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Category Archives: Writing
It’s always bothered me that fantasy and science fiction get lumped together into a single category. The two genres seem very different, at least on the surface. Fantasy usually features some kind of magic as a core speculative element. It often takes place in a secondary world at a pre-industrial state of technology. Science fiction, in contrast, usually takes us to the future in which some as-yet-nonexistent technology underlies the plot. Granted, there’s a huge overlap between fantasy and science fiction fandoms. Maybe that means we live for escapism, whether to a fantasy world or outer space.
Recently the question of omniscient POV has come up in several classes, so I started reading some examples of it. One of the best I hit was Sherwood Smith’s Inda series. I figured, why not go to Sherwood and ask some questions about how she pulled that off.
One thing that was fascinating about this year’s Nebulas was the chance to meet so many people in the publishing industry, including a couple of the founders of Habitica.
Habitica is a motivational game. It lets you gamify your daily tasks and to-do list, turning them into challenges you face in the game. As you complete tasks, you gain levels and items in the game, giving you an extra push to get things done. You can also set it up so you lose points for doing things, if there’s habits you want to avoid. There’s a social aspect; you can join parties and guilds in order to share your progress with friends.
I am always on a quest for a method that will help me stay organized. Various systems have come and gone, some more successful than others, and I’ve learned a few things about how to make such systems more effective. As I share how I am using Habitica, I’ll include some insight into how that knowledge shapes that use. I’ve been logging into it consistently for two weeks now, and I believe it’s going to stick, because I’m finding it very effective for a) nudging me to do things, b) helping me remember stuff, and c) motivating me to use free time and options (like snacks) better.
As with all writing advice, mileage will vary according to the individual. The best thing as a writer that you can do is to pay attention to your own process and make it more effective. Experiment with lots of things, identify the practices that work, and incorporate them into your process. Keep experimenting, mixing things up a little, every once in a while, writing to the sound of whale songs, or dictating while hiking, or using a pen rather than the keyboard — it doesn’t matter what as long as you keep testing things in a way that lets you grow as a writer.
So my promise to myself is that the sequel to Beasts of Tabat, Hearts of Tabat, will be DONE by November 14th, which is my birthday, and which I plan to spend with Skyrim and a nice sativa (legal here in the marvelous land of WA) and not one ounce of work throughout the day as a thank you to me for working my butt off the last six weeks and getting this DONE.
The book is scheduled to be released at Emerald City Comicon next year, so you may see why the time pressure has stepped up in intensity. I told myself I’d get it done this year, and I have, along with a whole bunch of stories, not one but two collections, the update of Creating an Online Presence for Writers, a bajillion trips, and opening the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, including cool new classes from Rachel Swirsky and Juliette Wade, so I feel darn good about how much I got accomplished this year despite SFWA’s demanding maw chewing up my time on a consistent basis.
I thought, however, it would be useful perhaps to people to see what the last bits of work involve.
Today I finished Hearts of Tabat. Sure, I’ll go back and do some smoothing before sending it off to beta readers on Monday, but the book is done, the scenes are there, and (roughly) in the order they should be. … Continue reading
I’m finishing up the Moving from Idea to Draft class, or rather finishing up the writing phase and still need to shoot a couple dozen little videos, ugh. But I wanted to share this from the introduction to the class because I thought it might be useful for some people plus maybe tantalize a few into trying one of my on-demand or live classes.
I begin with some basics of story mechanics. Quite probably much of it will be familiar — feel free to skim if you feel like you’ve heard all of this before.
I’m finishing up the year by trying to wrap up writing the on-demand version of my Moving from Idea to Draft class. This is a tough translation, because the live class depends heavily on what the students have brought: I try to help them go deeper into the idea each has brought to class and show them ways of fleshing it out.
For the on-demand class, what I’m doing is looking at each of the various ways I’ve seen stories develop and doing a section on each, looking at what it is, what it gives you to help with fleshing out the story, possible trouble spots, some ways to proceed with it, and then two or three exercises to refine skills with that, each with a basic and then an overachiever version, a model I used with the Description and Delivering Information class. There’s twenty-three sections altogether, but here’s the section on starting with a plot, minus the exercises.