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Showing posts from 2014

Talking about the Weather

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I keep hearing people say that yet another detail you should never include in your fiction-writing is reference to the weather. Nobody wants to hear about it, they say. Just get straight to the action, don’t bother setting the scene, nobody has the patience for that, just go, go, go.   And most importantly, never ever open a scene, or (flinching) a book with weather.   Again, I could be completely weird, but I personally am not all that offended when an author takes note of the atmospheric conditions. People, especially the kind who write cash-fiction, seem to have lost all regard for the idea of mood in writing anymore. Also, unless your story is set in a ridiculously temperate climate, it’s very likely that weather will actually affect the plot . Even if you are the kind of writer that only writes down what happened in the story, and nothing else, remember that blizzards, droughts, ice-storms, and hurricanes also happen.   I like meteorology, I’ll admit that. I also l

On Children and Families

Here’s something to know: if you can’t write about children, don’t. Children are extremely complex creatures. Though everyone has been one, some have them, some work with them, and others are barely not them, they’re still some of the most difficult people to portray realistically.   I see it all the time, even in ‘real’ novels by ‘real’ authors. Children, especially when in groups tend to be sort of…wrong. Sometimes it can be hard to put your finger on, other times you know exactly what the author did wrong.   Let’s talk about some common issues that I can often spot. Here’s a big one to start off with: Children don’t always say the right things at the right time. That should be pretty obvious. In fact, who does? But what I’m actually referring to is a different kind of “right thing” than you might be thinking of.   Authors do this all the time. I can’t stand it. You’ve got you’re couple standing there talking along until Mr. White Smile-Nice Hair says something unrealist

A Word on Editing

First of all, happy Halloween. So. I’m in the process of publishing my first trilogy, as you know. Since I was going to be putting a lot of time (it won’t be available until March of ’15) and money (I’m subsidy publishing, so I’m out $2,000) into the project, I thought it would be in my best interest to produce the best possible product in the end. I decided I would look into purchasing line-editing from my publishers.   Then, I found out that to line-edit my whole trilogy would cost me $8,000. In a words “no”. The company admits that is pretty over-priced. A standard line-editing job costs about $2.50 a page, which, for my rather large manuscript comes to around $1,500. That’s a lot, but it isn’t $8,000. If the manuscript wasn’t a whole trilogy even my publishing company’s price might not kill anybody, but when it comes to line editing, here’s a hint.   You know somebody who can do it.   I’ve handed the job over to my parents and siblings. All you have to do to catch t

"Realistic" Dialogue

For me, one of the hardest things to master has been the art of writing dialogue. This comes up all the time in discussions of writing. Despite the fact that we hear and engage in dialogue every day, when it comes to putting it down on paper, we tend to give up on writing and set to drawing something called a blank instead.   Readers often complain that dialogue that is poorly written in a novel sounds unrealistic. That is often the case. Try reading a bad section of dialogue aloud. If you can even get the inflection right, it’s not too far gone. Some dialogue is so unnatural that you can’t even tell what’s supposed to be coming across. Dialogue is a terrible thing to botch.   So, what makes dialogue sound right? There isn’t a definite set of dos and don’ts here, a lot of it depends. Check out my previous post on character voices for further discussion on this. There are a few things, however that should be avoided in conversational dialogue.   Be careful with sentence-str

Publishing Update

I'll break from my fiction advice series for a moment to tell you that I'm still hard at work on subsidy publishing my first three novels, The Stardrift Trilogy . I'm not absolutely certain that I would advise subsidy publishing after what I've been through, but on the other hand, I've run up against a great deal of unfortunate flukes in the process that people with normal luck might never encounter.   I've actually had to switch publishing companies in the middle of everything. I'm pretty sure we're getting back on track, but I imagine it won't be until at least December before the trilogy is finally released. This process is supposed to take about four months and it's taken me over a year. Typical.   My enthusiasm to see my work made available to the public is undiminished, through it all. This blog is going to get a bit more meaningful, (and hopefully, a bit more traffic) once I can start using it to discuss themes and nuances of my novels.

