The moment has arrived; your book is ready for its debutante ball. But no matter how finely honed its grace and manners, formatting and prose, it still needs to be dressed in an eye-catching cover that lets the readers of the world know exactly what genre and subgenre she is, and what promises are being made that will be revealed if they can take her home…
And if you’re like me, you’re not an artist. (Really; I just feed them.) So you have to get someone else to do that. Read more
I drew a piece of art the other day meant to evoke emotions. It’s a pig (inside joke) riding a motorcycle up into the mountains. His labcoat flapping, he’s not got a care in the world, the lab left far behind him… The cartoon lives on the whiteboard outside my boss’s office, and it’s meant to inspire thoughts of summer and leaving work in the dust once we’re all headed home (and yes, he’s riding these warm summer days now). But as I stepped back to make sure I’d gotten proportions and such right, I was thinking about it in terms of writing, and making our writing appealing.
To grab our readers by the heartstrings, and give a gentle tug, is to keep them engaged with the story and wanting to know what happens next. We all have commonalities, from wanting to be outside rather than stuck in a windowless lab on a bright beautiful day, to saying AW! At the sight of a puppy or kitten. Stories that make us feel good are far more likely to have us returning to re-read them time and again than stories that made us feel grimy and gloomy. I was working on a list (always!) of books for girls, and I was noting that as with any list I curate, some of the titles are older than I am, but loved by generation after generation. Little Women, the Five Little Peppers, Black Beauty, and so many more. I loved all of them, and they among others were the ones Mom had us reading out loud to the family while I was growing up. But what is it about these tales we all connect with and love? Read more
I see a dark sail on the horizon
set under a black cloud that hides the sun.
bring me my broadsword and clear understanding.
bring me my cross of gold as a talisman.
Jethro Tull, Broadsword
It was a dark and stormy knight… ahem. My wife often watches TV (and as often as not reads and knits at the same time, leaving me in awe) while I cook in the evening. Now that’s around a corner, and I can’t – most of the time – hear the dialogue or see what is happening. This is good. Never watch a car chase while dealing with hot oil. Read more
*checks watch* It was that time a few hours ago. Okay, so more than a few hours ago. Okay, so I’m late. Again. You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had.
As an aside, any day everybody in the house survives until bedtime is a GOOD day. I’m just putting that out there. I mean, it’s not like I was trying to write this post earlier with two toddlers demanding my undivided attention. Each, not together.
Anyway. To more writerly-important things: to the War of Art!
Something fantasy this way comes…
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about using folktales in fiction, especially fantasy. I bought a CD of Songsmith, filk written to go with the novel of that title. The book was a collaboration set in Andre Norton’s Witchworld, and the songs are about events in the book, or are referred to by one of the main characters (a bard). Norton uses a lot of folk tale and historical references in the Witchworld series, but so deftly that unless you are really looking for them, you’ll miss how she weaves them in.
That’s what I want to focus on. Not on re-working fairy tales and folk-tales as Mercedes Lackey, Diana L. Paxton, Robin McKinley, and others have done, but using details from folk-tales and history as story elements. Read more
The loves I’ve left behind…
I’ve just had a couple of weeks of my cousins from Brittany visiting. Like us, they’re a family quite content to companionably read, but they like having adventures with – as they call me – Robinson (as in Robinson Crusoe – when the boys were teens, visiting us from French urban life, I introduced them to being hunter-gatherers, which made me ‘Robinson Crusoe’ long before I lived on an island) as well as eating the ‘exotic’ (as in shot or caught or collected ourselves) things which are our normal diet (like the picture), not theirs. It’s been a busy time, spearing, netting, diving, shooting, to say nothing of the prep of the gear, and processing and cooking. Read more
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.” Read more