2017. What! What!

Last year was hell when it came to writing. I struggled mightily on one book, starting it over three times. I think I got it this time. I did complete two books I feel super strong about though. One is called Harper’s Odyssey (tentative of course). I completed that around January, so it was a carry over from 2015 I suppose. I also completed The Nissin Project (yep, another tentative title), but I’m sitting on that for another month or so. I need some time away from it. Why? Because of Harper’s Odyssey actually.

You see, I finished Harper’s Odyssey a solid year ago. I thought it was awesome when I finished. Then I did a read through. Somehow it turned into something I wasn’t expecting, and because of that I shoved it to the back of the proverbial closet. A couple months ago I took it out, and I’ve never been more impressed by something I’ve written.

No joke, I’ve literally gotten misty-eyed at the end of Harper’s Odyssey. I’ve read it through countless times, know exactly where the emotional punches will be thrown, and still every single time I get to the end I get emotional.

So, yeah, I need to take some time away from The Nissin Project. I really enjoy reading it, but for some reason it’s not exactly what I was expecting I would produce. I figure if I wait a few months and then go back to it, I’ll either love it like I do Harper’s Odyssey or I’ll still find it wanting. If I’m not overly enthused by it…Well, it’ll be viewed as storytelling practice.

Back to Harper’s Odyssey though. It is first in a series of interconnected books. With each book positioned to be read as a standalone. However, if consumed as a series, the reader will get a view of the horrors and strangeness of war, and the workings of the military and politics in war and covert paramilitary operations. With certain key figures giving, at the very least, cameos in each book. (each book has a new cast of characters it follows)

That gives me a good segue to talk a little about my current work in progress. It’s the second book in the Harper’s Odyssey Universe (tentative name of course), titled Welcome to Hell. The action parts are an allegory for the strangeness of war. War is not as simple as sending people to shot and kill the enemy. The mind of the soldier has to cope with the unnatural act of killing other people so it changes the situation or the person snaps. Which, unfortunately, is seen happen with sufferers of PTSD. The rest of the story deals with the personal relationships First Sergeant Jay “Inferno” Dante has with his fiance and his Echo Force squad while back home in between missions.

This year should be a good year for writing. Next time I’ll speak a little more on Harper’s Odyssey.

Happy 2017 everyone!

4 WRITING TAKEAWAYS FROM DAREDEVIL (TV)

Daredevil-TV-Logo (Small)

 

Daredevil, a Netflix Original Series, is one show in the growing stable of Marvel television shows. Serious at its core, it’s sprinkled with humor like a master chef adding salt to a dish; not too little so it has no affect, but not too much so the humor ruins the vibe. The writing stands head and shoulders above competition even outpacing other Marvel enterprises, with production values on par with big budget movies. Combined, the recipe makes for the best Marvel show and one of the best television shows ever produced.

Now, yes, Daredevil is a television show and thus naturally inferior to curling up with a good book, yet through the phenomenal writing of scripts and show pacing, a writer can takeaway quite a few great tips.

 

SLOW REVEALS

Daredevil excels here. The first episode origin story that tells the audience why the hero is filled with angst and why the villain is evil and hates the hero, is skipped in favor of the natural lifestory reveal. The writers of Daredevil decided the story should follow the person; Daredevil, Matthew Murdoc, is someone who works in the shadows and by night, and his story reveal follows that work ethic.

In the first episode we are introduced to Matthew Murdoc at the end of the crash that gives him his abilities, then thrust directly into his nightlife routine of beating the snot out of criminals. It’s here the viewer is given a taste for how the show will play out: the past will be revealed, not all in one huge chunk—an infodump if you will—but over time in small bite sized pieces. It’s like when you meet a new person. That person, or you, don’t make introductions and then launch into a backstory covering from age 5 up to three minutes ago. It’s weird and unnatural. Writing should take a cue from real life on explaining backstory like the writers of Daredevil follow.

 

RELATIONSHIPS NEED CONFLICT

No surprise here. Romance is the largest book genre by sales volume because relationships are full of tension. Women, and men, don’t purchase romance books because they are all huge, sentimental, love struck, romantics. Some may read romance for that reason, but in general, people yearn to see or read about relationships that are full of so much conflict that interested parties would have split long ago in real life, but they continue on at least speaking terms in the story. It’s a storytelling device that the romance genre excels in, and here Daredevil follows with greatness.

The writers in our show create tension between every single character, even Foggy and Murdoc who are best friends, and the drama is built slow like a pot of water coming to a boil. Conflicted relationships that develop over time, not in three sentences, are fascinating—in real life, in movies, television, and especially novels.

 

SURPRISE

It’s difficult to give an example from Daredevil about the surprises the writers use. To do so would ruin some of the most amazing scenes ever created for a television program.

The writers of Daredevil are able to produce these shocking scenes, not because they reach a point and think, “Let’s throw a twist in!”. Rather, they set a character down a path, with a morality you think you know they follow, and then force the character onto a road that could make them possibly go against their moral code.

It is difficult to envision without proper examples, so watch at least through Episode 11 of Season 1. When you do, keep in mind that twists like that cannot happen to every character in a novel or show. The more characters you toss moral twists at, the cheaper each subsequent one becomes. Going back to the salt analogy; too much can ruin a dish while too little will have no effect.

 

UPPING THE ANTE

Daredevil starts small and then increases the pot like an overconfident drunk playing poker.

Many TV shows and novels believe that if they lay out this massive, convoluted plot from the get go, they can coast to the end and keep the attention of the reader/viewer. The writer(s) could not be more mistaken.

