Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
- What if vampires invaded a small New England town?
- What if a policeman in a remote Nevada town went berserk and started killing everyone? (Etc.)
- What if there was a writer who went to a small New England town, hoping to face down his childhood fears?
- What if there was a boy who learned a lot about God and loss when his family got trapped in a remote Nevada town?
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
What I find ironic about the privacy question, however, is that regardless of how much of ourselves we expose in cyberland, by nature as writers we’re already pouring out our deepest, most intimate thoughts into our writing. In other words, our books disclose much more about us than we share in short bursts on Twitter and Facebook, or even on our blogs.
Friday, February 12, 2010
"...if nothing is ever published at all and you never make a cent, just the same it will be good that you have worked."
"...I am so afraid that you will decide that you are stupid and untalented. Or that you will put off working as so many wonderfully gifted people do, until that time when your husband can retire on full pay and all your children are out of college."
"It is impossible that you have no creative gift... [and] you cannot be sure that it is not a great gift."
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
- Have they always been monsters/villians?
- Have they always been unloved/loved?
- What do they really want from life? How would they choose to die?
- Who or what do they care for? What is their most treasured possession?
- Do they like their appearance? What are their favorite/least favorite body parts?
- Are they creatures of habit?
- Do they sleep lying down? What do they dream about?
- What do they worry about? Get excited about?
- What do they fear? What do they love?
- What do they have faith in? Do they believe in a higher power?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
In the fine tradition of Nathan Bransford, I am having my first "you tell me" blog post.I have never been to a writer's conference. I didn't really see the point; so many people seemed to treat it as an opportunity to pitch agents, but by the time I started learning about conferences I had already sent out queries to everyone I thought was a good fit, which seemed to mean that if I did attend one of these things and got the chance to talk to an agent, I'd end up pitching someone who (1) already rejected me, (2) got my query but had not yet rejected me, which would make me feel like a stalker ("have you read it yet? how about now?") or (3) is not a fit for my book.
- Manuscript Mart ($130). Spend 20 minutes discussing your work with a prominent literary agent or editor, who will have read your [20-page] manuscript in advance. This fee is in addition to package registration fees.
- Preferred Lunch Seating ($50). Enjoy your lunch on Saturday at a "Five-Star Table" with a combination of 5 guest authors, editors and agents. Fee is in addition to other registration fees.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I was all set to scoff. Choosing a novel because the author is hot? That's probably the last thing I think about, running way behind the pack of more important reasons like: who recommended it, if I liked the author's work before, the back-of-book plot summary, cover art, availability in my format of choice (trade paperback), publishing house, and typography. Sure, we joke about it, but no one who actually cares about literature would care about an author's looks, because writing ability and appearance are wholly and utterly unrelated.
Yup, I was all set to comment, and then I remembered my post on John Irving. Into which I inserted no fewer than six author photos. Damn. What can I say, I have a total reader-crush on the guy.
Okay, I stand by my belief that I would NEVER EVER buy a book just because the author was good-looking. I mean, jeez, that's what the internet is for: free photos of people we like to look at. But there's definitely something enjoyable about reading a work of genius and then discovering that the person who wrote those words is visually appealing as well. Whether it's an expression like they've got a secret (Irving), a certain scruffy-headed charm (Neil Gaiman), killer eyes (Zadie Smith), or a wicked smile (David and Amy Sedaris), it IS nice if we like to look at those who we like to read.
But is there too much pressure for writers to have an intriguing (sexy) image? Take a quick look at this blog post: Can we stop being sexy? Just for five minutes? to compare one author's book jacket photo with a more casual photo. I personally think that the intent behind the "sexy" photo may have been to make the author look more intense and thoughtful (writerly) rather than give her a come-hither expression... after all, the title of her book was Special Topics in Calamity Physics, and I imagine that the marketing people decided that a certain formal glamour fit the book's packaging best. But the result was more or less the same: the photo made her look ethereal, and like a deep thinker, AND sexy. (But can we blame the author at all? Who wouldn't want to look amazing in a publicity shot?)
