Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 9-15, 2017

And it’s been another lovely week for the writerly goodness 🙂

K.M. Weiland shows us how storytelling benefits everyone. Helping Writers Become Authors

Later in the week, Kate points out three ways to choose the right protagonist.

Roz Morris appreciates The Story of Your Life, on which Arrival was based. Nail Your Novel

Then Roz strolls over to Writers Helping Writers: planning the perfect love triangle.

David Corbett: is your character’s face the window to her soul? [Love the URL title: a face to launch a thousand words, or less. Hopefully less.] Writer Unboxed

Sarah Callender zooms in on third person narration. Writer Unboxed

Liz Michalski says, let your subconscious be your guide. Writer Unboxed

Susan Spann advises you how to request a reversion of publishing rights. Writers in the Storm

Jenna Moreci debunks writer’s block:

 

Bess Cozby shares the tale of how embracing minimalism made her a better (and happier) writer. DIY MFA

Gabriela Pereira interviews Kathleen Audet: finding your authentic image. They even talk semiotics (!) DIY MFA

Kristen Lamb schools us in deep POV: what it is and why readers love it. Later in the week Kristen takes us deeper into deep POV: how to immerse the reader in story.

Janice Hardy: six ways Netflix can make you a better writer. Fiction University

Later in the week Janice posts about how the wrong tone can change your whole novel.

Jami Gold tells you how to analyze your writing habits so you can improve on the bad ones.

Christine Frazier compares the hero with the secret good guy (and explains why every story needs a secret good guy). The Better Novel Project

Alex Segura explores the moments that keep you going as a writer. Terribleminds

Chris Winkle considers the big problem with uncertain endings. Mythcreants

Everyone (well, Chuck Wendig, Jim C. Hines, and Mary Robinette Kowal, anyway) has been writing about this debacle. I’ll just leave K. Tempest Bradford’s take on it here: OdysseyCon and why serial harassers are safe in out community.

Oh, and this: Bianna Wu offers her perspective on sexism and second chances. Jim C. Hines

Lessons from the Screenplay – Creating the ultimate antagonist in The Dark Knight.

 

The new World Fantasy Award design is revealed.

Helen Pluckrose explains postmodernism and its impact: how French “intellectuals” ruined the west. I have to say I hate postmodernism myself, and it’s probably because I never truly “got” it. Bleargh … AREO Magazine

Kristian Wilson: old books smell like chocolate and coffee according to science. Hey, who am I to argue with science? Bustle

Anna Pitoniak shares the writing lessons she learned as an editor for Random House. Literary Hub

Psyche Z. Ready offers a transgender reading of an ancient folktale. Tiny Donkey

James Whitbrook takes a look at the first Thor: Ragnarok trailer. i09

Brian Raftery shares The Last Jedi official trailer. Wired

Sense8 will be back May 5th!

 

And Orphan Black’s final season begins in June! Andy Swift for TV Line.

That was your informal writerly learnings for the week.

Come on back on Thursday for some thoughty.

In the meantime, be well.

tipsday2016

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Series discoveries: Midseason follies, part deux

Hey, gang!

This is going to be a short post to catch up on the few midseason series I watched after my last post of this nature in April.

Beware. Spoilers ahead.

Game of Thrones

After last season’s heap of misogyny, I was hoping for better in this season. I was (thankfully) not disappointed.

Yeah. Jon Snow died, but Melisandre brought him back and now claims that he is the one who was prophesied. Having died, however, Jon was free of his oath to the Nightswatch and moved south to retake Winterfell.

Sansa and Theon survived their leap from the walls. Sansa met up with Jon and together they retook Winterfell (not without great cost or the help of the young puppet of the Vale) and the bastard of Bolton got his just desserts.

Theon has reunited with his sister and they’ve taken (actually stolen) the ironborn fleet and offered it to Dani. Uncle Euron may still kill them, but I’m kind of liking the alliance.

Arya is finally a faceless one (yay!), but her story suffered the most from implausibility of any in the series this season. I have great hopes for her, and a theory that I won’t share in case I’m wrong. It would be so cool if I’m right, though 🙂

Bran has become the new three eyed raven, and we now know Hodor’s heart-wrenching backstory. I have no idea what’s going to happen now as most of the children of the forest appear to be dead. Even with his new powers, what can Bran do on his own?

