Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 22-28, 2017

A fair number of vids this week, just to appeal to the visual learner 😉

K.M. Weiland: six pieces of common writing advice you’re misusing. Helping Writers Become Authors

Kathryn Craft wonders whether your novel’s good enough. Writers in the Storm

Lisa Cron, the Story Genius, answers questions about backstory on Writers in the Storm.

Jami Gold: “Why?” is the most important question in storytelling.

Brunonia Barry helps you create your book talk. Writer Unboxed

Elizabeth Huergo, new contributor to Writer Unboxed, gets metaphorical: writing as tango.

Barbara O’Neal helps you recognize the signposts to your writer’s voice. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb offers her thoughts on speaking your truth through fiction. Writer Unboxed

Becca Puglisi explores some lesser-known character archetypes. Writers Helping Writers

Sara Letourneau examines man and the natural world for DIYMFA. Later in the week, Sara is back with five things you should ask beta readers when they critique your manuscript.

Gabriela Pereira recaps her experience at this year’s Digital Book World (DBW) for DIYMFA radio.

Kimberly Brock: when the stories have all stopped. Writers in the Storm

Janice Hardy wonders, is a lack of action really the problem? Fiction University

Then, Bonnie Randall guest posts on Fiction University: juxtaposition in your story.

Chris Saylor shows up on Marcy Kennedy’s blog to advise how to format dialogue within dialogue.

Oren Ashkenazi shares some tips on how to realistically depict evil. Mythcreants

Naomi Hughes guest posts on Jami Gold’s blog: three common storytelling issues.

This is just fun! Jenna Moreci: writers do weird sh*t.

 

James McWilliams believes the physical book will endure, but will it endure for the right reason? The Millions

John Cleese on creativity. Brilliant man.

 

James Lizowski lists his top space colonization novels. OMNI

Cheryl Eddy interviews J.Y. Yang on her silkpunk series. i09

It’s the 40th anniversary of the Doctor Who episode, The Face of Evil (one of my favourites, by the way—Tom Baker was my Doctor). Watch this clip. Relevant, much? Beth Elderkin for i09.

Josephine Livingstone explains why Nineteen Eighty-Four is not the novel we need in the Trump era. New Republic

The Black Eyed Peas re-release Where’s the Love. THIS is why we must keep creating in dark times.

 

Sarah Slean: real love demo. Another sad but hopeful song that speaks to me.

 

Hope you’ve had your fill of informal writerly learnings this week.

If not, come back next week, they’ll be more 🙂

Be well until next I blog.

tipsday2016

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WorldCon 2016: Nifty narrative tricks

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Jo Walton, Mary Robinette Kowal, Steven Gould, James Patrick Kelly, Elizabeth Bear (moderator)

nifty

Joined in progress …

EB: It’s not all about creating an engaging character.

MRK: People want the familiar and the strange. So, a familiar emotion with a strange activity, for example.

JPK: Before you write, walk into your character’s room, their car, their locker. In describing these places, you find stuff you can use later in the plot.

JW: Characters are something I could write well before I could do anything else (dialogue, description, etc.) I decide that this is the story I am telling and this is how I’m telling it.

EB: You have to figure out what makes the character someone readers want to spend time with. Give them a goal. Give them agency. Give them something, or someone, to love.

SG: If you want to show how a technology works, show it when it breaks down. Added benefit: it frustrates your character, it’s a setback.

MRK: They need to have a sense of their own competence, or lack thereof.

EB: Add conflict.

MRK: Action is reaction. That’s something from theatre. Map out the easiest path to the character’s goal and then deny it. Conflict is not necessarily a fight scene.

JW: A character desperately needs a bathroom. Everything they say and do will be coloured by this desire. If a character is making dinner, discover everything in the course of that day-to-day action. Including backstory this way becomes seamless. There has to be a sense of jeopardy, but it doesn’t have to be a battle for life and death at every turn.

JPK: You want to have conflict everywhere, but it all has to relate to the plot. Keep an eye on your main conflict. It’s a through line. From the beginning to the middle, it’s a one way door. The same goes for the middle to the climax. There’s no going back.

