Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
Intermittent Bouts of Suckitis!

Writerly Wednesday

Yet another of the myths I believed before I began to write was that authors just KNEW when their writing was good or bad. They would delete the drek and save all the great parts (if they were even having so off a day that they produced drek) and would merrily get on with their fantastic story.

Yah – not so much.

When I wrote my first story, I reached a point where I was sure that I could not be a writer, this whole story sucked from start to finish and I should do the world a favor and burn it. I’m stubborn, though, and several friends I trusted read it and reassured me that it was actually pretty damned good. With some hand-holding, some kicks in the ass and some stubborn determination, I finished that story.

And, you know, when I read it over – it was pretty good!

My poor naive self thought this was it. Now that I knew I could write, I would just write merrily along and my confidence would let me know when something was good or not.

I was wrong, it happened with the next story too.

I learned, after talking to numerous other authors, that I was not alone. Most other authors go through a time that they think the current project may just be the worst thing they’ve ever written. They’ve fought the urge to delete the file, start over, even not write for a while. But, like me, they kept going anyway.

Now I call these “Intermittent Bouts of Suckitis” – a phrase I was told by the marvelous Morgan Hawke (cue fan girl moment). I can be certain that, in the process of writing every single story, I will experience at least one bout of suck-itis. It happens when I’m about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the story, like clockwork, and I still fall into doubt. Every single story.

At least now I’ve learned to stop and send it to my trusted friends and test readers and ask them what they think. So far I have never had to give up on a story though I have made revisions and changes to allow me to continue in a better vein.

These “Bouts of Suckitis” seem to be almost universal. I wish I’d known that when I started writing.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
Writerly Wednesday – Writing In Shared Worlds

Writerly Wednesday

Shared World series are quite popular and can be really fun to read. But they can be really tricky (and frustrating) to write in.

A shared world usually starts with a concept or core idea that is built to be the background for the stories in the series. This can be a place, a person, or an event, depending on the idea and vision for the series.

Some shared world series may be limited to a certain number of stories or open ended as well.

Some shared worlds start with the story of the core idea or concept as the first story in the series. These have the benefit of having the story really laid out so authors that follow on with other stories can follow pretty closely and avoid potential collisions or breaks in the world. But for that, it sacrifices the anticipation that can be created by withholding the final resolution or revelation until interest in the series drops off.

Some publishers or authors decide to save the story that is the basis of the shared world until the very end. That actually can make it more difficult for the authors because you have a world that is more in flux. You may want to use or address an aspect that the person in charge of the series has not considered. Can you do it? Is it the right thing to do? Is your addition going to blow things for authors already partially written?

Difficult questions indeed.

Most shared worlds or series have a bible to offer to authors who might want to write in that world. Be sure you get a copy of that bible and be sure you ask for updates if you take a while between original receipt and finishing your story.

How detailed that bible is can vary greatly. I’ve seen some that are a single page of vague information. I’ve seen some that are 20 page tomes. In general, the more detailed, the more you are able to get answers for. But the more detailed, the less freedom the individual authors have to improvise.

Try to read other stories in that world and see how other authors have treated the shared elements. It will also show you how closely in line they are.

Personally, I like to have the rules laid out and not have unfortunate surprises emerge. Those can be a change in the basic workings of the world or characters, imposition of a mythos not previously present or someone being allowed to write as a shared character when the other authors were told not to. All of these can cause huge chaos in the other world stories and can even cause readers to be upset if the different authors are using different versions of that shared world.

I hate to have these mistakes, myself. Inconsistency makes me nuts and though I’ve written in shared worlds, I find myself less likely to do so after some of these have hit me. I’m very Type A.

But, you know, these things DO happen if you are writing in a shared world that YOU do not control. A lot of the time they are not conscious, they are spur of the moment decisions or ones made without thought to the consequences because they seemed fun at first glance. But they disrupt everyone.

There is also the issue that shared worlds and their characters generally belong to the publishing house that publishes them. If you leave that house or they stop the series, you may not be able to resell that work to another house. It’s something to keep in mind.

Shared worlds do come with some great benefits – a shared fan base, other authors to work with, combined promo opportunities, interesting characters and concepts to play with, etc. And they are FUN to write.

Only individual authors can decide if the potential benefits and drawbacks of wrting in a shared world are worth it. Don’t shrug them off without a second thought, but always approach with caution and a bit of “forewarned is forearmed.”

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
Samantha Reynold’s New Blog Giveaway and Tort & Retort is a Prize

My pal, Sammie, has a brand new blog! Our mutual pal, Ter, got her up and running on WordPress and into the current era!!

YAY!!!

To celebrate her brand new web playground, Sammie is giving away some great books and I’m proud to say Tort & Retort is one of her prizes (though she doesn’t have it listed yet).

Check it out, enter her drawing and ask where Tort & Retort is!

Monday, February 4th, 2008
Writing Love Scenes, not Sex Scenes

Once again I’d like to pimp the absolutely spot on advice and analysis of my personal SMUT goddess, Morgan Hawke. She put a new post up on her blog this week on Love scenes vs. Sex scenes and it absolutely bears reading.

You can read the post on her here.

If you haven’t bookmarked her blog, you should.