Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The funny thing about writing...

People may or may not know this about me, but I love playing Halo. I'm a big fan (right up until the whole not getting split screen time, 343!). When I first started playing, I had also been playing a game called Fable. Now, I LOVE Fable, and I LOVE Halo.

But these two games have rapidly diverging systems.

With Fable, you get to spend your time developing how you level your character, so at the end, you are a uniquley you version of yourself. As you level, the challenges become less challenging because you become more powerful. Miss a mission early in the game and it's a cake walk later.

See, in Halo, you never level up. Never. You occassionally get cooler more badass toys, but you never level up.

The game never makes your character better. The difficulty never gets easier. In fact, the game doesn't really change (some levels are stupid easy, and some levels are ridiculously hard). But the truth is, the only thing that gets better in playing Halo is the player. The game still requires that you make good choices in the moment and that you stick to proven tactics until an elite with a force sword warms your spine through your bellybutton.

Writing is a lot more like Halo.

I used to think it was more like Fable, but it's clear to me that's not how it works. You can "level up" as a writer, but that's not going to save you from reaching into the cliche chum bucket. it's not going to help you rid your work of purple prose. Sometimes, the goal of an edit is to make it to the next save point before you die, so the next time you die, you're a little closer to the target.

One big frustrating thing about writing is that you can have success that's followed by not success. You can be rejected after you've "published well." It's pretty terrifying, but that's just the way it is, so maybe it's time to get back out there and write!

For those of you interested in winning a free ecopy of Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon, pay attention: all next month there will be opportunities to win my ebook as I go around celebrating the release of my second book Of Pens and Swords!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sequels, the lament

I love sequels. I love getting to take those characters out on another hair-brained adventure. It's the nature of us as humans to crave very strongly the "Same but Different" feel that a really good sequel is supposed to give you. I love sequels.

Right up until the moment I'm the one writing it.

With sequels, part of the problem is that we've been training to write the first book in a series, not the last book or the middle book. One thing we have going for us is that there are some really amazing sequels out there:

The Empire Strikes Back

and, umm, you know, that other sequel...

Okay, I'm gonna level with you, there are very few sequels that make me happy that I'm dealing with a sequel. There's something about sequels that make me tremble in fear. Largely, the biggest fear is that people lose their ability to tell stories. For instance, the reboot of StarTrek: the absolute pinnacle of the movie (for tension purposes) happens 15 minutes before the end, and then Spock goes and punches out Khan. *sigh* And this is a common problem in sequels. The actual beats are misinterpreted by the very people in charge of making the sequel. And I live in fear that I'm also making those mistakes.

Of course, the real problem with writing a sequel is This Song!

(That's what we do in Hollywood)

(And everybody knows that the sequel isn't quite as good...)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Great things get in my way: Insecure about getting it done

There's this thing that gets in my way sometimes.

When people are inspired by something, they often move to produce work to honor it, or mimic it, or anything, but they are inspired to produce.

When I see something that touches my soul, it washes me out in a sea of ennui. For days afterwards, I'm in a funk because I want to make something that touches people the way I've been touched. I want to give people an experience, but right after I've had one, I'm paralyzed by the enormity of what I'm trying to do. It feels like, in those moments, that I'll never manage to do something as beautiful/meaningful/inspiring/hopeful/touching.

I admit this is the leftover dregs of that inner voice. It's there in the background saying nasty things like "See that, you'll never make anything that good." I hate that it exists, and I really hate that I can't exterminate it. I see this as one of my greatest personal failings. People talk about how they are able to destroy this voice inside them, that they can shut it up. Mine has a loudspeaker and access to the house speakers.

So what about you? Does your nasty voice compare you to what's going on around you? Does it get in the way of your ability to create?

Remember to hop around and go visit the Ninja Captain and  his cohosts Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner!