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11 August 2011 @ 10:12 pm
If you've ever thought about submitting a query letter to a literary agent, you might want to check out Slushpile Hell to learn what *not* to do. Also, do not be drinking any liquids while you are reading or your keyboard will be in jeopardy!! Truly one of the most hysterical sites ever.
03 August 2011 @ 07:23 pm
I found this wonderful blog piece on writing via Tumblr. Fairly long but well worth a read.

Sit Down and Write by Patti DighCollapse )
14 July 2011 @ 09:10 pm
I found this rather amusing: Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors.

Do you have any weird habits when you're writing??
Current Mood: curious
21 March 2011 @ 02:00 am
I was having a conversation with a fellow author the other day, about the prompts for Back to Middle-earth Month 2011, which is passport themed.  In order to try and stimulate my Shire historian interests further, I decided that 1). I should set all stories within the Shire, and 2). I was not allowed to write about the same characters twice (including as minor characters; characters off-screen are all good).

I'm about 2/3 of the way through, so this time I was complaining about running out of hobbits.  To which my friend rather glibly replied that I should go through a list of flower names, go through a list of canon last names*, and--instant hobbit!

*Note: this has always been to me a really really really terrible way of naming hobbits, unless they're incredibly minor characters.

To which I replied that that was not the problem; if it was names I wanted, I had plenty of those, still untapped, in Appendix C and in the extra two family trees that are copied in my copy of PoM-E (I don't have the edition that includes the Bolger and Boffin trees).  Names are not characters, and even if Tolkien has given us a name, dates, and relations, that doesn't really give us anything unless we know the context to it.

By contrast, give me a situation, a speck of personality for the character--say, one of the Shirriffs who quit during the Scouring--and the name don't matter.  Well, yes, I might still have to come up with one, and it might have to fit the character, which is no mean feat, but I can work with that.

However, a character isn't a story, and you still need an inkling of a situation to put them in.  That's where the prompts have been immensely helpful--helpful enough for me to do the dread fixed-length ficlet.

But faced against a regular drabble challenge--well, that's too tough.

I was curious--at what point do stories begin to "gel" to you?  Or do you need to keep on working hard at it to hammer it into shape, and only have bits and pieces of an idea at a time?

For me, I think all I need is a bit of flint and tinder--an inkling of who a character is, and an inkling of the situation that the character's in--to get a regular blaze going.  But I cannot burn snow.
22 January 2011 @ 12:19 pm
It's been a while since this community has seen any activity, but I wanted to share this amazingly awesome blog post that I found through Ellen Kushner's LJ. It's by the writer and artist Terri Windling. It's called 'Dare to Be Foolish' and it's about finding one's voice as a creative artist. You really should read it. It's very inspiring!

I'm putting the full text behind the cut but there are lots of great comments to read at her blog, so please go check those out, too!

Dare to be foolishCollapse )
02 April 2010 @ 08:51 am
I came across an article on the New York Times web site, Next Big Thing - Literary Scholars Turn to Science," which as a scientist I find fascinating.

The more interesting stuff is on the second page. For example:
Humans can comfortably keep track of three different mental states at a time, Ms. Zunshine said. For example, the proposition “Peter said that Paul believed that Mary liked chocolate” is not too hard to follow. Add a fourth level, though, and it’s suddenly more difficult. And experiments have shown that at the fifth level understanding drops off by 60 percent, Ms. Zunshine said. ...
Perhaps the human facility with three levels is related to the intrigues of sexual mating, Ms. Zunshine suggested. Do I think he is attracted to her or me? Whatever the root cause, Ms. Zunshine argues, people find the interaction of three minds compelling.

At the other end of the country Blakey Vermeule, an associate professor of English at Stanford, is examining theory of mind from a different perspective. She starts from the assumption that evolution had a hand in our love of fiction, and then goes on to examine the narrative technique known as “free indirect style,” which mingles the character’s voice with the narrator’s. Indirect style enables readers to inhabit two or even three mind-sets at a time.
This style, which became the hallmark of the novel beginning in the 19th century with Jane Austen, evolved because it satisfies our “intense interest in other people’s secret thoughts and motivations,” Ms. Vermeule said.

And a third perspective:
To Mr. Flesch fictional accounts help explain how altruism evolved despite our selfish genes. Fictional heroes are what he calls “altruistic punishers,” people who right wrongs even if they personally have nothing to gain. “To give us an incentive to monitor and ensure cooperation, nature endows us with a pleasing sense of outrage” at cheaters, and delight when they are punished, Mr. Flesch argues. We enjoy fiction because it is teeming with altruistic punishers: Odysseus, Don Quixote, Hamlet, Hercule Poirot.

What do you think? Is it important/relevant/interesting to study the scientific basis for the human interest in fiction? Would it effect your own writing or lead you to examine what/how you write?
27 February 2010 @ 02:58 pm
I came across this the other day, writing advice from more than two dozen authors. I readily admit I don't and won't follow it all!


12 January 2010 @ 02:48 pm
Hope you all don't mind if I jump in again with another question! :)

I was going through my private rec list last week, and one of the things that struck me about a small portion of the fic I had saved was that I liked the story but disliked the writing style.

Do you read badly-written, but well-plotted stories?  Or if you stumble across something that's badly written, do you usually stop reading?

And is there anything that particularly annoys you when reading a fic?  For me, it's when writers call their characters 'the American', 'The Brit' and, worst of all, 'the brunette'.  I don't see anything wrong with repetition of personal names. :P

Any thoughts?
08 January 2010 @ 09:36 am
I'm totally stealing this topic from a post linked in Metafandom, but I thought it would be a good one for us! But I've put it in the form of a poll. :)

Poll #1508831 Fic titles

Coming up with titles for your fics is...

Always a struggle. The Witty and Apt Title Fairy passed me by when I was born
Easy-peasy! You mean other people have trouble with this??
Sometimes hard, sometimes easy. It totally depends.
An absolute must before I can write the story

If you're having trouble coming up with a title for your fic, you...

Cry, gnash my teeth, pound my head on the keyboard, or similar until eventually inspiration strikes
Turn to my flist. They always come through for me
Post it without one. Who says every story needs a title?
Use that old 'refrigerator poetry' magnet set and create something random

What is your favoritest title for one of your own fics, and why? (Include the 'why' in comments)

What about someone else's fic? Are there any titles that stand out for you? (Include the 'why' in comments)

14 December 2009 @ 10:05 am
This is definitely a must-read for all of us, even though it's aimed at aspiring fanfic writers. So you want to write fanfictions on the internets. Lots of very good, sound advice here. (Some salty language, too, fyi.)
Current Mood: impressed