Archive | March 2010

goals–not met

So I posted a few weeks ago my goals for my writing. And I have managed to successfully fail at them. Well, at least one.

See, one of my goals was to send Time of the Dragon Slayers into a writing contest. I decided against that. Partly because I’m so tired, partly because it costs lots of money (okay $5 but…), and partly because I gave it to someone to edit.

Now, I don’t know if she is really going to edit it or not. Or how much she will is more correct. But, I’m hoping to get her evaluation of it back tomorrow at work. And, in a way, it makes sense to wait. I’ll send it in next time. (When is that? June 30th I think.)

Now, maybe I should have send When Darkness Swallows in instead but like I said, I’ve been tired and it takes a lot of work to prep a manuscript. Also, I have no clue how that stands besides that it lost the writing contest at school. If it lost that one, surely it will lose the other one.

On another note, I mentioned, I think about two months ago, my plot for arranged marriages. Well, good news and bad news. Good news is that I finished the first draft and it’s bout twenty-six pages. BAd news is that it is really bad.

Not terribly bad. I understand the characters at least. But I’ve been so tired while writing it and such that the writing isn’t good.

So if anyone as any tips on how to write tension or on how to write action scenes, that would be of great help when I go to edit it.

AS a note, working title for that story is now “Miles’ Love.”

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how to be a writer in five [marginally] easy steps

When I first started this blog, I said that the name came from something a writer friend of mine said when I was having a down time. He said that anyone can be a writer so long as one writes. It is being an author, that is, a published writer, now that is difficult.

As such, being a writer isn’t that difficult and here is pretty much how to go about it.

1.) Write. And I don’t mean that if you’re a fiction writer, write blog posts (like I’m doing now instead of actually writing.) If you want to be a fiction writer, write fiction.

2.) Realize you can undo. The scariest thing in the world is to sit down and stare at the blank page and not know where to begin. So what? Just start writing anyway. If you get to the end of your story, and you realize that it really shouldn’t have started there, then you can go back and fix it. But start writing anyway.

3.) Have a clue about where you’re going. I don’t mean have an outline about each and every scene. I merely mean that know that my story starts out with Natlie meeting Justin and ends with Natlie leaving the Dragon’s Nest. If you have clue about where you’re going, it not only saves you time writing, it encourages you to keep going for that next scene.

4.) Edit. Nothing is completed without being edited multiple times. And although it seems like a large waste initially, my stories dramatically improved when I began to print it out on paper and edit it like that. Also, it’s a bit more convenient.

5.) Keep writing. IF I were to decide that school and work and everything was too much right now and I’m done writing, then I would no longer be a writer. I would have been a writer when I was younger. But i am not a writer anymore. In order to continue being a writer, one must continue writing.

So, that’s all there is. In reality, being a writer isn’t that difficult. Now, being a good writer is a completely other story.  But just like any art, writing requires practice. So keep at it and someday, you will be a good writer too.

six tips on the art killing characters

When I first began writing, I was fourteen, very naive, very young, and figured that the best way to get a stunning (as in the reader is stunned) ending was to kill off an unsuspecting character and shock the reader. My logic was that if the principle is true that, “People live, people die, life goes on,” that should apply to books as well.

Then, I grew up a little, became a little more knowledgeable about the art of killing characters, but just as naive to death. (I am very fortunate in that I haven’t had anyone close to be die.)

Fact: There is truly an art to killing off characters in a book. And here are five tips to help you along.

1. You can’t kill characters just because. Character’s death need to have a purpose in the story, or the reader feels cheated. It’s like the idea of when they decided not to kill Hans Solo in the last Star Wars episode.

On that same note….

2. When the reader looks back, the reader has to [pretty much] agree that the death was for the best. The reader will again, feel cheated and think that the death was a waste.

3. Have a logical death. Saying that a character dies suddenly, unless that is part of the reason for the death, will not go well with the reader.

4. Don’t resurrect  too many characters. If you’ve seen Alias, you might know what I mean. Killing off a bunch of characters, and then constantly having them pop up throughout the whole story  is just… boring. That also applies to ghosts. Ghosts are not good.

5. Don’t be afraid to do it. Maybe you’re not like me and you like your characters and you can’t imagine killing any of them off. But you keep thinking that by having Bob die, it would solve three of your problems that you are having. But you don’t want to be dark and gloomy and sad and depressing. But, it really would help.

Do it. Sometimes killing a character is the hardest thing that you will never have to do, and the best for your story. Chances are that most people won’t think you’re dark just because you kill one (or two) characters. (And to be honest, if you really are extremely dark, you won’t care about it being too dark.)

6. Listen to the characters: Sometimes the characters themselves tell you that they need to die. In my first real novel, I knew the leader of the rebellion did not make it to the end. Now, when I began writing I thought he died in one place and he ended up dying later on. But I still did let him die. So don’t try to save the characters when they tell you that they will die. It makes your life easier for starters.