Dani’s finally in control of her dragons and should be retaking the seven kingdoms with her fearsome brood, Dothraki hoard, Unsullied, and I’m kind of excited to see what happens with her. Also interesting, another red priestess has appeared and is saying that Dani is the one who was prophesied.

Does this mean Dani and Jon are destined to kill each other or share the throne after they’ve driven back the White Walkers?

Cersei is certifiably insane. I think her number will be up shortly.

So aside from some glaring plot holes, I was pleased. Even though the body count continued to rise, sometimes sensationally rather than for legitimate plot reasons, I could deal. With the new, compressed schedule, I’m thinking they had to eliminate a lot of secondary plot lines and subplots post-hasty.

Two short and delayed seasons until the end of all.

Stranger Things

OMG. Loved this series so much, I don’t know if I can properly express it without babbling.

80’s nostalgia. A truly kick-ass young female protagonist. Great, geeky supporting roles. Tonnes of Easter eggs and homage. Heaven!

The story was fast-paced and compelling. The end of the season was satisfying and I’m so happy they’re working on season two.

No spoilers here. I want you all to watch it. Go on. Binge!

The only movie/show I’m looking forward to more is the adaptation of Ready Player One.

Outcast

This was a recommendation from a work friend. Phil and I were looking for something to watch and decided to give it a try.

Though the story is about a man who has been surrounded by possessed people all his life (mother, wife) and discovers that he has the ability to drive out the possessing spirits, there was something off about the season, more than what you’d expect from a story about possession.

I wasn’t watching so much because I enjoyed it, but because I wanted to see if the writers would answer any of the story questions in a satisfying way. There were answers, and they were surprising, but not satisfying.

Lucky Man

This series is interesting. It’s billed as Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with any Marvel property.

In fact, it had the feel of a gritty police procedural with paranormal influences like River, which Phil and I also watched and enjoyed.

A London Police detective and addicted gambler inherits a mystical bracelet that endows him with incredible luck.

I’m not sure if I would have watched it if there was anything else on, but I have and don’t regret it.

Outlander season two was fabulous. Loved it. Too much of a fangirl to offer critique.

Orphan Black was awesomesauce and I’m so pleased Tatiana Maslany got her Emmy. So well-deserved.

My main guilty pleasure and only reality television I watch, So You Think You Can Dance, did a next generation version, and it was amazing and adorable.

I’ll probably do a Fall 2016 series discoveries toward the end of October when I’ve had the chance to see most of the new offerings. I can tell you, I’m not terribly optimistic with all of the retreads, but we’ll see.

Series Discoveries

Muse-Inks: Honouring my reality and mid-season follies

This week’s DIYMFA question has to do with honouring your reality. The prompt is this: Tell a story about a time when you had to honour your reality. Rather than focus on one time, I’ll address the topic generally, with specific examples.

There are times when you simply have too much going on in your life or are too worn down by circumstances to stick to your writing practice.

It can happen when you’re overloaded at the day job and have nothing left when you return home. Exhaustion can leave you empty. This happened to me last year when I was training out of town for two and a half weeks. Previously, and since, I’ve been able to write while travelling, but, on this occasion, I was flat out of juice.

Burnout, creative or otherwise, can leave you in the same situation. Doing too much can drain your creative well and leave you ‘blocked.’

It can happen when you or a loved one feels ill. Wellness comes first. Still, I have been known to write even when I’m sick.

When my dad was struck with the illness that landed him first in the hospital, and from there into an alternate level of care facility, and then a nursing home, I have to say that my writing practice wasn’t consistent, but I did write.

Even when I was sitting vigil, when Dad suffered the attack of acute congestive heart failure that would eventually take his life, I brought my lap top and notebook with me.

It may sound callous, or selfish, but writing is how I process the events of my life.

It’s not like I sat there writing obsessively while my father died, either. Though he was unconscious for most of his final journey, there was a lot of hand holding, many quiet, one-way conversations, visitors to comfort, and support measures to attend to.

But when I had a moment, I pulled out my journal and committed a few of my swirling thoughts to paper, or opened up the lap top and typed a few lines.

The only time I’ve not written for extended periods was when I’d lost touch with my passion for writing, following my MA. It was something I had to learn to understand before I could overcome it. It involved depression and therapy and meds and a lot of what I call ‘self-work.’

