I have recently had the pleasure of reading three short stories in Ash Litton’s Appalachian Dream Tales series. These are some stories you aren’t going to want to miss. The first two, Thoroughbred and Evening Hollow are available for immediate download (so what are you waiting for?) while Comeuppance is available for pre-order.
I have to confess, I spend a lot of time paying attention to specific kinds of writer’s blogs. In Particular those of Kristin Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, and Chuck Wendig. These, among some others that I don’t follow as regularly, have given me the inspiration and the back bone to face this profession and know that I can make it. While Kristin Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith are great at being responsible, business focused and serious about their craft, I turn to Chuck Wendig to hear pretty much the same stuff with a lot more humor and swearing.
Part of world building is creating culture. Your people have to have a culture unique to their place in their world. Even if you are writing in modern America, it’s important to notice the influence of culture on the choices and assumptions that your characters make. However, since culture is a huge subject that spans several BA programs, I’m going to pick just one little piece to discuss today: Family.
How long is your story? How long should it be? Is a novella better than a novel for a first time writer? Should you write something as epic as War and Peace or keep it under 100k words? Such weighty problems that some new writers obsess over are really simple to figure out once you realize what the real questions are.
First a brief discussion of the different story lengths. These are rough estimates and can be flexible depending on the market you are submitting to. Be sure to check the guidelines. If you are self pubbing, it’s kind of up to you but your readers will expect something like this:
There is nothing funnier that watching the bad guys in a silly movie or TV show prove their incompetence. You know the scenes when all the good guy has to do is stay out of the way. In fiction, evil incompetence lightens the mood. Who doesn’t love a good laugh at Wile E Cayote when his inventions backfire and he ends up plummeting off the cliff to land in a puff of smoke? Or even the numerous minions in a James Bond picture who couldn’t shoot the broad side of the barn. Even the masters in those movies make stupid mistakes that allow everyone’s hero to triumph.
Characters are interesting pieces of your imagination. For many writers they are autonomous being made up of our experiences but different from us in fundamental ways. This at least is my experience, and by anecdotal evidence that of most of the writers I know. You hear it in interviews all the time – authors speak of their characters as though they are living, breathing people. Many of them talk about the characters telling the story and they are just there to write it down. It sounds crazy; in a way it sort of is.
The Mayan Calendar ends today. According to those who like such things, that means that it’s the end of the world. That may be so, or it could just be the end of an era. More likely it just means that it’s time to buy a new calendar.
I’m fascinated by the people who continuously foretell the end of the world. These doomsdayers see all the troubles of the world as indications that things are about to go over the point of no return and we will end up spattered all over the universe. While we think of them mostly as being a part of the Western world, they are actually all over the world, they just show it in different ways. None the less, they are there.
I know that they teach us not to insult people when we are growing up, and that’s good advice for dealing with real people. Really, if you want to get along in this world, insults aren’t going to do it for you. However, when it comes to characters in stories, insults are quite handy. Characters need to be insulted now and then – it adds to the conflict.
There has been an undercurrent of classism in the news lately. Here in America with the Fiscal Cliff looming over us, we are arguing about who should pay for the budget deficit. There is a great divide between the “Haves” and the “Have Nots”. Current slang has them as the 1% and the 99% – At least according to the people who call themselves “the 99%”. The thing is that this sort of divide has been around since before we kept records of such things. It is a part of every culture in all the nations that we know about (I would guess that it’s even in the cultures we don’t know about yet, but who can tell with aliens). Despite the fact that it is an omni-present facet of our existence, politicians and social reformers all over the globe have tried to eliminate it.
“Why do you have to play games like this?” Allay asked the god since he was being so forthcoming.
This time the thoughts that came were far more complex than she was prepared for. Everything was connected in multiple ways so that even the slightest change to one thing could multiply it’s affect until something else far removed was altered beyond recognition. Allay couldn’t follow all the consequences through the web. There were patterns for the world from before and after Kayla arrived and different patterns if Allay had been born with a voice. All of them mixed up and swirling around inside her head until she became dizzy.