Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2016

Asking Questions

There are times when I'm writing, at just about any stage of the process, from outlining to revision, where I will find myself in a tough place. I won't quite know what's wrong, but I do know that moving forward with any sense of momentum is difficult.

I've found a pretty fast and simple way to get me out of these situations: by asking questions.

It's really as simple as that.

I don't ask these questions out loud or anything, or even in front of other people, unless I'm bringing in a collaborator or a sounding board to help. No, what I use is my notebook. It's amazing how liberating it can feel to get off of my computer, pull out my pen, and put ink on paper.

I'll ask myself all sorts of questions, and the act of asking the questions forces me to rationalize answers.

Here are some examples from my notebook, scrubbed of pertinent details:
"Why is this person afraid?" "What secret is being kept here?"  "Why didn't they do…

Writing Vlog #5 - Art vs. Commerce and Revisions

I talked this week about the fine line between being true to your art and being commercial. I also talk a bit about revisions and my process for them...

If you have any questions for next time, don't hesitate to leave them here, I'll get to them on the next live stream! If you want to watch live, I typically do these on Friday afternoons around noon MST or so on my Facebook page. 

--

As a reminder: The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.
Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process
As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 
And please, please, please don't forget tocheck out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads,…

When to Start Revising

I'm in the process of revising my epic fantasy novel that I wrote late last year and though I'd tackle a topic that comes up often when I'm revising.

I get asked pretty frequently, "When should I start revising my manuscript?"

And I have an answer that works for me personally, but it might not be the best answer for everyone, even though I think it's good advice.

For me, the answer to that question is easy: I don't start revising a manuscript until I finish another one. There are a few reasons I do this, and I think they're all good reasons. Of course, I think they're good reasons. They're mine.

When you've finished a manuscript, the worst time to dive into it is when you're still close to it. You need to put time between you and all of the decisions you made and emotions you were feeling. Your inner editor shouldn't have the same mindset as your inner first-drafter. Your inner editor needs to be a little less emotional and a litt…

Writing Vlog #4 - Preparation and Pacing

I talk about how much work in pre-planning gets done before embarking on a novel and how to properly pace a novel. If you have more questions for next week's broadcast, feel free to leave them in the comments!

You can watch these live on Facebook on my author page on Friday's around noon MST.

Also, I'd like people to note that I'm not being pretentious with my glasses, I got them yesterday and am still adjusting to them.

--

As a reminder: The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.
Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process
As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 
And please, please, please don't forget tocheck out any of my bo…

Good Foreshadowing

I was watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind for an upcoming piece and it's a film I hadn't seen in a long time. I remember loving the film, but I didn't quite remember why it had left such a big impact on me. Maybe it was the age I was when I'd first seen it and the age I am now, approaching it with fresher (older) eyes, but it really stood out as a masterwork of storytelling. It's straightforward, sure, but as a piece of character work, it's stunning.

There's one scene in particular that I want to talk to you about, and it's something that happens in a lot of books and movies.

(Warning, the rest of this might contain spoilers for Close Encounters.)

The scene I want to talk about happens early on in Close Encounters and it will always happen early in the context of your story. It's a scene that will march you through the entirety of the movie and explain everything that you'll see, even if you don't realize it. It's like foreshado…

Writing Vlog #3

Wherein I discuss my favorite part of creating a world inside a story, how I make sure all the strings tie together at the end of a story, and whether or not a story is ever truly "finished."

If you're interested in watching these live and asking questions, keep an eye out on my Facebook author page, which you can find here. 

You can also leave questions in the comments here and I can try to answer them in the next week's video.


As a reminder: The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.
Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process
As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 
And please, please, please don't forget tocheck out any…

Anatomy of a Scene - City Lights

We're going to break down another scene this week, and it's one of my favorites in cinema history. It comes from the ending of City Lights by Charlie Chaplin, which I think is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. 
It's a touching film from 1931 and I would make it mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn to tell a story.
The scene we're going to be breaking down comes from the very end of the film, so if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Go watch the film. You can rent it for $3.99 in HD on Amazon or for free on Hulu with a free trial or plus subscription. You should just buy the Blu-ray, though. You're going to want to revisit it.
For those of you familiar with the movie, or for those of you who are going to ignore my pleas to watch it and go ahead with this post anyway, I'm going to set this clip up a bit before you watch it.
City Lights tells the story of Chaplin's Tramp and how he falls in love with a blind flower …

Writing Vlog #2

Wherein I answer questions about writing live on Facebook. First, I talk about what I learned as a storyteller from the world of film, then good ways to show emotions, and finally about good transitions in novels.

I plan to try to be doing this every week on my Facebook author page. 

Too Much Inspiration?

I did my first Facebook live chat this last weekend and there were a number of questions asked, but there was one that I answered a bit in the video, but I wanted to dive into more detail about it here.

The question came from Eric Onkenhout, and he was asked, "Are you afraid of being too close to an established story?"

And this is a big question to deal with and the answer might be different for every single writer. At what point does inspiration turn to plagiarism? Can you love something so much that your writing reflects it in a way that it's copying or parroting it?

It's possible.

But I think the key is to not try to emulate just one thing at a time. Put a number of different influences in a blender.

Sometimes, I'll get ideas for novels to put in that blender from the impossibly different sources you can imagine.

Take, for example, a novel I currently have out to query:

The first part of the idea came when I was queueing for Space Mountain at Disney World. Th…