Friday, December 21, 2007
A whole lotta nothing today.
I am talking to a second place about hosting our event. This first one meet up will be for the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction writers here in Seattle.
I am looking forward to getting down to my studio space this weekend. My studio mates and I are about to buy a whole bunch of new lights and reflectors. Hooray for new toys!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I am still waiting on the last reader, but I feel really good about the new short. I am entering it in a contest, so wish me luck.
I am working with my local writers association (Pacific Northwest Writers Association) to start a writer discussion group. I just contacted a great independent book seller here in Seattle to see if they would be willing to let us hold our meetings at their store. I really hope this all works out, as I truely believe that writers need to support each other.
When I was at the writer's conference this summer, I realized how little writer community there is in the Northwest, which is sad considering how many writers there are in these parts. The other thing that really struck me was how much writers worship at the foot of editors and agents. Don't get me wrong, they do great (and difficult) work, but without writers, they have no industry. Still, I saw so many writer debasing themselves in front of these people. I want to start a positive writer community that really focuses on us, the writers, as artists and valuable members of the publishing world (as opposed to the unwashed masses that so many writers see themselves as in this world).
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Two of my readers (one is my mom and the other is from my writing group) liked the new ending! I tell you now, I totally feel like it is a major accomplishment to get these two to like what I've written. Move over editors, my mom finally likes something I wrote (mom is also a writer and editor).
I have one more person that is reading the story(other member of the writing group), and then it will be off to its literary destination!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I sent out the short story to my first readers. It was well received, but the resolution was an issue again. I just can't quite wrap this puppy up in a totally satisfactory way. I thought about it for a couple of more hours last night, and I added some more clarifying descriptions. Now, it is off to the second readers. If this doesn't fly, I am going to cry!
Friday, December 14, 2007
I finished the last additions to my story and did a paper edit. Now, it's off to my critique group. I wish I had more readers on the piece, but you got what you got.
I am headed down to the studio tonight or tomorrow to work with our studio lights some more. Here's to that working out for me *crosses fingers*
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I took her down to the studio this weekend to work on portraits with her, but she channeled her inner-energy demon and just ran the length of the studio for an hour or two instead.
I am working on refining a short story of mine that I had a lot of feedback on from editors I sent it to. The major complaint was with the resolution. So, I am reworking the ending today. Hopefully, I will be sending it back out this month.
Monday, October 8, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The mod on that computer is absolutely astounding!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I am really slow to decide whether I liked a book or not, so my reviews are pretty slow in coming. All the same, for the sake of furthering my understanding my own writing, I am going to post reviews of the books I’ve recently finished.
A Wild Sheep Chase (1989)
This book, the third in a series, was Haruki Murakami’s
On the surface, the book focuses on a quest that the protagonist must go on to avoid having his life destroyed by a man that is only know as “the boss.” The narrator (we never get a name), and his girlfriend (“the girl with perfect ears”) set out to find a mysterious sheep that may or may not be pivotal to the boss’s existence. Along the way, the narrator realizes that an old friend is somehow connected to the sheep and possible the boss. This friend, “the rat,” becomes the focus of how to find one sheep in all of
The story takes us from urban
Stars (out five)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
*crossing fingers and toes for mah story*
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Access our powerful magic from home! (commanding isn't it).
Know your magical item is safe with us. (I feel safe, don't you).
No wonder we all talk in sentence fragments: it is the most common reading we do these days (billboards, etc.). Then I started wondering, is it really wrong, or does it just annoy me. I mean, most editors or writers agree that that grammar is 70 percent solid rules and 30 percent opinion. Still, it makes my red pen twitch.
Friday, September 14, 2007
- I can never remember if it is congradualations or congratulations. I look it up every time.
- Lay, lie, lying ... it's best to let cranky editors lie ... or is that lay ...
- I abuse semicolons.
- I am scared of colons.
- I leave words out ALL the time.
- I put the wrong word more often than I like to admit. ;-)
- When I need to edit, I procrastinate by writing.
- When I need to write, I procrastinate by editing.
- Spell check is my friend.
- Cut and Paste is my enemy (it is only in combo that I really get into trouble).
- Style? Isn't that a magazine.
- I still can't figure out when to use a dash to any good end (but I do hate them).
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
On the note of dogs, what do you think about stories that are told from the prospective of animals, in which they maintained their "animal" nature (i.e. Animal Farm doesn't count, but Startide Rising does)? Are they always a little campy in your mind, or can you think of a story that really pulled it off?
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
First, I’d like to say that the series, as a whole, is good. Ms. Rowling did a good job of telling a very long and involved story. She clearly managed to reach out well beyond the believed market for such stories.
Now down to the nitty gritty …
I really didn’t like Deathly Hallows for many reasons. There, I said it! I know that lots of people are going to wildly disagree with me on this, but I really feel pretty strongly about it. There are several reasons for my not liking the book, and most of those reasons revolve around rule breaking and logic errors. I know, I am an uptight reader about things like this, but I really want the writer to make it work it out correctly, as in, in accordance with the rules of the world. In my writing group, this is the first thing any of us will point out in the each others’ stories. It is so important! So where did she fall down, in my opinion?
1. The elder wand. The rule was that the elder wand couldn’t be defeated in a duel, yet that is how Dumbledore won it from Grindelwald. Bad. Bad. Bad.
