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Posts Tagged ‘genre fiction’

Inspiration and Craft: Entering the Writer’s Life

March 15, 2015 2 comments

I am curious to know which novels and stories inspired authors and which helped hone their craft. It is part of what I am exploring in myself now as I continue to work on a (long-time-coming) novel of my own. Similarly, my short stories, which I have had more practice at writing, need the same reflection.

In college, I wrote a biography about George Orwell for my capstone. Not only was it immensely interesting to explore one of the authors who has had a profound influence on my own writing (thank you, 1984 and Down and Out in Paris and London, among others), but it made sense to understand his own influences. For the most part, it isn’t a story or a novel or an author that sparks the need/desire to write. At least, it doesn’t appear that way. For Orwell, his life in Burma afforded him the spark under his pants to finally get writing (something he enjoyed, but failed at before he writes Burmese Days).

Now, I don’t have a life experience that truly caused me to write. I have always wanted to write (don’t we all). I remember the desire snagging me in 1st grade when my teacher at the time would ask us to write stories based on prompts. Mine were always fantasy, granted, I was a child. My teacher then really pushed me and encouraged me to write. Ever since then, I have wanted to do it, and failed at it miserably. I like to think that part of it has to do with my influence and craft. I have the influence behind my chosen genre, but I don’t explore craft in a way that makes sense to my writing.

Hell, I have an English degree, yes. I have analyzed and broken down many a novel and story. But what has that done for my writing? In all honesty, I wasn’t paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my own writing. I was paying attention to the analysis in a way to make it inform my mind. You can argue that it is one in the same. I disagree.

My reading tastes are unusual, to say the least. Russian classics, SciFi classics, modern SciFi, and a dash of Fantasy makes up my shelves for the most part. I did not read these types of novels and stories in college. These are not the stories and novels I analyzed. These are the stories that influence me daily, that excite me into considering my own plots. However, I have never looked at them as more than a platform from which to jump myself. Instead, I have missed possibly the most important offering these books have to offer me: craft. If only I had paid attention to them in a more serious, critical way before this point. I believe true craft comes from studying what makes your favorite novels great. What symbols did they use? How did they get to the denouement? Did they begin in media res?

Influence and craft is something I am going to begin exploring more in depth–what do my favorite author’s have to say about it?

I also want to know what other writers in the community think about their own experience. Does the simple act of reading inform our craft or do we need to look at what we read with a more critical lens?

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Organizing a Novel (That is Half-Written)

January 25, 2015 Leave a comment

As part of the generation that uses online search engines for many things, I took to the internet in search of some help.

Help doing what, you ask?

You see, I have this half-written novel that I have been working on and dreaming about for a while now. My dad took a pass through recently to find any bugs (misspellings, inconsistencies, etc). He was also supposed to offer advice on where characters need to grow, how to advance the plot to the ultimate ending, etc.

My dad is a voracious writer and he has read many a novel, so I expected plenty of criticism. Criticism did not come. Instead he told me he enjoyed it and got hooked.

Ego boost, truly.

What about the missing scenes? The poor transitions? Where do I need to add? Where do I need to take away?

We discussed several of these issues prior to him reading the draft because I am well aware there are missing scenes and missing transitions to make the story coherent.

Alas, here I am with a half-written novel and no idea on how to organize it.

Here is the issue: I started the novel as a short story.

The short story became a small novelette.

Trusted readers (friends, family) read it and suggested it was too “big” to stay a short story or novelette.

I agreed…I enjoyed the story too much and it had grown into more than a small idea. So, I wrote more.

Unfortunately, when I write fiction, planning is my detriment (writer’s block seizes me hard when a plan is in place). Oddly enough, I do not have this problem with non-fiction (academic or otherwise).

Anyhow, I do not have an outline. I have half a novel haphazardly pieced together, scene next to scene in a somewhat sensible order.

The hardest part? The internet has nothing to give me.

Most of the articles i could find pertained to organizing and planning a novel BEFORE it is partially written.

The most promising I could find was the first option when I put it in the search engine: an article from Writers Digest. Even this assumes that the end result be an outline.

Some of the tips are useful, however. Especially the parts about filling in the gaps (of which I have many).

Any help the world of writers can provide would be more than appreciated.

I am going to try anyway, without much direction as it is.

Read What You Want to Write

January 14, 2015 2 comments

Should one read what one wants to write or should one read a variety to further what they want to write?

My initial reaction: variety.

Why? As an English student, I used to be offended by professors who trash talked genre fiction.

I am less offended now.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy genre fiction (a lot), especially science fiction and fantasy. However, I have a weird, loving relationship with literary classics from Nabokov as well as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin, etc. I enjoy an occasional recent “literary” read as well.

