Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday 20

I keep six honest serving-men,
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.


--Rudyard Kipling

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." --Dorothy Parker

"If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. I will capture nights all over the world and bring them to you." --Henry Rollins

In lieu of captured nights, cures for curiosity and interesting male servants, any questions this week?

26 comments:

  1. Ahhh Hank... Bless his soul.

    I love that man. Have you ever checked out Iron?

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  2. Noel wrote: Have you ever checked out Iron?

    Never read that one -- great essay. Thanks for the link.

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  3. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Two people in my writing group went to Wiscon but said the panels were terrible. The authors at the con behaved like brats or snobs, and the drinking was out of control.

    My group is still using handouts from your workshop in New Orleans. We read your blog every day and have learned so much from you, and we would fly to any place in the country to see you. I know that you've said you won't make public appearances, but would you consider giving an invitational retreat or weekend seminar?

    Lynda H.

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  4. Forgive me if I’m triple posting here, but I kept getting an error after each attempt.

    I’m curious how to go about finding a writer-for-hire gig. Until the whole plagiarism scandal broke a few months ago, I’d never even heard of book packagers. I know…I’m so out of the literary loop and how the real world works, but now I’m thinking, hmmm….

    In 2004 I published my first paranormal thriller and actually won 1st place at a literary convention here in Florida. The thing that was different about that book, was that my publisher (small press/pod), who is also a dear friend, gave me a one page synopsis and told me to run with it.

    There was something very exhilarating about following guidelines, while using my own imagination to create the story. I’m assuming it must be similar in a writer-for-hire position.

    Any light you can shed on the subject would be appreciated.

    Thanks and have a great weekend!

    Jill

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  5. PBW said:In lieu of captured nights, cures for curiosity and interesting male servants, any questions this week?

    The first time I read that sentence I saw "In lieu of captured male servants with cures for curiosity, any questions this week?"

    my only question was where can I get a guy like that? And can I have him for a week? Then I saw my error. Damn.

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  6. Is there anything or anyone you could pick out that, without that person or that thing, you probably wouldn't have become published?

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  7. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Can you wax philosophic on how a writer can learn to develop narrative voice?

    Sandra

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  8. I do have a question. I sent you a question through your website a while ago and while your server told me there's an error, I did get a copy of it in my email, so I assumed it went through. Can you check and revert to me? Thanks!

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  9. I'm sorry for the problem with posting comments, folks. It appears that Blogger is on the blink again.

    Lynda wrote: ...but would you consider giving an invitational retreat or weekend seminar?

    I'm very flattered, but no, my physical limitations won't let me do things like that anymore. I still think I can pass along as much knowledge here as I might in person, and the blog is free and accessible to everyone.

    Don't let the bad experience at the con keep you and your friends from meeting authors and talking to them, Lynda. Many writers I know are wonderful people to meet in person and are happy to pass along valuable advice to others. Try going to author luncheons, booksignings, and library functions; it's where you'll catch them being their best.

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  10. Jill wrote: I’m curious how to go about finding a writer-for-hire gig. Until the whole plagiarism scandal broke a few months ago, I’d never even heard of book packagers. I know…I’m so out of the literary loop and how the real world works, but now I’m thinking, hmmm….

    I'm going to cut and paste a bit from the last time I answered this:

    I've only worked as a writer-for-hire for major publishers, so this will not apply to ghost-writing for book packagers or other private parties (i.e. small press, colleges, or individuals who can afford to hire someone to write a book for them and who often advertise for ghostwriters online or in mags, newspapers, etc.) or media tie-in or franchise-related novels.

    WFH work is rarely if ever open submission (openly advertised and anyone can submit). Generally the way you get WFH work is to establish yourself first as an author. But there are some freelancer sites out there who advertise WFH jobs; try looking over at PoeWar.Com and FreelanceWriting.com.

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  11. Jessiegirl wrote: The first time I read that sentence I saw "In lieu of captured male servants with cures for curiosity, any questions this week?"