2. The final duel. What weird logic was that? Really? Harry can defeat Voldemort because he defeated Malfoy and took his wand, and Malfoy is the rightful owner of the elder wand? So, somehow the elder wand knows that its true owner (Malfoy) was defeated while using a different want and now must belong to Harry? I don’t buy it.
3. More Final Duel. Nor do I buy that a teenager (and not a well-studied one at that) defeats the most powerful wizard of all time, who is currently using the unbeatable wand, with a simple disarming spell. Sorry, it doesn’t fly with me. You know what I would have believed? I would have totally bought into the concept that the horcruxes held his power, as well as his soul. Thus, if the majority of the horcruxes were destroyed, so was the majority of his power. This would clear the way for Harry to defeat him easily, but this would also mean anyone else could have done the same, too.
4. The epilogue was horrid. I wish I hadn’t read it, truthfully.
I could go on, but I am afraid of the rabid Potter fans. On that note, until this book, I was a pretty rabid fan.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Well, wish me luck.
Friday, August 3, 2007
I know I'm whining, but I feel a bit down today about it all. Trying to build two careers simultaneously is feeling more and more daunting. Maybe next year I can make it to Orson Scott Card's writer boot camp; it also has a good name in the industry and is supposedly amazing.
Monday, July 30, 2007
This year my main complaint is that this conference has grown too big for the convention center we use.
For the last three years that I have been to this conference, it’s been held at the Hilton by Seatac airport. The last two years, it’s been a little tight, but manageable. This year though, man, what a difference a year makes. For anyone who has attended writers conferences, you know that one of the major thrusts of the conference is the agent and editor meetings.* Seeing that these appointments happen throughout the time of the conference, this means people have to leave classes early or come in late in order to make their appointments. Now, when the class in mostly empty, you barely notice, but when the room is darn near standing room only, it gets loud. In one of my classes, a person came or went every two minutes or so. Needless to say, I learned to sit in the front of the room, so I could hear everything being said and not be too distracted by the door opening and closing.
I must stress that I am not the least bit upset with the people for coming and going; they had agents to meet with and those meetings are only five minutes, so no sense in doing nothing for the hour and half that the classes run when you could be attending one. My complaint is: we need to move to a space that is more accommodating for the increased interest in the conference (better parking would be good, too).
The only other thing I can think of is something my husband brought up today. It would be great to see more community building activities at conferences. He pointed out that most of the time we were there people were either dealing with pitching their book or sitting in a classroom being lectured at by a presenter. This, though, is on people like me. I didn’t go volunteer to help set up writer roundtables, so I only have myself to blame. Speaking of which, I will be writing PNWA today to try to get of the conference committee, so I can arrange for activities that encourage writers to network and talk about their experiences. On that note, if anyone can make suggestions to me about good community building activities that could occur within the confines of a writers conference, please leave me a comment, and I’ll add it to my letter to the PNWA board.
*For those new to all of this, those are appointments that attendees have with various industry agents and editors. During the time of your meetings, you can pitch your book directly to an agent and/or editor.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I am going to chat about the conference in three parts: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I have to say that I am continually impressed with PNWA for managing to pull together some top-notch presenters. This year I took classes from:
- Louise Marley (awesome science fiction writer from these parts).
- Alice B. Acheson (publicist)
- Scott Driscoll (writer)
- Rick Mofina (writer; he was an excellent presenter)
- Kat McKean (agent)
- Ginger Clark (agent)
- James F. David (writer)
- Kat Richardson (local writer of urban fantasy)
I put Ms. Marley at the top because I really believe that any writer would benefit from a class with her. She was teaching a class about pacing and point of view, and I was concerned that it would be too basic to be interesting. Instead, she really made a lot of things make sense to me that have been eluding me for awhile now. Ms. Marley has a lot to offer to everyone; I even saw a well-published author there taking notes.
My next favorite presenter was Rick Mofina. He is a thriller writer and a journalist. If you write thrillers, or have thriller aspects to your stories, this guy is a whiz at breaking down what elements need to be present in your story. He also has tons of interesting war stories from his years working the cops and crime beat for a major Canadian newspaper.
Alice Acheson was a surprise treat. I went to her class about marketing because I know that as my book moves past the agent stage (here’s hoping that the agency sells it soon), I want to be a big part of promoting my book. Ms. Acheson was wonderful. First, she handed out a timeline that shows the process from the acceptance of the manuscript at the publishers to the book being on the shelves. She talked a lot about when you need to push and how you can help your in-house publicist (who probably has a 100 clients) promote your book. Awesome!
They rest of the presenters were excellent. I am truly happy with what I learned at the conference.
Three cheers for more tools in the bucket!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
“Day 241: My captors continue to torment me with bizarre guidelines and conflicted editors. They receive lavish pay in my presence while I am forced to subsist on minimal benefits, no days off, and, of course, the vendor. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of eventual escape … that, and the satisfaction I get from occasionally forcing logic into the workplace. I fear I may be going insane”
Friday, July 6, 2007
This fallacy, one I hear so frequently in arguments—especially Lincoln-Douglass debate style—as to make me want to shake my head and throw in the towel. Let me offer you all a quick definition, and then I will move on to discuss its role in literature and the problem it presents in making a plot valid (does the plot makes logical sense?).
Reification is the logic fallacy where an abstraction is treated as a concrete, real, physical, and discrete entity. To rephrase, it is the error of treating something as a "real thing" that is not real. For example, let us look quickly at the concept of ultimate truth. Where is it? Who owns it? What about freedom, liberty, good, bad, right, wrong?
