Wednesday, December 30, 2015
This year, though, I set out to draft a full book. It has a lot of work that still needs to go into it, like ten thousand words that need to be cut out and replaced with a better opening. Continuity needs to get hammered into place, scenes need a LOT of refinement, and the plot itself needs to get overhauled so that it all makes sense. But I have something to work with! And even though it didn't end the way I originally planned, I feel like it's an ending I can work with and work toward as I move all the pieces into place.
My goals for next year are a little different than last year's. My plan is to learn to write short stories. I'm going to finish this current book and start another one, and I'm going to query it, but my focus in between that project is to get at least three short stories published in SFWA qualified publications.
Unlike the goals I set as a younger man, I'm going to be flexible with these. They're difficult to achieve, which is important because I need to stretch myself to get better at what I do. But if it turns out to be "impossible," then I know how to adjust my technique to make sure I still accomplish real, difficult goals without simply "failing" to rise to a challenge. With the short stories, a lot of that comes down to the market (once I learn how to write short stories well). I can't control what editors want, though I can improve my work to make it desirable. So obviously, the number I set is mostly to give me something to aim for. It's not something I'm simply going to bend on if I feel like it's getting too hard. But we'll see what my goals look like in a few months, too.
Be safe this New Year's Eve. We'll have a new episode up next Tuesday!
Monday, December 28, 2015
I was supposed to post last Monday, but I totally spaced. I should *probably* have something nerd-related to talk about, but it's currently too late in the day for me to come up with a great theme (since for me it's close to 10:30 pm).
Here are a few I considered:
1. How traveling makes me want to move to a new city and see what artsy things are going on there.
2. How awesome/amazing/hilarious Olan Rodgers videos are.
3. Why free wifi is the shizz.
4. Why buying books from a bouquiniste vendor on the Seine feels so lovely.
5. Reading old favorites in new places.
6. The fact that maybe a little German and lots of Italian would've been rather helpful on this trip. RATHER. HELPFUL.
The fact is, if you haven't ventured to a city where you don't speak the language, you should. Oh, don't get me wrong. It's an introvert's nightmare. But it's good for you, I promise. It teaches you fun things like the fact of "calzone" being pronounced as "cahl-sone-ay". (Thank you, random food person, for making me feel silly saying a word I've grown up with. Those raised eyebrows were very helpful).
Michelle is currently in Rome and has no idea how to make her mobile app put her photo in the right place...so just pretend she's smirking at you. Actually, she probably *is* smirking at you, because she does that a lot. It's a personal problem.
Friday, December 25, 2015
This post is short because I'm doing exactly that.
Emily is blessed enough to be spending time with her relatives and some of her chosen family this week. All she's missing right now is a big old cup of hot chocolate and a cat to snuggle.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Have a great Christmas, and I'll write to you in a week!
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
These are my three favorite charities, and they all do amazing things around the world. While so many people talk about what they should be GETTING, consider giving. It IS a wonderful thing to do.
Monday, December 14, 2015
|Look at all the languages they have!|
Friday, December 11, 2015
And, let me tell you, looking at it written down, I'm wondering what the heck I'm thinking. I've had trouble finishing a single novel in two years, why do I think I can pound out two books in one year? Honestly, I'm worried that I won't be able to make it. But I'm dang well going to try anyway.
That's the point of goals, isn't it? To stretch you and push you out of your comfort zone and kick your butt into moving toward your dreams? At least, that's what I'm telling myself!
Basically, I'm sick of letting myself set mediocre goals and then coming up with excuses not to meet them. At least this way, if I fail, I'm failing doing something ambitious and difficult. And there's a weird sense of motivation that comes from looking at hard goals and feeling slightly overwhelmed--but just slightly; there's a fine line between motivating-overwhelm and crushing-overwhelm, at least for me.
And now that I've written this blog post about it, I'm publicly accountable, too. Double-whammy!
Have you started thinking about your goals for next year? Let me know if you're on the crazy-train with me!
