Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ninja Writing

Recently I’ve been reading a lot. As in judging contests (10 entries) and struggling through a bunch of  books to find something to read.

And I want to say how much I enjoy ninja writers.

The ones who have such skill, such subtly that you are pulled into their stories without seeing them.  They craft great stories but they are invisable.

You know the ones, you read a chapter and have been completely pulled in and at no time do you think, “oh- I see what the writer is trying to do”. Like a ninja, they strike quickly and with prescion doing exactly what they need to do, no more and no less.

Part of the reason I'm noticing them- not being noticable- is because in both published and unpublished cases I'm seeing more and more noticiable writing.  Where the author is there with you every single page, pointing out important information with a neon sign.  I started a published book last night and was bored in a few pages as I got tired of watching the author make things how they should happen, instead of how they DID happen.

I know, that doesn't make sense.  But it's that bit of writing where the writer is trying a little too hard to get a point across in case the reader missed it the first five times.  Where they use cliche reactions to things instead of saying, "Ok, I know my character- what would they really be doing right now?"

Ninja writing is subtle and clean and true to the characters.  A good ninja writer KNOWS their characters, and that knowledge is clear in every move the characaters make.  They trust the reader to follow along without being reminded how hunky the hero is every other paragraph.

So to all you ninja writers out there- I salute you- and I wanna be just like you real soon ;).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Yes, all those eggs should be in one basket!


Today I was thinking about how creative types sometimes like to hold back.  Maybe NOT put all of our eggs in one basket.  Keep something in reserve for the next book, story, song, painting, or movie.

Yes, me thinking about these thoughts was caused by a movie.  Not a bad movie mind you, just a movie that seemed to have been holding back.  I’m talking the most recent Star Trek movie.  Now, before you extremists start hunting me down, I said it was a good movie.  But, in my opinion, it wasn’t great. I don’t want to spoil things for fans who haven’t seen it yet so I’ll avoid details ;).  But I felt there were a number of times were things were dangled in front of us, then pulled back.  Where chances to go bigger, bolder, scarier, darker, were waved at then passed up for what felt like excessively long chases and fight scenes.

I think J.J. Abrams was holding out on us.

It felt as if he had ideas for another movie, say the third Star Trek, and wanted to save those ideas for it.  Maybe, maybe not- I have no idea why he did what he did. But for me the final product wasn't great.

And I know many a time  I’ve read and heard writers defend their holding back so they have something for the next book.

Don’t do it.

Take all those eggs, every last loving one, and dump them in that basket.  Great idea?  In it goes.  Juicy characters and twists?  Yup- in the little wicker thing.

We should never hold back for two main reasons: 1) we may not GET a second chance.  There may not be a second (or third, or fourth) book, movie, song, etc.  2) we’re selling ourselves and our readers short.  We’re focusing on a future reward instead of what’s in front of us.  Whatever project you are working on RIGHT now is your best project EVER.  You have to treat it that way.  Even if you’re an odd case like me who writes numerous series, whatever is going on right now is my baby.

Don’t worry about “using it all up”.  We’re creative folks, more ideas, characters, harrowing situations will come in to fill the space back up again. 

Just keep putting all of your eggs in that basket and make it the best damn basket ever.  Until the next one ;).

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Found Notes, Lost Stories

I’m in the process of re-vamping my library/office in my house (aka digging it out and making it work like a real office ;)). During this long process, I’m really looking through what I’m keeping. This includes digging through boxes of notes that I’ve made on various books throughout the years.

It’s been eye opening that’s for sure!

I am a serious pantser, as Ray Bradbury would say I open the window and follow the character’s footprints in the snow. This leads to LOTS of brain storming and divergent paths at various stages in the writing process.

I’ve found notes and ideas that were not followed that would have radically changed where that particular book ended up. Sub plots that were modified or dropped, new ones that were added. I’d like to say that my characters stayed the same, but even they have changes as they morphed from earlier notes-through various brainstorms.

I don’t see these lost notes/ideas as wasted at all, clearly they helped me get to where I really needed/wanted the book to go. And some of them are so different they could be used for another book. But still, I almost feel sad for those lost books—the ones that were briefly alive, then lost in a pile of notes.

What about you? Ever find notes where you shot off in a different direction in the final draft? How do you feel about those paths not followed?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

IWSG- Not Getting an Agent

Insecure Writers Support Group Wednesday!  Yes, it’s that time again.  One day of the month when a few hundred writers scream their fears into the abyss of the internet.


Not getting an agent

Ok, I’ll admit it, I want to become traditionally published.  I want the amazing agent, the gifted and talented editor, the book sitting face out on a brick and mortar bookshelf.

And part of me fears that will never happen.

Ignore, for a moment, the way the publishing world seems to change at any given month.  Getting an agent—correction—getting the RIGHT agent is as difficult as it’s ever been.  I’ve seen what happens when the wrong agent and the wrong writer get together, and it’s not good for either.

Many writers obsess on agents so much that in their minds even getting the wrong agent is better than no agent.  It means they’re a “real” writer-right?  But finding that special someone who loves our work as much as we do isn’t easy.  And someone who may even believe in it MORE than we do is a major miracle.  Going with an agent just to have an agent is a sure way to end up even more frustrated that we already are (and lemme tell you folks, writers are a very frustrated group of folks!).

So my insecurity for today is not finding that amazing advocate to go fight for my books. I want someone in my corner, who understands my work (and my humor ;)) and can steer me back on course if I wander too far off.  Someone anxious to spend the amount of time it takes to get a book into the hands of the right editor.

And now I’m realizing that may not happen. 

Part of me is excited about all of the new options for writers.  Waaaaay back in the day self-publishing was a very long four letter word. Now it’s a chance for writers to really have control (for good or bad) over all aspects of their work.

That I may actually be able to keep a title I love, find a cover that works, and make sure that book has a professional editor all over it sounds amazing.  Scary.  Expensive.  But amazing.

Yet the other part of me is saddened by the fact that I may never have that agent of my dreams in my corner.
So that's my insecurity for this month!  What about you?