Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Posts tagged “read

Warning: I am not an expert

I titled this post so you would understand that this is opinion and what works for me. If, one day, I get published, then maybe I’ll retroactively change the title. Until then, if you’re looking for expert advice, I be not the one to which you should turn.

I mean, Gawd, look at that sentence. What does it even mean?

But, dear Internet user, perhaps writer, perhaps good friend of mine or family member, I want you to take this to heart with the force of my sincerity behind it.

Please be very careful about whose advice you are taking, especially when it comes to writing. Chuck Wendig posted on his blog, “The Internet is 55% porn and 45% writers.

The thing is: Not all of these writers are experts. You don’t need to listen to what they have to say. Even Chuck Wendig is full of shit sometimes. Only sometimes. He’s a good one to look at (plus, he has published books!).

I’m not often one to admit this, but writing is hard. There is no easy advice out there to help you write a book. There’s even less to help you get published. There isn’t a rule book, there isn’t a yellow brick road. The best you can hope for is reading about something that works for someone else and finding out that system works for you.

Here’s what works for me:

1) Write more better.

I got this one from A. Lee Martinez. It means write more and you will eventually get better. Or, writing more will eventually lead to better writing. I don’t know, but it means something.

There is a time to put aside a project that isn’t working and start something new. Don’t write one book and bank on that as the one that leads you to fame and fortune. Write more better.

2) Don’t expect fame and fortune.

Do you know how many authors are on the midlist? Do you even know what the midlist is? If you are a bestseller, congratulations! Honestly, good work! But, there are plenty of people who are published and still can’t quit their day job.

Be aware that your little book might not change the world. It might not get you published. It might not even get you an agent. But, if you follow the advice in point #1, maybe, eventually, you will land on something that resonates with enough people to get you published, agented, or off the midlist.

3) Finish it

You can’t keep it up forever. Slap an ending on that sucker, give it a round of revisions, and see where that leaves you. In the mean time, start thinking about something new.

4) Read

You can always improve. Read good books, read bad books, read magazines, read YA, read Stephen King. Read something and see if you like that style. Read something that you hate, but make sure you identify why you hate it. Keep looking for improvements.

5) Find critiques

Your head is an echo chamber. Sometimes, the voices of doubt, confidence, paranoia, suspicion, and anxiety bounce around so much, you lose objectivity. Give it to outside eyes.

I went to a public group that involved reading your piece out loud. There are plenty of ways to do this. Someone you trust to tell you the truth, another writer, anything. You need someone to look at your work to answer at least one question:

“Is it a book?”

So, yeah. I guess writing is hard for the simple fact that it’s not easy. You have to work at it. You have to want to improve. You have to do the thing that works for you and, if it doesn’t work, try something else. There aren’t rules, so much as guidelines.

If you try to take a shortcut, you might be disappointed with where the path leads.

Good luck. Be aware. Be careful. I care about you and want you to succeed.


Aside

Book Breakdown: Leviathan

I made a promise, my followers, and I shall keep it.

A review of Leviathan.

I’ll use this space above the official header to talk about something that’s not the book.

Reading. I am passionate about reading (I know, right?). But, I’ve stopped referring to it as reading, because the actual translation of text to image (or sound, or taste, or smell) is only part of the process.

No, I don’t read. I commune. Say it with me. Let that ooooo roll off your tongue.

An author can only go so far. As the Consumer of Prose, the reader has a responsibility “to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy, etc.; interchange thoughts or feelings.”

If you aren’t willing to converse with the author, stop reading and wait for an attitude adjustment. Lord knows I’ve gone into books with a bad attitude. Doesn’t work out so well.

Book Breakdown

(like talking with someone who’s not in the room)

Leviathan

I liked this. I had no idea what to expect going in, but I liked the cover, I liked the map. I liked the fact that it had illustrations. This was something that I could slip on like a Snuggie and curl up in a chair with.

We bounce between two viewpoints. The first is Alek, an Austrian on the run from a war. The second is Deryn, a Brit crossing the channel to charge into the fray. Though this is billed as a YA, the characters did seem a bit immature at times. As the book progresses, the characters mature, sort of like real children of a war, so the early immaturity is understandable.

Now, don’t tell anyone I told you this, but…this is the first book that I wanted to immediately begin reading the sequel. No digestion time, no waiting, just jump into the next installment. Don’t misconstrue. Leviathan is a complete and satisfying story arc, but there are still loose ends, and I was invested.

However, I practiced self-control (and already blew my book budget for this month).

First Ten:

Like I said, I don’t read back covers anymore. I was really, really surprised.

You see, Leviathan is an alternative history and, being somewhat versed in what happened in our timeline, my mind kept jumping tracks (in the good way), something like this:

“Oh, I see…wait a minute. Wha…? Hold on a sec, that’s not how…oh.”

The technology is the major difference. Walkers and fabricated beasties. Clanker and Darwinist. Different enough, eh?

Another hook in the first ten (hey, this is my blog, I do what I want), is the sense of anxiety. We get about two pages of normal world, then, BAM, we’re running for our lives, and I’m huffing and puffing like Randy Parker stuffed inside his snowsuit (A Christmas Story reference in May; for shame).

Westerfield is a strong writer. The characters are good. There’s a gun in the room from chapter three that keeps drawing our attention until, well, never mind. I won’t let that slip.

It’s a quick read. Enjoy the illustrations, too. Those are nice.