MRK: The stakes must be personal and specific to the character.

JW: Unless you can make the reader care about the character in jeopardy, it won’t work.

MRK: Focus indicates thought. Everything has its own breath and rhythm. Pacing can be controlled by how long the character’s attention lingers. [Mel’s note: Mary then removed her boots and demonstrated what she was talking about in a tour de force of shoe puppetry. I wanted to take a picture, but couldn’t tear myself away from the spectacle—it was that AWESOME!]

JW: Pacing is one of the strongest indicators of genre.

JPK: When I was at Clarion, they didn’t have the money to make a copy of every story for every participant, so one copy of each was posted in the hall. If you look at a piece of writing and you see solid blocks of text, you probably need to break it up. A story needs to breathe and so does the reader.

JG: I think of it in terms of pixilation, granularity. If you increase the resolution, you increase the pacing.

EB: One common misconception is that starting in medias res means starting with a blood bath. The reader has to care about what happens to you characters.

JPK: Another common failing is not having a denouement.

JG: Being too coy with the reader, or telegraphing everything.

MRK: If you include too much backstory, try getting deeper into the point of view character.

JW: A lack of description results in too much fuzziness. Either the character, or the world, is not in focus.

And that was time.

Next week, I will be writing my first next chapter update of 2017 (yay—crazy Kermit arms) and then I’ll return to WorldCon reportage. And, of course, in the meantime, you can expect more great curation on Tipsday and thoughty Thursday.

Happy Chinese New Year!

And be well until I see you next 🙂

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 15-21, 2017

Another small curation this week. With all those #alternatetruths out there, I guess the world isn’t feeling too thoughty 😦 Or maybe that’s just me.

Timothy B. Lee gets a bird’s eye view of Women’s Marches all over the US. Vox

Sarah Kaplan reports on the astonishing science behind fairy rings in the desert. The Washington Post

Rae Paoletta interviews Dr. Chandra Prescod-Weinstein about the importance of Hidden Figures. Gizmodo

Nunavut’s 96 year old seamstress models her clothes and advocates for traditional design. Priscilla Hwang for the CBC.

Emma Young: Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse, but the rest of the world isn’t listening. Mosaic

Phil Plait offered this lovely astronomical metaphor to those saddened by inauguration day: if you need strength, be like Daphnis. Slate

Katy Koontz considers fireflies: a surreal synchronized wave of light. BBC

Emily Laurence: what to do when meditation doesn’t work for you. I must admit, I’m not a good meditater. Well and Good

Samoyed sings while squeezing toy. #sammytude

 

All the best.

See you on the weekend for more WorldCon reportage!

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 15-21, 2017

And here it is, your informal writerly learnings for the week!

K.M. Weiland offers her insight into how to outline a series of bestselling books. Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy starts a two part series about finding your voice. First up: how to find your character’s voice. Fiction University

Are you revising? Then check out April Bradley’s tips on pacing and momentum. Writers Helping Writers

Dianna Gunn shares her experience with resistance: letting your story end at the end. DIYMFA

Sloan Tamar: five things psychology can teach writers. Writers Helping Writers

Dave King revisits the power of words. Writer Unboxed

Annie Neugebauer muses on the challenge of finding the balance between dreaming and working. Writer Unboxed

Writer Unboxed obtained permission to reprint this fabulous post by Christie Aschwanden: stop trying to be creative.

Jamie Raintree gives us a productive two-for this week: a different kind of writing productivity and the importance of knowing your priorities and sticking to them.

Jami Gold: what if I can’t find beta readers?

Kristen Lamb says, never tell me the odds—how to get your head right for success.

Jenny Hansen shares Maya Angelou’s writerly wisdom on Writers in the Storm.

A moment of tangency. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (apparently soon to be out in book form!). This guy’s a poet.

