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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The Diversity War never Ends

It doesn’t matter how much you shut out men. It doesn’t matter how concentrated alternative lifestyle adherents are in your industry. They will always call for more. You are in an eternal state of sin for the color of your skin. Take note of this. Not only are the goalposts shifting, there were never any goalposts to begin with; or rather, the goals are different than what they say they are and aren’t actually on the field. The point of pretending there are goalposts is to get you to play the game they want you to play. If your industry…

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5 Minute Abs

If you grew up watching 80s and 90s commercials, you undoubtedly have seen countless devices for getting abs for “only 5 minutes a day!” Rational, experienced people know this is bullshit. If you could get abs in only five minutes a day, we’d all have them, right? In truth, you can get abs for five minutes a day – five minutes planning your diet to lose the fat covering the ab muscles you already have. This is the perfect metaphor for anyone looking to accomplish something difficult. Everyone wants to sell you some special method for getting what you want…

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7 Big Mistakes Made by New Authors

If you are new to the craft of writing (books specifically), avoid these common mistakes; if you are experienced, you probably made some of these, as I have. Focusing on ideas rather than execution. This is very common with fantasy writers, who like to spend time imagining an alternate world, complete with maps, magic systems, and economies. The problem is, none of those things are stories, they are background to stories. Likewise, political ideology is not a story, whatever success Ayn Rand has had. A great yarn is focused on the character drama and the action, and you should focus…

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