Monday, 3 February 2014

Debut authors: K.I.S.S. Me

What I see a lot of lately, in writer’s groups and submissions, is debut novelists trying to ‘break’ the rules

Keep it Simple, Silly (K.I.S.S.) Write the simplest story you can. In other words:
to be unique. This is my advice:
  • Simple plot. Use the common ‘three act method’ or a similar simple structure. Simple story arc (man in hole, boy meets girl, etc). The plot still needs to be well developed, but don’t try to pen The Stand or other complex, twisting plots for your first work.
  • Simple language. No long words, no wordy and flowery description. Show us with your first work that you can write well without any tricks.
  • Simple punctuation. Almost zero exclamation points. Use only commas, periods, and question marks. Avoid semicolons, em-dashes and ellipses unless absolutely needed to tell the story.
  • Simple, but not simpleton characters. Give them depth, but make them someone we can either admire, relate to, or both. Too complex or odd, and you will lose us. At the same time, don’t make them stereotypes. Absent minded detectives/professors/geniuses? Hunky and loving men with amazing endurance in bed an out? We’ve read that. Give us something unique, and show it your way.
  • Simple POV. Use as few POV’s as possible. One or two at most, and never change during scenes. Use chapter or scene breaks ‘***’ to change character voice. Just like TV, when the camera POV changes, let us know somehow. On screen this is done with fades, music, establishing shots, etc. Apply similar methods to fiction writing.

Back to the key: K.I.S.S. Show your fancy moves later, when you become a literary legend. For now, just write a damn good story, and do it well.

* Article contributed by Troy Lambert, (c) Troy Lambert and Tirgearr Publishing

• • • began his writing life at a very young age, penning the as yet unpublished George and the Giant Castle at age six. He grew up in Southern Idaho, and after many adventures including a short stint in the US Army and a diverse education, Troy returned to Idaho, and currently resides in Boise.

Troy works as a freelance writer, researcher, and editor. He writes historical site characterization reports for those performing remediation on former resource extraction sites, software instruction and help guides, and edits the research of others as well. His true passion is writing dark, psychological thrillers. His work includes Broken Bones, a collection of his short stories, Redemption the first in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, Temptation the sequel to Redemption, along with the horror Satanarium, co-authored with Poppet, a brilliant author from South Africa and published by Wild Wolf Publishing. He has stories in several anthologies including the partially for charity Happily Ever Afterlife published by Untold Press.

Troy lives with his wife of twelve years, two of his five children and two very talented dogs. He is a skier, cyclist, hiker, fisherman, hunter, and a terrible beginning golfer.

Troy is also a Senior Editor at Tirgearr Publishing.

• • •

Stray Ally
Released: 4 March 2014
Tirgearr Publishing
A strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness all propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than Clarke could have imagined. 

A military commander he investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter provides the answer.

With Sparky and the help of his canine friends, will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure is none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally.

“Tyler? Tyler?” The cop shouted the name over and over. I didn’t understand why. I watched, my mind far away.

Far away.

“That’s my boy! That’s my boy! Tyler wake up! Wake up!”

The other driver tried to hold the cop back, but he kept shaking the skater. It was in that moment I realized he was dead. I didn’t realize I had killed him, understand?

I didn’t know.

The cop stopped shaking the boy. Distant wailing grew louder as other sirens approached. More help.

The stale unmoving air was reluctant to enter my lungs. I struggled for oxygen in silence. Then his eyes met mine. The driver tried to stop him, I’ll give him that. But he couldn’t. I couldn’t stop myself. He came at me.

He came at me.

“You killed my boy!” his shout filled my world, shattering the bubble I’d been in. “You piece of shit, you killed my boy!”

“Stop!” a voice, the Good Samaritan driver.

The cop launched himself at me, hands outstretched, as if to strangle me.

My body didn’t consult my brain. It rose from its sitting position in one smooth motion. As the incensed father approached, it moved on its own, spun away from him, struck him on the back as he roared by, increased his momentum, and watched as he fell awkwardly onto the asphalt. He wasn’t done.

I’d killed his boy.

He rushed back at me, and my body once again responded as I had trained it to. All of those hours. Strike, twist, pull, strike.

My fist impacted his side, then his chest. My foot lashed out, struck his knee with an audible crunch. He half fell again, and drew his gun.

Another cruiser rolled onto the scene.

An ambulance.

A fire truck.

A supervisor.


Model citizens.

They all saw me do it.

He raised the gun. I spun inside his aim. My hands went to work, striking his wrist, breaking it.

Grabbing the gun. Turning it in my hand.

Firing. Not once, but twice.

Double tap. Fighting like I was trained.

Just like that, I was a cop killer.


I killed a cop’s son. Then I killed a cop.

Self-defense sure, but unreasonable force used in response to a threat.

And I was trained.

It was my training that caused the judge to lock me up. I went to jail. Marsha paid my bond, I jumped bail, and went on the run. That’s when things went from bad to worse.