sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Writing about writing ... instead of actually writing. But I figured out a plot problem today and the solution was interesting, so I decided to make a post about it.

There was this interesting post about the "mid-book slump", i.e. writing middles of books, at [personal profile] marthawells today. This isn't quite what she was talking about, but it got me thinking along similar lines.

On my current novel (poker players on a cruise ship) I've been stuck for days on a particular chapter. There are two things I wanted to happen in it, during the Big Game that is currently taking place: a supporting character is accused of cheating, and the protagonist runs into somebody he hasn't seen since he was a child.

And I just couldn't get it to work. I'd written part of each scene, and they were just lying there, flat. I could've just slammed out something terrible and moved on to the next bit, but these scenes were going to influence the details of the next one, so I felt like I had to get them nailed down before I could move on.

What I realized was that I could switch around the order of the scenes -- instead of the current "meeting, then cheating", I could make it "cheating, then meeting" and have the childhood-friend meeting result directly from that character's attention being drawn by the altercation that came out of the cheating accusation. The problem, I think, is that in the original version, the two scenes just happened, as opposed to one being directly caused by the other. Which meant they both had equal weight to the reader, so there was this stuttery "event! -- then relax -- then event!" thing happening.

Okay, the only way these "drawn in 20 seconds on my Wacom" graphics could be worse would be if I'd figured out how to do them in ASCII, but ...

Sometimes you'll run into stories where the plotting basically has this choppy staccato feeling, like this:

graphic1

You get it in chaptered WIP fanfics a lot, for example. A thing happens ... and then another thing ... and then another thing. Each of them might be an interesting thing by itself, but after awhile it starts to feel very self-similar and dull, because it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. There might even be a plot progression happening (for example, the main character finds a clue, then another clue, then yet another, and now they have enough clues to put the mystery together) but the scenes still feel repetitive because the emotional stress and plot tension is roughly the same in each one.

As opposed to the first thing directly leading to the second thing, and the second thing causing the third thing, which feels more like this:

graphic2

... because it's subconsciously cranking up the plot tension on each iteration. #2 couldn't have happened without #1, which in turn causes #3, etc.

Which, when you see the graphic, is basic plotting 101, right? Like this. But it's hard to see it in practice, when you've got a number of different events plotted out that are supposed to happen, and the connections between them might not be obvious. You might have to create those connections, especially if you're shifting back and forth between different storylines, which is what I was doing here. And it helped me a lot to stop thinking, as I had been, "how can I make this scene happen, and this other scene happen" and instead start thinking in terms of, "I have these two scenes happening together in the same chapter; how can I make one of them directly result in the other?"

It doesn't even have to be a big, important connection. This definitely wasn't. But it made the whole thing feel like a unified whole, instead of some different things that just happened to occur in the same chapter.
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Heh, so, neenaroo on Tumblr asked me if I have any tips for writing wilderness survival stories, and I completely overran the ask box and basically wrote a NOVEL about it (apparently I do!).

This is also posted on Tumblr.

I feel a little weird giving advice because I'm not really an expert on any part of this, including the writing part; I'm just a person who really loves stranding characters in the wilderness and having horrible things happen to them. :D On the other hand, I've written quite a few of these by now, so I guess I've sort of got a system.

Stories which are referenced below:
Running on Empty (SGA) (website link)
The Killing Frost (SGA) (website link)
Survivor (White Collar)
Black Water Rising (MCU)
Wing and a Prayer (MCU)

Writing wilderness survival stories - long! )

So, a summary, in bullet points:
  • Research
  • Think about what your character plausibly knows and would have with them
  • Do some kind of equipment inventory near the beginning so both the reader and your characters know what they have with them
  • Keep making things slowly but steadily worse to increase tension (they lose stuff, they get hurt, more enemies arrive, the weather worsens, etc)
  • Space out important events (make a list of possibilities if necessary) and save some of the worst stuff for last
  • Throw curve balls at the characters every time a status quo starts to be established (rainstorm! lion! rocks fall, everyone dies!)
  • Give them new stuff or new people whenever things start getting repetitive and/or you accidentally write them into a "but they could not possibly survive this" corner, but make them earn it and/or give it a major downside to make things more interesting.


