Posts Tagged ‘George RR Martin’

I’m far from perfect. And there are lots of areas I can be better (especially my impulse control when it comes to sweets). However, this post will be focused on the writing aspects I can improve upon.

There are a couple of reasons why I want to talk about that here. One is that for personal things I want to improve upon (damn you, sweet tooth! Damn you to hell!), I only talk about those sort of things here when it’s really important. Like if I’m really struggling with my choices in life, or if I want to talk about being on the spectrum. And at the moment, there’s nothing in my life I feel like talking about here at the moment. Second, this is a blog for a writer, so it makes sense that if I’m going to talk about improving stuff, it’ll be about improving my writing. And finally, while a lot of people I know in real life and even a few people online treat me as THE writing expert, especially when it comes to fiction writing, I’m far from an expert. If I were an expert, I’m pretty sure I’d have several bestsellers out by now, a few of them would have been made into movies already, and I’d be writing full-time in a nice three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath house (I have goals that I aim for).

Point is, as a writer there are areas I’d like to improve in, so I thought I’d list some of those and ask for your feedback. Many of you who follow this blog are writers, and have much more experience than I do. Perhaps you’ve dealt with some of the issues I’ve dealt with, and have some tips on how to deal with them. Anything’s possible, right?

1. I’m addicted to adverbs and gerunds. Now if you don’t remember most of the fancy terms from grammar class, adverbs are words that end in “ly” (wildly, musically, horribly) and gerunds are words ending in “ing” (ending, writing, killing). And I overuse them in my writing (see? Did it right there). One of the biggest criticisms I got from Rose, truth be told, is that I overuse them. In fact, I almost used “actually” instead of “truth be told” in that last sentence. And in the one before this, I started writing “nearly” before I switched to “almost.” And in that last one, “I switched” started as “switching.” And before that–oh, you get the idea!

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how I had a similar problem with semicolons. I overused them, especially when they weren’t needed. Once I recognized the problem, I was able to correct it. But I have a feeling correcting these issues won’t come so naturally (see?). For one thing, while the semicolon issue was about fixing incorrect uses of punctuation, what I’m doing here isn’t technically wrong. These are speech patterns used everyday, you just don’t see them in a lot of fiction to the extent I use them. At least, not really good fiction. So one thing I’d like to do is know when to use adverbs and gerunds, and when not to use them.

2. Passive vs. active voice. I have a lot of trouble telling those two apart. Which is bad, because editors and publishers tend to prefer active voices in fiction, and I somehow always end up writing in passive voice. What’s the difference? Is there a video I need to watch or something that explains this? Help!

3. Writing snappier action. This is something I’ve taken steps to improve, but it’s still a work in progress. I tend to write these long sentences that illustrate a character taking a certain action. Example: “She stood, walked to the kitchen, and placed the glass in the dishwasher.” It’s a good sentence, but for fiction, this is better: “She put the glass in the dishwasher.” Boom! And if I’ve already established that the character is on the couch, it works even better. It shows the same amount of action with less words.

I’m trying to implement this sort of snappy action into my stories. Editors and publishers seem to like it, and when there are limits to how many words a submitted story can have, it’s helpful in reducing the word count. Still, it’s going to take some work. This, like the adverbs and gerunds and possibly the passive voice thing, are deeply ingrained habits.

No reason to add this photo. I just want to show you my new author profile pic.

4. Short story writing. I’ve written novels or works meant to be novels for most of my life. That’s what I mostly read, so that’s what I mostly wrote. I’ve learned how to write short stories and read plenty of them since high school and college, but I’m still not as good at them as I am at novels. Which is sad, because I’ve had many, many ideas for short stories and novelettes over the years. And since I’ve spent most of my time on novels, I’ve written only a few short stories, and not many of those have been published.

What I want to do is write more short stories and novelettes, get better at writing them, and get a few of those published. Is it necessary, especially since I prefer novels? No, but a lot of authors I like do great short fiction, so I’d like to do great short fiction too. Good news is, I’ve been reading a lot of anthologies lately, and I should have a bit of time after I finish the fourth draft of Rose. That should give me time to practice.

5. Not listening to my anxieties. All writers deal with anxieties, especially with how their work will be received. Sometimes I let them have too much control of my mind, and I start freaking out Just yesterday, I got panicky over whether certain characters in Rose might be called tacky stereotypes. After a lot of discussion online with friends and colleagues, I don’t believe they are, but the worry ate at me for a while.

The important thing for me is just to be a bit more confident in myself, and the stories I write. And I should work on techniques to combat those anxieties when they try to tear at me. Because at the end of the day, I’ve still written some decent fiction. And I won’t let doubt or fear keep me from improving it and making it into possibly publishable fiction.

