Sunday, August 20, 2017

Stupid Can Be the Writer’s Friend

When Louis C.K. hosted Saturday Night Live recently he began his stand-up monologue with the oldest, dumbest joke in the world. “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Then he went on to turn that rather lame beginning into a smart commentary on racism. “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because there was a black guy walking behind him. And he was nervous. He was new to the city, this chicken. And he was, like, I feel like he’s following me but I’m not sure.” And so the monologue continued, using deft humor to disarm us just long enough to take a hard look inside our own hearts and see what might be lurking there. It was a nice piece of writing.
He was also using one of my favorite tricks as a writer. If brilliance isn’t happening, if you find yourself staring endlessly at a screen empty of anything but a blinking cursor, just write something stupid to get you going.
Imagine Louis C.K. trying to figure out what to write for his big moment on the SNL stage. It would be enough to seize up any writer’s mental wheels. So finally, he starts with something any second grader could have come up with. “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Now he’s no longer sitting there worrying over an empty page. He can get to work pounding the keyboard, connecting that random opening line to a smarter second one. And then another. Most often when I’m working like this the stupid first sentence disappears altogether as the piece takes shape. Occasionally, like the SNL monologue, I can find a tension between a dumb set-up line and the smarter material that follows and use that to make the writing interesting. In the end either way works. The point is, sometimes you need to sneak up on brilliance. Just get the writing moving. Then you can see what develops.
A few years ago I spoke to a group of co-workers about creativity. One of the best slides in my Powerpoint was, “Make Stupid your Friend.” Under that heading I listed four thoughts.
-Stupid makes us human.
-Stupid is easy. It gets the lid on the jar loosened up.
-Stupid allows you to go places you shouldn’t and see what happens.
-You might be able to bend a stupid idea 10% and suddenly it’s brilliant.
It’s probably not a method you’ll find taught in many college writing classes. But when I need unfettered creativity I’ve found that writing a fast, dumb line to start it off is one of the best tricks I know to take the pressure off my brain. I can always steer things in a more high-minded direction later on, once the real work of writing gets underway.
So if you find yourself with brow furrowed and head in hands trying to think up some profound way to start out your next piece of writing, give something stupid a try instead. You might like what happens next.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

How to tame yourself to understand your writerly friend...

 Ok here are some more rules on how to tame your writer and turn yourself into a friend to one:
  1. Yes, by all means you can tell your writer something in confidence! Tell them about your sex life, what color your poop was, and that crazy embarrassing thing that happened to you...just realize that they are going to use it all in their writing at some point and there is nothing you can do about it. Once it’s in the writer’s imagination, there’s no erasing it.
  2. Just like a Facebook status you see, not everything a writer writes is about you. Don’t assume that it is, it’s probably not. It’s probably about something completely unrelated to you, if you’re not sure, or you are curious, just ask your writer!
  3. Whether they are getting paid for it or not, writing is a writer's job. They treat it like one, and so should you.
  4. A writer can’t teach you to write, so stop asking them.
  5. Writers are writers because they absolutely love words. They love how a certain word can completely change the meaning of a sentence, of a conversation, or of a story. If you are talking to a writer you should think about every word you’re saying, because they are going to and if you use one that hurts their feelings they will store that information away for a very long time and study it in their writerly mind.
  6. When a writer isn’t writing, when a writer cannot write for whatever reason, it causes a very physical and extremely emotional response in that writer. Writing is their therapy and their demon, all at the same time. If the writing is bottling up inside of them, then there’s a problem. They will be moody, they will be emotional, they may even be downright bitchy. Writers don’t mean it so don’t hold it against them. Writers just need to write again and then they will feel better!
  7. At a party, or any large gathering, writers might choose to sit off to the side and simply watch what’s happening. It absolutely does not mean they are not having a good time, or that they want to leave. As writers they are always studying people, painting the scene in their mind so they can retell it later in their writing and save it, retell it to someone who hasn’t seen what  they have seen. As writers, they are an observer and that’s where your writer is the happiest!

