Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 24-30, 2018

It’s time for your weekly dose of informal writerly learnings.

/rant on/

I’ll start off on a negative note. Harlan Ellison died last week, but I have purposefully not posted about it or shared any posts about it on social media. Though he was influential in the science fiction universe and wrote much that is considered objectively great fiction (he was even a consultant on my favourite series ever, Babylon 5), I have never read any of his work. I wondered why that was and realized that I instinctively disliked the man in the interviews in which I saw him. Since, I have learned that he was a universal asshole and a misogynist prick. The incident with Connie Willis at the 2006 Hugos was just one, very public incident. For the record, I may read his work someday, but regardless of what I think of the man as a writer, I will always think of him as a poor example of a human being. I don’t care what his damage was, to be honest. It’s no excuse. We must do better, be better, than the pathetically low bar he set.

/rant off/

Now, on to the good stuff.

Patrice Williams Marks stops by Writer Unboxed: what is a sensitivity reader, and can I become one?

Susan Spann says, fear is a liar. Inspirational. Writer Unboxed

Barbara O’Neal considers light and dark, and writing with duende. “Duende is the dark magic, the force of Other, that enters the work and turns it from something interesting, maybe even really good, into something transcendent. It is born of the knowledge that death walks among us, that sorrow will mark you with her handprint, that we are all doomed to be forgotten.” Yum!  Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb wonders, is juggling multiple writing projects at once is exhausting or a bright idea? Writer Unboxed

K.M. Weiland: writing as the art of thinking clearly in six steps. Helping Writers Become Authors

Victoria Mixon: five advantages of rereading.

Joanna Penn interviews Michaelbrent Collings about writing with depression. The Creative Penn

Nathan Bransford explains how to list your publishing credits in a query letter.

A.K. Perry continues her exploration of James Scott Bell’s signpost scenes: trouble brewing. DIY MFA

Ambre Dawn Leffler shares five tai chi and yoga techniques to help with writer focus. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira offers six writing exercises to fuel your creativity. Writer’s Digest

Jami Gold breaks down the revision process, so you can improve your storytelling.

Lisa Granshaw offers an oral history of Babylon 5, the beloved TV novel that showed us a different way to tell a science fiction story. SyFy

Thu-Huong Ha: No mas, say the writers. How bilingual authors are challenging the practice of italicizing non-English words. Quartzy

MTV’s Decoded with Franchesca Ramsey – six phrases with racist origins.

 

Jessica Leigh Hester: why medieval monasteries branded their books. Atlas Obscura

Arika Okrent presents the curious origins of 16 common phrases. Mental Floss

And that was Tipsday for this week.

I hope all of my Canadian friends had a LOVELY Canada Day long weekend (today will have been our Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday) and that all of my friends in the US will have an equally enjoyable Independence Day holiday.

Be well until Thursday rolls around and don’t forget to come back for some quality thoughty.

tipsday2016

Advertisements

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, July 24-30, 2016

Yummy, soul-feeding stuff this week.

The first post of the week for K.M. Weiland was intensely personal. It was also inspirational. It was exactly what I needed to read as the world around me seems to be falling to pieces (though that’s more apparent in my Thoughty Thursday curation posts, of late). Read it, my writerly friends, and take heart. This is why we write: five reasons why writing is important to the world. Later in the week she cautions us: don’t make this mistake with story structure.

Bonnie Randall guest posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University. Once more with feeling: writing emotionally strong characters.

Chris Winkle offers five ways to restore tension in your novel. Mythcreants.

Two of my favourite writerly women: Joanna Penn interviews Roz Morris for the Creative Penn podcast. Finding your author voice.

Katharine Britton guest posts on Writer Unboxed. On the road to a first draft: when you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do.

Marcy Kennedy is back with part four of her reading as a writer series.

Kelly Harms: writing a book takes how long, now? Writers in the Storm.

Jami Gold shares more lessons learned from her recent RWA conference. Do you belong, or are you a fraud?

Shawn Coyne wonders if good enough is good enough . . . This post was a bit controversial for a friend. Yes, we need mentors; we need editors. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with learning through experimentation, practice, and study, however. The idea that writers aren’t good enough, that they can’t be good enough without the intervention of others can result in sensitive creatives believing that they are inherently worthless. Or, it can result in the following problems, which can be just as bad . . . Just sayin’.

Karen Woodward encourages us to let go of perfectionism.

Kristen Lamb explores stress and burnout . . . and how to get your writerly mojo back.

