Friday, December 30, 2016

Thoughts on Writing (41 - 45)

41. Just because somebody else did it first doesn't mean that somebody else did it better. At the same time, just because you think you're going to do it better doesn't mean you necessarily will. Be just as objective with reworkings of old stories as you'd try to be with totally new ones. You actually need to work harder when you're dealing with the familiar.

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42. You are not the next Stephen King. You are not the next Emma Bull. You are not the next anyone. You are the very first you. Comparisons are wonderful things, because they tell people whether you're working in a style or genre that they enjoy ('If you like Warren Ellis, try...'). But don't let comparisons turn into a prison. You are always allowed to bust out with something new and amazing and blow the roof right off the goddamn nightclub.

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43. Your ass is for sitting on, not for talking out of. If your characters are supposed to be gun experts, talk to some people who shoot guns. Read some books about guns. If the books don't make sense to you, hand your manuscript pages to someone who knows guns and say 'please fix.' My original draft of Newsflesh literally included 'INSERT VIROLOGY HERE,' because when I wrote that chapter, I hadn't finished designing my virus. I finished my virus, double-checked my epidemiology, went back, and finished that scene. If you don't know what you're talking about, learn enough to fake it.

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44. You don't have to like your characters. You just have to stay true to your characters. I may not appreciate the fact that Shaun insults Mahir's wife on a daily basis, but it's what the character would do, and I'm not going to change him just because I don't approve of his behavior. Some people will assume you approve of everything your characters do. Try to learn tolerance. Also, don't punch them.

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45. You are brilliant and you are a hack. Sometimes you're going to be both in the same day. Embrace these two sides of your soul. Then bash their heads together until they start playing nice with each other, because nobody likes the golden goddess whose every word is a honeyed pearl, and nobody likes that other girl, either.

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