Writing Time, Part 70. Great Starts Via Tone and Setting

summer2 Establishing tone and setting right off is a good way to get point of view quickly and firmly established. It’s not the only way to begin—we certainly read successful starts composed of rants, reflections, and resonant difficulties . But, it might be worth our while to examine some excellent examples of authors establishing their authority with POV through tone and setting.

“A big noisy wind out of the northeast, full of a February chill, herded the tourists off the afternoon beach, driving them to cover, complaining bitterly.”

-The Quick Red Fox, John D MacDonald 

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot.”

-Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt 

“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Sometimes, if a writer is dissatisfied with the start, it may be worthwhile to dig about the first pages of the work, where lines like these may be lurking unnoticed, and try one of them as line one of the tale.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseYour amazing ending complements your story beautifully. You saw it from the start. Your Writing Muse #amwriting @pulpliterature

-The Quick Red Fox, John D MacDonald

-Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt

Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex









Jonathan, Heinlein, Morpurgo, Wodehouse, Joan Voight Summer Queen




Brainbox Toolkits


Internet sites talk about writers’ toolkits as if they were outside equipment, but our toolboxes are entirely inside our minds. We work in notebooks and computers, but if we had neither, we could still tell stories to listeners gathered around a campfire.

Writing is making something out of nothing but spirit and brainpower. We have to take care of our brains.

To take care of our brains:

We need to walk, because walking drives body and mind and enhances creative powers.

We need to sleep well, and beyond this we must rest our minds by thinking in ways that are different making decisions and creating stories.

When we’re doing something entirely different, like enjoying friends over a meal for example,  we need to laugh and talk and not worry about wasting time.

And, while we’re eating, feed our minds with whole foods and proper fats, remembering that our guts are sparkling with neurons.


“It’s brain,” I said; “pure brain! What do you do to get like that, Jeeves? I believe you must eat a lot of fish, or something. Do you eat a lot of fish, Jeeves?” – PG Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves.

Your use of the senses in your writing is brilliant– puts the reader into your point-of-view character’s skin




Hard work

Respect our minds like a craftsman respects his toolcase.



Making the Most of Drafting Hours


Loving the work saves writers time. When we love an activity, we prepare for it. That’s a powerful practice for those of us working to create a writing career within a full-time life.


I love my drafting time like I love skiing, and If I know I’m going to be skiing this weekend, I’ll think about it through the week, with pleasant anticipation. I’ll be ready. I’m not about to waste my skiing hours looking for my boots, or my drafting hours writing without direction.


Time to do what we truly love is not time we’re likely to approach with worry or distress.

Viewing the writing hours ahead with a relaxed mindset serves us well.


Your intense focus as you outline & draft, serves your #writing career well. #writingtips Your Writing Muse #amwriting @pulpliterature




It’s hard to give up the guilty pleasures. Because, guilty pleasures are a way to let go of strictures and live free, as a our inner instincts and Star Trek teaches us to do, kind of dancing just for fun. But we don’t want to that guy, that girl, who has the tv on all the time, even metaphorically.


When we’re excited about something new in our lives, we have no problem identifying what needs to go to make room for it.

-gf who didn’t want to miss her shows for the guy, didn’t really like him; found a fab guy


Your intense focus as you outline & draft, serves your #writing career well. #writingtips Your Writing Muse #amwriting @pulpliterature




Writers Block Busting


As a mystery writer, I love misdirection, because it sets me to investigating. Quick and unhelpful answers to writing questions are some of my favourite black boxes.


The knee jerk answer we all get when we ask “Why am I stuck?” is “Writers’ block”. Litmus test on this answer: Quick? Sure. Unhelpful? Totally. So why do we accept this answer? I’ll tell you why some of us accept it, it’s because if we have writers’ block then that’s proof we’re actually writers. So, once we agree we really are writers, just as we have always wished to be, let’s deal with the serious issue of being stuck.


If we’re stuck, it’s like being stuck in any aspect of our lives that is getting us down. It means we don’t have excellent goals to keep us interested, excited, and on track. In writing, goals mean outlining. So, when brainpages adhere one to the other, one way to get unstuck is

  1. Procure a timer
  2. Set the timer for 5 minutes
  3. Outline the beginning, middle, and end of your story for 1 character (I use the story evolution page from the brilliant First Draft in 30 Days : A Novel Writer’s System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript(Paperback) – 2005 Edition
    by Karen Wiesner
    Link: http://a.co/7R5eWtg


Repeat as necessary, for more characters, until the writing mind is raring to go.

In order to avoid getting stuck at all, outlining this way in odd 5 or 10 minute parcels of time during the week works wonders.


I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week.



You work hard to give your best to the world of readers. We are most grateful. Your Writing Muse #amwriting @pulpliterature


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