Archive | December 2009

reading

A quick google search revealed a list of the top 100 best sci-fi books. I did this because I understand about how much reading is needed to write well. (After reading Charolette Younge and seeing character development last year, I know.) I don’t like reading. It takes so much time and it seriously distracts me.

Anyway, I glanced through the list and I’ll put my two cents in on it. Surprising, I’ve read some of these.

1-Ender’s Game [S1]–1985 I have read this book and though I found it very good up until the end, I never had the motivation to continue in the series.

2-Frank Herbert–Dune [S1]–1965 This one just scares me.

3–Isaac Asimov–Foundation [S1-3]–1951–No comments except that I read the first page and found it interesting.

4–Douglas Adams–Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [S1]–I suppose I should read it, though I’ve always thought I disliked comedic books.

5–George Orwell, 1984–1949–Read it. Very sad.

6–Robert A Heinlein—Stranger in a Strange Land–1961

7–Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451–1954–Have been wanting to read this for a while actually. Never have gotten around to it.

8–Arthur C Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey–1968–Didn’t even know this was a book actually.

12, Robert A Heinlein, Starship Troopers–1959–Again, have been wanting to read this one.

13–Larry Niven, Ringworld–1970–Something about this title triggers something in my memory, but I’m not sure what.

….

15, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World–1932–Read it. Rather good in the beginning but bad at the end.

16, Dan Simmons–Hyperion [S1]—1989–Didn’t have any problem with this until I read that there is a sex scene it. I will not read a book with a sex scene in it.

17, H G Wells–The Time Machine–1895–No offense against H. G. Wells, but I’ve always thought of this book as boring.

19, H G Wells, The War of the Worlds, 1898–Again, sounds boring. But the recording biases me.

20, Robert A Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, 1966–Read. Loved it.

21, Ray Bradbury, [C] The Martian Chronicles, 1950–My brother read it and it looked boring, but he said it wasn’t that bad, and that is good for him.

—-

24, Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, 1992–I heard this was good actually.

26, Ursula K Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969–I’ve never liked her as an author. I’m not sure why.

27, Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead [S2], 1986–Again, I didn’t have any interest in reading it.

28, Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park, 1990–No interest, although I didn’t know that it was that new of a book.

34, Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time, 1962–We own this book I think, though I’ve never read it.

….

36, Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1870–I’ve been curious about this book since there was a picture in my study room.

38, Carl Sagan, Contact, 1985–I’m bias, but I would not read anything by Carl Sagan.

….

48, Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars [S1], 1992–I took it out of the library once, before I knew it was that good.

….

51, Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818–I should read this, but again, I don’t want to.

……

59, Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Shadow [S1], 1999–More or less read this one.

….

62, Niven & Pournelle, Lucifer’s Hammer, 1977—It’s just me, but I probably won’t read this one either just because of Lucifer part. That just sounds evil. I’ll probably look into it. FAr Side of Evil was very good.

75, C S Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet [S1], 1938–REad this when I was, oh, maybe 10. Bad idea. I should go read it again.

76, Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space [S1], 2000–I’ve been wanting to read a book by him, actually.

82, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars [S1], 1912–I heard this one is very good.  There’s 10 in the series too.

….

89, Edwin A Abbott, Flatland, 1884–I didn’t know this was that famous. I have an ipod app with this book. I just found something to do during school.

… And that’s them all. I guess I’ve read six of them. I almost thought I had more. If I didn’t have so much editing to do, I’d go to the library and get some of those out. Maybe I will anyway. (Actually, I want to upload all those books in public domain onto my touch, so I can read them.)

But, as C. S. Lewis said, read as much as you can and don’t read magazines.

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giant’s wife, cont. 12/31

One interesting to now about this upcoming section is that, besides that there are two parts, is this actually proved to give me writer’s block for some time. I wrote the first, smaller section and then did not know where to go from there.

My probably ended up laying in the fact that I planned it from the wrong person’s POV (point of view). I planned to write the banquet from Jacey’s POV. However, Heddwyn’s proved to be much a much better choice. As soon as I realized that, and then determined to write the troublesome scene, my writer’s block was gone.

