Name my book!

Hey everyone – here’s an opportunity you don’t get every day. I’m going to spend a week or two asking people what I should call the final volume of the Embodied trilogy. Books 1 and 2 are titled Silent Symmetry and Starley’s Rust, and I’m polling friends and fans to choose one of three options for book 3:

Diamond Spheres

Diamond Splinters

Diamond Scars

If you haven’t read any of the other books in the trilogy, no problem! I need a title that will appeal to casual browsers in the Amazon store. Yes, I have a personal fave, but I thought it would be fun to collect some other opinions. And as we all know in this social media age, everyone has an opinion.

So either write your choice of title in the comments below or click on this link to use the online poll I just set up (it’s one click, takes about 5 seconds).

I really appreciate your help with this. By all means share this post or the link to the poll.

John

PS – The book is in the editing process right now and should be out by spring, followed by a compendium version of all three books!

SS and SR_20141202_094527

Books 1 and 2 in the Embodied trilogy.

Advertisements

Underwriting can be deadly to any story

Great advice from Rachel Starr Thompson about the pitfalls of underwriting. No, that’s not the insurance industry kind of underwriting, it’s when an author tries too hard to show without telling and then skips the interesting stuff going on in the characters’ heads that actually makes any story compelling.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Nope, not this kind of underwriting.

Photo credit: free pictures of money / Foter.com / CC BY

The grim reaper. No, not Death – the book editor!

Nice little post about the pain and ultimate pleasure of the editing process, written by fellow Montreal author Alice Zorn. This is something I’ll be facing very shortly…

An environmentally conscious editor on the way to work.

An environmentally conscious editor on the way to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Bill Gracey / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Where do you get your ideas?

This is a question that authors get asked a lot. I’ve thought about my own creative process before and produced unsatisfactory answers like, “They just come to me,” “When I’m in the shower,” or “I dreamed up my second book. Seriously, it literally came to me in a dream.”

But today an idea popped into my head as I was making my lunch. So that just proves that I have ideas because I’m hungry. No wait, that’s not it. This idea was about having ideas. And what I realized was that ideas come from reading a lot of non-fiction, be it news articles, books, scientific studies or bathroom graffiti:

graffiti

Thought-provoking bathroom graffiti.

Here’s why non-fiction can provide the inspiration for fiction: it’s because the human brain is wired to make connections and produce those sought-after eureka moments. That’s why human beings are so successful; our evolutionary advantage is that we can create solutions to problems. Of course “divine inspiration” is the non-scientific explanation for this phenomenon…

Even invertebrate animals come up with ideas based on their surroundings, so people definitely can (even those who lack backbones). The key thing is the fuel. Reading fiction might produce ideas – and it’s definitely important to read a wide range of fiction to learn about craft and style – but it’s all-to-easy to consciously or subconsciously fall in love with another author’s idea and simply reproduce it with a twist. Truly original creation comes from the juxtaposition of unrelated information that sparks something new.

Reading extensively is essential for any author, whatever their level of experience, but I would argue that while immersion in the very best fiction can provide stylistic inspiration, unique ideas are sparked by non-fiction. Maybe even by blog posts…

Photo credit: Chris Blakeley / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Story Structure and Character Arcs in Breaking Bad

Novelists can learn a lot about crafting stories from the structures and character arcs that play out across many of the stunningly successful non-network TV series that have been produced over the last fifteen years. I’m talking about shows like Mad Men, Sopranos, The Wire, House of Cards, True Detective, and Breaking Bad. Therese Walsh of the great Writer Unboxed website has written a very insightful article about the latter and delved into how Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan managed to turn mild-mannered chemistry professor Walter White into a scheming drug lord over the course of six seasons and still keep the audience rooting for him.

The article ends with this golden piece of advice:

  • Persevere. Considering Breaking Bad’s incredible success, you’d think it was in a Hollywood bidding war or something, right? Nope. The show was famously turned down by many before AMC picked it up. Sometimes different is scary to the Establishment. Don’t let that stop you from creating innovative works or pursuing publication.

Narrative distance doesn’t have to be consistent

Using examples from Hemingway, author Ron MacLean has written a wonderfully concise post on the Grub Street website demolishing the oft-taught maxim that narrative distance should remain constant over the course of a piece of writing.

Keyhole

Narrative distance is analogous to shot choices in movie making, such as close-ups, POV, wide shots, birds-eye view, etc. There is absolutely no reason (other than a desire to be ridiculously pedantic) for maintaining a single distance over an entire novel or story any more than using the same shots throughout a movie. Thanks for the insight, Ron!

Photo credit: katerha / Foter.com / CC BY