Odd changes in writing methods

One of the things I started doing at some point was writing my books in the same format as the paperback, that is, on a 6×9 or 8×5 page (depending on the projected length of the book) with the appropriate margins and fonts. I’m not sure when I started doing this, but I think I started a year or two ago. Before that I always wrote in a more standard manuscript format: 8.5×11″ with 12 point Times New Roman font, single-spaced, with half-inch indents. I liked this form factor for a long time because it put a lot of words…

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Games that Inspire – The Legend of Zelda

Usually, when an author discusses influence (or is asked about it), his focus is on books, not other forms of media. Perhaps there is some in-built prejudice against taking inspiration from other forms of media besides the mighty novel (although no writer ever seems to decry being inspired by Shakespeare). Maybe movies are too low-brow (certainly if you mention Star Wars); if so, games are positively Neanderthalic. Call me Ugg-ugg. There are many games that have inspired me as a writer, though not always for the writing that was within them. Games, since they utilize sound, music, visuals, words, and…

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“If you don’t push, you’re lazy.”

Around 15 years ago, I sat in on a little talk with Apostolos Paraskevas, a Greek composer and guitarist (among other things) working at Berklee College of Music (in Boston). I got to spend a couple of days hanging out with the guy, but the best thing he said came in that little informal talk with some composition students. One of the college students asked, “How do you compose music?” Apostolos got this odd look on his face, then he smiled slightly and said, “Asking a man how he composes music is like asking a woman how she gives birth.”…

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Auto-Allegory, or how Starfire is a Terrible Mother

I don’t like to give publicity to garbage like this, but it’s such an instructive moment for writing and understanding people I can’t help myself: Basically, this is about DC superhero Starfire’s daughter (Raven, I think), who is an angsty 90s-2000s goth girl who is also obese and a lesbian, and of course resents her beautiful mother. The surface level complain is obvious – this is bad fan fiction and denigrates established characters, pushes a gratuitous woke agenda at the expense of a good story, and is generally low-quality writing and art. Add to that the fact that it will…

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How to self-publish a book

Occasionally, I get messages from people trying to break into the “traditional” (as in 20th century) publishing industry, and they always seem to be under some distress. In fact, the messages often come off like the pleading of abuse victims, with authors talking publicly on twitter sounding like battered women excusing their abuser. Everybody is aware of how lame it is to “pay” an agent (in reality, they pay you, and you better hope they are honest, unlike Chuck Palahniuk’s agent, who left him broke) to have coffee with someone at the publishing imprint, who then takes years to make…

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Stop Seeking Magic Fixes Your Problems!

This is it! This is what my entire existence on YouTube has really been about, now that I stop to think about it: There is no magical secret that will fix what is wrong or make you good at something quickly. Sorry, folks, you can’t learn to play guitar in six weeks. You can’t write a guaranteed best-seller in two days with the “secret story formula.” You can’t become a shredded bodybuilder in six weeks by learning this “one diet trick.” STOP LOOKING FOR EASY SOLUTIONS. The more advanced you get in any field, the more you learn that “secrets”…

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3 Easy Ways to Keep Short Fiction Short

This was part of a response to a free audiobook of one of my short works (about 12k) words, which you can listen to for free below. The comment was concerning how to keep short fiction short. Writing short fiction is really a different beast than writing long fiction, and the skills are a different set. If you want to limit length, here are a few easy things: 1) Limit the scope. A few locations, or one, rather than many. A few characters, or even one, rather than many. 2) Keep it to one plot. “A” story only, no sub-plots.…

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Apolitical™

Sorry, folks, the Apolitical™ brand is just that – a brand. I get it – you don’t like the politics being forced into your favorite franchises at the expense of story, gameplay, aesthetics, and the general effect of the medium itself. I get that female Thor is lame and super-buff She-Hulk is an eyesore. I know that it’s not fun to be lectured about global warming in the middle of a space-opera game, or to be forced to play a game as an uggo who’s bent on killing your favorite franchise characters – and will succeed. I know it’s annoying…

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Maybe I don’t “get” writers

I’m a writer. I write. Seems pretty simple, but I don’t seem to do any of the things that other writers do. I barely use Facebook, but when I do I see posts from a half-dozen writers groups that I joined at some point that instantly make me scratch my head. Posts like, “What is your Main Character’s favorite past time?” “What kind of media do you think your villain likes?” “What kind of food did you put into your fantasy story?” “What would you think about a magic system that is based on the four foodgroups?” (I made that…

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When the Wind is in the West

There is always a feeling I get during the season changes: the transition from hot to cool, from cool to cold and back again. That’s how the seasons are here in central California – the weather is the same for eight weeks, then transitions for about one or two weeks to a new season. This year the heat has been slow in coming, and I’m not complaining. The feeling is something akin to nostalgia, but different – more like a memory of things that never were. My imagination always goes wild. Dreams get more intense. The sun shows at different…

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