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, [...]
Continue reading Creative Intersections: Pacing and Plotting
WARNING: This post contains math.
We’re going to file the inspiration for this post under the heading, David has too much time on his hands . . .
The other day I was brushing my teeth. This is not an unusual occurrence. I brush my teeth everyday. But while I was brushing my teeth, I was also thinking, and that is somewhat rare. My wife and I have one of those Sonicare toothbrushes that work for a set amount of time — 2 minutes — and then shut off. (Bear with me: this really is going somewhere.) So, it occurred to me that I brush my teeth for almost exactly four minutes every day, which doesn’t seem like a lot at first. But if I brush my teeth for 4 minutes a day, that’s 28 minutes per week and 1,456 minutes per year. Or just slightly over 24 hours. So, [...]
Continue reading On Writing: Little Things that Yield Big Results
Today, I continue the series of posts on worldbuilding that I began last week. First, though, I am very pleased to announce that Tor and I have agreed to terms on a contract for two more Thieftaker books. Thieves’ Quarry, the second book in the Thieftaker sequence, will be coming out next July. And now I can say with confidence that it will be followed by City of Shades in 2014 and Dead Man’s Reach in 2015. So, yay!
Okay, so back to worldbuilding. And let me begin where I left off last week, with what may well be the most important point I made about the process I go through to create the settings for my fantasies. None of the discreet tasks I mentioned last week (map making, creating relationships, coming up with myths and religions, and building magic systems) is actually discreet; rather, it all happens together, in [...]
Continue reading On Writing and Creativity: Worldbuilding Revisited, part II — How Much is Enough?
Impostor Syndrome is the belief among people who have accomplished something — anything — that their accomplishment is in some way a fluke, a mistake, or the result of a random act of charity from someone in a position to advance their career. It is the belief that, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, they do not belong, they have not truly earned their success. They are, this syndrome leads them to believe, impostors who are merely pretending to be skilled or talented. Any moment now, others will see through their deception, and they will be subjected to abject humiliation before being thrust back into the dim obscurity that they so obviously deserve.
I suffer from Impostor Syndrome. Not all the time. On certain days I feel pretty darn good about myself, my books, and my career. I would go so far as to say that my bouts of IS [...]
Continue reading More on Fear and Writing, part II: Impostor Syndrome
All right confession time.
I haven’t written a book in a really, really long time.
Let me give you some background. Last year I had no new books under contract. Thieftaker was written and in production. I had, at the very end of 2010, turned in the second Thieftaker book, Thieves’ Quarry. It was with my editor and awaiting his editorial comments (although I knew that it wouldn’t be edited for some time, given that Thieftaker was still more than a year from publication). And I had sitting on my hard drive, a couple of other projects that needed my attention at some point.
I spent 2011 a) creating a web presence for D. B. Jackson; b) revising Thieftaker 2 on my own and submitting that second version to my editor; c) finishing and revising a middle grade book that still needs another set of rewrites; d) writing Thieftaker short [...]
Continue reading More on Fear and Writing, part I: Confessions of an Idle Writer
It’s been a few weeks now since the last installment in my series of posts on ideas. And there’s a reason for that. I left off after my post on Blindsides, Gaps, and Spinoffs, a post in which I promised that the next time I wrote about ideas, I would tackle “The Quest,” the process of forcing new ideas when you have none for your next project.
So here I am, faced with writing that promised post. And the truth is, I have no earthly idea of where my ideas come from, much less how to force new ideas to enter my brain. As I said in the first post of this series, “Ideas are funny things. They come from everywhere. They come unbidden, and will absolutely refuse to come if I TRY to force them.” Given that I wrote that in part I, I really have some nerve promising [...]
Continue reading On Creativity and Writing: Making the Most of Ideas, part V — The Quest
For the past several weeks, I have been writing about ideas — what we do with them, the fears they can elicit, ways in which they remain original even when they are similar to the ideas of other writers.
Today, I would like to talk about the timing of ideas, and how I go about making the most of them no matter when they crop up.
1. The Blindside: We’ve all had this one, right? Sometimes while working on one project we are blindsided by another idea for a completely separate project. We don’t particularly welcome the idea at that point; in fact the ideas that come to us under these circumstances can be a total pain in the butt. A case in point: Early in 1999 I was writing the third and final book of my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. I was, at that point, somewhat sick of [...]
Continue reading On Creativity and Writing: Making the Most of Ideas, part IV — Blindsides, Gaps, and Spinoffs