I learned most of the basic fiction-writing concepts in 3rd-7th grade, some via direct teaching in English class, some from just reading a ridiculous amount of fiction. In some cases, I absorbed the idea gradually and then started applying it without thinking about it. In others, I can point to the exact book where it clicked and I immediately changed my own writing.
The E.T. novel — yes, the book based on the movie about the little gray alien — taught me point of view. If you’ve never read it, I recommend it, especially if you’re looking for a virtuoso demonstration of How to Handle Multiple Points of View. Everybody gets at least a few paragraphs from their own pov, including the alien, the biology teacher, and even the dog. And the tone changes to match the character, while still keeping the same basic narrative style. That book was a goddamn revelation to 10-year-old me.
And then there are the habits I picked up without knowing it. I was digging through an old box of papers yesterday and found a stack of partially-finished rough drafts. I skimmed through them, and I noticed a pattern: long, drawn-out beginnings with unnecessary scenes and odd tangents. I like tangents. I think these would have been fine later in the story but, placed where they were, they were just stalling.
And I realized: Shit. I learned pacing from The Lord of the Rings.
So, those stories I sold a long time ago? They were, of course, in now-defunct publications and are difficult or impossible to find. It’s a bit of a relief that a few have fallen into the abyss, but some don’t make me cringe when I find drafts on my hard drive all these years later. So, what the hell. I’m going to self-republish the non-cringey ones as ebooks. I’m starting with a short story called Right of Way because it was the first thing I ever had accepted.
Get Right of Way on Kindle or Smashwords.
This right here is my new blog, wherein I will… uh… write things, occasionally. I’m not sure how much I can narrow that down. I have a sadly neglected blog at Overlooked Nature
, where I put wildlife photos and ecology-related stuff. And I have a Twitter account where I put stuff that can fit in a tweet. (Who am I kidding; I mostly retweet snarky political comments.)
So this blog is for things that are (a.) not wildlife-related, and (b.) too long for a tweet. Which leaves a lot of room for topics. I also have no plans to post on a schedule, because I might not have something to talk about some weeks, and others I might have TONS of things to talk about. And still others, I might have tons of things to talk about, but other people are already doing it better, so I’ll just post links to them and say “Go read this.”
Thus, irregular posts about irregular topics. (I thought about adding “for irregular people” there but that reminded me of laxative commercials.)