Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Readers Guide to Author's Jargon 16

Slipping and Sliding


a scene set out of sequence in the past.


a scene set out of sequence in the future.


a section that suddenly thrusts the reader into the back-story, sometimes for a paragraph and sometimes for a longer stretch. (In Stephen King's Wizard and Glass, for example, the slip-back is over 400 pages).


a brief glimpse at the future, usually at the end of a chapter. For example, He left the apartment. He would never see it again.


like a triple lindy, this is a difficult progression of slipping further and further into the backstory, sometimes three or four layers deep, and climbing back out. It's difficult (I've done it, and hopefully well). King's most famous double slip back is in The Gunslinger, where he slips back twice in the story before regaining the current timeline.

Edward C. Patterson

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 15

square dance POV

a neat scenic structure, best used for exposition, where a scene or chapter is devided into three parts, beginning in one character's point of view and ending in anothers. The middle section is POV neutral (not an easy thing to master), but the effect is like watching a wave hit the shore.

Edward C. Patterson

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 14


a novel where the characters are shipwrecked or marooned on a deserted place (or Island), from Robinson Crusoe. Examples, Swiss Family Robinson, Mysterious Island, Off on a Comet, Typee.

Edward C. Patterson

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 13

Tags - you're IT

dialog tag or active dialog tag - the he said/she said business.active dialog tag - when the noun or pronoun is the the subject of the clause. Nelson said. Mary said. He said/she said. It is the most commonly used and acceptable dialog tag.

passive dialog tag - when the noun or pronoun is the object in the clause. Said Nelson. Said Mary. Said he, said she. Most common in Youth books - less so in mainstream fiction, although not uncommon in older 19th Century works. Because it is used in YA genres (Harry Potter comes to mind), some traditional acquisition editors will reject adult works that are passively tagged.

unvoiced dialog tag - commonly, this is the word said, which, although written, falls into white noise and is unvoiced by the reader. Writers are cautioned when using any other word to replace it.

voiced dialog tag - any verb in a tag that expresses a sound or verbiage - he stammered, she yelped, Mary chuckled. Misaligned tags in this category are such things as He smirked or she careened - physical attributes beyond verbalization.

inferred dialog tag - the omission of a dialog tag (unwritten as well as unvoiced), because the reader can infer who is speaking by tonality, dual participation or content.

revoiced dialog tag - the omission of dialog tags to the exclusion of all other text types, so that their omission is noticed by the reader. It intensifies the dialog, makes it claustrophobic and, when done well, has a powerful emotional effect.

adverbial dialog tag (the modified tag) - a dialog tag that includes a tonal adverb. He said quickly. Mary said, sweetly. Nelson said, sourly. These are sometimes necessary, but point to an author's lack of character and mood development, relying on adjectival adverbs. Some mentors call it lazy writing.

Swifties (a derisive name for a special breed of adverbial dialog tags) - Derived from the Tom Swift novels, a long standing joke whereby the adverb is created to underscore the action or environment. "I'm riding as hard as I can," he said from the saddle callously. "I'm on fire," Mary said alarmingly. etc. etc. In fact, there's a game that authors play called Swifties to see who can make up the most ridiculous one. In every one of my novels (as an Easter Egg, and to annoy my editor), I include at least one Swifty. Some day I might run a contest for readers to find them.

Well, I'm all tagged out.

Edward C. Patterson

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 12


An incomplete sentence (sure to get you a D in Miss Bartlestein's English class), is an encouraged technique in the creative writing world, although it sometimes drives grammarians to drink (hemlock, I hope). This is removing the verb from the sentence, thus making it an incomplete sentence. It is most effective with single words and needs to be used judiciously. It is particularly helpful in turning passive measures into active measures by eliminating stative verbs, such as is and was. Creative minds treat fragments as an opportunity to use words poetically - that is, for the sound and image quality, thus getting quite a bang for their money. Fragments can also be used as an intensifier for hastening the pace. Speed it up. <---- fragment. (the larch). <----- another fragment.

Edward C. Patterson

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Reader's Guider to Author's Jargon 11


the last paragraph of a chapter, when the author abandons the main point of view (POV) in favor of another POV. The effect is a palate cleanser and also reveals elements that the POV character doesn't see. It can be disorienting to the reader if not done with care, and should probably be used sparaingly and only at the end of a chapter or section. The Chinese novel tradition of the Yuan and Ming dynasties use it constantly, often turning Western readers off as it can jettison them out of the story.

