This is the latest in a series of Meaty Monday posts – longer posts where I ramble on about writing related topics. You can find the first Meaty Monday post here. Authors are almost legally required to hate ebooks. After all, those cold, soulless packages of bits and bytes can’t compare with the tactile and olfactory delights a real book provides. In a lot of ways that’s true and as my heavily overloaded shelves will attest, I’ve always had great difficultly resisting the lure of the bookshop. In fact, until a couple of years ago ebooks held no interest for me at all but then I bought my wife a Kobo reader for her birthday and then I borrowed it to read William Gibson’s Zero History. I was hooked. Sure, the first generation Kobo reader is slow and doesn’t have wireless or any other bells and whistles but it was so convenient and – for some unknown reason – fun. I quickly bought myself a Kindle and I’ve never looked back. I do still buy physical books, usually Subterranean Press or Cemetery Dance limited editions, or books by my favourite authors (Caitlin R Kiernan, Haruki Murakami etc.) but generally I choose the digital version if I can. The biggest advantage … Read More
This is the third in a series of Meaty Monday posts – longer posts where I ramble on about writing related topics. You can find the first Meaty Monday post here. This time I’m talking about Robert A. Heinlein’s five writing rules. I first heard Robert A. Heinlein’s writing rules quoted by Neil Gaiman when he was in Vancouver promoting Anansi Boys and they’ve stuck with me ever since. They were originally published in Heinlein’s 1947 essay On the Writing of Speculative Fiction (republished in Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, among other places). The bulk of the essay is about the types of science fiction stories (human interest or gadget-centric) and the three plots that human interest stories can have – “boy meets girl”, “the Little Tailor” (the little guy who becomes a big shot or vice versa) and “the man who learned better”. It’s Heinlein’s five rules or “business habits” as he calls them that have gained the most attention though. 1. You must write This one is obvious really, let’s face it, but all around the world there are people that would like to be writers but aren’t actually doing any writing. 2. You must finish what you start More good, solid advice. This is one I follow … Read More
This is the second in a series of Meaty Monday posts – longer posts where I ramble on about writing related topics. You can find the first Meaty Monday post here. Today, I’m talking about ideas. You’re probably familiar with this quote. “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” – William Faulkner Or this one. “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings.” – Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch Or how about this? “Read over your compositions, and wherever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.” – Samuel Johnson They’re all variations on a theme – if you think a scene or a sentence or even a whole subplot is the most wonderful piece of writing in the world, you should cut it. Some people take this literally and remove their favourite bits from their work just because they like them so much – apparently director Danny Boyle always cuts the single best shot from his movies. I take it more as encouragement to examine those “particularly fine” pieces of writing and consider whether they might be too … Read More
Welcome to the first Meaty Monday. Meaty Mondays will be a series of writing focused posts that appear – as the name suggests – on a Monday. I can’t promise they’ll be any more interesting or more useful than my normal posts or even if they’ll appear every Monday, but they will be longer. This week, I’m going to talk about my puzzling attitude towards self-publishing, or indie publishing as it’s called nowadays. I have a very strange relationship with self-publishing. I’ve self-published any number of video games and other pieces of software. In fact, I spent over seven years doing just that and that was before the iPhone kick-started the current golden age of independent game development. Even now, I still harbour secret desires to go indie again and crank out some of my own games for iPhone and iPad. If I was still in a band, I’d be out there building websites, uploading recordings to iTunes and Bandcamp and hawking t-shirts, coffee mugs and limited edition hand warmers to anyone who strayed too close. If I could draw, I’d have my own online comic strip. And the t-shirts, coffee mugs, limited edition hand warmers and the hawking. But … Read More
Not a good day today – hence the late post. I decided to go running this morning but picked a route that was longer and tougher than I should have so the rest of the day has been a bit of a disaster. The only good point so far has been re-reading three stories from Cate Gardner‘s Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits. I was planning on posting a review, but that will have to wait until later in the week. Luckily, yesterday was a productive day. I finished editing Backwards Boy and submitted it to a website. It came in at 1117 words and I’m pretty happy with it. Unfortunately, the speculative fiction element is very subtle so I think it will be a hard sell. I have another story with the same problem – Hidden and it’s difficult to find anywhere to submit it to. I also wrote the first of a series of longer blogs I’m calling Meaty Mondays. It’s about my attitude towards self-publishing and will go live tomorrow morning. And because that wasn’t enough writing, I also wrote the first 643 words of a new story. Its working title is Origami Man and Paperboy but that may well change.