 For further reading on how to become a writerly friend and tame a writer I suggest reading the scene of the little Prince and the fox by Antoine de Saint-ExupΓ©ry (1900–1944). He really meant to call the fox "writer" but it just didn't go with the story...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Happy Friendship-Day!

Even writers need friends besides their imaginary one...

So may real life gift you with as many friends
as your books and stories!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

How to become a writer's best friend....

Being friend to a writer can be really challenging.
Not because they are mean people but because in general - well they live in a different world than you!
So sometimes its hard to reach them (Cellphones don't really work on other planes or in other worlds and times!). But once you get through writers are really nice and worth trying to be friends - after all not too many of your friends can take you through magic gateways and introduce you to imaginary friends, right?
So here are a few rules to keep in mind when trying to get a writer accustomed to you:
  1. Sometimes your writer friend will space out, or stare off into space while you’re talking. You cannot take offense to this, they are not ignoring you or bored by your story (okay, in fairness they might be bored by your story I don’t know for sure) but more likely they are daydreaming a new story they want to write, or a scene they want to create, or even a blog post they are dying to write.
  2. If you’re going to tell your writer friend a story you must proceed the story by saying “You can/cannot use this...”if you don’t specify, then we will assume that it’s up for grabs and you may see your story in a future blog post, or story that we create. When we write it, we might not even remember that we got the idea from you, so you really need to tell us whether it’s on or off limits. The responsibility is all on you, are we clear here?
  3. Accept that writer friend may want to write about you all the time. Or never at all. Or a combination of both, at completely random and unexpected times. Writers can’t predict it, why should you be able to?
  4. You should understand that while writers may seem to be listening to you intently, really they are mentally recording this entire conversation in  their memory so that they can use it later for their own creative purposes.
  5. Understand that while writers appreciate your helpful ideas, they might not be able to use them all in their writing. It doesn’t mean they aren’t great ideas (Okay, again it might mean they’re not great I don’t know...) but it just means they can’t make it work for what’s sparking their creativity at the moment. Don’t take offense, it’s not you, it’s their muse!
  6. If writers tell you that they are unable to do something because they are writing it doesn’t mean that they don’t want to do what you’re asking them to do, it just means that they really are -  writing! Writing isn’t like a job where you clock in and clock out. Sometimes if they put it aside, when they come back the spark, the idea, the inspiration is gone like a puff of steam on a cool night. If the story is coming now, then now is when writers have to write it! 
More soon - you're not off the hook yet!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Where have all the dots-dots-dots gone? πŸ€”

Oh see - more πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄!

7) Ellipsis points are used to indicate faltering speech, especially if the faltering involves a long pause or a sentence that trails off or is intentionally left unfinished. Generally, no other terminal punctuation is used.
The speaker seemed uncertain. "Well, that's true ... but even so ... I think we can do better."
"Despite these uncertainties, we believe we can do it, but ...."
"I mean ..." he said, "like ... How?"
8) Ellipsis points are sometimes used informally as a stylistic device to catch a reader's attention, often replacing a dash or colon.
They think that nothing can go wrong ... but it does.
9) In newspaper and magazine columns consisting of social notes, local events listings, or short items of celebrity news, ellipsis points often take the place of paragraphing to separate the items.
Congratulations to Debra Morricone, our up-and-coming singing star, for her full scholarship to the Juilliard School this fall! ... And kudos to Paul Chartier for his winning All-State trumpet performance last Friday in Baltimore! ... Look for wit and sparkling melody when the Lions mount their annual Gilbert & Sullivan show at Syms Auditorium. This year it's ...
Ellipsis points are similarly used in informal personal correspondence in place of periods or paragraphing.
We'll be away for the weekend and then back to work Monday ... You're welcome to come for the graduation party at the end of the month.

And there you have it. Now, go forth and with a new command of ellipsis points and a new sense of confidence when you need to collect your thoughts on the page ... may the πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ be with you!

(Original at Merriam Webster's Dictionary)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Not done with dot-dot-dot yet! πŸ€“

  The πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ are back!

4) If the last words of a quoted sentence are omitted and the original sentence ends with punctuation other than a period, the end punctuation often follows the ellipsis points, especially if it helps clarify the quotation.
Workshop attendees are presented with a series of questions beginning "What advice would you offer someone who has experienced ...?"
5) When ellipsis points are used to indicate that a quotation has been intentionally left unfinished, the terminal period is omitted. No space separates the last ellipsis point and the quotation mark.
The paragraph beginning "Recent developments suggest ..." should be deleted.
6) A line of ellipsis points indicates that one or more lines have been omitted from a poem, as in the following example from Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer." The length of the line usually matches the length of the line above.
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
 (to be continued πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄)

 (More Dots hide at at Merriam Webster's Dictionary)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

It's time to stop to call them dot-dot-dot πŸ˜‚


πŸ‘†You see those dots? All three together constitute an ellipsis. The plural form of the word is ellipses, as in "a writer who uses a lot of ellipses." They also go by the following names: ellipsis points, points of ellipsis, suspension points. We're opting for ellipsis points here, just to make things crystal clear. (And since we're aiming for clarity here, we'll also point out that ellipse is a different word, though, we're sorry, it's sometimes used to mean ellipsis.)

Some thoughts on ellipses are coming…

Ellipsis points are periods in groups of usually three, or sometimes four. They signal either that something has been omitted from quoted text, or that a speaker or writer has paused or trailed off in speech or thought.
That's the basics. Now we'll dig in to how they're used.
1) Ellipsis points indicate the omission of one or more words within a quoted sentence, as in the following example from the Preamble of the U. S. Constitution. Note that they are usually preceded and followed by a space:
"We the People of the United States ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
2) Ellipsis points are usually not used to indicate the omission of words that precede the quoted portion. However, in some formal contexts, especially when the quotation is introduced by a colon, ellipsis points are used.
Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address ends with a stirring call for national resolve that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Its final words define the war's purpose in democratic terms: "... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Ellipsis points following quoted material are omitted when the quoted material forms an integral part of a larger sentence.
She maintained that it was inconsistent with "government of the people, by the people, for the people."
3) Punctuation used in the original that falls on either side of the ellipsis points is often omitted, but it may be retained if it helps clarify the sentence structure.
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation ... can long endure."
"We the People of the United States, in Order to ... establish Justice, ... and secure the Blessings of Liberty ..., do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
If the omitted part includes the end of a sentence, a four-dot ellipsis may be used, with the first dot being, in truth, a period that follows immediately after the last word.
As the Declaration of Independence asserts, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.... That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ..."

(to be continued πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄)

(Dots and idea borrowed from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Show love to unsympathetic characters!

And one last time we return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #10 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


10) No “unsympathetic” characters

It’s certainly true that if you’re going to have a main character who’s a total bastard, you’re going to have work harder to win over the reader — a likable character is just obviously easier for readers to get on board with. But at the same time, feeling constrained to make your protagonist — or all your major characters — as sympathetic as possible can put a straitjacket on your writing. You’re stuck trying to create characters who will seem sympathetic to all your readers, no matter what cultural context or attitudes they bring to the story. And you’re putting severe limits on what sort of actions your characters can take. The bottom line is that “sympathetic” isn’t the same thing as “compelling” — a character can be unsympathetic but utterly fascinating and spellbinding. Like a lot of the things on this list, this is all in the execution — if you’re going to go with a protagonist who’s fundamentally unsympathetic or unrelatable, you’re going to have to do an amazing job of making the reader care about him or her in spite of everything. Steel Remains art by Vincent Chong, via Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

Great,  so who is going to pay for therapeutic session for my not-so lovable, grumpy, depressed or offish characters, mmh?! Just imagine Snowwhite without the seven odd personality dwarfs?
Utterly boring! We - well I am surrounded by leagues of different people and varying personalities (God, I live in Vienna, grumpy, suffering behavior is a TRAIT here!). They make live colorful, they make life challenging, they make life fun! The disputes between the characters gain depths by their differences and as annoying as some traits may be - these are problems that can help another character grow. As Charlie Jane Anders said, as long as you make me care about that sucker, as long as I come to understand his motives and feel sorry for him, he can be as grumpy and bad-ass and annoying as he wants! To be honest as a reader, goody-goody characters are the ones I have a tendency to drown at the next river crossing if the writer hasn't killed them already. It's the "unsympathetic" who have me thinking and wondering and involve me way more (It's why I always cry for the antagonist. My heart to this day hurts for Mordred even though I want to give him a good beating before hugging him lol)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Breaking news: Happening NOW!

And on this day we look at Charlie Jane Anders' (author of All The Birds in the Sky)  #9 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


9) No present tense


At least, I’ve heard some people say this is a big no-no. It can be a bit disconcerting when the narrator is telling you about stuff as though it’s happening now. But present tense can also really work to make the story feel more immediate. And it can feel more arty, since a lot of vaguely literary writing is in the present tense. But also, if you want to see present tense working to create a dark, intense mood, check out Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim novels. Image by The Green Giant.
 (I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

Mmh, a hard one for me to advice on. You are welcome to write in any tense you want, but if it is anything other than past tense you probably won't win me as a reader. As with First, I simply can't get into the story. Alas there are fans of First, so present tense might have some as well. The question is: How many and how many readers do you want and which tense tells your story best? Up to you!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The danger of beautiful spring walks...

But do go out and collect those inspirations.
For some reason they spawn in the most unusual places.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A little dose of magic?!

Welcome back! Let's return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #8 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


8) Magic has to be just a minor part of a fantasy world


This is one I’ve heard a lot lately — probably because of the success of George R.R. Martin’s novels, in which magic starts out as a quiet rumor at the fringes of Westeros, something most people don’t really believe in. It’s only once you get to the later books that magic really starts to become something that most of the characters are aware of. And this is an absolutely brilliant approach to fantasy writing, and a breath of fresh air — but it’s not the way all fantasy novels should be written from here on out. There shouldn’t be a law saying that magic should be kept to the margins of a fantasy world, any more than you’d say a space opera shouldn’t have too many spaceships. Magic should be limited, sure — but it can have limits and still be central to the characters’ worlds.

Squish magic in a little box?! Sure, a different world (and how did we get there?!) can survive without magic... but what is life without magic? Use as little or as much as you want! All I ask is that you use it consistently and that I can make sense of it without losing the story! There is so much magic and types we haven't really uncovered yet - so search for it, the world needs more... #teammagic


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Woman can't ...? Suck it up!

And in the writerly boxing ring we welcome  Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #7 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

7) Women can’t write “hard” science fiction.

This is one “rule” that most people are at least sensible enough never to say out loud — but it often seems as though “hard SF” refers to novels and stories written by mostly white dudes. And women often seem to be shunted more into soft science fiction or fantasy. And then you get these discussions where people debate whether a particular woman author really counts as “hard science fiction.” To some extent, this comes from preconceptions about the types of people who read hard SF, and that indirectly influences expectations about who’s going to be writing in that genre. But especially once you broaden your sciences to include biology or computer science, you start finding lots and lots of hard SF written by woman authors.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

I don't read SyFy so I'm not really a factor, but whenever someone says "girls can't" do this or that, I have to pipe in at least: Girls and woman can do anything they want to - and you might be surprised at what they come up with - even more so because it may be a new approach. What better could happen to a story than a reader "jaw by foot"?!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Beam me up!

And in a flash of light we return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #6 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


6) No FTL


Yes, our current understanding of physics tends to frown upon faster-than-light space travel — no matter what a few weird neutrinos may or may not have done. And there’s definitely a place for totally rigid, scientifically plausible fiction in which the very real difficulties of exploring our own solar system are explored. But then again, there’s something undeniably awesome about being able to jump to hyperspace, or warp speed, or whatever. And maybe a little bit less realism is needed sometimes, to amp up the excitement of space travel. Most of us grew up on big, bold space operas in which interstellar travel was unrealistically, thrillingly fast — and that’s still the portrayal of space that resonates with many people. Plus, FTL makes all sorts of other stuff possible, including space warfare and lots more first contact.