Heather Webb has some advice on what to do when you feel like you’re treading water. Writer Unboxed.

Kameron Hurley: the wisdom of the grind.

Jane Friedman offers a definition of author platform.

Constance Renfrow writes about the do’s and don’ts of query letters. DIYMFA. AND . . . I had the opportunity to guest post on DIYMFA thanks to my participation in Gabriela’s Street Team! Five things I’ve learned from being on the DIYMFA Street Team.

Camille DeAngelis says that having her book go out of print was a pretty great thing, after all. Publishers Weekly.

Lynn Neary: can serialized fiction turn binge watchers into binge readers? NPR.

Sudburian Matthew Heiti wins the Carter v. Cooper competition! The Northern Life.

Working girls: the Bröntes. Elizabeth Hardwick for The New York Review of Books.

Alex Kulaev for BookBaby: The Jungle Book is a beautiful film with flawed storytelling.

Orange is the New Black’s Samira Wiley joins the cast of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Amy McNeill for The National Post.

Katherine Trendacosta thinks Christophe Gans’ La Belle et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast) is the most beautiful thing she’s seen in ages. i09

We are not things: shining examples of women’s autonomy in science fiction. Delia Harrington for The MarySue.

Babylon 5’s Jerry Doyle dies at the age of 60. Sadness 😦 James Whitbrook for i09.

And that was your informal writerly learnings for the week.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 20-26, 2016

Holy shemoley! Lookit all the Writerly Goodness!

Ok. This is big news around here. Sudbury has a new poet laureate, and its first woman in the role, my awesome soul sister, Kim Fahner! The Northern Life. And here’s the interview she did with Markus Schwabe of the CBC’s Morning North. She had a cold, but it’s still a fabulous interview 🙂 She’s on her way to Banff right now to work with the wonderful Mr. Lawrence Hill!

Jane Friedman points out the pros and cons of maintaining a personal profile versus a professional page on Facebook.

Susan Spann advises us when a book is considered out of print. Writer Unboxed.

Jed Herne guest posts on The Better Novel Project with The Half-Blood Prince guide to question arcs.

Michelle Hoover writes an excellent guest post for Writer Unboxed on the duplicity of a character’s desire.

John J. Kelley explores the art of the plausible for Writer Unboxed.

Barbara O’Neal discusses the matter of talent. Writer Unboxed.

C.S. Lakin offers three ways to keep readers reading past page one. Live, write, thrive.

Tiffany Lawson Inman explains how to build dramatic momentum in fiction. Writers in the Storm.

Janice Hardy explores the ebb and flow of plotting a novel. Fiction University.

K.M. Weiland’s back with five more ways to trim your novel’s word count. Helping writers become authors. Later in the week, she helps us choose the right protagonist.

Kate Elliott gives us the tools to write women characters into epic fantasy without quotas. Tor.com

Awesome: How do we write about diversity when the word has lost its meaning? With Daniel José Older, Ashley Cassandra Ford, and Tanwi Nandini Islam. Elle. (Really? Yuh-huh.)

Steve Kettmann: On knowing what to leave out. Medium.

Victoria Mixon shares her super-easy formula for creating a blurb.

Ruthanne Reid points out the two most important words for writers: don’t quit. The Write Practice.

Kerry Lonsdale writes an open letter to writers at every stage of publishing. Books by Women.

Kameron Hurley ponders her sales.

J.K. Rowling shares rejection letters on Twitter to help beginning authors. The Guardian.

Jamie Raintree explores how to decompartmentalize your art.

Anna Lovind bares herself in this post on the process of creative transformation.

Dan Blank shares what he’s learned from 30 days of vlogging.

 

Thinking about a writers’ retreat? Sarah Selecky gives you a place to start looking.

Madeleine Dore offers 50 ways to take care of yourself in the arts. Performing Arts Hub.

Robert J. Sawyer shares his creative process with Inverse’s Lauren Sarner.

Where five Canadian authors read. The Globe and Mail.

Buzzfeed lists 21 German words we should be using in English.

Victorian doctors thought reading novels made women incurably insane. History Buff.

On the other hand, art is proven to have mental health benefits. The Butler Collegian.

National Geographic lists its top ten book stores in the world.

Daniel José Older: Notes on love and revolution. Guernica Magazine.

Brainpickings shares Charlotte Brontë’s love letters.

The Telegraph lists ten novels with titles from Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s skull stolen from grave. BBC.