Edward C. Patterson

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 10


A word or phrase that repeats throughout the work, but each time it picks up new meaning or additional baggage, so that when it is used at a key point, it has a viseral effect on the reader. (Run for the Hankies). A good example is from the film Ghost, (many authorial techniques come from or lend themselves to cinematography), the word ditto is an echo, which by the time it's delivered at the climax point, packs a powerful emotional whallop. My favorite echo is from the 1940's tearjerker Imitation of Life (often called the tear-jerker of the century). There the echo is a phrase (I kid you not) I want my ducky. That unlikely bit of echoing send millions into post-theater trauma. I've used such words as clot and Wham! Bam! Boom! as echos and, my favorite, I am your Rachel in Turning Idolater.

Edward C. Patterson

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 9

mentorial homage

A phrase or reference borrowed from the author's mentor, slipped in as an easter egg somewhere in the manuscript as a homage to that mentor. An example, from my own work - In one novel I have a Chapter called The Battle of the Somme. The chapter is not about the Battle of the Somme. In fact, it describes going through the Infiltration Course. However, the Battle reference is not only metaphoric, it's a mentorial homage to Tolkien, who fought and began writing The Lord of the Rings during the Battle of the Somme. (And for the Tolkien scholars out there, it wasn't actually LOTR, but The Last Cottage, which featured beginning of the Rivendell scenes). King does similar things all throughout The Dark Tower Series.

Edward C. Patterson

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 8

temporal slip

A technique to begin a chapter by slipping back in the second paragaph by a few moments and then playing catch-up. Works best with a dialog statement. "That's terribly loud, you know," Hildegard said. Then in the next sentence. He had been in the quiet bathroom and decided to take a nap, but the noise upstairs was annoying. etc.etc.etc.etc. Then, "That's terribly loud, you know. You'll be deaf before you're twenty."

Edward C. Patterson

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 7

Hanging a lantern

This is the act of drawing the readers attention to a logic lapse (eventhough the author may not correct it), before the reader gets a chance to find it and lessen their credibility in the story. Such lapses are essential for pace and exposition and, if corrected, would tear the fabric of the work. Therefore, we do not ignore them, but cover them up in plain sight. The term comes from the silent movie days when pieces of the set were incongruously in sight. The director would yell, Hang a lantern on it.

Edward C. Patterson

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 6

Sequel or Sequeling

NOT a second book in a series (a misnomer), but a section, usually at the beginning of a chapter when a character reviews the situation, generally from the previous chapter. Such reviews in situ would soften the effect of the action, but the absence of reaction from the character shallows both character development and the significance of the action.

Edward C. Patterson

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 5

Jimeny Cricketing

Having the point of view character hear the words of their mentor during a sequel. Almost like bringing the reader onto the character's left shoulder (or right according to your political persuasion).

Edward C. Patterson

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 4

comma roulade

The defiance of the chain noun comma rule (he ate pancakes, eggs and tomatillo salad) by substituting a conjunction, such as and or or. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. An excellent way to heighten reader tension, and followed by a throwaway word, brings things to a screeching halt. It can be used with clauses also. However, if the clause is too long, the effect is dissipated, i.e. Virginia Woolf's never ending sentences.

Edward C. Patterson

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 3


a sentence or paragraph at the end of a section or chapter that leaves the reader at rest, happy or even sublime.

Edward C. Patterson

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 2

Roman a clef or Roman a cle

A novelized memoir. Technically (from the French) a romance with a key. A true life story veiled in fiction.

Edward C. Patterson

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reader's Guide to Author's Jargon 1

In Media Res - This is when a story begins in the middle of an action. Nice effect, because it sweeps the reader into a mood of immediacy - sort of getting on the roller coaster as it makes its first drop and then worrying about who's in the car when the ride stops. It's a favorite movie opening mode.

Friday, August 6, 2010

What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I am currently working on the fourth installment of The Jade Owl Lagacy series, a big tome entitled The People’s Treasure. I have also started revisions on a novel called The Road to Grafenwöhr, a gothic mash-up of Jane Austen and Stephen King. Later in the year, I will move forward with the third book in the Southern Swallow series (Book 3 of 5) entitled Swan Cloud. I have been working on this series for 37 years, since my college days as a Sinologist (that’s not a Doctor of Sinus Headaches, but a specialist in Chinese History and Culture). I currently have ten works in progress for release in 2010-2013. It takes a few years for anything worthwhile to gel.

Edward C. Patterson - Interviewed