Disclosure: Jodi is my publisher and a friend! Don’t let that poor judgment on her part affect your enjoyment of her excellent article, though.
How do you successfully establish and maintain a collaborative writing partnership? Here are seven tips I’ve gathered along the way (with a little help from my friends!).
She identifies the following points:
- Write with someone you trust.
- Write with someone with whom you share a great rapport.
- Write with someone whose work you know, admire and respect.
- Write with someone who will embolden you to write what you would never dare alone.
- Write in a format, genre and style you both feel comfortable with.
- Write with your ego at the door.
- Establish mutually agreed-upon parameters and stick to them when you write.
As usual I’ll let the article itself delve into the detailed discussion of those points. I’ve done some collaborative writing myself, and it can be a lot of fun.
Read all about Jodi’s experiences here: http://thewritersbloc.net/uncategorized/adventures-in-collaborative-writing/
Courtney Milan applies her mathematical eye to the earnings report website Hugh Howey released (link here):
Lots of people have written about this, and I will sum up what they say: The study has convinced almost everyone who already believed what Howey said in the report, and convinced almost nobody who did not already believe it.
This is an ambitious project that is likely taking a lot of work on the part of Howey and his mystery coder. They’ve aggregated a bunch of information that people have discussed only anecdotally up until now. That’s pretty cool. That being said, it’s pretty obvious to me that they desperately need someone with some kind of background in science and statistics and data collection, because right now they’re spending a ton of time sifting through data without any sense of how to properly quantify things.
It’s worth looking at, as a balancing act to the raw figures coming out of the report.
Original link here: http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2014/02/16/some-thoughts-on-author-earnings/
This popped around in my social media feeds enough that I finally read it, and I do love a good analysis of evolving grammar. It even includes a tumblr-sourced translation of Romeo and Juliet:
But what really interests me as a linguist is that doge speak is recognizably doge even when it’s not on an image at all. Let’s take a look at a particularly brilliant example from tumblr, although there are many shorter ones (check out this twitter or this subreddit):
What light. So breaks. Such east. Very sun. Wow, Juliet.
What Romeo. Such why. Very rose. Still rose.
Very balcony. Such climb.
Much love. So Propose. Wow, marriage.
Very Tybalt. Much stab. What do?
Such exile. Very Mantua. Much sad.
So, priest? Much sleeping. Wow, tomb.
Such poison. What dagger. Very dead. Wow, end.
If you are interested in language (and you should be, writer!), then this kind of analysis should whet your appetite for more:
The first factor is the kind of “baby talk” that we do towards our pets, known in the literature as pet-directed speech (yes, there are actual studies on this). It tends to involve speaking with exaggerated pitch and using simplified sentence structure. By comparison, the “baby talk” that we do towards actual children involves these two factors plus extra-precise articulation of sounds and is known as infant-directed speech (formerly motherese until some genius realized that it’s not only mothers who talk to babies).
The thing, of course, is that there is a grammar to the ungrammatical speech-that-is-Doge.
Read the whole thing here: http://the-toast.net/2014/02/06/linguist-explains-grammar-doge-wow/
This is a very attractive periodic table generated from the TV Tropes website (NOTE: I did not link to that website because it is the black hole of the Internet; if you are interested in storytelling it can take hours to extricate yourself from it).
The Periodic Table of Tropes might be a better name for this interactive visualization: Although each box on Harris’s Periodic Table contains one storytelling element coupled with an atomic number, you probably won’t recognize many of these storytelling elements from creative writing class. Rather, the Periodic Table of Storytelling is filled with elements such as “Idiot Hero,” “Getting Crap Past The Radar,” and “Xanatos Gambit,” spread across groups that range from archetypes to metatropes.
See, just reading that tempts me to click through to TV Tropes and find out what it means… Must… Resist…
I won’t pinch the image and post it here directly, but definitely click through to check it out: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3025995/infographic-of-the-day/infographic-the-periodic-table-of-storytelling
Philip Overby looks into his own enjoyment of Fantasy, and posits some reasons why fantasy writers might or might not play it safe when writing new work.
I guess you’re expecting me to say, “Ugh, I’m so sick of epic fantasy.” Actually, no. I quite enjoy these kinds of stories for the most part, and have done so for around twenty years or more.
However, I found myself in a bit of a quandary recently when I thought, “I’d like to read something a bit different in tone, structure, and scope.” So I started looking through my collection of books. Admittedly lots of fantasy.
