Being a Better Writer: Empty Details

Today’s topic is a bit of the inverse of the one I wrote last week. I didn’t intend for this at first—in fact I had no plans for an inverse article when I sat down last Monday; the appearance of this one is entirely coincidence brought about by something I was reading.

But coincidence aside, it’s a worthwhile topic to discuss, because it’s something that can crop up all to easily in fiction … even among experienced authors. For example, while I tend to notice empty details occurring pretty regularly among young writers, I also occasionally find them in finished works as well (one such notice being the result of today’s topic). Given all the time that I’ve spent on this blog discussing the importance of little details and how we can feed things out to our readers, I feel that it’s important, then, to discuss the inverse: empty details.

Empty details are the result of trying to add too much detail to one’s writing. It can stem from a number of sources. Maybe the author in question feels that the isn’t enough going on and tries to liven a scene up by adding more detail. Maybe they’re worried that their dialogue seems sparse (this is one area where this issue seems to crop up most often). Or maybe they’re just trying to reach an arbitrary word count for the day.

It could be any number of reasons. Well, the end result is that they fill their scene with these empty details.

Right, I’ve used that term a couple of times now. What do I mean by it?

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Colony is a Hit, Guys!

Well, it’s been three weeks, and in that time, Colony has continued to be an absolute hit. At this point, it’s no stretch to call it my most successful title yet. since its release, it’s sold on average two copies per day!

And it keeps selling!

And that’s just sales. Colony is on Kindle Unlimited, and I’m also seeing a number of reads there. How many? Enough that I’m seeing an average of 720 pages read per day. One day hit almost 3,000 pages read.

Yeah, this blows Unusual Events out of the water. As it does One Drink and Dead Silver. None of them are even coming close to this level of success.

Of course, sales mean nothing if the readers aren’t happy, but thankfully I can report that this is not the case. So far, Colony is sitting at a glorious 4.8 Star rating on Amazon, and solid 5 Star rating on Goodreads, and with some pretty glowing reviews to match.

Colony is making a mark on Sci-Fi. A small one in the larger scheme of things, but with clear space to grow.

But there’s only one direction for Colony to go from here. And that’s UP! Which leaves us with only one final question:

Have you read Colony yet?

 

Being a Better Writer: Working in Important Little Details

Right, so a quick one today. I’m actually typing this out at 1 AM. Why? Well, because remember a few weeks back when I had a dentist appointment that shoved Being a Better Writer back a few days? Well, I’ve got another one in ten hours (shudder). Which, given my enjoyment of dentists … You saw the “shudder”  back there, didn’t you?

For the record, my dentist is a great guy with his bedside manner and the like. Crud, he even called me later in the evening of my last appointment to check how I was feeling. So that’s great. I just don’t like people messing with my teeth. Ever.

Anyway, that’s why I’m writing up a short, quick BaBW post right now, since I know I’m not going to be in the best of feelings later (my poor jaw). Better to get it over and done with rather than letting it be delayed.

In the meantime, if this post is too basic for you, or too short, consider upgrading to reading a copy of Colony! It’ll keep you occupied for action-packed hours on end! Makes a good gift, too!

Plug done, onto today’s topic: the important little details.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re bound to the soil of the U.S.A. as I am, today is our Thanksgiving Holiday! It’s evolved over the years as a feast of celebration in honor of all we have to be thankful for … though I’ll admit it’s a bit tainted by the immediate rush of “WANT” that comes right on its heels (or sometimes riding on the back) immediately thereafter in the form of “Black Friday.”

Whether or not you’re participating in that little number … just do yourself a favor, and don’t forget the ultimate goal. Make yourself a nicer than average meal, get together with family or friends (or both), and take solace in what you have.

In fact, if you feel like it, post what you’re thankful for this year here. Me? I’m thankful for the success of Colony. It’s been a real mood-booster seeing it do so well and be received so highly, after months and months of worry, stress, and work, has been a real mood-lifter. It’s a bit like having the weight taken off of my shoulders. And I’m glad of it!

So that’s what I’m thankful for this year. How about you?

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Being a Better Reader: Leaving a Good Review

I’m going to file this one under Being a Better Writer, but as most of you can tell from the title, I consider it more in line with the act of being a good reader than a writer. Though I suppose as a reviewer, you’re going to leave a written review … but by the terminology of what I usually refer to when I say “writing” it is a little different.

Nevertheless, this topic has been one that’s been requested of me not just before, but on multiple occasions, so it’s about time that I got to it on the list of future topics (which, yes, is an actual list that sits on my desk, I’m up to note-paper #8 now). Plus, this topic has the added bonus of coming at a fortunes time: Right on the heels of the release of Colony! Which, having been out for exactly ten days starting today, is just moving into the realm where many of you who acquired it first thing have recently finished it and are now wondering what to do with yourselves now that it’s done. Well, let this post be your not-so-subtle guide.

So, leaving a review. Scratch that, leaving a good review.

We’ll tackle the basics first: What’s the point of leaving a review? Why do so many authors (myself included) stress them as often as possible? Why do so many institutions? Crud, turn to the back of any Kindle ebook, and the last “page” of every book, no matter where it came from, is a reminder page that invites the reader to, now that they’ve finished said book, tweet about it, share it, or leave a review for it on Amazon.com.

Now, the cynical among you might think “Well of course they want you to leave a review on Amazon. After all, they own the site.”

Sure. That’s entirely true. But at the same time, by admitting such, you’re also admitting that there must be a reason to it. Amazon wouldn’t bother doing it if there wasn’t a net gain for them in the process, would they?

