Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writers Write...And Read

In addition to writing, you're gonna need to read. A lot. Because writers don't just write. Writers also read.
A lot.

Fiction. (That's a no-brainer.) Non-fiction. Essays. History. Science. Poetry. Read them all. As much as you can.

And if you're planning to write romance, mystery, science fiction, or any other genre, read them.

For the love of all that's holy, read them.

Read them a lot.

Grab a stack of whatever genre you're gonna write and read them.

Find their classics and read them.

Why?

So you learn what makes them tick.

So you don't try to reinvent the genre wheel.

So you know what's been done--and know variations of what's been done.

So you know what your readers are gonna expect from you.

Look--if you decide to write sword and sorcery and you end up with high fantasy, you've got a problem.

If you try for a hard-boiled story and end up writing a cozy, your readers'll be pissed.*

There's another reason you should be reading (fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry, etc.), but we'll cover that in an upcoming post.

For now, go get you some books and get started reading.

*If you have no clue what "hard-boiled," "cozy," "sword and sorcery," or "high fantasy" means, you're gonna have problems. Look them up. Learn them. Remember them. You need to know this stuff, Dudes and Dudettes.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hollywood Gunfight Bullshit

Let's get this straight once and for all: Hollywood-style gun use is purely theatrical.

That's right. It has no basis in actual use.

All show. All done just to look cool.

The cop hero who stands by the wall, waiting to duck around the corner, his gun raised up near his face?

Doesn't happen.

Shooting a gun sideways?

Idiocy.

Silenced pistol going phht-phht?

Nope.

If you've been using Hollywood as your source of gun use, you're doing it wrong.

Lela Gwenn gets it in her post, Dear Erotica: You Fight Like a Girl*.

Please, writers. When it comes to fights and depictions of weapons use, get it right.

If your character plans to use a gun, get yourself to a gun range and try out some guns. Or if you have a friend who is a gun enthusiast, ask them to take you to the range and sample some firearms. Learn how it feels, how it sounds, how it smells (yes, there's a definite smell to gunsmoke).

Most importantly, learn how they operate.

Even if you're not planning to give the exact model of handgun your character will use, at least know whether it's a revolver or semi-automatic pistol.

Talk to the fine folks at your local gun shop. Ask them questions. Tell them you're a writer and you're trying not to fall into the clich├ęs of Hollywood-style gun fights. Most will be more than happy to help.

(And contrary to popular belief, gun store owners--heck, gun owners in general--are not illiterate, no-neck, knuckle-dragging neanderthals. I should know. I'm a gun owner myself. We're actually nice people. *gets off soapbox*)

So the lesson here is to go out, get your hands dirty, and get your details right.

*Yes, I know it's an old post. So what? I stumbled onto it recently. Remember: Good advice is evergreen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The "I Don't Have Time to Write" Whine

I don't care what you call it.

It's a whine.

If this is yours, it's time to rethink wanting to be a writer.

Too harsh?

Get over it.

See, a writer "writes."

Period.

I've said it before. I'll say it again.

A writer doesn't talk about writing. A writer doesn't think about writing. A writer doesn't sit at Starbucks with a large mocha and a laptop only to stare and frown at a blank document on the screen.

No.

A writer writes.

Now, let me clear something up here.

Yes, a writer will talk and think about the craft of writing.

But 90% of what a writer does is write.

"Write" is a verb.

Action.

Doing.

Writing.

If you've read this far into the post and you're still whining, go do something else. Lay brick. Fix cars. Become a rock star.

Because you don't want to be a writer.

But if you're serious about this and you want to stop whining and you're still reading, I salute you.

You're still in the game.

So...how do we kick that whine in the ass?

GIVING THE WHINE SOMETHING TO WHINE ABOUT
Here's what you do...

You write for 15 minutes.

You have 15 minutes, don't you?

If you say you don't you're a frickin' liar.

Everybody has 15 minutes. Waiting for your coffee to brew. Waiting for your bus or train. Sitting in a waiting room. Waiting for water to boil. Waiting for dinner to cook.

Hell, while you're on the toilet.

Write.

For 15 minutes, do nothing but write.

Get a kitchen timer or stopwatch. Find an app. Something that can count down 15 minutes for you and ring a bell or buzzer or alarm or go "Ping!" when time's up.

Then....

...you write.

"That's it?" I hear you say.

That's it.

Now go write.

You have 15 minutes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rutger Hauer Goes Apeshit

Whilst browsing the Intertubes, I spotted this post of random links from Spazz!! Books.

The fourth link under Item #2 caught my eye.

Hobo With A Shotgun.
Come on.

How can you not like that title?

And Rutger Hauer!