So. Any writers you love to look at? Any thoughts on the presentation of authors as a visual commodity? And, what's going on YOUR book jacket?
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
- Gary Corby (ancient Greek anecdotes AND practical editing advice)
- Carrie Harris (her first name is excellent, and at one least of her answers is likely to be "zombie")
- Caroline Starr Rose (check out her post on envy)
- Mary Campbell/Writer's Butt Does Not Apply To Me (her blog title continues to crack me up)
- Ben Watson/I, uh, think I killed my muse (his blog title also cracks me up... and he needs to start posting again!)
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I urge you to take a few minutes to read Ramsey Shehadeh's short story Creature. After you've read it through once, take a look again at the second section (sections are separated by "* * *"), and look at how the author portrayed Creature's desires, insecurities, and motivations. Consider its wants and needs, its internal and external influences. Look at how much character development the author gives you in just that one paragraph following the section break.
Even if you're not a genre writer, let's think about this for a moment. How much do you know about your villain/monster/antagonist's backstory? How was s/he born or created? How was s/he raised, or not raised? (Tell me about your mother, we hear in a deep Freudian accent.)
Maybe try your hand at the following writing exercises:
- Describe your monster's birth or creation (in the case of my creature, hatching);
- Write a scene in which your monster/antagonist becomes frightening or repulsive even to him/herself;
- Write a scene in which your monster/antagonist fails to overcome his or her evil (or merely naughty) impulses... and does not regret it.
That short story I linked to? Includes all three such scenes. Yowza.
They say that the way to make vivid, well-rounded characters is to remember that every character is the hero of his or her own story. That includes monsters and villians. That includes characters who are self-loathing, or who wish they were more than they are... or less.
I hate to quote Ally McBeal (note to my foreign readers, I swear that show had nothing remotely to do with law as it is practiced in the United States), but there was one episode where a much-abused friend asks Ally, "Why are your problems so much bigger than anyone else's?" And in a rare moment of honesty, Ally replies, "Because they're mine."
No matter what genre you're writing, no matter what species your characters are, no matter how big or small their roles in your stories are... their problems are THEIRS. And that's what going to be important to them. They're probably not out to just be evil or get in your hero's way. They may want power, or love, or just to be left alone.
If those characters of yours get a lot of time on the page, you could do worse than to get inside their heads with them for a while, and see what got them started down those paths.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Yat-Yee, thanks for thinking of me! SO bizarre... I logged into Blogger early Friday afternoon, thinking, "What should I write about on Monday? I should plan ahead for once. Let's see what the other bloggers are doing. Hey, maybe someone gave me one of those awards where I have to answer questions..." and then I clicked on your post. Sweet!
The rules: Answer the following questions with single word answers then pass this along to 5 other bloggers. Simple enough!
Your Cell Phone? Tempermental
Your Hair? Reddish
Your Mother? Opinionated
Your Father? Reserved
Your Favorite Food? Unagi
Your Dream Last Night? Cinematic
Your Favorite Drink? Milk
Your Dream/Goal? Happiness
What Room Are You In? Office
Your Hobby? Dance
Your Fear? Needles
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Older
Where Were You Last Night? Bed
Something That You Aren't? Tall
Wish List Item? Air
Where Did You Grow Up? NYC
Last Thing You Did? Breakfast
What Are You Wearing? Pyjamas
Your TV? Internet
Your Pets? Finches
Your Life? Good (photo)
Your Mood? Improving
Missing Someone? Nope
Something You Aren't Wearing? Makeup
Your Favorite Store? Etsy
Your Favorite Color? Gray
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? Daily
Last Time You Cried? Forgotten
Your Best Friend? Husband
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Maine (photo)
Favorite Place To Eat? Home
I'm going to post now (before Blogger eats the post again, dammit) and come back later to choose the five people I'll pass this on to... I'll do a separate post with links and all that good stuff. In the meantime:
PICK ONE QUESTION AND ANSWER IT IN THE COMMENTS!