Today (Sunday), my older daughter was graduated from high school. It has been an emotional weekend, full of celebration, of wistful remembrance, of joyful anticipation of adventures and journeys to come.
Throughout the various events, as I have watched my child take these first decisive steps into adulthood, even as she still smiles at me with a face that doesn’t seem to have changed at all in the past eighteen years, I have found myself thinking about many things, most of them having nothing at all to do with writing. But I have given a good deal of thought to the notion of narrative, to the ways in which we humans seek to shape a coherent story out of events and circumstances and milestones that do not necessarily lend themselves to a coherent progression of “plot points.”
It seems to me that we do this at moments like these. [...]
Continue reading On Creativity: Narrative, Fiction, and Life
[Warning: This post touches on an emotional political issue in order to illustrate a point. I do NOT want the comments on this post to devolve into political debate. This is ultimately a post about writing and character work. Please refrain from commenting on the political stuff beyond how it relates to character work. Comments that are polemical or divisive, whether or not they agree with my personal political views, will be deleted. Thank you. We now return to our regularly scheduled Monday post...]
There is a moment late in the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry (due out July 2 from Tor), in which my protagonist, Ethan Kaille, explains to another character all that has happened in the previous days and how the magic wielded by the “bad guy” contributed to a series of attacks and deaths. When he is finished, he and the character in question have the following [...]
Continue reading On Writing and Creativity: Who Are Our Characters?
On Monday, our own Mindy Klasky started a series on how she writes a synopsis, which I am dying to read because … uh … I have no idea how I do it. I mean, I do it, I write them, but I don’t know if I do it right. I know I must have my own way of constructing a synopsis because I have never read anyone else’s synopsis. Synopses. (shrugs) I’ve learned a lot from the other writers here at MagicalWords.net, and I am looking forward to her process.
Through MW, I have discovered one major way in which Mindy and David (and probably everyone else for that matter) do character research and planning in the pre-writing phase. They have their characters histories fully fleshed out, sometimes down to their childhood sports injuries, their pets’ names, the schools they went to (the characters, not the pets) and their [...]
Continue reading Character Preparation … Stuff I Don’t Do
I am staring down the barrel of several guns—all shotguns, all loaded, all with buckshot. And I am fine with it. Now please understand that I have panic attacks. Last year this time I was in the same boat and panicking. This year, no panic. I find this odd behavior on my part. It differs from the character building, it differs from past actions, it does not fit the pattern. Not at all. So I am musing on the changes that I see in me. Not ranting, mind you. Just … pondering my way through it.
If I was a character in one of my books, I—the writer—would have to deal with this deviation from the norm. I’d have to find a way for the character changes to make sense or I’d have to do a lot of rewriting and reinsert the panic attacks. Fortunately, I am not a character [...]
Continue reading The Shotgun Barrell of the Writing Life
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Marie Brennan, author of The Onyx Court series, has a really articulate post examining fat fantasy series and the pitfalls of writing them. Maybe pitfalls isn’t the right word. It’s really what to avoid. She uses a number of examples, including GRRM and Robert Jordan. It’s a really good essay and I recommend that you read it.
One of the things that she discusses is POV characters and the way they can multiply and breed like termites and suddenly you have a POV cast of thousands. If they are all doing disparate things, then pretty soon the reader ends up skipping endlessly from head to head without much progress getting made and without a way to really sink into the story. I have to admit here that I haven’t read the Wheel of Time series, and I haven’t made it far into Song of Ice and Fire either, so I [...]
Continue reading Fat Fantasy plans
I was listening to an NPR show one morning on the way to the lab, (a rerun, surely) and they were talking about books, interesting characters, the psychology of loss, and Scrooge. I never got the name of the show, but it had a varied and almost dissonant cast of professionals, including a psychologist, a book reviewer, and the host, among others. If I hadn’t been driving I’d have taken notes, but it’s a long winding country road to the lab, and so I didn’t. What I did was let the ideas being tossed around by the guests ferment in my brain and combine with the thoughts from the post that I wrote on the 6th about Chaos and Order. This could be part two. Or not. We’ll see how it plays out.
In the previous post I said that: Order without chaos is entropy, and entropy is death. That [...]
Continue reading Of Loss, Brokenness, and Scrooge
I have never done NaNoWriMo. I know that there is an ongoing debate about its efficacy for aspiring writers, but I haven’t felt that I could stake out a position one way or another.
Now, though, I am now in the midst of my own NaNo experiment. I started City of Shades (Thieftaker Chronicles, book III, by D.B. Jackson) later than I had intended, which means that I was behind almost from the start. So, I decided that I needed to crank out the pages in February. If I could write 45,000 words this month, I would be back on track. If I could get 50,000 words, I would be ahead of schedule heading into March, which would be good I’ll be taking a week off to travel with my family and celebrate my big milestone birthday. That’s right: I’m about to turn 21 . . .
Anyway, I [...]
Continue reading Holiday Post: My List of the Best Writing Tips