I tried, and failed, to achieve a consistent writing practice for years before I finally found my way to it. Since then, though, writing has been my companion.

The take-away from all this is that dry spells happen, for whatever reason. Every writer, without exception, has them, whether they admit to it or not. Be kind to yourself. This, too, shall pass.

If you’ve been away from your practice for a few days, or a few weeks, or even for a few years, start slow and build slowly on your successes. Forgive yourself for the times you falter. And always, approach the blank page with love in your heart and fire in your soul.

Muse-inks

Mid-season follies

First, a quick and ecstatic anime/animation note: Netflix has added Legend of Korra to its Canadian service. Just the first two seasons, but I’m all a-squee 🙂 Watching now. Giddy.

The mid-season isn’t quite over at this point, with Game of Thrones about to resume this weekend, but I probably won’t have a chance to share my further thoughts until later in the year.

The Expanse

This adaptation of the James S.A. Corey series of novels was gritty and realistic. It had a real noir feel to it and enough twists and turns to keep viewers tuned in week after week.

It was good storytelling, though dark.

I’ll leave it there, because this is a series I think y’all should really watch.

Childhood’s End

I wouldn’t recommend this adaptation. It was okay. I know decisions have to be made to present a written work on television, but I didn’t appreciate the decisions made in this mini-series.

‘Nuff said.

The Magicians

Love, love, lurved this series. C.S. Lewis, grown up, turned on its head, and painted black.

I know there were significant variances from Lev Grossman’s novels, from which this series was adapted, but these choices are, well, choice.

Another one I want everyone to watch.

Very well done.

Magical, even 😉

Bitten

This was the final season of Bitten, and warnings were issued that the writers were going ‘off-book’ with this one.

It was ok. They got back to centring the story on the pack and wolf dynamics.

The Russian pack have made themselves comfortable and so Jeremy, fearing a hostile takeover of the worst kind, sends Elena, Clay, and Nick to gather the lone werewolves and bring them into the pack.

A strange wolf and his family shows up and turns out to be Elena’s father.

There’s a lot of what I saw as unnecessary killing in this season, and the pack is decimated, even after Elena becomes Alpha.

The red-eyed wolf was truly terrifying, but when push came to shove, his take-down was unspectacular.

So like I say, ok. I wasn’t even too concerned about getting spoilery.

Marvel’s Agent Carter

I enjoyed it, though I hear that it wasn’t as well-received as the first season. The relocation to LA was a bit contrived, but the story arc was interesting and tied into Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and some of the other Marvel properties.

I appreciated Peggy’s relationships with the various men in her life, particularly Jarvis, and I liked that there were women characters who could hold their own beside our hero.

I wasn’t as taken with Whitney, though I believe the writers did the best they could to create a complex villain in as few brush strokes as possible.

We’re supposed to hear in May whether the series will be back for a third season or not.

You, Me, and the Apocalypse

This was funny! And quirky (and I loves me some good quirk)! Rob Lowe as a Cardinal? That made it for me, right there. The evil twin schtick didn’t feel tired in this series, either.

This is another story told, like How to get away with murder and Quantico, from two ends. One story line follows the lives of several people as they learn that an asteroid is heading on a collision course with Earth, and the other frames the chronological narrative from the perspective of the protagonist (we think—spoiler!) as he sits in a bunker, waiting for the impact.

As the episodes progress, viewer learns how all of the apparently disparate characters are connected. It was very well done.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Rory Pond gets to be a time master 😉 Yup. This one is another positive-ish DC show that features a number of the supporting characters from The Flash and Arrow, teaming up with time master Michael “Rip” Hunter to defeat Vandal Savage before he destroys the future.

It’s a bit repetitive as Rip and his team travel from time to time hunting Savage, or run from time to time trying to evade the other time masters Rip defied when he went on this crazy quest, but there have been some entertaining episodes.

The series may have a limited time (pun intended).

Vikings

I’m not as happy with this season as I have been with past ones. Ragnar is pretty pathetic this season, but other characters, like his son, Bjorn, and ex-wife Lagertha, are coming into their own.

Rollo has become a Frankish Duke and is actually defending the French against his brother Ragnar.

