Writing Fluid Fiction: How To Use Italics

The Sarcastic Muse

I’ve put on my editing hat before: breaking down the difference between passive and active voice, discussing grammatical aspect (the progressive and perfect forms of verbs), and I’ve even given an overview of good and bad repetition. Today I’d like to discuss a topic I don’t read about too often: how to use italicized text effectively in your writing.

Writing Fluid Fiction: How to Use Italics This is what an overkill of italics looks like to an editor.

I see the overuse of italics most often in novels that are supposed to be from the third-person limited POV. Newer writers may rely on  first-person internal monologues because they have not yet mastered the voice of their character or because they do not fully understand how to write from a tight third-person POV. But as a rule, in stories written from the third-person limited POV, unspoken discourse does not require (and in fact should not…

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Finding Hosting: To Move or Not to Move?

Image: Morguefile

Image: Morguefile

I’ve been on social media for about a year and a half now (only nine months for this blog and twitter, however), and I’ve reached a crossroads. A few months ago, I bought my own domain name with the intent of finding hosting and setting up my professional website. Especially since I’ve become more involved with freelance editing. (That’s one of the reasons I haven’t set up an editorial price list, etc, on this blog.)

As I creep closer to my goal, I have started looking at the possibilities. I don’t need anything fancy, and I’m busy enough with other projects that I don’t want it to be complicated. I know that I’d like it to support WordPress. And in that case, WordPress has suggested BlueHost, DreamHost, and LaughingSquid as hosts that work well. I only know one person’s opinion on BlueHost, and the rest are unfamiliar to me. Have any of you guys used the above-mentioned hosts? Got any feedback? Suggestions?

I worry that moving to my own domain (away from the WordPress feed) will cause me to lose the small (but communicative) following I have here. Ideally I’d like to keep everything in one place, but it’s possible that I could keep this as my blog and just pay for hosting for an editorial landing page. But, given that I write mostly about writing on The Sarcastic Muse, and reserve this blog for my more personal wayward musings, it’s possible that keeping both wouldn’t make much of a difference anyway.

What are your thoughts or experiences? Any advice would be welcome!

Do You Write What You Know?


Image: Morguefile

What do you think about the old adage of writing what you know?

I was thinking about that the other day when I was out wandering around the streets. There are a lot of things I “know” that have come out in my writing. For instance, if my characters are traveling by horseback, I can easily pull from my twenty years of experience with horses. Or if my character speaks or learns a foreign language, well, I know what that’s like. Some of my settings have been places I’ve lived, too.

But I also tend to write a lot of what I don’t know. My short story, for example, is about an all-female gang in Chicago. Have I ever been in a gang? No. Did I understand the main character’s longing for something better, though? Yes.

Did I have to research? Oh most definitely.

Of course, even after researching, I’m still no expert on gang life, and I probably (surely) had to take some literary license. But well . . . that’s fiction. If you can read it and believe it’s real, then I’ve succeeded.

It’s not always easy, however, to figure out how to handle writing what I don’t know. Especially if the thing I’m writing about is the known but unknown kind of subject. I’ve run into that problem with my current novel. One of its settings is Mars. If we’re speaking honestly here, when I started writing it, the only facts I knew about Mars were those I’d learned in middle school science classes: that it’s the fourth planet from the sun, has a thin atmosphere, two (probably) accidental moons, and a red surface. Not much to go on when I’m planning on throwing a bunch of people on it, right?

Granted, not many people know what living on Mars would be like, but still . . . I’m a perfectionist, remember? Thus far I’ve done the basic research, made up the most plausible situations I can, and left bracketed notes in my draft to remind myself to go back and consider the research later. But still, the questions linger: Will my story be plausible? Will I succeed at what I set out to do? How much should I know? And how do I find the logical answers to questions that probably have no answers?

How do you handle writing what you don’t know? How do you go about your research? Do you do it before or after you draft?

