I think my stuff is definitely character driven. I cannot claim to have had anyone speak to me from my backseat before,though. And I must also admit, that in general, I am too absorbed in whatever I’m doing to notice people around me enough to consider giving them stories. I’m more likely to get ideas/characters from stories. I once developed a character, and an entire book, around the Fleetwood Mac song, “Rhiannon”.
Character stories seem to be some of the easiest for me to write, at least until the characters flip me the Hawaiian Peace Sign and head off into parts unknown-to-author.
What is a character story? Oh boy, I’ve found three different definitions, and I don’t entirely agree with any of them. One, Orson Scot Card, says that character stories are driven by the character’s desire or need to change something about herself or her situation. An English textbook says it is any time an individual is the main plot driver, and an academic paper went so post-modern that I gave up trying to understand what the author meant once I got past “the main character is also the protagonist.”
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Doing a workshop like this would a be both a nightmare and a dream come true. Reading about the experience takes away some of the uncertainty. Still, scary, is a word I think aptly applies. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it in a heartbeat if the time, money and opportunity presented itself. What’s a challenge without a little scary to help with the motivation?
“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale
One-point-two million words.
Why sign up to write six stories in six weeks without knowing a single thing about what you were going to be asked to write? Well, one answer is, to see if I could do it. The other answer—the real answer—was that what I really, really, really, wanted was the feedback.
I went into this expecting to sell nothing. As a first-timer, I knew that the likelihood that any of my stories would make the buy pile was going to be extremely low. And I was fine with that. What I wanted was an insight into the editorial process of some real pros, people who have been doing this for decades.
When you want to learn, learn from the best.
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This article had me at the silly kitty picture. The guy the image is based on only wishes he looked so cute.
I would argue that to be a good writer, you need only to understand the human psyche. To be a great writer, you must delve more deeply into the interactions of humans, social and otherwise, than most people think possible. Not, necessarily, to psychoanalyze people – I have issues with psychology as a science, hence the title – but to truly understand what makes them tick, and to be able to predict what they will do faced with a given situation. Only that reaction isn’t going to be the same from person to person. One will freeze and be unable to react when the sound of gunfire rings out. Others will run toward it, knowing lives are at stake and even if they must lay down their life, they must respond in times of crisis. As a writer, one of these is the hero, the other the forlorn sidekick –…
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I need to reread and reread and reread this piece. And then I need to try to apply her lessons to my own horrible copy. I pretty much break every rule.
Okay, a bunch of you requested blurb clinics. And I was innocently sipping my coffee when I looked up and saw a swarm of fingers pointed at me, including one from Sarah as she rapidly ran away. I get it, I get it. The other people on this group blog write actual, y’know, books, and then try to write a blurb once a book. I write blurbs, and only every now and then try to write a book. So, blurb clinic!
To start with, I’m going to repost the text from the last blurb clinic, with three added notes:
1. Readers like characters with agency. This means the characters go places and do things, they don’t just have life happen while they’re there. Blurbs must reflect this agency – they must show your character going and doing and plotting. The shorthand for this is “Don’t use passive voice”, because nothing…
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I’m reposting this for a couple of reasons—one Jason touches on some points concerning YA that have annoyed me some myself. Two, I did the covers for the new series he’s plugging.
(Thanks for rescuing me. They were threatening to make me write romance novels as a form of punishment until I showed them one of my pen names and the Harlequin-esque novel. They hurriedly gave in to your demands and now I’m free.)
Part of the issue today with aspects of science fiction is that some authors believe that there is no hope in the future. This reflects in their writing, and their public personae as well. Far too often we’re trying to hook teens and young adults on gritty realism and bleakness when we should be offering them hope and escapism in a story. I know that the kids at my work don’t want to read a book about the grim realities of life. They prefer superhero movies where there is a chance at the hero to be a hero.
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Titles are difficult things. The one right above this article should make plain I am very poor with coming up with catchy titles. I simply thought to myself, what has been going on? Well, there’s been deer, and potatoes. Yeah, that will work. Whatever.
One of the reasons I wanted to move to Oregon was to get away from the world of concrete I’d been inhabiting for almost 30 years and turn into a pseudo-hermit in the middle of a forest surrounded with wildlife and plants. Also, I wanted to get away from the friggin’ heat. It’s supposed to get over 100°F next week. So much for that.
However, the wildlife part has happened. We have giant fluffy squirrels, ravens, stellar jays, the occasional raccoon, bobcat and of course, deer. Right now there is a doe with two fawns roaming about the area. She has finally deigned to allow another doe and a young male to join her. They were settled in a glade near my house yesterday having a little deer picnic. They also think my potato plants are tasty.
See how that works? Through great effort I managed to meld the two topics together. Okay, it didn’t really take that much work. But back to potatoes.
The growing season in the neck of the woods is limited at best. The chap down the street told me that potatoes and onions grow well, though. I immediately got some onion and potato starts and did a half-assed job of setting up a mini farm. In other words, I dug a shallow rut in the dirt and stuck my onions in and hoped for the best. The potatoes I planted in large seven gallon fabric bags. Once I added some decent soil they went gang busters. The onions…not so much. I finally got another bag and moved a few onions over to it. They’re looking a bit more impressive now, but my hopes of onions the size of my cat’s head seem unlikely to go fulfilled.
The giant plants that people keep mistaking for tomatoes are in truth the potato plants. One of them has some flowers. Shows how little I know—I didn’t realize they got flowers. The rest of the plants are in various stages of bushiness based on how many leaves the deer decided to nibble. I don’t mind sharing. The part I want is under the soil anyway. At least I hope it is. I might be growing giant tops and no actual root vegetables for all I know. I guess I’ll find out in another month or so. Should have bought the bags that have side flaps so I could peek at the goings one without disturbing the entire plant. I know, patience grasshopper.
I’ve never really analyzed my writing on the level ‘accordingtohoyt’ attempts here. I think as a living breathing person it’s inevitable that a piece of yourself shows up in your writing. We all have codes and belief systems of one sort or another and they play out in bits and pieces amid our characters. If those items happen to resonate with a reader, it can raise that particular book to a higher level for that individual. If we as writers are lucky, more than one or two people see themselves in the work and the book as a whole becomes something more than a few hours of escapism.
There are many theories of what makes a good book. The most prevalent/strongest one in our day is the social justice theory. No, I don’t mean the one propagated by social justice advocates, though they’re linked.
What I mean is that for a long time, what made a book “good” and gave serious people permission to like it was that it had classical references. That’s how you knew the writer was properly educated and thought deep thoughts. I think that started in the renaissance and before that it was “books that were good for something” the something being propagating the faith. Well, things go in cycles.
After WWI put vast cracks in the civilizational confidence of the west and we started doubting our roots, classicism because a mark of being “high class” and high class was, aesthetically and politically right out in the early 20th century. The trusted men from…
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