The intrigues of the courts of Wessex, Mercea, and Northumbria are interesting, but something is definitely lacking since Floki murdered Athelstan last year.

Can I just come back to Ragnar for a moment? Thought to be mortally wounded after the last attack on Paris, he recovers (somewhat), befriends a Chinese slave, becomes addicted, and essentially loses it. He redeems himself by coming up with a crazy idea to portage the Viking fleet past Rollo’s defences, but I’m thinking this may be it for the clever Ragnar I admired.

The season’s not over yet, though.

Orphan Black

This series has only just returned. I’m enjoying the ride, so far, though. Going back to the beginning and delving into the original mysteries around Neolution is a good way to reorient the show.

I’m not so sure I’m keen on Felix’s one-eighty, though. Searching for one’s birth family doesn’t mean you turn your back on the family that you have and get all broody. I suspect there’s more to it than what’s been confessed at first blush, though.

Outlander

We’re only a couple of episodes in, so I don’t have much to report. If the cast, crew, writers, and costume designers keep up with last season, however, I’ll be well-pleased.

The Good Witch

This sweet Harlequin production just returned this past Thursday.

Despite featuring a protagonist who is a witch, this series is really a Christian romance in pagan trappings.

I can’t explain it. My tastes generally run darker and more twisted, but I kind of like The Good Witch.

And . . . just so you know, I don’t watch all of the television that comes out. I can only watch so much without cutting into my writing time. I have to be picky. And there are some shows I just don’t get into. Or they don’t hook me at all.

So there you have it.

The only series I didn’t get to were the Netflix/Shomi series we watch. I may have to recap those in the fall before I dive into the new fall season shows.

As I mentioned before, I’ll be at Ad Astra next weekend. Unless a miracle occurs, I won’t be blogging. The weekend of May 7, I’ll be serving up my April next chapter update, and then I’ll be getting on with the convention reportage, such as it is.

I’ll be back with more Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday for you in the meantime.

Smiles, everyone, smiles! (Don’t ask me where that came from. Seriously, don’t.)

Series discoveries: mid-season follies

As a lead up to my fall 2015 series discoveries post, I thought I’d talk about the series I’ve been watching in the mid-season and what happened to the few I was watching that dropped off my radar.

From fall 2014:

I stopped watching Gotham (I know, people love it, but not me) and Stalker (just couldn’t get into it) after a couple of episodes each.

Followed Forever to the end of the season, but it doesn’t look like it will be back (at this point).

Watched Sleepy Hollow through to the end of its season, as well, but the writers kind of lost their way toward the end with the whole dark Katrina/time travel thing. When they resume, I hope they get their collective shit together.

Sad that Constantine wasn’t renewed, but I have to admit the series had its issues. The season story arc never really solidified.

Stuck with Once Upon a Time, Castle, The Flash, Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, Grimm, and Doctor Who. I found, though, with the exception of AoS and HtGAwM, I could really take or leave any series. If I missed an episode, I wasn’t sad.

I’m still getting used to the new Doctor (more on that when I get to fall 2015). I love Nathan Fillion enough that I can’t abandon Castle altogether, The Flash was a little cotton candy, but I’m good with that, and the last few eps of Grey’s were gripping.

Arrow’s a little dark and convoluted. OUaT and Criminal Minds were okay, but just that.

I liked the AoS plot, moving forward (Inhumans—yay) and as the HtGAwM mystery unfolded, I really had to watch every episode.

Telling the tale in two directions (inciting incident forward and climax backward) was an interesting technique that I hadn’t seen done well in TV. It can work really well in books (The Dispossessed, anyone?) but it’s imperfect in a television series. A lot of shows start at the climax and then rewind to tell the story leading up to it, but HtGAwM was the first show that I’ve seen that stretches the technique over a whole season.

It was tasty television. Emmy-winning, even. Viola Davis rawks.

Mid-season:

I liked Agent Peggy Carter enough to give it another view if/when it returns.

I loved, loved, LOVED the conclusion of Outlander and am so sad that I have to wait until 2016 for the second season. It was so well written and so well acted. Kudos to the entire cast and crew for making one of my favourite novel series in to my absolute favourite television series ever. Evar.