I’m not much of a fan of fantasy anymore (particularly epic fantasy), having read my share of Eddings and Feist tomes in my youth. That doesn’t mean there isn’t huge scope yet in the fantasy genre, obviously. Philip explores this:
A question kept nagging me, though. For a genre as limitless as fantasy, why do I feel like I need to escape the genre to get something completely different? Could it be that fantasy is one of the safest genres out there? Is safe a bad word?
Why Fantasy Writers Might Try to Crack the Genre Open
Fantasy is a limitless genre
The potential exodus of readers to Young Adult fiction
The ability of new writers to immediately distinguish themselves
Why Fantasy Writers Prefer to Play it Safe
It’s easier to meet reader expectations
The fear of being ignored
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I’ve snipped out his detailed exploration of these points, so click through to check it out here: http://mythicscribes.com/miscellaneous/fantasy-fiction-too-safe/
Jen Webb discusses a recent news story about successful Australian author Matthew Reilly:
Aristotle said it first: if you want to write a good story (or, in his terms, a good tragedy), you must have two things: plot, and character. Plot is, for Aristotle, “the arrangement of the incidents” — the causal relations between things, people and events. Character refers to the individuals who are the actors in that plot, and all their personal qualities and moral capacities, along with the relationships they have with each other and with the choices they have to make.
I’m not and have never been a fan of Matthew Reilly’s writing, but I certainly applaud his successful approach: http://theconversation.com/improving-ones-plot-in-life-why-matthew-reillys-books-sell-22644
Freya Wright-Brough shared this awesome writing project (and exercise and networking activity) on her blog. As part of a 365 day story-a-day challenge, she wrote a story to deliver to a stranger’s letterbox:
There’s a house not too far away that has an amazing fence made from branches. So I decided ‘made from branches’ was my trigger. I made an envelope and addressed a letter explaining myself… then enclosed this story.
It’s a really cool idea with a great outcome.
I delivered it this afternoon so now we wait. In the letter I ask them tweet or facebook me back if they like it. Fingers crossed!
The story of the project is a story in itself. Read the enclosed story and the meta-story here: http://freyawrightbrough.com/2014/01/24/the-garden-day-58-a-strangers-letterbox/
It’s Friday, so the rules on what to post are a little looser. Hell, since I make the rules myself I suppose they are always precisely as loose as I like them. I’m basically Gandalf, folks.
This post is more of an idea-generating thing, a ‘let’s think about [in this case, zombies] from a different perspective’. I think it’s helpful from time to time to grab a well-worn idea and just hold it up in a new light to see if any new facets have been worn in.
In this case, it’s a little prequel trailer for a new movie. It asks ‘how do we deal with rebuilding the world after a zombie apocalypse?’
Watch it here: http://io9.com/what-happens-after-medicine-finds-a-way-to-fight-the-zo-1507654586
Patrick O’Duffy uses the Hulk and King Kong as examples on how to communicate the core of a story to the readers who are about to invest in it:
[T]his idea of a mission statement – the willingness to communicate to your audience just what your story is going to be about, and to do it at the start of your narrative – is a bloody fantastic idea and one that more writers need to embrace.
I’ve done enough slushreading, and you’ve read enough writing advice, to know that a story needs to grab a reader early to convince them to keep reading. There is a lot of stuff out there, and only so much spare time in between watching reality TV and sporting events. You have to grab those readers and convince them, gently, that this is the one.
Patrick quotes from an excellent interview in his post:
Comics Alliance: The thing I liked about Indestructible Hulk, and this is something that comes up in a lot of your work, is that you’re a guy who’s big on mission statements and explicitly laying out your direction in a comic. You had that very simple phrase you repeated throughout the book, which was that Hulk destroys and Banner builds.
Check it out (and the full interview with Mark Waid): http://patrickoduffy.com/the-mission-statement/
I don’t generally like picking on an author’s style, but Dan Brown is probably used to it by now, and also filthy rich, so I guess he can take it.
Sam Anderson and David Rees started an experiment in ‘dialogic marginalia’ whereby the first would annotate the text of Dan Brown’s Inferno, then hand it to the second, who would do the same.
I purchased and read Inferno, which was inscrutable and interminable, and as I read I scribbled in its margins. When I finished, my friend David Rees, the artisanal pencil sharpener, asked if he could borrow it. He added his thoughts.
It was fun to see someone else’s words next to mine. I wrote in black pen, in cursive. David wrote in red pencil, in block letters. I was semi-serious. David swore and told a lot of jokes. Usually we agreed, but occasionally we disagreed. Here are some of the highlights.
Have a read and see what ‘live feedback while reading’ means in the context of a massive blockbuster: http://www.themillions.com/2014/01/dumbest-thing-ever-scribbling-in-the-margins-of-dan-browns-inferno.html