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Posts from the ‘WRITING: CRAFT’ Category

Unraveling the story

This one’s not a how-to; this one’s a request for help. Have you ever put down something you blocked hard on, only to pick it up months or years later, and go “Oh! That’s where it went wrong! …well, and there, too. And I could have done that better. And that’s not quite right… I should explore this bit of worldbuilding, and flesh that out…”

If so, how do you decide when to edit, when to rewrite, and when to rip the characters out and start anew?
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Characters We Love to Loathe

No, not the Evil Warlord or his minions. I’m thinking of the characters that spice up a story by being Good but Irritating, or even Morally Neutral but Obnoxious. The ones that keep you reading not just because you want to see your hero save the world, but because you want to see Obnoxious meet his comeuppance, or because you laugh every time Monumentally Tactless splashes the other characters’ social strategies in their faces, or because it looks as though Good but Irritating may frustrate the hero’s personal desires even while helping him save the world. Read more

Writing at Speed: Good, Bad, or Painful?

I tend to write faster than some, slower than some. This isn’t really good or bad, except that in the indie market, quantity helps increase (sales) quality. I wrote 93K words on a novel between July 4 and August 8, with a few days off due to Life. As well as writing most of four short stories, plus blogging.

That’s not a brag, just a statement. My schedule gives me three months (mostly) off, and so I made the best of my time. Most people don’t have that luxury. Plus, as I said above, I can write very quickly when the story moves me.

This isn’t always good. Read more

A monster in the sand

“As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods,
They kill us for their sport.” (King Lear, William Shakespeare)

That’s rather how my poor characters must feel. And not a god they can appease, but the sort of rotten bastard whose divine purpose was to maintain the sacrificial stone knife industry. Read more

Coping with the Past: Or Flashbacks and Infodumps

Traces of a slower time: The horse railroad between Linz and Budweis. (Author Photo)

It’s the middle of a battle scene. The hero is pinned down, comm relay out of order, in desperate need of backup, a plan, and chewing gum (not necessarily in that order). The smell of burning plastics, choking and thick, fills the air and—

Cut to a flashback from childhood of grandpa and the burn pit, and what it smelled like when Older Brother put something with plastic-coated wires in the garbage, and how grandpa reacted, and grandma laughing about boys will be boys and…

Yeah. Story fail.

“But it’s important!” Cries Jane Q Writer. “That’s the foreshadowing that hints that the Big Bad is the hero’s long lost older brother!”

The reader, who has already set the book down (or tossed it against the wall), picks up a different book and wanders away. Read more

Legends become Stories

I consider David Drake largely responsible for my ambition to write.  As an enthusiast of history, I am impressed by where he finds inspiration for his novels- from the annals of human events.  We need not try to conjure up something incredible purely off our own inspiration and energies. Great men and women have performed such deeds as stand paramount in recorded existence.  

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It was the Lemurians, honest.

In a fit of whimsy (I have them often) I set out to write a book which takes as its starting point the idea that the ‘kooky new-age ideas’, everything you might find in the Fortean Times, from Mystic Crystals to Lemuria to Burrowing Llamas… is, if not actually per se ‘true’ but had its origins in something that, with broken telephone style oral tradition, gave birth to the idea. It’s a very tongue-in-cheek story… pure and unrestrained space opera, with disbelief suspended because the reader chooses to let go and enjoy, rather than being (for want of a better word) conned into going along with what superficially seems sort-of plausible.

I say this and I’ll have people in tinfoil hats accusing me of betraying the secrets of the Ancients.  The principal secret of the ancients seems to have been to live much shorter lives. The other secrets, such as women having perhaps two dresses, and there being no flush toilets are considered too unbelievable to even be used in fiction these days. Read more