Intentional intentional writing time. A life lesson learned.

October 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

The subject of “buzzwords” has come up often lately, for some reason, and my wife has informed me that “intentional” is definitely one of mine, and here I am using it twice in a single title. New personal best.

Intentional writing time is something writers talk about (or at least blog about) a lot. They say that if you want to be a writer (at least in a professional or semi-professional capacity) then it’s important to set aside time specifically to write. It’s not time to check facebook or respond to emails or to organize your messy desk (times when I’m suffering from a case of writer’s block are the only times cleaning sounds appealing), it’s time to sit in your chair and scribble or type, even if it feels like the worst thing you’ve ever written. « Read the rest of this entry »

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…and we’re back. With presents.

January 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

I just got back from two glorious weeks away with family and friends for the holidays, hence my silence on the blog front. My house is currently a minefield of partially-unpacked luggage and despite the fact that it’s only 6:30 in the evening, I feel ready for bed because I spent last night (and the wee hours of this morning) having way too much fun with college friends I hadn’t seen in way too long. All that to say that this will be short, sweet, and unrevised but I wanted to get back on the proverbial blogging horse. So here are my belated Christmas gifts to you, dear reader: « Read the rest of this entry »

I need to write more like my dog plays

December 15, 2011 § 9 Comments

I hate to admit it, but I’m a lazy writer. Given the opportunity, I will tell rather than show (despite what the psychologists say) and I have the bad habit of rushing through the last quarter of my stories because I’m so anxious to get to the end. With How to Run a Five-Star Restaurant in the Capital of the Elf Kingdom, my fellow author and beta reader, Jay Swanson told me he loved where the story was going, but that right about where a climax should be, it just sort of fell off a cliff into an ending (he was a bit more diplomatic in the way he phrased it). Even before he said something I’d known it subconsciously, so I dutifully took pen in hand and dove back into prewriting, trying to flesh out a proper climax and conclusion. « Read the rest of this entry »

Does psychology support the show-don’t-tell writing maxim?

December 8, 2011 § 4 Comments

When of the most common things an aspiring writer will hear about writing is “show don’t tell.” I come across it ad nauseum in blogs, books, and conversations. “Don’t tell me he was upset,” they say, “show me he was upset.” But there are a lot of other “rules” in the writing world that are founded on the current literary climate and personal styles, rather than laws of the writing universe.  It’s hardly worth mentioning that storytelling methods have evolved over time and people don’t write today the same way that Jane Austen wrote, who didn’t write the same way as the authors that came before her, and people breaking rules is how that evolution happens. For example, I think the fear and loathing that is often expressed towards adverbs is overstated and (at least for me) counterproductive. Despite their overuse, there is a time and a place to use it, like any other part of speech. This has left me to ponder the age-old struggle between showing and telling.

Enter the psychologists. Joan Peskin and Janet Astington, who have studied the effects of showing and telling on children. « Read the rest of this entry »

Learning from your synopsis

December 6, 2011 § 6 Comments

A few nights ago I was in a social setting and asked the question I dread more than any other: “What’s your book about?”

I hear those words and my heart starts beating wildly in my chest, my mouth dries up, and I adopt an unfortunate stutter. I could talk about my story, characters, and world for hours, but minutes? That’s much more difficult. How can I boil down a year of work, untold hundreds of hours spent prewriting, plotting, and producing these tens of thousands of words into a few sentences that won’t bore my audience to death or make me look like one of the millions of people out there who say they want to write a book? Sometimes I start by explaining the setting, but I’ve found that the majority of people don’t know what “steampunk” is.  This is further complicated by the fact that my story differs from most steampunk in that it isn’t historical fiction, it’s fantasy in an industrializing society. « Read the rest of this entry »

National Novel Writing Month: my experience and advice

October 23, 2011 § 7 Comments

NaNoWriMo is the time of year when thousands of people put their lives on hiatus to crank out a novel.  It’s a competition in which everyone wins who cranks out 50,000 words between November 1 and December 1 (that’s just shy of 1700 words a day).  Like anything else that has thousands of supporters, NaNoWriMo has accumulated its detractors, some of them quite vitriolic.  Their complaints range from bemoaning the inactivity of their favorite bloggers to saying that the only thing NaNoWriMo produces is one big pile of… well you get the idea.

I’ve only done NaNoWriMo once, in 2010, and I’m not going to be doing it again this year for reasons I’ll explain in a minute, but I’m still a huge supporter and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I’ve been aspiring to authordom for about four years now and have cranked out my fair share of short stories and writing prompts, but when October rolled around last year I had never committed to a novel.  It seemed like a huge undertaking and I didn’t think « Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Post by Jay Swanson, author of White Shores

October 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

Writing is Hard

Not really. I mean it’s about as difficult as talking, it just takes more of a concerted effort. But people really get worked up over writing, especially how hard it is, and then the whining starts. I whine some. I’ll be honest, some days it’s a struggle to write. But writing itself isn’t hard. It’s a simple matter of converting those thoughts bouncing around inside your head into ink on the page. Or pixels on the screen. Unless you have no thoughts, in which case converting them to anything will be difficult.

What’s truly a challenge is actually making yourself sit down and do it. People, including myself, tend to whine a lot more than they write. If you put as much energy into your writing as you did your whining you’d at least get another paragraph or two out of your day. What no one wants to hear is that you’ve always wanted to write a book as if that counted. It’s ok to have always wanted to write a book. And it’s ok to say that. What’s not cool is looking at someone who has done the work of actually writing a book and saying “well I’ve always WANTED « Read the rest of this entry »

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