Emily will also be chronicling working toward these goals on her personal blog (emilykaysinger.com) and Twitter. You know, in case you want to cheer her on or wait for the epic fail she's going to try really hard to avoid.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Think about your real life. Or your significant other's. Or sibling's, parents', best friend's, etc. How many things are going on in your life at once? Is it ever just one thing? If the answer's yes, chances are it's either so over-the-top chaotic that it's almost impossible to handle, or it's so boring that no one wants to hear about it for hours on end.
Subplots are those other, often minor, events in characters' lives that make the events on the page feel real. Sometimes the subplots will tie together, or the events will conclude at the same time, or solutions to one will inform the solution to another. But they MUST be present, even if they conclude wildly differently, because without them, the story is nothing more than a ninety-minute action movie.
Or someone's Facebook feed.*
If your book feels flat or short, adding a subplot can help, if it ties in with the main plot.**
Don't believe me? Go pick your five favorite books. Doesn't matter if they're written for Middle Grade audiences or High Literary fans with multiple post-graduate degrees. Each and every one of them has a subplot. At LEAST one.
As for HOW to write a subplot, look for background information about a character's life, then put together events that they need to solve while working on the main plot. The timeline has to work out for both to conclude satisfactorily for the reader, but it's possible to add a few paragraphs or full sections per chapter that are dedicated to these events (think about the romance arc in Soulless, or the "dancing lessons" in Game of Thrones [book not show]).
What about you, any tips on writing subplots?
*Seriously, Facebook feeds are filled with glimpses of someone's life, and the most honest ones either get ignored for being "too whiney" or "too many instances of TMI."
**Keep in mind that the subplot and main plot are separate, but they NEED to both flow through the narrative smoothly or it will feel like two disjointed stories smashed together for the sake of padding pages.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Friday, December 4, 2015
As someone who was convinced she wanted to be a scientist--in particular a paleontologist--for a good portion of her life, this really appealed to me. Even the driest scientific paper is telling a story, the story of the experiment or study. And, like it or not, writers can't get away from science. Even in the wildest fantasy, there has to be rules and things that we call science nowadays that might not be called science in that world. That isn't to say all magic in fantasy is unexplained science, but it has to follow some of the same rules.
As someone who's now been writing for over a decade (not that the early stuff was any good), I know there's a lot I can learn from science. How would a shock wave really affect your character(s) based on how big the explosion is and how far away they are? Hint: it may take longer for the shock wave to reach your character than you expect. Is it possible for your character to escape from prison with salsa? Hint: it really depends on how much time they have.
Basically, I think there's this tendency among the artistic and scientific folks to look at each other and sneer. And I think that's bull. There's a lot we can learn from each other and from the different disciplines and I think that's totally worth the effort.
Emily has always been that weird kid who loved documentaries. She might have developed a character completely inspired by watching a history of tattooing once.
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Technically, it's historical romance, but it's also portal fantasy mixed with some serious adventure writing. I loved it so much that I'm currently listening to it AGAIN with my wife.
Mash-ups can be tough to do well. My two favorites are Charlaine Harris and Jim Butcher. Both of their series could TECHNICALLY fit in the Urban Fantasy sub genre, but Harris leans more toward mystery/romance, while Butcher is action/noir.
The reason I love both of those series so much is that I enjoy stories that subvert my expectations. It's a big part of what inspires the podcast, and it's what inspires a lot of my writing. Epic Fantasy and Hard Science Fiction have their place, but in my experience, it's hard to find something that's not a rehash of something else I've read before. And while the books I love most are following many of the same patterns as other great stories over the centuries, they do it in a way that feels fresh and new to me.
I'm not saying that there's a lack of originality, either. I don't think mash-ups are the only TRUE new books. I love classic fantasy and sci-fi. And mysteries. And romance. But I'm not always in the mood for something with a classic feel. Mash-ups give me something ELSE to read through and engage with.
What about you? Do you have any favorite mash-ups? What are they, and why do you like them?