Tone plus Voice Make Mystery Magic

Today, at #MotiveMeansOpportunity

MotiveMeansOpportunity

By Jayne Barnard

ab-negative-coverIn 10 years of serving on crime fiction juries, I’ve seen hundreds of stories. Most are forgettable. The ones that stick with me are those that vibrate with tone and/or voice. I know them when I see them. So do agents and editors. Tone and voice tip the scales from an also-ran submission to a tale that editors and agents desire.

But what are tone and voice? Essentially, they’re attitude. The character’s attitude and the story’s attitude. Attitude is good in fiction. You’re writing slices of creatively enhanced life, not journal articles, academic essays or newspaper items. Your characters’ and your narrative’s words must hint at—or outright shout—attitudes, stances, secret fears and desires. Attitude shakes its fist at the story problem.

Tone: the attitude your narrator or protagonist brings to the table.

Each word the narrator says, every action they take, reveals their attitude toward the situation…

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Friday (Thursday) Fun: Writers’ Retreats

Shared from Marina-Sophia’s blog!

findingtimetowrite

Some of them belong(ed) to writers, some of them are being used for writing workshops and retreats. All of them will predispose you to a bookish reverie…

Edith Wharton's house The Mount in Lenox, MA, organises 2-3 week residencies for women writers of 'demonstrated accomplishment'. Edith Wharton’s house The Mount in Lenox, MA, organises 2-3 week residencies for women writers of ‘demonstrated accomplishment’.

Court Green in Devon, the house of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Picture courtesy of P.H. Davies. Hughes' widow still lives there. Court Green in Devon, the house of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Picture courtesy of P.H. Davies. Hughes’ widow still lives there.

Lumb Bank is another house formerly owned by Ted Hughes, and is currenty an Arvon Writers' Centre. Lumb Bank is another house formerly owned by Ted Hughes, and is currently an Arvon Writers’ Centre. Picture by Alison Morton.

Kerouac's cottage in the Orlando neighbourhood where he wrote The Dharma Bums. 4 three-month residencies a year are available to writers of 'any stripe or age, living anywhere in the world. Kerouac’s cottage in the Orlando neighbourhood where he wrote The Dharma Bums. 4 three-month residencies a year are available to writers of ‘any stripe or age, living anywhere in the world.

Marguerite Yourcenar's villa not far from Lille and the Belgian border offers 1-2 month residencies to European writers. Marguerite Yourcenar’s villa not far from Lille and the Belgian border offers 1-2 month residencies to European writers.

Barnhill on the Scottish island of Jura, where George Orwell wrote 1984, is still open to writers seeking solitude and lack of Wifi. Barnhill on the Scottish island of Jura, where George Orwell wrote 1984, is…

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Twilight Books…

“Taking time for reading” by author A.K. Klemm

Anakalian Whims

And no, I’m not talking about the twilight saga.  I’m talking about those books you pick up to read as the sun is setting – at the end of your day – and binge read until complete. I’m talking about all those glorious read in one sitting books. The kind that result in a little less sleep than you should have gotten the next day, but are worth it because you feel so much more refreshed than if you had actually slept.

It’s as W. Somerset Maugham said, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”

So when I am at my most miserable, I set in place the habit of reading cozy “twilight” books. I create down time where there is none, to devour what will rest my brain from my own crap long enough to kick…

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Rose—A “Dinger, PI” Short: Part 2

Rose—A “Dinger, PI” Short: Part 2

MotiveMeansOpportunity

Before she left my bed and office, Rose spilled some of the dope I’d need to have a hens’ teeth chance of keeping her husband off the cooling board. A few hours’ digging the next day told me the rest of what I needed to know, and it wasn’t pretty.

last-frontier

Delbert “Dell” Nicholas was a grifter, a two-bit gambler, a cheap drunk—choose your poison. Pushing fifty, he was twice Rose’s age. Which goes to show that God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. I’ll be damned if I could understand it. But then, I wasn’t the creator of this fucked-up world. At least I could find solace in that. Dell was currently employed as a blackjack dealer at the Last Frontier, one of the first joints on the Strip which had left its heyday behind a few years back. Like most of the clubs in Vegas, the Last…

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When What You Know Is Boring

Mystery writer Catherine Dilts writes about “When What You Know Is Boring” today at #MotiveMeansOpportunity

MotiveMeansOpportunity

by Catherine Dilts

stonecoldbloodedfront-5One of the first bits of advice an aspiring author receives is “write what you know.” For many years, I didn’t have a clue what that meant. After all, my life seemed dull. Many writers I knew had led lives of intrigue, or at least had cool job titles. How could writing about what I knew possibly be of interest to readers?

I spent several years toiling away in a factory. Determined to get some mileage out of all that pain and suffering, I wrote, and sold, my first short story set in that factory. I’ve learned that what is ordinary to me may seem intriguing to an outsider.

Your experiences may seem bland only because they are so familiar to you. I have some hints to help you see the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Finding the Key

The key to writing what you know begins with…

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“Bouchercon Tell-All” by Sarah M. Chen

Crime writer Sarah M. Chen reports on Bouchercon 2016 at Motive Means Opportunity!

“Bouchercon Tell-All” by Sarah M. Chen
I’m exhausted yet still riding this high from the lovefest that is Bouchercon. For those who have never been, it’s the biggest mystery fan convention anywhere. I heard this year it was a record num…
MOTIVEMEANSOPPORTUNITY.WORDPRESS.COM

MotiveMeansOpportunity

I’m exhausted yet still riding this high from the lovefest that is Bouchercon. For those who have never been, it’s the biggest mystery fan convention anywhere. I heard this year it was a record number (close to 2000) and it’s no wonder. New Orleans is one of the most exciting towns and one of my personal favorites for its food and music scene. I can’t even begin to encapsulate the incredible camaraderie and frenzied joy of Bouchercon in one blog post but I’ll try. Here are a few of my personal favorite moments:

sarah-chen-reading

I arrived Wednesday in time to do a reading for the Noir at the Bar After Dark. Jay Stringer from Glasgow was the host and asked me to read (thank you, Jay!) along with Johnny Shaw, Christa Faust, Danny Gardner, and Renee Asher Pickup, to name a few. The readings were fantastic and downright dirty. Perfect way…

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