 

Well, those are the things I want to improve on with my writing. What are your suggestions on fixing those issues? Let me know in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve only six chapters of Rose left to edit, so I’ll hopefully get started on the next one tonight. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

Reborn City, my first published novel

Reborn City, my first published novel

One hot summer day eight years ago, a young high schooler was walking home from the library with the plan to stop by Dairy Queen and grab some ice cream. While he was walking, he was listening to a new CD he’d picked up from the library, the soundtrack to a movie he really liked. And while he listened to the first track, a rock/hip-hop style song called “Stoopid Ass,” he found himself thinking of another movie he’d seen recently and really enjoyed, Freedom Writers. He loved that movie, about how gangsters were inspired by a teacher to be more than what they and others thought they could be. The high schooler thought about how the song he was listening to might have fit well on the soundtrack for that movie as well. And then, very casually, he thought to himself, “I should write a gangster story.”

And like that, ideas started exploding like fireworks in his head. He began thinking of ways to make it more unique compared to other gangster stories, where to set it, what sort of characters there should be. He spent the rest of the afternoon thinking of his new story and what kind of story it could become. The very next spring, he started writing it, making a few notes in a notebook before creating an outline on a laptop in his mother’s basement, which was his usual writing space in those days. Over two years, he wrote and wrote, until about a month before he graduated high school, he finished his new novel, Reborn City, a story about street gangs in a dystopian future and the trials they face while trying to find a life better than the ones they’re currently living in.

In college, he edited and edited, and had a friend help him make sure he missed nothing with the final draft. Because he wasn’t having that much luck finding an agent or a publisher, he took advantage of the growing self-publishing industry, and published Reborn City on November 1st, 2013. Some months later he finished writing the sequel, Video Rage, which he’d begun writing over the previous summer, and which he published in June 2016, the day after he moved into a new apartment to be closer to a new job. And today, on November 1st, 2016, he’s going to start the final novel in the Reborn City series, Full Circle.

Video Rage, the second book in the RC series.

Video Rage, the second book in the RC series.

Switching to first person, I’m very excited that I’m finally at this juncture at this series. The Reborn City series has been a labor of love for so long, about seven or eight years worth of sweat, blood and tears. And it’s been worth it. A lot of people–some of whom are not related to me and obligated to read my books, surprisingly–have discovered the series and enjoyed reading it. Nobody’s told me yet that the series has changed their lives (I hear that’s rare anyway), but they’ve told me how they identified with the characters, or how imaginative the world of the story is. And one person told me that some of the themes in the book–racism, Islamapohobia, terrorism, urban violence, etc.–make the series pretty relevant to today’s problems, which I feel is quite the compliment.

And tonight after work, I’ll be starting the final book, Full Circle. Honestly, I’m a little surprised that I’ve made it so far. Even after Video Rage came out, I kind of felt towards Full Circle like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin probably thought about the end of the millennium: it’ll happen, but it’s so far away, why even bother thinking about it?  And now I’m about to start work on it, on the same day I published the first book in the series. Boy, did it creep up on me.

You know, in a strange way, I feel like I’ve come full circle, just like this book’s title. When I published the first book, I felt like I was starting something really big, even if the book never sold a million copies or was well-reviewed. And now that I’m starting the final book, it feels like I’m starting the beginning of the end of something, in more ways than one. It’s really exciting, and I can’t wait to see where it brings me.

So, what can readers expect from the last book? Well, I’ll keep the spoilers away for readers who haven’t read the books yet and might want to, but I’ve got some fun stuff planned for Full Circle. For example:

  • I’ve got a great line-up of antagonists. I always knew for the final book, I wanted bad guys like nothing seen before in the series. And I’ve come up with those villains. As a group, they’re called the Navagraha, which is a Hindu form of astrology revolving around seven gods and two demons, and they’re going to push the main characters in ways they’ve never been pushed before. You’ll also get to see an old foe of the main characters, Jason Price, transformed in ways that make him even more evil than he was before. I’m going to have fun exploring his character in this new role for him.
  • New revelations and challenges. In addition to the Navagraha and the challenges those guys pose, the main characters will have to deal with some changes that they never saw coming. Our male lead Rip will learn things about his past, a past that he thought was lost to him. And Iori will find herself in an unimaginable position, and what she decides to do once there will affect her in so many different ways. Not to mention, finding herself in this position brings about new choices for the main characters, new paths they can take on the road of life that they thought closed to them.
    I know, sounds very vague. But I’ve been setting some of these things up since as far back as the first book, and I’m looking forward to writing them. When you, dear Followers, read them, I hope you find them just as enjoyable.
  • I’ll be doing my best George RR Martin impression. By that, I mean I’ll be killing off a lot of characters, including ones that readers may really like and be attached to (you thought that I was going to have lots of politics and gratuitous sex, didn’t you? Nope, not that kind of series). I really don’t want to kill off some of these characters, but I feel like it’s best for the story if I do. So get your tissues ready. I’m wielding an executioner’s axe with my laptop, and it’s about to rain heads.

That’s all for now. As it’s National Novel Writing Month, I don’t know if I’ll be very active on the blog this month. You know, trying to get as much of fifty-thousand words in a month written as possible. But I hope you’ll still continue to support me as I work hard to finish this series and bring the final book to you guys. In the meantime, if you would like to check out Reborn City and Video Rage, I’ll post the links below. If you end up getting a copy, and you like what you read, please let me know what you. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers on my work, and I would love yours.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

Reborn City: Available from Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Available from Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo