Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice: Nothing New Under the Sun

Hello readers! And welcome to the first installment of Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice! Where we’re looking, one week at a time, at all the cliche writing advice out there, the quick sentences thrown out by dozens of Facebook, Tumblr, and (shudder) Twitter users, or even just regular folks at a coffee shop. The kind of stuff that comes in a quick, digestible sentence and sounds like it’s useful.

Catch is, most of this sort of writing advice is so brusque that it’s really not that useful. Instead, it’s a bit like, well, like a small wooden carving that’s been carved one too many times. it still has the general shape, yes, but it also isn’t quite what it should be. But people keep passing it around anyway and saying “This is that thing!” because now it’s small, somewhat attractive, well-worn, and easy to pass along. Even if the thing it supposedly represents isn’t all that close when someone who’s actually seen one picks the carving up.

Which is why this summer, for the next month or so, Being a Better Writer is going to be digging into a whole range of cliche writing advice sayings that are spat out and regurgitated without much thought for how accurate they really are. The kind of things that are easy to remember and say … but may not hold as much truth, or really even useful advice, as most people think.

Or maybe they do? That’s what the Summer of Cliche Writing Advice is here to find out. We’re going to break these cliche sayings down, see what makes them tick, see what they’re intended to accomplish, what they actually accomplish, where they go wrong, and then see if we can’t glean some good old fashioned knowledge to improve our craft out of what’s left. And the cliche for this week?

There’s nothing new under the sun.

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Being a Better Writer: Commitment

Hello readers! Welcome back to another Monday installment of Being a Better Writer! A late one, I know. Sorry about that. Late morning.

So, really quick, before we get down to the business of today’s post, the news! And I can sum it up very simply.

I am never going to edit two 300K+ monsters at the same time again. It’s doable, but it’s an absolute pain, and overtaxes everyone involved.

Unfortunately, now I’m committed. Hunter/Hunted‘s beta is about 2/3rds done, and Jungle is about 1/3 of the way through the Alpha (and this week I’ll be opening up a second set of Alpha calls for those of you that are interested). But sands and storms, editing two books at once, especially of this size, is too much.

Never again. I’m going to get these done, but then it’s one project at a time for editing. It’s just too much. However, if I keep working hard, I should be able to keep to my original planned schedule of getting Jungle out end of summer/early fall.

Only one other bit of news. Patreon Supporters, there will be a new chapter up for you this Saturday. I hit snag in the story I’ve been dropping there that backed my brain up for a while, but I think I’ve got a way around it. So look for that if you’ve been waiting!

Okay, all said and done? Then on with the post! So, let’s talk about commitment.

Now, I realize this might be a bit of an odd topic. And title. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of you saw it, metaphorically scratched your heads, and said “huh?”

Which only makes this post all the more vital, because the idea of commitment in the modern writing sphere is one that … Well, let’s just say I’ll bet that once we get going, a number of you will have a sudden epiphany and nod with recognition. Especially if you’re part of the generation that finds your entertainment online.

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It All Comes Together – The Juggernaut News Post

Hey readers! I’m back, this time with an update post on a lot of projects. Because I have been blasting ahead lately. I’ve got some awesome news and updates for everyone, so make sure you check through everything if there’s a story or even you’re waiting up on!


So, first and biggest piece of news? I’m almost halfway through the pre-Alpha for Jungle.

Yes. That Jungle. The sequel to Colony. I’m about halfway through the Pre-Alpha. Which means …

I will be sending out early Alpha invites next week.

Yes, you read that right. Jungle is coming at last. And sands, readers, while I’m definitely doing cutting and trimming, this is … well, it’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

So prior Alpha readers, check your inboxes next week. I’ll put up a post to let everyone know it’s happened, but … Yeah, the Jungle Alpha is upon us.

Which means I should probably start teasing a few things, shouldn’t I? Jungle is the direct sequel to Colony, with Jake, Anna, and Sweets arriving back at the Sol system to find they may not have gotten away from Pisces as free as they’d hoped. SoulComp is in shambles, their executives on the run after the LockOut debacle brings the UN knocking. Dozens of colony worlds are in open rebellion, fighting back against UNSEC control.

Worse, the team’s actions have caught the direct attention of the General Security Director of UNSEC, Syrah Eidre, a powerful woman determined not to let a single world slip from UNSEC’s fingers … Or for any hint of what really happened at Pisces to slip free. And she’ll use any means necessary at her disposal to make sure of it.

Meanwhile back on Pisces, Didem watches as the world struggles to make sense of recent events and find its own path forward while dealing with internal strife, the constant threat of UNSEC’s overwhelming reach, and the shocking revelation that mankind is not alone in the universe.

And that universe is waking up …

 

Jungle is aiming for a late summer/early fall release depending on how quickly I can go through the editing, readers, so get ready!


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Settling into the Rhythm

Well, it seems like once again I’m moving into one of the lulls after a big release. Shadow of an Empire is out in the world, which means I’m trending back to relative silence as I sink into typing out the next big project.

