Famous Writing Advice With My Addendums

21 06 2016

Write what you know. Your life is a great place to start. You have something you are doing that no one else knows about, like a job or location or life challenge. Start there.

Write what you know. Be sure to talk to lots of people so you know more.

Write what you know. So write about monsters you invent, because who’s going to argue?

Monsters shouldn’t glitter unless they kill people with glitter.

Write things that would embarass your mother. This may not work if your mom likes the Kardashians. If your mother has no shame, try for “dismay” or “repulse”.

The best subtext is unintentional. That is, if you write to convey a message, that message will consume everything — characters, plot, and eventually your ability to interest others. Those you wish to persuade will dismiss you for preaching and those who agree with you will think you’re a dilletente and ignore you. Write your story. If you realize, hey, this story is awkward and makes me look nuts, then work with that. Embrace it. There is a market filled with people who are also awkward and nuts.

Remove as much as possible from your story, especially if you’ve seen it before in other stories. That goes double if you are writing a pastiche or a monster that’s been done.

Writing is not theraputic. Speaking with a cleric, health professional, or mature friend is theraputic. Writing can improve you the writer if you write with the idea that you the writer are wrong and have been for many years. That is “cathartic”. You may have a really good story when you’re done, too.

If you wish to inspire with your writing, make sure your conflicts and antogonist are treated with respect.

Everyone disagrees. Even twins disagree. In theory, clones raised in identical circumstances would disagree. Your character has to do impress you and also make you facepalm.

Even locations have character arcs. Game of Thrones wouldn’t have worked in a thriving, newly born empire. If Salem’s Lot had been a vitalized town filling with immigrants or yuppies, Barlow would have been burned before his antique store opened.

 





StokerCon in Las Vegas, Baby! Also, Want To Beta Read My New Novel?

5 05 2016

I’ve finished my new dark fantasy/horror novel titled “Diesel Dead”. Elevator pitch is “Later this century, physics attacks humanity. A man with a secret can help bring civilization back from the brink, if he can overcome his PTSD.”
The book is now 43K words with zombies, diesel-funk, fire spirits, a high-tech ruling class, and quite a bit of bleakness.
Wanna read it? Drop me a line!
Meanwhile, I am preparing to go to StokerCon next week. I have signed up for seminars with rising young authors and plan on networking like hell. I hope to keep you updated through the convention about my impressions and learnings.
Right now, I am writing four synopsis for use in John Skipp’s brainstorming class. These are:

  1. Bev’s Demon: a novella set in the near future, a woman is crisis is shadowed by a mysterious being. The problem with this is my politics may be getting in the way of making a better story.
  2. Babbage’s Mandala: A head-smacking new take on the Difference Engine. So many places to go with this idea. Characters in search of a plot.
  3. Sequel to “The Flesh Sutra”: Tentatively named “The Flesh Frequency”, it will be set in 1970’s California. I have  POV and reveal scene and that’s all.
  4. Dagnoxy: Old friends from highschool convinced me to try my hand at comedy again. So I have a character and an idea as to where he should go. If The Talented Mr. Ripley and Terry Pratchett were to have a baby, Dagnoxy would sell it to make spell components.

An editor for a small pub is also critiquing the first 100 pages of “Diesel Dead”, and I’ll share what she has to say.





Inventing Your Own Hell

7 01 2016

Dante saw Hell as punishment for misdirected passion. Those who loved a behavior more than they loved God got an ironic end.

Dante knew if you are need some unique take on damnation, the obvious isn’t most interesting Hell.

I’ve had Inferno on my reading list for a long time, but I have a hard time getting into it. Dante didn’t mean it as a literal map of damnation, I know. Yet through the circles freezing, fiery, and fecal, teeming with billions of wicked souls, to find Satan gnawing at Brutus as one of the Three Most Evil Men Ever is quite a letdown.

The language is beautiful, though.

Considering this question about creating a Hell for some fiction, I learned a bit about where our passion has gone in the last century.

Our ideas of Hell have been tsunamis of desire. Hell is what happens when you get everything you want beyond any concept of health.

Clive Barker designed a Hell for Materialists. Dominated by an infinite maze, ruled by inscrutable sentient pyramid Lord Leviathan, his Hell is populated by the Cenobites who exist only to either create the art of pain, or wage eternal war on flesh (depending on the story). In “The Hellbound Heart” and in the several dozen “Hellraiser” movies, there is no Heaven, only safety by avoiding the louche and grotesque. There is no Eucharist, only milquetoast (SWIDT? “Bartlett’s” here I come!).

