Re-Learning How to Think (About Writing)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Yikes! It’s September and I never posted my “Writing Update” for July. I’ve been busy, and one of the things I’ve been busy doing is taking Holly Lisle‘s new online course: How to Think Sideways. I’m really enjoying the course, and I’m amazed at how well some of the techniques are working for me.

The first section of the course is all about ideas. If you write anything like me, sometimes you get ideas that seem to almost write themselves. In my case a lot of these had themes of objects that seemed to pop up in multiple otherwise unrelated stories. One of the first things I got out of this course was a much fuller understanding of what this means, how to map out the things that set off my imagination, and how to use this understanding to tap into story ideas in a more “on demand” fashion. It’s like finally having the address for that P.O. Box in Schenectady.

One of my biggest problem with ideas is that I do get a lot of them1 . More that I possibly have time to write2 . Sometimes I get pretty far into turning the idea into a story before I realize that it’s not as great as I thought, or it’s just not for me. One of the biggest things I’ve taken away from the course is how to figure these things out quickly, and well in advance. This lesson came with four versions of the proposal for her novel Talyn, three as examples of what not to do, and the version that sold to Tor (that’s about 150 pages of examples for one lesson).

The second section (which I’m getting into now) is about planning. What to plan. What not to plan. How to avoid over-planning. How to plan and still allow things to grow organically. This is something I’ve struggled with over numerous short stories and three novels, and I welcome any help in making sense of my experiences.

Invitation Only Limited Time Offer!

The first run of this course (300 seats) sold out fast. Holly has opened up sign ups between now and September 8th, at 9am EDT on an invitation only basis. If it’s sounds at all interesting, consider yourself invited.

  1. That is too a problem! Trust me. []
  2. Although if someone wants to fund my early retirement I’d be willing to give it a go! []

Writing Updates: June 2008

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Here we go again. By now you should know the drill. I wonder where the time went, then blab on about my writing this month. I think I’ve been letting these posts take on too much weight so I’m going to try and breeze through this one1 . I apologize for the lack of variety in my postings, but I’ve been using what free time I can on my writing.

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  1. If you notice any glaring mistakes, please let me know []

Writing Updates: May 2008

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

June is here, so it’s time to post my monthly writing update1. My concerted effort to try to hit at least 550 words a day in May paid off, and I often found myself blowing past 1000 words some days when things really got going. I was able to build good momentum that carried me from day-to-day2.

I managed at least 13,697 words this month. I’m not sure what the exact number is because I’ve become accustomed to pulling my totals from my twitter archive and I found that a few tweets I thought had gone out either didn’t or were lost3. Even without my full number of words I did better this month than last, and that’s what matters. Of course, since I finished the big project, the question now is “What’s next?”

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  1. Yes, June has been here for some time, but it was June 1 when I started this post. That tidbit serves as a preview for how June is going so far. []
  2. I also made a conscious effort to follow my own advice. []
  3. Just to be clear, I don’t blame twitter for my own carelessness. []

“How to Beat Writers Block” Audio Course

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but Holly Lisle has released her first audio course (MP3 and PDF): How to Beat Writers’ Block (and Have FUN Writing From Now On) (which includes a copy of 21 Ways to Get Yourself Writing When Your Life Has Just Exploded).

Hopefully when things quite down for me I’ll post a review.

Free Novel Writing Seminar

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Holly Lisle is testing the idea of offering online writing seminars. She’s accepting applications for the test seminar now (this one is going to be free to the twenty selected participants as she works through the process). Sign ups close November 1, 2007 at the latest so act quickly.

Free Download: “Holly Lisle’s Create a Plot Clinic” Excerpt

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I’m pleased to be able to offer the first 54 pages of Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic for download. This covers the introduction, all of the section on Plotting before writing (including structure) and the first two plotting “tools”. If you are at all interested in writing you owe it to yourself to give it a look. It’s free, so what have you got to loose?

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Shop.HollyLisle.com, but that’s because I believe in the products. I’ve found these books invaluable in my own writing.

Michael A. Stackpole Selling New Fiction Online

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

It looks like Michael A. Stackpole is experimenting with direct e-book sales on his site. I’m very interested to see how it works out (and I hope it does).

Jed and the Titanium Turtle is a short story “about America and how it deals with a bunch of alien visitors who are ‘here to help.'” Sounds like it could be worth the $2 he’s asking.

Also available are the first two chapters of The Grand History, a fictional non-fiction history of the DragonCrown War. This is going for $1 a chapter, and may be the more interesting experiment. You’re only going to sell this to the subset of people who read the DragonCrown War books liked them enough to want to read meta-fiction in that universe. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy this type of work. I just think it has less commercial appeal, which makes it perfect for this type of sales model. I hope it works out because I’d love to see more of this type of thing.

The setup seems similar the one Holly Lisle uses in her shop. On the other hand, Mr. Stackpole is focusing on fiction, and short works. This immediately brought thoughts of micropayments to mind. iTunes has shown that the $1 granularity works for online sales (at least in huge quantities), but last time I looked into it (which was a few years back, and I was focusing on comics at the time) a decent micropayments systems for sub-dollar amount sales still hasn’t emerged.

All the works are currently only available as PDFs (just like Holly Lisle’s). This is a bummer (for me) because I can’t easily read them on my eBookwise 1150, which I’d prefer. I already work and write at the computer (although I’ve been doing more longhand writing lately). Extra on-screen reading is too much for my eyes. Since PDFs don’t let you resize the text and have it re-flow that means I’ll have to print them out. which is what I do with his excellent writing newsletter The Secrets. I don’t mind printing those out since I keep them indexed in binders to make it easy to refer back to them.

None of these are really issues I expect anyone to just solve, let alone authors selling their own stories for a couple of bucks. I do wish reasonable tools and standards were in place so that a more flexible solution would be the obvious choice.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to giving Jed and the Titanium Turtle a read later.

Miracles on Hold While Nothing Happens

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

I’ve temporarily put the Miracles revision on hold (seems Holly has done the same, but for different reasons). I’ve been jotting down story ideas as they come to me, and two unrelated ones collided, and I started working on a short story, tentatively titled “Nothing Happens to Xintestity Bateman”. This morning I thought I’d lost the tale when I took it in a direction I hadn’t foreseen, but I think I’ve got it figured out now I should be back to Miracles by the end of the week.

“Miracles” Line for Scene Finished

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

"Miracles" line for scene I’ve been pretty quiet lately. Life has been busy, and every spare moment I’ve had has been spend working on the line-for-scene cards for the Miracles revision. The line-for-scene technique is covered in Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic, it’s also covered briefly on Holly’s writing diary. I finished up this morning with 109 cards (16 green, 36 yellow, 31 orange, and 26 red).

I intend to start the read-through/write-in Friday. I still have a few post-its to stick onto the appropriate cards, and a few notes on some background things that need some shaping up. My goal was to have the type-in finished by July. I’m still hoping, but I’m not sure how exactly I would pull that off.

Holly Lisle’s "Create a Plot Clinic" Available

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
[Book Cover]

Holly Lisle’s latest writing ebook, Create A Plot Clinic, is now available. I read an earlier draft and I can’t wait to start using it myself. The book is filled with exercises, tools, and examples to help you develop your stories. It’s divided into four main sections, each covering different phases of plotting.

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