Friday, April 9, 2010

Meddlers In Time- Out of the frying pan, into the fire

Meddlers In Time- Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

This is part one of the 35th century tales. It covers the period of when Wayne Jamieson is drafted into the Imperial forces, having spent the last forty years as a spacer, pirate, mercenary and lastly- as the commander of a successful privateer Free Company.

After leading a raid that turns the course of a civil war, he is shipped off-planet because of a large price on his head.

On his way back to Old Earth, he manages- as usual- to get involved in a desperate action with the other main character, Jenny DeVries.

This time they do not have the near-magical gates to help them.

This and the next four parts cover the shaping of the protagonists into the deadly weapons found in the first book of Meddlers In Time.

The next in the series is: Meddlers In Time- The Cockatoo River Incident and is due to be released early May 2010.


  1. Dear Wayne/Oswald:

    I've just downloaded Meddlers/Frying Pan. I note that it's been up for only a few days, so you have a shot at making quick changes that no one will ever notice. And yes, I have a couple of suggestions for you. Please don't take them the wrong way.

    There are certain "tells" that separate the amateur from the practiced writer. If you'd prefer to be taken for the latter, which I'm sure is the case, you must avoid those "tells" with a quasi-religious fanaticism. Two stand out beyond all the rest; fortunately, they're easily corrected.

    The first, and by far the easier one to correct, is the use of the exclamation point. A profusion of exclamation points is considered a giveaway that the writer is uncomfortable about the impact of his prose, especially that of his dialogue. Editors automatically reject manuscripts that make frequent use of the exclamation point, which they call "the screamer." To them, it's a bit like typing in all capital letters: nice people simply don't.

    I recommend a clean sweep. Simply use your word processor's find-and-replace function to change every exclamation point, without exception, to a period (I don't know if New Zealanders prefer the British term "full stop" for the period, but if so, there you go.) Believe me, the improvement in your readers' opinions of your stuff will be dramatic from that change alone. Then, looking forward, pull the exclamation point key off your keyboard and throw it away. It's for the best, really.

    Second, and more difficult but equally worthwhile, is eliminating the use of dialogue locutions other than "he said" or "she said." This is a toughie to avoid, because we want to color our characters' dialogue as strongly as possible. Nevertheless, using alternate forms is bad form, because it allows the writer to welsh on the strength of the dialogue itself. Also, it gives rise all too easily to "Tom Swifties." (Read this article on the subject for additional thoughts.) Do not have your characters "state," "order," "exclaim," or "demand." Have them "say," or about as acceptable, "ask" or "reply," and let the dialogue itself "do the work."

    Additionally, I would scan through Meddlers/Frying Pan looking for every occurrence of the word "said," and eliminate any adverbial qualifiers to it. If you must color the dialogue tonally, use a strong verb: If "he said softly," then he whispered or murmured. If "she said loudly (or angrily)," then she shouted or screamed. One thing that will do for you is to show you where the dialogue itself needs to be strengthened, so that the qualifiers will feel unnecessary.

    (I should mention that I have such a weakness in this area that, as a corrective, I try to structure my dialogue so that I don't even need the "he said" tag. It takes more work -- I notice that you've done a bit of that yourself, so you know what I mean -- but the results are worth it.)

    You have a gift for the action tale, which I envy you. A little refinement of your style will make it come through more clearly, gain you additional readers, and improve your future offerings as well.

    All my best,
    Fran Porretto

  2. I very much do appreciate your feedback.

    I have just removed 504 exclaimation marks.

    And two from this message (so far)

    The only rule I was aware of was that it was bad form to use more than two in a row

    I have just taken the belated step of buying some referance material on writing. I have discovered that I know far less than I thought.

    Now to work on standardizing the 'said'. It appears I have been taught the exact opposite.

  3. Done and the new version is uploading now.

    Next step is to apply this advice to the next installment.

    [two exclaimation marks removed from this message]