15 Welsh myths and legends. Wales Online.

Michael Boyle and Daniel A. Kaufman wish Babylon 5 a happy birthday. This is one of my all time favourite series. The Electric Agora.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted!

See you Thursday 🙂

Tipsday

Series Disappointments

As a writer, I look to many different sources for inspiration and for learning about my craft.  Most professional writers will tell you that screen writing informs fiction writing, whether it’s episodic television to short stories or chapters, or full length movies to novellas and novels.

I love television.  I know that there are some writers out there that vilify the medium as a time-waster and brain killer, but I try to look at the quality of the story, the plausibility of scientific elements in sci-fi, the depiction and development of character, and so forth.

I’ve told you how I read as a writer in the past.  I’ve also reviewed a few movies on here and the lessons I’ve taken away from them, well, now I’m going to talk about television series.

Phil and I are fairly critical in our television watching.  If something doesn’t make sense, one of us will be the first to lambaste it 😛

This year, we’ve unsubscribed from the movie network cable package.  It was the one that allowed us to watch Game of Thrones and True Blood.  But now, we’re just not interested in what’s on offer.

The past

Phil holds up Babylon 5 as his favourite series.  I agree that J. Michael Straczynski is a masterful storyteller and B5 is one of the best series I’ve seen, but I’m also a little more critical about B5 than Phil is.

I know that JMS planned the entire 5 year arc of the show before he started working on it, but it’s fairly obvious where real life events required accommodation and revision.  Still, until the rights struggle, of which I shall not speak, started to affect things, the show was fabulous.

The fifth season was less than stellar, though, because of the afore-mentioned struggle, I think, Excalibur, the series that was intended to fill in some of the detail pre-B5 only lasted one season, and the hoped for Tales of the Rangers never got off the ground.

In the end, I was disappointed, but not because of JMS—he’s brilliant—but because of the creative differences that prevented the world he created from being explored further.

One of my favourite series of all time is Buffy the Vampire SlayerJoss Whedon took a slightly different tack, creating seasonal arcs, because of the fickle nature of network television.  Buffy changed networks, mid-run, but managed to revive.

The title character’s death at the end of season 5 was to have been the end of the story, but somehow, two more seasons were wrangled.

There are inconsistencies in Buffy.  I’ve watched the series enough to know, but they make the overall story no less enjoyable.  The way in which details from earlier seasons eventually led to lovely pay-offs in later seasons spoke to how well Whedon understood his creation.

When Angel got his spin-off after the third season of Buffy, I also watched it.  Phil is a little fonder of Angel than of Buffy, but both series were made of similar stuff.  Whedon is a very different kind of storyteller than JMS, but no less compelling.

Again, Whedon seems to have had poor luck with the networks after Buffy and Angel.  Firefly did not even have a full season aired (except on Space and Syfy) and Dollhouse was dropped after a second season.

A more long-standing love for both of us is Doctor Who.  We’ve both been fans for years and although Phil has, on principle, a problem with time-travel stories, the writing behind Doctor Who allows him to suspend even his hefty disbelief and enjoy the story.

Other than those few series, many of the shows Phil and I hopefully latched onto over the years seem to have lost their storytelling ways.

Phil and I loved the first season of Heroes.  We were avid fans and shared our DVD’s with everyone we could think of.

Then the second season aired with plot holes big enough to consume the entire cast.  Even George Takei couldn’t save the show.

We were sceptical about the remake of Battlestar Galactica, but once we started watching the series, we were taken in.

Which is why we were also severely disappointed by the last 2 seasons and though we watched Caprica, we couldn’t regret its demise either.  The “ending” answered fewer questions than BSG’s.

Lost lost me as a viewer before the second season ended.  I could see the ridiculous factor increasing, and the writers withheld information when they should have revealed it, and revealed information that had no importance to the plot in the long term.

Phil never watched Lost at all.

Supernatural turned out to be mostly monster-of-the-week and Sam and Dean never really evolved as characters.

There was the short-lived Dresden Files series, which we both loved, but then it went out of production.

I was enjoying the adaptation of Tanya Huff’s Blood Books, Blood Ties, but it, too, was dropped.

The present

I’ve continued to follow the adventures of Buffy and Angel through Joss Whedon’s graphic

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight V...

Trade paperback cover of Buffy: Season Eight Volume One, written by Joss Whedon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

novel continuations of both stories.

Phil and I are both happy enough with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and hope that it breaks the television curse for Whedon.  We’d like to see more of his wit and style on television.

Phil and I continue to watch and enjoy Doctor Who.