Again, this is one of those that examples from the show would ruin what the writers have created. Suffice to say, every single episode throws another pepperoni on the pie, just one piece, enough for added flavor but not overpowering. By the end of the season, those single pieces create a mountain ready to topple over and create a surprise ending.

How do you do that in a novel though when most novels are not serials? You can up the plot ante with each chapter, subtly building until the penultimate chapter is a pressure cooker with the lid about to explode off.

 

 

4 Detrimental Effects Of Reading On Ereaders

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History is full of epic battles; David and Goliath, Axis and Allies, Rocky and Apollo; but there is one battle more epic, more divisive, than any other:

Paper books versus Ebooks

Find someone who reads (more than just emails), and ask them if they prefer to do their reading on a real book or on a fake book like Kindles, and you’re guaranteed to get a response that does not straddle the fence. And even though the answer—which is better—is obvious, some people still choose wrong and say a fake (ebook) book is better.

The next time you hear such heresy, you now have four direct hits for why ebooks are the loser in this battle.

 

YOU’LL FORGET HOW TO READ LONG SENTENCES

Reading long literary sentences is a skill you can actually lose if you don’t use it. A study in 2006 shows that reading on screens changes the linear fashion in which we are taught to read, to an “F” pattern, where we read the first line then skim the left side looking for keywords. Good luck enjoying a novel by only reading thirty words on every page.

 

LACK OF ABSORBTION

Quick, name the first three significant plot points in the latest book you read. If you read the story on paper, you’re likely able to rattle them off; if you chose to read it on a Kindle or other ereader you’re “significantly” less likely to accurately answer that.

 

PAPER BOOKS ARE MORE COHERENT AND NAVIGABLE

By halving the topography of a novel—rather than eight corners and two clearly defined domains that help you navigate the terrain of words, an ebook gives you just a single page of text with no way to orient yourself—you are turning a joyful reading experience into an incoherent mess. Oh, and that literary map the domains—left and right pages—create also helps with reading comprehension.

 

YOU’RE HURTING YOURSELF

You heard reading can prevent mental decline and increase your empathy so you don’t come off as such a jerk to people, so you started reading with vigor. Good for you! Fantastic! I just hope you didn’t choose a screen to read that book on, or you may end up damaging your health more than helping it.

 

 

 

 

 

On writing and gratitude

First off, I want to thank every person who has purchased Android Hunters. Thank you SO much. You have no idea what it means to me. That people, I don’t know personally, buy a book I’ve written and read it. It’s so great I can’t really put it into words.

Writing is something I would do even if I never had a book published. It calms me and I love it more than any other hobby I have ever had. Does that mean I don’t want people to purchase my works, read them and enjoy them? Not at all. Having people buy Android Hunters (and my future works) is fantastic. It makes me strive harder for that moving target: perfection.

One day I hope to achieve the level of success of John Scalzi, my favorite science fiction writer. One day win awards for my writing. One day be able to say I was on a USA Today or NY Times bestseller list. However writing is one day at a time, and the day I do achieve one of those things, it will be because readers I may never meet or speak to bought my stories and enjoyed them.

For that I say thank you for your support in the now and thank you in advance. And I will always remember the readers that support my writing. From now until I die of old age, if someone wants a signed copy of a paperback I’ll gladly do it. Even if you have to mail it to me, I’ll sign it. It’s a sign of thanks and gratitude for the support.

As I am not sure how to segue into it, The Corli Saga is going to be big. I’m talking five to seven books with multiple spin-offs. I have a giant universe in The Corli Saga that I am chomping at the bit to explore. I also have another series with Robcon Nation (tentative title of course) that will knock your socks off.

Each series explores sides of us, people, as a whole. They are both action packed because I like that in books. The former is military while the latter is not. Hopefully I’ll have another series to add to that (more on that in the future). One that is good ol’ action movie type fun. A series that isn’t too deep but a blast to read.

Thank you again for purchasing Android Hunters. For those of you who haven’t bought it yet…It’s only $0.99 until Friday! Then it goes back up to only $3.99.

A third…Could be a quarter, I’m really bad at estimation

26,659 words so far on my new book, which puts it at about a third done. Right on course for a mid-December finish of the first draft then begins the editing.

I hate and love editing.

On one side, I get to polish the book until it shines and is ready for people to read. And then published. Being completely done with a book is a wonderful feeling. Even if the book doesn’t get published or seen by anyone, it’s still great.

On the other side, I have to read the damn thing like a dozen times. And I mean READ it.

Every single word must be read and compared to the words around it to decide if that particular word is clichéd, bad, doesn’t make sense, is great, or “it’ll do” (cause no other word can be used).

Every single punctuation mark must be looked at. (my least favorite part of writing)

Every single scene must be looked at. Each scene must be weighed on its own. If it passes muster, it then must be compared to the scenes around it. If it still passes muster, the scene must be compared to the book as a cohesive unit. To me, the last part is when most of my scenes (the ones that get changed) are changed or deleted.

In a nutshell, editing is trying to rewrite the book every time I read it.

***On a side note: I’m not writing this for NaNoWriMo but damn I have a good word count for November. I started it on the 3rd. I would be close to 70k if I wrote like I did with my last two book I wrote to get out of my system. But I’m taking it easy on this book, writing methodically and thinking through every scene I do. It’s a slower process but it’s paying off in spades.

As seen on Tumblr (I love that site) – Just in time for NaNoWriMo

editing tips