*****************

“Jacey?”

Jacey turned from the mirror and pinning her hair. Behind her, Heddwyn stood tugging absently on a sleeve, like it was uncomfortable and unfamiliar. No wonder he felt awkward at these events. Between his hair having just been trimmed and warring sleeves, he looked completely different, but remarkably handsome at the same time….

how to edit

I once read something that basically said this is how you edit. You do step a, then step b, then step c, then step d, then step e.  That is the  most advisable way to edit. (I’d post it if I still had it.)

I thought that was a good idea and I would follow that. More or less did step A, which is where I read it through and changed all of the wrongness with characters. (I’m not the best about knowing how my characters behave at the beginning of the book.)

Then, I moved on and started to see about doing step b, except, whatever step b was I a) didn’t know fully how to know for certain I did it completely right and b) thought I already did it.

After that, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone edits different. This was later proven when i heard that one author only edits her book once, because anything more than that would bore her.

I more or less then to agree.

That all being said, this is how I edit, which pretty much works for me. I’ve won some writing contests with this theory and so I’ve seen it work.

1) write the whole story (although I might go back and reread sections, editing them slightly then, I pretty much do no editing while writing. On a side note, it makes for a lot to clean up and with myself not liking editing, it isn’t the best way to do it, but I also learned never to not write the next section if I know how it goes.)

2) read it through once on the computer. This is to handle any gross mistakes and make it flow a little better. This is where, if I don’t understand what I wrote, I fix it up, because now I know for certain what I want to say.

3) Print out the whole thing (this can be huge) and do a paper edit. Edit the story on paper. I first baulked at this fact because it uses so much paper and is is so big and costs money, but it’s really advisable. You just don’t pick up the same mistakes that you do on the computer.

4) Insert the paper edits onto the computer. This can be done either per section basis or all at once. In larger works, I do it per chapter because I might not remember what I meant.

5) Read it through again, either on paper or on computer. This is to make sure that you don’t forget things like periods or have extra sentences that you forgot to delete. (I don’t do this step on smaller works though, for some reason.)

6) I think this is when I’m done and it’s finished. Now just find a title.

I’m on step 5 with Shad and step 3 (paper edit) with Kontyo right now. Personally, I like writing it much better than editing but I learned that I need to have both if  I want anything decent to come out of it. Someone (a famous author, but who escapes me) said something along the lines of write fast and edit later. Also, editing is the key to good writing.

So, although I dislike doing it, I’m off to go edit more.

giant’s wife, cont. 12/30

Heddwyn did not actually live in town. After living the past ten years outdoors, the town felt so closed in that he could only last there about one day. As such, he bought a house about a mile from the town so that he had some place of his own to stay while on leave. He hoped that when he finally retired he could spend more time here than just that.

spell checker

I love spell checker, so much. I come from two parents who are both bad spellers. As a result, I am cursed.

Spell checker is one of the best things ever invited. (Although I could survive living in the 1700s, minus the fact that I would be blind, would be just as good.)  I need it. I use it even while posting posts, and not because I’m too lazy to type things correctly.

As it turned out, I discovered today that I stopped running the spell check on Giant’s Wife midway through. I forgot that when I began to posting things, only to remember today. although I thought I might be further along when I stopped, I wasn’t and posted things that hadn’t been spell checked.  (However, that problem I have where I capitalize the first two letters in the beginning of a sentence stays, thanks to appleworks.)

So, I ran the spellcheck through some of it and then posted the new things. So, hopefully now it’s bearable to read.

giant’s wife, cont. 12/29

Targo City.