    Now there's an idea for a fantasy novel...lol.

    ...my only question was where can I get a guy like that? And can I have him for a week?

    Only a week????

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  12. Pixel Faerie wrote: Is there anything or anyone you could pick out that, without that person or that thing, you probably wouldn't have become published?

    A very bad car accident that should have killed me but didn't. That decided a lot of things.

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  13. JessieGirl, I read that as "male servants" this morning, too. Wishful thinking, I guess. Of course, I wouldn't know what to do with a male servant if I had one.

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  14. I'd be interested to know what you think of futuristic romances. I know hard-core SF fans probably find the mere idea of them heretical ("Romance in an SF novel? Pass the smelling salts!"), but what do you think of the blending of these two genres? Does does the "story of ideas" (SF) mix well with the "story of emotions" (romance)? Or does the romance necessarily have to give way to the action/plot?

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  15. Tamith9:33 PM

    This is somewhat of a strange question, but I was wondering if there was a right way to self-publish. Does going the "vanity press" way carry a stigma, or will it count in your favor for future publication if it's followed-up by successful self-promotion/sales?

    Eragon started as a self-published/promoted work before it was picked up, but I'm guessing that's a rare case.

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  16. Sandra wrote: Can you wax philosophic on how a writer can learn to develop narrative voice?

    Write in first person singular. A lot. :)

    Seriously, look at what other writers do first. The ones who use it often, like Stephen King (who doubles as a master of the regional-flavored interpolated narrative, as most of his novels are Old/Wise Cranky People From Maine Recounting Eerie Tales to Young/Stupid Characters) are good examples of how voice plays into narrative.

    From my POV, it's all inside you. There is rhythm, timing and color in your natural voice when you speak; you need to put that same quality of voice on the page.

    But: unless you're writing a memoir, you need to do narrative in character (or if you're writing in first person plural or omnipotent narrative, in which case you're trying to be blooded royalty, a jackass, or God, and good luck with that.)

    The easiest way to get into narrative character is to imagine being the character who is telling the story. See your story through the character's eyes, and feel the character's emotions as you recount it.

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  17. Jennybrat wrote: I do have a question. I sent you a question through your website a while ago and while your server told me there's an error, I did get a copy of it in my email, so I assumed it went through. Can you check and revert to me? Thanks!

    I am woefully behind on e-mail at the moment, but my web site went down last week and I'm still not receiving a lot of the e-mail sent through it. Would you resend it to LynnViehl@aol.com, please? Sorry for the inconvenience.

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  18. Jean wrote: Of course, I wouldn't know what to do with a male servant if I had one.

    And Jean's nose is not growing any longer, either. It's just our over-active imaginations. Hee hee.

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  19. Cassandra wrote: I'd be interested to know what you think of futuristic romances.

    I like the well-written ones. I also think they should be called science fiction, as that's what they are, but some misogynistic jerk invented that stupid term before I got into the biz.

    I know hard-core SF fans probably find the mere idea of them heretical ("Romance in an SF novel? Pass the smelling salts!"), but what do you think of the blending of these two genres?

    I don't see a genre wall between romance and SF. Then again, I don't see genre walls, I kick them down. The fact that there is romance in a science fiction novel is not a reason to market it differently. I'm proof of that.

    Does does the "story of ideas" (SF) mix well with the "story of emotions" (romance)? Or does the romance necessarily have to give way to the action/plot?

    I don't accept the argument at all. It's like a hysterical girl cooties thing; I think SF writers need to lose the Victorian mentality and grow up. Note that I am not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

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  20. Tamith wrote: This is somewhat of a strange question, but I was wondering if there was a right way to self-publish.

    I am not an expert on self-publication (although Jill Terry, one of our regulars here, has a lot of experience and I'm hoping she'll jump in and comment on this, hint, hint) so take what I say with a massive grain of salt.