Honestly, I don't care if your protagonist travels faster than light or not. For me it's not so much about physics and plausibility. Sure, it may be convenient at times, but just think of all the things missed out on if he would travel a conventional way? Sure for all those who want it fast paced, ftl may be perfect, but for me, the one who likes to paint pictures and where characters drive the story, I hold it with Confucius: "The journey is the destination" - or at least a good part of the plot!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Let me open a door for you...

... and guide you to Charlie Jane Anders' (author of All The Birds in the Sky)  #5 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


5) No portal fantasy


The “portal fantasy” is a mainstay in both science fiction and fantasy, even though it’s mostly used in the latter. (You could argue that Hitchhiker’s Guide is a “portal fantasy.”) In this type of book, someone from our world discovers a pathway to another world, where he or she is our relatable everyhuman explorer, and we discover this new world through his or her eyes. It’s a tried and true notion, and Lev Grossman gets a lot of mileage out of it in The Magicians — both Brakebills and Fillory, in different ways, are strange worlds that Quentin visits from the “real” world, and there’s a lot of portaling. But we’ve heard many people say that “portal fantasy” is over, and so is the neophyte who learns about the magical world over the course of a book. Now, everybody wants stories where the main character is already steeped in the magical (or science-fictional) world as the story begins.
But as we argued a while back, there’s still a lot of awesomeness lurking in the concept of an ordinary person traveling to a strange world. There are so many ways to tell that story, and so many metaphors buried in the notion of someone being thrust into a weird new world. Isn’t that what we all do when we start exploring genre fiction? I think to some extent, this is something that die-hard genre fans have seen too much of, but these sorts of stories could still have a lot of appeal to mainstream and newbie readers.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

I totally support breaking this "rule". Please open new doors, portals or whatever else you can open to help me enter new worlds! I want them ALL. I'm actually convinced that's where I went as a child when I got totally unresponsive as has been documented by a score of caretakers and family members. Isn't this what books are about? Escaping into worlds of magic that remove us from daily live, responsibility and ... news? I go from one room to another through a door (usually), why not let me continue entering another world through a portal of whatever kind? The only "portal fantasy" I find somewhat annoying if the only thing the protagonist does is try to get back. Like, really? You enter a new world (probably because he was depressed, lonely, or got something wrong) and all he wants is to go back? But if we get to explore and make the most out of it:

                                        GET ME THERE!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Series vs Standalone

And now let's return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #4 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...


4) Fantasy novels have to be series instead of standalones

We love a good epic trilogy (or decalogy) as much as the next fantasy addict. But sometimes a nice done-in-one story is also exceedingly welcome. And this is one area where science fiction seems to have a slight advantage over fantasy — both genres have tons of sprawling series, but science fiction at least sometimes spawns one-off novels. And there’s something to be said for getting a satisfying story in one volume, without a cliffhanger or any loose ends afterwards. And sometimes, characters can actually be developed more fully if the author doesn’t have to hold anything back for future books. A character who gets a full arc in one book can be a richer character.

Add caption
Ok, didn't want to cheat by leaving this one out, but I'm sure I'll stay a follower of this "rule". Why? Too much stuff in my head and too many ideas from the babbling bunch of characters lounging on my sofa to ever fit into one book lol Besides: I'm an avid reader of series as I get to stick with familiar characters - guess I simply have a problem with saying "Good Bye" and letting go...

My inner teenager agrees!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

May I dump some info on you, pretty please?

Here comes #3 of Charlie Jane Anders'  "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

3) Avoid infodumps


Like its cousin,
show don’t tell,”
this injunction can be a
great idea but can also
get you into trouble.

Sometimes an infodump
can be a horrendous load
of backstory or technical
schematics, rammed down
your poor reader’s throat.

