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Article Dumping: Writer's Block Edition:

 551 chihuahua 0, Tue, 19th Feb '13 1:23:57 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Novel Rocket: You Can Only Write in One Genre. Period. End of Story.:

I disagree. Severely.

Please don't be the writer of this article. Just because he's a best-selling author doesn't mean he's right, because he isn't. The counter-evidence is out there.

He claims that it's Impossible (with an implied capital "i") to write in more than one genre, at least without great difficulty. I can list examples of writers who have done this and gotten away with it easily—from the most famous to the most obscure.

One example: James Patterson. He writes thrillers, mysteries, romance, and young adult books. He's among the wealthiest authors in the world.

Think he's an exception, like JK Rowling (another author, who created a Broken Base, but still got away with money)? Here's another example: serialists Sean Platt and David Wright. So far, they have written horror, young adult fantasy, and a dystopian science fiction. I at least know that Sean Platt can feed his family with his income alone.

Lauren Oliver, Elle Strauss, Kathy Reichs, Louis Sachar, Philip Pullman, Laurie Halse Anderson...notice that I mixed in a few indies among some big names.

There's hundreds of more authors from this in every nook and cranny. of the writing community. They're not the majority, but they're not impossible.

It's possible to write in more than one genre. Period. End of story.


Pub Crawl: In Defense of Love Interests:

edited 19th Feb '13 1:27:16 PM by chihuahua0

 552 JHM, Tue, 19th Feb '13 7:40:54 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up][up] First article: Not much to say here. I agree what the author is saying, and I kind of appreciate that they're saying it in a less abrasive way than I might given the chance.

Second article: While I think that the author of the article understands the point of absurdism, I am not sure if they really articulated it properly. As someone with strong absurdist inclinations, I think that I can explain it thus: The consolation of absurdism is that, ultimately, meaning is subjective. While we may have no control over the universe at large, and while life as a whole may be pointless, the fact that we can create our own meaning, or at least commiserate with others over this greater lack of meaning, is a beauty in and of itself. Because nothing is truly meaningful, everything can be meaningful.

In a way, this ties into the Japanese notion of mono no aware: Things are only beautiful because they are temporary, and so one must experience loss before one can truly appreciate beauty. As a certain programme put it, "The world is not beautiful; therefore, it is." But that's a whole other philosophical discussion and a very long one at that, so I won't dwell...

And yes, although I do not consciously put them there, both of these are recurring themes in my work. Now you know.

[up] First article: I will repost here what I posted in the comments there:

Umm...

I don't think that you can be more wrong here from a creative perspective. From a marketing perspective, sure, it's more convenient to sell a writer as one kind of writer rather than someone that does a lot of different things. But does that mean that a person should regulate their creative content for the sake of convenient marketing? Of course not. That's absolutely ridiculous and utterly insulting to the craft.

I can rattle off an absolutely huge number of authors who, from the start have not only written more than one kind of fiction, but non-fiction and non-prose work as well. If I wanted to pick just one name, I'd say Harlan Ellison: While best known as a writer of science fiction, he has also written everything from westerns to crime fiction to television drama to low fantasy and back. Sure, you can cry, "The exception proves the rule!" but Ellison is merely one of many. Stephen King writes about baseball; James Patterson writes teen romance novels; John Connolly writes twisted children's books; Hemingway was a war correspondent; and the list goes on and on.

There is a valid retort to be made here about the segregation of the persona, be it through the use of pseudonyms or writing for wildly different audiences, but even then, the argument is still bogus because it implies that a writer must stick to one public image and play to their audience's (audiences'...?) assumptions 24/7 in order to be successful. That is simply not true.

There is also another retort to be made, if you wish to make it: "You're not talking about novels here, let alone ones put out by the same publisher." But neither were you.

In any case, what is truly repugnant to me is the idea that, as an author, I must kowtow to enforced expectations because I might ruffle some feathers. I think that this is an incredibly stupid concept, made more stupid by the fact that you do not strike me as an idiot.

Your resident ranter, over and out.

And that is that.

Second article: Nolo contendere, your honour. I hate the cliché abuse of the Betty and Veronica trope and its hoary brethren just as much as the next self-respecting oxygen-breather, but I must confess that I have done more sick and terrible things with love triangles, hate rhombuses and all the other shapes of romantic, platonic and sexual tension than I could possibly list here, at least partly because I just like to watch my characters squirm like dying eels on the floor of a capsizing rowboat. Love and lust bring out weird things in people, even when they aren't the ones doing the loving or lusting; in combination with associated hangups and various other emotions, the results can be quite entertaining, both to read and to write.

That said, it's best to avoid making the conflicts, consequences and conclusions easy or obvious. People are not one-dimensional, and even when feelings are cut and dry—which love and lust rarely are—the way that a person will choose to act on them is always going to vary based on their personality and circumstances. A romantic stereotype will only work when only that romantic stereotype will work. Otherwise, nuance is your friend.

And that's if you choose to throw romance into your plot at all—which, really, I don't think that you should have to do. *shrug*

And yes, I am well aware that that article was about YA. So what. Ranting about interpersonal relationships in fiction is my zone, baby. Don't mess with me when I'm in my zone.

