Genre Writing is Like Playing Jazz

JAZZ BOOKS (002)You have to try a new genre in order to find out what genre writing is all about. I did that recently, and here are some thoughts that resulted.

My Story

I have been a Sci-Fi fan since I was about 10 years old. I cut my teeth on Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov, so the genre runs deep in my subconscious. But I have never written a Science Fiction novel.

So in the depths of the winter of 2018, when we had no snow and no sun and I was heavily submerged in Seasonal Affective Disorder, I decided to make a change. I would write some Sci-Fi. Nothing fancy. Just a fun Space Opera, with spaceships and artificial intelligence and…well, I decided to keep it simple and have no aliens. I was just starting out, after all.

A Warning from Another Art Form Continue reading “Genre Writing is Like Playing Jazz”

6 Types of Writers and How to Edit Them

WRITERS_DOGS (002) courtesy of pixabay.comWriters, did you ever wonder what those editors were saying about you as they sat around the gruel pot fighting over the crusty bits? Well, I was kicking back at the off-leash doggy park the other day, and I noticed a distinctly familiar topic of conversation: relationship problems and how to deal with them. This post is to give writers and editors an idea of how the other half thinks.

The ideal relationship between a writer and an editor is when either one of them can say pretty well whatever they want about the manuscript, and the other will react to the comment as if it was a comment on the manuscript. And only the manuscript. I’m sure you know what I mean.

This does not always happen. Let’s look at a few points along the spectrum of interaction. If you’re an editor, just enjoy this. If you’re a writer, try to figure out which of these apply to you. Both of you think about how it affects your relationship. (For this post, the generic masculine pronoun has been used to protect the guilty.) Continue reading “6 Types of Writers and How to Edit Them”

In Writing, How Long is a Pause?

pausing in writing coffee-3456215_1280My main difficulty when I switched from writing plays to novels was my use of pauses. It took me a long time to figure out that the time sense of a person conversing in real life or watching a play is very different from the time sense of someone reading prose. And that has repercussions in novel writing and the use of punctuation.

What’s Happening in Life?

In plays, movies and the reality they are imitating, a pause happens because something else is going on. Someone is thinking, reacting, showing emotion, waiting for attention or performing some task. Often the pause is used to heighten the emotion while we wait for something important to happen (see ‘Earned Pauses’ at the end of this article). Continue reading “In Writing, How Long is a Pause?”

Use a “Fat Outline” for Powerful Writing

FAT OUTLINE FINAL
Click to enlarge image.

Okay, everybody knows about outlines. I used the letters-and-numbers version above. Bureaucracies, of course, like the specificity of decimals, “Please refer to section 1.1.4.5.” MSWord will automatically format these for you, if it doesn’t drive you nuts in the process by refusing to do it any other way.

I also freely admit that I never start my writing with an outline. But like Dean Lappi in his IU article, To Outline or Not to Outline,  I always reach a stage in my project when I start an outline, because it’s impossible to keep it all straight in my head. My outlines in the past have been linear, like the left-hand column above.

We’re Always Improving

However, I have just learned about another kind of outline that has the potential to change my writing style for the better, so I’m sharing it with you. It’s called the Fat Outline. Continue reading “Use a “Fat Outline” for Powerful Writing”