If 6 Was 9, Ambiguity Will Get You Every Time

With all apologies to the Hendrix estate, there is a funny meme on the internets with two figures standing on opposite ends of a large painted number. One argues that it is a six while the other argues that it is a nine. The moral is both are right according to their perspective. A followup meme points out that one is definitely wrong because whoever painted the number set out to paint either a six or a nine. Both made me chuckle and both told me there is a lesson in them for writers.

Ambiguity is the bane of communication. It can often crop up in our writing because we know what we mean in our heads but sometimes the words leave it open to interpretation. Nothing you write should ever be open to interpretation, this isn’t painting. Then there are the little things that you don’t even recognize someone might have a question over. For example, does your scene take place at night or day? It might not mean a whole lot at the point in the story but a scene or two later could be ruined if your reader thought it was daylight and your reader is in the nighttime hours. Ambiguity in the details you reveal makes it harder for the reader to connect with and buy into the story. Most of these will come out in beta readings or from your editor. Still, always being aware of instances where what you say can be taken a couple of different ways will make your writing that much stronger.

Will I Finish a Book In 2017

It’s that time of the year when we make our predictions for the new year. For writers, it often involves a project or two. For this writer in particular, there are several. Now, as anyone who’s been there will tell you, writing a book and finishing one are two entirely different things. I have no doubt I will finish the current book I’m writing, The Prince of Zero. My story of a teenage son of Lucifer is coming along nicely. Will I finish the other ones I have in the oven is another matter. What do I have so far…

The Fourth Prometheus is still being edited, but my Steampunk take on Frankenstein is coming along, still.

The sequel to Undead Heart is written and just needs to go under the microscope as is my urban fiction Midnight Detail.

Broken Toys is an other early one that I’ve been thinking of reworking, (a lot), and getting out. It was kind of spooky when I wrote it back in 1989 so hopefully it still is.

Either way 2017 could be a very productive year or I just may be sitting her writing the post, 2017 – What the Hell Happened?

 

A Funny Thing Happened When I stuck My Head Outside for Some Truth

truthThe internet has been full of articles about fake news lately. Just what is fake news? It’s not as black and white as you may think. Speaking of that analogy, there is a video game by Treasure, called Ikaruga where you toggle between a white and black spaceship, while in the white state you absorb bullets that are white but die if you touch anything black, and vice-versa. We’ve become pretty much like that little spaceship, absorbing what we match and reacting violently to anything we don’t. So naturally the the journey to anything resembling truth is a perilous one. I could go on but I think Nathan Bransford summed it up perfectly in this article. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2016/11/the-end-of-truth.html

A democratic society depends on information, but more than that it depends on information that is delivered equally. That equality is currently under attack. Even as writers of fiction we need truth in small pieces to help us sell our readers the more fantastic bits. That bit of truth creates a common ground for the reader and pulls them into the story. What happens when we don’t agree on what that ground is? We get confusion and right now we have a lot of confusion. In the past we relied on truth to give us a common point of reference. Now, not so much. Our differences and our opinions are the new truth. It kind of gives me an idea of a story where no one experiences the same reality. Wait a minute, according to Quantum Theory that’s what we do every day. So then is truth overrated?

How to Tell If You’re Having an Agrument

With all the nonsense of another election season behind us I thought I’d reflect on something I’ve recently come to notice. There appears be a disconnect on what is the difference between a debate and an argument. So I think I’ve uncovered the secret to knowing if you’ve had an argument or a debate.

If after both parties discuss their view and still cannot see the merits of the other side you have had an argument. If after discussing both sides and you agree that there is merit in exploring both sides further you’re having a debate. Here’s to hoping we will see more debates and less arguments in the near future.

The Personal Touch

In the past, I’m talking before email, querying agents meant either typing up or printing 30 letters or using some kind of mail merge program to put in the names and addresses. There wasn’t much room to add in any personal remarks. Email has made that process much simpler and as a result many have taken to personalizing their query letter for the agent. Is it helpful? Will it make a difference? Who knows. For myself, I do usually begin my query with a sentence saying why I am sending the letter to that specific agent. But then again why go by what I do? Here is what some professionals in the field think about personalized query letters. In particular here is a blog post from Nathan Bransford replying to a post from Janet Reid,  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2016/11/in-defense-of-personalized-queries-and.html on that very subject.

Independent Authors Day

village-books-publishing-bellingham_0This Saturday, October 8th, is Independent Authors Day. You can find out more at http://indieauthorday.com/. Amazon also has devoted a page to their Independent Authors Powered by Indie I will even be hosting a panel of 6 Independent Authors for a Q & A at the Northwest Regional Library in Surprise on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

One question that comes up is, just what makes an author an independent? Essentially, it’s an author who is self publishing their work through something like Amazon Kindle Publishing, Barnes and Noble Nookpress, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords, or others that I can’t recall off the top of my head. The reasons for this are varied, new authors in particular are attracted to these presses simply by virtue of there being no other alternative. Published authors are also attracted to this avenue by the promise of better royalties and more creative control. The one thing Independent publishing is not, is a farm team of sorts for authors. These authors work just as hard and in some cases harder because they do have more riding on these books. As an independent you do not have a marketing department or slick social media campaign to drive word of mouth. It is all you. Days like October 8th are important because they let people know that if you have a book inside you there is a place where you can go to see it in print. Spend some time this Saturday and learn about what Independent Publishing is all about.  #PoweredByIndie

One Blog Post You Must Read

If you’re looking at a blank sheet of paper and have the idea that you are going to fill that paper with words and call it your first novel you need to read this post from Joanna Penn at thecreativepenn.com: Writing Fiction: 7 Steps to Write Your First Novel.

I’m thinking of printing his out and taping it to my laptop cover. Remember tons of authors had to write a first novel at some point, the only difference is now you might have a better idea of what you’re getting into.