And remember rules are made to be broken, and not all stories will have or need all of the above. :D
sholio: webcomic word balloon (Kismet-Frank threat)
Hey all - I am working on a big splash-page crowd scene for an upcoming scene in Kismet, which is going to be followed by a series of pages taking place in the same area, a large indoor marketplace that is Kismet's main shopping district. I'm running out of ideas for different sorts of people and various sight gags to have in the background. I asked my sister for some ideas, and she had some good ones (a person with a hat-top garden on their head; someone selling things out of a trench coat). But since I'm going to need to repeatedly come up with different people to appear in the background, more ideas are definitely better. Mostly it'll just be run-of-the-mill random bystanders, but I want a fair amount of weird to go along with the standard marketplace kinds of things.

Kismet is a future dome-city, and while there's no organized government, so theoretically anything goes, the marketplace itself is run by a sort of mafia-like organization (the Galleria Merchant's Association) that tends to police it fairly strictly and with extreme prejudice for anything that would discourage business; therefore you won't have a whole lot of, say, panhandling, streaking, etc.

Actually for starters, I'm working on just coming up with what you might see in the crowd in a normal marketplace/street fair/mall, like:
- mimes and living statues
- people on unicycles
- people with visible disabilities
- small children
- street artists
- people texting or using phones
- buskers

Stuff which is possible in a Kismetlike space opera setting:
- people with physical modifications (horns/wings/animal heads/etc)
- people carrying large guns
- people with very strange pets (like, I have a person walking a dinosaur on a leash)
- etc ...?

(Kismet leans heavily towards the moderately-anachronistic space opera end of the sci-fi spectrum, as opposed to being serious sci-fi, so the overall feel I'm going for here is not really a serious science fiction look at a future street fair, so much as "street fair with various weirdness and assorted futuristic sight gags in the background". Also, there are no sapient aliens, though domestic alien creatures are possible.)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
1. At some point, someone told me that Facebook doesn't show you when you have messages from non-friends, it just sticks them in a folder somewhere. I finally went looking for that folder, and I discovered someone trying to contact me about a freelance opportunity A YEAR AGO. Needless to say, it is no longer an opportunity, and I feel a bit like an idiot about it (though she was quite nice when I emailed her, and said they'd keep me in mind for the future). Anyway, thanks for the professional support, Facebook. Just go on being awesome.

2. I found myself tonight trying to figure out if it would have been possible to lock a door from the inside without a key in 1930. This is surprisingly difficult to google for! What do you call those keyless door locks, anyway, the kind where you push a button or press in the knob? I ended up reading a bunch of pages on the history of doorknobs, and finally googling for "push button door lock" got me to a page in which I learned that Schlage patented one in 1924 (apparently the first) and started selling them widely. I still don't think they would be widespread enough to be available in a low-rent office building in 1930, though, which is what I need for this scene. Maybe if the doors were recently upgraded, perhaps due to a rash of burglaries or something ...? (Of course, I could also just tweak that scene a bit, so I don't need it ...)

3. I'm still reading Diana Wynne Jones, with essays from Reflections: On the Magic of Writing interspersed between her books. I realized something else I absolutely love about her books is the way that ... I'm trying to think exactly how to phrase this ... her characters' thoughts and feelings on other characters do not necessarily reflect the author's feelings about that character. Does that make sense? I was noticing this particularly in the Dalemark books, since they're in omniscient third, which means you get everyone's opinions on everyone else, and even among a cast of mostly-very-sympathetic characters, there's still a tremendous amount of variety in how everyone feels about everybody else. Then I ran across one of her essays where she's talking about having the same character, or facets of the same character, pop up in different books, and one she mentioned is that Tacroy in The Lives of Christopher Chant and Torquil in Archer's Goon are facets of the same character. Now that she's said that, I can see it (in a way, Torquil is a sort of a "through a glass darkly" Tacroy, or vice versa), but it would never have occurred to me before -- and this is what's interesting to me about that from a writerly perspective -- because the way that the narrator reacts to the two characters is radically different. Christopher likes Tacroy immediately, so we get his sympathetic view of him, whereas Howard hates Torquil, for reasons that are entirely obvious in the book. It's just really interesting to me, because yeah, authors tend to have the same characters pop up in different books, which is something she's discussing in the essay, but I think it's rarer for very similar characters to turn up in different books but play radically different roles, which seems to be what's happening here.

