Nov 29 2012

“Never Give Up” And Other Stupid Advice

Posted by Mathias

“Never give up,” I hear that advice a lot.  It might sound good when you’re a child, or even a naive young adult.  But once you get older, you realize how stupid it sounds.

Think about it.  Really? “Never” give up?  Even when the path you are on is an obvious failure?  Seriously, would you tell the guy running towards the hundred foot cliff, jagged rocks below and all, to “never give up” his dream that he can really fly like a bird just by flapping his arms fast enough?  You really want to be the person standing there shouting, “you can do anything!”?
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Jul 13 2012

A Good Bit Of Editing Advice

Posted by Mathias

When I’m editing, I find that the most effective means of correcting mistakes is just to simply read what is written out loud. If it sounds bad coming out, then it needs work.

I don’t know what it is, but sitting there, reading silently, just let’s too many awkward sentences pass by. Only by reading out loud do I find the errors.

Somehow, it seems, the mind auto corrects to ignore the problems that clearly exist.

Jun 04 2012

Being Practical With My Showing

Posted by Mathias

You hear it all the time as an author.  They say, “show, don’t tell”.  The problem with that advice is that it is just too simplistic.  You can’t always show.  Everyone who has written anything knows it.  Prose becomes too unweildy and awkward if everything you do is “showing”.  A recent example of a book that I read which, I felt, suffered from bout after bout of over showing was The Scar by Sergey Dyachenko.

By about halfway through this story, I’ll be honest, I was burned out by the author trying to find new ways of “showing” the lead character’s fear.  Even when the showing was good, the constant showing still had ground me down.  As an author myself I would never do as much showing as Dyachenko did.  But, even though this is my opinion, there are people out there that love this sort of prose and over showing.

That makes it even more difficult as an author to determine how to balance the showing and telling in a story.  I’m still struggling with it.  All I know is that I have to pick my spots.  Every time I edit, I swap a show for a tell here and a tell for a show there.

Showing takes words.  It takes a lot more words than telling.  Telling can make prose move fast and has its places.  But short shows can have the same effect.  I

I’m trying to be more practical with my showing.  I’m not a flowery writer.  So I don’t try to write puffed up descriptions of what is goin on.  I try to make my shows short.  They almost seem like tells at times.  I’m trying to not speak outside my voice and so far, I have gotten no complaints from any of the reviewers that I did not “show” enough.  The problem is, what will publishers think? Will they agree?

Sad thing is, I won’t know for a while.  Here’s hoping that my trying to be practical with my shows versus tells is what publishers are looking for.

May 27 2012

I Feel Better After This Advice

Posted by Mathias

My friend Dan is a literary agent.  Unfortunately, he and his agency don’t deal with Fantasy novels so he cannot accept my manuscript.  But he has given me some names and suggestions about who I should submit my novel to and has given me great advice on my novel Under the Darkened Moon to help me out along the way.  But none of his advice has been as valuable or helpful as this:

“You hear about how 95% to 99% of all manuscripts are rejected right?  Well, I don’t know that you should have to worry about the odds being that high against you.  First of all, you have two things going for you that those 95% to 99% don’t have!  First is that you have written one heck of a manuscript for being a first time author.  I am very impressed with it.  Secondly is that you are going to make sure that you submit your manuscript to the right people!  I know you are because we have talked about this.

See, those there are the two reasons why so many books get rejected.  They are either not submitted to agents or publishers who deal with the material the author is writting about or what is submitted are horribly written first or rought drafts with zero thought put into them.  Plus, remember this please, that high rejection rate includes all the rejections of every manuscript sent to every potential agent or publisher.  You submit to 99 times and are rejected by all 99 then you are at 100% rejection rate.  But when you submit to the 100th and are accepted you are in that 1%.

I really hate how people in my industry try scaring off new authors with daunting figures that makes getting published look like an insurmountable moutain.  It is hard.  But when people put the time in they can be rewarded.  Now go and submit!  I am not saying you will get offers and ink a deal.  However I do deeply feel that anyone who rejects your manuscript is going to wish they hadn’t.”

This kind of encouragement makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Feb 15 2012

The Usefulness Of Fragments

Posted by Mathias

Fragments.  For some reason some people hate them. But I guarantee you that they are useful in writing a story. Plus, I guarantee you that done properly, and when not viewed in a program like MS Word that underlines them and calls bold attention to them, most people don’t even recognize the fragment is there.

Fragments are useful when writing dialogue because people normally speak in fragments from time to time. They are also useful for pacing. Fragments are fast. They can whiz by and speed up action.

So next time someone tells you not to use fragments in your writing, tell them thanks for the advice. Smile. Then let them be on their merry, little way.

Dec 30 2011

Advice Is Nice, But Remember What They Say About Opinions!

Posted by Mathias

People will try and tell you how you must act, what you must do and when you must do it to be a successful writer. Advice should always be listened to. But remember what they say about opinions. They are like assholes. Not only does everyone have one, but if they aren’t washed and cleaned properly they tend to reek.

Don’t let anyone tell you you must do this or you must do that. Sure, people will tell you what worked for them.  But you are not them.  Always remember that.  You as an author must find your own way and do what works for you. And you must be willing to change course if the path you are on is not working.