General

Ice Bucket Challenge

I decided to look up various ice bucket challenges done by favorite writers.

This one is by Brandon Sanderson and the best thing about it is that he counties writing even after someone dumped a bucket of ice and water on him. Who does that? I mean, weren’t the papers a little hard to read after a wetting?

This one is Pat Rothfuss’s ice bucket challenge. I really love his “ice”. So smoky and dramatic.

This one is by Jim Butcher. He has ice, ice cream and an ice cream headache.

There are lots more on YouTube: Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, George Martin. But that’s more videos than I want to put here!

I wasn’t able to find any of the women whose books I go all fangirl on do an ice bucket challenge. Is that weird?

And, also, just because, here’s a video compilation of people failing at the ice bucket challenge.

Writing

NYT Rules on Writing

 

So the NYT published a How To Write article recently. There are 11 rules:

  1. Show and Tell.
  2. Don’t go searching for a subject, let your subject find you.
  3. Write what you know.
  4. Never use three words when one will do. Be concise.
  5. Keep a dream diary.
  6. What isn’t said is as important as what is said.
  7. Writer’s block is a tool — use it.
  8. Is secret.
  9. Have adventures.
  10. Revise, revise, revise.
  11. There are no rules.

I especially love rule number 8. Also, rule number 11. The rules are secret and there are no rules. LOL

I have heard of most of these before. Show and Tell is a classic. Be Concise is a classic, too. Revise, Revise, Revise is also an often repeated bit of advice.

Write What You Know is less often repeated, but when it is, people usually add good research will let you know everything you need to know. But the writer seems to be talking about emotional truths instead of factual, which is always good to have.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Have Adventures before. And I don’t think I’ve heard of Don’t Go Searching For A Subject before, either. That’s like saying you need to wait for the muse to show up, but I’ve heard the opposite more often. That you should write anyway and sooner or later you will have a subject, and the muse will show up. The muse is trainable.

 

 

General · Writing

G is for Get Moving

Thanks for the Helen for the post title! LOL

So I chose Get Moving as the title post because that’s what I need to do. Not all for the writing, but for this blog as well. I really ought to have written this post this morning or even yesterday and just scheduled it.

So . . . I have submitted just 1 story this year so far and it’s already April. Really, I should have submitted at least 2 or 3 others already. I haven’t. I am trying to submit 1 new story per month and I’ve only managed January so far. I can submit it elsewhere, but that hardly counts. It is only 1 story.

I couldn’t submit in February and March, well, I had other stuff going on and then I was focused on the novel work in progress. Which is finished. That last push was useful.

The next few weeks I am going to focus on writing a handful of short stories. I can do that, since the WiP is done and I need a break from novel-writing anyway. I have had one in the works for weeks (weeks! weeks!) now and I really need to Get Moving on that.

Plus, figuring out ideas for a couple more stories and finding magazines to submit to. I mean, the stories won’t write or submit themselves. I want to meet my New Year’s Goal of publishing a few stories this year and at this rate I am not going to.

What do you need to Get Moving on?

General · Writing

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner and Education

I was reading The Art of Fiction yesterday and I stopped at this line:

Though the literary dabbler may write a fine story now and then, the true writer has become, as it is for the pianist, second nature. Ordinarily this means university education, with courses in the writing of fiction, with courses in the writing of fiction, and poetry as well.

Is he saying you can’t write well all the time without a college education? One where you take creative writing classes. If they do manage a well-written story, they wrote it by accident? Seriously?

I am having a hard time believing that’s what he is saying.

I went to college; I sat in on a creative writing class, but couldn’t finish the semester because of my course load. Not that the class gave me any insight; it didn’t. Pretty sure that’s because everyone else was there to fill a writing credit requirement, not because they wanted to tell stories, and that changed how the teacher taught the class. That made it less useful for me and a bit of a disappointment.

So I don’t think I have the type of education he’s talking about. I decided not to get one because:

1) I figured I could learn everything I needed to without majoring in English or writing or something similar.

2) I wanted a degree that would lead to a good job while I figured out the writing bit.

I don’t think that makes me a bad writer or one lacking in technique. Okay, maybe the technique part, but practice will cure that.

I am pretty sure I am missing something about these two lines. But what?

reading

YouTube Videos about Writing

I searched writing on YouTube and found some writers saying interesting things on the topic of writing:

1) Stephan King on short stories. 5 minutes long. Cuts off kind of abruptly though.

2) Ray Bradbury on Writing Persistently. Had a very hard time playing this for some reason.

3) Ray Bradbury speaks about WRITING!

4) Ray Bradbury speaking to aspiring writers. Sadly, only 45 seconds.

5) Joyce Carol Oates on writing characters

6) Joyce Carol Oates on the thrill of writing

General · Writing

The Anatomy of a Story: I want, therefore I am

Last week, I found a fantastic book on writing: The Anatomy of a Story by John Truby. It’s a keeper (much like King’s On Writing.) I think I first heard about it from an author chat on twitter. It has some of the best analysis of what a story is that I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot of books on writing.

