Showing posts from July, 2022

Writing: Don't Kill Your Story Tension With These Three Elements

The most important factor in a story that keeps readers reading is putting a good character in peril.  The danger doesn't have to be physical. It could be emotional, financial, social, spiritual...  but there has to be tension in the story. The reader thinks that they want the tension relieved, but actually, if the tension drops off, the reader grows bored.  Yet sometimes, the writer, in a fit of misplaced pity for the character, forgets this cardinal rule, and tries to relieve tension for the character (reader), inadvertently killing the story tension.  I've seen this done in a couple of ways. I'll list just three of them here, for now, and then suggest some remedies. Problem: The All-Awesome Main Character (a "Mary Sue" or "Marty Stew" This is the worst. If you have a character who's simply a stand-in for the fantasies of the author, to the point that this character never does wrong, is liked by everyone, wins every fight, develops new skills witho

Does Reading Make You Stupider?

Today I read an article, "How To Think For Yourself, " by David Bather Woods, that discussed the belief of some philosophers that reading could make you stupider. (There are of course several layers of irony involved in such a proposition.) But this is an alternative to the view I suggested in my discussion about Sensitivity Readers, in which I suggested that reading creates bridge between minds, expanding our mental horizons rather than shortening them.  Still, let's see what the argument is, and see if it has any nugget of truth. Schopenhauer was very clear: ‘Reading is a mere surrogate for one’s own thinking’ and, for this reason, ‘erudition makes most people even more stupid and simple than they already are by nature’....Reading, he thinks, inserts ‘foreign and heterogeneous’ thoughts into our own, which never truly belong to us. Characteristically, Schopenhauer draws on a range of images to illustrate this point: reading is like ‘the seal to the wax on which it press

Sensitivity Readers - Are they a good idea?

This is the first I've heard of this as such a codified process. On Operation Awesome's blog , not too long ago, someone asked about "sensitivity readers." I'd never heard of them before. This was the answer: I know there is a lot of fear out there, particularly in kid lit, about sensitivity reads and cancel culture and how the "woke" love to pile on books, sometimes even before they are published for their perceived mis-representation of certain groups.  Is it any wonder that publishers, who hold the financial risk in this situation, are taking steps to mitigate that risk? A sensitivity reader is basically someone from a community represented in your story who isn't there to cancel you, but to ensure that the representation of that character is authentic.  For example, if you have a Taiwanese character in your story, your publisher may get a Taiwanese reader to do a sensitivity read to make sure the culture is represented in a realistic way. Obvious

The Tiktok Trend Urging Readers to Return Books

First of all, most Tiktok advice is pure trash; always take it with a grain of salt. Second, use the Golden Rule. Never do to someone else what you wouldn't want them to do to you. Is that so hard to figure out? Operation Awesome has another writer hit by the vile Tiktok inspired trend of returning author's books after reading them. What kind of person does this? Honestly, I know the economy is hitting people hard, but if you are a reader of mine and can't afford my books, email me (tara at taramayastales dot com) and simply ask for a free copy. I'll send it to you. But don't pretend to buy them, read them and then return them. That's creepy. (This is isn't happening to me right now, but it's the principle.) So, I admit, I was skeptical about this when I first heard about it, but the more I've heard, the more I understand why this is a problem. It seems to be a combination of two factors: one, scum on Tiktok urging people to take advantage of author

How Rings of Power Could Fall like Numenor

I want to to like Rings of Power. I would love to love it. But I'm extremely skeptical.  Let me be clear... when I first heard that Peter Jackson was making movies about the Lord of the Rings, I was quite skeptical as well. Even then, I didn't trust Hollywood to do those books justice. I expected something half-assed, remotely related and ultimately rather hokey.  Instead, I was blown away by the movies.  This wasn't because the movies showed the books exactly as I imagined them. Frodo, for instance, was much more heroic and attractive than I had envisioned him... and, oh, my gosh, so much better. I loved that the love story of Aragon and Arwen was woven right into the story instead of stuffed into some appendix. Faramir, my favorite character from the book, was treated fairly, and everything else was beautifully brought to life as grandly or more grandly than I had imagined. Unlike some people who thought the Hobbit prequels were a let down, I enjoyed those very much. Agai

Five Problems with Kindle Unlimited

I dislike five features of KU.  1) The worst feature, above all: KU is exclusive, even though it isn't even available globally. The advantage to Amazon is obvious. They keep readers in their own pool, chained off from rival sources of books.  But what is the advantage to writers? The writer surrenders power to the big shark for the right to swim in the same pool as the captive readers. And some writers find this lucrative, I don't deny it. Since for most writers making money is important, I sympathize, but to me this is only one step away from selling your rights to a big publisher. You sacrifice long term gain for short term gain--which is short-sighted. Also, I hate how unfair it is to readers who can't even read your books. I would have to literally deny books to some of my international fans--how sad. I've had fans of The Unfinished Song write to me from all over the world. It means so much to me to know that anyone can access my books.  2.) Two, Amazon decides how