And it made an impression on me because it is remarkably hard to do. This is one of the things that chases me off a lot of mediocre fanfic, because instead of the characters acting towards each other as they do in canon, you get everyone behaving as the author wishes they would behave (i.e. everyone hates X because the author hates X, even if they get along just fine in canon, or X and Y get over their differences even if they really shouldn't be able to). Obviously it isn't always that extreme or obvious, and I've been guilty of it myself, I'm sure. I think it's more insidious and harder to recognize in original fiction, since there's no baseline to go back to. In particular, there's a tendency for the writer to just end up with everyone getting along (the writer likes all the characters, so why wouldn't they like each other?!) or else everyone ganging up on the one who represents the Wrong Viewpoint. This is something I really need to keep in mind in something like Kismet, say, where there are a bunch of characters who have dramatically opposed viewpoints, and they really need to look very different when seen through each other's eyes.
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
Rather than writing Fandom Stocking fills, I've ended up writing snippets of Kismet, most of which I can't post anywhere because they're spoilery for future events. As one does.

However, one thing I was trying to figure out launched me into a timeline quandary, so I figured I'd talk it out in an LJ post and see if that helps.

At the start of Sun-Cutter, one of my protagonists, Fulki, is recovering from a severe career and personal trauma that happened a few years ago when the original Sun-Cutter project blew up in her face (somewhat literally). A close friend of hers almost died, and she ended up blacklisted in her field. She and her family might have moved to another planet (I'm still kicking around where they were living at the time, but they were probably living somewhere different than where they're living now). Anyway, her life blew up badly and she had to deal with a lot of sudden, negative media attention.

The thing I'm struggling with is that Fulki's kids, who have been seen in canon so I don't have a whole lot of wiggle room on their ages, would have been born right around the time that all of this happened. Her kids are probably in the general vicinity of 4 and 6, or 5 and 7 (they appear on this page). And I was thinking that the original Sun-Cutter disaster was about 5 years ago.

What I'm having a little trouble with, is figuring out why Fulki and Jae-Ha (her wife) would have had kids with all of this going on. It's rather inflexibly canonical that the kids were planned (they pretty much had to have been, since Fulki and Jae-Ha are both female and the kids are biologically theirs). I can move around the dates of the Sun-Cutter disaster somewhat, but I really don't want it to have been less than about 4 years ago, or more than 5-6, and I'm coming up to a part of the comic when I'm going to need to nail it down for certain. Either way, with the kids being the ages they are and with an obvious 2- or 3-year age spread between them, at least one of them would've been born right around this time and probably just a bit afterwards.

"They'd already had the second child started when the whole Sun-Cutter disaster happened" is probably the answer I'm leaning toward most heavily right now, but even then, Fulki would've been a total workaholic on the Sun-Cutter project for the previous year or two, so the timing STILL seems sub-optimal. Complicating matters is the fact that neither Fulki nor Jae-Ha are the kind of person who are likely to jump into something without thinking it over a lot beforehand. They're both thoughtful and methodical, and I guess I can't quite get my head into the why of what would make them plan a family while Fulki's career is taking off (and then imploding) and Jae-Ha is basically moving around to stay close to where Fulki works.

ETA: I very much appreciate the input -- I think I have their character trajectory mapped out now, so thank you! The ideas were very helpful; sometimes you need an outside perspective to see the obvious. :) (Not that you can't still comment if you have ideas; if I don't use it for these people, it may shed some light on other characters' stories elsewhere in the universe.)
sholio: Berries in the sun (Autumn-berries in sunlight)
Hey, reader-type people, I have a question for you! In thinking about how to promote my books, I've been thinking about where I actually get book information from: personal blogs, author's twitter, ads, Amazon recommendations, "just saw the book on a shelf", etc. Last night I sat down and made an actual list for all the recent books I've read, but I'm just one person. More data is better!

