Blame is making us sick. Splashed across mass market media, our communities, and our homes is a maelstrom of finger-pointing targeting the mighty and the ordinary alike. A different storm of blame, a sickness silent and unnoticed, also rages across our country – one where the finger-pointing is turned inward.
- Grounded by Neta Jackson: a Christian novel quite a cut above the usual, and not the ubiquitous romance.
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: a literary read of contemporary life with a main thread of fantasy woven in expertly. The end wasn’t as satisfying as I wanted.
- Spin State, Chris Moriarty: I tried, I really tried to get into this recent sf work, but I couldn’t.
Hopefully these one-liners I’ve collected on the craft of writing will help you, and perhaps not just in writing.
- DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
- Be true to your I.Q.
- Embrace idiosyncrasies
- Make them laugh and/or make them cry
- “…a lot of times if you’re finding that you’re having to describe things with a lot of adverbs, find a stronger verb instead” – CJ Lyons interview
- Go beyond the five senses
- Forget about being pretty
- Don’t fall into stereotypes
- “Verbs are the foot soldiers of action-based description”
“Passengers had a water leak an hour ago.” The air suddenly seemed to sharpen.
Water had been critical to interstellar travel from the beginning. Reclamation tech had never lived up to its promise, and building craft with large enough water supply tanks proved too expensive for most. So, ships like the Pinoche carried less water, relying on carefully planned stops along the route to collect ice.
Some time ago I pulled this prompt from Writer’s Digest University’s “Showing Character Emotion“. As an exercise I recently wrote a snippet in response. It resonates with me because of the beach experiences of my childhood. The snippet is in draft form; I’ll be returning at some point to polish it by convey more emotion, directly and indirectly.
“Create a character who’s favorite place is the beach. Describe her thoughts as she stands on the sand and looks out at the ocean; use specific, imaginative, and active verbs.”
Work continues on the Salvage project, and I’m starting to spend time thinking about structure for the Blue project — occasionally even the Sifa and Peter project.
Although incredibly clean, like the rest of the ship, the floor in the corridor showed its age with scuff marks and scratches, the kind paint doesn’t hide. As she strode along, the worn metal grating beneath her feet rattled occasionally. Kaylah tipped her head back to examine the conduits running overhead behind a series of grates. Several were taped together with what looked like duct tape.
“A budget ride is a budget ride,” a family friend had warned as they said their last goodbyes back on Earth. He had added earnestly, “but it will get you there in one piece. The captain’s a good man.”
“Whatever that means,” Kaylah thought. She pulled her coat tighter. The air smelled musty but better than in the passenger rec area. On any given day, when too many of the unwashed crammed into the converted cargo hold… Her nose crinkled in disgust. She understood the need for limited water rationing, but she didn’t have to like it.
A few older and newer authors whose writing I enjoy:
- Louis L’Amour and Craig Johnson for westerns
- Thomas Davis Bunn for adventure and historical fiction with a Christian tone
- Steven Gould for science fiction adventure without spaceships and lasers
- Dominic Green for science fiction laughs — the books may be aimed for younger readers, but I find them funny in a dry sort of way
- Lois McMaster Bujold — character-driven, space adventure at its finest, with a solid foundation of morality and honor
I keep a separate Word file that I reference often when I write, especially when revising. It contains a rather eclectic mix: scene checklists, story structure advice, lists of conjunctions, and much more that I would like to remember. I do add endnotes for the sources of most of the information.
Here’s the current Table of Contents: