I’ve been joking with John O’Neill lately that I feel like I’ve leveled up as a writer — meaning that all of the sudden the process isn’t taking as long for me.
First, I’m over at Suvudu all this week. Matt Staggs invited me to Take Five and talk about my new book, Stalking the Beast. So I did, and you can find what I said over there.
Second, I found a really interesting article about character construction and what looks like a bevy of more essays all about writing techniques over yonder. Take a look, and if you like what you find, come back and point out the best to me.
Third, Lou Anders sent me a link to a great article — with additional extra links to some swell looking reference material — all about adding verisimilitude to your fantasy setting. Get ye forth and read it.
As long as we’re on the subject of reading outside the genre, I want to point once more to an excellent, excellent essay about the structure of adventure stories. Follow this link to the site of the illustrious James Reasoner, where he posts an essay contributed by the Joel Haas, the son of the talented Ben Haas.
Sure, it’s an essay about writing westerns, and you may just turn away as soon as you hear that. But if you’re interested in the technique of adventure writing, this here be gold, matey. Pure gold. Four pages of honest truth and structure advice that you’d be unlikely to get in several years worth of writing classes.
Go read it, now. I just re-read it myself. Now it’s time to feed the horses and get to writing.
I used to get advice about studying other writers for technique, too, and I least understood that — thanks to Dr. Karl Barnaby’s great class on writing techniques I learned how to slow down to see how the sentences work, and to examine why THIS particular action scene was so effective.
One of the reasons that I thought I didn’t need to read outside my genre was because there was so much of my genre yet to read (and the genre’s even larger now). It’s always good to understand the history of your genre if you’re going to be working in it. But I think the other reasons were laziness, arrogance, and no good sign posts. Who can you trust about what’s really worth your time? You have to be careful. I mean, every crappy science fiction series gets devoted fans, which is why I didn’t try Firefly (and discover how wonderful it was) for years.
This is all leading to a simple recommendation. I, personally, recommend to fantasy fans that they need to read a few books outside of their genre by Donald Westlake writing under the Richard Stark pseudonym.
Back when I was recovering from my knee surgery I finally dug out some books my buddy John Hocking had sent me, and one of them was the first Parker novel, by “Richard Stark.”
My friend Mick wrote in the other day on the site and told me he’d “love to hear more theory about how you pick weaknesses and flaws and how you use them.”
I’d originally planned to show a filled-in character sheet for Lisette, as discussed in the post of part 1, but Mick’s question intrigued me more and more when I realized I didn’t have a ready answer. So I’ll hold off on that character sheet for a few more days.
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