Don and Annie Hit the Mark: Dialog

Dialog decoration       Don McQuinn and I have mused about fiction techniques and writing practices since some time in the last century, usually in a Seattle watering hole or on Don’s porch, with a view of Puget Sound. This new series shares our conversations. Our discussion of dialog was over lunch at The Mark in Burien.
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Curious Incident of the Cuckoo in the…

Irresistibly curious, I’m reading The Cuckoo’s Calling–not so that you don’t have to, because it’s actually a good British detective mystery (of which I’m a fan).

The only criticism I’d make is that the first 25 pages would not have made it over the transom in a U.S. publishing company, but from there, the book is more than just a little bit good. The psychologizing of characters is quite good–not as good as Denise Mina, but there might be a potential for the writer to get that good over time.

I’m just about to hit the mid-point plot twist (can’t hardly wait!), but paused when a new clue appeared: the sister-in-law of an attorney revealed confidential information learned from his family-law practice. Galbraith/Rowling has his/her own personal series of unfortunate coincidences–this time, fiction foreshadowed life.

Also, the publisher did a good job on the ebook formatting, and is not charging hardbound prices. Too bad, however, that the U.S. cover art sucks. Wish it were possible for the reader to choose the British cover. At least when my Kindle is in hand, you can’t see the bad cover of the book I’m reading.
— Annie Pearson

A Series of Unfortunate Coincidences

I’m finishing proofs and approving cover art and copy for two books in the new Rain City Comedy of Manners series (coming soon from Jugum Press).

These books keep running into a series of real-world coincidences. Some examples:

The first backstory I planned for the cyberthriller The Grrrl of Limberlost seemed unique and evocative. I was 20% into the text when my office neighbor in Building 27 sat in my visitor chair distressed, and told a horrifying story of what was happening to his family.

Which was a 1:1 fit against my story premise.
So, I had to abandon that backstory. Distressed, I abandoned that manuscript for a while. It took me till last fall to return to this story, reset the backstory, and finish the book.

Another example: my clever name for a documentary described on the first page of The Grrrl of Limberlost was “My Life as a Chechnyan Dog.” I was nearly ready one Monday morning to hand the Limberlost manuscript to my copy editor Liz, when the news cycle about the Boston Marathon bombing began. Since my daughter works near the blast zone, I was distracted for several days, like the rest of the U.S.

When I came back to prep the copy handoff, I realized “Chechnya” had to go since it resonated inappropriately. An hour spent in an online atlas led to a substitution: “My Life as a Chisinau Dog.”

I’m crossing my fingers that Chisinau doesn’t figure in a controversy or catastrophe by the time The Grrrl from Limberlost is published.

Two days ago I was writing jacket copy for the second book, Nine Volt Heart. The original premise for the story was: could Bruce Springsteen ever have a love affair without asking his beloved to sign an NDA after he appeared on the cover of Time magazine?

So I started my jacket hook from that premise, dropping Bruce’s name. Also, who reads Time magazine anymore? So I substituted Rolling Stone, and pondered how close I could trespass on the song by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show.

By the time I paused my work to read that day’s fresh online news, the cover of Rolling Stone had wandered into Chechnya territory—creating irrelevant reverberations for Limberlost by reprinting the insipid face of the Marathon bomber.

I can’t substitute Spin or No Depression—not enough readers would recognize those names to create resonance. CREEM and Crawdaddy died, and three-quarters of the people alive today never heard of them. Billboard isn’t relevant for what I want to capture. Only Rolling Stone works—which is why the Jakar picture spawned controversy.

So, Rolling Stone stays in the Nine Volt hook:

Can you find true love without a non-disclosure agreement after your picture is on the cover of Rolling Stone?

See the current Rain City Comedy of Manners series blurbs to read the blurbs. Crossing my fingers again in hopes that I’ve removed unfortunate coincidences from the books’ text and blurbs.

Or maybe in an SEO world, coincidence is good fortune.
— Annie Pearson