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About 20 people from 3 states met July 13-16 for the 2017 Retreat for the Green River Writers. Kavanaugh Center, Crestwood, Kentucky.

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Narrative Non-Fiction Picture Books

These are non-fiction picture books written like a story, where the reader doesn’t what to expect next or how the story will end. The reader learns something new while enjoying the picture book.

Linear Stories for Picture Books

Unlike plot-driven stories, linear stories (AKA incident stories) are made up of a series of incidents flowing from one to the next, each incident having about the same weight/importance. The protagonist moves through the incidents without really changing or learning anything. So, linear stories tend to be about typical days in the protagonist’s life, rather than extraordinary days required for a plot. Linear stories are often bookended by a beginning (waking up, arriving at Grandma’s house, leaving for the beach) & an end (going to sleep, leaving Grandma’s, watching the sun set at the beach before going home) to create a satisfying structure. However, linear stories only work if they do something special. The language may be rhythmic & beautiful, the series of events surprising or absurd, or the incidents themselves infused with humor.

Fiction!

This is plot-driven and/or character-driven fiction with beginning/middle/end. Stories where the reader doesn’t know the stories will end. This is what I write!

 

My picture book, Spearfinger, is about to be released. It is definitely fiction.

Spearfinger, a witch, terrorizes the Cherokees of the Smoky Mountains. No one can stop her. A little boy named Chucha battles her. Can he discover her secrets? Can he put an end to her rampages? http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/charles-suddeth.php

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8 habits of great authors

(just gear your habits toward your genre/main character)

  1. Think Like your Main Character: If you’re a man writing about a woman, think like a woman. I.e. always be your POV character.
  2. Find the “Emotional Truth” of your character’s experiences: You must know your character’s past and motives & tie them in with others like them, because they will have similar problems, goals etc.
  3. A Good Pop-Culture Reference Goes a Long Way: Music, Stars, TV shows etc. (might use made-up names)
  4. Get Input From Real People: Co-writers, beta readers, critiquers, comments from people similar to your character
  5. Use Slang Words at Your Own Risk: slang mutates too quickly to use in print
  6. Keep It Moving: keep it simple & stay on the plot. I.e. KISS & RUN. (keep it simple stupid & run with the plot)
  7. It’s Okay to get Dark: No genre is off limits anymore.
  8. Find the Kernel of Hope: Even with a sad ending, leave a way out.
    Happy writing to you 

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Ten Louisville Places To Write About (And Visit)

  1. Why they call Louisville Derby City: Visit the Kentucky Derby! Celebrities, wild & friendly crowds, women in fancy Derby Hats, music, wagering, burgoo (fiery, three-meat stew), & mint juleps. All sorts of horse & betting stories. Did I mention horses?
  2. Boats are places: The Belle of Louisville is over 100 years old, the oldest paddlewheel steamboat in the country. Wharf, steamboat explosions, lots of stories. Did I mention romantic?
  3. Really big water: The Ohio River is a mile wide and my stories sometimes venture across to Hoosierville (aka Indiana). Stand on the banks & watch anything from sailboats to towboats seemingly a mile long. Did I mention bridges? Bunches of them.
  4. How about a sample? A few miles southwest is Fort Knox, where the U.S. stores gold. You can tour the Army base, but not the Gold Depository. They don’t give out samples, but you can always ask. Good story: rumor has it the gold vanished years ago.
  5. Just a horse race? The Kentucky Derby Festival runs 2 full weeks of celebrating. And balloons, steamboats, rodents (you read correctly), human runners, & other things race for 2 weeks before the race. Did I forget non-stop partying & tales of partying?
  6. Some old rocks: The Falls of the Ohio River have been dammed off at the Falls of the Ohio State Park to expose one of the largest Devonian fossil beds in the world. Lots of blue herons and other waterfowl can also be viewed. Did I forget to mention it’s perfect for dam puns? Also good for dinosaur stories.
  7. Take me out to the ball game: Strange but true—Louisville Slugger is made in Louisville. At the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum, you can get your Major League bat made & engraved with your name. My stories have violence, but no bats as weapons, or do they? I won’t tell.
  8. Do you dare? Reputed to be the most haunted placesin the country, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a TB hospital that closed in 1962, after thousands of people died. It’s been featured on several TV programs. Do you have the courage to tour? I don’t. Did I forget to tell you I’m chicken? Ghost stories, here we come.
  9. Under twenty-one? Skip to number Ten: The Kentucky Bourbon Trail covers much of Kentucky, but distilleries near Louisville or a few miles south in Bardstown hold tours & have gift shops. I included an abandoned distillery in Dream Flyer and in Lies & Deceptions. Do I dare mention samples?
  10. The Pitter-patter of really heavy feet: You can’t ride racehorses, but you can ride carriages downtown. Or drive a few miles east to Oldham County and Shelby County and visit their American Saddlebred, Thoroughbred, and Arabian horse farms. Not only can you tour, you can take riding lessons. Then maybe I’ll see you riding in the Kentucky Derby. Did I forget to mention Churchill Downs? That’s where the Derby is.
    Until we meet again, happy writing to you.

