Being a Better Writer: Keeping it Simple

Alternative title: Don’t Bite Off More than You Can Chew.

Hello readers! Welcome back! How was your weekend? I trust it was enjoyable?

I hope I was able to help with that. Episode two of Fireteam Freelance dropped Saturday morning with a bang! More adventures with Adah, Ursa, Anvil, and Owl!

And … that’s all the time I’ve got for news today. And all the news, so it works out. So, let’s talk writing.

With a title like this some of you are probably wondering what the inspiration is. Well, as many of you know, I do a lot of reading. Not just books, but webcomics and even some fanfiction here and there as well. I’m also highly selective, especially with the last two, but I do notice a lot of trends. Trends that tie back into a lot of stuff I hear from novice writers (who frequently turn around and write fanfiction or webcomics).

In fact, I was actually tempted to share a synopsis I found for one new webcomic in this very post to illustrate my point today, but decided against it. It would have illustrated today’s point, or rather today’s issue we’re discussing pretty well … but I’d hate to have that creator find this post and feel personally put under a spotlight they didn’t ask for.

So let me give you a common hypothetical. An occurrence that happens to authors, or to teachers in creative writing courses, or even to random people who know someone bitten by the writing bug. They get cornered, and they’re given a synopsis of this new writer’s planned plot and story. And it’ll be something like this:

So the main character is an undead werewolf, right? And she’s trying to hide and survive this organization that’s hunting her, while trying to figure out what happened to her mother. Her mother was a powerful sorceress who might have discovered the cure for this deadly disease that’s wiping out the world, which she got from aliens. But the good aliens, not the bad ones. See, she was part of a secret organization that fought the bad aliens during World War I, who were using voodoo to try and manipulate the world and take over. They’re not related to the people hunting the main character—or maybe they are, I haven’t decided yet. Anyway, one of the people hunting her is secretly in love with her, but there’s a problem because they’re actually a vampire, part of a secret organization that’s working against everyone else to try and make the world eternally night by using the bad and good aliens. So we start out in this high school …

So, what do you think of my short story idea?

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The Countdown (A News Post)

Three Days to Jungle


Jungle CoverThree days, people. Not counting today, since it’s halfway gone for most already. Three. Days.

And then Jungle drops.

I mean … what else do I even say? At this point, it’s just waiting to see what happens. Watch the pre-orders tick up for those folks that want it ASAP, and then see what day-one sales look like. Wait for reviews to roll in. See what all of you make of the biggest Sci-Fi adventure I’ve ever pumped out.

No pressure, right?

Seriously though, it’s all over but the waiting, now. In three days, those of you that pre-ordered will have a copy in your hands, be it on your phone, tablet, laptop, kindle, or whatever other device you’ve decided to use for reading it. And it should probably be a device, too. At 457,000 words, an actual print copy of Jungle would probably weigh something like six or seven pounds. Good luck holding that one-handed.

Three days. It’s finally happening. Just so you guys know, work on Colony, the first book in this set, started five years ago, in late 2014. Colony released two years later, in 2016, and work on Jungle started almost immediately afterward. So the grand total of these two books? Five years of work and effort.

In three days you’ll all get to see where that’s led us, as well as the series’ starring trio of Jake, Anna, and Sweets.

While we wait for that release, if you’ve already locked in your pre-order and before we get to the rest of the news, I’d like to do a bit of an informal survey among you readers: Who’s your favorite of the three, and what do you expect is coming for them in Jungle? Got any theories?

While you ruminate on that, hit the jump for some more news!

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Shifting Gears

So, I’ve had a lot of people ask me the same question over the last few weeks, especially as work on Jungle wound down and slowed. Sometimes their wording is a bit different, sometimes it’s the same. But all of it boils down to one simple concept: Now what?

It’s not hard to see where that question is coming from. Finishing up a project like Jungle (now available for pre-order, just plugging that now) is kind of like reaching the top of a titanic mountain. First comes elation, then wonder at the grandeur … But eventually, as you sit there looking around, the question does arise in your mind of “Now what?”

Well, maybe I can answer that for the many people who’ve asked or have been wondering but haven’t quite gotten the curiosity to ask yet. Now what?

Well, I know what. Even if I’ve asked myself the question before. This morning, when I woke up, it hit me that Jungle was, for all intents and purpose, DONE. All that’s left is to upload the final file. And make a last-minute paranoia check that yes, it is done.

But … that doesn’t mean that I’ll be sitting around wondering what to do next. I already know what I’m doing next. I’ll be starting work on Axtara – Banking and Finance again. Which means once this post is done, I’ll be rereading what’s been written so far to catch myself up and then I’ll be working on getting that draft finished. Plus, I’d really like to do another chapter of Stranded, and then there’s Fireteam Freelance to start, which will be my next big project. After that, Starforge, and then …

Point is, I know what I have to do next. Writing, like other jobs, is a form of work. Which means no sooner do you get something done than you know there’s going to be something else to do. There’s always more to do.

But … if I’m honest, that’s not really what people are asking. Okay, some of them are. Some of them genuinely are shocked that writers plan ahead. Probably because they’re in that sector of writing experience where they believe that writing comes from a “muse” and once the project is over, that muse is gone.

Most people know that’s not true though, and that writing is work. So they’re not asking “Now what?” in the sense of “What will you do next?” Rather, they’re asking something that’s a bit more on-point. They’re asking “How will you do next?”

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Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice: Stop Planning and Start Writing

Hello readers, and welcome to the third installment of Being a Better Writer’s Summer of Cliche Writing Advice! Where each week this summer we’re taking a different look at some of those oft-heard, easily repeated sayings of writing advice that seem to swarm young writers (and even some veteran ones) wherever they go. The quick, off-the-cuff sayings that just seem to crop up like flies.

Because while they’re numerous and oft-repeated, are they really that useful? Or have they, in being cut down to something that’s bite-sized and easily digestible, lost some of that functionality we’d like them to bring, or even perhaps become harmful, like last week’s “Show, don’t tell?”

Or are they distilled wisdom that, while curt, is really quite useful? Well, that’s what Being a Better Writer is figuring out this summer with this series. Is the saying really that useful? What sort of knowledge or advice can we take out of it? Should we be repeating it? Or is it something we shouldn’t use because it’s likely going to cause more stumbling than smooth sailing for a new writer?

Enough pontificating! This week’s quick quip of choice?

Stop Planning and Start Writing.

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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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