*Now let me quickly note before I get swooped down on for this, let me say that reification can be acceptable in literature when it is used as a metaphor. To use it in a logical argument, however, is a fallacy.*
So what the problem here? Well, let’s examine the concept of evil in speculative fiction. If you are going to say that evil exists in your writing, you have to prove it. Some of your characters could believe that, say, vampires are evil and say as much, but if you want me to really believe that as an axiom, tell me where the evil is in the body. The thing is, you could have a vampire story in which the vampires never kill anyone. It could be just a biological need to drink blood, but it doesn’t have to be human, and they don’t have to kill to get it; they could just “sip” on something for a bit. Thus, you’ll need to prove to me that they are evil if you going to use it as an axiom.
In the show, Buffy, for instance, vampires are demons in human suits. They prove demons are evil; they are totally bent on killing all humans and retaking this realm for their own. Ok, I buy it; they’re evil. To expand, if two life forms are wholly incompatible to the point of needing to destroy each other so the other may exist, fine. If a race of creatures landed on earth and needed to change the atmosphere so that their nitrogen-breathing race could live here, and well, that does away with us, and it’s an irreconcilable problem that easily lends itself to the concept of this race as “evil.”
I am not claiming that I need to know exactly what part of the brain is enlarged to make a man “evil” (although that would make an excellent story; the discovery of the homicide gene and how society would deal with it), but I want to know that this is backed up by something real.
When does it drive me crazy? When the author of a book has one of the characters explain that they cannot work with character X, because they are evil and everyone is just fine with that as a reason despite the fact that if character X were brought in, the heroes would then have the subject-matter expert they needed to solve the problem. As a reader, character x seems like a totally fine person, if a bit odd, and I mostly feel like the author didn’t want to have to come up with a good reason to omit that character from the situation.
“But sir, if we just talk to Igor, we can get that information,” said Walt, the loyal right-hand man.
“No, Walt, we won’t lower ourselves to work with people like him; he’s a mercenary,” responded Dick, the terribly heroic boss.
“If we don’t, it could take days to track down the information,” said Walt.
“Well, that’s the path we must tread then as honorable men,” said Dick.
Oh please! Give me a good reason like:
“If we go to Igor, he’ll know that we are looking into the theft of the Golden Almond, and he’ll try for it himself.”
“Igor buys and sells information. If we buy the information about who last had the map to the Golden Almond, then he’ll sell that information to the next sot who wants to know who’s looking into the map. That could include our thief!”
See, not so hard to justify why the characters were precluded from an activity without having to treat evil as a concrete thing. You know, show us why instead of just telling us why.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Ok, later today I will be writing another entry in my logic series (at the request of the Written Wyrdd). In the meantime, I want to quickly look at writers’ quirks, or at least their writing quirks.
My writing quirk is pretty amusing to me, as it really highlights a part of my personality that I both love and, well, less love. I’m sure my quirk is not amusing to my editor friends or my agent. I, apparently, love the works “thus” and “therefore.” One of beta readers for my first novel pointed it out to me, as in, he highlighted how many times I used the words in a given chapter. It was bad. Think a dozen or more.
This all brings me to yesterday when I was talking to an editor friend of mine (she edits non-fiction books for a publisher in these parts) and her reaction was:
“So you really like to summarize your thoughts and bring them to a logical conclusion.”
I’d never really thought of it that way, but, uh, yeah, exactly. My need to makes sense of things, summarize them, and fit them into their boxes had reared its well groomed head again. I really had to laugh.
I chatted more with said editor about some of my fellow writers, and told her about one of the quirks of my husband’s writing. In his writing, he uses the word “seem” often and by often, I mean once or twice a page. As a note, he knows this and finds it funny, too. Every time I saw it in his writing, I would underline it, as to bring attention to it. To me, “seem” is a weak word.
The place “seemed” to be filled with disreputable sorts.
She “seemed” to be angry.
ARG! It all seems so weak! ;-) I say go for it; tell us how it is or show us how it is.
The place was filled with people more concerned with brandishing their weapons than their personal hygiene.
The place was teeming with the kind of people who would love to take a cop, any cop, down a notch or two.
She was spitting mad.
She turned red, turned away, and turned to him. I don’t think she appreciated my response.
I could keep on with this, but I’ll spare all of you. So my editor friend, who was totally on my side on the matter, really nailed it for why ambiguous wording can be very problematic to your writing. For her, when an author leaves the reality open of the novel with a “seem,” he/she is implying there might be a plot twist based on this moment. For example:
The wind “seems” to be carrying the sent of smoke.
In this case, my friend, would be waiting to find out what the actual scent was. Because in a plot nothing happens without reason (that’s left for stories), readers read a lot into the way we structure our sentences, the exact wording, the rules the world, etc. How many times have you argued that a character could still be alive due to one word in the death scene? I can think of at least one case for me (Sirius Black, BTW, is alive; I know it!).
There you go. Quirks!
Friday, June 22, 2007
The thing that surprised me about this contest; I thought this was an amateur contest, as in only unpublished authors. Apparently not so, as at least one of the finalists in my category appears to have a book out. No, it's not sour grapes, but I'm still surprised, as the major prize at this conference (very small cash prizes) is meeting editors and agents.