 

Charles Chu looks back at Frank Herbert and his definition of success. You don’t write for fame and fortune. You write so you can have more time to write. Medium

Fiona Macdonald peeks at the racy side of Jane Austin. BBC

Punny. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog … after a few tries 😉

 

Alexandra Alter reports on an unfinished Mark Twain fairytale that will soon see the light of day. The New York Times

Swapna Krishna looks at the time travel in Timeless. Is it possible? Tor.com

Spencer Kornhaber interviews Brit Marling about The OA and the dark side of science. As I said when I posted this to FB, I enjoyed the series … until the last episode. Though I called it, that couldn’t compensate for the deep dissatisfaction I felt in the wake of the final episode. Still, it’s nice to find out more about what inspired the series. The Atlantic

Looking forward to this, because Emma. The full set of Beauty and the Beast trailers.

 

Hope this curation gives you what you need to keep creating. The world needs your stories!

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: The steampunk explosion

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Carrie Vaughn, Jeffrey Cook, Laurel Anne Hill (moderator), Gail Carriger, Nina Niskanen

steampunk

Joined in progress …

GC: The term steampunk emerged in the 70’s as an evolution of cyberpunk. The first iteration was dark. Then, steampunk became an aesthetic and finally, humour worked its way in. Whimsy was a reaction to darker iterations. It romanticizes the Victorian era and deals with the class system and double standards of the era. The historical time period was actually very chaotic.

NN: The interaction with class is attractive to both writers and readers. Science fiction doesn’t typically feature a lower class.

CV: The current wave of steampunk is deconstructive.

GC: It’s subversive, commenting on colonialism and class.

LAH: It’s a reinvention of the Victorian age. There was a great excitement then with the industrial revolution and technological advances. People want to recapture the excitement and inspiration of that time.

NN: In Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow’s End [about a man recovering from Alzheimer’s disease who has to renegotiate a world that’s advanced technologically while he was ill], computers have no serviceable parts.

CV: There was an anxiety about science. Frankenstein expresses that fear that we will not be able to control what we unleash.

GC: That was the dichotomy—can technology solve all our problems, or will it cause them?

JC: Rockets were being developed at the time, but the inventor also supported women in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math].

LAH: The anxiety about science was a reaction against putting all of humanity into a box.

CV: There was a hope and drive to fix things socially as well. Technology wasn’t the answer to everything. Now there’s an environmental aspect in steampunk and that’s a reaction against our disposable society.

NN: Steampunk has avoided painting Victorian London in a “dirty” light. Historical accounts relate that at times there were seas of horse shit in the streets.

CV: Steampunk outside of Victorian Europe are appearing as a reaction against colonialism.

JC: You can have clockwork in 5th century Japan. You can do a lot within the genre. It’s not just the comedy of manners and history heavy stories. There’s more of a spectrum to be explored.

And that was time.

Next week, we’ll delve into some nifty narrative tricks (with shoe puppetry!).

Sending out a huge hug to all my American friends. Stay strong, speak out, and always, keep telling your stories. Sweet Jesus, we need them.

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 8-14, 2017

It’s like, wow (it’s like right now)! Sorry, I have a Beck ear worm 😉

The Kounotori electrodynamic tether hopes to displace space debris and clear the upper atmosphere. Bill Chappell for NPR.

Matt Novak replays an interview with David Bowie in which he argues the point about the subversive nature of the internet. I miss starman 😦 Paleofuture

Imogen Heap’s Mi.Mu gloves.

 

Dan Nosowitz discovers why Canadians say “eh.” Altas Obscura

ASAP Thought debates early birds vs. night owls.

 

Timothy Joseph Elzinga captures an amazing photograph of light pillars. Marina von Stackleberg for the CBC.

Listen closely to what this crow says 😉 Best Source of Fun

Bernese Mountain pup vs. lemon.

 

Here’s hoping that something in this selection popped your mental corn. Get those creative connections going.

And let me know if anything comes of it.

Be well until the weekend.

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 8-14, 2017

I even have a video in the informal writerly learnings mix this week. W00t!

K.M. Weiland offers her top ten ways to rivet readers with plot reveals. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week Dave Chesson guest posts on Kate’s blog with Boba Fett’s guide to writing cool characters.

