Skip to main content

Posts

My Origins Schedule

As many of you might know, Origins Game Fair is a convention I've been doing for the last four or five years now. Although the brunt of the convention programming is based in table-top games, there is a healthy writing track that includes people like Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn. Margaret Weiss is joining the "Library" this year. And then there's me.

I do a lot of writing panels (which you will see below) and I think it's one of the most fun conventions I've ever been to.

If you're in the Columbus, Ohio area and you're here for Origins, come by. I'll be signing and selling books at my table in the exhibition hall whenever I'm not on a panel. It starts tomorrow!

The schedule is also subject to change, so you might see me pop up where you might not expect!

THURSDAY 11 a.m.

Character Building, Heroes and Villains Learn to craft a protagonist who will catch and hold your readers’ attention, not just with heroics, but with flaws, quirks, and se…
Recent posts

Doing it Over Again

Last night was a great night. It was the last official shoot for my short film. It was a reshoot, though, and that gave me the vague sense of deja vu.

It's expensive and time-consuming to reshoot something. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air. Not only do you have your cast and their schedules to juggle, you have your camera people, makeup department, sound person, etc.. You also have your own time you have to manage. It's a difficult thing to get a group of adults that large together for anything let alone something that even mildly resembles work.

So when you call everyone and ask to do something over, it's a big deal.

But the end product is going to benefit for it so much, even if it's hard, so you do it, right?

That's what this night of reshoots reminded me of in my writing. Sometimes it's just so hard to redo a scene or a piece of the structure. Every moment ripples toward others and, in a long book, a minor change at the beginning could have monu…

Not Quitting

I'm not going to quit being a writer.

I've written 14 books so far. As many feature length screenplays. Hundreds of short stories.

I'm not going to just give up.

But for many writers, that's a thing that comes up in their mind. That they could quit. That they might. I mean, I'm not here to tell to stick with it or to leave. That's obviously a decision you'll know is right for you. But I read recently that the writers you see aren't the best, most talented writers. They're just those that didn't quit.

And I take a little bit of offense to that remark.

Not quitting is part of the talent. It might even be a talent of its own. But should you quit? Personally, I don't think so.

I  read another article that's been making the rounds the other day. The headline? "If you want to write a book, write every day or quit now." I'm not sure how that advice helps anyone. I happen to write every day. That works for me. I'm not going to…

Collaboration is Good

I'm in the midst of making my short film, which started as a story I wrote on my own. We've completed principal photography. I'm in the editing room and it looks like we were able to capture everything we needed. But in order for me to do that, I had to trust a lot of people with my story and my vision. I created the story, yes, but I had readers look at it and had them give me notes for revision. Then I turned it over to actors and they had to inhabit the parts and bend my vision to fit theirs, for their acting is their art. Then I had to bring in a cinematographer who I had to trust to get the images I'd described to him into the camera. I'll have to trust that the musicians who put together the soundtrack will apply their art to the best of their ability. And then my art, after the story is written, is to become the conductor and make sure all those collaborative artists plying their trades work together to synthesize into one piece of art.

For prose writers, t…

Characterization

I was asked by a fellow writer how to approach characterization in a way that allows one to express their personalities without putting it into plain text. And I think that's a great question. No one likes to read about how a character acts outright. They want to see it.

A lot of this will come down to the classic "show don't tell" advice.

No one wants to read a passage where you say something like, "Jason was a constantly nervous person who liked ice cream when he could get it. He had a short temper and was prone to large outbursts. He hated this about himself and would cry himself to sleep at night."

This is the sort of narration that might fit well in a Wes Anderson movie, but to make that character interesting without a person like Gene Hackman or Bill Murray sort to inhabit it, you need to show us all of these things. If your character is constantly nervous, how can you show that in other scenes? Are they constantly biting their thumbnails? Are they s…

The Road to Freelancing

I've been freelancing for a long time now. I've written for websites ranging from my own like Big Shiny Robot! (and this space) to Huffington Post, HowStuffWorks, Fantasy Flight Games, and StarWars.com. I've written for magazines and newspapers. I still have a regular column at Salt Lake City Weekly, which is the alt-weekly here. I had a weekly column before that in IN This Week, a now defunct weekly from the same area.

How did I get to the point where I was getting paid for my writing on a regular basis?

Well, it wasn't easy, for one. For two, no two writers will have the same path to that point. What worked for me might not work for you. And the path you take might be completely wrong for me. But I can tell you what I did and how I started and you can see where that goes.

Let's start in high school, shall we? I was on the newspaper staff for three years in high school. My first year, we had to print out the text and wax it to layout pages and hand lay in gutters…

Bravery in Sharing

I was asked to take a crack at explaining to other writers how to deal the vulnerability that comes with sending out your work.

I'm not sure what to do about that.

That's something that comes with every piece of your soul that you bare in writing. There's not much I can say to make you feel comfortable with sharing your work. This is a highly personal process. And all I can do is give you some advice on what to expect and what not to expect.

First, you're going to need to develop a thick skin. People are going to give you a lot of feedback on your writing and you need to understand that they are trying to help you. No one writes a perfect, clean first draft. And when you hand that first draft over, there are issues with it that you are completely blind to. People will point them out. It's nothing personal, they're trying to help you get better and help you see some of the things you've certainly missed in the blind fury of a first draft.

And there's al…