Why do you think, is it a good practice to toss amateurs and professional writers in the same ring? Does it just sharpen our young claws, or push us out of the way of potential breaks into the industry?
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I am almost done with my WIP, which is a thriller novel. I consider it mainstream fiction, and it has the literary form of a thriller, one set in the near future (next 50 years).
So my question is this: Is "thriller" its own genre in the genre fiction range, or is it a flavor of mainstream commercial fiction? Also, do you think that its setting being in the future means that it by definition needs to be classified as science fiction?
Monday, June 18, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
What changed my mind is simple; I have a 20 minute commute to work every day. It takes 20 to get there and more like 30 to get home. The first weeks I would call my mom on the way home (hands free device, I promise); she likes to talk on a daily basis, so I figured it was a good solution to commuting boredom and mom's desires (no offense mom). Still, after three weeks even she was tired of the daily calls. I tried the radio, which never works for me, as my taste in music is a bit off the pop beaten path. NPR gets old, and I commute at off times, etc, etc. So it was, as I was wandering the aisles of my favorite Seattle bookstore (Elliot Bay Bookstore) that my husband brought up the idea of audio books again. On a whim, I bought one. It was a reading of a book, A Wild Sheep Chase, that I've wanted to read for about seven years now, but for one reason or another, I never got to it.
One week after getting the audio book, my husband got a contract at the same place that I was working, so we began commuting together. With each other to talk to, the grand plan of enriching myself on the way to work was cast aside for the more entertaining talk about friends, our house, and our nutty dog. I swear, Mr. Murakami, it isn't you; it's me.
All this lands me to today, when I finally decided to upload the book to my iPod, so I could listen to it while working on some of my more mundane tasks. While uploading it, I starting listening. The book, and the reading, is just brilliant. All of my snobbishness about audio books flew out the window as I found myself drawn into the story within five minutes. Now, I can't wait for tomorrow's commute.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Friday, June 1, 2007
What about you all contests? Conferences? Seminars? Bueller?
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Seattle is the most literate city in the United States!
Ok, it's only so interesting. If not for the social aspect of what pushes one city above another (poverty, social programs, accessibility, blighting weather), then why we feel the need to endlessly rank, compare, and compete.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
So onto another non-writing post.
I took a running lesson this weekend. I know it sounds odd, as we all "know" how to run, but after complaints from a knee, I thought I better examine my biomechanics. Anyway, for anyone who is interested in such things, it was awesome! I took a Chirunning seminar*, and it really helped isolate so of my more problematic form issues. My instructor is a trail runner/marathoner, who was helpful, patient, and quite articulate. I really couldn't be happier. So, here's to me running and NOT hurting my knees. *grin*
*As a note, I rarely think seminars are that useful, but this was a totally different experience for me.
'I came back my client and said, ‘I’m not going to make this look like Hollywood,’' Archer recalled, choosing to focus instead on a finely-crafted structure embodying a sense of history and tradition"
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Here are the rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
Here is goes:
1. I practice Kajukenbo, but I have my 2nd Dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
2. I refuse to have broadcast TV in my house, but I rent TV shows.
3. I'm vegetarian (for about 15 years now).
4. My brother used to make space boxes. ;-)
5. I wrote my first major fiction work when I was 13 (it was a play).
6. I used to want to be a chemist, like my dad.
7. I still feel odd for not majoring in a science (I got my degree in journalism with a secondary major in sociology).
8. The last band I played in was a marching band; that was last year.
I don't have many people to tag (who aren't already tagged), so Quinnwick will be my sole peep.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
I need to write a song about having the writing blues ... oh wait ... that would mean more writing.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
So I thought, Hey, I should white wash these chairs and ....
paint them groovy colors. I present chair #1
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Again, go see her (or at least read her writings).
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Back to the logic, or my attempts to explain it to myself and possibly others.
How familiar does this sound (if you replace the necessary project and agency)?
“Unnecessary projects like the space elevator should be abandoned by all super cool space agencies.” (great example, huh?)
The speaker will then go on to talk about all the money being spent on this frivolous project, which nobody wants. The problem is that the speaker never established that this was a project that no one wanted or thought frivolous. In order to start this argument, the speaker needed to first gain consensus that the project was unnecessary or implausible. This is “begging the question,” when an individual moves onto the safe zone of the argument while ignoring the actually problem.
In a book I read recently, I found this fallacy displayed this way. Character A started a discussion about another character by saying that Character B was worthless. Character A then went on to argue that whatever happened to Character B was justifiable because of the aforementioned worthlessness. The problem, of course, is Character B’s worth was never established.
I find that this is a major pitfall for me in my writing. I want to claim things to be a certain way, so I can move on to pushing my characters forward. For example, I just love to claim that Character X’s idea was so ridiculous, and who would waste their time doing such a stupid thing, without ever going through the extra step of providing the logic behind why the idea was wrong. Oh, I do nitpick.
For the logic nerds, here are the forms (from Wikipedia):
Formally speaking, the simplest form of begging the question follows the following structure. For some proposition p:
- p implies p
- suppose p
- therefore, p.
However, the following structure is more common:
- p implies q
- q implies r
- r implies p
- suppose p
- therefore, q
- therefore, r
- therefore, p.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
My favorites are:
Writing the Breakout Novel
by Donald Maass (for writing)
The Insider's Guide to Getting an Agent
by Lori Perkins (agent advice)
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
The one thing I have to say though is, version control is mucho important! I seriously just got a document set back (well into the 100+ pages range), and I have at least two versions in here. By versions, I mean v1 is what was handed to me, I edited it, becoming v1_edit or v1.1, they accepted the edits, and it became v2. I have at least one document from v1, which I edited but none of those edits are there, and another document that I wrote and that never saw an editor. Needless to say, it's a mess.
