Shut Your Yap, Ray Bradbury: Advice To The Blocked

28 06 2013

So writer friend…
You’ve rolled out of bed. Your mind may be foggy. You may be out of ideas. Rejections may have fallen on your head like bricks made out of birdcrap. On your shoulder, the warm touch of your muse has turned into the cold grasp of the eternal grave. You need tools. Where do you go?

“Writing Excuses” Season Eight
The current season of this podcast has been especially useful. Look up “Short Stories”, “Writing and Personal Health”, and anything titled “Brainstorming.”
Brace yourself for quips, especially in “Brainstorming”. The panelists have very active minds and sometimes they bound over each other like eager puppies.
If you are prone to self-contempt, avoid any episode that has “In Depth” in the title. The

“Characters, Structure, and Viewpoint” by Nancy Kress
Truly useful.
How to link action with dialogue. Three escalations to resolution. How to structure a likable character. All the stuff that should be taught in college Writing 101 classes, but instead presented clearly and simply.

“2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better” by Rachel Aaron
If it isn’t fun to write, maybe you don’t need it in your story. If you hit a block, come up with details about setting and character until the answer appears. Prepare an outline. These and other ideas are brought out in quick, head-smacking examples. Modest and sympathetic.

“About Writing” by Stephen King
A good book for the absolute beginner. Just enough soul-baring and hand-holding to inspire, coupled with enough practical advice without being overwhelming.

“Zen and the Art of Writing” by Ray Bradbury
This is damn near useless.
Ray was a Grandmaster, and he deserved the title. “The Martian Chronicles”, “The Banshee”, “The Pedestrian”, “The Fog Horn”, all are elegant and incisive and heartfelt works of literature.
However, this book is Ray celebrating being Ray, and encouraging everyone to find their inner Ray, and being bewildered why more people aren’t like Ray.
It’s “my photographic memory” this, and “grew up surrounded by my loving family” that, and “wake up bounding out of bed to start work” the other.
“There is only one type of story in the world. Your story. If you write your story it could possibly sell to any magazine.” This alone should have qualified him for institutionalization.

Shut your yap, Ray.

More Writing Advice I’m Trying Out…

18 04 2013

…from a writer named Randy Ingermanson. Have you heard of “The Snowflake Method”? I’m seeing if I can adapt it to short stories, and I’ll be having another look at my novel-in-progress using this.

Another Writing Book I Recommend…

6 03 2013

…is another e-book. This one is about how to increase wordcount. It’s currently available on Amazon FOR FREE.
“2K to 10K: Writing faster, Writing Better” by Rachel Aaron, the prolific author of the Eli Monpress series. This is a refreshing manual in that her writing style is direct, conversational, and has minimal amounts of self-promotion. Her goal is to not only increase her daily word count, but to keep the actual act of writing fun. She shares her discoveries and processes by discussing her own work, but never comes across as arrogant or trying to sell more books. Ms. Aaron comes across as an interested, experienced friend who you meet at conventions over coffee. And her methods work well. I’m still getting the hang of the process, but I have had days where I’ve doubled my word count.

A Friend Is About To Start A Novel. Here’s Stuff I Wish I Had Known…

4 03 2013

…back when I had started writing.
First, buy this e-book:
“Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers [Kindle Edition]” by
James W. Hall. The author teaches college-level creative writing classes.
He and his students analyzed best-sellers from the last century to find common elements. They found a dozen plot points and character traits in common within books as different as “Gone With The Wind” and “The Hunt For Red October.”
I was impressed by this, but what really struck me was that of all the stories I had written, the ones that sold contained the majority of these elements.
So I’ve made a checklist for myself and use it while drafting.
I will not include these notes, because really you ought to buy the book. It’s $11 but I wish I had this years ago.