Creating a character to drive the plot

  One of my favorite parts of writing novels is making up the people who will populate it. I don’t understand those authors who seem to use the same basic types for every novel they write. I will admit that there are people that just end up turning up in different roles with slightly different faces. (I think I mentioned the prevalence of Franz Liszt in a previous post.) But you have to take into account that each story is unique. And the characters make the story.   A story is the interaction of the characters with a series of situations. How the story goes is determined largely by how the characters react. Of course, things will happen that the characters had nothing to do with, but how they play the cards dealt to them is the essence of the plot.   So constructing these characters should be a well-thought-out process. It’s possible to create a character while writing your book, but it will help you a great deal to prepare one ahead of time, so they can be fully develope

You Are What You Read

Some of the information in this post relates back to former posts, such as “How Not to Write Like A Girl…or a Guy.” You’ll notice when a person is asked to write a creative work, they’ll often fall back on what they know for inspiration. In other words, what they read.   I’ll use myself as a case study because my case is rather interesting. First off, as an author of almost eight novels, it might be imagined that I like to read. Well, that isn’t necessarily the case. At least, I really haven’t been a big fan of novels. I read all the time, but I’ve always preferred science books. I spent this last summer reading Brian Greene’s Fabric of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe. I like theoretical cosmology. (Actually, all cosmology is theoretical, but it sounds more impressive to give it an adjective.)   I also recently enjoyed a rather hefty biography. I don’t read a lot of biographies, there aren’t a whole lot of historical figures that intrigue me that much, which is probably m

Voices

Think about the people you know. When you start a conversation with one of your friends, you have certain expectations. You’re familiar with the kinds of things they say in various situations, and how they say them. You tend to have a good idea of how they converse. You can tell when they’re in a weird mood because they tend to say things that are out of character.   Characters have voices. You can open a well-written book and read a conversation, and deduce things about the personalities behind the words. There’s an art to establishing character voices, of course. I know I could do better myself, as sometimes I catch myself just having all my characters talk like I do. There are some things that I try to keep in mind while writing dialogue that may help you.   Keep in mind that different people have different vocabularies. Your education, line of work, areas of interest, social circles, and age are some of the factors that influence what words you use in casual conversation.

Dictionary and Thesaurus

One of the easiest ways to make your writing stronger and more artistic is to broaden your vocabulary. It’s natural for people to know the definitions of a great many words in their own language and quite a few in others, but the percentage that we actually use in speech or writing is pretty measly. We tend to favor certain words.   That’s okay, until certain symptoms of limited vocabulary arise. I don’t like using the same word twice in a paragraph, especially a descriptive word, like an adjective or adverb. There’s a little more leeway with nouns. And, of course, if there really is no other word for a particular noun, there’s not much you can do about it. Verbs should only be used twice in a paragraph intentionally for emphasis, in my opinion.   When you turn to your thesaurus to find a better synonym, there is something you have to be aware of. First, let me illustrate the problem. I was once working on a group English comp. project in college. (I hated it.) There were thr

Don't write like a girl...or a guy.

You can’t always be sure by reading a piece of literature whether the writer is male or female. Subject matter, plot, and the gender of the main character can, but don’t always offer clues. But there are particular style problems that arise more often in female writers, and others that are more typically male. I’ve observed them for a while, and thought it might be of use if I made a note of them.   Aside from things like choice of subject matter and certain writing nuances that they obviously picked up from the literature that is targeted at them, guys and girls also have different downfalls in their ability to carry a story altogether. My observations on this subject may sound familiar, or they might surprise you.   As I was taking a creative writing course last semester, I noticed that boys and girls often have different overall tones they naturally fall back on when they have to write something off the top of their head before planning a full story. There was almost an

