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Friday, March 31, 2006

Move Along Folks, There's No Homepage Update Here To See...

My homepage has been updated with Chapter 61 of DARC AGES, and a sample chapter from my upcoming book HOW TO MAKE A BILLION DOLLARS.

But enough about me. How are you?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"The Last Weblog of Jonathan Lippincott"... Again

My short story "The Last Weblog Of Jonathan Lippincott" has been posted on the H.P.Lovecraft fan-site/blog THE TEMPLE OF DAGON.

The story is still available on my homepage.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Homepage? We Don't Need No Steenkin' Homepage!

My homepage has been updated with Chapter 60 of the Web-serial DARC AGES. But rest assured -- there are not many chapters left now!

As I proofread each of those chapters before I post them on the homepage, I notice how my writing style has changed over the years. (Mostly for the better.) The first draft was written in the mid-1990s, and the first Web-serial of DARC AGES appeared in 1999. (How time flies!)

Nowadays I don't try as much to impress with "fancy" words where a more common word/expression gets the point across, and my English vocabulary has improved a bit.

Over time, a writer learns to be economical with words. The typical rookie fallacy is to use too many words to describe something, because the rookie is really searching for the proper word/phrase that's not in his vocabulary.

Speculation: Has the Internet changed the way people write? Consider Wikipedia, for example. When you can "look it up" anywhere, anytime, you may not feel the same need to explain physical/technical detail and fact in prose. (Or is it the other way around? Writers dig up TOO MUCH descriptive detail from Wikipedia and infodump it all over their stories?)

Also, I strongly suspect the Internet itself makes the reader impatient. "So much text, so little time!" The writer has to respect this: cut down on the yadda-yadda, cut to the chase. (But I learned that before the Internet, when I wrote and drew comic-strips.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Short Story "Sins Of Our Fathers" in THE FIRST BEWILDERING STORIES ANTHOLOGY

The editors of the webzine BEWILDERING STORIES, Jerry Wright and Don Webb, have released THE FIRST BEWILDERING STORIES ANTHOLOGY: "Twenty-eight illustrated stories drawn from the first 180 issues of Bewildering Stories Magazine."

My story "Sins of Our Fathers" is included in the anthology.

"Sins of Our Fathers" originally appeared in the Indian webzine ADBHUT (February 2004), then in Bewildering Stories #113, then in my self-published collection THE FACE IN THE DOOR And Other Stories (2006).

It is a straightforward "extrapolation" type of story: take a current tendency and project it forward in time. "If people in Asia keep aborting unborn girls and favoring the birth of sons, how will the gender balance have changed a generation from now?"

This subgenre is also often called the "If This Goes On..." Story.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"From Which Hell-Pit Of Despair Do You Get Your Ideas?"

Check out the blog Query Letters I Love. It posts actual "pitch letters" from wannabe Hollywood scriptwriters.

In movie-industry slang, a "pitch" is the brief summary of the plot. I think the quotes on the blog are real... because you can't make this stuff up.

These beyond horrible quotes prove that creative incompetence, laziness and megalomania go hand in hand. Reading them, I realize that most of these wannabes aren't really TRYING to write fiction.

Their foremost concern is apparently to "make big money" while having absolutely no idea how. It's like playing the lottery and believing it will make you rich without effort.

"Where do you get your ideas?"

In this case, it's more like "From which hell-pit of despair do you get your ideas?"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Here We Go With Another Homepage Update...

Yep, it's that time of the week again.

I've added another chapter to the Web-serial DARC AGES, plus some missing illustrations to the previous chapters.

And if you happen to be in Stockholm on March 28, I'll be at a release party there... scroll down the homepage and read the News section to find out more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"I Know Naaathingh! I Learrn It From A Boook!" *

I won't lie: I know NOTHING about the business of getting published.
This weblog focuses on the writing craft, not on what happens once you're finished with your story or novel.

But: You are probably going to try and get published For Real (and no, vanity publishing doesn't count). What can I tell you? Only this:

1. You're going to enter a World of Pain...
2. Listen to the advice of people with actual experience, like Neil Gaiman...
3. Consult the Preditors and Editors index to find a trustworthy agent.

Good luck, and... don't send money to agents or publishers. Ever.

(* The immortal line uttered by Manuel, the Spanish Waiter, in the British TV sitcom FAWLTY TOWERS -- in case you didn't know.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Le Homepage est Updated! Sacre Bleu!

I've updated my homepage with more sampled fiction:

-Chapter 58 of the long-running (one is tempted to say interminable) web-serial DARC AGES.

(You can still vote in the Reader Poll "Should I release DARC AGES as print-on-demand"? -- the poll form is in the left corner of the main page.)

-Chapter 1.2. of the novel-in-progress THE TALE OF THE SOLDIESSE.

Enjoy...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Nebula Nominee short "A Rocket For the Republic"

American writer Lou Antonelli's short story "A Rocket for the Republic" is one of the nominees for this year's Nebula Award.

The story was published in ASIMOV's Science Fiction Magazine last year, but the author has now kindly made "A Rocket for the Republic" available for free reading on his website, here.

It's a fun story, and a prime example of the most natural format (or style) of fiction: the first-person account. This is how the art of storytelling began: someone says "You should have seen what happened when I..."

Maybe this is how everyone who wants to be a writer should begin: don't bother with the fancy stuff -- start with what makes it fun! As an exercise, tell a story first-person. Even if the character in a story isn't YOU, you can open your mouth and speak it: "One day I was walking through the forest, on my way to see a sick relative, when I saw an animal caught in a bear trap..."

If you're the parent of a small child, you may already be this kind of storyteller: if you improvise a bedtime story for your kid. The next step is to write your tale down. (Don't laugh: J.K. Rowling started out by making up stories to entertain her kids.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Science Fiction Plot Generator

Try this amazing (and very funny) Science Fiction Plot Generator and you'll never get stuck on the plotting again.

Speaking of which: Do you sometimes get the feeling "I've heard this plot before"? Chances are, you have. When all else fails, the writer can always fall back on clichés and plain cheating.
For further studies in Generic Science Fiction Plotting, read Nick Lowe's hilarious essay "The Well-Tempered Plot Device".

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Was, Was, Was...

Read this excellent post on Jonathan Sherwood's writing blog. It points out a problem I've had with my writing for a long time: excessive use of "was" and "were".

Quote: "Put the power of the sentence into the verbs."