Game of Thrones, while still well-acted (as evidenced by the large numbers of Emmy wins), diverged from the novels in what I can only call a cluster of epic fails. I’ve written about these briefly in my Tipsday curations as the controversies hit the interwebz. My reaction was profound disappointment. Too much rapey, misogynistic shit. We’ll see if the show runners can pull their collective ass out of the fire this year.

I have been watching Vikings since its beginning. I love this show. The characters are compelling, the history is fairly accurate, and the writing is superb. This show surprises me. There are plot twists that I didn’t see coming.

The acting is great, too.

I stopped watching The Following when season two dropped. It just wasn’t my thing. I do watch thrillers and cops dramas, but something about The Following turned me off. I checked out a few episodes in season three, but it was more of the same. Really. Although they were different characters, the baddies of each season were all the same underneath. It was like one guy trying on different human skin suits. Blah.

Orphan Black was phenomenal from the moment it started. Tatiana Maslany is amazeballs as an actor playing multiple Leda clones. Ari Millen hasn’t done too badly playing a cast of Castors, either. Great characters, dark storylines with awesome, light fun, and incredible, technical wizardry.

Side note: Leda is a figure from Greek myth, impregnated by Zeus in the form of a swan (awkweird) who bore four children: Helen (yes, that Helen) and Polydeuces by Zeus, and Castor and Clytemnestra by her human husband. So the female clones would more properly be Helens (yawn) or Clytemnestras (ick), or the male clones Polydeuces (double ick), so I forgive the writers for messing the mythology up. Leda and Castor work just fine, thank you.

Bitten. I didn’t mention this series last year, but I should have. Enjoyed it quite a bit. Differences from the books aside, the second season didn’t disappoint. The only male witch fights the only female werewolf. Wackiness ensues.

Killjoys was fun. It’s one of those SF series that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Bounty Hunters in space? I’m in. Intrigue me with a solid season story arc? Done and done.

Dark Matter wasn’t as good. The series is built around a gimmick. Six people wake up from hypersleep (or whatever) and have no memory of who they are or what they’re doing on the ship. The first season is all about discovering bits and pieces of the puzzle, but by the time something really interesting started to happen, I was yawning.

The Good Witch movies have now become a series. This one’s a guilty pleasure. Not heavy on the magic, it’s a sweet, romantic drama. Come on, it’s from Hallmark (!)

Side note: one of the actors in Dark Matter, Anthony Lemke, who plays an asshole (Three) on that show, also plays a character on The Good Witch. He’s a real estate agent and the hapless love interest of the title character, Cassie Nightingale. It’s interesting to see the two back to back. They are really different characters.

iZombie was great. Phil and I just finished watching the first season a week or so ago. Interesting take on zombies. Also, the comic book frame is really suitable. The main character, a med student turned coroner, named Liv, by virtue of being able to take on the memories and abilities of the people whose brains she eats, helps to solve crimes. She’s kind of like a zombie superhero.

Also, the series is full of word play and homage (like one of my other favourite zombie movies, Shaun of the Dead). There isn’t an episode that doesn’t make a clever pop culture reference. Easter eggs galore. Full on zombie? Oh, yeah. I’m there.

Phil and I picked up on Hemlock Grove, which we’d abandoned in favour of anime last year, and it was okay. I wasn’t blown away with either the first or the second seasons, though I did think some of the different takes on vampires and werewolves were interesting, and a number of the plot twists were actually cool.

Speaking of Netflix series . . . We thought Daredevil’s first season was pretty good. It was definitely dark, but well done. Tortured hero, check. Doubly tortured villain, check. Murphy’s law applied liberally, check. Matt Murdock is like a Timex. Takes a licking . . .

Sens8. Loved. It may have been a “slow burn,” but we felt that something pivotal happened in each episode and we watched the first season in short order. Excellent writing. The character development was fabulous. Everything came together really well. You’ll have to watch it to see the intended pun in that last sentence 😀

Phil and I are on tenterhooks waiting to see if the second season will get the green light. Due to the sexual and cultural diversity of the characters, a lot of people didn’t like Sens8. Really? We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

And my true guilty pleasure (and the only reality TV I watch), So You Think You Can Dance, just finished. I like how the judges aren’t mean and everyone is really trying to help the competitors become the best dancers they can be. No manufactured drama.

Yeah, so that’s what I’ve been doing with myself for the last few months, TV-wise.