Book Giveaway! Win a Copy of Shadows Wake!

swfinalDo you like free books? (I mean, who doesn’t like winning free stuff?) Do you like stories with secrets? Stories with characters that resonate? Native American lore? Well then you’re in luck!

In four days, Robyn LaRue will give away five copies of Shadows Wake, a coming-of-age YA novel set in 1950s northern California with a supernatural twist.

All you have to do is click here and enter the giveaway. Two minutes of your time for the chance to win a great book!

What’s it about?

A Native American legend. A small town in the grip of a haunting secret . . .

Now that the old bear is dead, not even rumors of toxic gas can keep sixteen-year-old Lillian Pratt from exploring the abandoned mine.

Lillian and three classmates find themselves drawn to the mountain and the secrets it holds. But an ancient evil is awakening. A shadow is stretching over the town, plaguing the citizens with nightmares and fear.

In order to make sense of the town’s history as well as her own, Lillian must learn to trust her new friends, her first love, and confront her family’s past. Will she find the strength to overcome the darkness, or will she lose everything she’s come to love?

What are people saying?

“This novel is a coming of age story that leaves a reader well satisfied.”

“I have recommended this book as a read in my Facebook book club.”

“Good writing by a new and coming author.”

“Robyn LaRue has eloquently scripted Lillian’s journey . . .”

And if you’re a visual person, here’s the video trailer for it:

Monday Mayhem Agenda (15 September 2014)


15 September 2014 – 22 September 2014

I’m a bit late with planning this week’s to-do list, but I’ll go ahead and write it down here quickly:

  • Do another stylistic analysis of Betti Alver’s poems. Possibly search for a third poem. Probably should email my advisor.
  • Finish (start) my sampler story for Sarcastic Muse.
  • Promote Robyn’s give away. (Robyn’s having a give away for her novel, Shadows Wake. Click here to enter.)
  • Write a few pages for thesis or at least organize what I’ve already written.
  • Send my short story and poem out to chosen literary magazines (cover letters must be written).
  • Put together my editorial page for my website.
  • Read a novel. Or three.

Completed tasks from the past two weeks:

  • Finished and submitted Robyn’s developmental edit.
  • Read and took notes for thesis.
  • Read and loved Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.
  • Started learning Persian.

How are your goals coming along? Any speculative fiction or literary fiction novel recommendations?

The Freelance Editor Dilemma: Hiring a Good One

The Sarcastic Muse

Winter Bayne recently did a post about available freelance editors and kindly mentioned me. At this point, I’m well aware that writers have different views on hiring editors for their work. However, once you choose to find an editor, then some amount of research will inevitably be necessary.

So where can you find freelance editors?

These days, every writer and his mother seems to have an “editor” sign over the door, but are they trustworthy and capable?

The Freelance Editor Dilemme: Hiring a Good OneOne of the first places I’d start looking is the Editorial Freelancers Association. If an editor is remotely serious about editing, then the $145 a year membership fee is a price worth paying. In addition to offering editorial webinars and other continuing education classes, they have sample contracts, price ranges, and a wealth of other useful information. By finding an editor who has willingly paid that fee and invested in those services…

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3 Reasons to Think of Your Writing as Music

The Sarcastic Muse

“If … a poem remains predominantly writing, never coming alive to voice and to sounds as voiced, it will remain only a sketch of a work.” – Susan Stewart

3 Reasons to Think of Your Writing as MusicIf you think about it, the words we put down on the page are but symbols of the sounds we make via speech. In that sense, letters are representative of sounds, a cluster of letters forms a word, those words then form longer structures, and voilà, you have sentences and paragraphs and novels. Though your readers will not physically hear the sounds of the words you write, they will feel them.

That’s why, even if you’re writing something “simple” — even if you’re writing genre literature where the plot tends to (but certainly not always) take precedence over the use of language, the way you use words, if used well, will still pluck the strings of your reader.

So what does…

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