Tag Archives: The Art of Writing

Waiting for My Next Book

Image result for images of the silver trumpet by lee duigon

Still waiting for The Silver Trumpet to be published, I’m also waiting for the spark of an idea that will start me on my next book. I can’t do anything until God gives me that. And anyway, it’s been too cold for me to sit outside and write.

Between the two projects is The Temptation, Book No. 11 in the Bell Mountain series, all written but still being edited. I purposely left some loose ends in The Temptation to be taken up in the next book–an invasion by a particularly fierce and unpleasant nation from the south, and a project by Lord Orth that could easily get him killed–but I have yet to be given that spark, that scene, that title, or that new character that’ll get the ball rolling.

It’s hard to wait. Once I have a book started, it’ll soothe me, it’ll occupy my mind, and it’s the work that I love best. But there’s no alternative: I just have to wait until the Lord says “Go.” I’ve relied on Him this far: no stopping now.


I’ve Just Read My Book

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Spring is coming, unless those pesky bankers stop it, and I want to be ready to write when it gets here. But before I can do that, I have to revisit the books I’ve already written.

So first I read The Temptation, which will be No. 11 in the Bell Mountain series when it gets published sometime next year, and assuaged my fears that there might be something wrong with it. It’s a writer thing: we all get cold feet, somewhere along the way to publication.

Having done that, it’s time to get back with Jack and Ellayne and follow them, once again, up Bell Mountain. And maybe soon we’ll have The Silver Trumpet, I have no idea what’s taking it so long to get printed. After that, the other eight books in the series.

I do this to immerse myself in the fantasy world depicted in the books. Before I can write about it any more, I have to see it, hear it, feel it, smell it: because if I can’t, the reader won’t be able to, either.

So why is No. 6, The Palace, serving to illustrate this post?

Mostly because it has only three customer reviews on amazon and has lagged way behind the others. I can’t imagine why. Artist Kirk DouPonce used a real kid to model for Jack climbing up the extremely high wall of the Palace in Obann, and I wouldn’t like that boy to think he did it for nothing. What boy–Jack or the model? Both of ’em, of course. Jack’s human fly act deserves your support!


In Defense of TV… Old TV

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Jon Hall (left) starred as “Ramar of the Jungle”

Some of you, like me, don’t watch television anymore, largely because it’s gone so crappy. You don’t even have a television set. And you reacted strongly to “Beauty Beyond Bones” watching–and blaming herself for watching–the unbelievably cheap and sleazy denouement of a popular “reality” show.

Like you, I don’t watch such bilge. But I was part of the first generation of Americans that grew up with television, and TV was a big part of my childhood. I thank God that the kind of TV we have today wasn’t! And thanks to the Internet, I can no revisit a lot of those great old shows, commercial-free.

I have fond memories of many of those shows. Even more, I learned a lot from them about the art of storytelling, which now I have the honor to perform in the service of the Lord.

Man, when I was eight years old, nothing turned me on like Ramar of the Jungle! Later on in my childhood I moved on to Wagon Train, Rawhide, Route 66, etc. But it was Ramar that set my mind on fire and introduced me to techniques of storytelling which I use today. They had only half an hour, minus time lost to commercials, to tell the story of an adventure, with beginning, middle, and end, create coherent characters and put them through their paces in a way that made sense, and still devote some time to immersing the viewer in the exotic African setting. It was a big job, but week after week, they did it.

OK, even old TV had its share of (shall we put it kindly?) faults. Grandma’s soap operas, for instance. Twilight Zone sneakily pushing atheism. Queen for a Day. I remember when the first kid in our third-grade class got color TV and invited the whole class to his house to watch Howdy Doody one Saturday morning. We were treated to an unearthly mixture of greens and reds in seldom-seen tones: color TV still had a ways to go.

So I grew up with television before it entered its current Gold Age of Sleaze. It helped teach me the kind of work I do today. And when I play an old Columbo episode from 40 years ago, I like it!


Oops!

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So I’m reading The Temptation today, so I can remember the story that I told… and imagine my confusion when suddenly there’s a brand-new character in it, talking and interacting with the other characters–and no indication how she got there.

Well, okay, I know who she is and why she’s there, but no one else will. At first I thought I had somehow dropped a scene. Uh, no–more like a whole chapter. Chapter VII, to wit. Like what is this–Oy, Rodney? But yeah, Chapter VII’s missing.

I cannot explain why the chapter isn’t there. Just saying I forgot to type it in doesn’t really answer the question. And nobody caught it, first time around.

Happily the chapter is still on my hand-written legal pad, so I can type it up and plug it in. Now that I’ve done that, the book makes sense again.

But suddenly a thought: “Hey, wouldn’t that make a cool premise for a story? A writer finds a character in his book that he never thought of before–and he’s sure he didn’t put her in…”


My Next Book

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It’s been cold today, and we have a major snowstorm forecast for tomorrow, but warmer weather’s coming; and when it gets here, I want to be in trim to write my next Bell Mountain book. All I need is a plot, a title, and about 70,000 words of story.

