Showing posts from February, 2012

What is Story Space?

Occasionally, I refer to "story space" and it occurred to me I ought to explain what I mean. I call it "space" for lack of a better term. It's not spatial, but I find it helpful to envision it as though it were to organize my creating process. (Insert Usual Caveat That Your Creating Process Will Differ). A simple, although false, way to think about it is as word count. This is a good shortcut, as long as you understand it's a shortcut. Take a hypothetical novel from The Unfinished Song series. I'm weird in that I like to pre-determine how many chapters a book will have. Most authors don't do this. But I do, and in the case of this series, every book has seven "chapters." I'm aiming at 70,000 words for each book. That works out to 10,000 word chapters, which are on the long side--the length of a novelette. (Which works out for me, since I package them that way for the Serial.) However, it also means that there's a dist

Character Based Stories

Coming soon: Anna Karenina, Zombie-Vampire Threesome I write genre fiction mostly, but I read much more widely. It's a danger to read only in your own genre. It leads to a narrowing of walls and eventually a sense of being trapped and bored. Also, reading an unfamiliar genre is like traveling to a foreign country. You never learn to love your homeland so well as when you are abroad. Recently, in a writer's group I belong to, there was a discussion around the question, What is 'Character Fiction' and how is different than 'Plot Fiction' or some other kind of fiction? It goes without saying that any time you ask a group of writers to define something, they will pour out loving new editions to the dictionary, with all the connotations, denotations, cicurmstantiations, transubstantiations and exceptions they can collectively envision, expand on and create, so by the end of the discussion it will be agreed that under the right circumstances, "character&qu

Readers relationship with books

Kathryn Kristan Rusch says: Readers have a relationship with books. Readers love the characters or the world the author built or the author’s voice and point of view. Traditional publishers call readers “consumers,” and technically that’s true. Consumers purchase goods. Readers buy books. But that’s where the analogy ends. Because the second definition of consumer is this: Someone who consumes something by eating it, drinking it, or using it up. Readers can’t eat or drink a book. Nor do they destroy the book when they read it. They haven’t “used it up,” even though traditional publishing seems to think so. Traditional publishers are based on the consumer model—using the second definition—thinking that readers are done with the book after a few months, because the book will spoil. Anyone who has visited a library or a used bookstore will tell you that’s not true. Anyone who reads Jane Austen or William Shakespeare or Mark Twain knows that stories can last forever. Books can live

Why did Amazon pull 5000 ebooks off the shelves?

There's been some fuss about Amazon pulling 5000 titles. In fact, the Gizmodo article barely explains anything beyond that, noting in two terse and profoundly unilluminating sentences: Almost 5,000 eBooks have been pulled from the the Kindle Store because of a change made to Independent Publishers Group's contract with the online seller. The move is a result of Amazon's demand for upfront payment from publishers, required to host their books on the store. But what is really behind this? Amazon is eliminating intermediaries . IPG represents many small publishers. Amazon, apparently, would rather work directly with these publishers, or even with the authors themselves.

5 Craziest Problems Writing About Love

The Five Craziest Problems To Solve When Writing About Love The only thing more likely to drive a writer crazy than love itself is trying to write about love.  Here are five crazy a$$ things a writer should keep in mind when writing about Luuuuuuuuuv What could go wrong? 1. Why should I include a love story?  If you are writing a Romance, obviously, your story is going to have a love story, but even if you are writing in another genre, you will likely want a love story. Classically there are only two good ways to end a story: with a wedding or a funeral. And even the great tragedies had love stories.  Mating is one of the oldest imperatives of not just our species but our whole phylum. Ok, Tara, but what if I don’t give a rat’s furry tail about Romance? Why should I include a love story? Hey. Don’t blame me. Blame Plato. That dude had a theory that at the origin of the world, every human being had two halves. Kinda like bivalves. The gods split them up, and eve

Fantasy Vs. Science Fiction

The eternal questions. Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there in truth no beauty? And what is the difference between science fiction and fantasy? David Brin has weighed in on this last question . More than once... this time in response to an essay by Cat Valente . In his earlier essay, The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy? , he asks, "what is my definition of the separation?" I think it is very basic, revolving around the notion of human improvability. "Do you believe it is possible for children to learn from the mistakes of their parents?" For all the courage and heroism shown by fantasy characters across 4000 years of great, compelling dramas -- NOTHING EVER CHANGES! Aragorn may be a better king than Sauron would have been. Hurray. Fine. But he's still a freaking king. And the palantir on his desk that lets him see faraway places and converse with viceroys across the realm is still reserved for the super elite. No way are we

Blunders to Avoid Designing Magic Training

GUEST BLOG:   MAGICAL TRAINING by Rayne Hall To become a mighty mage, your character needs training.  Mere talent isn’t enough. Like in any other field, success  in magic comes from a combination of natural gift, determination,  study, and practice. It's similar to writing: you can have the greatest natural literary gift in the world, but unless you learn the craft and actually practice writing, you won't achieve your potential. Give your magician character a backstory which includes training, or send him (I'll use the male pronoun for this article, but everything I say applies to either gender) to magical school. TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES 1. School of Magic Your novel may have a school of magic for children, a college of magic, a mage academy, or even a university offering postgraduate degrees in comparative magic and magical anthropology. Students sign up for full-time study, most likely on a tuition-and-board basis. If the novel is set in

5 Steps to Writing Without a Muse

I need to write a story. And I have no idea what to write. How do I start? Trying to write without inspiration is like trying to drive without gas. For various reasons, I've been reading a great deal of literary fiction, and for various reasons I am expected to write something that is not fantasy or science fiction. So I have the added burden of writing something out of my comfort zone. I feel like I'm writing without a muse. That's not the end of the world. It makes the process slower, that's all. It doesn't all pour forth in white heat. At least not right away. Eventually, the story must be molten to be poured into shape, but there are steps to take before it gets there. That's true also of my genre fiction. The problem isn't the genre, really. That's just one more challenge. Here's what I do. 1. Brainstorm. I flip through my notebooks, reminding myself of previous ideas. I brainstorm. I jot down new possibles. Since this is to be a ma