Drive Write: Support Structures

Drive Write podcastDrive Write: Episode 15 – Support Structures

This week I’m talking about personal support structures. In particular, I’m expressing appreciation for everything my wife does to help me perform on my creative projects. I’ve been reminded of just how much having a teammate and partner means during this past holiday season. She was overseas for the past several weeks and it has been difficult to balance all my personal projects against family, parenting and the day job.

Let me know if you’ve had similar experience or challenges in the comments. And definitely let me know if you have any tips!

Advertisements

Drive Write: Empower Your Verbs

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 14 – Free your… No. Empower… Hmmm… Unleash your verbs!

We’re talking about verbs on Drive Write this week. Action! Verbs are all about the ‘doing’ of a thing. They are motion. They are intent. They are what spurs a story relentlessly forward over forty-miles of rough prose.

I don’t know about you, but I frequently don’t take time to ensure that I’ve picked chosen selected the best possible verb for any given action in my stories.

This week’s podcast is a short one, but I like the writing/editing tip enough to make it a cast all its own. I’d encourage you to carefully consider each and every word you write. That’s probably good advice in general and for any type of writing. But in this case, pick one of your stories and try focusing on getting the most bang for your buck out of each verb.  You might be surprised (and pleasantly so) by the amount bloat and vagary that can be pruned away.

Until next week, uh… cheers ‘n’ stuff.

Character Description – Reprise

DescriptionThe October 21 episode of Drive Write focused on including an appropriate amount of description in stories. I recorded the podcast in response to some comments that David Farland made in an online panel and discussion of those comments in this thread on the WotF forums.

Please give that podcast a listen and read through the comments for more context, but the gist is this:

Many starting authors fail to include enough description in their stories. This doesn’t mean that all stories will benefit from more narrative description. It means that otherwise good stories will suffer if they don’t have the description necessary to engage the reader and drive the plot.

It was a good podcast and well-recieved. I’m sure my thoughts on the topic will continue to evolve as I gain experience and improve as a writer.

The topic generated enough discussion for me to keep it in mind as I worked through NaNoWriMo this year. I was reminded of it again when I saw this Dave Wolverton quote in an email update from the Writers of the Future contest.

Again, I’m not saying that every story needs some hypothetical percentage increase in descriptive content. There are, however, plenty of us who suffer from the white room syndrome. A little reminder to clue listeners in on the whos and wheres of our stories is a valuable thing.

So… this is a comment from Dave Wolverton. Wolverton is the Coordinating Judge for the Writers of the Future contest and this is in response to a question about common mistakes that judges find in WotF submissions.

“Originality is the key element to a story being selected as a finalist in this Contest. It always has been and always will be. You need to come up with fresh ideas to be a successful writer, so we are looking for those who have their own imagination.

“Your story must also resonate with the reader. The main problem that I see are that setting or character description are lacking. The writer has not informed the reader enough about where you are, the circumstances, or the character is barely described. This accounts for 90% of all story flaws.

“Other flaws include the fact that the idea is not new, or the ‘world’ that the story is situated in has not been thought through enough.”

Interesting advice from someone who sees more than his fair share of stories. I felt a quick reprise on the subject of appropriate description was worth a post.

Cheers!

Drive Write: Writing Out of Order

Drive Write podcast

DriveWrite: Episode 13 – Writing Out of Order

This week on Drive Write I’m talking about writing out of order. The gist of my argument is, if there’s a piece of your book that you’re excited to write… write it. Stitch everything together later.

You’re going to have to write the entire story eventually. Might as well write the stuff you’re excited to write when you’re excited to write it. Right?

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, you should be past the half-way mark at this point. Great job!

Regardless of how you’re doing this year on your NaNoWriMo project, you might benefit from a little encouragement and strategic advice. If you’re not already listening to them, I’d encourage you to check out Mur Lafferty’s daily I Should Be Writing podcasts. She’s posting every day through the month of November to help us all accomplish our 50k word goal.

Thanks, Mighty Mur! =)

Until next week. Good luck, be well and write hard.

Drive Write: Droblar.com Launches

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 12 – Droblar.com Launches

This week on Drive Write, I give a mid-month update on my NaNoWriMo progress. I also introduce (formally, and kinda/sorta for the first time) the Droblar webcomic. I talk about why I started drawing, how the story came to be, and some technical and scheduling challenges that I’m learning to navigate as I go.

The artist I mentioned who got my attention focused on #SundaySketch-ing is Jake Powning. Find Jake and examples of his incredible swordsmithing at his website.

Enjoy, please visit the comic site at droblar.com, and feel free to leave questions/concerns/critiques in the comments.

Drive Write: Word Count

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write – Episode 11 – Word Count

Hello and welcome to Drive Write, the podcast about one storyteller’s journey to becoming a published author. Today on Drive Write, I talk about word count. What is it, why is it important, and why is it timely to talk about word count in November?

For those unaware, November is National Novel Writing Month. Or, NaNoWriMo, for short. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. And why, you might ask, does NaNo measure progress by number of words?

Great question!

If you’re interested in writing fiction (or writing anything, for that matter) then word count is a great way to track your progress. Much better, I think, than page count or time spent. Setting and tracking your performance against a word count goal is a fine way to keep you moving on your projects and to keep you honest.

And that’s what I cover in today’s Drive Write podcast.

As a brief aside… I also mention that Droblar.com launched today. Droblar is a weekly web comic that started as a bedtime story for my kids. I’ll update the site each week on Tuesday morning. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Drive Write: Writing on the Road

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 9 – Writing on the Road

The past six weeks have had me at three conferences in as many states. I’ve traveled from Alaska to Texas, back to Alaska, down and over to South Carolina, back again to Anchorage, up north to Fairbanks, and finally back home to stay.

Whew…

Somewhere between coming home from Charleston and leaving again for Fairbanks, I recorded this. It’s a collection of my thoughts on writing while on the road and how to keep productive. I don’t know about you, but planes, late nights and strange hotel rooms don’t necessarily inspire me to great volumes of writing. However, I’ve found a couple defensive measures that keep me in the game. I hope you find them valuable on your travels.

If you have any travel tips for writers, please share them in the comments. Safe travels and get your words in! =)

Drive Write: Character Descriptions

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 8 – Character Descriptions

This week on Drive Write, I talk about describing characters for your readers. One of the critiques that I’ve received in the past is that I fail to give enough physical description of my characters. I still think that there are plenty of situations when it’s more appropriate to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. However, I will concede that a reader should at least have enough descriptive context to form their own mental image of characters and the settings that they’re in.

Like most things, this can be done well or poorly. In today’s cast, I give an example of a classic descriptive-blunder that I made in an early draft of Cravings. Let me know in the comments if you have description tips or pitfalls to share of your own.

Drive Write: The Hard Parts

Drive Write podcast

Drive Write: Episode 7 – The Hard Parts

This week on Drive Write, I talk about hitting rough stretches of novel-writing road. There comes a point in the life of any project when it loses its luster. Other projects seem more interesting. It feels like you’ll never finish the darned thing. Even if you do finish, the book is going to completely suck.

These points are where work happens. Quitting when things get hard teaches you to quit when things get hard. Hopefully my words of encouragement can help get you over your own stretch of rough road.