Slight announcement: Due to Passover starting tonight, I will not be posting a post tomorrow. Posts will resume on Wednesday as normal.

Question of the Week, 3/28

Last week I asked the question “How do you build a writing support circle?” And the answer came up to be something I suppose basic but still a good reminder considering that we live in a very technologically  diverse age.

Jublke Wrote:

I’ve found wonderful and supportive folks online -via Yahoo groups, Twitter, and on-line classes. Find blogs you like and comment on them. Some blogs have large community followings.

For support closer to home, check your local paper’s events section, browse the “about town” bulletin board in your neighborhood coffee shop, or visit your library and see if there are any writing-themed events planned.

Now, being still reasonably new to the blog world (I started late December),  I’m not sure how you find these blogs about writing. Any one that I find I find because they comment on mine. But I have thought about that possibility recently.

Another development that happened this week was I mentioned to an English teacher at my college that I’m trying to improve my craft but I’m finding it difficulty because I don’t have anyone to give me feedback. She said that we should really see about doing something about that next year, and I only have about an 800-person campus.

So my answer is: Ask people in the writing industry. Maybe you don’t know a writer, but you might know a teacher who would have ideas or recommendations.

So, moving on. Today’s question of the week is:

How do you go about editing a very bad scene?

We all get them. THat scene that we wrote at midnight, or that just seemed to fit until that character told you that little detail about themselves. How do you go about editing that scene?

Sorry it took me so long today. It’s been a really busy day and this is almost my first chance to write this up.

Edit (April 3rd): Please note that although these answers cannot be posted as a blog post, answers are still welcomed as references to people who might search. Thanks.

Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 8)

The last one. Remember, the story is on the side bare there.

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Between the small fire and Justin’s cloak, the cold stayed away as best it could that damp night. Justin knew how to make the small cave her family always used as a refuge against the dragons cheery and provided warm food for them both. But not before they set up a small stone for Colton in the little birch grove where the rest of her family rested. Although she hated the fact, that was all they could do. There was nothing to bury.

Justin lowered himself next to her after tossing on another log. He stuffed his pipe meticulously and inhaled deeply before he looked at her.

“Are you ready to hear my plan?”

Read More…

six tips for make good stories

To be honest, we want things quick and the quickest way to gain information is by having it in lists.  I’ve been meaning to write this post all week but I’ve been too busy to do so. Now I’m not, so here we go.

1. Tension: All stories need tension. It’s tension that keeps the reader reading. Tension doesn’t necessarily mean that the hero must have a gun pointed at his/her head every time you break. It just means the reader is asking constantly, “But what about this?” “HOw will he/her react to this?”  So long as you always leave a question, you always have tension. However, the true skill is when the reader asks the question that the writer has never written down for them to ask.

2. Action: This kinda goes along with tension except on a different level. It’s one thing to have constant questions bouncing around constantly. It’s quite another to have the character do something about it. So make sure your characters DO something.

3. 3-Dimensional characters: Characters have to make sense to the reader. Meaning you, the writer, have to listen to them. I’ve written several posts on good chararacters in Five parts to any Character, More on Creating Good Characters and Character Weaknesses.

4. A convincing  plot: Some, very famous authors can convince readers to suspend logic when reading a book. However, unless you’re writing humor, it’s probably safer to have everything make sense. (What I’m thinking about right now is when I decided to change a character from a naive good person to a greedy scheming individual.

5. just Enough:  I admit, this tip will be of no help. However, all stories need a balance. Few people want to read stories about brains constantly being splattered on the wall. Few people want to read stories about people constantly having sex. Few people want to read stories about people constantly fighting, constantly running, constantly going to the bathroom, ect. Everything needs a balance and you don’t need to show us every little nasty thing the person does. So the guy has some anger management issues. But maybe we get the point after the second time he blows up for something small, and a few comments about him going to anger management class (again) and his girlfriend leaving him because she’s tired of him blowing up at him. We don’t want to know this after he’s blow up in every scene from page 1 to page 150.

6. Stop at the End: I know that this seems obvious to some people, but stories need to stop at the end of the story and sometimes, especially for new writers, that’s difficult to find. Don’t drag out the ending just because you don’t want the story to finish. My sister keeps asking me if these two characters at the end of Shad ever get married. My answer is I don’t know. That wasn’t the story of Shad. Shad’s story is him getting off the ship. So I don’t need to tell anyone that he stayed at that job for ten years, made it significantly safer, married Kayla, had five kids, and his rules became the guidelines of all mines across the galaxy. So stop when you’re done.

when the future interweaves with the now

I have been wanting to write a post for several days on heath care and the health care reform. Why when this is a writing blog? Because I believe that with the politicians in WAshing trying for universal health care, there is a lot to be written about. (I say trying due to the fact that there are too many lawsuits out there and that this SHOULD go to the Supreme Court  and probably be overturned there, if the judges have any guts to follow the constitution.) I am going to try not to get political.