I’ve getting into the new and returning fall season shows and I’ll have something for you in October, probably. I’ll do an anime update as well, though we’ve eased back on watching it a bit. There’s a story of intrigue that goes with the anime post, so I’ll leave you with that teaser 🙂

Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!

Series Discoveries

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 14-20, 2015

Another wonderful week for Writerly Goodness!

What’s the key event and how is it different from the inciting incident and the first plot point? I know I still forget the distinctions. K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors.

And here’s Katie’s Wednesday vlog: How to write a riveting characteristic moment.

Roz Morris shares her experience with repetitive stress injury (RSI).

Kassandra Lamb guests on Jami Gold’s blog: Nine psychology myths you need to avoid.

Tips on picking up the pace from Rebecca LuElla Miller.

Learn about the magic systems of Brandon Sanderson. Tor.com.

Five ways first contact could turn into an epic fail. Veronica Sicoe.

Neil Gaiman offers his thoughts on why stories last. (w/ Podcast) BrainPickings.

Liz Bourke ponders how we speak of strong female characters. This post refers to others I’ve shared in past weeks and takes it in a slightly different direction. Very interesting. Tor.com.

How can you keep readers from hating your characters? Jody Hedlund.

Beth Revis posts on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: How do you know you’re ready to publish? Agent Carly Watters of P.S. Literary wrote on the same topic last week 🙂

Dave King explores our motivations for writing. Writer Unboxed.

Kameron Hurley asks, why are we self-publishing? Locus.

Porter Anderson takes a look at Hugh Howey’s promotion of self-publishing and what it really means in the context of the continually evolving publishing industry. Thought Catalog.

Related: Nielsen Book’s latest results indicate that self-publishing is more like traditional publishing. Publishing perspectives.

Amazon changes its terms for KDP select. The Digital Reader.

Why I teach diverse literature. The Toast.

What librarians wish we knew about how to use a library. i09.

Authors share the places that inspire them. FlavorWire.

Ten books you should read before you see the movie. The Huffington Post.

Mark Twain’s advice to little girls. BrainPickings.

This is fun 🙂 Classic novels with clickbait titles. BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed shares 22 book-themed gifts for readers.

Watch the Scooby Doo crew’s fashion evolve through the last century. i09.

The first set photos of the new all-female Ghostbusters! i09.

Mike Hale states that Game of Thrones the series is going the way of Lost . . . What do you think? The New York Times.

Here are Charlie Jane Anders’s suggestions about how to fix Game of Thrones. Is it even possible? i09.

How Terry Dresbach’s costumes bring history to life on Outlander. Variety.

Orphan Black’s season finale: history yet to be written. It was awesome (IMO). The Wall Street Journal.

See you Thursday 🙂

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 19-25, 2015

Some of the best writing posts and podcasts came out last week. Seriously. Awesome.

Here’s part 2 of K.M. Weiland’s Scrivener series: How she uses Scrivener to draft her novels.

How symbolism and subtext improve action beats in your dialogue. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Roz Morris’s video chat with Christine Nolfi and David Penny from #indierecon15: How to keep writing when time is scarce.

Then Roz joined Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn podcast to talk about plot.

Jami Gold has some excellent advice on . . . advice 🙂

Dan Blank wrote my favourite post of the week on Writer Unboxed: Shame and your writing career.

Christine Frazier of The Better Novel Project interviews Jeff Goins on the importance of fairy tales.

Jordan Rosenfeld guests on Jane Friedman’s blog on the topic of balanced productivity. Here’s another book for my “to read” pile . . .

Amazon pays this self-published writer $450,000 a year (!) I couldn’t do what Mark Dawson did. Kudos to him for making it. Forbes.

MPR News presents the top ten most challenged books of the year.

TED-Ed on Shakespearean insults:

Enrich your vocabulary with some 1920’s slang:

How Tatiana Maslany is transformed into a cast of clones by Orphan Black makeup artists. Vanity Fair.

See you on thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, April 12-18, 2015

How K.M. Weiland uses Scrivener to outline her novels.

Katie’s Wednesday vlog discusses how to help your readers love an unlikable character.

Roz Morris shares some common errors indie authors make in their self-published work.

Therese Walsh posts about finding the time to write (part 3 of her multitasking series) on Writer Unboxed.

Suzanne Alyssa posts on Sarah Selecky’s blog on the subject of the vulnerability of submission.

