[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 [...]
Continue reading On Writing and Creativity: Who Are Our Characters?
On Friday night, I finally saw the new(ish) movie version of The Hobbit — the Peter Jackson version that came out earlier this year. I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, despite their flaws, and I was looking forward to seeing what Jackson did with The Hobbit. To be honest, I have been excited about this movie since I first heard that it was being made, and my excitement only increased when I learned that the marvelous Martin Freeman would be playing Bilbo Baggins.
I am sad to say that I found the movie stunningly disappointing. Let me pause here to make clear that I am not a movie purist. I was fine with many of the decisions Jackson made in his retelling of LOTR, including those that strayed from the books as written by J.R.R. Tolkien. I do not believe that a movie director [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Book Identity, and Why I Didn’t Like THE HOBBIT Movie
Early in February of this year, I posted to the MW site the opening paragraphs from my WIP, City of Shades, which will be the third Thieftaker book. (It should be out in the summer of 2014; Thieves’ Quarry, the second book in the sequence, will be out on July 2 of this year, as will the paperback edition of Thieftaker. Just sayin’.)
Today, I want to revisit that passage and show you the revised version. First, here is the original:
Ethan Kaille knew that he had been followed. Even as he pursued Peter Salter, who had stolen a pair of ivory-handled dueling pistols from a wealthy attorney in the South End, he himself was pursued. Like a fox running before hounds, he could almost feel Sephira Pryce’s toughs bearing down on him, snarling like curs, determined to take what he had claimed for himself.
Salter had led him [...]
Continue reading Your Critique of My Work Revisited
A couple of weeks ago, Diana mentioned in a post the latest publishing kerfuffle, which pits Barnes & Noble against Simon & Schuster. (Feel free to check out Di’s post, as well as the other posts to which she links. I’ll wait.) The issues in this fight, as with so many other publishing industry conflicts, are murky at best. When corporate behemoths do battle, it’s hard to take sides because neither entity is terribly sympathetic. But you can always count on one thing: Whatever costs the giants incur as a result of their disagreement will be passed on a) to authors, and b) to consumers. Certainly that has been the case this time around.
I bring this up because lately I have been feeling deeply frustrated by this business and my precarious-as-always place in it. I’m a mid-lister. I’m not one of fantasy/science fiction’s big names. I’m too old to [...]
Continue reading A Writer’s Manifesto: The Doubts and Resolve of a Midlister
Two weeks ago, I wrote here about writing short fiction and how the challenges it presents differ from the challenges of writing novels. I want to expand on that a bit, and will use as my jumping off point a comment on that first post from regular site contributor Megan B. In her comment, Megan wrote (in part):
I think it’s worth considering that a short story set in a larger universe (e.g. the Thieftaker world, which you have established already in longer form) is a different beast than a stand-alone short story. It has it’s own advantages and challenges because it uses some people, places or concepts that the reader may or may not be familiar with.
On the one hand I think that Megan is absolutely correct: writing a short in an established world certainly makes the author’s job easier. In part this is just a matter of [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Short Fiction and Worldbuilding
I sold my first novel in 1994 — it took three years for that first book to find its way to print, but that’s a topic for a different post. The sale itself came in ‘94. My first short fiction sale came seven years later, and in the intervening years I met many aspiring writers who had sold short stories but were still waiting for that first novel sale. They envied me my contracts with Tor. Some of them probably resented me just a little.
I was grateful for the novel sale — even from the small advance on that first book, and even with my agent at the time taking his 15% of that tiny advance, I still made way, way more on my one novel than some of those folks did on four, or five, or even six short story sales. But the truth is that as much [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Why I Love Writing Short Fiction
This week I return to my series of posts on Creative intersections. Thus far, I have discussed point of view and worldbuilding, plot and character development, and worldbuilding and plot. Today, I am going to address plotting once again, and combine it with a discussion of pacing.
In my opinion, pacing is one of the most difficult elements of storytelling to master. We all have read books that seem to drag at certain times or that become so frenetic that they are almost impossible to read. And yet, I would never suggest that you try to make your pace consistent throughout an entire novel; to my mind, novels, like great pieces of music, have mixed dynamics. There are slower passages and fast ones, periods where everything is loud and exciting, and periods of calm, during which your readers have a chance to catch their collective breath. The key is, how [...]
Continue reading Creative Intersections: Pacing and Plotting