So, if you think back to the last book or two that you read, or that you bought (either one), and tell me where you found out about that book, that would be very useful! Actually, the more of your recent books you can remember that information for, the more helpful it'd be -- but I know that's difficult, because I can't even remember what I was reading more than a few books ago. And, if it's a book you picked up because you always read that series/author (which came up for me a number of times), can you remember why you started reading them in the first place?

FWIW, my recent "why did I pick up this book?" reading list looks like this:

- I know the author
- book got a glowing recommendation on a non-review (i.e. general interest) blog I read, and sounded interesting
- downloaded this one as a free Kindle promotion, after hearing people on my flist talk about the TV series based on it
- I know the author, again (different author)
- latest book in a series I've been reading for awhile (can't remember when or why I started reading it; all I remember now is that I got the early books from the library)
- local author I started following on Twitter because I'm trying to follow more local authors; he talked about his newest book a bunch on his Twitter & eventually I got interested enough to pick it up
- latest in a series I'm following; started reading because a friend recommended

And that's the point where I started forgetting what I'd actually been reading recently, though I may wander around the house a little later staring at my bookshelves.

There is exactly ONE time I can think of in my whole reading history that I bought a book directly based on an ad -- it was Frances Hardinge's first book, and the ad was just too impossibly intriguing for me not to want to read it. ("Imagine a world where all books are banned!") Usually it seems like the vast majority of my book reading has a lot to do with word of mouth -- people I know lending me books or recommending books to me, people on my various social media talking about books, people I know who write books talking about their books (and one thing making this list really impressed upon me is that the more someone talks about their stuff, the more likely I am to buy it ... which is directly counter-intuitive to me because I actively try not to spam people with this stuff, but, er, at least for me, it seems like I not only don't mind at all when people talk about their various projects -- it's interesting! -- but the more they talk about it, the more likely I am to be eventually intrigued enough to buy it). There's also a fair amount of "looking at the nearby books on the shelf" that goes on when I'm in a bookstore or library; I distinctly remember that I started reading the Vorkosigan books because I'd been spending a lot of time in the book section of the campus bookstore sneakily reading sections of books because I was too poor to buy them, and after I'd snuck in on about four different occasions to read the next couple chapters of "Mirror Dance", I finally had to admit that I really needed to buy that book.

So what about you? Do you remember specifically where you heard about the last couple of books you read or bought, and what made you interested enough to read it?
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
This month's submission theme at Crossed Genres is "ensemble", and I'd really like to submit something to it, although that means writing something before the 30th -- which I'm not sure is an achievable goal, but hey, worth a try, right?

So here's a question for you guys. What would you like to see more of in ensembles -- i.e. groups of characters, and stories focused on them? One of the posts on my reading list this morning talked about how rare it is to get the viewpoint of grumpy-mentor characters in fantasy, which made me go "hmmmm" and prod my creative brain a bit.

What are some of yours? Favorite tropes? Tropes you'd like to see subverted/avoided?
sholio: Berries in the sun (Autumn-berries in sunlight)
So, after making the previous One Piece post, I started thinking about character types I go for. Although the characters I like have an amusing tendency to come out of nowhere and sneak up on me, I do definitely have types, and most (though not all!) of my favorites tend to end up falling into one or more of these categories.

This started out as an earnest attempt to make a thoughtful, well-organized post .... but I ended up with a semi-incoherent, fannish nattering ramble instead. Oops. XD (Also insert obligatory disclaimer about how this is just what I like, not meant to imply anything at all about what other people ought to like ....)

So it's under a cut )

.... You know what's really interesting to me, after writing up all of this, is how rarely I actually end up writing these character types and relationships into my original fiction. Which is one reason why I wanted to put all of this down, actually, to stroke my creative brain a little bit.

