Tags: writing

short

I Write Like…

So you know that meme going around about who you write like, well, I plugged in various blog entries and I got a whole slew of stuff.

My Crafty entry told me this:

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Feed me, Seymour was written in the vein of Ernest Hemmingway. The funnier 4 years ago entry says I write like Dan Brown. And my TV entry is like Chuck Palahniuk(whom I’ve never read).

What this tells me is that I should write scary and satirical action adventure stories with characters that find redemption. Does that sound like me?

Who do you write like?

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

short

Novel Revising

I just wanted to point out that on Jennifer Crusie’s blog, she has a thing for revising your novel and in this case, scene by scene.

She has a list of questions for you as an author to answer about the scene and she also has a list of questions for your beta readers to answer.

This may help you revise a scene that you don’t particularly like or think there’s something wrong with.

But I also caution against over-analyzing it. This isn’t rocket science. There isn’t only one formula to make a story work. So don’t get bogged down in this when you’re looking through these questions. I’m a firm believer that many writers have good gut feelings. But I think these questions she asks are good if something isn’t working quite right and you need to figure it out.

Good luck!

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

2011 July

All I Need is the Right XYZ

I’m reading The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. It’s a book that Jennifer Crusie said was a huge influence for her and I am a ginormous fan of her work. So I’m slowly going through it.

The beginning is all about writing struggles and anxieties. Did you know that EB White had really bad anxieties about his writing? He wrote Charlotte’s Web!

And for writers, if it’s not worrying about publishing, it’s worrying that the critics won’t like the work or if it’ll sell or if people think the book is hack work. Basically, there is always something to be worried about.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. Writers are neurotic messes. We all know this, we worry about everything. What I wanted to talk about is the chapter about excuses not to write. There was a section about how if only I had the right pen/paper/computer/electronic device/private place to write/nice coffeehouse, I would be able to write. I found this absolutely hilarious because I have fallen victim to this too.

When I was younger, I completely fell victim to this. I was looking for the best portable device to write with. Found a bunch of PDAs and found the alphasmart, which a lot of writers use. I never bought any if them though. But I sure knew a bunch about it!

I sometimes see this on newsgroups too where someone would inevitably ask what the best writing software was and there would be a dirth of suggestions. Then there would be a few people that would say Word, you don’t need anything else! Which is the truth. You could write a whole manuscript in notepad if you wanted to.

These days, I write on the floor in the living room. I lie down on my stomach and I write in a cheap notebook that I stock up on after the school year starts. They are always on sale for 50% off!

I’ve got a huge selection of pens to write with (due to a quest in finding the perfect pen several years ago). But I mostly use my fountain pens at this point. It is my one writerly splurge.

The point of that chapter is that the difference between those who write and those that don’t is that the non-writers will always have an excuse.

If it’s not writing equipment, it’s time or personal life or I had to wash my hair. It’s always something and that root fear boils down to fear of failure. Because if you don’t try, you can’t fail.

And that’s all the waxing I’m going to do today. Cuz I gotta write a new story now that I’ve sent out all that hasn’t been trunked.

Crossposted to Samantha Ling, Dreamwidth and Livejournal

2011 July

Amusing Rejection

I got a rejection letter today that made me laugh.  It said:

“It was well received here…Lots of fun, and I particularly liked the voice; however, utterly amoral. “

It’s the “however, utterly amoral” part that made me laugh.  All in all, it’s a good encouraging rejection.  I think the amoral part is what’s keeping magazines from accepting this one.  I’ve sent it to several places that have said relatively the same thing (minus the amoral part).  But it totally makes sense now that someone has pointed it out. 

I still love this story, so I’ve sent it off again.  But I think after a few more places, I might just post it as a free read.  I think it’s fun.  Even if it is amoral!

