Gormek of the Thousand Tongues, a Short Story

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in My Fiction, Writing | 0 comments

Gormek had tasted all the world had to offer: the sour tang of tainted mag­ics, the lin­ger­ing sweet­ness of fear, the roasted dark­ness of man and beast.

The ener­gies of the world are fad­ing, but the hunger of the many-tongued godling will not abate. When it came across a lowly farmer, Gormek believes it was just one more morsel, one tasty bit of meat in a land drained of life.

How­ever, the farmer may yet be the creature’s match. Quick wits verses an insa­tiable, ancient appetite as the with­ered world hangs in the bal­ance as prize for win­ner of this con­test of wills.

Only one may feed their need.

Hey all! Come check out my short story on Ama­zon, Gormek of the Thou­sand Tongues, a dark fan­tasy with a dash of humor.

Or is it dark humor with a dash of fantasy?

Could be both.

Oooohh, creepy!

Oooohh, creepy!

I am very happy with this story, and if you enjoy dark fan­tasy, apoc­a­lyp­tic land­scapes, and ancient mys­ter­ies, give this one a gander!

Find it at Ama­zon, here.

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Insane Writing Falsities 1: Asking Permission

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I spend some time float­ing about this here inter­webz, inter­act­ing, read­ing, email­ing, dig­i­tally stalk­ing peo­ple who won­der to them­selves, “who the holy hell is this guy, and why does he keep tweet­ing me?”

As a writer, it should come as no sur­prise to you that a lot of my net time involves writ­ing and writ­ers. We word nerds are like that, all clicky and strange. Some of these folks I fol­lowed because of an inter­est­ing post, or a book they wrote, or because they often col­lect links together in some mas­sive orgy of click­able knowledge.

Some­thing they did intrigued me, enter­tained me, or made me think.

And, of course, quite a few of these are advice blogs, usu­ally on Tum­blr, which answer ques­tions and dis­pense, well, advice on the writ­ing process.

Advice is good. Advice is help­ful. We all need advice. And, for the most part, you can find some pretty inter­est­ing things on these advice blogs, like links to how lan­guages formed or what some sub-culture in a dis­tant land does or did or will do. Lit­tle nuggets of brain-feed abound in these places, lit­tle trig­gers that just might get a new story idea brew­ing in your head.

But there is an insane thing I see on many of these blogs: ques­tions of such an inane sort, usu­ally answered with such grav­i­tas it makes my head spin.

Things like:

My pro­tag­o­nist and antag­o­nist are sim­i­lar. How do I make them different?

Can I (insert action here) in a (insert genre here)?

What are the rules for (insert trope here), and can I make up my own?

Here it is, folks, in a nut­shell. If you write, then you are a writer. Maybe not a good one. Maybe not an expe­ri­enced one. But for fuck’s sake, you are a writer.

Repeat after me: I am a writer and I don’t need per­mis­sion to write what­ever I want how­ever I want.

Really, folks, don’t ask ques­tions like these. Don’t ask the inter­net if you can make stuff up in your own book.

And that’s what this all boils down to: ask­ing per­mis­sion. Sure, the for­mat of the ques­tion changes, but the seed of the issue, the crux of the prob­lem, is this.

I want to write, but I can­not because of some rule, or I am afraid to solve the prob­lem myself since I might be miss­ing some rule.

How do you make your char­ac­ters dif­fer­ent from one another? Really? How many peo­ple do you know? A bunch I bet. Notice how they are all dif­fer­ent? Write like that. Write those peo­ple. BAM, magic. Char­ac­ters are really not that hard, and none of them are ever made whole cloth and from the author’s brain-meat. Pull from the sources of your life, for good­ness sake. Every­one is doing it, folks, everyone.

If you have to ask how to write a cer­tain story, then you are either not read well enough in those types of sto­ries to feel how they work, or you are afraid to write it the way you see it in your head. Either way, you need to come to grips with the fact you are the writer, you are at the wheel. I see folks ask­ing things like, “How do I write fan­tasy…” I promise you, no amount of help­ful links in a mas­ter post of writ­ing shit is going to answer that. You can­not learn how to write fan­tasy from the inter­net. You learn by A) Read­ing fan­tasy, or B) Just mak­ing it all up as you go! You can do that! In fact, it was just this type of DIY atti­tude that got us all our great books to begin with, folks.

