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Robert J. Ray Author Blog

Unfiltered, Unexpurgated, and Your Unlikely Writing Partner

Sandra Block Interview

Questions from Robert J. Ray (The Weekend Novelist)   Where did your sleuth (Dr. Zoe Goldman) come from? How long did she take to create? Days? Months? Years? Why did you make her conspicuously tall? (PS: Zoe’s got a crazy wit—very captivating, and helpful with...

Sandra Block – Review

Sandra Block Review—The Girl Without a Name (Questions from Robert J. Ray, The Weekend Novelist Series) At the climax to The Girl Without a Name, the bad guy confesses. To find out what happens next—what Fate does to the bad guy—you need to read the book. It’s a good...

Dr. R.A. Duncan -Pioneer Doctor- Amarillo, Texas

Breakfast on Tyler Street, Amarillo, 1942 The old man shaves in the mirror. He wears BVDs—long johns with short sleeves—and his trousers. The suspenders hang from his waist. The old man pauses to stroke the razor on a leather strop. Half his face is shaved. The other...

Timed Writing Practice w/ Start Lines

-editor’s note. Timed writing practice is the drill. 5, 10, 15 and final 5 minute segment. Each kicks off with a random start line. Random so you can’t prepare an answer. Timed writing practice builds muscle so you are prepared to answer. 5...

Prologue: Early Warning

The platter is old, yellow, chipped by the teeth of time. It slides across the table in my direction. Steam rises from the platter. The steam comes from boiled beef, boiled carrots, boiled potatoes, and green cabbage boiled to pale oblivion. I fork food from the...

Testing the Form: Paris

Note: One day we were writing with Stewart and Jack came up with a structure for the Memoir Moment, developed for the memoir book that arose while we taught the Memoir course at UW-Extension. Jack knows music, theme and variation, we named it the Bee-Bop structure. It...

Excerpt From an Unfinished Novel

California Tennis Club—by Robert J. Ray The barista comes in sweaty from tennis. There is sweat under her armpits, sweat between her breasts, sweat pooling in the curve of her back. She strips off the blouse, drops it on the floor. The jogbra is halfway off when she...

Get a Backbone!

Spinework The Key to Subtext Jack Remick and I first heard the word “spine” when we worked with Stewart Stern in the screenwriting program at the University of Washington. The spine was defined as backbone or armature. It was often invisible, a structural gizmo felt...

Ball Machine

Louisa’s October 30-2015 In late October, I started writing about tennis at age 80. Not much editing, just getting the feel for the lines, the words that line up with the actions on court. Let me know what you think. BALL MACHINE Visualize the court. The aerial view....

15 Reasons to Explain Your Failure

-To Rewrite your Still Unfinished Novel Smart novelists work the novel in three levels: Story, Structure, Style. Words needed to talk about story: Plot, Character, Roles (Protagonist, Antagonist, Helper), Myth-Base (Garden, Wasteland, Hades, Eden, Grail-Quest,...

Learning How to Write – 1

At Beloit College in ice-bound Wisconsin I taught a course called Advanced Exposition, English 221 I inherited this course from a husband and wife team, married, full profs, fussy, jealous, proprietary—this was their course, I should do it their way, I should use...

How They Taught Me to Teach Writing

I wear a coat and tie

I stand stone-like before them

they stare at me, they yawn, I am shit

the course is bonehead english

bonehead is two rungs below English One-A

Cyber-Bio 1

today I am writing a biography about writing a biography that floats like electric scum on the darkness of cyber-space which did not exist before the computer age before the internet before electricity a boundless sea calling out for the Ancient Mariner so do we...

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