It looked normal from a distance. But as she neared it, Jacey began to realize about how incredibly large it was. The camp did nothing to prepare her for the towers that stretched into the sky and the roads wide enough for perhaps four or five carriages. Even though she sat on a horse, everything towered around her as she rode down the street next to Heddwyn in a parade of the returning soldiers. Never in her life had she felt so small. Worse, many of the TArgoian’s watched her, even cheered for thier return. All she wanted to do was make it to some place of privacy….

merging characters

I saw something about how you want to keep characters down in a story. If you can show that Jane is overwhelmed with her parenting responsibly with five kids as well as ten, have there be five kids. If you only need one sidekick, don’t have two. (But don’t strip things down either. Just writing now, it might be interesting to make it look like our heroine, Jane Doe, has two sidekicks to help her out, Bob and Jessica, when in reality Bob becomes a distraction because of her growing interest/love for him, and becomes more of a separate plot device.)

I realized today that I might have a situation where I can move two characters together. See, I created Jess who lives on a colony planet. Much of her purpose is to show why people with seposomen can be feared. (Seposomen is the special skill that some people have, both hero and villain.) She is also there to watch two of the leaders of the seposomen circle decide they are going to move anyone who wants a safe place from the home planet here. (One of the characters in that story is MIles, who plays a very important role after Part/Book 1.)

But in all honesty, her plot is very poor. There is only one scene of hers that will be interesting or good, and that is when her ex-boyfriend comes in and tries to shoot up the restaurant, and Miles stops him. I’m still struggling for a good story with her, that will keep readers from moaning that they have to read about Jess again.

On the other side of the system, at the home planet, I have Eric. Eric is a friend of Vanessa and has been since grade school. He just got married and, at the end of the book, his wife is going be basically killed by the people with seposomen (but the bad group of them.)

All this is in accordance with prophecy.

Not really. I just thought of that line about how to annoy people, by ending things with “in accordance with prophecy.”

Eric and Jess are the only non-seposomen characters in the whole story, minus third-ranked characters, such as Lucas, and other one-scene people. Both of them, by the end, will have a reason why to dislike the people with seposomen. Eric, because, obviously, his wife was killed. Jess, because the guy with Miles decides to hold her captive after she finds out about seposomen. (This isn’t public knowledge at the end of Part 1.)

So can I merge them?

I’ll admit, I don’t know everything that the characters will be doing. I was thinking something along the lines of when Vanessa is captured later on (oooo), Jess could be the one to actually set her free. And Jess  could show that some people realize that seposomen, in the hands of the right people, is safe and go back to the colony when Karl goes semi-narcissistic.

But I can just as easily have Eric both those things, with saving Vanessa because he is friends with her and believes her when she says that she had nothing to do with blowing up the subway. And I can have him also go back to the colony with Miles in the end.

The only problem is I really want to do that scene with the guy in the restaurant, but I think it would be more effective anyway to write something from Miles’ POV, including that scene, than to write it from Jess’ scene, while she’s trying to run. Or, I could possibly have Isaiah do it randomly, but that will probably be too much, since he’s already said to be really awesome and by having Miles do it instead of Isaiah, readers would then see that Miles is just as good as Isaiah is, if not better.  (Or I could have Miles and Isaiah do it together at the end of the story, but that’s probably not as good of an idea, because it’ll be such a distractor.)

It’s times like these that I wish I had a writer friend. I don’t, not really. And no writing group either. It’s just me, trying to figure everything out on my own. But, surprisingly, these blog entries are actually helping a lot. This is two for two now that I think I know what I’m doing.

So it looks like the key then to coming out of writer’s block–freewrite the problem and it’ll come.

giant’s wife, 12/28

Heddwyn always enjoyed the freedom of having his own camp, just him and his men. A certain comradorship envaded the whole camp and brought with it a certain relaxation that one felt nowhere else. Everyone acted more casual and yet, more alert at the same time. They now were the dreaded twenty-second.

giant’s wife, 12/27

Just realized I really probably shouldn’t be posting Giant’s Wife at all, it’s that bad. I don’t even have a chance to edit it, with me both needing to finish two things by Jan 21.

***

With a gasp Heddwyn jerked away. The screams still echoed in his years. He could almost smell the smoke. But none of that was real. None of that had happened for ten years.