I swear it's gotta be better than Attack of the Gryphon, Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, or (may the gods help us all) Troll 2.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Currently Reading

Here's what's on my Current Reading stack:And I'm in the middle of re-reading:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writer's Block Is A Myth, Motherf***ers!

Let's tackle this before we get any further along 'cuz it's gonna come up eventually.

Writer's Block.

Here's the truth:

WRITER'S BLOCK IS A MYTH.

Say it again with me: "Writer's Block is a myth."

Have you noticed no one ever talks about Plumber's Block? Or Car Mechanic's Block?

If you brought your car to the mechanic and he tells you "Sorry, I can't fix this right now, I'm not inspired," you'd take your business to someone who can fix it.

Lawyer's Block? Doesn't exist.

Doctor's block? Never happens.

But mention writing and at some point, the conversation makes its way to a discussion about "writer's block this" and "writer's block that."

Why does writing get to have a block?

Answer: It doesn't.

Say it again with me, Dudes and Dudettes: "Writer's Block is a myth."

And, sadly, it's a myth that's been making the rounds for a long time.

First things first: Get over the idea of writer's block.

Less stress when you do.

Monday, June 13, 2011

No. Not Alone.

Fellow blogger EEV recently ran a post called "The Loneliness of Pursuing Your Dream."

This part stood out:
Pursuing your dream is a lonely task. You can have online friends who want the same as you, and still, you're lonely. You can have, like me, a person very close of you who share your dream of long-time-hard-work-penning-words. I have my Husband. And he understands me, and I understand him, but still, each one of us has their own work to do, their own buttons to push, their own craft to polish.
It immediately called to mind a similar post I'd done sometime back on that same topic, the loneliness of the writing life.

To me, though, the loneliness is temporary because
Yes, our work is often done alone. By ourselves. And nobody sees our struggles. But remember that your fellow writers are also in the same boat. Sometimes, looking up to see what your compatriots are doing can make you see that you're not really alone.

Because you're not.
And I say it's still true.

(photo: loleia/stock.xchng)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"I'm The Kwisatz Haderach"

In honor of it being part of the #1 post according to my traffic stats, I give you "I'm The Kwisatz Haderach"--with music video.


Here's the mp3 version if you want to download it.

And lyrics. To sing along with.

I'M THE KWISATZ HADERACH
I came from planet Caladan.
On Arrakis I became a man
When they killed my father, the Duke,
Sent me and mother to the desert.
Joined a Fremen tribe and survived.
Became the leader Muad'Dib, also known as Usul.

Now there's a Fremen storm a-risin'.
See Shai-Hulud on the horizon.
I'll lead the jihad
And fulfill the prophecy.

I'm the Kwisatz Haderach.
Riding out on a worm
With the Fedaykin by my side.
I'm the Kwisatz Haderach.
One day my name will be known
To people far and wide.
And Irulan will write about me.

With the power of worms and sand,
And the Fremen at my command.
We'll stop the spice flow
And take on the Baron Harkonnen.
Not worried 'bout Rabban or Feyd
Or the Bene Gesserit, the Guild,
The Imperium, the landsraad

'Cuz there's a Fremen storm a-risin'.
See Shai-Hulud on the horizon.
I'll lead the jihad
And fulfill the prophecy.

I'm the Kwisatz Haderach.
Riding out on a worm
With the Fedaykin by my side.
I'm the Kwisatz Haderach.
One day my name will be known
To people far and wide.
And Irulan will write about me.

I'm the Kwisatz Haderach.
Riding out on a worm
With the Fedaykin by my side.
I'm the Kwisatz Haderach.
One day my name will be known
To people far and wide.
And Irulan will write about me.


(And if for some reason the video isn't working up there, here's the YouTube link to the song for your enjoyment.)

DUNE Song Parody Wins

Took at look at my blog stats the other day and found that my top 5 posts are:
Not quite sure why an Updates post for the serial racked up 117 pageviews but okay, I'll take it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Legacy Pub-Indie Pub-Small Pub Hullabaloo


The publishing battle continues.

Recently SF/F author Michael Stackpole tweeted the following
Writers banned from website for spreading truth about digital self-pub: http://tinyurl.com/3zmcxym (HT Terry Mixon) Vital stuff folks. RT!
If you follow the link in the tweet, you can find another link to the forum thread that resulted in the ban.

I read the original thread.

Okay--I think it's time to really come up with solid definitions for what we're doing.

Everybody seems to be upset at what we're calling ourselves.

We're borrowing from "indie music," "indie films," "indie comics," and even "indie role-playing games." You know them--guys and gals who decided not to go with the Big Name film, record, comic book companies, and role-playing game publishers and struck out on their own.

