Tag Archives: drama

He Loves Blue Eyes

String ’em Up Syndrome

I have been line editing the first Clockpunk Wizard story I drafted eighteen years ago. I’m embarrassed with my findings.

Why didn’t anyone tell me?

This manuscript shares a problem with many indie stories I’ve read in recent years. The issue is with how to describe actions. My early Clockpunk Wizard manuscripts, and these other stories, suffer from String ’em Up Syndrome.

All Together Now

Here’s the problem. In life, things happen simultaneously. A cat purrs while we pet it. An evil villain chuckles while he leans over the helpless victim, flicking open a switch blade with a click (I’ll return to this awful sentence).

Actions Are Like Beads on a String

Activities in fiction happen one at a time. Yes, they must. Why? Because authors should help Gentle Reader keep things straight. Even if we fictionalized real-life events, and those events happened all at once, we must present them one at a time in our stories.

Think of it as an action (a beautiful bead) strung with a reaction (another bead). Let’s revisit the “A cat purrs while we pet it sentence and correct the String ’em Up Syndrome:

  • Jayne stroked the orange tabby cat. Garfield purred. Two sentences for the action/reaction pair show sequencing.
  • Garfield narrowed his eyes and bit Jayne. Two actions using “and.”
  • Jayne shrieked, then fled to the other end of the couch. Two actions with a comma and “then.”

Back to the Redundantly Evil Villain (bad grammar intended)

Back to “An evil villain chuckles while he leans over the helpless victim, flicking open a switch blade with a click.”

First, what’s redundant in this sentence? Evil villain. Aren’t they all? Let’s show he’s despicable with actions and dialogue. Second, we will correct the String ’em Up Syndrome along the way:

Mortimer leaned over the hog-tied Penelope. He chuckled. “You have lovely blue eyes, my darling. Think I’ll take one for my collection.” He teased a switch blade from his vest pocket. Flicked it open. It clicked.

Is Mortimer acting, and talking, like an evil villain? Well, I’m squirming, and I even wrote it. Look at the beautiful beads we strung: leaning/chuckling, small talk about blue eyes and hobbies, easing torture instruments from pockets, then flicking/clicking.

We fixed the sentence. Its awful writer’s craft no longer distracts Gentle Reader. The focus is now on Mortimer’s awful hobby. Still cringing? Good. My work here is done.

Review: Dance of the Goblins

Dance of the Goblins by Jaq D. Hawkins

May I have the pleasure of this goblin dance with you?

A chance encounter between humans searching for a missing man, and the goblins who dwell in the abandoned tunnels near the surface, stir long-seated distrust between the two races and threatens war.  During the fracas, the humans unwittingly capture Talla, a glamour-ridden female goblin, mistaking her for a human damsel in distress.  It is also the story of the long-time friendship between the elder goblin Haghuf and the human Count Anton, who cemented their long-time friendship with The Dance, which is the deep earth-magic binding these races.

This story examines the consequences of the human tendency to pollute their world, and the Earth’s periodic cleansing that drives humans into the deepest caves to escape the cataclysmic changes at the surface.  The cave-dweller humans have become goblins, and the few surviving humans at the surface recover and repopulate.  The story also has much to say of the consequences caused by closed-minded fanaticism.

But most importantly, I could not put the story down until I learned if the succubus Talla wooed and won the charming werewolf Anton.

Dance of the Goblins embodied all the delightful elements I adore in stories written by indie authors.  It had a fresh magical world, it scolds us about the negative aspects of the human condition but doesn’t preach, and the characters piqué my curiosity.  The clever story entwines goblin mythology with the events befalling Haghuf, Anton, and Talla.  As I read it, my feet tapped to the unheard, but still felt, heartbeat of The Dance.

Dance of the Goblins on Amazon

Dance of the Goblins on Smashwords

Dance of the Goblins on Goodreads

Jaq D. Hawkins website