writing game. It's not a game you win purely with luck. You have to play by the rules to win. But like other games, sometimes you win by knowing which rules to "bend" to your purpose. But, bending the rules is different than having a flagrant disregard to disdain of the rules and therefore ignoring them. Bottom line is that if you veer away from the traditional rules of writing you should do so purposely and with the conviction that it is the right thing to do to tell your story. Ultimately, it is all about telling a good story. That's what the reader cares about, and it is the reader who creates the demand for sales.

SARAH: Martha Engber is the author June and I went to go see this weekend at our RWA meeting. She gave a very informative and interesting talk on rules of writing. Her big bug-a-boo is the rule of "Show, Don't Tell." She advocated using both showing and telling in a story. We dissected a couple of stories from some very famous authors and picked out each ones' style. It seems the big cats are more partial to telling!! LOL Imagine that?! Listening to Martha was refreshing. When you're a new writer, rules are shoved down your throat like broccoli or spinach! Her suggestion is to be aware of what your ratio of Show:Tell is within your MS. It's all about balance. I'm planning on taking her "Rewrite" class in March through the Yosemite Romance Writers. It's a four week class geared toward making edits to your MS. I can't wait!

DORI: I love broccoli and spinach so shove away! What I would be more curious to know was whether the more telling than showing was a progression that started after they became best sellers. Or is it my hypothesis that if you tell a good story you can get away with more telling than showing? Either way, personally when I see something presented both as showing and then as telling, the showing is always preferable to me the reader. However, I do think that there are times when a simple telling is appropriate. It's figuring out when it is the right time to do so that is problematic.

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