Writing: It’s a business

These days, publishing a book is easy. Pretty much anyone can do it. The problem is relatively few people can do it well. There are plenty of good indie books out there, but there are many more bad ones. I’m not even talking about the quality of writing. I’m talking about everything else. Recently, I decided I was going to go indie with one of my books, Shadowguard. There are a couple of reasons for this that I may go into that in a future post. This post isn’t about why so much as it’s about how. I decided I needed it done within two months, largely to give me time to finish it. The first draft is already done, and I expect the next couple of weeks to happen in a frenzy. There are still several other things that need to get done. There...

Write what you know: Exhaustion

Exhaustion is something may characters go through. It’s particularly common at the end of act 2, when the character has given all they have to give, but what does it feel like? I’ve had a couple of brushes with it. I’m not talking about just being tired. I’m talking about the bone weary exhaustion that makes you wonder if you’re going to be able to push on. Background: I’ve run several half marathons as well as a full one. I’ve hiked up a mountain after having no sleep. I’ve lain on the deck of a boat, curled into a fetal position because the effort of constantly throwing up drained much of my strength. I ran eight miles this morning in preparation for a half marathon in a week. Right now, I’m laying on my...

“Said” is not dead and never was

A common piece of terrible advice bandied about writing forums is “Said is dead”. Basically, the thought is that in your dialog tags, you should avoid using “said”. You should use “replied”, “exclaimed”, “shouted”, or one of any of a myriad of words. This kind of thing is often taught in English classes. The problem is that it’s completely wrong. Generally, you should avoid dialog tags whenever you can. Each of your characters should have a distinct voice so that dialog tags aren’t needed. The reader should know who is speaking because that’s the way a particular character speaks. This isn’t always possible. If a character says “Hi.”, it a generic enough phrase that...

Suspension of disbelief

Warning: Minor spoilers for Jurassic World. Recently, I was involved in an online discussion about Jurassic World. In particular, we were talking about the scene where Claire outruns the T-Rex in heels. Someone pointed out that a T-Rex could run 35 MPH. Someone else commented that the problem with a lot of people today is that they’ve lost the ability to suspend their disbelief. I completely disagree with that, but it got me thinking about suspension of disbelief. Jurassic World is a science fiction about DNA. I can accept that they can find DNA in preserved mosquitoes and other, unnamed sources. I can accept that they can combine DNA from different dinosaurs to create a super dinosaur. I can accept the ridiculous idea that if you add DNA from a fish that...

Write what you know: Running for your life

Let’s be honest. We put our characters through terrible things. It’s fun to terrify them. It brings us pleasure to do so…or at least it brings me pleasure. There are certain “terrible things” that are universal. They’re in our nightmares. They’ve been a part of our collective psyche since there’s been a human race. That’s not to say everyone is afraid of them. Some people have overcome that fear, but it was still a fear that had to be overcome.   This happens so often in stories. Your character is just minding their own business (or not) and suddenly, the big scary thing is after them, and they have to run. A few years ago, I decided I would experience this for myself. I just needed to find something...

Stop reading boring books

If you’re like me, you read for entertainment. Every once in a while, I come across a book that just doesn’t hold my interest. At those times, I feel almost guilty if I stop reading it, especially if it’s a popular book. There are a couple on the 2015 Hugo ballot that fall into that category. Here’s the thing. There’s nothing wrong with stopping. If I’m reading for entertainment and I’m not being entertained, the book isn’t doing it’s job, and I’m wasting my time. I’m not going to name any books in this post. Just because I find something boring doesn’t mean you will. I’m not talking about specific books. I’m talking about continuing to read any book you find boring. There was one...

Tips for travellers

My first job out of college was travelling to customer sites and installing software. Before that, I’d taken two trips that required flying, and I started off woefully ignorant on how to do it. I go to a lot of conventions. Many of them are out of town, so it’s fair to say I have experience with travel so I decided to put together a list of tips. Some of these pertain to travelling and writing, but others are just general travel, so let’s just jump into it. First, never buy these. These are a complete and total waste of money. “But Gama,” you may be saying, “the TSA says I have to bring small liquids and gels. If I don’t buy this, how will I keep my teeth clean?” I’m glad you asked that. Dental hygiene is...