Award-winning author Nisi Shawl joins us to talk about her fascinating alt-history steampunk novel Everfair, her Writing the Other workshop and her many other writing and editing projects. With feline assistance!
We’ve been jawing so much recently about the state of the comics industry–why not get an informed opinion from the trenches? Heather Harris McFarlane is a writer and editor as well as the owner of Seattle-area Magic Mirror Comics. She joins us to discuss the intricacies of comic retail, her shop’s gofundme campaign, honing her Jedi skills with the Saber Guild, and what it’s like to be “a girl in a comics shop.” No, 2017, she’s no unicorn.
Fellow Unreliable Chia and I were talking about writing. I have finished the third draft of The Pawn of Isis, and my very kind first readers have been steadily getting feedback back to me, so I’m getting ready to revise. I have a couple of ways I revise. I have been using some of the methodology from Blueprint Your Best Seller by Stuart Horowitz. I really like the way that book makes you really look at scenes and evaluate them, center on a theme, and reorder and rewrite. It’s a lot of work, but (re)writing is a lot of work, so there you go.
Then Chia asked me if I’d heard of Story Genius by Lisa Cron. No, I had not, I said. Chia said she was going to read it, but she had to take it back to the library. I said I’d look into it.
Already, based on some feedback, I have decided that the book may need another POV, due to some of the important stuff happening off stage. So I rolled up my sleeves and decided to add some new scenes. I realized I was just adding scenes, and not necessarily solving problems. That’s when I wandered into Barnes and Noble, went to the writing section, and picked up Story Genius. I devoured the book over the next two days.
All writer advice works for different writers. I saw some less than favorable reviews on Goodreads, but I, on the other hand, liked it so well that I feel a bit like a zealot. Bear with me. This could help revitalize writing and revising for you, and might help you spend less time drafting. At least I hope so. Sometimes it takes me as many as 7-12 drafts to get a book right. I’m no Patrick Rothfuss, and I don’t want to turn out a book a week, but I think it’s got to go a bit faster if I want to publish regularly. I have hopes this might help me do this.
It’s all about character desire and misbelief, and connecting the external plot struggles with the internal emotional struggles of your character. There’s lots of good inventing advice, determining when to start the book, advice about writing the ending, working on scenes, so much good stuff.
I would advise you to go check it out yourselves. I find I like flipping back and forth as I use it, so you might want a paper copy. But if you are the kind of writer who really feels motivated by the emotional arc of story, and you want to reconnect with the fun of writing, this might be a good book for you. I can tell you I am now hungry to revise, and regret those days when I simply can’t fit writing in. It’s pretty heady to climb into the heads of your characters and their emotions. I had been getting bogged down in the wheres and why for of plot, and this is generating the plot according to emotions.
I can’t say enough good things about this book, and I think I might owe Chia a drink or a fruit basket or something.
What do worldbuilding and guilty pleasures have in common? Not a damned thing other than our desire to discuss both this week. We begin with reactions to recent anti-worldbuilding press and how it may or may not affect your fiction. Then we regale each other with tales of TV shows too guilty to enjoy responsibly: Riverdale, Once Upon a Time, Under the Dome, Black Sails, Ripper Street and Bastard!!, to name a few.
Bonus episode! Chris and George weigh in on the recent controversy surrounding the comments made by a Marvel exec about the Great Comics Slump of 2016. Did diversity kill the comic book star? Everyone in comics seems to have opinions about the statement as well as all of the industry’s recent woes. As lifelong comics fans, we are no different.
Chris, Chia and George resurrect an old feature: the Pick of the Week! With Cath away at ICFA, we discuss our recent writing process (still spotty) and share the most recent thing that’s captured our attention: Paul Cornell’s new Chalk, We are Still Here, and Secret Agent X-9 by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond. Stick around for the bonus scene after the credits. Just like Marvel!
Okay, okay. So I went to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, and hung out with a lot of faboo people. Who should I end up hanging out with, but SFWA president Cat Rambo? We were sitting out by the pool on Friday, and I was going into my song and dance about being a new author and needing to learn all about what to do for book tours and stuff like that. And she said, “Why don’t you go to the SFWA website?”
I’ll admit, I was like, yeah, why don’t I? Because you know, I was so busy reinventing the wheel, I forgot there were a bunch of chariot drivers already on the track. Sure, that happens. However, nice pirates, when they stumble onto a treasure trove share the booty. Yes, I know there aren’t a lot of nice pirates. Moving on…
Of course, you’ll be wanting to know how to get to the SFWA Website.
First of all, I’m an associate member of SFWA (thank you, Sean Wallace). So I have access to the SFWA boards. BUT there’s a lot of information for writers, even if you don’t have access to the boards. I’m seeing the following categories that might prove useful
Advice for New Writers
Building a Career
The Business of Writing
How to Sell Your Novel
Networking and Self-Promotion
Tips for Beginners
It looks like I need to do some reading. So, I will hit the books hard, and then I will do some compilation posts. Stay tuned, true believers.
I’d like to thank SFWA President Cat Rambo for pointing out the obvious to me. Also, thanks for the swell tattoo. Authors who give out tattoos are the best.