I’m currently working on Mark Park and the Flume of Destiny. It’s the third book in my series, The Future Next Door, and it is also, not coincidentally, the third book I have ever written.
Writing is a skill, of course, and like any skill, you get better at it the more you practice it. My first book, Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom, took me just about a year to write, from first word to publication. I learned a lot as I was writing it - both from the act of writing itself, and from actually studying the craft of writing by reading what other, smarter writers than me had to say - and by the time I was finished with the first draft, I realized I needed to go back to the top and do some pretty serious revisions. It was a long process, but worth it in the end. It’s a good book.
The second book, Caitlin Ross and the Commute from Hell, came a lot easier. Not easy, just easier. It took about seven months in all. Less time because I had figured out that I’m a plotter - I need to break the story down before I start to write, not figure it out as I go along. This resulted in the first draft needing far fewer revisions. It was even more fun to write than the first book had been, and I think it shows in the end result. It’s a better book.
I say I started working on Mark Park a few weeks ago, but really, I started it at the same time I started Caitlin Ross. After I finished the first book, I plotted out all three of the remaining installments in the series - there’s an overall story building, and I had to know where I was going in order to know how to get there. So I had a blueprint in front of me when I actually sat down to write book three.
But…but but but. Something was off. Writing when I got home from work was becoming a chore to be dreaded instead of the best part of my day. I pushed through, telling myself I was just hitting a wall, I was tired, I was cranky, I needed to be changed, anything except admitting there was something wrong with what I was writing. I got through six chapters before I realized that the book just wasn’t going to work. The book I had plotted would not be a good book, let alone a better book. It would be a bad book.
So I threw it all away. All my meticulous plotting. All those weeks of work. Even the few little bits I liked. Once I beat my ego into submission and admitted that I was doing bad work, and gave myself permission to let it go, I was able to see more clearly what was wrong. And then I fixed it.
Tonight I finished my second take on the plot breakdown, and I’m bouncing up and down in my chair with excitement. I know it’s good. And I can’t wait to start writing again.
I get asked a fairly constant stream of questions about writing, particularly for comics, for obvious reasons.
What I find is that a lot of the teaching methods out there focus on theory, rather than practical advice. What do I do about writer’s block? How do I make characters interesting? How…
For all of you Maggie MacKay fans, your wait is over! Book IV is now officially here!
Book IV: Maggie MacKay - Magical Tracker Series
M&K Tracking is finally up and running, but business has been the pits for Maggie and Killian… that is until someone tries to open a portal to the pits of the Dark Dimension via Father Killarney’s church. When it comes to vanquishing evil, who are you going to call? M&K Tracking. It is a hell of a job, but someone’s gotta do it.
WARNING: This book contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed at your own risk.
noheroposts asked: I recently found that I really like writing. I have ideas in my head just bumping around, but when it comes to putting them down, I freeze and suddenly find myself discouraged. Any advice on how to get over this?
What you are describing is very common, almost everyone has that at first. But until you start actually writing stuff, it’s like having a hot rod engine with no actual car.
I don’t judge people by how much they write, but they have to write something.
For most writers, writing isn’t a dawdle, it’s a very serious goddamn business and it has its rewards and its costs. You need to be aware of that, and one of the costs is overcoming inertia and fear.
You can be a bestselling author and you still have those things to deal with and conquer. In this, the famous and celebrated writer is no different than someone who writes fanfic strictly for their own pleasure. They both have to beat those two factors.
So what you do is minimize them. And the way to do that is habit, just as any artists does. A musician practices scales, an artist sketches apples, they do a small thing over and over, and they gain confidence and skill all the time.
The grand concerto and the oil painting masterpiece come at the end, after thousands of scales and sketches.
You want to be a writer, so do what they do. Play scales. Draw sketches.
Write short things. For yourself. Write a character sketch. Write a plot outline. Write a story in a paragraph. Write a review. Short things you can finish. It is the finishing that is key.
Each time, you get better. Each time, you learn how to play the scale and sketch the fruit and then each time, you have those in your tool bag and knowing there’s tools in your tool bag gives you confidence, I guarantee it. Odds are, some of your short things will grow in scale as you write them.
Play the scales.
Do the sketches.
The concerto will follow, honest.
After reposting that piece on Japanese internment camps in WWII, I wanted to say that if we’d like to foster a global environment where “good” will prevail over “evil,” it is critical that we acknowledge the sins/crimes/mistakes of everyone involved, most especially ourselves. Is it good that…
Dear Abby, 18 February 2014:DEAR ABBY: My husband and I relocated to Florida a little over a year ago and were quickly welcomed into our new neighbors’ social whirl. Two couples in the neighborhood are gay — one male, one female. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include…
Read That Bad Advice’s response, then click the date to read Abby’s actual awesome answer.
There was a report recently spearheaded by an author named Hugh Howey that caused quite a stir amongst the publishing community. The report can be found at AuthorEarnings.com (if it doesn’t work, try again later. The server has been crashing so many people have been looking at it.) It is…
According to The Wall Street Journal, “The partnership pairs up novelists with NASA scientists and engineers, who help writers develop scientifically plausible story lines and spot-check manuscripts for technical errors.” An unnamed NASA official told the Journal that in return, NASA gets “an innovative way to reach out to the public to raise awareness of what the agency is doing.”
Obviously, Petra is very excited.
You can read an excerpt of the first novel in the series – Pillar To The Sky, about a multibillion-dollar effort to build a 23,000-mile-high space elevator – over on Tor’s website.
Image: NASA illustration shows the concept of a space elevator.
Well, hey! My first book, Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom, is suddenly climbing the best seller charts at Amazon - well, two of them, anyway. As I write this It’s at #33 for ebook Technothrillers and #35 for Technothrillers in general (all types o’ books combined). Amazon is still offering it at the sale price of 99 cents for some reason, but that could end at any time, so - if you haven’t picked it up yet - check it out now before they jack the price back up! (I’m dreaming of a top ten slot - I’m ambitious.)
Alan Lennox has been assigned yet another soul-crushing temp job, keeping him from his first loves – drinking, playing video games, and looking for a boyfriend. But Alan’s new job proves to be anything but boring when his co-workers start turning up dead. The mysterious megacorporation Amalgamated Synergy has taken a deadly interest in Alan and his three roommates, and the hapless quartet are woefully unequipped to deal with the psychotic secretaries, murderous middle managers, and villainous vice-presidents hunting them down.
Their investigation leads them deep into Amalgamated Synergy’s headquarters, but can Alan and his friends stay alive long enough to discover who – or what – waits for them on the top floor?