Jordan Rosenfeld guest posts on Writer Unboxed: perception and how to identify POV leaps.

Bess Cozby offers five tips for mastering multiple points of view. DIYMFA

Oren Ashkenazi explains how to craft a character-driven story. Mythcreants

Becca Puglisi guest posts on Writers in the Storm: crafting a powerful set up.

Sophie Masson helps you craft the perfect back cover blurb. Writer Unboxed

David Corbett explores the topic of reading while writing. Writer Unboxed

Roz Morris joins the awesome line up of writing coaches on Writers Helping Writers: read more fiction.

Jami Gold explains how writing goals are really about finding out what works for you. Later in the week, she offers some insight into how to make your story meaningful.

Janice Hardy shares some outlining tips. Fiction University

Chuck Wendig tell you how to finish revising, you filthy animal. Terribleminds

Should you submit your work to agents or editors? Jane Friedman

New contributor Kathryn Magendie writes about giving up and giving in. Writer Unboxed

Susan Spann educates us on negotiating options in publishing deals. Writer in the Storm

Gabriela Pereira and Manjula Martin talk money on DIYMFA radio.

Joanna Penn and CJ Lyons talk about the dream of quitting the day job to write full time. The Creative Penn

Indigenous readers recommend books. 49th Shelf

Danielle Dutton lists her top ten books about wild women. The Guardian

Terri Windling: old stories made new. Myth & Moor

John Yorke: all stories are the same. The Atlantic

Liz Bourke reviews Certain Dark Things and Sparrow Falling. Tor.com

Man Booker prize winner, Marlon James, is writing an epic fantasy trilogy drawn from African mythology. Natalie Zutter for Tor.com.

Foz Meadows muses on Westworld: (de)humanizing the other. shattersnipe

Heather Wolfe, the “Sherlock of the library” cracked the case of Shakespeare’s identity. Robert McCrum for The Guardian.

A Writer’s Life. Two men have words.

 

Leah Schnelbach looks back at Princess Mononoke after 20 years. Tor.com

I hope you found something to enrich your skill set.

Come on back on Thursday for some inspiration 🙂

Be well until then.

tipsday2016

WorldCon 2016: Humans and robots

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Kevin Roche, G. David Nordley, Brenda Cooper (moderator), Walt Boyes, Jerry Pournelle

humansandrobots

Joined in progress …

KR: They have built and programmed competent bartending robots.

GDN: There’s an S-curve with any technological development. If you picture the letter S and start from the bottom of the letter, robotics is at the first upsweeping curve.

WB: Google is the largest robotics company in the world. Boston Robotics sells services in robotic hours.

JP: With regard to artificial intelligence (AI), every time we started something that looked like AI, people said nope, that ain’t it. Unemployment is higher than the statistics report. In the near future, over half of jobs will be replaced by robots or other automation. The unemployable won’t be visible. They won’t be looking. We’ve not lost jobs to overseas corporations, or not as many as we think. We’ve lost jobs to automation. The “useless” class is on the rise. Look at it this way, an employer saves an employee’s annual salary and spends maybe 10% of it to maintain a robot doing the same work. They’d need one human to service 20 robots.

BC: How do you assign value to human work?

WB: In 1900, the second industrial revolution saw farm workers move to the cities and the factories. The real issue is a philosophical one. We’ve been assigning value to people by the work that they do. A corporate lawyer has, subjectively, greater value than a garbage man. What happens when automation and artificial intelligence replaces both?

KR: When workers are underpaid, the social contract bears the cost. Increasing the minimum wage and increased automation are exposing the dirty little secret. People need to be valued differently. Teachers and artists, in particular, can’t be replaced.

GDN: The top level docs of our society assign value to every citizen. The big question is how do we realize that? The recession has meant fewer tax dollars dedicated to the arts and infrastructure. We have to have the social conversation.

JP: Will advances in artificial intelligence implement Asimov’s three laws? Drones don’t use the three laws. IBM created an AI that beat a human at go [the game]. They took two machines, programmed them with the rules of the game, and let them play each other. After ten million games, they could functionally beat anyone. If you ask a robot to stop humans from killing each other, what’s to stop the robot from coming up with the solution to kill all humans? We have to proceed carefully.

