- by Judy Griffith Gill
Information- This is like Exposition, but more friendly and usually less crowded, though you still have to watch out for nasty men lurking in wooded areas wearing raincoats. Whaddya mean, that’s a dangling modifier? I know of lots of wooded areas that wear raincoats.
Italics- They drink red wine and eat garlic and are (reputedly) among the best lovers in the world if they brush, floss and rinse so you can get close enough for more than a quick air-kiss. Find yourself one, lie back and enjoy, then you’ll really have something to write about, probably with such intensity you’ll want to use a few words in that kind of slanty type-face that writers use for emphasis. e.g. “Mario…Oh, Mario!” (Oops! I just realized I was talking about Italian lovers, there. Shows you where my mind is. I really meant Italics.) To achieve that type-face in the pages of your book, underline the words, as above, in your manuscript, then by some magical process known only to those in the upper echelons of the publishing industry, the underline will transmogrify to slanty type-face. Or, you can simply use slanty-face type, otherwise known as Italics, right in your manuscript. Unless your editor yells at you for doing so. I’ve only ever had one do so and that was years ago.
Intimacy- Oooh, well, you want to know about that, you just hie yourself downtown to one of those hotels that has, since 1986, suffered a setback and now charges only $8.00 an hour and has one real, working toilet on each floor plus a whole bunch of nasty little men in raincoats. Not! Intimacy is the meeting of minds and hearts of two People. The ability to discuss very private subjects together, to share inner feelings without fear of ridicule is a form of intimacy. Intimacy can lead to sex, but sex alone probably never leads to true intimacy.
Jong, Erica- If you’re old enough to remember her book, Fear of Flying, buy it for some male person near and dear to you just to watch the delightfully horrified reaction when he reads it-or possibly chucks it into the Mediterranean as did the husband of a friend of mine in utter disgust. “Women don’t even think like that, let alone act and talk like that!” The guy doesn’t hang out in women’s restrooms. And remember to pronounce her name Jong, not Yong, or you risk showing your ignorance of really important literary matters. Her husband is/was Chinese and she-the sweet, old-fashioned girl-took his name, which doesn’t require the European pronunciation some folks gave the initial J.
Justification- Writing novels is one justification for having an expensive computer on which you can play solitaire when your office door is closed and everyone thinks you’re working hard. It also is the term used to describe how the left side of your manuscript lines are even, with no short lines and ragged ends on the right. Mss. are usually only Left Justified. Books, when published, are both Right and Left Justified. Leave the former up to the typesetter. Your publisher will like it better that way. Unless you’re writing poetry, then anything goes, even Center Alignment or Right only Justification, which is, I suppose, the justification for having all those different options on my word processing program.
Killers- These are sometimes People, sometimes Characters, but usually deadly wherever they occur. In romance, avoid them, unless your name is Hoag or Hooper, but if it is, you can make them central to your plot and have everyone hanging on the edges of their chairs, palpitating and breathing hard waiting to get to the end of the story, dreading getting to the end of the story, and wishing someone would kill that S.O.B. of a killer before he does in the Good People. Though the two above mentioned authors are not really writing romance any longer, they normally put enough of it in to keep things interesting when the reader needs a break from being scared of the Killer.
Kisses- These can take up to thirty-seven pages to describe unless you obey the experts’ rules regarding adverbs and adjectives, then they require only one word: “Smack.”
Lecturing Readers- This is when you take exposition too far and try to educate or warn your readers about things you, personally, care about like urban decay, forest renewal, or nasty little men in raincoats. Uh . . . I did?
Love-This is hard to define. In a romance, it’s usually what ends up happening between the Hero and the Heroine, but can also involve warm emotions one feels toward dogs, cats, children, ice cream and chocolate, not necessarily in that order. In non-romance novels, it can be the driving force behind the actions of the People-love of country, love of power, love of money, love of chocolate . . . but I’m repeating myself here so let’s move on. But first, pass the chocolate.
Moby Dick- Oddly enough, he had enough substance to be a People instead of just a Character even though he was a whale. But then, when you’re a whale, it’s pretty difficult not to have substance, I suppose, so we can forgive him for horning in on People territory. Besides, he ate Jonah, who was a People, didn’t he? Or was that- Oh, who cares? Damn, I hate research!
Motivation- The driving force that sends your People off to do what they feel they must, often with dire consequences to themselves and/or others. If their motivation is strong enough, the consequences have little or no meaning to them.
Mood- This you can set by opening your story with a slick, evocative phrase like “It was a dark and stormy night…” or, conversely, “It was a bra, bricht moonlicht nicht” or words to that effect. Or even something like “It was a bra, and it was hanging around his neck when he awoke. Alone. Wondering where he was. And where the owner of the bra was. Wow! That cup-size!
Murder- See Killers, above.