Fantasy Horror Author A.F. Stewart and I talk Deviltry, Noveltry, Shipbuilding, Agony and Ecstasy

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A.F. Stewart, aka @Scribe77, did me.

Interviewed me, I mean.

 
We talked about

  • The differences between writing short stories and novels (not much from a crafting standpoint, me thinks)
  • Creating sympathetic villains (even the worst person has one humanizing detail)
  • Genre writing (I don’t believe I write in a genre. My regular readers tell me my genre is “Joseph”)
  • My incredible anthology, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires
  • Being able to do amazing things with words when you’re an author
  • The link between Satan and Hamilton Burger
  • Getting kudos from your readers
  • Ritchie and Phyl, my incredible work in progress
  • How writing Flash fiction is like building a ship in a bottle
  • Great Opening Lines
  • My incredible scifi/military/thriller, The Augmented Man
  • Writing about characters rather than genre (the story comes first, the genre comes second)
  • Empty Sky and my standing offer; read the book, leave a review, and I’ll send you an autographed copy of the rewrite when it’s published.
  • Children growing up
  • Stories that grew out of my anthropology studies – Mani He and The Goatmen of Aguirra
  • Getting kudos from editors and publishers
  • Writing almost fantastic fantasies (okay, the story’s fantastic. It uses almost fantasy elements – The Weight)

So, yeah, we covered a few things.

Enjoy!

Cheryllynn Dyess’s “The Soul Maker”

Ever read a story and say to yourself, “Wow! That’s how it’s done!”?

I get exhilarated when I discover a new author.

Let me clarify. There are lots of people out there writing books. In my opinion, few of them are worth reading (I’m a writing snob. There, I’ve said it).

But once in a great while I encounter some writing that so pulls me into its story, calls me into the story’s mythos so completely that my pulse quickens, my eyes open wider, my breaths deepen, … When readers have a physiologic reaction to your writing, you’ve arrived.

Such a story is Cheryllynn Dyess‘s The Soul Maker in Harvey Duckman Presents Volume 3.

The Soul Maker is a wonderful story because it combines great storytelling – do you have an interesting story to tell? – with great storycrafting – can you tell that story in an interesting way?
Continue reading “Cheryllynn Dyess’s “The Soul Maker””

Character is… (Part 2.3) – Action is…

Bringing Your Character to Life via Action

This is the fifth in an ongoing series of StoryCrafting/StoryTelling posts I’m publishing for my own benefit; explaining something helps me determine if I’ve truly learned it or am simply parroting what others have offered. I learn my weak spots, what I need to study, et cetera.

Previous offerings include:

  • Atmosphere is…
  • Character is… (Part 1)
  • Character is… (Part 2.1) – Exposition is…
  • Character is… (Part 2.2) – Description is…

    And note that I’ll update/upgrade/edit these posts as I learn more.


    Action – most effective way to both show and demonstrate character.

     
    There is a phrase in psychodynamics, “You can not not communicate.”

    This is a powerful phrase to me because it is simple, elegant, and oh so true. The individual who stands mute and unmoving in a situation is responding to that situation. That response is a communication. Doesn’t matter what they’re doing, or I should offer “regardless of what they’re doing,” they are communicating their response to that situation.

    Action – aka “movement” – is a powerful descriptive, revelatory tool in the author’s kit.

    It’s not that a person is moving, it’s how they move. It’s not that a person is doing something, it’s how they’re doing it. Watch people the next time you’re in a mall or grocery store. How are the people dressed? Did they just throw something on or did they take time to present themselves a certain way? Imagine them grooming; do they take their time? Do they take their time to look unimpressive? Do they slap things on and look impressive? What does all that reveal about their character?
    Continue reading “Character is… (Part 2.3) – Action is…”

Character is… (Part 2.2) – Description is…

Bringing Your Character to Life via Description

This is the third in an ongoing series of StoryCrafting/StoryTelling posts I’m publishing for my own benefit; explaining something helps me determine if I’ve truly learned it or am simply parroting what others have offered. I learn my weak spots, what I need to study, et cetera.

Previous offerings include:

  • Atmosphere is…
  • Character is… (Part 1)
  • Character is… (Part 2.1) – Exposition is…

    And note that I’ll update/upgrade/edit these posts as I learn more.


    Description – Second most economical, second least effective. If you must provide a list of details, make the last one explosive, eye-catching, something highly contrasting with the previous, preferably bland, descriptive details.

     
    Imagine you’re going to cook a specific dish for some reason. I’ll choose Fettuccine Alfredo because I made it for Susan last night.

    Start with a list of ingredients:

    • light cream
    • milk
    • butter
    • flour
    • parmesan
    • ground pepper
    • salt
    • red pepper
    • chicken
    • garlic
    • heavy cream
    • ricotta
    • romano
    • asiago

    Good and not enough. If I dumped them all into a pot it wouldn’t be very good Fettuccine Alfredo. You can have all the ingredients but you have to put them together correctly to get the desired outcome.

    Ingredients must be in the correct order to get the desired result.

     
    What I need next is the order of putting it all together: Continue reading “Character is… (Part 2.2) – Description is…”

Rita Mae Brown’s “Starting from Scratch”

A Writer’s Mechanic’s Manual for Any Car on the Road

Okay, first thing and before anything else, Get This Book!

I don’t care where you are in your writing career, Rita Mae Brown’s Starting from Scratch will give you a chuckle (several hundred, probably) and clarify things that were not only muddy, but had been pushed aside because they were just too damn hard to figure out.

Worry no more, Rita’s got you covered.

 
I didn’t know who Rita Mae Brown was until a friend suggested I give her a read. This was back in the early-mid 1980s. He thought she was brilliant and hilarious.

That didn’t tempt me.

Then he told me she could benchpress 225#.

Yes, I was that much of an assh?le (may still be) that that caught my interest.

But I didn’t pick up one of her books (that I remember) until my first go-round as a writer. That book being Starting from Scratch.

Reading the book recently, it’s obvious I had read it at least once before; there were highlights in it. There were highlights of concepts I remember, if not exact phrasings. Truth be told, I was probably unprepared for the book when I first read it (my copy was published in Feb 1988). I’m glad I kept it around.

Starting from Scratch is a mechanic’s manual of the English language. Brown explains the purpose of first v third person POV with duh! level examples and lots of them. Ditto subjunctive case (trust me, you need to read this section). Ditto strong v weak verbs (another must read). Imagine someone showing you a crescent wrench and a 9/16″ box-end, showing you they can do the same thing, then demonstrating why one works better on these types of nuts, the other works better on those types of nuts.

Her Exercises chapter…remember what I wrote above about being impressed by her bench? Here’s your cardio and resistance training in one incredible package.


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