The first lines that jump out at me are:

The “story world” doesn’t boil down to “I think, therefore I am” but rather “I want, therefore I am.” Desire in all of its facets is what makes the world go around. It is what propels all conscious, living things and gives them direction. A story tracks what a person wants, what he’ll do to get it and what costs he’ll have to pay along the way.

I’m always ecstatic when a character comes to life in my head. Writing is easy and it feels like I am not writing, just describing the pictures in my head.

I am theorizing that happens because I connect with the character’s desire. In the moment it is real to me, that feeling will come a lot easier.

It makes sense. I mean, a lot of stories are about what character is trying to do, isn’t? Whether that’s to solve a murder or find someone to share their life with. Or, in the case of my MC, find the drug source and keep all hisloved ones safe at the same time.

I am thinking, I need to know my character’s desires, both short-term and long-term. His professional goals (easy! ha! this is the whole story), and a more personal, more emotional desire. To an extent, this is the same (backstory! such bloody, fantastic drama!).

I am not sure if I need other layers. Emotional and/or spiritual desires? I am thinking not. He thinks doesn’t think a love life is possible for him anymore and he’s not really open to it. Family? Hmm. Maybe.

Thing is, I knew almost none of this when I first started writing the novel in progress. I had to backtrack, go forward and back a few times before I figured it out.

How many others know the all the different desires of the character before they start writing?

General · Writing

The Forest for the Trees: Obsessions

Most writers have very little choice in what they write about. Think of any writer’s body of work, and you will see the thematic pattern incorporating voice, structure, and intent. What is in evidence over and over is a certain set of obsessions, a certain vocabulary, a way of approaching the page.

I read this in The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner and it makes me wonder.

I’ve noticed for years that somethings appear over and over again in some writers work. The Irish in Nora Roberts novels; I think almost everything she wrote has something Irish, a character, an ancestry, the country, something! Mercedes Lackey uses the word ‘perfectly’ over and over and over again. It’s really annoying!. Plus, she has similar characters, the poor child with bad or missing parents.

But I think I only truly realized that most writers stick with certain themes 18 months ago when I read a book by Marguerite Duras and a watched a movie whose screenplay she wrote. Despite being two different mediums, they were eerily similar. It wasn’t the same story, but they were similar enough that you knew (I knew in any case!) that it had to be based on her life.

Anyway, that line makes wonder: what are my particular obsessions, my certain vocabulary, my way of approaching the page? I don’t know. Beyond the obvious fantasy factor, I’ve yet to notice any similarities in my stories.

I am wondering: what are everyone else’s obsessions?

General · Writing

Show vs Tell: Proper Balance 2

I am reading Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Lisa Tuttle and this line jumped out at me:

Be concise. Explain less. Dramatize important scenes, but remember that despite the usual advice given to writers, on occasion, to keep the narrative flowing, information may be ‘told’ instead of ‘shown’.

This is a little amazing. This is probably the first time anyone has ever said that sometimes telling is better than showing.

When I first figured out the difference between showing and telling, I thought I had to show everything. I was slow to realize that I didn’t, that somethings are best told, that there needs to be a balance between showing and telling.

I felt guilty whenever I  ‘told’ something and searched for ways I could “show” it instead. Sometimes I let the tell stand. Often I wrote a scene and lots of times it seemed to me that the scene made it more complicated. Sometimes that was good. But sometimes it was too complicated and I would look for ways I could insert the info into two-line segments here and there.

Reading that bit of advice in Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction is reassuring. I mean, I was doing it, but there was also a little tingling doubt in the back of my head. It’s because pretty much everything I’ve ever read says, “Show, don’t tell.”

Do other do that? Feel guilty because they tell a piece of info instead of showing? Two lines of telling verses a hundred lines of showing.

fantasy · Writing

I got the Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy

I found out about the Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy book on twitter a couple weeks ago. I finally got it!!!!! I am so excited.

The first part of it defines fantasy. It says: Fantasy is about the fantastic that doesn’t rely on science for explanations. I quite agree with this. I think it is one of the better definitions of fantasy I’ve ever found.

It also why I think The City and The City by China Miéville  is more fantasy than science fiction. Before I found people talking about The City and The City online, I never imagined there was any reason to doubt whether it was fantasy or science fiction. There is no magic in it, but neither is there any science. Lots of people figure because it has no magic, it must be science fiction. I think since The City and The City has no science, it must be fantasy. 🙂 Pretty interesting. Mostly it is a noir detective novel in a speculative fiction setting. 😉

 

work in progress · Writing

Difficulty Finishing My Short Story

This drawing (naturally, I found it on deviantart) is by an artist who says of it, “When I can’t write . . . I feel like I’m falling down a deep pit and won’t ever be able to get out.”

This is how I feel right now.

I am having a hard time finishing my short sea story. I don’t know why. I can see the end in my head, it will only be a couple hundred words more, yet I freeze when I stare at the screen. The screen isn’t even blank – most of the story is already written and staring me in the face! I am utterly frustrated with myself. What is wrong with me? I don’t know, but today, right now, by god, I promise myself I will write another 300 words today. Even if it is on scrap paper instead of my computer screen!!! So there.