Monday, September 2, 2013

When You Follow the Magic: An Unfinished Collection of Writer's Advice (Part Two)

For this post I will be linking to articles of writing advice, which applies especially to science fiction and fantasy writing. In my previous post, I discussed the best books of writing advice on sf/f, and those works have been canonical to my experience as a writer. What I love about the websites I'll be linking to in this post is that my knowledge and experience is constantly expanding to accommodate new advice. Thanks to the fantasy sub-Reddit, Tor, Mythic Scribes, and Blackgate, I can find words of wisdom from published writers who are successful in today's fickle publishing world. These articles are all recent, and usually tackle an angle of an issue that pertains to sf/f writing. This will probably end up as an ongoing feature (I'm constantly on these sites).

  1. "The Only Advice A Writer Needs" by Tony Cliff. I relate to Cliff because I get the desire to find the magical advice to solve my writer--hell, even my life--problems. What Cliff offers is a solid, practical advice about how to get it done. The frippery about inspiration will only get a writer so far, and Cliff gives reader the push to want to produce. The magnum opus will not write itself.
  2. "Writing Secondary Characters--Interview with Scott Lynch" by Katherine [sic]. Scott Lynch is a fun writer, one who knows how to make readers gasp, cry, and laugh. I had the chance of seeing him in a seminar about genre blending at Gen Con, and after that, I wanted to have everything to do with any advice Lynch could offer. In this interview, he's funny and crisp, and goes beyond merely discussing secondary characters. This interview is most helpful for creating an entertaining, well-rounded story.
  3. "Writing Fantasy Battles--A Look at Strategy" by Aaron Miles. This was a fun read for considering what went into tactics when the world use to have fights where two armies fought to the bloody end. Miles discusses early army organization (cavalry, archers, and infantry) and how they would be positioned for different conflicts/settings, what weapons they'd be using, and interesting details like why it's most important to show up the battleground first. This was my first time running into Fantasy Faction, and it's well worth regular visits.
  4. "Gallowglas, Hester, Wagner & Coe: Four Authors Sound Off on the Writing Life of a Midlister" by Garrett Calcaterra. Sometimes I get caught up in the vision of what it would be like to be as famous as J.K. Rowling, and because this article exists, I know I'm not alone. The reality is that "making it" as a writer is today as much as about selling your published book as it is getting it written and published. This article covers how uncertain the writing life can be, and also how thrilling and satisfying. The uncertainty stems from things that plague ordinary life: when your next paycheck will be rolling in and for how much, what projects you have going on and how successful they will be, etc. The satisfaction seems to come from using this implacable desire to create stories and managing to survive on your own talent. This article does have a pragmatic tone, so don't expect any overly optimistic advice. My recommendation to cheer you up is to watch an episode of Gravity Falls and think: if this crazy story can make it, so can mine, and maybe so can I.
  5. "Self Promotion for Horrible People" by Sam Sykes. This blog post is self promotion for introverts 101. While some writer's (including me) propensity is to be rather quiet, modest, and selfish about our stories, that's not going to get your story noticed or read. Putting it that way sounds callous, but Sykes discusses promotion in a positive, cheerful light--how to make promotion of your story fun. Sykes is funny and blunt, and this blog post was an interesting look into how writers can share their stories.
    1. Equally as fun and significant was Sykes' "The Importance of Being a Bastard". I love reading about fantasy that approaches the topic in an unconventional and interesting way, and Sykes covers that subject well with Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. The most important takeaway point of this blog piece by Sykes is writers need to love their stories and enjoy creating them, particularly because that creates better and more gripping fiction.
I love sharing the advice of these writers as much as I enjoyed reading about them in the first place. The real kernel of these articles is that the desire to write and the impetus to create is a wonderful thing, and to make sure that writers are enjoying that ride. This is why we got into science fiction and fantasy--to create something that transcends the ordinary and opens up new worlds in our imagination. I can't wait for more interesting pieces of writing advice to share!

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