But at other times, authors can go to huge, insane lengths to avoid
having to come out and explain something. Like having contrived
conversations, or weird “teachable moments” to convey a basic bit
of worldbuilding to the reader, with the effect that the story grinds
to a halt.
We posted a collection of 20 well-done infodumps a while back,
just to prove it can be done well.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' links for reference)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Give me my Prologue back!!!

Welcome back! Let's return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #2 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

2) No prologues

This is one I’ve been hearing for years — some agents and editors say they stop reading immediately if they see that a book has a prologue. But prologues have their uses, especially if you want to set a mood or establish some crucial backstory before you start introducing your main characters. Like most of the other things on this list, prologues can be done well, or they can be done horrendously. Luckily, we don’t have to reach far to think of an example of prologues done well — George R.R. Martin starts every one of the Song of Ice and Fire books with one, and it’s clear why these prologues are there. They help set up the conflicts of each book, via the experiences of a throw-away character. (Literally, in fact.)

And you may have noticed that whenever literary writers tackle science fiction or fantasy, they include tons of infodumps? Maybe this is one of those instances where they’re not as familiar with the genre conventions, and thus fall into habits that many “real” SF and fantasy authors would avoid — but in this instance, they may just be right. Sometimes you just have to explain something, as painlessly as you can.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Are you allowed to break the No-Nos every writer is told?

I have a list next to my computer about all the things I'm not allowed to do as I write.
Now don't get me wrong: All the writerly advice regarding grammar and such I'm fine with - even though some make my favorite reads hard to digest (I hate myself for flinching and counting Robbin Hobbs adverbs). But other things I have more problems with and have a tough time being goody girl.
For example why the heck can't I write a Prologue?? 
Ok, I haven't. No I did, I just named it differently.
Then I moved it back and invented another.
Just so THAT OTHER character wouldn't be thrown in and disappear again.
He would have returned, but ok...
I dang don't want to fit in the nice writer drawer!!! 
Well, I found an older article by Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) who handed me the fairydust and told me to fight drawers - and I shall! Because I am sure there are more readers with whom her words and wishes resonate. Maybe you are one of them? Or a writer who gets distracted by glancing at "What not to do lists"?
Let's look at what she said - one by one - over the next few days and I'll give you my thoughts in red. (I kept Charlie Jane Anders' links for reference)

"Science fiction and fantasy are genres where almost anything can happen — as long as the author can make it seem plausible, and as long as it’s part of a good story. But that doesn’t mean there are no rules. If anything, the fact that these genres are so wide open mean that there are tons of rules (tell me about it πŸ™„) out there, some unspoken and some written in black and white.
And sometimes, breaking the rules is the only way to tell a really fascinating story. Here are 10 rules of SF and fantasy that more authors should consider breaking from time to time.
Note: We’re not saying you must break any of the rules below. (>raises hand<😜)You can craft a brilliant work of fiction while still following all of the rules below. And most of these rules exist for a reason — because if you break them without knowing what you’re doing, you can screw up horrendously. Some of the rules below represent things that may have been done to death in the past, so it’s best to make sure you have a fresh spin. But at the same time, too many rules can be a creativity-killer, and sometimes it’s good to bust out some illegal moves. (Just think Pokemon. Great moveset and you win!)

1) No third-person omniscient.

Third-person omniscient used to be the default mode for a lot of novelists — a lot of the classics of literary fiction as well as science fiction are written in third person omniscient. This means, in a nutshell, that the narrator can see what’s going through any character’s head, and can flit around as the story requires. But in recent years, fiction writers have opted for first person or limited third — in which only one person at a time gets to be a viewpoint character. The thing is, though, when you have tight third person with multiple viewpoint characters, it often feels like an omniscient narrator who’s choosing to play games.

 And actual third-person omniscient can be fantastic — you need look no further than Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which freely lets you know what Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and assorted other characters are thinking at any given moment. Or countless classic SF writers, for that matter. But I also want to put in a plea: anyone who’s serious about writing genre fiction should read Henry Fielding, who makes third-person omniscient into an art form. In novels like Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones, Fielding draws these brilliant tableaux where he pauses to show what everyone’s thinking, and how much at cross-purposes everyone is. It helps him be a keen observer of people, and also creates these beautifully funny set pieces.