KR: Watson won Jeopardy. Its job is to parse huge amounts of information and look for patterns. It’s humans who decided to test the system by putting it on the show.

GDN: Right now, computers are still, by and large, working on bookkeeping tasks. As we get to the point where we have to consider the three laws, we have to be cautious.

WB: We have to expand out definition of robotics. We have the internet of things with programmable thermostats and refrigerators we can access through our phones. Though still imperfect, we have self-driving cars. We need to figure out how to program morality.

GDN: Human beings don’t consistently make the same moral choices. Fuzzy logic and data sets would be required. Positronic brains would have to deal with potentialities.

KR: We don’t have an algorithmic equivalent for empathy.

And that was time.

Next week, we’re going to explore the steampunk explosion 🙂

Until then, be well, be kind, and be awesome!

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Jan 1-7, 2017

It’s quality over quantity this week.

Charles Foran wonders if Canada is the world’s first post-national country. The Guardian

Wab Kinew: there is room in our circle for Joseph Boyden. The Globe and Mail

Matt Ayton asks, why don’t we stand with Turkey like we did with Orlando and Paris? The Independent

William Deresiewicz: how to learn how to think. Farnham Street

Medievalists.net explores the sleeping habits of the Middle Ages.

Jo Marchant digs into this 3,500 year old Mycenae tomb and how it changes what we know about history. The Smithsonian Magazine

George Dvorsky reports on the discovery of a stunning new type of galaxy. Gizmodo

Maddie Stone shares the most detailed view of black holes in the universe. Gizmodo

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson lists eleven things people don’t realize you do because of your anxiety. Thought Catalog

On the Hearty Soul: how complaining rewires your brain to be anxious and depressed.

Daily Health Records lists fifteen things you’ll notice when you’re in the presence of an empath.

Here’s hoping something got your mental corn popping 🙂

On Saturday, I return to WorldCon 2016 reporting.

Be well until then!

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 1-7, 2017

Welcome to your informal writely learnings of the week 🙂

K.M. Weiland continues her common writing mistakes series with part 55: beginning your story too late. Helping Writers Become Authors

Immerse yourself in POV with Donald Maass. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle helps you choose your perspective. Mythcreants

Do you work on your stories character first, or worldbuilding first? Jo Eberhardt says it really doesn’t matter. Writer Unboxed

Zara Quentin guest posts on Fiction University: how to build a world (and why), an evolutionary approach.

Chuck Wendig encourages us to write despite. Terribleminds

Kristen Lamb gives ‘em hell: NYC gooood, self-pub baaaaad. It’s an author animal farm out there!

Janice Hardy guest posts on Writers in the Storm: how bad times and new starts affect our writing.

Writing coach C.S. Lakin offers some tips for weaving romance into your novel. Writers Helping Writers

Blake Atwood shares ten easy ways to self-edit your novel. The Write Life

Gabriela Pereira interviews Alexia Vernon on the art of public speaking for DIYMFA radio.

Joe Fassler compiles the best writing advice of 2016. The Atlantic

Glenn Leibowitz recommends the one book you must read to become a better writer. Inc.

Terri Windling muses upon a parliament of owls. Myth & Moor

Jessica Stillman lists the most misused words according to Daniel Pinker. Inc.

Libby Coleman examines Ken Liu’s body of work so far. Ozy

Cheryl Eddy shares a list of January’s must-read science fiction and fantasy. i09

I’m so excited! James Whitbrook gives us a first look at the live action Fullmetal Alchemist movie (!) i09

Connie Verzak has some fun with the animals of Outlander for her 2017 resolutions. The Daily Record

Beth Elderkin (I lurve her name, don’t you?) shares The Handmaid’s Tale teaser on i09.

I sincerely hope you found something you wanted to learn about among this week’s offerings.

If you’re interested in writerly inspiration, come back on thoughty Thursday to get your mental corn a-poppin’!

Be well until then!

tipsday2016