I created this new piece for KT Bryski, an award-winning author. Have a listen!
This piece was commissioned for Six Stories, Told At Night, made possible through funding by the Ontario Arts Council.
I am a creature of habit. This post is going to sound entitled and whiny, but I’m going to describe core parts of my personality, and (hopefully) how I overcame them.
Between the years of 2011 and 2015, I had a set schedule. Arrive at work at 8:00 am. Write from 11:30 to 1:00, leave work at 5:30pm. We had a conference room scheduler at my office, so I would always grab one of the rooms with a perfect, picturesque view of a green hillside. It was like the Windows XP background up in there.
The routine was easy: First, I walked the quarter mile to my secret meeting room. I heated up my lunch while my computer booted. Then I streamed music into my sanctuary and shut out everything except me and the window. And, man, that made me so happy.
But I was promoted and moved to an Army base.
I’m not the best at a first-draft name. It’s tough, because I’m usually writing it with little to no knowledge of how the project will actually turn out. I may as well call it NOVEL 09 DRAFT1 and be done.
Inevitably, I’ll have to change the name when it goes to my agent. But what do I call it now? How do I alter the way I think and talk about the book?
I use a chart.
Let’s face it: unless you are spectacularly lucky, your first book is crap. I know mine was.
Many authors I’ve met over the years never managed to publish their first five or six books. Some of them didn’t publish until they hit twelve or thirteen. Others still have vast bodies of work and a meager to moderate self-publishing audience.
And that’s okay. The first rule of writing is always “you do you.” But it’s lonely to push work out into the void. You’ve done all of this incredible writing, and no one wants to read it.
I think of a lot of things in terms of flavor. Numbers, for example: I think 3 would taste like a cracker, 9 would be sweet and 5 seems kind of metallic. I’m not going to claim synesthesia, but I have natural associations that drive me in that direction.
I think these associations are a powerful tool to evaluate and improve your writing.
An interstellar con artist forced to crew with the ship she screwed over (ARCLIGHT REDLINE). On office worker whose cynical humor hides suicidal tendencies (THE POWERS THAT BE). An autistic woman who just wants to be left alone, forced into a revenge drama (EVERY MOUNTAIN MADE LOW).
Where can we get colorful characters?
In the first part of this series, I shared my formula for planning a novel. Now, let’s talk character development.
To date, I’ve written 8 books:
I have a way that I plan them. Care to hear it?
Tonight, I went walking around Durham, North Carolina by myself. Let me set the stage: the abominable HB2 is still in effect, in spite of the efforts of the noble locals, and Duke is graduating. Everywhere, there’s an air of celebration and shame tied together. I leave on a plane tomorrow for Atlanta. I’ve just visited with my good friends, and no one I know is around.
So, like any sane human, I went on a solo bar crawl to do some people-watching. I grabbed my copy of Meg Wolitzer’s THE INTERESTINGS and set off from the 21C Hotel.
Hey, everybody! I got a new cover, courtesy of Solaris Books and Jeffery Alan Love–one of the finest cover artists working today.
Read the press release here: http://www.solarisbooks.com/post/1127
Attending Rocket City Lit Fest this weekend? So am I! Here’s where to find me.
Learn how to bring your best game to directing with a series of acting games and audience participation!
Saturday, October 10, 12:00PM, VBC Meeting Room 2
Apply the principles of great software, hardware and service design to novel writing! Be the quirky nerd you were meant to be.
Saturday, October 10, 1:00PM, VBC Meeting Room 1
What’s it like to be a menial secretary to the gods themselves? Find out at my reading!
Sunday, October 11, 2:30 PM, Reading Corner
There are worlds. We will build them.
Sunday, October 11, 3:00 PM, VBC Meeting Room 2