See, Universal Health Care in American (which I shall now abbreviate as UHCA) can take so many routes depending on what we think the outcome of this bill will be. Will this mean that everyone is now going to live in peace in happiness to the ripe old age of 90? Will this mean that the government will start forcing mandatory exercise programs, like in “1984,” so that people can be better and healthier and then the government doesn’t have to fund so much?

What about the corruption of the politicians? This bill is 3000 pages long! Surely they can slip somewhere between the pages that all congressmen get their own private doctor and a spa built into their own to “promote health.” Nearly every time in history, when a socialist government was tried, it actually resulted in two groups of people. The every day people that were poor and then politicians, that are rich.

HOw does this effect the everyday person? How would a person go to the doctor now? Is it going to end up like Canada, where any serious diagnostic test takes years to have done, any operation weeks to years?

Or maybe it will be bliss. Maybe everyone will be flocking to working in the health care industry now because of how great it is, everyone will be healthy now, America will be the pride of the world and the leader and healthy reformations. [would insert sarcastic remark here but promised she would try to avoid political commentary]  Maybe it will be what Obama really thinks it is.

Or what does Obama thinks it is? I’m sorry, but too many people have said that having UHC is a bad idea for a country to do, England included. So maybe it is more of a way to manipulate “stupid” Americans into controlling them. Maybe it will be what Obama wants but it will not be what the people who think it is good wants.

We, as science fiction writers, have just had a door open. We no longer have to explain how UHCA was passed because it has been. If we want to get technical, and depending on what picture we are going to pain, the sudden deaths of a bunch of Supreme Court justices would explain why the bill never was overturned by the Supreme Court. Now, we can let our imagination run wild, free, and do as it wishes.

This sudden change really causes me problems, though, because I have been toying for a while about a story that may take place thirty years from now. The story did involve the results of health care, if it passed, and you can probably guess they were not pretty. Since I have been thinking about what story to write next, I’ve been toying between that one and another one that really doesn’t have a whole lot to say. (It’s based off of a song.) I honestly wonder if this should be the time to write that one.

No matter. Although on some levels, this is bad for writers because they are taxing royalties, this is also good for writers because suddenly we are put in a situation that asks, “What if….”

What if health care is good?

What if Obama is a robot from Mars and is going to posion us all thorugh this health care? (That would explain why he doesn’t want his birth certificate shown.)

What if this becomes like “The Giver”, where the old are terminated as soon as they become “not useful”?

What if the election was rigged in 2008?

What if people are only treated for non-preventable diseases?

What if… the question of a science fiction writer.

I was going to put a link to an awesome youtube video but it doesn’t work as well as I thought.

Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 7)

The (so far) complete verson of “Time of the Dragon Slayers” is there on one of my pages, if you haven’t read the beginning.

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

For some reason, Natlie expected when she came back to the farm Colton would be there, looking tall and solemn across the land. She’d touch his shoulder gently and he’d look at her with a sad expression. “We’ll rebuild,” he’d say. “We’ll rebuild it all, just like it’s always was.”

Read More…

the playground in my head

I’ve know that for a long time, I’ve always considered “strange” ways of getting plots as questionable. Like the story about how J. K. Rowlings saw Harry Potter while on the train and heard that if she wrote about him, she would be rich. Even Twilight I might have questioned in the beginning.

The fact is, however, that dreams play an important role for us writers of non-everyday fiction books. Look at it this way.

Our brain/subconscious/whatever you want to call it gets thousands and millions of signals a day. Each one of the signals the brain has to interpret. Some of these signals get picked up by our “plotting” section of our brain (Yes, I am really a nursing student) and gets flagged as a possible plot. We then, in our immense logic and foresight, either store the plot idea/detail or discard it as garbage. It all is based on the logic of the moment and must behave very grown-upish.

However, when our brain/subconscious is asleep, it suddenly gets to go to the playground and play. For once, our plotting section is allowed free reign over the whole brain and can do whatever it wishes. This, obviously, results in some  very strange dreams but it also allows for thoughts, memories and the like to be connected in such a way that our adult subconscious never would bother to connect it.

Dreams, in essence, literally can be created into plots because of the randomness and chaos associated with dreams. So let the randomness win.

Time of the Dragon Slayers (part 6)

The weather only become warmer, with many rumors of this being the hottest autumn ever felt before. Colton wiped his brow and took the water gratefully when she offered it. Threshing was hard enough on cool autumn days that doing it in near summer-like conditions zapped his strength.

He gulped it empty before handing it back. “Thanks.”

Read More…