“Our stories are best when they are put to paper and made to reflect the bravery and madness of the storyteller, to mirror our Byzantine hearts, to channel the chaos of life and love and all the unexpected and unpredicted things that come along part and parcel.
Our stories are best when they are like the storyteller: when they have gone off-book, off-world, off the goddamn reservation. When they have forgotten their lines and made up better ones, when they have lost the map and found secret passages and unknown caverns.
Don’t be afraid to do different. Don’t be afraid to tell stories the way you want to tell them. With genre or page count or style, with voice or plotline or character, I say hop the rails, I say kick down the walls, I say tear up all that yellow DANGER DO NOT ENTER tape. Be bold. Ride the sharp turns. Gallop down the mountain switchbacks. Tell your stories the way you want. Tell the stories that aren’t married to a safe and previously-established pattern.
Be the shaman in the darkness.
Find your own shape. Seek your own circuitous route.
Escape. Disobey. Rebel.
Fuck the straight line.”
This article, I find, is especially useful if you’re a bit wordy.
“These techniques all add up to one thing: the audience grows bored when the story marches forward in too-straight a line. Even the standard ‘escalation toward climax’ is a straight line that needs to be kinked up and broken apart from time to time. Which means all of these techniques boil down to: change shit up. Envision what the audience will be thinking as they read it. What do they expect? What is the predictive course they have in their head? Then tweak that. Maybe a subtle shift. Maybe a really violent one. But don’t be afraid to change things up. Go risky. Get crazy. In life, we adore comfort. In fiction, comfort is our greatest enemy.”
All of these are so worth reading… and then trying to use in something.
Note to SF/F Writers: Random House’s Hydra Imprint Has Appallingly Bad Contract Terms —
So says Scalzi:
THIS IS A HORRIBLE AWFUL TERRIBLE APPALLING DISGUSTING CONTRACT WHICH IS BAD AND NO WRITER SHOULD SIGN IT EVER.
Lend this plan a little bit of your time.
Give this plan a little bit of your effort.
And in one year’s time, you will have a novel.
It won’t be a masterpiece.
It will need editing.
But it’ll be a first draft of something real.
Something many so-called “writers” never achieve.
Just 350 words for 260 days.
Shut up and write.
“Despite the promises of certain snake oil salesmen promising to sell you a magical unguent that — once slathered upon your inflamed nethers — will assure that your book gets published, no actual formula for success exists. If it did, a book would go out into the world and either fail utterly or succeed completely. All editors would want to take it to acquisitions. All readers would snap it up from bookshelves both real and digital with the greedy hands of a selfish toddler. But it ain’t like that, slick. One editor may like it. Another will love it. Three more will hate it. The audience will run hot or cold on it for reasons you can neither control nor discern. This is an industry based on the whims of people, and people are notoriously fucking loopy.”
I got your writer’s resolutions for 2013 RIGHT HERE.