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!

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.

Well-Worn Pages: CHILD OF FIRE by Harry Connolly

For years, I have been on a quest to find Urban Fantasy with awesome male protagonists.

There’s a lot of bleed between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, so you end up flirting with some of those genre’s female leads. I actually enjoy those books quite a bit, just so long as they don’t go all Ally McBeal – Season 3 on me. I am a staunch proponent of chicks in leather kicking monster-ass.

Regardless, it is definitely difficult to find cool male protagonists in Urban Fantasy.

So, how in the world did I miss Ray Lilly from Harry Connolly’s (@byharryconnolly) Twenty Palaces series?!?

Yeah… I’m going to be reading all of these books.

First off, thanks to CE Murphy (‏@ce_murphy) and Betsy Mitchell (@Betsy_Mitchell) for turning me on to the series. Second, shame on you two for doing it right when I was starting NaNoWriMo. Child of Fire was a wonderful way to spend a couple evenings curled up in front of the fireplace with the dogs and a bottle of wine. However, it most certainly did not net me any words.

This book is the first in the Twenty Palaces series, and it’s worth the read. However, if I understand correctly, Connolly recently released a prequel. I’m looking forward to that as well, but I don’t know if it would be best to read the prequel before or after the other books. Maybe someone who’s read them all can chime in with their opinion in the comments.

Child of Fire is not your modern day swords and sorcery type of story, it leans a little more toward the horror side of the genre. Connolly has his own style, to be sure, but his fantastical elements remind me more of Stross’ The Atrocity Archives than Butcher’s Dresden Files or Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles. There are big, bad nasties out there and they are not at all timid about gobbling up the whole planet.

This is a fast, fun romp over forty miles of rough road. Strong, distinct characters have the wheel, and don’t climb in if you’re a little squeamish.

I have a couple other books on my must-read list, but the sequel, Game of Cages is one of my post-NaNo, December rewards.

Being Thankful

I have so very much to be thankful for.

In the spirit of the holiday, I’d like to encourage everyone to not only be thankful for what they have, but to give to those who are less fortunate. Local food banks, homeless shelters, and the Red Cross are a few of my favorites. I recently had a fantastic opportunity to help those challenged by Hurricane Sandy. That opportunity helped set November up to be a fairly crazy month.

Zuzi is eyeballs deep in the final throes of her doctoral project. I started my NaNoWriMo novel on the 15th (Yeah, yeah… I know). And, my dream agent will be doing a partial critique of my first urban fantasy book in early 2013.

Wait… what?!? Jennifer Jackson is going to be reading my work?

Yawp. I can’t believe it either.

On November 5th, four writers rose to Jennifer’s call for the writing community to support those suffering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Jennifer raised an impressive $6,000 in relief funds for those impacted by the devastating storm. I was lucky enough to be one of those in a position to contribute.

Needless to say, I’ve been obsessing over my submission ever since.

My friend Catie recommended that I talk to Betsy Mitchell for editorial services. I’m adamant about putting my best foot forward, and Betsy has some small amount of experience in the industry. Hmm… let me see. She spent ten years as VP and Editor-in-Chief at Del Rey. She has over thirty years in the industry. She’s worked with Terry Brooks, Elizabeth Moon, C.E. Murphy, Peter F. Hamilton, Harry Connolly and just about everyone else.

So… yeah, I’d say I’m in good hands.

Right now, I’m just committing as much time and effort as I can toward making sure what I place into those capable hands is worth their time and attention.

Happy Thanksgiving, from the great frozen north.