ETA: As per a comment exchange with Alessandriana, I decided that I really should add "character who seems rather flat/stereotypical/one-note-jokey at first, but turns out to be SECRETLY AWESOME" as another of my id-kink types. Sometimes the exact nature of their SECRET AWESOME might push them into one of the other categories (see: Rodney), but I think some of the characters who don't fit any of my other categories -- like Rory, Mickey, and Donna on Doctor Who, or Zuko in A:tLA -- might be explained in this way.
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Here's an esoteric historical question for you: what did WWII-era soldiers in the field do with the packaging from c-rations and other trash of that nature? My intuitive feeling is that they'd just drop it wherever they happened to be, because a) carrying useless weight is highly impractical when you're tired and underfed and people are trying to kill you, and b) our modern-day cultural value regarding "littering is bad" had yet to take hold, and wasn't really something most people thought about, so just chucking a can into the bushes was a perfectly valid way of dealing with it, if you didn't have an immediate use for it.

(For that matter, my general experience has been that there's still sort of an urban/rural divide about it, with a lot of rural/semi-rural people not really thinking too much about dealing with trash in the old-fashioned "just drop it wherever" style. We're always having to clean up after hunters and picnickers in the gravel pit. Read a book not too long ago on Montana ranching that describes how one ranch where the writer worked as a ranch hand would just bulldoze the bodies of dead cows off a handy nearby cliff. Out of sight, out of mind!)

It's a strangely difficult detail to find via googling, though.

Meme?

Jul. 18th, 2014 09:29 pm
sholio: Berries in the sun (Autumn-berries in sunlight)
The week's classes are done! The line edits on my novel are done! \o/ (Now I just have the hard part - rewriting the parts that need to be rewritten. Which I have exactly two days to do. This weekend will be busy, but at least it's the kind of busy that can be accomplished while wearing a bathrobe and having a cat on me.)

I would love to do something creative but I am really too brainfried, and I've been doing enough art in class that I don't really feel like doing art. So how about a fandom meme I saw somewhere. This one stretches my comfort zone a bit ...

Give me a character and I'll tell you two people I ship them with like them paired with.

(This may be purely semantic, but I changed it a bit because I don't think it's wholly accurate to say that I ship characters in most cases. I just like some pairings better than others.)

Any character from anything, provided I'm at least somewhat familiar with it. And you may get a lot of "no pairing!" answers, but I think for most characters I do have at least one preferred ship, particularly for those who have a canon ship ...

Let's see if anyone's around tonight!


Closing the meme now, because I probably should be thinking about bed, and will be too busy tomorrow. Thanks for playing with me! :)
sholio: Hand outlines on a cave wall (Cave painting-Hands)
I had a writing epiphany today. [personal profile] frith_in_thorns says I should share with the class. :D

Basically, it's this:

For the last couple of months, I've been writing a murder mystery -- a steampunk romance murder mystery set in 1930, to be precise. A couple of weeks ago, some 50K into the thing, I got supremely stuck, so stuck that all of my usual unsticking techniques have not been working at all.

By this point I've written 5 novels in addition to a number of novel-length fanfics, which means I actually have a skill set for unsticking big plots! Believe me, no one is more shocked by this than I am! Usually it's a matter of going back to the beginning and carefully re-outlining everything I've written so far, looking for weak spots and potential points of divergence along the way. Sometimes I write plot points on index cards or post-its and lay them all out on a table. Sometimes I re-enact scenes with toys. When worst comes to worst, I just MAKE A DECISION ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT and go with that -- in my head, I call it the "dancing ninja conga line" because if you imagine a line of dancing ninjas conga-ing through your scene, anything has got to be an improvement over that.

But none of that was working on this one. Even making arbitrary decisions about the next plot point wasn't helping, because I'd just grind to a halt immediately on the next plot point.

But today I figured it out.

Basically, in nearly every sort of fiction, the main characters are the ones that drive the plot. Every important thing that happens, happens to them, and they have at least some agency in it.