***

Also, my new hair stylist fixed my hair for me today.  It is now much shorter than I usually have it and I feel like it’s a funny length, not quite short enough and not quite long enough.  It’s that in between length that makes me feel conservative.  She had to cut nearly 4 inches altogether to get it even.  It’s a little bit past my shoulders.  But the shorter hair is easier to manage, so it’s a trade-off.  </font>

Originally published at Samantha Ling. You can comment here or there.

2011 July

Relish It, Don’t Disparage It

With NaNoWriMo happening, a lot of writers are putting down tons of words a day. For those of us who don’t have time or are slow writers, we feel like we’re slackers. We feel guilty for not producing. And for some of us, we should be. We’re watching too much television.

But for the rest of us, we see the uber-producers and feel inadequate. Well, you know what? Dennis Lehane took a year and a half to write Mystic River and look where he’s at now. You don’t always need to be fast.

And for those of us who have day jobs that rob us of time we wish we had to write, write when you can. Don’t beat yourself up for not putting down enough. Just put down some and keep going.

Because, as a friend wrote today, “Every day you put down words is a victory. Relish it.”

Originally published at Samantha Ling. You can comment here or there.

2011 July

Literary vs. Genre

There's an interesting article over at LitPark asking a couple of thriller authors what they think is genre and what they think is literary. It's an interesting article.

I admitted a long time ago that I don't like literary fiction. The fact is that many of us don't. We like a good yarn, a story that has stuff happening. I don't want to read fifteen pages on someone trying to get up a flight of stairs, one step at a time. I don't want to read about his shoes, the gum on the third stair, the smell of the air for fifteen pages and when he gets to the top of the stairs, there was no point in those fiften pages. I don't get anything from it other than my time wasted. If it takes fifteen pages for the protagonist to walk up a flight of stairs, this person better be paralyzed by something so he/she can't go up these stairs. Like this person only has wheels for legs and not two feet. It better be because they had to struggle up the stairs.

I came to grips with this several years ago when I tried to read an award winning novel. I was either not smart enough or sophisticated enough to understand it. I accepted it. I just don't like the literary stuff.

My mom used to take us to the library every week so that we could get books to read. I liked the books I read. I liked Judy Blume and all those choose-your-own adventures. And as an adult, I like chick-lit novels and spy novels. I like mysteries where I have to solve a crime. I like stories about dragons and magic. And maybe that's considered low-brow and escapism. But at least I'm reading a book a month. I'd rather have people reading fun stuff than not reading stuff you should be reading. But I suspect I'm preaching to the choir here.

I'm currently reading "Poison Pen" by Sheila Lowe. It's about a handwriting expert who's solving a murder of a friend. What are you reading?

2011 July

Stupid for Stupid's Sake

I'm reading this book where one of the characters is stupid for stupid's sake. She's stupid in that she doesn't listen to adults and gets into trouble and then she rails against the unfairness of it all. In other words, she's spoiled. But she's spoiled and she's not clever. She's just stupid. It frustrates me and I just skip the chapters in which she is the main character.

Other things that bother me are characters in horror movies (and it's always helpless dumb women too), where they're told to stay put because it's a safe place and someone will come back to get them. So they're left all by their lonesome, but because they're too scared to stay put, they go after the hero and get themselves into trouble and thus the hero as well. Usually this character screams for help and the hero has to come rushing back. It always seemed to me a cheap way to increase drama. Plus the character is selfish when she does that. She isn't thinking about who else will get in danger because of her stupid acts. Who can root for that? She walked right into danger when she could have been perfectly safe elsewhere.

Now if she had been hiding in a safe place and was somehow discovered by aliens/zombies/bad guys and then she had to be clever to get out of the situation either by hiding or outwiting the opponent, I have no objections.

If she leaves her safe room because she's scared to be a long and walks into a room full of zombies and she's armed with a can of Aquanet and a Bic lighter and she uses that to set the zombies on fire, I can live with that. Because she's prepared or whatever. But then she wouldn't be too scared to be alone would she? She'd have to leave safety because someone more helpless than herself was in danger, like a child. Because someone who was too scared to be alone wouldn't be strong enough to fight things off.