I will repeat that: Those book that affected you the most, that made you want to write, were likely the exact books that broke the rules and made it all up.

Tolkien was like, “Imma write a pseudo-historical tale and take ele­ments from all the races I’ve read about in real life, but add, get this, lit­tle damned peo­ple and a giant flam­ing eye­ball on a tower!”

David Eddings was like, “Imma write fan­tasy with­out fol­low­ing most of the set rules for it by Tolkien and the authors that fol­lowed, and instead take ele­ments of ancient prose-poems and tales of knights, and get this, make my wiz­ard a lech­er­ous dunkard whose only love was a wolf-woman! Oh, and glee­ful violence!”

What are the rules for a cer­tain story ele­ment? There are no rules, and that’s the rule. Tolkien didn’t fol­low rules. Brad­bury didn’t fol­low rules. Elli­son actively had car­nal activ­i­ties in pub­lic with rules. You make the rules.

Look, I get it. We all start some­where. We all need a hand. We all want to know if we are doing it right. And there are cer­tain, let’s call them best prac­tices, to bor­row from the dead soul­less void of the cor­po­rate world. Not rules exactly, but not not rules, either.

You should try and write in an active style. You should avoid too much pur­ple prose. You should keep char­ac­ters inter­est­ing and lively. You should mix up sen­tence length so it is fun to read.

Fan­tasy usu­ally involves magic. Sci-fi often takes place in space. Noir has a lot of brood­ing, angry protagonists.

But do not ask ran­dom peo­ple on the Inter­net if it is ok for you to write a cer­tain theme, or style, or genre. Either you do or you don’t, there is no ask.

That’s what it is to be a writer.

If you want rules, be a lawyer.

If you want to write a noir steam­punk fan­tasy were­wolf book, then open your lap­top and do it. You’ll get an awful lot more done that way than ask­ing the inter­net for per­mis­sion, I’ll promise you that.

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Humble Bundle Full of Books

Posted by on Feb 26, 2015 in Books, Humble Bundle | 0 comments

Hum­ble Bun­dle: A place of mad­ness, I tell ya’

Alright, for those who don’t know, Hum­ble Bun­dle does a pay-what-you-want kind of thing for assorted books and games. They bun­dle the stuff up and you get it for…well, what­ever you pay.

$1? Sure.

$100? Sure.

There are bonuses, of course, if you pay higher than the aver­age or higher than a cer­tain amount (like $15), but the bulk of the good­ies are yours at any price.

Check out what they are offer­ing here: https://www.humblebundle.com/books

$123 worth of DRM free books in three for­mats: EPUB, Mobi, and PDF, all from Sub­ter­ranean Press. Har­lan Elli­son, Joe R. Lans­dale, John Scalzi — a whole hella lot of good authors in 22 books (if you pay at least $15).

Some of the meta-data is a bit wonky on one or two of the books (poor Robert Mac­Cam­mon is “First­name Last­name” in his offer­ing, I Travel by Night) but it is a small price to pay for so many books at such an afford­able cost. Not to men­tion, a quick meta­data update via Cal­i­bre (you do use Cal­i­bre for your DRM free book col­lec­tion, right? Right? *judg­ing*) will fix that right up.

Check it out as it ends in six days.

 

*poof*

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On Being an Ass About Kickstarter

Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 in Rants, Writing | 4 comments

Be fore­warned, I feel a lit­tle snarky about this sub­ject, and it shows.

Kick­starter, seem­ingly a place for chaos and strife.

Who would have thunk it? Cer­tainly not I.

Kick­starter, for those who don’t know, is a place where cre­ators of what­ever — movies, games, zip­per masks — can crowd-fund a project. Basi­cally fund­ing an expen­sive ven­ture through a lot of smaller trans­ac­tions, and giv­ing those who sent money their way some perks like a free copy of the game, or a thank you in the cred­its, or a ninja-kick to the junk.

It’s fun.

It’s great.

And thanks to Kick­starter, we find our­selves with games and movies that would not have ever seen the light of day otherwise.

Sto­rium.