In a murder mystery, though, that's exactly reversed. The detective-protagonists do have their own emotional/personal lives going on (ideally) in which they are principal actors, but the main driving force of the plot are actually the killers/victims/suspects.

Which means you have to outline the book from the point of view of the non-primary characters.

And once I realized that, things started falling into place beautifully, because that's why I've been having so much trouble figuring out what happens to my detectives at each stage of the plot; I'm viewing the whole world through their eyes, when actually, their actions and motivations are not the ones driving the big picture.

I think, looking back on it, that this is actually a recurring problem in a lot of my fiction -- original fiction much more so than fanfic, because in fanfic the minor characters are already pretty well known, but in original fiction it's easy to let the background collapse into two dimensions. And now I'm wondering how many of my other troublesome plots could be resolved by doing what I'm currently doing: outlining the movements and motivations of ALL of the characters, not just the ones at the center of the action.

Well, I wanted to write a murder mystery to learn to plot. Today I have learned something, for sure.

Meeeeme

Feb. 15th, 2014 01:23 pm
sholio: Prehistoric bison painting on a cave wall (Cave painting-Bison)
I really should be writing .... or answering comments on my recent fic (thank you!) ... but I'm sick and my brain is full of fog, so instead I'll do a meme, seen at [personal profile] anodyneer and a bunch of other journals recently.

Give me a number and I will give you an answer!

1. Of the fic you’ve written, of which are you most proud?
2. Favorite tense
3. Favorite POV
4. What are some themes you love writing about?
5. What inspires you to write?
6. Thoughts on critique
7. Create a character on the spot... NOW!
8. Is there a character you love writing for the most? The least? Why?
9. A passage from a WIP
10. What are your strengths in writing?
11. What are your weaknesses in writing?
12. Anything else that you want to know... (otherwise known as Fill in the Blank)

If you are specifically curious about fanfic or original fic (or want me to answer for a particular fandom), let me know; otherwise I'll just answer for either/both/whatever I have a specific answer for. It's often different.
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
I have this vague plot idea that involves a strategically important island intermediate between two bigger land masses that are experiencing escalating tensions. (It could also be a small country between two bigger countries, but I'd rather have it be an island for various reasons of plot and also because I want to have my own island, damn it.)

This is going to sound completely ridiculous because the project is still so unformed that I have total carte blanche to do whatever I want with the geography, but I'm having trouble coming up with ideas for why this little island, or country, would be important enough that it would be pivotal and have large nations fighting over control of it. I'm thinking I'd rather have it be something to do with location rather than ancestral land claims or a particular resource that's on the island (the story involves politics and spies and stuff like that) -- but I'm drawing a blank on good ideas for how to set up the geography so that it works out that way, or, for that matter, real-world examples to use as a model. Most of the ones I can come up with are ports occupying a bottleneck point, like Istanbul or various river-mouth port cities. I can't think of anything to do with strategically important, oft-fought-over islands. Cyprus as about the closest thing I can come up with to something vaguely similar to what I'm thinking of, although as I understand it, that's more of a land-claim issue and less of a strategic-location issue (not that I am well educated on Cyprus).

Do any of my history- or geography-minded flistees have any thoughts on this? Suggestions for historical examples I might look at? I'm sure I'm being stupid and overlooking all sorts of real-world examples, since people fighting over islands is NOT A RARE THING, but I'm blanking on ones that are similar to what I want to write. Maybe it's just that I'm defining my terms too narrowly.
sholio: Berries in the sun (Autumn-berries in sunlight)
Apparently there is an "ask me questions about my writing" meme going around. So ... ask me questions about my writing? :) It could be a general process question, or something about a specific story. Fanfic or original (or comics too!) ... anything you're curious about.
sholio: Cocoa in red cup with cinnamon stick (Christmas cocoa)
There's something I forgot to say in my earlier post talking about AUs, which specifically applies to the difference between fanfic AUs and original fiction of whatever stripe. Fanfic AUs throw a really wonderful element of character incongruity into the mix. That is, you end up with space adventures or epic fantasy or rom-coms in which the characters are really not the type of people who tend to be in those kinds of stories. And that's wonderful! I think that's honestly one of the things I love most about AUs, and it's something that I keep making a mental note to apply as much as possible to my original fiction. It's one of the reasons, I think, that fanfic AUs can be so much livelier and more original-feeling than a lot of published genre fiction -- because, when you go to create a fantasy or urban fantasy or space opera or whatever from the ground up, it's really hard to think outside the box and not go straight to the fresh-faced farm boy and tomboyish princess in disguise, or whatever. Your character may (hopefully will) eventually evolve beyond the stereotype, but it's difficult not to do that in the initial planning stages without even thinking about it.