 

 

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Comma comas

Comma-tose

The major types of commas that writers need:

  1. Clause independence: After a coordinating conjunction that links 2 independent clauses. E.g. I ate the whole pizza, and my wife never let me forget it.
  2. Separation anxiety: Used for setting off a parenthetical element from the rest of the sentence. E.g. George Washington, the first president, was also a general.
  3. Serious about series: Separating the elements of a series. E.g. I like pizza, my wife, and George Washington. (I included an Oxford comma, the comma before “and”)
  4. Speaking of: Commas are need for dialogue and quotes. E.g. “I like pizza,” I said.
  5. Omissions: Using commas to indicate omitted words. E.g. I ate the first pizza quickly, the second pizza less quickly. (omitted “I ate”)
  6. Please repeat: using commas between repeated words. E.g. Whatever you do, do well.

    Commas have many other uses, so know when to use them and when not to. Until we meet again, happy writing to you.

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Write that paragraph!

Paragraph basics

A paragraph is a series of linked sentences of no more than 200 words. One idea per paragraph.

Especially in non-fiction, the start of a paragraph should link with the preceding paragraph and introduce the paragraph’s idea.

 

Change paragraphs:

With a new character

When the setting shifts

For a new event

For a new idea

When a different character speaks

Frequent time shifts

The camera shifts (the POV goes deeper or shallower)

 

Especially in non-fiction, the end of a paragraph should refer to the paragraph’s opening sentence and contain a transition to the next paragraph so that your writing flows.

 

3 types of paragraphs:

Narrative: Tells about a specific scene of event

Descriptive: Provides a detailed description of one subject

Expository: Provides information

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Arrogance for Writers

I try to be modest, and I don’t believe in bragging. But I make an exception for writers:

Have the arrogance to start your novel. Few people start one. You must believe in yourself and your storyline. Without your story, the world will lose a valuable story.

 

Have the arrogance to finish your novel. Even fewer see it to completion. You must believe it is worth finishing and presenting to the world.

 

Have the arrogance to edit it and hone it. Far fewer people have the courage to do this. You must believe it is worth the effort.

 

Have the arrogance to show it to critique groups and beta readers. . You must believe that is worthy of attention and development.

 

Have the arrogance to think that other people will want to read your novel. Why else have you gotten this far?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that editors and agents will want to read your manuscript. Otherwise, why bother to show it to them?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that a publisher will want to publish your manuscript. Otherwise, why did you send it to editors and agents?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that people will want to buy and read your novel. Otherwise, why bother going to book signings, book fairs, and promoting your book in other ways?

 

Have the arrogance to believe that reviewers and critics will like your novel. Otherwise, you will show it to no one.

 

Have the arrogance that your novel will make the world a better place. Why did you write to begin with?

spearfinger-cover-test-draft

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