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The Tragedy of DOOM 2016

I hold that DOOM 2016 is a tragedy.

I can already see many of you shaking your heads and moving to click away. No, no, don’t hit that back button yet. It’s not what you think! DOOM 2016 was a fantastic game. I loved every minute of it.

But it’s still a tragedy.

Right, quick addendum before I get into the meat of things here. First, I know I normally don’t talk about games on here, despite doing a lot of gaming in my limited spare time. Today is one of those “exception to the rule” days. Should be fun regardless.

Second, mandatory plug for Colony! It continues to rack up readers, and there’s a reason for it: The story is awesome! If you haven’t grabbed it yet, consider clicking the cover on the right there (or to the books page if you’re viewing this post some time from now and that cover isn’t Colony) and taking a quick look!

Those things aside, let’s get back to the topic at hand: The Tragedy of DOOM 2016. As I said earlier, DOOM 2016 is a fantastic game. It managed to not just perfectly catch the high-octane feel that the old, original Doom titles had when played by a pro, but translate them, not just into a modern era but to a modern audience as well.

The result is something incredible. Violent and insane (this is not a game to ignore the M-rating on; it earns it with showers of demon-blood), but incredible. You’d be hard-pressed to walk away from a session of play with DOOM without feeling your heart pound. The game is just that good.

But it’s also a tragedy.

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Being a Better Writer: Balancing a Returning Character

Whoa! Late post today! Don’t worry, it wasn’t because I was slacking off. The opposite, actually. See, during that month-long burn to get Colony published and into eager reader’s hands (many of whom are now enjoying it immensely, going by the high-quality reviews that have already rolled in), I skipped a lot of sleep. Quite a lot. We’re talking 10-12 hours spent a day working on Colony regularly, plus everything else my life had. So I was, for almost a month, getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night.

Now I’m catching up. Fighting off a cold, letting the web-eyed feeling go away. The like. So today I slept pretty late. I’m not going to apologize for it; I needed it.

But since I’ve touched on the topic, here’s my shameless plug reminder to go buy a copy of Colony! It’s currently collecting a nice set of 5-star ratings and reviews across Amazon and Goodreads! Not only does it help support yours truly, but you’ll be getting an awesome Sci-Fi read to enjoy!

Right, enough plugs, as I’m sure you’re all off to buy Colony now. Once you’ve done that, you can come back and read today’s Being a Better Writer post. Which starts in the next paragraph (but first, as a quick aside, if you’re a long-time reader of BaBW but not of my books, consider being one who reads both. After all, if I can write this much good advice on writing, wouldn’t it be worth your time to see if I’ve delivered on that?).

So, balancing a returning character. Many of you are probably wondering what exactly I’m referring to when I say that. It could be taken a couple of ways, I’ll admit. So let me explain in a bit more detail. Today’s topic comes as a response to a reader question from long ago, one given in response to a post on dealing with overpowered and underpowered characters. This reader had a curious thought with regards to both that subject and the idea of continual, advancing character development: Considering that characters do (or at least should) continue to advance, develop, and grow, how does a writer keep them from becoming overpowered if they use them in a sequel work? Or, as they phrased it, how do you keep legacy characters (or characters from earlier in a series) from becoming too much for the story to take and overwhelming it?

Okay, some of you are nodding, but for those of you who are nodding but only halfway certain of what I just said, let me explain in a bit more depth through use of an example. Say you write a book. You’ve got a cool protagonist that starts out fairly inexperienced against whatever foe you’ve got, but by the end of the story they’ve “leveled up” and gained enough skills and talents to be able to defeat the antagonist.

Cool. Edit it, print it, sell it.

Then you decide you want to work on a sequel. Except … you can’t write the same book twice. Why? Because if you throw that character into the same scenario as the last one, or even a similar one … guess what, you’ll have a pretty short book. Because they’ve already overcome those trials and struggles. They know how to succeed.

So, now the obvious answer is to escalate the threat/antagonist the same way you’ve escalated the protagonist, right? Well … maybe. You can only do this for so long before the story starts to hit DragonBall Z-levels of ridiculously competent/overpowered characters. Endless escalation makes for … Well, it makes things start to become ridiculous fairly quickly.

And that’s the query that was proposed by the reader. They wanted to know how they could use these “Legacy Characters” without breaking the flow of their sequel. How they could keep things tough and difficult for their protagonists while still using the same protagonists in some manner (even having them as a side character can still enable them to solve a lot of problems).

So today, that’s our topic. How to bring back a character in a later work with all their skills and talents … but not have them break our story.

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Colony Now Up For Purchase

colony-finalThis is it! The pre-order copies have all gone out, and now Colony is now available for purchase on Amazon.com. Buy it, and it’ll go right to your Kindle App. DRM-Free too.

It’s also available on the Kindle Unlimited Library, so if you’re an Amazon Prime user or KU reader, you can grab a copy ASAP and start reading. If you’ve not heard of the KU Library, it’s basically a Netflix-like service for books. Basically, if you want to read Colony, you’ve got some good options for doing so!

Anyway, you can click the cover there to your right to take you right to it!

A corporate investigator who doesn’t trust his employer.
A mercenary gun-for-hire with a talent for violence and a willingness to shoot first.
And a white-hat hacker who doesn’t know when to quit.

Three independent contractors brought together for one unusual job. Five years ago, master programmer Carlos Rodriguez retired. Now his old employer wants him back.

Quietly.

It’d be a lot easier if he hadn’t left Earth.

A Sci-Fi Epic Adventure of 333,000 words, or roughly 1100 pages.

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