Storytelling Done Wrong: The Silo Series

I want to start by pointing out that Hugh Howey’s Silo Series has been very successful, and for good reason. A lot of what he’s doing is exceptionally fine writing. I also want to say that the initial portion of the epic (Wool), is one of my favorite pieces of fiction, ever. That’s precisely why I’m being so harsh in calling this Storytelling-Done-Wrong. When I read “Wool” it was the first time I’d ever truly identified with a main character. Juliette, an ordinary, working-class person will probably always be my very favorite lead character. I read “Wool” with the sort of fascination that I’ve had for under a dozen novels in the course of a lifetime full of reading. It was one of the most compelling things I’ve ever read. Continue reading

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Two Reviews on Writing-Revising books

When my self-imposed rough-draft deadline whooshed past (in August) and then again (with the extended deadline, in September) I decided it was time to consult others’ advice on the matter of getting things finished. I read Rachel’s Aaron’s “2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love” and am following her advice on making editing a smoother and more thorough process. I went on to read Chris Fox’s “5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter” and was pleased with the word-tracker Excel spreadsheet included with it. Ever the skeptic (I’m more a messy-notecard writer) I tried his ‘writing sprint’ exercise and logged my efforts accordingly. I was really happy to see that it helped my word count considerably. While the real trick to increased word count is staying focused, it can really help to have specific exercises aimed at improving one’s focus. Continue reading

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Gimmicks Don’t Help

I’ve admitted it before, and I’ll admit it again: I was not a typical or an agreeable English major. Part of the assumption people make about English majors is that we all must love literature, which is a class of reading material all its own. My university offered two options, an English BA that emphasized literature, or one that emphasized writing. I took the latter. I distinguished myself (not in a good way) by once telling a professor that the John Donne poem he’d assigned us was “the worst thing I’ve ever read” – only to have him look mildly horrified and counter that he’d written his dissertation on Donne. Continue reading

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Filed under Random Thoughts, Writing

The Matter of Manners

A few years ago, before I started making real progress on my own writing career, I was an enthusiastic reviewer of other people’s fiction. I had enjoyed some pleasant exchanges with authors via email and social media after posting positive reviews of books I’d enjoyed. Who knew that authors could be so gracious and so interested in their fans? I was delighted (truly, I was) to hear from writers who appreciated my support. And then, something went wrong. Continue reading

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Filed under Embrace the Awkwardness

The Problem of an Ambitious Mess

I haven’t posted in a while. For reasons. Let’s start at the beginning. Back in the spring, a good friend (who knows my penchant for dawdling) extracted a promise from me that I would finish a 90,000-word-minimum draft of a mystery novel I was halfway finished with. This draft’s deadline? August 1. Now, August seems a long time away when you haven’t even dragged the lawn  mower out. I agreed it was a fair deadline. And then I got invited to an awesome workshop. Continue reading

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Filed under Writing, Writing Process

Storytelling Done Okay: Falling Skies

I started watching Falling Skies with real enthusiasm when it first aired. I won’t try to deny that I’m a sucker for anything that prominently features a historian. From the initial season, Falling Skies promised the perfect combination: the chief main character was a history professor, and there were aliens. Awesome. Throw in high stakes and a general sense of human-decency-at-work, and overall this was a pretty good show. At some point it lost a bit of interest for me (the last season languished a long time in the DVR), but I really did like how the characters behaved with a lasting sense of optimism and morality. Too many of the “world gone wrong” shows depict everyone at their most hopeless and worst. And that’s interesting for about five minutes. It’s the cast of characters with a code of conduct that keep me riveted because I wonder how long they will hold up under the strain. Continue reading

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My Thoughts on Dead-Dog Children’s Fiction

When I was in second grade, the teacher read us “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. Maybe it was part of that year’s curriculum. Or maybe she just hated us. Maybe she thought that a few of us had reached the ripe old age of 7 without losing enough grandparents, getting punched enough on the playground, or that we weren’t spending enough nights lying awake with terror at what little we understood of the Cold War. Perhaps, she thought, “Where the Red Fern Grows” would round out the character building we were surely missing out on. Continue reading

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Filed under Book Review, Traditional books