Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling

Nov 24, 2014

Kristen Stieffel, a writing coach, spoke on “Satisfying Endings” at the Florida Writers Association‘s 13th Annual Florida Writer’s Conference last month. As a mystery writer, naturally I’m interested in crafting the right endings to my stories, so her topic was of great interest to me. One piece of advice Kristen gave was this: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

Kristen said this came from “Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling.

Monsters, Inc. was one of my favorites movies of all time. Of course, I could also say that about Toy Story 1 through 3 and Wall-E. In fact, Pixar makes great movies that tell great stories. So I clicked on the link and read the 22 rules. If you are a writer–or want to be–I suggest you read them too. Great pointers.

Here’s just one more of Pixar’s rules as a teaser: Rule #1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.



Double Fake, Double Murder is now live online

Nov 17, 2014

My second novel, Double Fake, Double Murder, is now available in both electronic and paperback print versions at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.

With a little help from my friends

Aug 20, 2014

Today, with the Internet, you don’t even have to meet the people you do business with. Thus it was that I had already used Michael Butler to design the covers for “I”m No Hero” and Six Murders Too Many before I even met him. You can see samples of his work at http://www.torquecreativellc.com/

Mike lives and works in Colorado and I, of course, live and work in Florida. So how did we meet?

Another author in the Authors’ Roundtable of Mount Dora, FL www.authorsroundtable.org had used Mike and recommended him.

Michael ButlerFinally, this summer Mike happened to be in Central Florida and I got to meet him in person. That’s his picture to the left.

He’s now working on the cover for my second Carlos McCrary novel, Double Fake, Double Murder, which I expect to have finished in a couple of weeks.

What works for great movies works for great books

May 5, 2014

Novelists can learn a lot from successful movies. Some of the same rules that apply to movie plots, characterization, emotional scenes, and plot pacing also apply to a good novel.

One speaker at the Florida Writers Association mini-conference at the Hilton Orlando in Altamonte Springs, Florida last weekend covered how to use the features of a good screenplay when writing books. She recommended the Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screen-Writing You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder. I agree. I bought the book and I’ve already read it twice. I am using it to improve my next Carlos McCrary novel Double Fake, Double Murder.

Working on Create Space print-on-demand for Six Murders Too Many

Apr 14, 2014

6_Murders-smallWeb-optimizedI have now finished the final edit of Six Murders Too Many, the first Carlos McCrary novel. I have the Kindle edition online at Amazon.com. The print-on-demand edition at Create Space is taking a little longer.

Create Space works with pdf files. I wrote my book in WordPerfect, used WordPerfect to “publish to pdf”, and uploaded that to Create Space. Now the folks at Create Space need to massage the file before it’s ready.

Putting it on Kindle at Amazon was a little complicated. I had to convert the WordPerfect file to Microsoft Word, then go to each of the 70-plus chapters and add the Word Chapter Heading 12 style. It was well worth the trouble. It is so much easier to write in WordPerfect.

Lake County Library Book Fest 2014

Mar 10, 2014

I am looking forward to attending several of the events of the Lake County Library Book Fest this week. First, I am attending a session from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. today where best-selling author Lisa Black will provide a glimpse into the world of forensic science and the characters who inhabit that world.

Then, on Wednesday, March 12, I will attend Authors Going Rogue from 2:00 to 4;00 p.m. Mystery Writers of America authors Julie Compton, Vicki Landis and Ann Meier will discuss why some authors have left traditional publishing for the wild world of DIY. Today, authors who want to get published have many options. This workshop will focus on the two most prevalent—traditional publishing and self – publishing, as well as the respective pros and cons.

I’ve learned a lot about writing by attending events such as these and listening to other successful writers.

SleuthFest 2014

Mar 5, 2014

I just got back from attending SleuthFest 2014 at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, Bonnet Creek, from February 27 to March 2, 2014, sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, of which I am proud to by a member.

The conference included four tracks of panels on the craft and business of writing, meals with keynote speakers, an agent or editor appointment, and much more. I attended the MWA University last year in Deerfield Beach and learned a lot. This year, I gained similarly from this conference.

I was also been selected to moderate a discussion with well-known mystery writer Ace Atkins about his book Wonderland.

SleuthFest is an annual event of the Florida Chapter of MWA.

How to be a better writer–words to avoid

Mar 3, 2014

2009 approx Port St. Lucie News2

Certain words dilute the power of fiction. After I finish my first or second draft, I search the text file to find the words from the following list. Then I see if I can omit or replace them with more powerful words.

  • about
  • all
  • almost
  • already
  • also
  • and
  • anyway
  • appear
  • be (is, am, etc. all forms of the verb “to be”)
  • by
  • can
  • could
  • even
  • get, get(s) to
  • has to, have to
  • his, hers (and other possessives and pronouns)
  • -ing (replace the gerund–” I was running”–with the action verb–“I ran”)
  • just
  • -ly (most adverbs mean that the verb should be replaced with a better verb. Replace “He walked heavily down the hall” with “He trudged down the hall” or “He stomped down the hall.” Get it?)
  • might
  • need(s) to
  • of (replace “The house made of wood” with “The wooden house”)
  • ought to
  • seem
  • -self (as in myself, himself or herself)
  • so
  • should
  • some
  • still
  • that
  • the
  • then
  • there
  • think
  • to
  • up
  • very
  • want(s) to
  • well
  • would
  • yet

Try replacing most of these words and your writing will be tighter and more powerful.