Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May all your dreams come true!

Since I am not publishing as much and I am working on my own writing goals, I decided to refocus this blog to writing topics in general. If I come across a good writing book, then I'll talk about it here. If I encounter a new to me author that I enjoy reading, then I'll talk about it here. If I notice something to watch out for while I am reading, then I'll talk about it here.

Because caring is sharing. :)

And I firmly believe that not only do you have a right to your opinion, you have a right to mine as well.

Your mileage may vary.

No warranty is expressed or implied from reading these musings.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Have a wonderfully productive New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

45 Master Characters

At the library, I picked up "45 Master Characters; Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters" by Victoria Lynn Schmidt published by Writer's Digest Books. Having thumbed through and read a bit of it, I think that this book is a must have reference book for all writers. (The link is to Writer's Digest Bookshop.)

This book discusses the major character archetypes in an organized and insightful manner discussing what each archetype fears, cares about, is motivated by and so on. I can see using this book to give one's characters just a little more richness and depth.

In addition to the archetypes, the author also discusses the hero's journey both the masculine and feminine hero's journey. I'd heard of Joseph Campbell and the Hero's journey, but I had never read a discussion about the feminine version of it. The difference between the two journeys is that in the feminine journey, the character changes internally in the beginning and then goes out into the world. Whereas in the masculine journey, the hero goes out into the world and changes because of it. I found the discussion rather interesting and insightful.

I highly recommend at least borrowing a copy from the library and checking it out.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Maladjustment - The Annals of Hypnosia

The December installment in The Annals of Hypnosia, Maladjustment, is now posted for your holiday reading enjoyment.

I suggest putting down the eggnog before you read this one. You don't want to mess up your keyboard.


Happy Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This and That

A couple of random thoughts that have been running through my mind lately.

The word "never". By definition it means: not ever, at no time, not at all, absolutely not, to no extent or degree. I've noticed several authors using never to mean "did not." It's a common way of speaking in some parts of the country, but it isn't always proper English.

Consider the sentence: "He never saw his assailant." That statement is only true if he has never seen the assailant in the past and won't see him in the future. It's a hit and run or the character dies from the blow from the assailant.

But, I've seen that sentence in this situation. "He never saw his assailant. The blow to the head knocked Sam unconscious. When he woke up, his hands were tied and he saw the assailant watching him through hooded eyes." ...ummm wait a minute. I thought Sam never saw the assailant? It should read "He didn't see his assailant" for the paragraph to make sense.

That's nitpicky, but the word never is one of those words that writers tend to latch on and overuse.

I think the reason that I notice this is because I've spent the past year editing Mette's Annals of Hypnosia. She's Finnish and very fluent in English, but occassionally she writes a phrase that is a bit off. It's my job to catch those things. Usually it is a preposition that is the culprit. Technically, one could say the phrase the way she wrote it, but a different preposition would be used by a native speaker of English. Which led me to the thought that an easy way to convey that English isn't the character's first language is to misuse prepositions in their speech.

I have to say that I am in awe of anyone who can write in a second or third language and have it not be that noticeable to a native unless they are looking for it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Unfortunately, I've added another author to my used to be favorite author now I will not buy their books list.

Stephanie Laurens is the most recent addition to that list. I'm rather pissed about this one. Her earlier works particularly the Cynster novels are engaging to read. Her Bastion Club series was good, but there were large chunks of boring description that I skimmed over. Her latest endeavor is the Bride Quartet. The first three novels were okay even though there were still parts that I skimmed over. It's the last book in this series, The Reckless Bride, that has pushed me over the edge and landed her on my do not buy anymore list. By the time I got to page 149, I was so annoyed with the character's whinging and the stagnant plot that I stopped reading and started skimming to find the point where the plot started moving forward again. I skimmed up to page 300; the plot was still stagnating; so I closed the book and set it aside. I'll probably never read the rest of it. And I am really pissed about this. The only reason I read as far as I did was because it is the last book of the series and I wanted to know how it ended. I'll probably never know and I'll think two or three or four times before I buy another book written by her.

I read on some agent's blog (I can't remember who it was) that only Stephanie Laurens can get away with writing pages and pages of description. Ummm. No. She can't. And the editor and agent who let her get away with the doing this need to be beat around the head and shoulders with "The Reckless Bride."


Sales of books were down 17% this year and publishers wonder why...

I turned the comment moderation off as the asian spammers have been leaving me alone. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Books on Writing

I've been thinking about this video which has been making the rounds in writing communities:

In the past five years that I have participated in online writing communities of one form or another, I have heard all of those things said at one time or another. Interestingly enough, those people usually disappear rather quickly from the writing community.

I have also encountered quite a few writers who refuse to read any book about the craft of writing. They may have read one or two, but since the method in the book that they read doesn't work for them, they decided that all writing books are bad. Which makes as much sense to me as someone rejecting all Science Fiction and Fantasy because they didn't like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.

Then again, I'm also an engineer and my analytical brain wants to know as much as possible about creative writing. Writer's Digest publishes a lot of really good books about the craft of writing. Some of the writing books that I have purchased have really helped me understand the craft aspect of storytelling. And some have not.

Some writers can sit down without understanding anything about point of view or characterization and churn out a decent first draft. Tolkien sat down and wrote Lord of the Rings from the beginning. When he wrote himself into a corner, he stopped and started writing all over again from the beginning. It took him a long time to write Lord of the Rings, but it worked for him.

Awhile back I beta-read a short story for a writing friend. The feedback that I gave him was, "I don't understand what the story question is in this piece. Where are you taking me and why?" His response was: "What's a story question?"... Okay... On the one hand, it's okay that he didn't know what I was talking about. On the other hand, it makes it difficult for a beta-reader to provide meaningful feedback on a story if the writer doesn't know what the reader is talking about.

It's not mandatory that a writer study the craft of writing, but there's a huge toolkit available to writers, why not try a few of them out? Take what you want and will work for you and leave the rest.