On Description

Hello everyone. Sorry about the lack of action, my access to internet is limited. However, I’ve decided to try my best to start posting regularly from now on—at least once a week, I hope. I plan to start a series of posts this week on the subject of writing. I’ve recently started writing my eighth novel, and in the process of all that writing, discovered a few things that might be of interest to other writers. I have very few readers to date, so spread the word that I’ve started up this series if you like it, or know somebody who might benefit from it.   Without further ado: The Art of Description   I’m aware that right now, mainstream authors generally are looking down on highly descriptive writing. A lot of modern authors, novelists, and even poets discourage over-description but little is said about the issue of under-description. I was reading an article in a writers’ magazine giving something like “The Ten Rules for Success”, written by some author whom I frankly doub

The Red Robin

I always stare at graffiti on train cars and wonder.... The Red Robin a red robin is traced in bleeding paint  not red like a rose or a ruby like blood--thin blood not bright and fresh, but not dry yet the silhouette of the perching thrush is a shadow on the tanker car a bird that migrates by train  the symbol of something  someone perhaps  the rainy Midwestern underworld speaks in hieroglyphs images that fade quietly in the sun of early spring when the trains move  among formless scribbling of illegible nonsense and words in garish blocky lettering like crumbling concrete stains like blood run down the cars it's only rust that bleeds from bolts and hinges  there's also a robin a bird from Europe messages that migrate by train  as they drift farther and farther from where they began their meaning fades quietly in the sun of early spring  it's only a red robin traced in bleeding paint not like a ruby like blood in the rain

Quantum Heartbeat: at a loss for words? Find some!

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This is something everyone should do from time to time. It's a great way to open your mind to new metaphors and break with old cliches. What I've done is, I've taken scissors to magazines and impulsively cut out words that appealed to me, then I arranged them into this poem. There's just enough thinking involved to make it stimulating and just enough chance involved to make it fun. This poem is called "Quantum Heartbeat."

A Hand with Five Fingers

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Yesterday I embarked on what is to be my seventh novel. Though I've written two trilogies, (the soon-to-be-available Stardrift and the more recent Rhapsody and Threnody ) this new book is going to be my first stand-alone novel.   A Hand with Five Fingers begins with the sentence, "It had been one of those dark days." First sentences, you know, are highly important, almost as important as final sentences. So the story goes, our protagonist, an author, is driving home from another discouraging consultation with her literary agent and almost hits a kid crossing the road in the middle of a bleak and lonely moor. The unidentifiable foreign teenager eventually reveals to her that he is a half-remembered concert pianist...one-hundred twenty-eight years dead.   So, that's the premise. The pianist, is a real person whom I've been researching extensively in my spare time. Franz Liszt was a Hungarian piano virtuoso, conductor, and composer during the early-to-mid Romantic

Insomniac

  It's a strange thing watching the night creep by through the dimly glowing windows, not quite aware that you've been still for hours and hours, silently staring like a corpse, not caring that all the clocks in the house are listening to you breathing. Slowly, midnight passes. It doesn't matter. Gradually, the stars move toward the blackness of the west. You don't even feel it.   Events occur in a massive block of an element we call time. There has been debate in intellectual circles whether the past is at all moments just as real as the present, which is in turn, just as real as the future. I think it's true.    You don't even realize it, but you've lain awake, pretending, for the rest of the world's sake that you were asleep, for seven hours. Then, as if in a dream, you see sunlight--or something like it--filling the negative space around the dead fingers of a black tree outside your window. The birds are singing. The watery twilight swells

here is a NEW POST!

Hello. I suppose anyone watching thought I was dead. I'm still alive, sorry. I would promise that this blog was about to get more active, but that might be funny. I don't do humor on this blog, see? Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying their own lives. If somebody happens to be enjoying somebody else's life, that's interesting as well. Stay tuned, coming up next, drawings that may or may not have to do with anything.   Thank you for reading.