The Creative Flexibility of…Plotting & Outlining?

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Please welcome back our special guest, Josh Vogt! Writer. Freelancer. Unashamed geek. Josh splits his time between dreaming up new worlds and forms of magic and providing marketing/sales copy for clients. And best of all, author of Enter the Janitor!

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When I’m doing panels or workshops for writers, I always like to ask how many in the room are plotters or pantsers. The response often varies from a bunch of raised hands and eager nods to totally blank stares. Plotters, of course, being those who like outlines and character sheets and maybe even making up a whole new language complete with alien grammar (no, I haven’t…yet). And pantsers refusing to write while wearing any pants, of course.

Ahem.

I quickly learned in my early years as an aspiring writer that I was bent to be a hardcore plotter and outliner. If I tried to wing a story from […]

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Inviting A Crowd to the Party

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

As I’ve mentioned, I’m editing an anthology called The Weird Wild West (coming from eSpec Books in the fall of this year!) and in the course of reading the stories, I’ve learned and relearned many lessons about what makes a great story great. One of the problems I’ve noticed in some stories is with the characters themselves. Not their personalities, but just how very many of them decide to make an appearance.

Have you ever seen those viral news stories about teenagers who post the details of their upcoming birthday parties on Twitter or Facebook? They only mean the information for their friends, but strangers for miles around decide to show up to the party too, leaving the house in a shambles and the local jail full of weeping kids waiting for their parents to come get them. A short story with too many characters can feel just as out […]

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That’s Absurd! – Bringing Humor into the Story

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Good morning, y’all! Today we’re bringing you a post from our guest, Josh Vogt. Writer. Freelancer. Unashamed geek. Josh splits his time between dreaming up new worlds and forms of magic and providing marketing/sales copy for clients. And now he’s decided to share his time with us! Welcome, Josh!

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When I first got the idea for an urban fantasy novel titled Enter the Janitor years back, it didn’t take me long to realize it needed to have some strong humor elements woven throughout. I mean, how can you not crack jokes when your magic-wielding characters use mops instead of staffs and squeegees instead of wands? When they drive around town in janitor, maid, and plumbing service vans, visiting homes and public properties to scrub actual toilets, fending off dust devils and garbage golems while complaining about the lack of coffee breaks?

I could’ve tried writing the story from a […]

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Where’s The Starting Line?

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

As you’ve probably heard by now, I (along with Emily Leverett and Margaret McGraw) am editing The Weird Wild West, an anthology of speculative fiction from a frontier point-of-view. Lately we’ve been reading all the submissions and choosing the best ones for inclusion in the book. It’s been a real learning experience for me, and I’m going to spend the next few Mondays talking about things I’ve learned (and in many cases, relearned) from doing this job. Today we’re going to start with starting.

Many years ago, I submitted a short story to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. At the time, it was a highly-regarded publication which paid actual money for accepted work, and I wanted in. I crafted a story I thought would fit perfectly with what she usually published, slapped the stamp on my SASE (those were the day!) and sent it off. A few weeks later, my […]

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Naming Your Baby

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Shortly after graduating from college, I moved into my first apartment. I purchased curtains and kitchen utensils, and started learning how to budget for utility bills and such. And I adopted a puppy. She was a beautiful black English Setter/Golden Retriever mix, very loving and sweet and not even much of a chewer-on-shoes. I was determined to come up with the perfect name, something that would communicate her beauty and calm nature. In the meantime, I called her Baby, because I had to call her something, right?

Eleven years later, when she died, I was still calling her Baby.

Titles are easy for some people, but not for me. Even when I think I have a great title, I worry that it’s not hitting just the right note. The title works similarly to the first line in hooking a reader. It’s even more crucial in some ways, especially once your […]

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You’re Just Being Nice

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

I danced in a show on Saturday night. All by myself, to a song that I love (Come With Me Now, by Kongos) and I had an absolutely wonderful time. Afterward, people were telling me that I did a great job, and that they enjoyed my performance. A man I’d never seen before in my life made a point of telling me how much fun my performance had been. I smiled and thanked all of them – who doesn’t love hearing that their art was successful? The complication is that inside I was telling myself they were just being nice. Because like so many of us, I can’t believe that anything I do is really any good.

There’s an actual syndrome – impostor syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. I don’t know that I suffer from an actual syndrome, but I know that […]

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Living in Interesting Times

Gail Z. Martin

by Gail Z. Martin

“May you live in interesting times,” is a Chinese curse. Boring times may be well, boring, but they also tend to be stable, safe, and predictable. All the things that make those times boring also make them less dangerous.

By contrast, “interesting” times are unstable, dangerous, unpredictable and in a constant state of flux. Those times make for great fiction, but aren’t such fun to live through while everything is being decided.

In my Chronicles of the Necromancer series, Tris Drayke has the misfortune of living in interesting times. The king’s murder touches off a chain of events that lead to Tris running for his life with a few close friends, trying to outwit bounty hunters and figure out how to unseat the despot who has usurped the throne. In the Ascendant Kingdoms books, the “interesting times” include the loss of control over magic and the […]

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