advice i got at norwescon

Hey guys! My computer is down, sortof dead, so my posts will be few and far between. My apologies.

In any case, Norwescon was amazing. I didn’t know beforehand that Heather Dale was going to be there, which made an already incredible weekend rave-worthy. Those of you who don’t know Heather Dale, go to youtube. Listen to her song Joan or Mordred’s Lullaby. Then go to heatherdale.com and buy her cds. She sings like an angel, and she’s a complete sweetheart on top of it. Oh, and she does tons of songs on King Arthur.

In any case, Norwescon was full of writers and published authors. I dressed in a corset, I went to tons of writing panels, I found a writer’s social and found out that there’s a writing workshop that I need to sign up for next year, I got inspired and wrote a lot. And I got some neat advice that I’ll write here for you.

– To read: 10% Solution, by Ken Rand
Apparently, this is a very good book on writing craft. I have not seen it yet, but I will try it out.

– “You do not have to sell your books in the order that they were written.”
As I’m still debating on what to do with Blue Crystal when I’m on a Artificer’s Angels, this made me feel better.

– “Have two different problems going on, so at the end they solve each other.”
This was mostly applicable to short stories, but something to keep in mind nonetheless.

And last, but not least… and something I’ve never thought of…
– “Follow the money.”
Now, context is important on this one. This refers to world building, not audience-pleasing. Where are the money capitals in your world, and what the hell are they doing? Figure that out, even if it’s not part of the story.

In light of my dead computer, The week before I hardly wrote, and this week I’m overshooting my ROW80 vows. I’ll post a graph or something later. Until then!

on rewriting

David Gerrold wrote a book called ‘Worlds of Wonder’, focused on fantasy and science fiction writing. I enjoyed reading it– he had a very friendly style, and it was easy to empathize with him… especially once he started out by telling a story about how a terrible writing professor told him he wouldn’t amount to anything in the field, and his first published works were inspired out of rage. This isn’t of course to say that I agreed with everything in his book, but two of the points he made stuck with me, which is fairly good considering I’m an overly critical skeptic.

I’ll paraphrase his sentiment.

The first million words are for practice. Don’t worry. It doesn’t count. Practice writing your book. Practice editing it. Practice sending it out. Don’t worry. You’re just practicing. Practice receiving rejection letters. And if someone is foolish enough to publish one of your practice novels, that doesn’t mean anything either. Practice cashing that check. After those first million words, then you can start taking yourself seriously.

Perhaps this is something personal, perhaps not. I found this passage extraordinarily liberating, probably because I get anxious before I start writing or drawing. Am I starting in the right place? Is this really the way I want to present this? I have such a hard time shutting my inner editor up. NaNoWriMo was one of the best things I’ve done– it let me finish the 0-draft of my book, with the knowledge that I would be going back and rewriting everything. Like doing small thumbnail sketches in art, the terrible, rushed version still told me where I was going, what elements I would be using. I got out a blank sheet of paper for the second version and rewrote it more concisely, longer, emphasizing some of the right details. And I’m planning on starting almost entirely from scratch a second time before I get into editing the prose itself. I need to get all the elements correct first before I start polishing my piece. And I might be overly optimistic, but I think my writing is getting stronger with each pass.

Don’t worry. It doesn’t count. It’s just for practice.

I’m going to make this book shine.

writing craft, a list

I decided to make a short list of the essays on writing and blogs that made me really think about this field. I only picked out a few of the sixty-five writers I follow (and I disagree with every one in at least one small way). Hopefully these will be useful.

E.E. Knight’s Journal has over a dozen useful links to craft essays that he’s written. His April Fools Day joke post on writing is also twitch-worthy.

Full Throttle and F**k It – A slightly less than polite title, but Steve Malley has written some of my favorite articles on craft. Especially worth reading are his comments on sequel (not a second-in-the-series sequel, but the follow-up to a scene to ensure smooth flow), and the post on how the body reacts to sudden and persistent dangers has been a great help.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, by J.A. Konrath. While most of the advice is down-to-earth and practical, I find myself bristling at some of his comments about letting genre standards define what you write and not breaking out of the box. This may be why I’m in fantasy…

Paper Cuts! Glorious Paper Cuts!, by Elizabeth Jote (a literary agent). Brutal, funny, and usually advocating good sense and common courtesy. (If ever there was a longer way of saying ‘don’t be an idiot’…)

The Life of a Publisher, by Echelon Press Publishing. Informative, and a good industry reference.

Are there any really stellar craft-journals that I might have missed? Feel free to post your favorites; I’m always looking for more sources.