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
I’ve reached a point in the current book (#7 in the Applied Topology series, for those who care) where I have to stop, take a deep breath, sit back and… read all day. Or maybe all week.
No, really. I have to. I’m not just making excuses to take off, I swear! (Oy… please, people, don’t let Thalia beat me up! She doesn’t like it when I ask her to quit talking for a few days.)
Thing is that A Child of Magic has a subplot which requires my characters to visit Philadelphia for a day and a half. Um, during the Constitutional Convention. Summer of 1787, that would be. The bits that got them into this fix have already been written, and I’ve already worked out how this assignment leads right into the final confrontation of the main plot. But now it’s time for them (and me) to take a deep breath and plunge into the noise, smells, and mud of the big city. Read more
The first thing you need to know is I’m alive. I know that might not seem particularly relevant, but last week’s fiction was written a couple weeks earlier, and by the time it went live here, I’d already woke up feeling rather poor. When I got in to see a doc on … Thursday? It was in time to find out I’d developed bronchitis, and I should get a chest x-ray, “just in case.” Well, case happened, and I got a phone call that even letting me know I’d also contracted pneumonia. “Just a small spot in the middle of your right lung,” not that I could really tell. Kinda ouchy, actually. Fortunately, good meds are good, and I can breathe again.
So on release day, my kids dragged me to watch Captain Marvel. It wasn’t a hard drag, as overall I’ve enjoyed the Avengers movie arc. I have not seen all of the movies, have definitely not watched all of the TV series spin-off, but I’ve seen enough to be Team Cap all the way, and to appreciate the Human Wave story underlying the series as a whole. My takeaway from Captain Marvel? Human Wave. If you’ve enjoyed the previous movies, you should go see it.
That being said, while my review on my blog was about the movie, the message, and the massive missing the point the actress who tried to torpedo the movie was guilty of, this blog post is about storytelling. Read more
Just a couple of days before leaving for LTUE I finished the accidental novel. I’d set a mental goal of ‘done before the con’ and I was elated to get it finished, and off to beta readers, before I left on the trip. During the trip, beta comments trickled in. I love my readers, and am so appreciative of the time they take to make thoughtful insights that help my work improve. But while I was at the con, I’d get a notification, see it was from the beta reader, and think ‘do I need to see this now?’ Read more
So, a bit like Merlin in The Sword in the Stone, my characters are living life backwards. Sort of. I had to do something unusual-for-me with Shikhari #5, that being write the first chunk, then jump to the end, then work backwards. The reason is Chekhov’s Gun*. Read more
For we were just the product
Of the ever spinning wheel
Round and round we go (The Strawbs, round and round.)
I read a story by a fairly well-known author the other day. The dialogue was good. The character was moderately interesting. The pacing was somewhat monotonous… but what made it a chore was that it had no clear ‘axle’… It was just a recitation of events. It had a beginning and a middle and end. The hero did something… but something essential was missing. That ‘axle’
Hmm. One of my own writing concepts. Therefore, probably mildly loony, at best. I’m going to have to explain what I mean. Read more