From The Word Forge
Progress report on Barry's work in progress.
What About This Blog?
For writers & readers. For writers, this is stuff I've learned, am in the process of discovering, and stuff that is imparted to me by other writers. For readers, I believe the more one knows about what goes into the writing of a story, and into the life of being a writer, the more one appreciates an author's writings.
This is a two-way blog. Your comments on the blogs are welcome, as are your questions. Comments on blogs can be made directly on each blog entry. For questions and comments not related to specific blogs, use the eMail link below.
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Barry B. Longyear is the first writer to win the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer all in the same year. In addition to his acclaimed Enemy Mine Series, his works include the Circus World and Infinity Hold series, Sea of Glass, other SF & fantasy novels, recovery and writing instruction works, and numerous short stories.
April 6, 2015
I let the story and its very real characters find and travel the paths upon which they insist. It completely defeats the "writer as God" attitude exhibited by many writers and beginners, but that's the way it works for me. Usually.
Okay, the current work is titled The War Whisperer, told from the point of view of an orphan who, at the age of twelve, is drafted into a secret quasi-governmental school for agent/assassins. Jerome Track did horrific things to be considered for this school for killers. At the school more horrific things happened, which changed everything, and those pages were very difficult to write. Then Jerome and his adopted sister graduate and become agents in this shadow organization that "resolves democracy and negotiation resistant problems" in favor of the U.S. So they and their handler go down to South America to await the arrival of an important terrorist leader: Object, termination. (more…)
December 17, 2014
I checked my phone, my mini, my maxi, my battery backups for my computers, until the only thing I hadn't checked was my Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), the gadget that does pace making, reorders my heartbeat so that it beats more efficiently, makes a try at gently moving me from V-tach into sinus rhythm during an episode, and hits me with the paddles at full blast if the V-tach episode goes on longer than twelve seconds. The wonders of modern science.
Yet one more wonder, my ICD has a telemetry unit through which I can download all current performance data to my cardiologist. Every so often, in the middle of the night while I'm sleeping, this device can sneak in and talk to my ICD getting it to blab all. That was how I found out that my heart had been in A-fib for three days, which is a tale for another time.
One of the things I can do with my telemetry unit is initiate and send down a reading if I think something might be awry. Since I thought the alarm might be coming from the ICD, I sent a strip down to my cardiologist and returned to the Mini to continue with the story. I had almost gotten a word written when I got a call from the cardiologist's saying, in essence, "How quickly can you make it down to the Maine Medical Center emergency room?"
June 18, 2014
This year, the panel and workshop proposal train missed me, so for the first time in a decade or more, I will not be conducting one of my writing workshop/lecture thingies. There are some writing panels of interest, and for those who want to talk storytelling, I will be doing one of the kaffeeklatsch things. Recently Readercon has been teaming me up with another writer at kaffeeklatsches, and last year it worked out really well. As a general rule, writers like talking about writing. The point being, if you want to get together and compare semicolons, attend Readercon and sign up for my kaffeeklatsch. I will also be doing a reading from my new novel as well as wandering the halls. As soon as the final schedule for program participants is made available, I'll post the dates and times.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATION. Late this month I'm getting a rather substantial surgical operation on my back. Recovery, rate of, is something of a question at this stage, which could either have me staggering around the halls on pain killers (which could be amusing) or canceling out altogether. I will make every effort to warn you all in advance.
Whether I'm there or not, Readercon is a great place for you to talk writing and storytelling, and to listen to some old established and brand new pro writers discuss in panels various aspects of the art such that one cannot return home from this con without at least three new ideas for you to try. Actually, it is possible to return home empty handed if you spend the con drunk or high. If this is your approach, you may as well stay home. For the rest of you, I hope to see you there.
Click the Readercon icon for the con's website.
June 4, 2014
Do this for all of your major characters (defined as anyone who helps move the story forward): On a separate document, slip your feet inside your character's baby shoes, and using first person POV have that baby, child, young person, young adult tell the story of his or her life up until they enter your story. It will cure all of the problems listed above in the first paragraph. In addition it will add reality (depth, texture, feelings, events, pimples) to your characters, and provide you with a wealth of background material for whenever your characters get introspective.
No need to include each and every diaper load. For a cue regarding what to include, use your own memory of your own past as a guide: earliest memory, the people you remember, your interactions with them, how you felt about them, first love, first hate, fights, celebrations, whatever was important and revealing.
Why the title, "Growing Up With Thomas?" The first time I did this full bore was with my novel Sea of Glass, whose POV character was Thomas Windom. He is still more real to me than most of the persons I have known for decades. I've also done this with my entire Joe Torio Mystery Series, beginning with The Hangman's Son.
If you haven't grown up with your characters, you don't know them very well. Not knowing your characters is a terrible platform from which to try telling their stories.
Try it out and see the difference it makes both in your story and in your writing day. Yeah, it involves extra writing. But, if you don't like writing you'd best nail down that Burger King gig.
May 22, 2014
January 20, 2014
After more than two years of dodging health bullets and writing and restarting again and rewriting again my Joe Torio Mystery ROPE PAPER SCISSORS, I ended that particular 340K marathon flat-out exhausted. I'd bore you with all the medical/migraine/ADD crap, but it bores me. Suffice it to say, if I owned a car with as many mechanical problems as I have health issues, I'd junk the damned thing. It would embarrass me to try and sell it.
November 19, 2013
October 1, 2013
Wiggle room: It has a lot to do with getting the story finished.
Okay, in Twelve Step programs they have a bit of advice that goes like this: Live in the solution, not the problem. So, what does this have to do with getting the words into the manuscript?
List your reasons for not writing. Go on. We'll wait for you, and here are a few to get you started.
Nobody believes in me.
I just can't get started.
There are too many demands on my time.
I just can't seem to sell a word.
My ideas don't seem to go anywhere.
No support from my family (friends, parents, spouse, partner, bartender, etc.)
Poor health, low energy, can't concentrate, the neighbor's dog keeps barking, my dealer really wants to get paid, it all seems so hopeless.
Here is an example of living in the problem: "Look at what's happening to me; I just can't win! Boo hoo!"
Here is an example of living in the solution: "This is standing in my way; Now, what can I do about it?"
March 21, 2012
A fellow writer, thoroughly jammed with writer's block, shared with me that he never attends genre conventions (mystery, SF, fantasy) because, "It's just not his cup of tea." After a few minutes of additional probing, it turned out he was afraid of meeting new people. Those he had never met before hadn't been vetted, hence, might commit one of the following errors:
1. The person in question might impart that he never cared much for that writer's works.
2. He or she may not have even heard of that writer.
3. The bothersome attendees might besiege him for autographs.
4. During the autograph session, no one might show up.
March 8, 2012
I really enjoyed this guy's first book. Fresh, racy, on the edge, I didn't know from one page to the next where the story was going. I seemed to be able to count on it, though, being outrageously unexpected. Just couldn't wait for his second book.
I should have.
In his second book the author committed the Big Crime. I can forgive almost any error except for bumping me out of the story to deliver a political message. What is perplexing with this book is that it's only the fellow's second. Usually, a mystery writer has to have several tomes and at least a decade of a well-established publishing career before the author becomes dotty enough to think that stopping his tale to deliver a political message or to spleen vent all over some disliked politician is a good idea. (more…)