    I think self-publishing works best for books that have strong appeal to niche markets, and whose authors can get some financial backing and are willing to do a lot of hard work. To me, if you've got those three things, you have a shot at being successful at self-publishing (which is how I'd define "right.")

    Does going the "vanity press" way carry a stigma, or will it count in your favor for future publication if it's followed-up by successful self-promotion/sales?

    I've heard both sides argue on this, and I don't know. Some industry snobs obviously look down on self-published authors. Others don't. I don't pass judgment; we all do what we have to do.

    I know if I were an editor looking at your professional credits, and I saw proof that you did very well with a self-published book, I'd count that as a big plus. But that's me.

    Eragon started as a self-published/promoted work before it was picked up, but I'm guessing that's a rare case.

    Eragon is very rare, or we'd see more self-pubbed authors on the NY Times BSL. There are always factors involved with self-published authors who achieve success; Christopher Paolini was very young, his parents supported him, and Carl Hiassen jumped in to help after his kid raved about the self-pubbed edition of Eragon. It would be extremely hard to duplicate that sort of success.

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  21. I always seem to be having trouble writing good fight/action scenes. Can you give me some pointers on how to do it?

    Thanks in advance.

    Erin K.

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  22. Erin wrote: I always seem to be having trouble writing good fight/action scenes. Can you give me some pointers on how to do it?

    Along with my military training, I've taken self-defense classes and fencing lessons as research for fight scenes. I've also had my ass kicked a number of times, something I really don't recommend as ideal research.

    Talking with and watching boxers, martial artists and other experienced fighters can also help you get down the moves. Reading books will help you with the applicable terminology, but the real deal gives you a personal perspective. You don't have to learn to fight to write good fight scenes, but you should observe others sparring.

    I know some writers recommend watching fight scenes in movies, but I don't. It's fun but I've learned not always as helpful. Unless the director is meticulous about who he hires to choreograph them, most film fight scenes are totally bogus.

    When you compose a fight scene, remember that it's not just two people beating the crap out of each other. There is usually a reason for the fight; that plays on the fighters' emotions and abilities. Readers seem to enjoy fight scenes more when they show something new about the character(s), or progress or regress the character(s) in some way.

    I try to walk through the fight scenes I write to get a feel for the choreography of the bout and how the moves feel (I walk through them in a space approximating the area in the scene.) I've also used a practice katana to work out certain details about a sword fight scene and to get an idea of body line and positioning.

    Make the fight interesting by introducing different elements into it: use your setting as an active part of the fight instead of the backdrop to it; show any spectators and some of their reaction; and don't script the resolution to be something the reader can see coming a mile away.

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  23. Thanks, Sheila. That was very helpful. :)


    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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  24. Along with my military training, I've taken self-defense classes and fencing lessons as research for fight scenes. I've also had my ass kicked a number of times, something I really don't recommend as ideal research.


    Are we talking real fights or sparring matches? ;) I've gotten my tail kicked a number of times sparring.

    Taking tae kwon do is the best thing I could have done with help with my fight scenes. Sooner or later, I'm going to pick up some weapons classes.

    Plus basic self defense courses are a good idea for almost anybody, especially females. My seven year daughter is already enrolled in TKD.

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  25. Shiloh wrote: Are we talking real fights or sparring matches?

    Both. I had hand-to-hand in the AF< but I did not grow up in the village of enlightened, happy people.

    Taking tae kwon do is the best thing I could have done with help with my fight scenes. Sooner or later, I'm going to pick up some weapons classes.

    Have you ever talked to the guys who perform at Ren Faires? A few of them are whackos, but some are experts and actually do study the old ways of fighting. I once got into a discussion with a blacksmith who gave me a mini crash-course in armor and decent fighting blades at a Ren Faire, too. Guy was amazing. Like a walking encyclopedia of swords.

    Plus basic self defense courses are a good idea for almost anybody, especially females. My seven year daughter is already enrolled in TKD.

    Agreed.

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  26. I emailed you again.

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