Very similar is Lovecraft’s original vision of the universe, where salvation means remaining comfortable in your New England cottage ignoring your desire for knowledge. Hell for Lovecraft meant being dragged helpless into fathomless depths, whether it’s as a brain canister to the planet Yuggoth, an unknown fate in the undersea of the Deep Ones, or a slave in the underground land of dream. He created a Hell for Skeptics, in that not only is all human science wrong, humans don’t even have the brainpower to understand.
(I ignore any addition to the Cthulhu Mythos beyond Lovecraft. Robert Howard wanted to create epics and C.A. Smith wanted passion plays.)

The 1970s presented Hell as gauche. A dinner party with your extended family gone stale but with Latin Rites on the stereo. It’s eternity with the Castavets of “Rosemary’s Baby”, or in stuck in the jerkwater burg of Malas in “The Devil’s Rain”, or locked in the brownstone of “The Sentinel.” The only crimes ever mentioned as damning a character were murder, suicide, and flat-out Satan Worship. The good believer was sucked into the abyss by being possessed or sacrificed after dabbling with Ouija boards or having the wrong bloodline. This was Hell if you Took Your Thing Too Far, Man.

This is where our culture has left us. Hell is now for jerks who can’t get along. Want your family to stop growing apart? Go to “Krampus” Hell where its Christmas morning for eternity. Can’t stomach self-sacrifice? Stay in Revelation era L.A. like “This Is The End”.

But what about the Hell your story needs?

What could Hell for Positivists be like? Frenzied, eternal stimulation and exhaustion? Unsurpassed bliss, but alone, always alone? Would there be Circles, like the First being for those who post mindless platitudes on Facebook, and the punishment being listening to that friend whose nice but really down for all eternity?

For Pessimists, Hell would be uncertainty in cause and effect. Being in the wrong place or time and seeing opportunities flit just out of reach. Lost in a roiling sea of millions of other souls, none of whom believe what you’ve seen. Hmm, Hell for Pessimists is Life.

Hell for Stoics could be like Samuel Beckett’s “Play” (Have a look. It’s brief and stars Alan Rickman). All ruminate privately over their gravest sins over and over, without expression, until emotions are ground to dust. It’s a Hell that every stage actor has faced, and is also quite British in its way.

In the comic series “Swamp Thing”, the evil magician Arcane is sent to Hell, where he is told Hell wouldn’t exist if people didn’t believe in it. For writer Alan Moore, Hell must be like this.
(Watch all the way through. More poignant than funny.)

One human’s Heaven is another’s Hell. Example: The Mormons allegedly believe that once a worshiper dies, that worshiper gets a planet to rule as a god. Meanwhile, countless souls would have to live on a planet designed by Donny Osmond.

How many sandwiches are being made by damned Feminists for blessed MRAs?

Anyway. Hell has to be that ironic sting.

Hell for Ferenghi may include toil and the gloating of those with better lobes, but watching their descendants lose. For Time Lords, Hell may be like a conscious one-dimensional fixed point in time and space, watching everything pass by.

I wrote up a race of intelligent gas bubbles. That race lived chemical reactions in a DNA laden gas within a membrane. Once popped, a bubble’s gas needed to be absorbed by another bubble to “live on.” Their passion would be toward creating the safest, most stimulating life for themselves and their progeny-foam with NO-SHARP OBJECTS. Hell would be some primordial soup with a gooey, lethal surface tension, filled with lost souls.

Sometime, maybe I’ll discuss why a theology is the second step toward creating an alien race.

We deserve better Hell than some spiteful gnawing. Create a better one for your world.





Handy Reference Tool: The Root Of Horror Is Here…

30 09 2015

If people could perceive their situation without bias or prejudice, there would be very little drama. There would also be no horror.

“By gosh Sheriff Brody, all evidence points at an enormous shark! The short term financial benefit is outweighed by the risk of life and Amity’s reputation. As mayor, I close the beaches!”

“Say little brother, have we even seen a picture of our grandparents? Aren’t we making assumptions going along with these weird old coots?”

“Living on the sidewalk is probably better than staying in a brownstone that may be the gate to Hell. Just thinkin’ out loud.”

I did not make and take no credit for this chart. I found it on Mental Floss. Have a listen to their podcast “You Are Not So Smart.”

1433516609896155794

 





Hero’s Journey and The Plot To Romance Stories…Now In Handy Charts!

24 09 2015

I do not own or take credit for these handy reference tools. I was a sap and did not note from where I had downloaded them. But these are quite useful for those who wish to do the Epic Fantasy or to do the Romance Plot in their books. Myself, I am going back to the first novel I wrote (tried to self-publish before Smashwords or Amazon Publishing was available; expensive and frustrating. Then I tried to outsmart the market by using a distinctive cover that was black-and-white with a complex pen-and-ink portrait. This is how I learned I CANNOT OUTSMART THINGS.).

Hero's Journey

Romance Plot

 

 

 





Ten Scary Story Ideas, Where To Set Them & Joss Explains How To Write Them!