So, many of you here are writers with big novels, and presumably many of you are on your second, third, or fifth edit (that's me btw) of that novel. What system do you use to keep it all straight? Right now, I use dates in the document name (i.e. greatnovel_040407.doc). That is the name I give to my first major revision. I don't really like my system, but it works. Any better ideas?
This is my dog,
Since then, I’ve been tracking this story, as it really does matter to me what is happening to other people’s pets. I have to say that outraged just doesn’t really describe how I feel. This was irresponsible at best. I thought about it a lot over the last couple of days as I’ve been seeing the number of pets killed by the food swell to nearly 8000. There was just no real response out of the company. If there was a food product on the market that killed 35-45% of humans, it would have NEVER gotten so little attention from the company and media. Maybe I am alone in this feeling, but my dog is a part of my family. I have no children; I have her. It upsets me so much to know that so many families lost someone because of a lack of response.
I remember reading Childhood’s End and reading the part when the aliens make their only real demand of humanity; they must stop needlessly harming animals. Seems so simple, doesn’t it.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Man is sentient.
Man feels fear.
The aliens feel fear.
Therefore the aliens are sentient.
And that type logic fallacy is something that absolutely plagues writing. But, unlike the other fallacies that I’ve been looking at here, this one I feel is mostly accidental; the others always strike me as shortcuts gone wrong. I think most writers don’t strive to make no sense at all, or spin a story based on an obvious fallacy. Still this type of fallacy, called the Undistributed Middle Term, comes up over and over again. I most commonly see it in character stereotypes, and in the proof of intelligence arguments. I can think of several stories in which the basis of the reason the explorers went to talk to the aliens surrounded some similar to the above logic fallacy.
The Undistributed Middle Term a.k.a How to Make No Sense While Sounding Smart
Why does this form above imply logic to us? Well, if you studied logic you know immediately why: it is the form of a syllogism, or a logical argument in which the conclusion is supported by a major and minor premise. I am pretty sure, despite being four lines and not the usual three, that this counts as a syllogism at least. All the same, syllogisms are at the foundation for deductive reasoning. Some famous examples:
Major premise: All mortal things die.
Minor premise: All men are mortal things.
Conclusion: All men die.
Major premise: No reptiles have fur.
Minor premise: All snakes are reptiles.
Conclusion: No snakes have fur.
So what is an undistributed middle term? It is when minor premise and the major premise of a syllogism may or may not be relevant to each other. I think it is easiest expressed in examples.
All dogs have fur
All cats have fur
All dogs are cats
So went wrong there? It’s obvious to all of us that it is wrong, but what is the logic problem. The middle term is “cats,” which does not fit into the category of “things that have fur” and “dogs.” One cannot base a conclusion on something that hasn't been clearly proven. We, in the case, have shown no correlation between cats and dogs, besides being warm blooded. Now, if I had said:
Only dogs have fur
Cats have fur
Therefor cats are dogs.
Can you see the difference?
All mammals are warmed blooded.
All cats are mammals.
All cats are warmed blooded.
In this case, the middle term “cats” fits into both “warm blooded” and “mammals.”
So here is the fallacy in stripped down terms:
1.All As are Bs
2.C is a B
3.Therefore, C is an A
Not too hard in these cases, but I bet we can all think of examples where the logic went wrong in writings we’ve read, or perhaps in arguments we’ve heard.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I am a feminist. I am not ashamed or it, nor do I try to placate my male friends by telling them that I am the friendly sort of feminist. I stand up for my sisters here, in the
I am a writer. As a writer, I promote my beliefs. My main characters are often women, and they are never weak. I sent them into the heart of danger, into emotionally challenging circumstances, and into positions of authority. I want young women to read my work and know that there is a place for them at the top.
I’m sure you are wondering what set this off, well, it’s been a bunch of current events that really culminated in a really silly event. I saw pictures from last night’s
* As a quick note, I am not against other people having children at all, but I do believe that you should want them more than anything else if you are going to bring them into this world.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Whenever I think about character arcs, I get this feeling of dread in my stomach. It’s about the breakdown, or destroying a character’s world. The best breakdown I’ve read has to be Emilio in The Sparrow. It is horrid, beautiful, and believable. If you’ve read the book, you know, but for those who haven’t, I’ll elaborate. When we first meet Emilio he is in a hospital, mutilated, traumatized, and half out of his head over the deaths of his only real friends. The author, Mary Doria Russell, then takes us back to the beginning of the story of Emilio, where he is a charming, if odd, Jesuit priest. He loves everyone, takes care of anyone, and most of the women are annoyed that he is … in the priesthood. Russell takes us on an incredible character journey that shows Emilio’s ascent to sainthood and fall into misery. I only once felt that the situations that push him along this arc was forced, and for the most part, I couldn’t believe how good she was at breaking the spirit of what appeared to be an indomitable soul.
So, that’s my guide. I like to think about whether or not my breakdown is as elegant as Emilio’s. Sometimes, I don’t feel I have the heart to do it, but flat characters are a real bore. It’s better to give them, the characters, immortality through the hardships, then to protect them and have them be flat. You know, I think there might be a life lesson in there.