Waste­land 2.

Tor­ment: Tides of Numen­era.

This thing.

 

Yet, some­times, a Kick­starter cam­paign will blow the hell up, send­ing ner­drage shrap­nel and unin­formed bull­shit in all directions.

 

First floor: Tee-shirts, swimwear, unin­formed rage

A few days ago I came across an inter­est­ing post on The Pas­sive Voice, which I rec­om­mend you read, as there are always awe­some posts pop­ping up there. The title of said post was “Why I Can­celled the Kick­starter”.

Hmm, I mum­bled as I clicked.

Here are the basics:

An author, Stacey Jay (a pen name for the author’s YA books), had started a Kick­starter cam­paign to pub­lish the sec­ond book of a can­celled series — one that sold well, but not well enough for the pub­lisher to con­tinue with her (note: I am say­ing “her” due to the pen-name being Stacey, so this is an assump­tion, and could be wrong). So, being the brave new world, she decided, WTF let’s do this any­way, and opened a Kickstarter.

The idea: Sup­port me, includ­ing the costs I will incur by avoid­ing an hourly day-job in order to write this novel in a few months, and get a novel and perks for doing so.

I guess the brave new world ain’t so brave, and cer­tainly not as new, as it looks. The “stodgy, grumpy, enraged, filled with ass­holes” old world is still there, just wait­ing for some­one to over­step some invis­i­ble bound­ary, equipped with +1 Cud­gels of Get-Back-In-Line.

In this case, things went *poof* in her face. In her own words:

But late last night I was made aware that the writer/blogger/reader com­mu­nity was angered by my Kick­starter to fund the Princess of Thorns sequel. Space cadet that I am, I was com­pletely shocked. I never meant to make peo­ple angry. Quite the opposite–I wanted to make my Young Adult read­ers who kept ask­ing what was next from me happy.

Angered, folks. Peo­ple got angry.

For real.

There are things to get angry about. A bee in your trousers. A boss that grabs your ass. The fact the high­est gross­ing app in the world is basi­cally “shop for expen­sive stuff with Kim Kardashian.”

But anger over a Kick­starter for a novel?

Why?

Well, it seems an author isn’t sup­posed to con­sider eat­ing, drink­ing, elec­tric­ity, and the feed­ing of the wee lit­tle ones as they write a book. The catch­ing point for most seemed to be that Stacey Jay needed to con­sider liv­ing expenses as she wrote the novel over the next months.

Oh man! What an ass­hole, right? I mean, she want to eat and have elec­tric­ity while writing?

Man, when I was her age, we used to etch our sto­ries into our flesh with hot knives, in the dark, while starv­ing, and only had one pair of pants which only had one leg-hole and…

Hon­estly.

Now, truth­fully, Kick­starter is not meant for cov­er­ing your food expenses, at least not directly. One can­not start a Kick­starter cam­paign called “I’m fuck­ing hun­gry, pay me $10 so I can eat” and offer absolutely no ser­vices or end-product.

But when you sup­port that videogame, or that movie, the money does go to food. The coder of that Donkey-Muffin Extreme Snow­board­ing app you sup­ported will use said money to keep the juice run­ning at home. He/she ain’t work­ing for free. He/she ain’t eat­ing the dig­i­tal bits and bytes of his/her code to sur­vive. He/she needs to feed them pesky rugrats, who need all those calo­ries and bull­shit. Damn lit­tle kids.

In this case, Stacey Jay was the provider of said ser­vices — we give $$, she eats and writes. What’s the dif­fer­ence? Where is the dis­crep­ancy here? Why should the actors in a Kick­starter movie use some por­tion of said money, paid to them for their tal­ents as actors, to live off of, and Stacey Jay be sep­a­rate and dif­fer­ent in ask­ing for money to use her tal­ent to pro­duce an end-product?

Hell, that’s the whole point. I payed InEx­ile so they could feed their coders while their coders made me my game. Sure, it also helps cover other stuff: New hard­ware, adver­tis­ing, bring­ing in new artists, etc. But in the end, I give $$, a coder eats, a coder codes, I play game, happy fun time much excite.

 

Allow me a moment of your time here for a quick logic-check

Kick­start­ing a movie. Great!

