Sep 02

Home, Con-crud, and Bad Writing

Posted: under Craft, Life beyond writing.
Tags: , ,  September 2nd, 2014

It’s not all negative.  I had a great time at Dragon-Con,  the con-crud is not (so far) really bad, and the bad writing was/is hilarious.    I don’t trash other peoples’ books in public, so I won’t tell you who wrote this gasper, only that it’s not in SF/F (I indulged my interest in another genre).   I won’t even quote it because someone lurking here would undoubtedly run it through a search engine and figure it out, after which someone (maybe a different someone) would hasten to tell the author that I trashed the book, and the author’s fans would then come hurtling down on me, and those who like internet fights would sit around cheering.  I  have a better idea.

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Jul 18

Body Art in Paksworld

Posted: under Background, Craft, the writing life.
Tags: , , ,  July 18th, 2014

Many people in various cultures have used permanent markings on the body as means of identification–individual, familial, tribal, broadly cultural.    Any of these can be ornamental, and thus fall into the “art” category, but they are often more than ornamental–they have specific meanings.  Temporary markings applied to the skin with colors, mud, ash are even commoner, but ephemeral; the point of this post is the permanent ones in use in Paksworld, and their meanings to the Paksworld cultures that use them (or who abhor them.)    Tattoos, scarification, and piercings all occur in Paksworld, with very specific meanings both inside and outside the groups that use them.

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Jun 19

A Mixed Bag

Posted: under Craft, Life beyond writing.
Tags: ,  June 19th, 2014

Surgery’s next Wednesday.   Good to know there’s only a 3%  chance of losing the vision in that eye, though as the person who’s benefitted from its vision (poor as it’s been sometimes) for 69 years, I could wish that % chance was lower.   I intend to spend even more time than usual in the next five days looking at things and maybe even photographing them.   However, life isn’t all about my eye, or even me…and though I’m in a writing gap right now (not only is it hard not to think about the surgery, but the eye in question is making it very clear its cataract is getting worse)   I am thinking about the craft of writing and the many ways writers try to bridge the gap between what we see in our heads, and what you get when you read what we wrote.

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Mar 28

Luxury Polishing

Posted: under Collections, Craft, the writing life.
Tags: ,  March 28th, 2014

Quite often, and especially with long books,  writers are up against tight deadlines.   Yes, we proofread.  Yes, we try to find every continuity error, every awkward phrase, every less than perfect word choice.    And we hope Editor and Copy-Editor and eventually the proofreader for the page proofs will find the ones we miss (though sometimes we need to correct their corrections.   The CE who wanted me to have a ship’s weapons “staffed” instead of “manned,” for instance.)  But once a writer is hooked into a traditional publishing workflow,  there’s a limit to how many drafts, how many re-readings, how much polishing can be done in the time alloted. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb 14

Writer’s Toolkit: Strong v. Weak Characters

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  February 14th, 2014

I recently followed a link from Twitter and found myself at a site listing “women who will kick your ass” to go along with praise of a particular book.   All the other kick-ass women were in movies or TV shows, not books, which I found…annoying.   But still.   Once more the “strong woman character” is interpreted by a media outlet as “kickass” and (as comments on the chosen characters showed) not just “kickass” but “badass.”    For that writer, in that instance, a strong woman character had to be both physically strong and aggressive, and psychologically, morally, glad to be bad, at least part of the time.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb 13

Craft, Art, Secrecy, Sharing

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  February 13th, 2014

There’s a sensible article about Craft and Art  by Theodora Goss  on the SFWA website.   Goss, an experienced creative writing teacher, has a somewhat different angle on it than I do, but we see both pretty much the same way.   My way of saying it:  Craft makes art possible.   Art gives craft life.   But in the story I’m working on now,  which happens to be partly about craft (in knitting) and art (ditto) there’s something more I believe is important.

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Jan 25

Writer’s Toolkit: Ignoring Expert Advice

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  January 25th, 2014

Now this may sound ridiculous–why would a writer, especially a relatively inexperienced writer–ignore advice?  Especially expert advice, perhaps advice from a writer he/she admires?   Surely that’s exactly the advice to follow…isn’t it?

Sometimes.  And sometimes not.   Every writer has much to learn from other writers.    But every writer also has much to not learn from other writers.    (Yes, a very deliberate split infinitive.)  That’s because of the very nature of the writer’s connection to the writing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jan 22

Writer Toolkit: Research Done Right

Posted: under Craft.
Tags: ,  January 22nd, 2014

Every writer needs to do research at one time or another, but it doesn’t have to be (should not be!) just hours in a library or staring at the computer.   In both fiction and nonfiction, vivid writing that brings the reader the next best thing to “being there” requires research done right…from the best available sources, in the most hands-on way possible.   But most of us (nearly all) don’t have unlimited time and funds to spend on research.   How can we use the resources we can afford in the best way?   How should a writer tackle the research mountain when all he or she has is sneakers and day-pack?

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Jan 20

Egg, Chicken, Omelet

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  January 20th, 2014

Since there’s interest, here’s another post on writing stories.    One perennial question (less here than elsewhere) is “Which came first, plot or character?”  It also emerges as “Is this plot-driven or character-driven?”  Another variation is “Do you get the idea first, or a character?”    In other words, “We know you can’t get a chicken from an omelet, but did this omelet start with the egg or the chicken that laid it?  And what part does the heat play, and  the frying pan?”

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Jan 15

Writer’s Toolkit: Backing Up

Posted: under Craft.
Tags:  January 15th, 2014

No, this isn’t about backing up your work on another device or keeping a printout.   (Though that kind of backup is vital if you work on a computer.)   This is about one way to diagnose and fix a problem you have while writing, and it’s related (no surprise) to the problem you might have untangling yarn.

When your yarn (or story) has gotten itself in a tangle, you can either keep pulling forward, on the grounds that it will sort itself out (and sometimes it does, when you’re pulling yarn from the inside of a ball–the entire guts of the ball may come out, or just a small bit that the yarn has looped around)  or you can work backwards from the tangle to find that loop or knot and pick it loose.  This post is about the backing-up kind of fix. Read the rest of this entry »

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