Welcome to The Extra Shot, a weekly Sunday post featuring EXCLUSIVE content from Authors who have books releasing in the near future.
Books I Love A Latte is a book review blog focusing primarily on the romance genre, fiction, and women’s fiction. In addition, we periodically review products to keep you organized and more productive as writers and readers.
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Today we’ve got TWO EXCLUSIVE excerpts and a few giveaways to jump start your week. Each author has brought there own giveaways so be sure to read for details within each feature!
Meaningful Detail: the little things that tell a tale by Damon Suede
I want to thank Rae for letting me come talk with y’all about the ways characters drive a story. Next week Verbalize comes out, aka my new craft book on characterization and story-planning, and we thought you might dig splashing around in some of its ideas. If you’d like to enter to win a story consult or a copy of Verbalize (print or digital), check out the contest here.
Specificity is critical in genre fiction. Over and over we’re told to keep things precise if we expect readers to care, but I often wonder if that advice goes far enough. Paying attention is always the answer to creative problems, but what needs our attention. Authors absolutely need to focus, but they need to focus on things that matter.
On that tip, I’d like to include a brief excerpt from Chapter 1 of Verbalize, about the power of significant specifics.
* * *
When we care about something, we pay attention, and by the same token, when we pay attention to something, we start to care about it.
You can only pay attention to specificity, so canny authors go out of their way to provide juicy detail that supports the story. Vagueness connotes laziness, sloppiness, or apathy in the writer, which is why pablum is general and generalized. Consequently, specificity is the core of solid craft and superior art. Precision makes us focus and remember.
By the same token, specifics are critical, but only in service to the tale you’re telling. Plunking random specifics into a story without any awareness of their impact serves nothing. Paying attention to your story’s details makes your readers follow suit. When you stop paying attention, likewise.
Every specific in a story requires a purpose, a function. Instead of pointless detail, what you should aim for is significance: meaningful patterns start with resonant focus. When weighing the effect of any detail, you should be able to answer the question “How does this help tell the story and improve the emotional ride?” Under that lens you’ll quickly pinpoint facts that actually characterize and dramatize the tale you’re telling.
Significant specifics don’t just attract attention, they reward it so that the patterns of the story begin to connect to patterns already hardwired in your reader’s mind. Rather than providing conclusions, show your audience respect and engage them directly by allowing them to reach conclusions on their own. Significance jacks into their consciousness directly for more potent and efficient narrative results.
A detail only becomes significant when it helps you tell the tale.
Show your readers significant specifics and you don’t need to tell them anything, but try to tell them something, and their craving for pattern will send them looking for specifics that might contradict it. Better to have your audience as an enthusiastic ally than a dubious witness.
The great power of significance is that it forces all your words to do the heavy lifting—sometimes several jobs at once—so you can pack more of a punch into less space by showing and not telling. As Elizabeth Bowen put it, “Irrelevance, in any part, is a cloud and a drag on, a weakener of, the novel. It dilutes meaning. Relevance crystallizes meaning.”[i]
Here’s the great secret of writing popular fiction: your audience helps you tell the best story, but only if you give them the right materials.
What matters most is why characters pursue what they pursue and how they pursue it despite terrible odds. Instead of bogging down in minutiae, you can anchor every project in the raw, emotional power that engages readers and inspires creativity by focusing on the energy of the story. What matters to your audience and your process is the driving force behind the story, the spring in the clock, the emotional core, the choices of the characters. The actions they embody. The risks they take.
The rest is parsley on the plate.
Excerpted from Verbalize by Damon Suede.
© Damon Suede 2018. All rights reserved.
Damon grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen almost three decades and just released his first craft book: Verbalize, a practical guide to characterization and story craft. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him on Twitter, Facebook, or at DamonSuede.com.
In case you missed my review, you can read it here.
The solid wood door swung out easily when I pulled, and my heart began beating a quicker rhythm as Chance’s distinctive low voice rolled out the open door of an office adjacent to the lobby.
“If it gets any worse, let me know, John. We’ll lend a hand.” I could see Chance’s back as he stood looking out the window behind his desk, the phone to his ear.
“Miranda. What’s up?” There was an office on each side of the small reception space, and Sam appeared from the side opposite Chance’s office, no doubt summoned by the bell above the front door.
“Hey Sam.” My eyes were locked on Chance’s broad back, a dark flannel pulled tightly across the muscles just below the curls that were beginning to form at the top of his tanned neck. I pulled my gaze away to land on Sam instead. His familiar face was hardly a comfort. Chance and Sam’s eyes were almost identical, and the angular cut of their cheekbones and jaws were similar too. Both Palmer brothers could have been carved from stone—they were that good looking.
Despite their similar faces, I swooned when Chance looked at me, and I definitely felt something when my eyes met Sam’s—only I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. He made me nervous. Not in a good way, but in a way that kept me on my toes. And the way he was staring at me now made me uncomfortable. Like he was trying to figure something out. I was suddenly regretting wearing my hair down.
Best get to the point. “I came in to ask about that job. The administrative one?” My fingers found the tassel on my purse and began pulling at it.
Sam stepped out of his office and squinted at me as one side of his mouth lifted in a half-smile. He looked confused, his face crinkling up. “Why?”
Annoyance flooded me. This was the problem with Sam. Nothing was straightforward. I sighed, turning to see if Chance might be done with his call and come out so I could speak to him instead. Of course then I’d be nervous instead of annoyed. “I thought I might be able to help out with that.”
“It’s not a ‘help out’ type of thing. It’s a job. And you already have a job. And you’re in school.” Sam leaned his tall body against the door jam of his office and crossed his big arms over his broad chest. He gave off an air of judgment that put me on edge. And of course he was being difficult about something that could be simple.
“But Chance said it was part time?”
“What part of the time do you see yourself being here?” He was smiling now and I got the distinct impression he was toying with me. I shifted my weight uncomfortably as I stood there, in Maddie’s khaki pants and flowered blouse. The clothes had me feeling a bit unlike myself, and now I was standing here like an idiot in the middle of the room and Sam was being difficult. I had no doubt Chance would have offered me a seat. He was the polite brother. Sam was just watching me, like I was put there to amuse him.
“The part of the time when you guys need me, I guess.” My voice didn’t carry the confident edge I wanted it to, so I cleared my throat and continued. “I can rearrange my diner shifts if I need to, and college is online. I do most of my work at night anyway.”
“Right.” Sam chewed on his bottom lip for a second and then something about his fingernails caught his attention. He brought his hand to his face and rubbed his thumb against his index finger, looking intently at it. Finally he tucked his hand back under the opposite elbow and looked back up at me. “Okay.” He stood upright again and turned around to head back into his office, leaving me standing in the middle of the room.
Okay? What did that mean?
Love Reimagined © Delancey Stewart 2018. All rights reserved.
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Delancey Stewart is an award-winning author who writes romantic fiction with humor and heart.
Stewart has lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns. She’s been a pharmaceutical rep, a personal trainer and a wineseller.
A wife and the mother of two small boys, her current job titles include pirate captain, monster hunter, Lego assembler and story reader. She tackles all these efforts at her current home outside Washington D.C.
Find her at www.delanceystewart.com
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