P.S. Wow, headaches make me ranty...

edited 19th Feb '13 7:42:02 PM by JHM

 553 chihuahua 0, Tue, 19th Feb '13 8:06:51 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Do you think I should expand my thoughts on the Novel Rocket article into a full blog post? I think it's worth discussing.

 554 JHM, Wed, 20th Feb '13 12:47:08 AM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
 555 chihuahua 0, Wed, 20th Feb '13 1:18:03 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I'll see how things turn out. If so, I'll aim for a Monday release.

terribleminds: How to Push Past the Bullshit and Write That Goddamn Novel: A Very Simple No Fucker Writing Plan to get Shit Done:

edited 20th Feb '13 1:20:29 PM by chihuahua0

 556 JHM, Wed, 20th Feb '13 3:02:01 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
So, basically, what I was already doing, but stopped for a while.

Hmm...

I have things to do.
 557 JHM, Wed, 20th Feb '13 8:12:07 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
Rev up the sirens and ready yourselves for a shameless plug: I wrote a new blog post. The title is "Sound and Silence", which is the topic at hand.
 558 chihuahua 0, Fri, 22nd Feb '13 12:14:10 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 559 chihuahua 0, Mon, 25th Feb '13 1:42:03 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 560 JHM, Tue, 26th Feb '13 6:26:03 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up][up] & [up]

Reposting my comments on the first article:

"Teenage boys can be sensitive. Some might not even be interested in girls! Teenage girls play video games. Some might even play football!"

These might be revelations for some, but going through high school as a nerdy, queer teenager, this comes off as a little... well, obvious. Of *course* there are girls who play sports and video games and boys who sew and arrange flowers. Of *course* there are guys who aren't into girls and girls who aren't into guys. These are facts of life. People should know this by now.

Does this really have to do with authentic voice? Only if you assume that prescribed gender roles are automatically a part of voice. And they are, but only inasmuch as they effect the character. An authentic voice is a voice that sounds like a *real* person; gender is just another aspect, another minor consideration about the environment in which this personality, this "soul" exists. As long as it sounds like an actual person talking and not a mouthpiece or a cardboard cutout, you're good.

I think you also failed to take into account the small percentage of people who have the misfortune of being a different gender, psychologically speaking, than their biological sex. But that's another question entirely.

God, at this rate, I will start to morph into a Social Justice Warrior or join Ferret Brain's writing staff or something. *

The second article was fairly interesting, but ultimately feels like it's telling me something that I could easily have figured out on my own. Amazon functions according to an online shopping ethos rather than a big-press publishing ethos; because of this, they advertise what sells or what the reader will buy rather than what the publishers that supply them hope will sell. It's pragmatic, common-sense thinking.

Ergo, many writers have no business understanding it. *ba-dum-TISH*

This third article is really fun. I'm bookmarking it for future reference. I do think that there were other reasons to advise against making a servant the murderer in a novel—access becomes too easy, as does the murderer covering up the crime—but the class angle makes for an interesting discussion.

The fourth article ultimately makes another fairly obvious point, but the way in which the point is made is thorough and fairly analytical, so the article isn't a massive bore to read. I am growing disenchanted with the list-format essay form, however: It's a pretty lazy way of making a point, and far too easy to just skim over. Ms. Hardy could have dropped the headers and made a perfectly readable point-to-point comparative essay, but she didn't, and my eye wandered more than it should have.

I love lists and list-based articles, but when the list is not the focus of the article, you probably don't need to make one.

edited 26th Feb '13 6:28:11 PM by JHM

 561 chihuahua 0, Thu, 28th Feb '13 2:33:11 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
YAtopia: Breaking the law, breaking the law!:

edited 28th Feb '13 2:33:30 PM by chihuahua0

 562 chihuahua 0, Mon, 4th Mar '13 1:31:15 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 563 JHM, Mon, 4th Mar '13 9:55:29 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up][up] & [up]

The article on clichés is amusing enough, but framing these as "rules" is kind of silly to me. Some of the things they listed are avoid because they have been frequently misused; others have simply been done so many times that it comes off as trite. There should be no rules, only guidelines for safe and sane conduct that can be broken when done with a reasonable degree of finesse.

The "difficult women" article feels a little like one of those "build your stories from tropes" things. It also uses words like "pop" and "buzz" and "wow!" way too much, to the point that it reads like a parody of market-tested writing advice more than an actual article at point. It also misses the fact that a well-written character does not need to be dramatic and unpredictable if they are written well enough for us to feel for them and understand now they think. That said, the character type they describe is more than valid and often interesting; I just think they do such characters a disservice by framing them like this. You don't mass produce rebellious or unpredictable characters. That's defeating the whole purpose.

