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Posts from the ‘WRITING: CRAFT’ Category

But I repeat myself

A couple weeks ago, in one of those digression to the tangential comment conversations, I finally realized that my writing reflects my reading, and my reading style isn’t necessarily like other folks. I tend to pick up details on the first round, and incorporate them into building out the world and my expectations of the story.

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Rinse and Repeat

While trawling KU for something new to read, I recently picked up an urban fantasy that seemed to have a promising start. OK, it wasn’t exactly groundbreaking; an informal, totally non-precise study shows that 66.66% of contemporary urban fantasy novels begin with the (of course) magically talented protagonist fighting for her life against attacking demons / werewolves / evil whatevers. But this fight scene was well done, with flashes of humor that made me enjoy spending time with the heroine, and curious as to what came next.

Five chapters in, the action had been virtually non-stop but I was beginning to lose enthusiasm for the story.

40% in, I was beginning to think, “Meh, I’ll do another Duolingo Czech lesson before I read the next chapter.” And it’s not like I’m that fascinated by Czech. Read more

Blast from Antiquity – Overthrowing the Evil Tyrant

It’s been a bit of an insane week at work (or rather, at my desk at home, working), with the inevitable result that I am not braining right now. ‘Tis a sad fact of my existence that the more intense things are at work, the less I can brain outside work.

So, have a blast from the past that’s a bit more than 10 years old (ye dogs! It doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing this for that long, it really doesn’t) and lightly edited to clean up the nastier typos and whatnot.

Overthrowing the Evil Tyrant

And why it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.

We’ve all met them. Usually male, although the Evil Empress or Queen occasionally gets a look-in, the Evil Overlord, whether the CEO of Evil Inc. or the Emperor of the Galaxy, or a petty prince of some forgotten nation in Fantasyland, is something of a staple in science fiction and fantasy. Usually he, she or it exists mostly to be overthrown.

When you come down to it, it’s usually pretty easy. Not necessarily easy at the “toss a trinket into a volcano” level (yes, I know I’m oversimplifying. Shut up.), but there’s a big Final Battle of some description, the Evil Overlord dies, and all is happiness, sweetness and light. As often as not, the Evil Overlord is some kind of kludged-up metaphor for the hero’s journey to some kind of enlightenment (something the hordes of Tolkien-imitators usually fail to notice is that Frodo did not gain ‘enlightenment’ per se. He was irreparably wounded by the trials of his journey, and ultimately unable to remain in/on Middle Earth. There was a happy ending, but it wasn’t for him.).

So why do tyrannies in the real world last so long? Read more

To Revise and Reissue or Not Reissue: That is the Question

Because I’ve reached the point where I am so far along in a series that I need to go back and fill in some gaps in the series guide/story bible, whatever we call that thing, I’m re-reading the first books in the series. Gulp. One thing in particular leaped out, and that is how much a major minor character has changed. Not the description, but his role in the story, and how I portrayed him.

Should I go back and “update” the early books so they blend better with the later ones? For that matter, should I go back to my very first books (Cat Among Dragons 1-4) and re-do them, polish and improve the writing? Read more

In My Experience

Another week gone by, and another Tuesday here. Our own Amanda Green is taking a few weeks to power through a few things, including another book (keep an eye here for more news of that) and so Jon LaForce and I are going to be picking up the slack while she takes a much deserved break from working here to … do more … work. Yeah. Look, this is the writer’s life, which looks an awful lot like the entrepreneur’s life, but with more augury and divination. Tea leaves, for some, and coffee grounds for others. I don’t know what my LDS friends use. Maybe the dregs of a Dr. Pepper. Read more


I still haven’t figured out how to do sequels. John Van Stry tried to help last week, over dinner, by telling me to write “…what happens next. Even if it doesn’t make it into the book, it’s good for developing characters.”

He had a good point, so I’m trying that. It has worked out some more worldbuilding – quite a lot, rather.

It also feels like I’m writing bad plotless fanfic. Of my own story… *shudders*

Those of you who’ve managed…

Help? How do you do this? Mentally, organization, plotwise…. what do you do to come up with a sequel?


Dread Edits, only when I was thinking this through I ran the two words into one in my head. I don’t think I’m alone in dreading the editing process. It’s tedious, it can make a book you enjoyed writing into a boring chore, but it’s necessary. Editing is part of the process, even if, or perhaps especially if, you’re sending the manuscript to someone else for more editing. Read more

Accelerate to Pulp Speed!

I’m currently on the road, so replies may be slow.

Oops, started another one!

One of the big re-discoveries since the rise of both e-books and Amazon made indie genre-fiction “a thing,” is that fast and good can equal higher sales. I add “good” because while there are a few sub-sub-genres with fans so starved for content that they’ll buy almost anything, since e-books and indie really got going in the last ten years, readers have become more selective and less tolerant of poor writing. They’ve got a lot more to choose from, so they can be pickier. You can’t just toss something on-line that you personally think is The One True Novel!!! and expect to retire on the income. [Yes, I’m thinking of the book you are thinking of, the one that Shall Not Be Named because the author still seems rather protective of the work.]

However. 1. Not everyone writes fast, and not all readers demand a book every six weeks or two months. If you don’t write fast, or have too many life things to churn out words, there is absolutely nothing wrong. Readers will still like you. This is why controlling backlist and the “long tail of sales” is so important. I didn’t plan on writing any fiction this spring, because of Day Job activities. Surprise!

2. If you do like me, and can write fast and decently well, you might have an advantage. Maybe. Read more

What other answer could there be?

A fool can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer. But if you take the question which seemingly has an obvious answer: and needs must you work out how that answer does not have to be right, but that alternatives may exist… and then work out how those alternatives could exist, and what effect that might have and… Then, dear reader, odds are you are infected with that terrible malady, being a writer. The bad news is that there is no cure. The traditional publishing industry was a vaccine, at least likely to make it a mild and short-lived illness, with few side effects but for despair. But the disease has mutated, and now all that’s left is the descent into madness, where you see stories, stories everywhere. Read more

Story from the Start: Denouement

So the action/emotional tension/suspense reaches its peak, the detective reveals the murderer or imposter, the hero emerges from the smoking remains of the bad guy’s lair with only a few scratches (and the girl on his arm), the heroine politely but soundly cuts the predatory Other Woman to win her True Love for herself, the cowboys capture the rustlers before they can get the herd into Old Mexico . . .

Story’s over, right?

Well, if it is a short story, it can be. If you are writing a serial and your readers know that in advance, it can be. If it is something longer, and you drop the curtain here, your readers are going to feel cheated. Read more