writing


I never knew publishing a book was so much work. Between that and the day job (yeah, it’s at home but it pays the bills) this blog has to be feeling neglected.

But I have had a few nights to get some writing in, which is always good.

I’m mulling over a title. How does Ghosts of the Past sound? It sums up the book pretty well but I’m worried it sounds like a paranormal. What do you think?

 

This sure applies to writing:

Holly Lisle hasn’t announced it yet (I got a note from her affiliate manager), but she’s closing the How to Think Sideways novel-writing class to new members on October 9th, so she can work on some other projects. She plans to open the class to new members twice a year; the next time will be sometime in 2010.

So if you’ve been thinking about taking the class this is the time to join.

Right now, I’m on lesson 14 (yeah, I’m behind, but it’s okay, since you just pay for the lessons and they’re available for as long as you like), and wow. That’s all I can say about it.

It sort of goes like this: you ever write, going along great, and something weird pops up? That’s your subconscious putting a hint of something about your story that – if you want – might make your story REALLY good. Holly shows you how to use that.

(which of course means I’m now going back through all my stories to put this into practice!)

So go at least take a look.

While I don’t want to jinx this, I have been stuck, now I am less so.

The problem? Not letting the character be who she is.

She’s a rough woman, a gangsta’s moll, a drifter who cheerfully “cut a few people” to get out of a rioting city. Yet I had her acting nice to a girl who pissed her way off.

I couldn’t figure out why my story stuck in mud until I backed up and really looked at the scene.

(got that tip from lesson 13 of the Think Sideways class, btw)

The power of TK

For example, you’re writing along and hit a note that isn’t important to the plot or anything that is a detail that does need to be added in. Instead of stopping to figure it out, or research it, you write something like “He jumped into the [TK make/model of car] and slammed the door shut.” The ‘TK’ is a somewhat statistically improbable letter combination, so you can, in draft, just do a find for TK and work your way through in a later draft fixing little things.

Read more over at http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/

There has been a huge discussion over on LiveJournal about race and cultural appropriation, and one thing I’ve noticed is people saying, “Well, if I just wrote about [what they are], then it would be boring!”

Which made me laugh, because none of the things they put in the brackets sounded boring at all … unless they wrote mainstream, which puts me to sleep.

Seems to me that writing about what you know about, with a bit of tweaking to make it not exactly you, might be just what you need.

Take Tobias Buckell, for example. He grew up in the Caribbean. If he had said, “I can’t write about what I know, that would be boring!” then his whole damn freaking awesome series wouldn’t have come about.

Now I know what you’re thinking: the Caribbean is WAY cooler than, say, Hoboken or Seattle or Dallas. But no, it isn’t. Because if you honestly write what those places and people are like, someone from somewhere else is going to find that interesting.

And Tobias didn’t just write about Caribbean people. He wrote about Caribbean people in SPACE, with aliens and immortals and interstellar wars and blowing shit up.

If he had written it mainstream … well you see where I’m going here.

(apologies to mainstream writers … it’s just not my thing)

I say this as I prepare a story set in the Los Angeles basin. Just so happens it’s in the future. Most of the LA basin is underwater due to global warming, gangs run the place, and our heroine is wheedled into working for a guy obsessed with finding his way off Earth.

But it’s LA, I grew up around there, and I’ve driven that damn basin so many times I could practically do it blindfolded. That doesn’t mean someone might not be interested in what it might be like, a hundred or so years from now. Especially if it involves blowing things up. 🙂

So the adage to write what you know still seems right on.

Going back to the beginning of this rendition of this mess, I have to say: just like I would not go to an auto mechanic if my chickens were sneezing, or to the farm store if my car won’t start, it does not make sense to me that I would, were I looking for resources on writing about people of color, go to a white person. The basic premise is fucked, even before you add the baroque levels of fuckedness that have accreted over the last couple of months. I don’t think that’s a lesson that a white woman should be trying to teach the internet.

— LiveJournal user Serrana, about the current race debate over on LJ

Which is an astute comment.

Makes me wonder if I’ve been a little too enthusiastic in “showing how it’s done”. Because I’m pretty white myself.

So if I’ve said anything offensive I hope someone tells me so I don’t do it again.

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