The article on romance is reasonably well-written, but the point feels obvious. Love is older than mankind, so writing about love survives. This is a given. Same thing with tragedy and its mutant love-child, the horror story, both of which I feel far more affinity with than romance. So it goes.
 564 chihuahua 0, Tue, 5th Mar '13 1:08:56 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I'm putting in rough commentary so I don't forget my thoughts on each one come Thursday night.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Tie-Ins:

[In this case, the "tie-ins" are more like crossovers. On a different notes, the numbers presented at the beginning ("$120 an hour, 24 hours a day") are ludicrous in a good way.]

TalkToYouUniverse: TTYU Retro: Using projection/anticipation to improve your manuscript:

[It's a simple critique method: asking the beta reader, "what do you think will happen next?"]

edited 5th Mar '13 1:10:32 PM by chihuahua0

 565 chihuahua 0, Wed, 6th Mar '13 12:57:48 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Terribleminds: DRM: A Petition to Unlock E-books:

Nathan Bransford: When the Twitterverse Finds Enemies:

[Sign the linked petition for the stated reasons. Let get the White House to answer.]

edited 6th Mar '13 1:34:24 PM by chihuahua0

 566 chihuahua 0, Thu, 7th Mar '13 1:06:39 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
The Write Practice: Every Writer Needs a Cartel:

[It's interesting reading the type of "network" Hemingway was in. And I haven't read a single novel by him yet.]

Let's Get Digital: When Visibility Doesn’t Lead To Book Sales:

 567 chihuahua 0, Mon, 11th Mar '13 12:56:06 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 568 chihuahua 0, Tue, 12th Mar '13 1:02:34 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 569 chihuahua 0, Wed, 13th Mar '13 1:01:42 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 570 chihuahua 0, Thu, 14th Mar '13 11:45:45 AM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 571 chihuahua 0, Fri, 15th Mar '13 8:53:51 AM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 572 chihuahua 0, Sun, 17th Mar '13 3:53:48 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 573 chihuahua 0, Mon, 18th Mar '13 4:39:07 PM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
 574 chihuahua 0, Tue, 19th Mar '13 10:31:20 AM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
Terribleminds: 25 Turns, Pivots, and Twists to Complicate Your Story:

Writer Unboxed: Flog a Pro: The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown:

Catherine, Caffeinated: It Could Happen To You! (It Almost Definitely Will NOT, Though…)

The Write Practice: Why You Should Write Serialized Novels: Interview With Plympton Publishing:

I'll definitely be narrowing this list down for the final post.

edited 19th Mar '13 10:31:30 AM by chihuahua0

 575 JHM, Tue, 19th Mar '13 12:46:58 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
At last, I return triumphant from the hinterlands with with the gift of commentary!

*crickets*

OK, fine, no-one cares. Moving on, then...

[up][up]
  1. Clever trick. I should try that sometime. Granted, I might modify it a little to fit my own compulsions, but it sounds useful. It could also be a great source for stream-of-consciousness poetry in a pinch, as the article's author's example attests.
  2. A bit too formulaic as far as questions go, and the advice ultimately comes down to what every writer should be told from Day One: "Be your own toughest editor." Some of the specific questions might not occur to people and are therefore worth raising, but some of then just feel like either straight givens (tone control, etc.) or generic buzzword silliness—how many times do I have to hear the words "stakes" and "inciting event" before I take up freeform cliff diving?
  3. While I already came to this conclusion a while back—being the Station Master of the Dysfunction Junction will do that to you—it is refreshing to see someone raise this issue in this way. I really like Ms. Campbell's style. Instead of being basic or obvious, she is clear and direct, and believe me: There is a difference.
  4. I could argue that antagonism does not require a specific character to fill the role, given that external sources of conflict can easily be impersonal (survival stories, etc.), but I will let that slide on the basis that this article paints a pretty good picture of both the hero antagonist—a seriously underexploited character role outside of stories with an explicit villain protagonist—and the shifting antagonist—a subtler device that is even rarer. So good on them and all that jazz.

[up]
  1. Chuck Wendig strikes again, and does not disappoint. Sure, the words "inciting incident" appear (*shudder!*), but they show up without the usual hoity-toity aura of unnecessary technicality; and yes, lot of the advice is clearly aimed at new writers, but unlike many such articles, it actually works as a refresher without being cliché or obvious whilst mixing in some little things that even more experienced writers might not have considered. As usual, much appreciated all around.
  2. It's pretty old news that The Da Vinci Code is poorly written, but there is some base satisfaction in seeing someone actually dissect the thing's problems like this. Flog away, brother!
  3. I really like this article, not merely because it deflates a lot of misguided perceptions but because it doesn't come off as too soft or too abrasive. The wording is casual and straightforward, the points are strong, the few assumptions that are made actually make sense, and the message is important to the degree that it needs to be reiterated even where it should be self-evident. In other words, rock on, Catherine.
  4. Margaret Atwood continues to be awesome, but that's tangential here. This is a nice little interview talking about a very good idea that I think needs to see more traction. I was already quite familiar with the concept of serial novels and their history, and the idea of seeing a renaissance of the form in the digital age greatly appeals to me. While it might be preaching to the choir with people like me, articles like this are a good way to make more people aware of the form and help propagate it by proxy, so I'm down with that.

edited 19th Mar '13 12:49:01 PM by JHM

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