Although I've thought about this before, what got me thinking about it today was answering older comments on my "White Collar IN SPACE!" AU, and one of the comments was speculating on Elizabeth's role in the AU: she could be an event planner for spaceship galas! And I thought, wow, how cool and original is that? I've read a ton of sci-fi, but I've never seen anything like that. I'm not sure if I would read a contemporary novel about an event planner, but I would totally read a novel about a space event planner. (Or write one!)

But you get that a lot in fanfic AUs, because you start off with a cast of characters who are typical cop-show characters, or sci-fi spaceship show characters ... and THEN you stick them into a whole different genre, so suddenly they are space explorer types running a coffee shop, or cop-show characters as the police force in a fantasy land. I wish there was more of that kind of thing in original fiction, though you do get some genre crossover (murder mysteries in a space setting, for example).

Anyway, since I'm still working out my slate of things to write in 2014 - help me brainstorm, flist! Spaceship marines, doctors, and emotionally constipated smugglers are a dime a dozen in sci-fi. One of the things I really loved about Zenna Henderson's 1960s SF books and short stories is that she often wrote about stay-at-home moms and kids, which is something you hardly ever saw in sci-fi of that era. What else don't you see in sci-fi or fantasy? What would you like to see? Throw ideas at me -- what are some occupations/social roles you don't really ever see in spec fic? (Space event planner!) On the flip side, it'd also be interesting to hear which occupations/character types are so common in sci-fi/fantasy/urban fantasy that you're getting tired of them! (Space marines, anyone?) Flist: go! :D
sholio: Autumn leaf frosted at edges (Autumn-frosted leaf)
Since I am currently revising a novel, I thought that I would natter about editing a bit. :)

Obviously this is just my process; everyone works a bit differently. And I work somewhat differently in fanfic and original fic, too. I need a lot more revisions for my original stuff, partly because my original fic is usually more complicated (there's more going on with the plot and especially the emotional plot threads) and also because a lot of the rough draft process, for me, is just working out who the characters are. Then I have to go back and revise once I've established in my own mind who they are and what they want.

Anyway, I've tried a lot of different things over the years, but the main thing that seems to work for me is an extensive annotation system using square brackets. I do this with both fanfic and original writing, although I make a lot more use of it with the original stuff (especially long projects).

Details under cut )
sholio: Berries in the sun (Autumn-berries in sunlight)
I have an ebook out today, published by Dreamspinner Press!



Here is the blurb from Dreamspinner Press's website:
For twenty years, Owen Fortescue, a down-to-earth farmer in upstate New York, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with volatile New York City artist Kerry Ruehling. Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in New York, Owen wants to tie the knot. But Kerry responds to the proposal with instant, angry withdrawal. Owen resolves to prove to Kerry that, regardless of the way his family of origin has treated him, family ties don’t necessarily tie a man down. With help from his grown daughter, Laura, who loves them both, Owen hopes to convince Kerry that his marriage proposal isn’t a trap, but a chance at real love.

If that sounds interesting to you, here are some places you can buy it:

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

And here's my first review! http://madisonparklove.com/book-rec-homespun-by-layla-m-wier/

Today I'm having a release party on Dreamspinner Press's blog. I'll be giving things away, talking about fiber crafting, posting pictures of autumn scenery and other stuff.

However, PLEASE don't feel like you have to buy the book merely on my account! If it looks interesting, perhaps you'd like to read it. If not, that's totally cool too!