We're doing the same. Why can't we call ourselves that? What's wrong with doing so? Where does it say we can't call ourselves that?

Hell, a lot of comic book creators are being told "You want to break into comics? Try self-publishing. Print your own. Create an ashcan. Use that as your sample."

One of the posts on that thread said "indie publishing" referred to "small presses," those companies who aren't one of the gigantic publishing conglomerates and who have "annual sales below a certain level."

How about this: call the small presses "small press" and call ourselves "indie authors."

It can work.

Rly.

Srsly.

Consider the conversation going like this:
YOU: "I'm an indie author."

THE OTHER GUY: "Oh, you're with a small press? Which one?"

YOU: "No. Not small press."

THE OTHER GUY: "But isn't a small press the same as an indie author?"

YOU: " 'Small press' just means a publisher that's not one of the big name ones. 'Indie' means I did it myself."

THE OTHER GUY: "So you self-published."

YOU: "I prefer the term 'indie author' myself."
Is it spin? Yeah. It is.

But spin doesn't have to be negative. I say make spin work for us.

"Indie author."

Touch it. Love it. Use it.

If you repeat it to people enough times and they'll get it.

Go on.

Give it a try.

(photo: ilco/stock.xchng)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How To Be A Writer And Kick Ass

In order to kick ass as a writer, you gotta do four things:
  • Write
  • Submit to Market
  • Grow a Thick Skin
  • Write More
WRITE
For the love of all that's holy--write. Don't talk about writing. Don't go to a coffee shop with your laptop and pose. You don't need a $5,000 computer. You don't need a huge mahogany desk.

At the very least you need a pen and a notebook or legal pad or loose leaf paper. Go to Staples or some other office supply store and buy a 2-pack of the Pilot G2 gel pen and a pack of the yellow or white writing pads.

There. You've got your equipment.

Next up?

Write.

Write your short story. Write your novella. Write your novel.

Whatever it is, sit your ass down and write it.

Begin at the beginning or some other good spot in the story.

And write.

Period.

SUBMIT TO MARKET
When your story is done and you've revised, edited, and polished it, send it out to your chosen markets.

If you don't know what markets you should send them to, find out. Do the legwork. Check out Writer's Market. If you're going for short fiction, look it up on Duotrope or Ralan.com. For agents, go find them on AgentQuery or similar.

GROW A THICK SKIN
If your story doesn't make it to market, it's been rejected.

Rejections are gonna happen. Your story may not be right for the market or it may not be right for the editor. Maybe, it's not even right for the editor at that time.

Doesn't matter. When it comes back, suck it up and send it back out to the next market on your list.

WRITE MORE
Again. Back to this.

Write write write write.

Then write some more.

* * *

Got all that?

Good.

Now go get writing.

A Quick Word About "Writing Tip Wednesdays"

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'll be sharing writing tips on Wednesdays.

Be warned: I'm not going to pull any punches. Straight talk. No-nonsense. Bullshit-free. It's not gonna be for everyone. If you want this to be "art," if you're all about the mystique of being a writer, skip these posts. I mean it.

This won't be for you.

To me, a writer is first and foremost a tradesman. We deal in stories.

Still with me?

Good deal.

Check back shortly for the first post in this series.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wednesdays Will Now Get All Writerly

Since this is a writer's blog, I figured I'd finally do some posts on the actual craft of writing. And after sharing some of my thoughts on techniques with a couple of fellow writers, I thought "Hey--why not share them with you, Dear Readers?"

After all, I know there's a few of you who are writers out there in IntertubeLand.

So that's what I'm a-gonna do.

I hereby dub Wednesdays "Writing Tip Wednesdays."

Check in tomorrow for the first post in the series.

Gryphon Droppings

Attack of the Gryphon stars Amber Benson (yes, Tara from BtVS) as a princess who teams up with a rival prince to seek out an ancient weapon that can kill the gryphon of the title.

One word for this movie: Why?

It was a birthday present from LadyAce (last Friday was my birthday) so I figured I'd at least watch it. Maybe it was halfway decent.

No.

It hurt my brain. In a bad way.

Atrocious dialogue. Logic holes. Crappy writing all around.

I'll say the same thing to Amber as I said to Debbie--excuse me, Deborah Gibson about Megashark: Why?

(Actually, what I said was: please please pick a better movie next time.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mecha Anthology!

John Joseph Adams posted this on his blog last month and I, for one, am stoked and looking forward to it.
Come on--how can you not look forward to that?

I blame it on growing up with giant robot and powered battle armor goodness like Tranzor Z (aka Mazinger Z), Robotech (aka Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada), Gundam, Patlabor, Megazone 23, Bubblegum Crisis, and Appleseed.