Do you all have a breakdown benchmark?
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I am all about giving characters choices. In fact, what is the point of having a character that doesn’t make his or her own choices (they’d just be drifting through the story that way and that’s no fun for anyone). What I don’t like is when the author creates an illusion of choice where none exists really—or is so limited as to not matter. This brings me to the third logic fallacy I want to highlight, the black-and-white fallacy, aka the either/or fallacy.
This fallacy is pretty straight forward, but I am shocked by how often I run into it in writing, published or not. The basic issue is that the writer sets out choices based on the false assumption that there are only two choices or outcomes that exist when there are clearly several. Outcomes and choices are rarely so simple. I can’t count how many times in romantic dramas it comes down to the protagonist can either stay with the partner or leave and never look back, and those are the only choices. The reason changes for why the protagonist feels this way (adultery, betrayal, better offer, protecting the partner, etc.), but I can usually think of at least five ideas for what other choices are still on the table. Really, when you force a false binary such as this, you are not actually offering choice at all.
Then why do it? My best guess is that the writer only wants the character to have to choices, the one the advances the story and the one that is such a bad idea that no one in their right mind would take it. So, this is my frustration with this fallacy in particular; this is the golden opportunity to really deepen a character. Let them realize all the choices, debate, decide, and move forward. We, the readers, get to know the characters through theirs actions, not through the universe forcing them to decide between to false dichotomies. Don’t get me wrong, I do it sometimes, too, but it really robs the reader of those precious times in which they get to look into the character’s mind.
In short, it’s either all or it’s nothing with character development. ;-)
Friday, March 9, 2007
The second most common reason that I will roll my eyes while reading a book is the slippery slope fallacy. In short, it is a non sequitur argument that relies on the theory that if the first thing happens, then the second thing will happen, and surely then the third will, too. It’s the kind of logic that will stop me dead in my tracks while reading.
Think about it, you’re reading along and really involved with a character. You think he/she is smart, reasonable, believable, the whole shebang. Then they are presented with a situation, such as whether or not to tell another character, say a subject expert, about an important bit of information that would bring the story line to a quick conclusion. The author, wanting to extend the story line, has the character come to the conclusion that if he/she tells the subject expert, said expert would get upset and would to tell his/her mother. If that happens, the mother would have to tell her friend and then that person … and so on until the antagonist would have all the information needed to foil our hero’s plot. *sigh* In the middle of this, I always think the same thing, “why not just explain to the subject expert that if he/she tells said mother, and the situation does spiral out as it was predicted, said mother would probably be (insert consequence)
Do you have a favorite slippery slope fallacy?
"Taking a whiff of rose scent while learning a task and then being exposed to the same smell during sleep helps memories to set, researchers have found. The discovery could see students frantically spraying themselves with perfume before exams — although the effect is tricky to replicate at home."
I have to say that this totally cracks me up, because I used to sniff mint during exams when I was in college. I remember reading come study about military pilots having the scent of mint pumped into the cockpit because it increased alertness and helped them recall memories more readily: they were exposed to the smell during training, too.
So my plan was simple: I would sit at Perkins study and sniff an Altoids tin, and at my exam, I would do the same. Oh, what my professors must have thought of me.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Anyways, I am planning on writing all week on my favorite fallacies this week. Today, I will start with the straw man.
The straw man argument is a subset of the Ignoratio Elenchi fallacies. The whole point of the argument, or character creation in this case, is to create a misrepresentation of an opposing argument as to make it easy to refute and then attribute it to the opposition’s inability to reason, etc.
“An example of a straw man fallacy:
Person A: I don't think children should run into the busy streets.
Person B: I think that it would be foolish to lock up children all day with no fresh air.
By insinuating that Person A's argument is far more draconian than it is, Person B has side-stepped the issue. Here the "straw man" that person B has set up is the premise that ‘The only way to stop children running into the busy streets is to keep them inside all day’.”
So how does this all apply to writing? I find that authors create characters that are a vast misrepresentation of the opposite side of the argument, and then tear that character apart. Look at any major motion pictures for the portrayal of the “bad” guy. It’s riduculus. The readers or viewer never gets the chance to understand really why there is an opposing side, what might drive someone to acts against society, etc. Most antagonists are portrayed as mindless, uneducated villains. I’m sure you have many characters that jump to mind at this point; I know I do.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
My writing group is going very well this time. My first one was such a disaster, I swore the concept off for the last couple of years. Just to give you a feeling for how mismatched we were in that group, I'll tell you what we all wrote. B wrote sort of literary fiction (I liked him the best) about a man who has a midlife crisis and buys an old hot rod that had mafia evidence in the truck (unbeknownst to him). E wrote chick-lit about talking boobs. The other woman, whose name I forgot, wrote historical fiction. I never got to read her stuff because she got in a disagreement with one of the other two people in my group. Then there was me ... I write speculative fiction. B really liked it, but E just couldn't get past the whole "I don't read Sci-fi" attitude. Not to be whiny here, but I don't read chick lit, but I read her stuff.
So that was the first group. I then went on to work with a friend who also wrote in my genre, but we never really connected. Then this fall I met a guy at my Kajukenbo school that was working on his first novel. I talked to him for awhile and it turned out that he also wrote science fiction. I got the my husband to admit in public that he was writing a book, and we all started this new writers group together.