A two part post from Delilah S. Dawson on self-promotion: Please shut up, and Wait, keep talking.

Delilah S. Dawson guest posts on Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds with 25 blood-spattered tips for writing violence.

Are these filter words weakening your fiction? Write it Sideways.

Jamie Raintree asks, are artists still allowed to be neurotic? Thinking through our fingers.

Diana Gabaldon interviews Susanna Kearsley at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore.

Anne Lamott: “Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared.” Salon.

Tim Parks on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition: Writing in the Margins.

Sherwood Smith offers some thoughts on Heyer and Austin.

Astrophe: The feeling of being stuck on Earth. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

The history behind Orphan Black. The New Yorker.

For the Outlander fans: Interview with Sam Heughan.

The real romance behind Outlander. The New York Times.

Sesame Street’s Game of Chairs:

And that’s your Writerly Goodness for the week.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 29-April 4, 2015

Does it serve your story? Why killing your darlings is a mark of the mature writer. Roz Morris.

K.M. Weiland asks, What are pinch points and how can they make your story easier to write?

Show what your characters are thinking and feeling like a writer, rather than a director. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Ruth Harris shares the ten commandments of productive professional writers.

Here we are at day 29 of Janice Hardy’s online novel revision workshop: Eliminate unnecessary repetition. Though the month is over, you can peruse this lovely series of posts for revision assistance any time you want 🙂

Donald Maass discusses emotional work on Writer Unboxed.

Editor Rachel Starr Thomson guests on C.S. Lakin’s Live, Write, Thrive and writes about weaving in backstory.

Editorial advice: Stop using two spaces after a period. Cult of Pedagogy.

Eight natural phenomena to use in your stories. Mythcreants.

Reading makes us smarter and nicer. Readers are more empathetic. Who knew? Time.

Mary Robinette Kowal played an April Fool’s joke that wasn’t really a joke. She really is going to be working on Sesame Street.

Andrew Pyper is featured in Now.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia and her novel Signal to Noise have gained some high-profile attention. i09.

Culture and conflict on Warpworld: Dr. Robert Runte discusses Canadian vs. American Science Fiction.

J.K. Rowlings’ ten pieces of advice on the lessons of failure (and the commencement speech from which they were taken). The Guardian.

Six John Green Quotes on writing. Authors Publish.

Jack Kerouac’s 31 beliefs about writing. The Write Practice.

This is beautiful and poetic and the total reason I love abandoned places:

Masie Williams will be appearing in the next series of Doctor Who! i09.

The many faces of Tatiana Maslany. The New York Times Magazine. Are you looking forward to the return of Orphan Black?

Outlander and the spanking heard around the world by John Doyle for The Globe and Mail.

Spoilers are coming: George R.R. Martin releases a chapter of the latest Song of Ice and Fire novel. Time.

It was a writerly week!

See you on Thursday 🙂

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Jan 18-24, 2015

Roz Morris with more tales from her masterclasses for The Guardian. This week, your inner horse, johari windows, and finding your character’s true nature.

K.M. Weiland on “on the nose” dialogue, how to recognize it, and how to remedy it.

In her weekly vlog, Katie discovers the one common element in all the books she loves. Want to make sure you have it? Watch and learn.

After a lengthy pause, MJ Bush posts about how to know your character deeply in one step: the back door. Writingeekery.

I have a writer-crush on Chuck Wendig because he writes bad-ass stuff like this: 25 ways to be a bad-ass maker who makes bad-ass stuff.

Dave King writes about forthwringing tonguishness, or, why English is such a mutt language, on Writer Unboxed.

Dan Blank answers the question: why bother with email newsletters? Writer Unboxed.

Christine Frazier of The Better Novel Project interviewed on the writing education, technology (WET) podcast.

 

Writing is self-hypnosis from Stephen King:

 

Four plots structures you want to avoid. The New Yorker.

Fabulous bookshelves brought to you by BookBub. My faves? Nine and nineteen.

Why season three of Orphan Black is going to be even crazier. The Nerdist. Yeah, it’s a TV show, but damnit, it’s also great storytelling.

The Guardian. 20 previously unknown Pablo Neruda poems discovered in Chile.

It was a lovely week for writerly goodness.

Enjoy, my friends.

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.