Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Elizabeth White invites me to her blog

Hi folks,

I was invited by Elizabeth White to be a guest on her writer's blog and here's the post. Hope you enjoy the read!

What We Say Ain’t Always What We Mean… By Les Edgerton
It’s an honor to welcome Les Edgerton back to the site. There are a lot of people out there writing noir, but Les is the real deal. His life experiences give his writing a verisimilitude you can’t learn from a book or earn via an MFA (though he has one of those). Over the years, Les has shared with readers anecdotes from his fascinating life. Now, in large part as a journey of introspection and the desire to figure out how he arrived at this point in his life, Les has finally put pen to paper and memorialized his amazing life story, Adrenaline Junkie (Down & Out Books), for posterity. Despite having lived a life packed with more action than most ever dream of, Les is here today to explain that, at least in the world of writing, “action” doesn’t necessarily mean what you might think it does.

I read a lot of blogs from other writers, agents, editors and other professionals in the writing game, and I read a lot of letters from writers responding to those posts. Alas, again and again, I see some general misconceptions about writing techniques and story structure that I’d like to address.
I see the same misconceptions from my students in my online classes and from clients I work with.
The misconceptions seem to arrive from misunderstanding the definitions of the terms we employ in describing fiction writing and fiction techniques.
I’ve come to believe that much of the misunderstandings writers have stem from the fact that many of our terms are lay terms, and while the definitions assigned certain terms have their root in “lay” or “dictionary” definitions, there are significant differences when applied to writing, and it is these differences that cause a certain amount of confusion.
That sounds like a lot of goobly-gook, doesn’t it? Sorry! I’ll try to explain better.
A good example of what I’m talking about that I’ve seen a lot written about lately refers to the term “action” in fiction. A nonwriter usually thinks of action in reference to drama—books, movies, plays, and television—as some kind of physical activity. Many times, the word evokes images of melodrama—bombings, kidnappings, shootings, stabbings, beatings, rapes… violent physical action, in other words. Lots of noise, screams, smoke, and fury. Writers need to think differently and understand that action in fiction means something much more than in real life.
I just read a letter on another blog from a beginning writer who complained that she began her novel with action—in her case, an armed robbery involving her protagonist—and then couldn’t figure out why this didn’t hook the agent she’d sent it to. She said he turned her manuscript down because while the robbery hooked him in the very beginning, it turned out to be mostly unrelated to the story that followed. This poor writer had done what a lot of writers seem to do. She thought that when teachers, agents and editors said they wanted to be “hooked” immediately on the first page, they were looking for something along the lines of that lay definition of action. A gun going off or whatever.
The term “action” when applied to fiction means something vastly broader and more encompassing of other activities than the stuff listed above. While it can include those kinds of activities, literary action also encompasses many other things. Dialog is action, for instance. A character driving down the road and seeing a dead plover is also action. A character reading a newspaper on the subway is action. Anything a character is doing is action.
This one misunderstood term is to blame for many of the mistakes made in creating a manuscript, especially when trying to follow the advice of the pros.

For the rest of this article, go to here  

Blue skies,

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