Kick­start­ing an awe­some fic­tion game plat­form. Great!

Kick­start­ing a robotic roach. Great!

Kick­start­ing a salt-shooting mini-shotgun to kill flies. Great!

Kick­start­ing a sequel to a beloved videogame. Great!

George R. R. Mar­tin get­ting a hefty advance to write a book so the man can eat and keep the lights on. Great!

Stephen King get­ting a hefty advance to write lots and lots of books while simul­ta­ne­ously pay­ing elec­tric bills and feed­ing chil­dren. Great!

A woman going to Kick­starter and say­ing, “Hey, if you want to, you can pay me $10, and I can eat, keep my house, and write the next novel in a series.” Not great! BOOOOOOOO! HISSSS! ENRAGED!

 

 

Time to reconsider

It’s time, dear reader, we take a good hard look at this sort of thing, and ask our­selves, “Why? Why? OMG why am I mad about this?”

Why shouldn’t a writer ask for liv­ing expenses, as long as said expenses are rea­son­able, and be able to use Kick­starter for such a thing? The fact is, if her fans thought it was a shit idea, they would vote by not sup­port­ing the work. Poof. Done. Gone. The Kick­starter would fail, and then the mes­sage would be clear.

Instead, a num­ber of folks went to the inter­net and rat­tled cages, flung poo, and made a lot of noise.

And now, Stacey Jay has can­celled the project, and no book gets made.

Is this a win?

Did the INTARNETZZZZ win a deci­sive bat­tle on the high hill of moral­ity here?

I think not.

To me, this is a loss. I don’t know Stacey Jay. I don’t read YA romance. I would never have picked up this novel. It isn’t on my radar.

But we lost some­thing here: A novel, yes, and more.

The free­dom of an artist to ask for money — not just for their art, but to sim­ply exist as a human being while mak­ing said art — has yet again been punched in the groin.

 

More readin’

http://marnibates.com/2015/01/07/stacey-jay-veronica-mars-and-the-kickstarter-controversy/

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/01/07/kickstarter-tag-team-post-whats-asking-too-much/

http://staceyjayya.blogspot.com/2015/01/apology-explanation-and-why-i-cancelled.html

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Starting 2015 Right for Writers

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments

It’s 2015, folks! Betcha didn’t know that. Mmmhmm, that’s why you come here — To be edumacated!

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m feel­ing the new-year this time. I’ve had a lot of changes in the last year, and I expect more changes to come.

I want to make it a good year. Maybe you do too. Maybe you write, and want to be bet­ter this year than you have ever been before.

Well, let’s do this together. But together, like sep­a­rate together. Please don’t drop by my house with a sleep­ing bag or any­thing, OK?

Let’s do this: A list of amaz­ing resources for you, dear reader:

1 – Read the blog of Jamie Todd Rubin

Here is a mad geek sci­en­tist if ever there was one. A writer of SF, Jamie is very open about his work­flow. He shows you what he does and how he does it, and man­aged over 400k words in a year only writ­ing an hour a day.

He writes com­pletely in Google Docs.

He’s scripted Docs to auto­mat­i­cally tally his writ­ing, in both fic­tion and non­fic­tion, and put them all into a spread­sheet for him. This way he can just write, and ignore all else. He opens a doc in Docs, scrib­bles, and closes it, let­ting his auto­mated processes count words and mail him the info.

But, besides all that nerdy mad­ness, he also writes (often) on the blog about writ­ing, read­ing, use­ful apps, etc. He’s been pub­lished in an ass­load of pro mag­a­zines, so when he talks, it behooves us to listen.

Check him out at: http://www.jamierubin.net/

If you want to see some of his writ­ing mad­ness, look at this site, which auto­mat­i­cally polls his writ­ing and makes pretty graphs… mmmmm graphs.

Also, if Google Docs is your thing, you can fol­low the instruc­tions here to set things up to count your words and track your writing.

2 – Lis­ten to the Dead Robots’ Soci­ety, the Round­table, and I Should be Writing

I’ve talked about these blokes before, but in this new and shiny 2015, allow me to remind every­one: The Dead Robot’s Soci­ety is one of the best writ­ing pod­casts out there, for a num­ber of sim­ple reasons.

