Posts By James H Lewis

Prologues in a novel

Experts preach that a well-written novel doesn’t need a prequel. The prologue to my first novel, Sins of Omission, has drawn more remarks from readers than any other.

Colleagues at Pittsburgh South Writer’s Group dissected the first two chapters of my next, so-far-untitled novel last night. Amid the many complimentary comments, this advice that fixes an issue I have with it: “You need to put _____ in a prologue.”

ProWritingAid expands tools

I have been a fan of ProWritingAid since I expanded my writing from fundraising appeals to fiction. It was and remains a superior grammar checker, better than Grammarly, which I also use.

The developers have added many new tools that move ProWritingAid beyond just a grammar and spellcheck tool to a comprehensive suite of writing assistants.

In addition to tools analyzing style, grammar, overused expressions, clichés, and “sticky” formations, the suite now includes tools flagging repeat expressions. length, pronouns, alliteration, transitions, diction, plagiarism, and an interactive thesaurus.

You may not need all these tools, but among my favorites are the part-of-speech window in the grammar tool that allows me to eliminate unnecessary adverbs and the new “repeat” implementation that flags expressions I tend to overuse. One of my characters was “standing in the doorway” twice in one brief scene, something I wouldn’t have noticed on my own.

Like all such tools, you must use this with care. To cite one example, not all the words flagged as adverbs are adverbs and a few are essential. In dialogue, a character may use clichés and to eliminate them is to remove elements of his character. Used selectively, #ProWritingAid is an excellent way to improve one’s writing.

North Florida Book Tour scheduled

I will be discussing Sins of Omission and signing books at two bookstores and at Jacksonville Book Fest during late February. See the schedule here. I hope to see you there!

Q&A with Deborah Kalb

Deborah Kalb, the host of Book Q&As, featured an interview with me on Friday concerning my novel, Sins of OmissionI hope you’ll find it of interest.

Great reviews, first draft of prequel complete

My first novel, Sins of Omission, is enjoying uniformly positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’ve had sales in three countries outside the US. I’m pleased with the way this is going.

Meanwhile, I finished the first draft of my “prequel” to Sins, tentatively titled Breaking News. This story picks up my reporter/protagonist, Alan Rudberg, in 2008 as he’s covering the presidential and Oregon senatorial campaigns. An anonymous source mails him photocopies of bid documents and an invoice suggesting an eastern Oregon politician is soliciting kickbacks in return for business with his county. Those who’ve read Sins know that the ensuing investigation marks a major turning point in Rudberg’s career.

Although I began plotting the book in September, the actual draft was written as part of National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day period during which established and aspiring novelists throughout the world bang out a 50,000-page draft.

As anyone who’s been through this before knows, the first draft is the easy part of the process, provided you have a working outline. The hard work lies in the editing. This involves more than just grammar- and spell-checking. Plot elements may change, scenes will shift, and entire chapters are rewritten from scratch. Parts of Sins went through five rewrites.

All this is to say that you won’t be seeing Breaking News until early spring at the earliest.

Meanwhile, enjoy reading Sins and — please — when you’ve finished it, leave a review on Amazon.


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