It comes down to prose. There are great genre prose writers out there, but most genre fiction is mostly great story writing. In contrast, most literary fiction is made up of damn good prose.

I think I will continue to read a little of everything with the hope that it in some way helps my writing.

Thoughts?

Dad Editors

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment

I love my dad. Really, I do.

I trust him so much that I handed him my first draft of a SciFi novel I am in the process of writing. I asked him for edits and feedback.

He edited (albeit, far less than I suspect may be lurking within the manuscript). However, there were no comments at the end as I anticipated.

I asked him about it this evening. His reply?

“I was sucked into the story.”

Disbelieving, I asked, “Are you saying that because I am your daughter?”

My dad is a bad liar. When he looked at me and said, “No, I really liked it,” I knew he was being truthful. He didn’t have that glint in his eye or the smirk he gets when he is trying to get away with something.

Maybe dad editors can help a writer’s ego.

Anyhow, I am shipping it off to another reader to check out, too.

I would love to hear from anyone regarding their editing experiences.

Daily SciFi Short: 01/11/2015

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Chilling (no pun intended) and engaging: Check out “Anarchic Hand” by Andy Dudak, one of the short stories featured this month by Apex Magazine.

Join the conversation on Twitter: #shortstorysunday

My Fears of Even Authoring a Book

February 2, 2014 Leave a comment

I like to write.

So do, I don’t know, hundred of thousands of other people. One of my many struggles with keeping up with my own writing is my doubt. I doubt I am any better than the next “writer”.

Another fear I have is this: promoting myself. So, when I read a post by Kameron Hurley (a good science fiction author who I have tried my best to support by buying her books and following her blog), I was struck by the fact that I am not the only one who worries about this aspect of writing.

Here’s the link: “Surprise! I Have No Idea Your Book is Coming Out”

Kameron admits something I relate to entirely: she is an introvert.

I tend to feel like a lonely introvert in this world because I know very few people who are introverted. It almost appears that I have surrounded myself with extremely extroverted individuals. So, when one of the authors I look up to admitted that she, too, was an introvert, I looked at her words of wisdom just a little closer than normal.

If I am ever good enough to get published, I am going to have to promote myself, no matter how painful a task it is. It comes with the territory.

This got me to thinking about my last post: a book review on Hugh Howey’s Wool.

When I did some preliminary research on Hugh Howey before reading his novel, I found out that he wrote Wool in installments before it became a full novel. People actually read his story and wanted him to write more. They convinced him to put money and time into what he had created.

I wonder, did Hugh Howey in any way promote himself or was he one of the lucky ones Kameron Hurley mentions in her post? I would have to research it further, I am sure, or try to ask Hugh Howey himself.

Here is what I am now wondering: Can I bring myself to play the extroverted game one day and promote myself? How necessary is self-promotion in our every day lives now? Do we live in a world so centered around social media and gossip that we need people following us at every turn to succeed?

I want to here what others think.

 

Tablet Writing vs Laptop Writing

December 30, 2012 4 comments

For Christmas, my boyfriend bought me a tablet. He found a tablet that had a word processor compatible with Microsoft Office and knew that it was the tablet for me.

At first, I was not entirely sure how much use a tablet would get. After all, I have a laptop and a desk top, plus plenty of notebooks and loose leaf paper. I could read on a tablet, true, but I also have bookshelves of literature and a nook with plenty of books on it, too. Really, I have a little bit of every electronic device one could want (without even trying to collect them all!) So, I tried it out.

The first discovery I made was at how nice a tablet is for watching movies. It has a perfect sized screen for laying in bed and I can hold it wherever I need it to lay comfortably.

More importantly, however, I discovered how nice it is to write on.

For the longest time, I adamantly stuck to hand writing everything first. However, when I started to consider the amount of time it took me to hand write something and THEN type it all out, I considered what I needed to do to make my writing process quicker.

I moved on to writing on my desk top or laptop and found it way too easy to move my mouse over to mozilla firefox and check facebook or my bank account or what books I wanted to get next.

Sure, this tablet has a browser, but what is nice about a new device is that you have not done anything on it yet.

Let me explain:

My boyfriend was nice enough to buy a tablet that has a detachable keyboard. I COULD check facebook easily. I COULD browse the web for books. BUT, I have not done either on my tablet. Why? Because I have not made it a habit. This tablet is a new device and if I make it habit to never do any of those things on this device, then it can become my writing device.

I wrote my last blog post on here. I’m writing this blog post on here. I listen to Pandora, watch Netflix occasionally, play chess, but I do not check Facebook and I don’t do everything else that normally distracts me from writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get distracted, but I am much less distracted since I have drawn parameters around what I will and will not access when I am on my tablet. Now, I just have to keep my will power up and keep writing daily as I have been since I was given this perfect gift.

Let’s keep these little writing discoveries coming!