First, it is a joy to lis­ten to.

Sec­ond, the hosts run the gamut of pub­lish­ing: Indie, small press, Ama­zon, not Ama­zon, folks that pants their way like mani­acs and oth­ers who lay out a bit more brick­work before lay­ing on the words.

Third, these folks are active. Really active. Patreon pages (well worth your read­ing time!), indie pub­lished SF nov­els (super good stuff), fic­tion pod­casts (oooh, ancient gods and his­tor­i­cal fic­tion!), you name it. You can learn a lot from their chats on all of it.

The Round­table Pod­cast is among the best out there, cov­er­ing all aspects of writ­ing, includ­ing inter­views with those in the trenches. Dave Robi­son is a joy to lis­ten to, and things are always lively and inter­est­ing and strange when they get going. Do your­self a favor and have episodes of The Round­table play­ing as you exer­cise (HA!) or lan­guish, depressed and dejected, on the living-room couch.

And, the one and only I Should be Writ­ing, hosted by Camp­bell award-winning Mur Laf­ferty. This is a must-listen pod­cast. Inter­views, the tra­vails of pub­lish­ing, years worth of pre­vi­ous pod­casts… You can also sup­port her via Patreon and get all the back cat­a­logue — years worth — of episodes. Trust me, I’ve lis­tened to most of the shows, and you will learn a lot — both about writ­ing, and about your­self (you ain’t the only one with doubts, dear reader, join the club) — through the podcast.

 

3 – Get your SF & F mags, fill your brain

Noth­ing helps writ­ing more than read­ing. It sucks. You stop read­ing for a few days due to hol­i­days and the like, and Ye Olde gray mat­ter starts to get stiff. The words stop flow­ing as easy. The ideas don’t beat down the doors anymore.

Sign up to one (or all) of the old-school pro mag­a­zines. Do it via Kin­dle (way cheaper) or via actual, mailed mag­a­zines (cooler, more expensive).

Hon­estly. I know we aren’t all aim­ing to be pub­lished for short sto­ries, or even SF and fan­tasy, but the con­tent in these mag­a­zines is mind-blowing. You can feel the sto­ries stretch­ing your brain-meat, and expand­ing what you con­sider pos­si­ble in fiction.

Asimov’s Sci­ence Fic­tion for $2.99 a month.

F&SF for .99 a month.

Ana­log for $2.99.

Every month you get a bunch of pro sto­ries writ­ten by seri­ous SF and fan­tasy peo­ple, edited by pros at the mag­a­zines, and chock full of crazy ideas.

It really helps keep the juices flow­ing, and it’s a lot eas­ier to read a short story than a novel when time is tight. And a lot cheaper than a cup of Star­bucks coffee.

 

4 – Fig­ure out your workflow

It’s time, folks, it’s time. Stop muck­ing around with your tools (you’ll go blind that way!).

Fig­ure out what you need: Do you need to write on the go? Can you even write on the go?

Iron some­thing out, and stick with it. Don’t worry about the other bull­shit. Like Scrivener? Use it. Like iA Writer? Use it.

Ignore the other good­ies whis­per­ing your name, singing their siren songs. You don’t need it. Pick the tools you are com­fort­able in, marry them, and move on.

Did the folks behind iA Writer release a new writ­ing app? Sure they did. Do you need it? Depends: If you are happy with iA Writer/Scrivener/Google Docs/chiseling your sto­ries into stone, then don’t even bother with it.

Make 2015 a year of words, not a year of try­ing out all the new, shiny, tools.

 

5 – Write

Eas­ier said than done, some­times, am I right?

I mean, who the hell are you to think you can stand next to the Asi­movs and Brad­burys of the world?

And all that time! You have to dust, clean, watch football…

Yeah. 2015. We should just give up.

Or no. Instead, just write. The more you do it, the eas­ier it gets, the bet­ter you feel, etc. It’s a cycle.

Every­one says it. So often, in fact, it sounds hack­neyed. “Suu­u­ure, duh, of course it helps” you may think, yet still not do it.

Yet, when put into prac­tice, it can really help.

When I write daily, I feel good. Moti­vated. Happy. Like I can do this shit, maaaaaaaaan. Dig it?

