The Writer's Mailbag: Installment 181
Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas or Whatever
So here’s the thing: it makes no difference to me what you believe is the proper way to describe this season. If you want to say Merry Christmas then go for it. Happy Holidays works for me as well. You aren’t going to insult me by using either, or neither, or some other greeting which reflects your feelings about this season. It’s your gig and I’m happy for you. All I want to say to all of you is I love you! Good luck finding something controversial in that statement: I love you!
Let’s do this and then get back to our regularly-scheduled life.
From Eric: “I was stymied on how to show who was speaking. My son helped me out, insisting that I review Frost and Edgars works. I settled on a book by bestselling authors which was a bestseller itself. I followed that format to the T. Then our publisher editor here on HP decided that their style was better and changed my article. So instead of calling people pinheads I just surrendered, what the heck. So Bill how do you deal with the egos of others? Do you have a way to protect your muse in such circumstances?”
Eric, I love your questions!
I would love to say I’m above all that ego crap, but I don’t think anyone is. Artists, sculptures, writers, musicians . . . these are people who spend hours, days, and months working on their craft, a painting, a novel, a symphony, whatever . . . and then they release that to the public and are met, at times, with not-so-flattering reviews. It is damned hard to ignore it. I can receive one-hundred flattering book reviews and one negative review, and it is that one negative review I will fixate on.
What can I tell you? I’m human and I want acceptance just as badly as most people. On most days I’m able to set aside the negativity which surrounds my work, but I’m not always successful.
Holding the Reader’s Attention
From Linda: “Bill, this has probably be asked (and answered) in the past, but I might have been absent from class the day this was covered. I know that the first paragraph of any story needs to grab the attention of the reader. If you don't have them by the end of the first page, you've lost them for good. But how, when, and how often do you hit them again? At the end of each chapter (so that they will want to continue) or does too much drama put you at risk of being a "perils of Pauline". How do you keep your reader once you've "caught" them?”
It’s a great question, Linda, and I don’t believe it has ever been asked before.
A full-length novel, which I believe you are asking about, has to be fed fuel to keep the engine running. That fuel is sometimes called tension, and escalation of that tension must be ever-present. Let me put it another way: three or four times in a novel, there must be something which happens which will directly affect the outcome and which drives the engine forward. If your novel is 75,000 words in length, you need one of those fuel-ingestion moments every 15,000-20,000 words.
Of course, I’m using generalities and averages, but I think you get the point.
A common error many first-time novelists make is adding something to the narrative which does not add to the tension. Always keep in mind, as you write, the central theme of the novel and the driving tension. Is a particular page necessary? How does it help to propel the story? If it doesn’t help then it really isn’t necessary. Mind you, I know a certain amount of non-tension stuff is necessary. We need to have some sort of character description along the way, but just remember the story is of the utmost importance.
From Verlie: Re: Formatting shaped poetry in the text capsule. There's a discussion going on about this in the Forums. I’ve included it below. May be of interest to Mailbag readers?
It's not possible to use centered text in hubs, but when you write different forms of poetry sometimes centered text is a must. Shaped poetry, cinquain, diamante and more are poetry forms that will lose any significance if they can not be written in centered text.
The only way to show them now is displaying them as a photo, but that way Google won't recognize it as text and HP shows zero word count.
Verlie Burroughs Reply: I'm so excited to have discovered this. The preformatted option in the drop down list in the text capsule allows for cut and paste of whatever you have previously created in word program. I just tried it. It worked.
Edit: And the pasted text shows up in word count. smile
Edit: that was supposed to be copy and paste.
Edit: This may not work for a shaped poem, at least it didn't for me. Back to the drawing board.
So, it shows up when pasted into text capsule aligned left, but you can 1. push the lines into shape manually, 2. highlight, 3. choose preformatting option in the drop down list. You can toggle back and forth until it looks right in preview. Still a lot of work. There's probably an easier way to do it.
There are a few ideas on how to center text kicking around on the thread. Hope more to come. Please note, it is not my thread. Thanks V.
Note from Bill: It’s an interesting problem, one I’ve noticed even though I don’t write poetry. Several times in prose I’ve tried to center items for effect and found I couldn’t do it. Anyway, thank you, Verlie, for pointing this out. If anyone else has something to add to this please do. I’d love to hear a solution to this problem.
From Val: “Bill, do you understand the Hubber score? Mine jumped, overnight, from 80 to 92, and I don’t have any idea why that happened.”
Val, here’s my trademark honesty: I don’t have a clue what goes into a Hubber score . . . and . . . frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn! I’ve always wanted to use that line from “Gone With The Wind,” so now I can mark that off my bucket list.
I honestly don’t know. I’ve been here almost seven years now and I’ve never understood it. I’ll go to my death bed not understanding it.
Such is life!
Here is what HubPages says about the Hubber Score:
Factors Used to Compute Hubber Score
Factors used to compute Hubber Score include:
- The collective HubScores of your Hubs
- Your activity in the Forums
- Your support of other Hubbers through comments
- The number and quality of Questions you ask
- The number and quality of Answers you have given
In general, your Hubber Score is meant to not only reflect the collective quality and success of your Hubs, but also the contributions you have made to the community as a whole.
Now you know as much as I do. Clear as mud?
And Such Is the Mailbag
I wouldn’t know what to do with my Mondays if I didn’t have the Mailbag, so thank you. I hear Christmas is next Monday, but nothing stops the mail from being delivered, so next Monday, Christmas, I’m going to stop by your home, briefly, and deliver the mail just like I always do. If you want to have some hot chocolate out, and maybe some chocolate chip cookies, I would greatly appreciate it.
Remember: I love you all!
2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”