• John Cleese (the best guy from Monty Python) Talks About Creativity Best Practices

    Here is John Cleese, the funniest guy from Monty Python IMO, explaining how he analyzed his creative process, and what it needs to flourish. The two main points he makes are that you need boundaries of time and boundaries of space. Basically, this means you need to separate yourself from the world for an hour or so and write, without interruption. Interruption is devastating to the creative process. I agree with the points he makes, because I’ve found his advice true from experience. Ever since I set up a designated time each day to write, my writing is improved. When I write in a quiet place away from people, I…

  • Fossils

    In “On Writing”, Stephen King talks about discovering the story as akin to uncovering a fossil. You brush away a little bit at a time, a little bit at a time, a little bit at a time, not quite knowing what you have until you’ve unearthed the whole thing. And you shouldn’t try to discern what it is until it’s all unearthed. I didn’t used to subscribe to this metaphor because I am a plotter. I like to start a story with lots of pre-writing. I spend some time incubating that idea, thinking of neat things I want to include in that story. Then I arrange my neat things in…

  • bookshelf books

    The Books I Read: July – September 2009

    Tokyo Zero by Mark Horne(unfinished) This was the last of my free ones I gleaned from, I think, Scribd. I searched for top 10 free eBooks. I’m not sure if I ever finished any of them. You get what you pay for. This one was no different. It never gets to the plot. It has no characters, no motivations, no clear objective. I think it was supposed to be a cyberpunk/spy novel, but it felt like, if they were playing football, the characters would be running around in a circle instead of heading towards the goal post (and not in a good way). It was self-published, no one’s heard of…

  • Band Name of the Day: Darling Genocide

    I recently came upon a conflict in my novel between the writer and the story. The story wanted to get rid of an extraneous bit of narrative that was no more than political editorial. The writer saw the soundness of this in the first part, but the second part made him want to put it back in, because it led to a lovely bit of writing with perfect transition and information dump. This caused great turmoil in the writer’s mind, as he didn’t want to lose this bit of dialogue, but he also didn’t want to inflate his already obese story. He tried to think of ways to replace it,…

  • Another Emotional Setback

    Another emotional setback yesterday. You know? Those times I get every month and a half or so where I get morose and start saying “I shouldn’t be a writer. There’s no way I’ll be as good as them. I’m so unproductive. My work is shit. I’m wasting my time.” And so on. This was prompted by writing a question on the SFFWorld boards about how important it is to read the ‘essential’ books versus the books I want to read if I’m to be a writer. I should know better than to be an amateur asking amateurs. All of a sudden people are talking to me in a very condescending…

  • Writing Advice #16

    Have a writing room. It should be a humble room. This comes from Stephen King. He says that during his amateur years, he imagined having a ginormous T. Rex desk that he could write in. It was placed in an addition to the house, a converted garage. No more days of a student’s desk in the laundry room of a trailer. No more writing at lunch at the mill. These were also his drinking days, where his garbage was filled with bloody coke spoons and cans of Miller Lite. Once he got sober, he changed this room into a second living room, and traded in his desk for one half…

  • Writing Advice #15

    Don’t go into great detail describing places and things. I find this true of many books. They only put down the barest essentials of the description necessary to get a picture in the mind’s eye. I have no idea what the interior of the spaceship in Star Dragon looks like, not even the colors of the walls, but I don’t really need to. I’ve seen enough starships to come up with something, and the hallways have nothing to do with the story. I don’t need to know how far the missile launching place is from the conference room. I like to paint the most vivid picture I can, to try…

  • Write Backwards

    Writing’s a lot like programming (I don’t think this is the first time I’ve equated this, and if it is, it won’t be the last). Sometime’s you’re confronted with a problem. You want a character or characters to get to a certain point. You know vaguely how they get there, but writing doesn’t work in vagaries. No, you need to specifically say “They did this, then this, then this” On top of all that, you have to make it plausible, exciting, and succint. Hey, no problem, Mr. S. Well, here’s a strategy to try, if you find yourself in the same situation – work backwards. In this case I had…

  • Writing Advice #14

    Start as close to the end as possible. In some stories I see this, and this makes it feel as if the story is just one big climax. Good Omens is like that. The Running Man felt like that. The Uglies trilogy feels like that. Some don’t exactly feel like that, but the majority of the book is rising action to a single point, rather than peaks and valleys. Personally, these are not my favorite books, or at least its not my favorite way of story-telling. I think a story is better if it’s not always on a continuous uphill battle, because you know where you’re going the entire time.…

  • Writing Advice #13

    Pay attention to how real people around you act. I think this one speaks for itself, and we all know why. We cannot write impossible characters. This is what I call the Superman effect. Superman is basically the perfect man. Strength, speed, and heroism up the yin-yang. He’s always noble, he always does what’s right. His only conflicts come from the fact that he’s only one man and he has to save the sinking tanker at the same that a comet is hurtling to earth while he’s trapped in a locked room with Lois Lane and can’t reveal his secret identity. But we know he’ll get out someway, usually by…