Advice from Warren Ellis

From Warren Ellis:

It is cold and grey, but there is no rain, and my family’s
off shopping for a couple of days. I have a stack of
deadlines a mile high, but I think I’m also going to sit
around with a bottle and just think for a while. The
thinking time is essential. At least half of all writing
involves just sitting and staring into space. Letting
your brain out to hunt down ideas, bringing them back
all warm and bloody between its teeth.

Readin’, Writin’ and Rithmatic’

I bitch (to myself mostly) that I never find time to read or write anymore. Work takes up so much time, and then, of course, there’s family, friends and fun stuff, but I lament the loss of ‘nothing’ time. While on vacation in Duxbury, Steph and I spent no time on the internet and no time watching the Boob Tube, which made quality alone time easier. So, I’ve been watching less TV (doesn’t hurt that there’s nothing on), reading more, etc.

I also realize that I read pretty much constantly during a normal day. Work e-mail, scientific and technical journal articles, etc. Hell, is even suggesting I read more pharmaceutical and business books because, lately I find myself reading those types of things a lot.

As for writing, I do a lot of technical writing – everything from authoring powerpoints to commenting on (and writing de novo) proposals for work. I just don’t get much time to do the creative writing – probably because the beginning and end of a creative assignment (even if self inflicted) are much fuzzier than those for writing a proposal.

Neil Gaiman’s bookshelves fill me with envy. I wonder if he’s really read all those things, or, more importantly if he can remember the stories in them.



My fantasy league drafted last night – I did pretty well, although I do have to root for Peyton…

I love this writing advice….

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Favorite Writing Advice (First in a Series)

Marcel Duhamel, editor of Gallimard’s famous La Serie Noire, to novelist Chester Himes:
"Get an idea. Start with action, somebody does something–a man reaches out a hand and opens a door, light shines in his eyes, a body lies on the floor, he turns, looks up and down the hall… Always action in detail. Make pictures. Like motion pictures. Always the scenes are visible. No stream of consciousness at all. We don’t give a damn who’s thinking what–only what they’re doing. Always doing something. From one scene to another. Don’t worry about it making sense. That’s for the end. Give me 220 typed pages."

End of Modernism?

There’s an interesting article on (of all things!) the Wall Street Journal about novels and … well, plot, basically.  I liked the read, but I’m worried that it will be perceived as a call to ‘dumb down’ the modern novel. 

What do you think?


A Newbies Guide to Publishing: How To Get Published

A Newbies Guide to Publishing: How To Get Published.

1. Write When You Can – Find the time to write, even if you have to give up other things to do so. And know who your audience is, and as much about that audience as possible, before you write your first word.

2. Finish What You Start – Turn off your internal editor until you finish that first draft, and get to the ending no matter how much you think it sucks.

3. Edit What You Finish – Rewrite, add, cut, and polish. Then give it to others to read, consider their suggestions, and keep repeating the process until you’ve got something your peers, and you, consider decent.

Here’s a critique sheet to help you out.

4. Submit What You Edit – Since you know your audience, you should know who reps/publishes your type of story. And don’t get hung up on writing the perfect query letter. The writing sells the writing, not the query letter. All a query needs is a two sentence description of the book (mention setting, genre, and a bestselling similar work by another author), some praise for the recipient, and a thank you.

5. Repeat

That’s all. Now stop sweating the process and go do it.

Great idea… now I’m going to procrastinate for a while…

Rabbit Hole Day 2009

From Warren Ellis, who got it from someone else

Two weeks from today, Tuesday January 27th, is Lewis Carroll’s 177th birthday. Carroll, you’ll recall, wrote about a girl who fell down a rabbit hole and found herself in a place where all the rules had changed. In two weeks, on Lewis Carroll’s 177th birthday, you should do the same.

That’s right: the 5th Annual Rabbit Hole Day is coming.

When you wake up on the 27th, instead of writing about your usual work and school and politics and friends and news and stuff, experience life down the Rabbit Hole and write about the work, the school, the politics, the friends, the news, the stuff that you find there instead. Travel through time. Turn into an animal. Flee from assassins. Talk to your goldfish. Conquer Greenland. Sprout some extra limbs. Learn how to walk on water. Marry an insect.

Take a break from the Every Day and write about your Rabbit Hole Day. Your normal life will be waiting for you when you get back.

A fantastic idea, if I’ve ever heard one!


NaNoWriMo 2008 is over!

My most earnest attempt at NaNoWriMo, and … I did it:

I am now taking a break from Ace Sheridan and science fiction, and trying my hand at something more … conventional. My brain is a bit broken after writing all that and eating all the turkey possible. Grats to all the other Boston area NaNoWriMoers!

Great Opening Lines in SciFi

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” — William Gibson, Neuromancer.

io9 has a cool post on great opening lines in science fiction. Just looking through it reminds me that I have some classics to re-read.