Slowly the tent materialized around him. He felt sweaty; he must have fainted. Someone touched his shoulder. Automatically, he grabbed the wrist and twisted it back, pinning the person to the ground. Pain flared trhough his arm and he gasped….

cultural differences

We all think about cultural differences when writing a book that takes place in a foreign country. What we fail to realize, especially if we live in one general location for much of our life, is that even in America there are huge cultural differences that you may not even realize between the midwest and the east coast.

As a result, I shall share some of them with you, and probably post more as I think about it. (I can probably post a whole post about farming, as a note, so I will probably leave most of that out of this one.)

To make this easier, I will say that I have lived in three small towns in the midwest, one in Minnesota, one in South Dakota, and one in Illinois. MN town size was about 2500 in the southwest corner, SD town size about 14,000, and IL town size about 100 in central IL. I will probably refer to these towns in my examples. (HOwever, as a note, the town in SD is in the top 10 largest towns.)  By MN, I do not mean the twin city area.

– First of all, there might not be a local walmart in town. In MN and IL, we had to drive an hour to go to Walmart. There might be a Pamida, a cheapo walmart without food, about 10 miles away, depending on the location of the town and the nearby towns, but just as well might not.

– There are no malls in small towns. None. General rule of thumb, if the town is on a radar map, it has a mall. If not, no mall. Even the town in SD,

– Also, there are no real bookstores, like Barns and Noble or Borders. If you want a book, you can either buy it used from a second hand store, such as goodwill or salvation army or even a locally owned one. Sometimes, the library sells book as well.

– In SD, (At least in Mitchell), they charge a dollar for interlibrary loans. However, in MN, you can get a book from anywhere in state, so long as the library will send it to you.

– When buying a (used) car, one can borrow the car from the place for a day, after they copy your license. With that, you can test drive it and see what everyone else things. (This was at least true in MN and I’m pretty sure SD.)

– Everyone goes to church pretty much. This is getting a little less common with younger people but everyone does pretty much go to church on Sunday. It’s not a case of whether or not your a Christian. It’s a family thing.

– In MN, they knew who we were, knew who our dog was, but we hardly knew them. (They called once to tell us to catch our dog or they’ll call the police.)

– The police in MN caught dogs and would bring them to the vet in the next town for holding.

– People in SD do not use outhouses.  We have indoor plumbing just like everyone else.

– (applies to SD and MN) Snow isn’t that bad, in all honestly. We will leave the house and do things when there is snow, even if they are saying six inches. The snow plows just go out and start working. However, the problem comes when the wind picks up, or there is ice. Blowing snow makes driving difficult and ice, although not that common as part of a storm, makes a normal snow storm bad.

– There is nothing but fields between towns. Fields and maybe a few houses but generally just fields.

– There are no streetlights on the interstate. It’s all dark. And there isn’t always cars either that you can see, so it might just be you and only you in both directions.

– People in small towns are not as friendly as it always looks. It takes about three years for them to accept that you are going to stay I’ve heard.  However, that doesn’t mean people don’t know; it just means that it’s not like people in the movies where everyone knows, and talks to, everyone.

– Towns usually have their own fireworks display somewhere near town.  (IL did not, but a larger town (about 12,000 I think) did.

– Fall doesn’t really happen up north in SD and MN. There’s about two weeks where all the trees change colors (boring colors at that) and that is all.)

– The wind can be a real killer, especially in winter but sometimes in summer. We do get 30 some mph normal winds. This can be difficult to ride a bike into, or even walk. MOreover, one time a bad wind came and we had a layer of dust on the table we normal ate at. However,  a 15 to 20 mph wind isn’t that bad. 20 to 25 is when we start to worry. (We also almost never have no wind, either in SD or in MN.)

More shall come later, as I think about them, including a special one on farming as I know it. (Oh, and just so that you realize I can say this, I’ve lived in southern CAlifornia for some time, Knoxville, TN, and visit my grandmother often in northern New Jersey.)