When I let it slide, play some games, watch some movies,  I feel stag­nant the next time I write. The words are more slug­gish, atro­phied lit­tle word-legs twitch­ing. I sit to write and it’s like I am look­ing through a fog.

Make it a game. Join a Face­book group and post about how many words you wrote that day. Use the Magic Spread­sheet to earn points for every day you write. Track your progress in a spread­sheet, or with what­ever floats your goat.

 

Happy 2015, folks. Let’s make it a good year.

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The Cycle of Crapolla: Dealing with Drafts and Crits

Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in Writing | 0 comments

Writ­ing is a thing, right? Peo­ple do it, peo­ple think about it, peo­ple write about it, peo­ple write about peo­ple writ­ing about it.

All sorts of myths swirl around about this thing — it’s a great gift by super­nat­ural beings, your god or God or their god or God instilled the desire/skill to write in your brain-meat at a young age, it’s untouch­able art and peo­ple need to under­stand it…

But all that is wrong, and it’s all shit, and it’s all bad for you.

The fact is, at the end of the cow, when the day comes home, when the road meets the grind­stone (and assorted other butchered plat­i­tudes), it isn’t about magic and mys­ti­cal space beings and myth­i­cal feel­ings. It’s work, and work for hours and days and weeks and months. And it just gets started when you “fin­ish” a manuscript.

Because that’s when oth­ers *gasp* see it.

 

Writ­ing it is the easy stuff. Get­ting it chopped up in lit­tle pieces by beta-readers so you can sew it back together bet­ter is the hard part.

This blog has been neglected lately — some of this is due to pro­cras­ti­na­tion. I spend seri­ous time on each post and end up push­ing it aside until later when I, sup­pos­edly, will have more time. But, also, in part because of a large project I’ve been writing.

A sci-fi ser­ial — space opera good­ness in ten parts — filled with ancient ruins and mys­te­ri­ous relics. It’s fun stuff, and I can’t wait to get it out there.

It’s all mapped out — as in I spent days map­ping star sys­tems, research­ing the effects of red dwarf stars on hab­it­abil­ity, and whip­ping together a basic map to keep my shit straight when jump­ing from sys­tem to system.

And it was plot­ted and worked out in a 10k+ world bible. I didn’t go too crazy here, it’s a big world with the oppor­tu­nity for a lot of sto­ries, and 10k isn’t a bat-shit crazy as it sounds. But it took some time, have no doubt about that.

Then I wrapped up the first “episode” of 10k words in a cou­ple of days. I thought it was pretty good — in need of work, no doubt, but the basics were cov­ered at least.

But, alas, it sucked a lot harder than I expected.

 

The truth is out there, and it hurts like a bat to the head.

This is the part oh-so-many writ­ers never make it past. Maybe they quit since get­ting your work cri­tiqued sucks like a Dyson stuck to your thigh. Maybe they never show any­one their work, fear of bad news cramp­ing them up like an old bur­rito. Or, maybe they do get it beta-read, but lash out at the reac­tion since they are artists and these other peo­ple just don’t get it.

But, in the end, this is where it’s at maaaaan *peace sign*. This is where the writ­ers get sep­a­rated from the they just don’t get it crowd.

This is when you find out what works, and what doesn’t work.

This is where your char­ac­ters get tested like a mon­key in a genet­ics lab.

And this is where my story got broke.

Facts about episode 1:

  • My wife didn’t com­plete it. Always a bad sign, since sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers tend to slog through your crap bet­ter than most due, in part, to you know­ing where they sleep and what they fear most.
  • No one liked any of the char­ac­ters except for the vil­lain. No. One. Holy shit.
  • More than one reader men­tioned dis­ap­point­ment in the first part, where I promised one thing but deliv­ered another.
  • My sar­cas­tic robot char­ac­ter may be a lit­tle too close to a cer­tain other ass­hole robot in a cer­tain guide to the galaxy.
  • The end result: Tech­ni­cally, there was noth­ing wrong with the writ­ing, but the story was as enter­tain­ing as a cold plate of broc­coli sit­ting in a field.

Do you know what I didn’t know?

Any of that.