The book I'm reading, the girl is told she can't have something, because to accept a gift from this person would lead to situations she's not ready for, and it would have implications. But the girl doesn't listen, thinks the gift is from someone else (her crush), and opens the gift anyway. Now all I want to do is strangle her. Why are these characters so stupid?

2011 July

He had feelings, but who is he?

I have a bunch of books that are half read that I will most likely donate in the next Christmas run. Some of them I've even managed to read half the novel, but I wasn't enough to read the rest. If I wasn't interested in what happens to the characters by the time half their story is over, I'm definitely not going to plow through to the end. Unfortunately, that's more books than I care to count. I should really give a book only about fifty pages. But you know, some of them were either acclaimed or by my favorite authors, so I hate to give up before I even gave them a chance.

One of the things that's frustrated me concerns multi-character novels. Let's say we're reading a novel that has Kirk and Picard. They're both men and they're on a space ship. One chapter begins with "He sat in the captain's chair wondering if his ship would make it home." Then three paragraphs later of describing the ship, we discover that it's Kirk. The next chapter begins, "He wasn't sure if the shields would hold for another hit," then a page later, we discover it's Picard. And the novel follows this pattern in which I don't know who's point of view I'm reading and so I'm left feeling in limbo, not sure who to attribute these thoughts to until the author's already described the beginning of the scene. I get thrown out by that sort of storytelling. I can't associate any peril to any person until I know who it is. And when I do finally discover who it is, I have to then bring all the things I'd read and associate that to the character. If the scenes began with a name, I could immediately associate the scene with what's happening. "Picard wasn't sure the shields would hold for another hit." You know what ship, you know the crew, you know the captain. You know who's in peril.

I've read a lot of mystery books that use this style, but it's usually associated with someone the author didn't want you to know. It's usually associated with the unnamed bad guy. We know there is one and that he's planning on kidnapping a victim. We know that someone is going to get hurt. But we can't know the identity of that guy because we're trying to figure that out. But at the same time, we aren't caring about him, we're caring about his victims, who he's chosen next, will our hero or heroine be able to save the next victim before our bad guy gets them. We don't really have any feelings for the bad guy, but we know who he is because his chapters are the only one's that start this way. The characters that we're supposed to care about, their scenes start with their names in the first sentence so we know who they are. The bad guy is never named until the end, but we know right away when his chapters begin.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't write this way. I'm the last person to tell you how to write. But I will tell you this. Leaving me to guess who's POV a scene is in three paragraphs in will make me put that book down pretty damned fast.

2011 July

One More Time

So I was talking to Ben today about an old story that I had that I was going to post on here so that people could read it. It had made some rounds and I'd misplaced the information about where I'd sent it, but I remember that it had gotten returned to me at some point. I mean, I still like the story and I want people to read it, so I was going to post it online as a free read. But he's like, you've got to try sending it elsewhere. Then he proceeded to give me a list of places to send it to. (They were, unfortunately, all closed to submissions at the moment.) But it gave me the push to send it to yet another place, so I found one that wasn't closed that might be amenable to that kind of story and I sent it off today.

And since I lost my submission list, I decided to look at submission trackers and found Sonar, which I like a lot. So I don't have to write my own. Why bother when someone else has done a perfectly good job of it? And it's portable, so you can stick that puppy onto a USB drive and take it with you.

I have also posted the whole of "Waking Chang-Er", so if you've ever wondered what that story was about you can read the whole thing.

2011 July

100 words: Week 1

The 100 words a day for 100 days is going well. I've written the bare minimum at a little over 100 each. Most of the people in my local chapter have written over 1000 each. Many of them have written much more than that. Jon managed to finish his short story via this challenge. Adrienne has written nearly 500 words today, so she's doing well with the challeng. And Niccola and I commisserated over our crappy words, but that's not the point of this exercise. The point is to try to make time to write every day. I think we've accomplished that this week!

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