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Writing About Snippets

I'm not sure how I feel about snippets.

One day I like them, and I'm happy to show them off. They're new and shiny and you know your muse is in the zone. Today's comes from the beginning of the next chapter in Sacrifices / Into Dust Descend, where the story returns to its creepy side.

Old ones within the pack knew obedience.

The previous chapter covered a dog attack. If that wasn't enough to give readers an idea this book is something different, the next few pages should make it plain. Think mashup: part murder mystery; part thriller; part eldritch horror. I know I'm setting a tough challenge for myself, but the only way to succeed is to push yourself. And to make sure the characters are front and center, because the books I love are the ones that focus on the people.

Snippets can't always convey that depth, however. If you read a sentence such as the one above, it sounds cool. It's short, it's focused. It even offers a little bit of mystery. What am I showing readers? How does this move the story forward? Snippets are like drive by shootings.

One of the snippets I presented in an earlier post, when I first started this novel-in-90, fell to the editing process as I corrected one chapter. I liked the snippet, my muse was on her game, but what I wrote didn't work.

Back when I started writing seriously, I read an essay by Orson Scott Card about beginnings, and the point I still take away from that piece is how a book evolves rather than how it's important to start your novel at the right place or in the right way. While the beginning is crucial--and I've struggled to find the right one for S/IDD, struggled and, I believe, succeeded--it's necessary to respect the process enough to acknowledge anything can change during rewrites. You're not going to write the perfect novel in the first draft.

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February 2012


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