What a different experience this has been. First, I get to read excellent fiction! Second, I get really thoughtful input from people who are interested and knowledgeable in my genre. Third, I get to hear about how they are handling various struggles with their writing. If fact, this whole experience of late has gotten me back on getting Gibbons ready for sale. So traipse on over to my Web site and check out my synopsis for Gibbons (and Continuum if you've never read it.)
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I chose to send them Continuum, which was a hard choice for me. I really wanted to send them G project( aka Gibbons), too, but I couldn't get it together in time--it is all about my synopsis avoidance problem.
So cross your fingers, and wish me luck!
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
"You want to take this," he said.
At first I was worried that it was some bit of really bad news, but he was beaming. I took the phone and briefly looked at the caller id. It was a New York number. I don't live in NY and I don't know anyone there, so my heart leapt; it was an agent, at least that was what I hoped. And it was. The agent called at 6 pm my time, so 9 pm his time. He apologized for the lateness of his call and that terse tone to the boy. I honestly don't remember much of the conversation, besides that he wanted to see the whole book and he was very sure he wanted to represent me.
The next several days were a haze. I didn't want to tell anyone, but I was also bursting at the seams with excitement. He read my novel in about a month and offered me representation. I went through the revision process with him, and we were ready to sell.
I have to admit it is strange being in the same place I was 11 months ago or maybe a year ago, depending on what happened to my full ms after he left the agency.
I work a lot with my mother on her book and the various article that she writes. She loves to email me her articles about a day before the are due needing some guidance. Usually she is upset with her writing and really needs me to just give her a quick edit and mostly (in my opinion) some reassurance that she is not about to embarrass herself in front of her editors. My mother is a great woman, and she deserves a patient editor, but sometimes I cannot deliver that to her, especially when I feel that she is only feeling insecure and not acutally needing my help. So I get snarky, particularly about things that I feel I've already explained to her in previous edits. It is so obvious to me when to use a dash or a semi-colon, but to her (she hasn't worked as an editor therefor is less neurotic about all of this) it is so hard to remember.
I think the longer you are in a profession, the harder it is to remember what is actually common knowledge, or obvious. What about you all?
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Thursday, February 8, 2007
To summarize I give you a quote from their FAQ.
Q: The deer [in the videos] are Texas deer. I am in South Carolina. I do not see the relevance.
A: Some might argue that unless the footage comes from a buck he's actually pursuing, it's of no relevance to him. In truth, there's plenty to learn from a big whitetail, regardless of where he lives. While a buck in South Carolina and one in Alberta don't lead exactly the same life, 4 decades of hunting whitetails from Canada to Mexico has taught us that they're all wired pretty much the same. They share instincts and behaviors common to all members of the species. We can observe a buck in one location and from that make some fundamental judgments about bucks everywhere.
Monday, February 5, 2007
The book that needs to be written is Zen and the Art of the Publishing Industry. :-) "
I posted this earlier in someone else's blog in response to a post about how long it takes editors to respond to agents and authors. After I sent it off, I thought about everything else that can push writers into the frenzy that lands them calling their agent, harassing that editor, and ultimately, shooting themselves in the foot.
The main thing that has pushed me over into getting frustrated is many of the non-writers in my world. The ones who push about why I haven't gotten a contract yet, or why I am letting my agent ignore me, etc. No, not the people who are merely showing an interest in my life, but the ones that are lecturing me about how I need to be more proactive--or to summarize--I need to work harder, because that is the real reason nothing is happening.
Point in case, about a year ago I signed up with an agent at a EXCELLENT agency. I could not have been happier. It was the agency I really wanted to be with, as I loved the philosophy of the woman who started it. My agent was not her, but it didn't matter to me because whoever she would hire would be great, as far as I was concerned. Things were going GREAT! I worked through edits with him for a couple of months and finally sent in my final draft so he could start selling. I heard nothing for a week, which was a bit odd for him, so I wrote asking if he got my package and if he liked my edits. Nothing. I waited two more weeks and wrote again. *crash* That's when I got my first setback. I received a note from the head of the agency that said he was no longer with the agency. The good news, I was staying with the agency and she, or the new agent she was hiring, would get to me shortly. I was thrilled that I might get to work with her, so I was ok with all of this, but a bit nervous about what it might mean. Enter the pushy masses. For weeks I got all sorts of remarks about how this was bad news, she was preparing to drop me, I needed to get on her and make sure I secured myself a ... something.
About a month later, I wrote said agency again. It was a quick note saying, "hi" and asking how things were. The agent wrote me that she hadn't gotten to me project yet, but she was expecting to get to it this summer. Well, that quieted the critics for awhile. Or at least until summer ended and they all wanted to know what happed to my agent. It went on and on. So, I gave (and I shouldn't have because said poor agent didn't need anymore stress). She wrote me a firm note about needing to wait and her current clients taking precedent over me. I didn't tell any of my naysayers about this part. I left it.
I learned two things for all of this. First, don't harrass your agent. Second, stop listening to people who are convinced that you just need to push a bit harder and you'll get what you want. That attitude might work in their worlds, but it fails here. In fact, I remember reading another writer's blog saying that she was dropped from her agent for writing too many questions to her agent (said writer was in contract negotiations).
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I don't really have a sense of how many people read this blog, but I propose that everyone should thrown in your best suggestion for progressing your writing. Here are my top 5 ways I get writing.
