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Writer's Rules Revisited #16

I haven't done one of these since March of 2013, and since people keep telling me how useful they've found these over the years, I figure I might as well finish what I started. 

For those new around these parts, a brief explanation is in order. A long time ago (way back in August of 2011) I posted a list of rules and guidelines I'd been collecting in my notebook over the years as a writer. I put together the list on the blog and it was fairly popular. (You can read the whole thing here) But there's only so much that comes across in a simple bullet point list. I wanted to expand on it and we've been doing it a couple at a time ever since. 

I didn't feel like I was saying anything useful that people didn't already know for a long time, and I was reminded that that wasn't exactly the case, so I figured I'd tackle them here and there until it's done or I keep adding to the list.
If you want to catch up on the series:

You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 her…

Star Wars and Writing and stuff...

My regular blogging schedule has been a bit erratic lately. Surely you all know that there was a new Star Wars movie released. That probably has a lot to do with it. I've been distracted by that, and then got hit with a sinus infection, which made things even more challenging for my schedule. But I'm getting back in the swing and the first thing I thought I'd do would be to post an update.

My writing of prose has slowed down considerably. I'm down to only a few hundred words a day, which is lousy of me. I really need to get back in the swing. It's just so hard to get up in the morning when you're sick. Or when I'm sick.

I'll get there, though. I've got some time off for the holiday, but I need to keep pushing myself. I still want to try to get this manuscript done before the end of the year and there's only about 8,000 words left before I get there. It's doable. I just need to work harder.

As for my work that's come out in the last coupl…

Imagining a Better Tomorrow

Ursula K. LeGuin wrote some of my favorite fantasy books, even though I only managed to read them this year. The EarthSea books were absolutely incredible and, although I was late to the game, I became a large fan of Ms. LeGuin's.

And then I saw this video of hers:



She's accepting National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters here, but the speech is incredible and it called upon us as writers to imagine worlds with alternatives to capitalism. We live inside of capitalism. "Its power seems inescapable," she says to us and I have a hard time disagreeing with her. "So did," she continues, "the divine right of kings."

And here she's hit upon my favorite thing about writing fiction. That we don't have to be trapped in the world as it is. We can imagine it as we want it to be and inspire others to think about it in this way as well. How many of us weren't inspired into science by Star Trek and its in…

You've finished your novel, now what?

I'm positive there will be a hundred pieces written about what you should do with your manuscript when you're finished with it, but none of them will have been written by me. And so this modest entry to my writing space is my suggestion on what I think you should do with you novel now that you're done with it, but it's your novel. You don't have to listen to me.

The first thing I'm going to tell you might seem difficult and as though it will take a long time, but it's absolutely going to help you more than you realize.

Write another book. 

Yes. That's right. Tear into a brand new manuscript. Something that doesn't even feel like what you've been working on. Don't let yourself go back to that other manuscript until this one is done. And there are a few reasons for this, and it's the method I use personally. Let me explain:

Writing a book is a massive learning experience. By finishing a piece, you've leveled up as a writer and have new s…

We need to read more...

I've made a conscious effort to read more in 2015. I was writing so much in 2014 that I let my reading slip behind. I didn't quite realize how much reading less would affect me, but I knew it was having some effect.

In 2015, I committed to read at least one book or graphic novel for every week of the year, hoping I'd be able to fit that into my schedule easily enough. I've read far more than that by now, but I have to say that I'm having the most productive year of writing in my life, which is the opposite of what I thought would happen. I thought that if I dedicated more time for reading, it would naturally take away time for writing. And while it did that here and there, I found that it actually made my writing time more productive.

I also made it a point to read books outside of my normal comfort zone, as well as fantasy books that would help me avoid pitfalls on my own fantasy novel that I was preparing to write, and then began on during the year. I found that …

An Oasis of Time and Space

I find the most important tool in getting my writing done is prioritizing the time and space to write. People ask me where I find the time to write, and I tell them, "I get up early and write."

To me, it's seems that simple, but I realize it might not be for everyone.

John Cleese, the writer and comedian, called it his "oasis of time and space," and I think everyone can find a little bit of that. Some people find those oases and fill them with working out (which I need to do more of) or with playing video games (which I don't need to do more of). There are a thousand things you can prioritize, from sleep to better eating, and writing is just one of those things.

But it has to fit naturally into your schedule in a place where you're not likely to bump it or forget about it.

For me, that's early in the morning. I get up before the kids wake up, before the sun is up, before people are around, and I take a walk in the morning to a coffee shop. I'm t…

Setting Writing Goals and LOTS of News...

It's been a huge week for me, and it's only going to get bigger from here.

Before we get to that, though, I want to talk about writing and keeping up momentum. As many of you, perhaps even most of you, know, November has been designated as "National Novel Writing Month." NaNoWriMo for short. For many, this is the kick in the pants they need to throw down the 50,000 words it might take to give them their first novel.

The process is simple. You go to their website, sign up, and start tracking your word count. There are ways to interact with other writers, compare your word count to other writers, and find an atmosphere that's competitive (in a friendly way!) and encouraging.

For me, since I'm consistently churning out novels pretty much at all times, I use the month of November to do my best to increase my daily word count and create better writing habits. I wrote my first novel before NaNoWriMo was even a thing, but when I began my second one, it seemed like s…

An Update!

I'm sorry I dropped off the face of the planet last week.

I kinda got pneumonia and had to go to the hospital and stuff. You can listen to me explain that whole ordeal on the latest episode of Full of Sith if you're so inclined. Even though I spent 90% of my time in a fevered delirium, I still managed to sneak in a couple of hundred words a day, thereby keeping up my streak of writing every day.

Granted, I may have had to rewrite a little bit of that mess, and it did set me behind schedule considerably for my own personal goals, I still feel good about the work I did to keep up my streak.

We're deep in the midst of National Novel Writing Month as well, and that's helped me get back on schedule some. I've been (over the last few days) cranking out almost 3,000 words a day. It's really lit a fire under me, and that's exactly what I needed.

Aside from that, my life has been pretty much just working and recovering, so I won't belabor this post.

As far as th…

A Look at the Trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the trailer for the new Star Wars film came out.

I wanted to talk about the trailer in the context of storytelling. The trailer says so much without saying anything at all really, it implies things and lets you infer so much information that you wonder if you're even coming to the right conclusions.

This is one of the things the Star Wars films does the best in the first place, but perhaps none was better than Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.  You're thrown into a world and given bits of context that you don't understand completely, but understand enough to keep up with the story.

For Example: "The Emperor has dissolved the Senate permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away." Think about seeing that movie for the first time and the images that statement conjures. It says a lot, sure, but it implies even more.

All of the Star Wars movies have this quality. Think about what yo…

Other Writers Are Not Your Enemy

As much as you might think otherwise, you're not actually in competition with other writers.

I know sometimes that might seem counter-intuitive, but there's nothing that says you're in a rivalry with other writers vying for shelf-space. Or for a publishing deal. Or for column-inches in a print publication.

You shouldn't do anything but try to lift up other writers as best you can. It does no harm to be kind and help as much as you can. It doesn't matter if they're getting the gigs you want. Be happy for them.

They'll remember it.

You won't be that petty person who made snide remarks or got jealous that they got a job you wanted.

You'll be that supportive one who offered nothing but gracious applause and the warmth of making them feel like it deserved it.

No one wants to deal with the other sort of writer.

Trust that if you're nice and easy to work with that you'll get what's coming to you. Don't be a jerk. Your path might be harder t…