And if I didn’t risk my sen­si­tive lit­tle writerly feel­ings by get­ting some hard-nosed read­ers to tell me what they really thought, I still wouldn’t know any of it. I’d be hap­pily bang­ing away at another 10k words of dri­vel in episode 2, con­tent in my mediocrity.

 

But how to deal with the beat­down to your manuscript?

It’s no secret: Hav­ing your work cri­tiqued is hard. Every­thing sings so clearly in your head, every­thing went from your brain to your fin­gers to your key­board to your doc­u­ment and damn it all why can’t peo­ple see what was in my thoughts *shakes fist at sky*

But, it isn’t this way at all. When you are knee deep in writ­ing, you are miss­ing all sorts of stuff.

You aren’t fill­ing in info oth­ers need because it is obvi­ous to you.

You are dump­ing too much data in parts since it just needs an expla­na­tion or no one is going to get it, right?

Not to men­tion, when you are in the weeds, you go astray. Maybe you know all the lit­tle rules that make a good story — intro­duce char­ac­ters over time, avoid data dumps, give a lit­tle phys­i­cal descrip­tion for read­ers to grasp but not too much — you sim­ply don’t do them.

I mean, maybe some of the pros do 90% of the right thing 90% of the time, but that’s what makes them pros.

Every­one else is drop­ping the ball every sen­tence or two.

The eas­i­est way to deal with the stresses of real­iz­ing your baby is a lit­tle ugly, maybe some­what dys­func­tional, and in need of seri­ous work: Under­stand that every­one else is mak­ing the same mistakes.

You ain’t spe­cial, no mat­ter what your mother told you. Just as you aren’t the next Hem­ing­way, you also aren’t some­how at max suck­atude because your story needs to be kicked over and reworked.

If you get insulted, you are doing it wrong. You should be ecsta­tic the flaws came out at this stage, rather than later.

If you are sad, you are doing it wrong. You should be over­joyed since you are at the precipice so many oth­ers fail to cross, ready to leap over to the other side.

If you get depressed, you are doing it wrong. Sure, take a day to feel a lit­tle knocked back by the set­back. That’s nor­mal. But dwelling on the exact same types of prob­lems Stephen King, Chuck Wendig, and Bran­don Sander­son deal with as part of their daily job is silly bor­der­ing on crazy.

If you get aroused, well, I guess good for you. Writ­ing aught to be a blast then.

 

Here is what I plan to do with the information:

Fact: I intro­duce too many char­ac­ters too quickly, and many of them remain face­less and unimportant.

Action: Rework the ros­ter of char­ac­ters. Cut some out, give their jobs to the impor­tant char­ac­ters. This gives more “screen time” to each remain­ing char­ac­ter, and less to juggle.

 

Fact: The antag­o­nist is very inter­est­ing, so much so she over­shad­ows who we are sup­posed to be root­ing for.

Action: Don’t change her much, since she kicks ass. But intro­duce her early — even in the first scene. Bait that hook, damn it!

 

Fact: I promise one thing with early scenes in a ruin, but don’t deliver any real trea­sure hunting/Indiana Jones stuff — what some­one expects when they read about peo­ple delv­ing the depths of million-year old ruins.

Action: Deliver like a boss. Time to cut out some of the space travel and spend more time plan­et­side. My job is to enter­tain, and peo­ple want to see what these ruins are all about.

 

Fact: The robot com­pan­ion of one char­ac­ter seems a lit­tle too sim­i­lar to cer­tain other sar­cas­tic robots of lit­er­ary history.

Action: Since, in my head, this char­ac­ter was noth­ing like other past robots, I must have failed to put a unique spin and voice on him. I need either change him, or flesh him out bet­ter for the reader.

 

It’s not so hard or over­whelm­ing when you put it like this, and I would rec­om­mend you do the same. Take those com­ments — most espe­cially repeat com­ments since if more than one reader sees the same issue, you can be sure oth­ers will as well — and write them each out in your own words. Then solve them, one by one, like you would any other problem.

Because, in the end, that’s all they are: Prob­lems to be solved. Miss­ing parts in an engine. Wrong num­bers in a sudoku puz­zle. Rocket mel­ons in the fruit salad.

Col­late, cog­i­tate, conquer.

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