Movie Review: Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed

Warning: Spoilers In contrast to Green Snake, a movie with fantastic special effects but a terrible theme and vile heroine, today, I'd like to review a WWII war movie that didn't look as if it had much of a budget.  At times the dialogue was clunky, at times the pacing slow, and the special effects were certainly nothing special.  There have been plenty of WWII movies, so what made this one stand out? First of all, this was apparently one of three movies made called Saints and Soldiers. I happened to catch the second one, having not seen the first. This one was Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed. The movie revolves around three men. Some movie time  was spent focused on the backstory of a soldier who had a calling to become a pastor. In fact, his mentor tries to talk him out of entering the one, telling him that his calling to serve God is more important than fighting. The would-be pastor rejects this, deciding that at the moment that the most important thing for him to do is

Movie Review: Green Snake

Warning: Spoilers I’d like to contrast two movies I saw recently to illustrate the role of theme And elevating or dragging down entire story. I enjoyed both movies for different reasons and in different ways, but one was dragged down by a terrible theme, where is the other was elevated beyond its low budget and mediocre cinematography to a thoughtful piece by its theme. The first movie is Green Snake. The special effects in this movie were fantastic, But even more fantastic was how the world building came to life through the special effects. Essentially this movie which was about a green snake shifter and her white snake shifter sister, set in a world which was an eclectic and exciting mix of the traditional Buddhist concept of the six different worlds, reached through reincarnation, and modern urban dystopia, reached through an Isekai style transportation of an adult character. At the beginning of the movie, the two snake sisters are attacking a monk defending a beautiful palace.

Writing: Maintaining Story Tension in a Long Series

  One difficulty writing a series--long or short--is maintaining both the author's and the reader's interest over time. The secret to that is to have a real story to tell in every single book. I don't know if this is still a common problem, but back in the day when writers were SO focused on getting past the gatekeepers of Legacy Publishers, they would throw all of their passion into the first book of what they hoped would become a trilogy. That included making the first book "stand alone," so that Legacy Publishers would be willing to take a chance on it even if the other two books in the series weren't "picked up." The result might be a fantastic first book... that left nowhere for the other books to go. Sometimes that second book was a true drag, and then, if you were lucky, the third book would redeem the series. But sometimes, the third book was even worse.... as the story floundered, either simply reprising the first book, or, worse, taking awa

Book Feast: Ebook Summer Bonanza Givaway

  Lots of genres of free books in this summer givaway!

Book Feast: Free Witches Book Fair

  Grab some free Witch books!

July Book Feast: Fantasy 2 Read Givaway

  Grab some great free fantasy for July!

Trigger Warnings for Fiction

An interesting question was posed to Lois McMaster Bujold (one of my all time favorite authors) about trigger warnings You can find the full question and answer on Goodreads . John Kirk  asked Lois McMaster Bujold: As an author, how do you feel about content/trigger warnings? Some of your books have unpleasant things happening to characters (e.g. Elena Visconti). I really like those books, but I've recently been adding my own warnings while recommending them to friends. Would you be happy for an editor/publisher to add official warnings at the start of a book, or would that be treading on your toes? Lois McMaster Bujold   Trigger and content warnings are a custom that has arisen in online fan fiction. Professional fiction for an adult market has never had them, the audience being assumed to be grownups with agency capable of making and owning their own choices. To me, it would feel like infantilizing my audience. Somebody else choosing and applying such tags for my work pre-publica

WiP: A Trailer and a Teaser from Sworn (The Unfinished Song Book 10)

Trailer for Initiate, The Unfinished Song Book 1  I found a scene I could share that has a few teasers for the final trilogy in The Unfinished Song, without giving away too much. I couldn't share what Dindi and Kavio are up to, but this is a related storyline about Finnadro and Rthan... *** The hard-pressed journey consumed the days that followed. They had experience working together from their quest with Kavio the previous year, but they had to adjust to having only two pairs of hands for all the tasks of a war party. They established a good rhythm. Finnadro deferred to Rthan in any matter regarding the water or the canoe, and Rthan let Finnadro choose their passage through the woods. Rthan fished and Finnadro hunted. At night, over the fire, they each roasted their catch, then shared both meats. Without Kavio’s insight to smooth over small misunderstandings or Tamio’s jovial humor to lighten the mood, their conversation was often stilted. Entire evenings went by without them exch