I can't remember if I've mentioned this here before, but I have a relatively new romance-writer blog: http://laylawier.wordpress.com. (I don't post there a whole lot, but if you want to keep up with my non-fannish writing, it's a place to occasionally check out.) There are LJ and DW feeds for it: [syndicated profile] laylawier_feed and [livejournal.com profile] laylawier. (The feeds don't use cuts, however, so some posts may be long or contain a lot of pictures.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled fangirling. :)

ETA: Please note there are now book spoilers in the LJ comments!
sholio: Berries in the sun (Autumn-berries in sunlight)
Too much to write about, not enough brain.

I started classes last Thursday, so I'm one week into it and really enjoying it. I don't recall how much I've talked about this, but the going-back-to-school mostly came about because I have always wanted to become fluent in another language and I'm not exactly getting any younger. Then, since I'd have to be on campus four days a week for THAT, I started adding classes around it and somehow ended up with a full class load. I don't know how long I'll keep this up (and I'll probably cut back to fewer classes next semester for more writing time) but it's weirdly freeing to take university classes with no real plan and nothing to lose if I fail.

My general assessment of the classes I'm taking so far:

Classes! )

And ... yes, writing. A few weeks ago I posted my intention to write at least 2000 words a day (1000 original, 1000 fanfic). What I was thinking, basically, with the original/fanfic split is that I want original writing to be my focus, but if I wake up with the burning urge to work on a fanfic, why stop myself as long as I get my original-fic quota written at some point during the day. Or I could use the fanfic as a dangling carrot for getting the "work" done. I later added a sub-clause that the fanfic is optional if I write at least 2000 words of original fiction, i.e. I don't want to stop myself and feel like I have to write fanfic if the original writing is going well. But 1000 words is a lot less intimidating than 2000 words, and splitting it that way makes it sound at least half fun.

The amazing thing is that I actually did it (a lot more than the target, even). I didn't miss a day, right up until the end of last week when I simultaneously started classes and finished the original project I was working on (a novel) ... and quietly fell off my rails. I think I established, though, that I can actually do it (for a while, anyway) as long as I make it a priority. Normally I'm a writer who works in binges of inspiration and then faffs off for a while, but I DO want to be a pro and I want to learn good work habits, and I think I established that setting manageable goals for myself does work -- at least in the short term and when I don't have a whole lot else going on. I'm going to have to twiddle my settings a bit: see if I need to shift my goals downward while I have a school commitment of 30+ hours a week, see whether I need to give myself days off as a necessary part of my working process, etc. But I think I might be able to set up a writing schedule for myself that works, and this is something I've never successfully managed to do before.

(Necessary caveat: Everyone is different. I seem to thrive on obsessive word-counting and charts and daily writing totals. For some people, that's a devastating creativity killer. It's just a matter of finding what works for you, I guess. And I'm creeping closer to figuring out what works for me.)

And now I think I will go drink a glass of wine and write something before bed. :)
sholio: Katara from Avatar waterbending (Avatar-Katara waterbend)
I ran across an interesting link today on how/whether to write about periods (as in, women having them):

http://madelineashby.com/?p=1492
(detailed discussion of bodily fluids, as one might expect)

Some more discussion - nothing gross or TMI, but cut if you don't particularly care for the topic )

What do you think? Have you ever mentioned it in a story yourself, or seen it done well? Would you write it? Is there a scenario you think is usually done poorly that could be done better?
sholio: Autumn leaf frosted at edges (Autumn-frosted leaf)
You know, when I collected fall icons yesterday in honor of my favorite season ... I wasn't expecting it to FROST LAST NIGHT. My greenhouse is tragically cut down in its prime, my green tomatoes and peppers dangling from blackened vines. *weep*

Interesting link acquired via Facebook: 7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding.

[livejournal.com profile] cornerofmadness also posted a list of useful writing links this morning. I'm reading the Joss Whedon link right now ... of course I should probably take his advice and go GET SOME WRITING DONE!

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sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
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