It is kind of a weird feeling. There’s this brief moment when launching a book—more of a window, really—were everything is huge and in the open. You’re out in the public mind every day. You’re doing all this promotion and talking about what’s coming, the fans are excited and you’re eagerly watching for reviews …

And then it’s over. The book is out there, and you’re still noting it from time to time, but life resumes its old pace. You hunker down and get back to work. The next project starts. You watch the royalties collect, hoping they’ll arrive before your bank account finally makes that dangerous switch from black to red.

Yeah, that bout of the flu I had about two weeks back did a number on my paycheck. Let’s just say I’m glad I can subsist off of rice. Royalty money is delayed by several months, so while Shadow of an Empire and Colony are both actually doing great right now (between Kindle Unlimited Reads and sales, I’ve got a few copies of both going out every day right now, which is fantastic), I don’t actually get to see the fruits of that for … oh, another two months or so. Going to be a tricky few months ahead, especially with hours at my part-time being reduced.

Straying off topic here. Point being, this “lull” between the excitement of getting a most recent book out and the beginnings of the next project always feels strange.

But … despite my silence, that’s only because I’m working on the next project. I got the opening laid down last night, and today I start rolling through chapters in earnest.

Speaking of which, I’d best get to it. I’ve got a lot to accomplish today, and a chapter or two on the next project is high on the list.

Actually, one second. I do have a question for the readers of this site. Aside from the Monday Being a Better Writer posts, what sort of stuff are you looking for from Unusual Things? Discussion pieces? Places to chat about my books? Weird social commentary? Comment and let me know!

Being a Better Writer: Forward, Pioneers

Today is Pioneer Day in the state I live in, a day when everyone celebrates the forward-looking, pioneer spirit of the old west that sent so many explorers forth. And I thought “You know, I can make a Being a Better Writer post out of that.”

Which brings us to the here and now, where I am. Writing this post. About pioneers. Man, that was a short recap. Like the thirty-second backstory of a cartoon. Anyway …

So, pioneers. Don’t worry, this is still a writing post. This is still about sitting down and putting hands to keyboard, pen, whatever, and creating a world of wonderful characters and adventure, tragedy, comedy, or what have you. But what does it have to do with pioneers?

Well, I’m going to take a step back further in history to look at an earlier explorer. Namely, a man who put his name on history for the ages by insisting that India could be reached not by traveling around Africa or over land, but by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean. Now, we know this man as Christopher Columbus, who stumbled across the entirely unexpected Americas and got a lot of credit for discovering them in the modern eras. And yes, I know the vikings and the people that lived there beat him there, but Columbus was the one that put the Americas on the center stage and kicked off … well, just about everything that lead to the shape of the modern world.

Anyway, why do I bring up this story? For one reason, and one reason only: Most everyone considered Columbus insane. They thought the voyage he was attempting was going to be too treacherous. Pop-culture claimed that his detractors thought he would sale off of the edge of the Earth (despite people knowing back then that the Earth wasn’t flat). A lot of people simply thought he would get caught up in a storm and he and all his men die at sea.

Basically, there were a lot of fearful reasons that no one had ever attempted the journey west before. And if they had, they hadn’t made it back, so there was more to those fears.

Of course, we know the result of this story. Columbus secured his funding at last for his trading expedition. And as it turned out, his calculations were wrong. There wasn’t a direct, westward path to India because someone had put a blasted continent in the way (not that they realized this for a while). But soon they did, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. All it took was someone willing to take a chance on sailing west, against the “common current” that ruled the minds of the current climate.

Why I am I telling you this and what does it have to do with writing? Well, let’s look at one other success story first. Have you seen Stranger Things?

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Being a Better Writer: Beginning Anew

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2016!

Yes, that’s right, it’s a new year, and now that the festivities and parties are all over, that means it’s time to knuckle down and get back to work! Well, for me, at least. And I’d best do it fast. There’s a whole lot of work staring me in the face right now! I’ve got a book to release by the end of January (more on that tomorrow), a second book to release by May (more on that to come, but most of you regular readers know the title), and another book to start, finish, and publish! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There’s at least one convention—LTUE—to go to, another book I need to rewrite, the next Dusk Guard entry to consider, and even, of course, the weeklyBeing a Better Writer posts to keep track of (along with everything else web-related).

And you know what I say? Bring it on! I’m refreshed, recharged, and I’ve got two books about to come out. How could I say no to that?

So then, with all that said, lets dive into today’s topic: Beginning Anew. I felt it was appropriate to discuss seeing as we’ve just kicked off the new year. All of you are out there setting goals (hopefully), examining your lives, and, if you’re a writer (or a prospective one) figuring out exactly what you want to accomplish this year with your craft.

That’s good. You totally should be doing that. See any of the number of prior posts I’ve made on goals or motivation for my opinions on that topic. And if you want more, there are plenty of writing blogs out there discussing this very topic as a consequence of the new year.

So I’m going to talk about something a little different when I say “Beginning Anew.” I’m not going to talk about the new goals for the year you’re setting, nor entirely the act of sitting down to start a new book (though I feel that might be a topic for another time). Instead when I say “Beginning Anew,” I’m speaking of another kind of new. The kind where you look at something that you’ve worked on again and again and realize “You know? Maybe it’s time to move on.”

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