True Blood was okay to begin with, but after the first season again, we found the story wandering and not necessarily in a good direction.  Unlike some other books turned into series, TB departs fairly distinctly from the Sookie Stackhouse novels on which it is based.

We have, so far, come back for the next season and each season seems to begin well enough, but then certain events are just drawn out for far too long only to end precipitously and in many cases, in a dissatisfying manner.

Consistency isn’t the best, either.

We knew, when Russell Edgington was encased in cement rather than shown the true death, that he’d be back, but we couldn’t stand it when he did.

The ending of this season left us completely cold.  Sookie’s waffling and bemoaning of her fate got old very quickly.  And Eric sunbathing instead of trying to stop the distribution of the Hep-V tainted True Blood?  It made so little sense.  If he did burn, he deserved to.

Mind you, not having seen the ashes, I’ll assume that he and Pam will be back, if not next season, then at some point thereafter.

Being Human.  My advice: watch the British version.  It was always better.

We are quite happy with Game of Thrones.  Now this is a different bit of storytelling, because the novels have already been written by George R. R. Martin.  The artistry of GoT is that the show runners have to pick and choose what bits to show and how to show them in a way that is truthful to GRRM.

And he’s consulting to keep them as much on script as possible 😉

Phil was enjoying The Walking Dead, but found that it too, was getting a little lack-lustre in its plot by the end of the last season.  He’ll be happy to watch it in reruns when we re-subscribe to the movie package in the spring.

We watched the Netflix series Hemlock Grove and were impressed, though admittedly, the denouement  seemed a little rushed.  We are hopeful that future seasons will be at least as good.

Once Upon a Time.  Not Phil’s bag, but I like retellings of fairy tales.  So far, so good for me, but they are in danger of losing me if they get to far off track.

Grimm.  More fairy tale-related shenanigans.  I like the German take, but was so not impressed with how long it took Julia to deal with her recovered memories last season.  Seriously?  Plus, I wanted to see more of Nick’s mom.  She kicked ass.

Lost Girl.  Again, this is something that Phil doesn’t go in for, but I’ve been enjoying.  I’m glad that it continues to be in production.

Arrow was another surprise for me.  Though I enjoyed Smallville, I watched most of the episodes in rerun.  Plus, Smallville started to draw out the origin story of Superman far too long.  I was irritated with that.

Arrow is not taking the Green Arrow from Smallville, but focusing on the character independent of Superman.  It’s a bit grittier and darker.  I like it.

Orphan Black.  This one was a surprise for me, but I definitely like it.  Don’t have any other clone/genetic engineering conspiracy stories out there at the moment.  Phil wasn’t so impressed, but I’m willing to give it a go again next year.

Defiance was a show that Phil got hold of by virtue of his interests in gaming.  The concept was unique: a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG, or MMO) and a television series developed concurrently in the same world.

The game would start up earlier, feed into the hype, but when the series started, the developers promised weekly game upgrades based on story developments in the series.  It sounded interesting, so we both tuned in.

Phil quickly tired of the game, in which the promised content was not made available.  He gave up some time in the summer when none of the series-based content had yet been added.

The depiction of the alien people were different between the game and the series as well.

The Irathients were analogous to indigenous peoples in terms of spirituality in the series, but good warriors and tactical thinkers in the game.  Not that they couldn’t be both, but both were not clearly options in the game and the series.

The Indogenes in the game were similar to Vulcans, dominantly logical and emotionally repressed, while in the series, they turned out to be political schemers and shape-shifters.

The last straw for Phil was that for two episodes in a row, they played the “s/he’s an Indogene” card.  He cited it as derivative of the equally irritating “s/he’s a cylon” ploy in BSG.

Story-wise, it’s about as satisfying as “it was all a dream,” or an ending where the big bad, after waging war, and having the subjects of his rage in his sights, commits suicide instead (another BSG disappointment).

Sleepy Hollow.  I’m liking the angle the writers have chosen and tying it all in with the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the end of days.  We’ll see if it lasts more than a season.

The future

Right now, the only thing we’re both looking forward to is JMS’s Sense8, his Netflix series.

I’m going to check out Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, just ‘cause, but I’ve learned not to pin too many hopes on new network series.

I’m also going to check out the Tomorrow People and Almost Human.  We’ll see if either of those series live up to my expectations.

What series have you loved?  Which have you hated?  What are you looking forward to?  And what shows have you learned from as a writer?

Continuous learning 🙂  That’s what it’s all about.