First, though, I’ve got to read The Temptation–because I don’t remember what’s in it! You work very intensely on a book, and when you finally finish it, you hear a loud “Whoooosh!” as it all rushes out of your head. A few months later, it’s like you never wrote it: speaking only for myself, of course. I did leave several story lines that will have to be picked up. That’s somewhere to start, until the Lord gives me more to work with.

Yes, I know The Silver Trumpet (No. 10 in the series) comes before The Temptation, but I’m still waiting to get it from the printers. So for the time being I’ll devote my full attention to The Temptation. Ever since I lost 18 members of Lord Reesh’s personal staff between The Thunder King (No. 3) and The Last Banquet, I have had a dread of making an even bigger error. We do have Cathy, our great copy editor, to catch the ones that get away from me; but I’d rather not muff it in the first place.

“Why,” I pretend I hear you ask, “have you illustrated this post with a picture of The Palace? That’s Book No. 6. It doesn’t fit in here.”

Well, it’s only because The Palace, for some unfathomable reason, continues to lag behind the rest of the series and I would love to drum up some readership for it. And some customer reviews on amazon.com. Trust me: you don’t want to miss King Ryons’ hunt for the white doe, or Coronation Day in Obann.

Anyhow, I’ve started reading The Temptation and have already assuaged my fear that it might not measure up. I think it does.

But first we gotta get The Silver Trumpet printed!


Making Fantasy Real (Sort Of)

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(As long as my head’s still full of Novocain, I might as well just keep on writing.)

The girl in the boat is named Gurun. She originated as the central character in a dream I had one night. I made her a character in my books; and then cover artist Kirk DouPonce brought her to life. Almost alarmingly so! He painted her exactly as I saw her, first in a dream, then in my mind’s eye as I wrote about her. I don’t know how he does that.

People ask me how real the world of my fantasy novels is to me, its creator. “Unknowable” was wondering about that today. Well, Gurun seems real to me; and she was also real to Kirk.

I have to be able to “see” it and “hear” it as if it were a movie playing in my head; that if I don’t, I can’t write it. In that sense it’s real to me. While I’m writing it, I have to be, as it were, in the scene I’m writing about. As if I were standing there in person, watching and listening. I don’t imagine this comes to any writer except with many years of practice and literally by the grace of God: it is a gift of God, so I can’t brag about it. I’m grateful He has allowed me to do this!

I can hardly wait to see what ideas He’ll give me for the next book.

So yes, in a way, it is like really being there. I lose track of the time, once I really get going.

And then I close the legal pad and put down my pen, and I’m back in New Jersey.


‘When to Kill Off Your Characters’ (2014)

This is always provided Lord Reesh doesn’t take revenge on me today by having me murdered during surgery. That’s how they got rid of Lenin’s widow, you know. You could look it up–under “Better Living Through Communism.”

https://leeduigon.com/2014/09/09/when-to-kill-off-your-characters/


Stressful Dreams

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Did you ever have one of those dreams in which you’ve committed a murder and everybody’s chasing you? Note: the murder was already committed when the dream started, it’s a fait accompli and you’re just plain stuck with it.

I had one of those last night, with the unusual twist that I did not, in fact, commit the murder, I was innocent–but I was running around with the victim’s blood-stained clothing in my hands (highly incriminating!) and unsuccessfully trying to get rid of it. I was running through the woods and swamps, trying to find a hiding place, but I kept winding up in people’s  back yards in my old neighborhood.

File it away for use in a future book.

I think I need to be getting back to novel-writing soon. Like as soon as I get the idea for the next book. But if you’re gonna have vividly alarming dreams, you might as well try to get some use of them.


‘My Favorite Authors’ (2011)

Anytime you make a list, you always discover later that you should’ve added this or that, etc.

I try to learn more about the art of storytelling from every author that I read. My list really should have included Walter R. Brooks, Ross MacDonald, Ring Lardner, Sir Thomas Malory–and there I go again. Maybe I should just leave lists alone.

(Mark Twain, H.R.F. Keating, Eiji Yoshikawa [not showing off: I really do like him], Dorothy L. Sayres—now cut that out!)

https://leeduigon.com/2011/07/05/my-favorite-authors/


‘Does It Matter if Christian Fiction is Badly Written?’ (2015)

There isn’t all that much “Christian fantasy” out there, so each badly-written book hurts the market that much more.

BTW, this wasn’t the first time I suggested turning Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son into a novel. Come to think of it, you could do that with any number of His parables. Only Jesus Our Lord, though, could pack so much meaning into so little space.

https://leeduigon.com/2015/07/02/does-it-matter-if-christian-fiction-is-badly-written/


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