1. I listen to music
3. I search the net for pictures of people I think look like my characters. (same with setting)
4. I find my favorite piece of art and describe what's happening in the piece. If there is a person in the piece, I write the scene from their point-of-view.
5. Unstructured daydreaming
Now, it's your turn
Friday, January 26, 2007
In comparison as an editor (technical and not), I will go through my last job search. I decided I needed a new job. I sent my resume out, got a call a month later for an interview, but that didn't pan out. I got another call about two months after that, but I wasn't quite right. I then got another call the next month, interviewed once on the phone and again in person, and they decided I needed to meet more people. They called me and asked if I could come in that day, but I was on vacation, so they said they would call in a week. I email them when I got home. Then I waited. I did the hokey pokey and other deeply influential dances. A month later they called back and offered me the job.
I should have been a programmer writer.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Back when my whole desire to work as a journalist started, I was told that the most prestigious positions at the paper (at the time the junior high paper) were the editor's positions. I do understand now that they are merely different roles in the real world, but at the time the positions were given to the students who were responsible and good with the trades of an editor--grammar, spelling, style, tone, etc. So being as competitive as I was at that age, I set out to achieve this goal. I never made it though. There were some positive reasons; I was a good writer and an excellent interviewer. I was good at getting people to talk and was rarely intimidated by anyone. This made me perfect as a reporter. Still, there was the negative reason I was not promoted. I lacked the attention to detail that made a good editor. My editors loved what I had to say in my writing, but my work took, well, a lot of fine tuning.
Back to now. I started working seriously as an editor about two years ago. A number of people I knew needed help with books, articles, etc. I needed money, so that was that. I still was shaky on a number of concepts, but I made it through it all. Still I could tell that the same problem that was consistent through all my schooling, including college, was still there. I had no process that I followed to ensure that I did a complete edit. I lacked resources or methodology, and considering my background in science, I was appalled. So I sucked it up and went into a technical editing program to try to find a process or create one. Sure enough, in a program that focused on editing (my BS Journalism really only taught me how to write and research) they had a great process. *phew*
Today I set out to edit a rather large booklet. I knew where to start. I knew what problems I might find. I even knew to double check trademarks. It's so nice to have a process again.
BTW, I know that all of these entries probably have editing issues. I still can't edit my own work. :)
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
It was great. I came home last night from knitting, and he was all glowing with the excitement of it all. It made me reflect on when I finished Continuum. I don't know if I remember much besides writing "The End" and wanting to cry. I was so excited to have done it, to have actually completed a book. At the time, I knew a number of people who set out to write books, but they'd all gotten about 40-100 pages in and quit. I would worry late at night that that would be my fate, but alas it wasn't. And now, it's not the boy's fate either. Hooray for finishing what you started!
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I love pictures. I know, I know, it's all about the pretty pictures, but it helps me think through a scene or a character. So, on days that my writing is going slowly or I just plain can't think about what a character looks like, I like to surf the Web or flip through magazines trying to find the person that looks like my characters (or setting seeing that I treat the setting like a character). I don't remember where exactly I picked up this idea, although I think it was from Deborah Schneider at the PNWA conference. If it was her, I have to thank her because it is invaluable to me. And before anyone mocks me, it isn't just about looking for attractive people, it's about the process of finding my character. Think about it for a minute. As I search, I have to more and more tightly define WHAT my character looks like, her/his mannerisms (because they really do come out in photos), what they might wear, etc. While looking for photos, I formalize who they are to me.
The same thing goes for the setting, especially if you treat setting as a character. I have tons of pictures on my desk, in files, stuck to the wall, all bits of a world that I am trying to put together.
Well, that's my bit for today.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Currently, G project is at 56,000 words. I have three more main cruxes to get through, and then the book is done. My guess is that to end the book will be another 10,000 words. After that, I'd say that I will probably add another 5,000-10,000 words expanding the sections that need help. All in all, it's about a month or two worth of work.
It's amazing to me how much smoother writing this book has gone as opposed to Continuum. I think it took me two years to fully write it, and G project is almost done in half that time. I can't imagine how fast G project would have gone had I not gotten a new job in the middle of the whole process.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
For me that project is Continuum. I love my book, and I think it's a better story than G project, but wait until I sent G project out. My guess is that it will be with an agent much faster than Continuum. My heart goes out to that project because I love the story and the characters so much that I was compelled to write that story, which didn't even bother to contain itself to one book.
But back to the boy .... He asked me how I pushed through these times. All I could say was that I wrote because I felt like I had to get the story out. I love writing. I keep going by typing.
Monday, January 15, 2007
The good news is that I am actually really enjoying reading it, as opposed to the first time I read through Continuum. I remember reading Continuum start to finish and wanting to cry. It was clear that it needed a lot of work. And it got a lot. I shifted from 1st person (several point-of-view characters) present to third person past.
This time I started with the right voice, tense, and narrator. Hooray for learning from my mistakes.
Friday, January 12, 2007
While I was already getting that done, I got my first book printed out, too. So much has changed since I last had a print out for myself, and I thought it would be nice to get another copy. I think only my agency has this copy, which included the changes that my then agent had me make. Too bad he left before I ever found out what he thought of those changes. *sigh*
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I am a speculative fiction novelist with my first book at an agency. I'd give you my status there, but I'm not entirely clear what it is at the moment (I was orphaned by my agent).
Over the next year my goal is to post everyday about the goings on of my writing and editing world.