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Sequins: more and badder villains

While Dave is moving, here’s another piece of his really good advice from the archives, this one from September 2016:

A friend put up a meme about the inherent logical conflict any really good book causes: you don’t want it to end – but you want to keep reading to the end.

His comment was ‘make sure there are lots of sequels.’

Ah. Eyes that see what they want to see. I read that as ‘make sure there are lots of SEQUINS’: an excellent maxim, which promptly sent my male heterosexual mind back a back a good many years to a fine sequence of sequins. Read more

Pulp fiction: a blast from the past

As another building block for wannabe authors (including yours truly, because we never stop learning until we die!), I’ve been looking at older advice on how to write – plot, setting, characters, etc.

We tend to think of “how-to” advice for authors as being something relatively recent, and in one sense it is – because many of those giving the advice are not authors, or are not particularly popular authors, judging by their sales numbers.  I don’t know what qualifies them to offer such advice . . . all I know is that I won’t take it.  I’ll look to successful authors, past and present, and try to learn from them.

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The End… Or is it?

This isn’t, necessarily, about series. Although it could certainly apply to them. No, it’s something I’ve realized about myself after more than a dozen novels and novellas, and I figure I’m not the only one with the dread writer’s ailment of can’t write an ending to save my life. Read more

Stretching Reality

Yeah, I write SF/F but that’s not quite what I mean.

Writers get information from a wide variety of sources, the best one of which is their own life and experiences. And from what you’ve done . . . you extrapolate that out and into the fictional world you are creating.

It starts early, as early as your childhood experiences and memories. Family, friends, school, the Bad Kids, Car trips with the parents.

Pets, the dogs and cats you grew up with. Horses you’ve ridden and owned. Horse shows, your favorite trails. Yeah, I use horses a lot, you’ve probably noticed. Read more

Good Critic, Bad Critic

Last time I talked about dealing with the destructive inner critic, so I thought that today it might be worth mentioning that it’s not really a good idea to silence or ignore all the criticisms that float through your head. Some of them come from the useful critic, the one you definitely want to listen to. It’s not hard to distinguish them. The Bad Critic makes statements that are usually personal attacks, and are always designed to silence you. The Good Critic asks questions that spark ideas and help you improve the story.

There are lots of checklists of questions to ask yourself, but I don’t find these terribly useful. I prefer to take a step back from the story and see what floats into my head when I try to read it as a stranger might; when I sense a weakness in what I’ve written or recognize an old stumbling-block. A lot of them are things you might expect to hear from beta readers, but I don’t believe in counting on beta readers to fix problems I can catch for myself. Here, then, are some things I might hear from the Good Critic during the journey from initial idea to finished draft. Read more

When Overloaded

the normal response is to fall back to habitual things, to narrow one’s perspective to the most immediate concerns and just try to survive.

As far as I can tell, we’ve been like that pretty much forever – it seems to be a slightly more self-aware version of animal survival instincts.

Which would, of course, explain why we just keep doing it, even when it’s not the best way to deal with a situation. Or in some cases a decent way to deal with something.

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The Strangeness of It All

If you’ve been following my adventures, you already know that I recently traveled overseas for a week. If you didn’t know that, welcome to the mayhem!

Lest you have any doubts, the trip was amazing. We got all of our catastrophes out of the way before it even began (missed our flight and had to do an eleventh hour rescue to get another one) so the rest of it went pretty smoothly. I got to see a neat little microcosm of northern Portugal, had some experience in ‘how the other half lives’ in more ways than one, and oh, yes, had a second wedding. Read more