I have to confess "first point" and I already fall in the good girl category. I LOVE close third and wont break that rule. I can't deal with first - it's TOTALLY awkward writing for me -  while close third means I have to BECOME ONE character at the time. 

Characters take individual shapes in my head as I become them...
I often stop to ask myself: What do I - he/she - see, hear, smell, what moves me, what pisses me off, how will I react... I don't feel limited, I feel intimately involved and asking the questions helps me not to head-hop. Truth be told I don't miss being able to to impart what others characters think, how they feel about what is happening at that moment because I have multiple POVs and therefor they can always get mad or jump six feet high when it's their turn in their chapter πŸ˜‰


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Life vs writer

So there it was. Or better IS. Shiny in the corner of my mailbox.
The returned manuscript and with it all my beloved characters
the comments from my last Beta Reader.
In the other corner:

Truth be told I used the excitement first to get a few things done.
Stuff that had been laying around, projects to be finished.
Cleaning up. Yuk.
But that seriously works MUCH better when a treat is awaiting you.
So, I behaved and steadily worked towards my goal.
Picked up and stored, finished, cleaned.
Even put all traces of Christmas down and away.
Well, not quite.
As I carried my stack (why is there always 
MORE Christmas decoration after Christmas than I carried up?!) 
down to the basement I was greeted by an 

 Shelves from a cabinet in my already overstuffed cellar compartment
had collapsed and spilled everything into the narrow footpath formerly left in the middle.
What followed the shock can't be added here.
I dropped my stuff and shoveled (well it had snowed, it was the closest thing at hand)
outside and in a corner, returned to my living room to check fleamarket apps and something like craigslist for a free little cabinet to fill the void. (No way of reattaching the shelves as the famous IKEA screws had burst out of their home and shattered the wood)
Found, wrote to givers and got a reply plus acceptance (from the 16th or so)
Pick up day/time arranged, I traveled to my treasure.
Only to be told upon arrival "Oh bad luck, has just been taken by somebody else!"
WT(insert choice)?!
On an app where they actually tell you if both hit "agree" it's a "legal and binding transaction":
The blond King of the world Rumpelstilzchen was nothing against my (private and internal monologue) reaction.
Finally found another and was actually surprised to discover it was waiting for me at designated location. Measurements had assured me it would - although bigger than planned as I wanted little to carry and simply stack boxes on top - it would fit perfectly in the corpus aka empty shell cabinet.
Unscrewed on street (at -5C), stuffed in my little car and eventually got back home where I reassembled the thing.
Of course it didn't fit through the narrow footpath.
Enlarged the path by stacking more boxes outside and wrangled the new cabinet in. Arrived at shell and could get the thing around the corner to fit inside.
More Rumpelstilzchen.
Dragged it back out (where it collapsed as the precast-holes spit the screws out again.) and sawed at it like a craze to narrow it before I attached the side again.
Got it back inside AND around the corner - tested if the suitcases (which I now remembered had to go back there as there was no space anywhere else fit on top.
Guess what.
Back outside - more swearing, sawing and tears - all to make it now SMALLER.
 Screwed it back together - it nowhere resembled the former. Pushed the wobbly thing in once more
where it audibly sighed and leaned relieved at the carcass of the old cabinet...

No I had no energy to sift through the stuff, but I sorted and boxed everything 
and put it on the new shelves underneath the suitcases before I dragged myself back upstairs.
"I" collapsed on the sofa. Screws had been lose before.

That was two days ago. My manuscript was within reach.
The night before restarting the writerly engine I woke up to Armageddon.
I fell out of bed, stubbed my toe on an incomprehensible object in my dark path as I tried to locate the light switch.
Turn on. Turn off.
I went back to bed counting tiny blond Rumpelstilzchens.

Today I searched for a replacement for the living-room cabinet...

Sunday, January 22, 2017