Write with Meaning

This year I had gotten into listening to podcasts, though I don’t listen on a consistent basis. One of the shows I like is called Typecast, A Podcast About Writing, presented by Kevin Pang.

The particular podcast (episode 9) I’m mentioning here features Steve Padilla, a LA Times editor and writing coach. Editors of course are very important allies in your writing (though often I’m sure writers feel the relationship is more adversarial) and Mr. Padilla discusses his best tips for sharpening your writing.

One theme that he discusses throughout is the importance of meaning. In fact, Mr. Padilla argues that meaning is the most important element of writing.

“You should be obsessing about what you’re going to say, not how you’re going to say it.”

At one point in the podcast, Mr. Padilla reinforces a lesson that I have kept with me since college. I kick myself for not keeping the story the professor had us examine, so I can’t attribute it and I must paraphrase. It was a short story that opened with the female protagonist taking a bath and experiencing a heart attack. “It was my heart, it stopped.” Something like that. The professor called attention to how the sentence ended with the word “stopped.” Sentences can be structured in many ways, so choose the one that gives the most impact to your readers.

Mr. Padilla argues that simple rewording can transform a sentence from acceptable to extraordinary. “Put the best stuff at the end.”

This ties in with his point about meaning. Meaning will help shape your sentences so that you can determine what to emphasize. And a strong end will propel you into the next sentence. If you are stuck on a sentence, it’s because the previous sentence wasn’t strong enough.

What do you think? What writing podcasts do you recommend?

Finished The Devil’s Company

I really enjoyed this book and I am in awe (read: jealous) of how expertly author David Liss places the reader right beside the main character in eighteenth century London. Rich detail, natural dialogue, compelling characters and intricate plots all make for a delightful read. I will certainly pick up another Benjamin Weaver tale.

Generally What the Novel Is About

As I await word from the critique group on the novel, I’ll share what it’s about. I won’t get into the specifics of the novel as I’ll save that for posts concerning the query letter I am now working on.

It’s about characters, most of whom are vampires, set in the real world, which is largely unaware of their true existence. What I’m attempting to do with the story (the first in a series, I hope) is get back to the fundamentals of the genre and go my own way. Vampires for adults (adult in mature themes, not explicit scenes), as I phrase it these days.

Since childhood, I have read countless vampire novels and only enjoyed a handful. (Lately, I’m finding better stories in the short fiction form.) Generally, so many seem to miss great opportunities to explore this powerful literary figure, the vampire. In future posts, I’ll cover more on the specific elements I take issue with.

So I’m writing stories for myself that I hope will appeal to many. Among the things I am exploring is how becoming a vampire changes a person and how it affects those around him or her. In my story vampires had chosen their new existence rather than been forced into it. For me a price must be paid, so what did each of the characters lose in becoming undead? What was worth their humanity? Did they get what they want or not?

Do you read vampires novels and if so, which ones did you most enjoy and why? Mine are here.