30 08 2015

The Ten Scariest Theories Known To Man!

America’s Most Haunted Houses!

And Joss Whedon Explains How To Write Them Out!





How I Wrote This Story I Sold

14 08 2015

Writing is quite cathartic for me. It’s an outlet I need because I have this depression/anxiety issue that keeps me thinking about mistakes, lost opportunities, painful moments for literally decades.
I discovered that writing about one of these compulsions from multiple points-of-view deflates that compulsion and helps me to move on.
I realized that if I’m going to write it out, then maybe I can sell that story. Something under my bed? Make it pay rent! Har!
Anyhoo, in high school I had a guy who was a suburban white thug. Flannel wearing before grunge was cool, a Deadhead more stoned than mellow (Yep, I was picked on by a Deadhead), there were rumors his father was a cruel man. He was a cruel kid. Pushed me off my speeding bike in the middle of rush hour traffic, among other things.
During my freshman year, I literally thought of this guy every minute I was in school. After freshman year, I thought of him at least once per hour. Friends told me not to take it so hard, to relax, and most of them had their own jerks they were dealing with.
After graduating, I kept looking for him on the internet. Off and on, along with a high school girl I had a crush on, several books I had heard of, a few songs I had heard only once.
It took me a couple of decades before I realized he wasn’t the problem. I was using him to avoid facing other issues, and oh by the way, I needed medication to take the edge off.
I figured he was in jail or detox, living a miserable life.
So one day, I found him (thanks Facebook!). At age fifty, he looked fit. Ripped even. He had two grown kids. One picture had him shaking hands with an older man. The look in the guy’s eyes showed such a relief and vulnerability, the older man had to be his father.
I looked at the other pictures. Looked at the guy’s eyes. I realized that even back in high school, he had such sad eyes. His grown daughter clung to his arm with an air of protectiveness. His son stood with him wearing an air force uniform, their handshake proud. The guy’s eyes still looked sad.
No sign of a wife. Divorced, I guess. Even I didn’t want him to be a widower.
Over those decades, I had fantasized about finding the guy. The older I got, though, I realized that those four years of barbed-wire anxiety had lost their sting. The only pain was me sticking my hand in over-and-over.
I wondered “What would it have taken for me to find him and confront him?”
A terminal illness. A go-for-broke, God-is-as-small-as-me life change where I would call every little slight catalogued in my head to account. “What if I hadn’t wised up?” I wondered. “What if I was still in denial? What could I do to him?”
So I wrote this story of that moment, but from his perspective. The editor didn’t change a word.
 Note the title of my short story.

darkfuse3

 





Writers, You Must Listen To This Podcast

10 08 2015

I get bored or annoyed with podcasts.
I do not listen to some big names simply because the language of the stories out paces the plot or ideas.
Others are too conversational or have too many hosts (“Writing Excuses”).
Some trivia or idea podcasts come across as smug or padded (hi there “You Are Not So Smart”), but I stick with them because the subject interests me.
But there’s The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast.
Wow, is this good info.
The four hosts are all self-published authors of note. They share up-to-date insights and advice on the marketing and publishing worlds. How can you game BookBub? Is Facebook Ads worth the effort? Kindle Direct? Should you publish yourself or go with an existing platform?
Recent guests include prolific and high-selling authors Annie Bellet, horror writer Chris Fox, Robert Crane and many more.
I am eating these podcasts. I suggest you do the same.

http://www.marketingsff.com/





Insight Into Writing A Comedic Anti-Hero

29 07 2015

From Ignatius O’Reilly to Blackadder to well, pick any other Brit-Com:

“The keys to keeping Sunny palatable through all the sordidness is that the gang can never win, and that the show can never allow them to be truly sympathetic. The gang are all underdogs, which should lend them pathos. Yet they all harbor delusions of enormous self-worth, which causes them to act superior to each other and the rest of the world, and they lash out in unpredictably destructive ways when those delusions are punctured. If any member of the gang comes out on top in a particular episode, it’s at the expense of one or more of the others, and their victory only comes about through actions viewers can never truly get behind.”

I would add “…never win on their terms, for themselves.” A comedy anti-hero can create good for others, but by accident. The anti-hero can’t come out on top, otherwise his warped values go from funny to gruesome.





The One Piece of Advice That Made Me A Better Writer

9 07 2015

Is not about writing. It’s about pride in your work and the threshold of what you will do for your work.
This advice made me send my work to loftier markets, where I was surprised to be accepted. This advice forced me to up my game and not be comfortable with my current skills. This advice found me friends and advisers of high caliber, who have done more and who know more. Editors, pro writers, semi-pro writers all follow this advice.
What small success I have had I owe to this:

Do not work for free. Yes, “for exposure” counts as “free”.








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