HWSWAnswers: Revision, Cliches and Tropes

Cate asked:
Any tips for revising? Right now I read it and fix the parts I don’t like, then my beta reader reads it and I fix the parts that she doesn’t like. Which works good for putting out a finished product that is lacking in bad parts, but seems a little lacking for putting out a finished product that is rich in good parts.

I trust my antenna for revising. If something bothers me, like the 707 above, it’s wrong. Needs to be fixed. I print out every 25,000 words or so and get the red pen out because it looks different on paper. With this new mss I’m going to print out a good draft, then randomly pick individual pages and line edit those without focusing on story until I do them all. Continue reading

HWSWAnswers: Collaboration, Organizing, Writing the Military

Allanah asked:
HWSWA Question (on the subject of tact): I love how seamless your co-written books are, especially given your different writing methods and also typically different subject matter. I wondered, have you read each other’s independent books, and if so, which are your favourites and why? I think maybe this is a question about how your writing works together, when on the surface it might seem unlikely

Favorite books of Bob’s: I still love Bodyguard of Lies and there’s an earlier one, Cut-Out, that’s great (we need to talk about that ending, though). And now I need to check out the Will Kane books. Continue reading

Working Wednesday, January 27, 2021

If you want a HWSWA post on Friday, ask a question here. If you don’t, feel free to talk about something else, but if you want us working on a question post, now is the time to think up something. Bob knows all about being in the Army. And falling asleep and plowing his jeep into a tree in the Deep South. I know a lot about . . . well, not much. I can see why nobody asks questions.

This week I’m dealing with a tactless response I made to Krissie’s blurb for a new book, Bob making fun of me for being old (“I thought those 90 and over qualified for the vaccine in NJ”), planning for Lee’s project in Feb which is MONDAY, dealing with a friend who is depressed because Trump lost (I try to be understanding, but that one is just . . . ), and getting this house cleared out so that (as my daughter put it) the EMTs will be able to get a gurney in when I have my next heart attack. (I’m pretty sure Mollie inherited my tact.). So the days are just packed.

What are you doing this week?

Happiness is No Horrible News

You know what the news was this week? Good.

There were headlines about purple clothes. Articles about the impact of a beagle on a winning campaign. Bernie Memes. Michelle’s hair. The President did good things, said good things, worked all day, and danced with his toddler grandson. I smiled all week because it felt like I got my country back.

What made you happy this week?

HWSWAnswers: Expressions and Questions

So I have this thing about “smirk.” Perfectly good word, but I think it’s misused a lot. In my world, good people do not smirk, it’s an asshole kind of expression, condescending, arrogant, superior, and jerkface. It’s being used A LOT in romance fiction right now as a kind of general grin. So a couple of people have weighed in on my distaste for that and an another expression, and I realize I had no idea of how Bob used expressions in his work. (Yes, in spite of writing three books with him. It was awhile ago.)

Jinx said:
I think this would be a good topic for a complete post. There are a lot of facial expressions that are hard to describe without going into a whole lot of detail — a slight smile, a pursed-lip crinkly smile, a sneering look sometimes mixed with smile, a doubtful smile, a “glad you see I was right” smile, a raised eyebrow “oh really?” smile, etc. etc. Smirk and smile both have the same Old English-y root, and I think various authors use the terms sort of differently. The “heroes never smirk” test doesn’t quite do it for me.

Gary said:
If smirks and smirking are reserved for bad guys, or usable by good guys only if immediately followed by an apology, what about The Rolling of One’s Eyes. In Huston’s Uptime Pride and Downtime Prejudice, Our Heroine (Mary) rolls her eyes six or eight times in twenty or so chapters. Then in chapter 21, I noticed in Whiskey Rebellion. Liliana Hart, that Addison Holmes plays craps with her eyeballs as well, rolling her eyes at least twice per chapter. Is there some emotion or attitude for which eye rolling is the only suitable expression? How should it be used, and how often.
Continue reading

HWSWAnswers: Supporting Characters, Other Genres, Writing Advice, Pen Names, Why????

Emily asked:
I’m struggling with secondary/side characters at the moment – of necessity I have seven of them trucking around with the main characters. Most of them, while they have a backstory and a life (I wrote short stories for each of them, trying to get myself in their heads) there’s not much that appears on the page because it moves things away from my main story. How do you know when you’ve got the balance of that right? There’s two in particular that I keep trying to give a little more story to, but every time I try it drags things away from the main action.

What’s your main story, the narrative that has all the juice that draws your reader into the story? Continue reading