Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tags, Tags and More Tags!

What am I reading now?  Cress (Marissa Meyer)

Annnd. . . what do I think so far?  This is book #3 (Cinder and Scarlet are the first two books) and I think there is one more planned in this series. This book, like the two that came before, uses a fairy tale character in a science fiction novel. The main character is Rapunzelish.

Cress (short for Crescent) has been trapped on a satellite with only an occasional evil visitor. She was born on the Moon where most people have magical abilities, but she didn't. When parents have a "shell" baby, they can give it to the government to be destroyed.

Instead of being killed, she was made a slave. With incredible hacking abilities, she spies on the governments on Earth for Queen Lavana, who is planning to destroy the Earthens, recording military movement, technological advancements, and political weaknesses. But Cress has a secret, she also watches Earthen television, is entranced by the customs and social norms, and is interested in (obsessed with) one particular outlaw, who she is sure is just misunderstood because he really is a humanitarian and did all those illegal acts out of altruism.

The Earthens are nearing their own distraction, but Cress might just be the only one who can save them.

They're not what I thought they were.

Deanna and I are trying to improve the emotions and tension in our novels, but we're struggling. Maybe we got some help though...

Jean Kent is one of the authors of The Romance Writers' Phrase Book, with a critique partner, Candace Shelton. At the beginning of the book, Jean tells an experience where, after submitting another novel only to receive more form letter rejection, she caught a break from an editor who jotted a little note at the bottom of the letter, "You need more tags!"

Tags are phrases or short sentences that describe the emotional impact of words spoken.

I've been trying to learn this novel writing thing for a few years now and appreciate the advice and instruction so many have shared. But here was one piece of advice that seemed to be the opposite of what I've been hearing from the pulpit, so to speak. "Get rid of the adverbs. Agents, editors and publishers hate adverbs."

Except when you need them. 

So I decided to pull a stack of books from my library, take a look at a few authors I think write well and do a 2-page scan to see what they did. Do they use these little phrases to infuse emotional tension?
They're not all adverbs though there were many--I noticed a lot of "as if" (or a synonym of it), prepositional phrases, physical gestures and one character guessing what another character's actions or words meant.

If this sounds like something you think will help you as well, check out their book:

1 comment:

Renae Mackley said...

I loved the first two books in this series and want to get me hands on Cress.
Thank you for sharing this tip about tags. I guess I will start paying more attention to that to decipher what is too much or not enough. Thanks.