Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday 20

Ask away.

(The explanation of the Friday 20 is here.)

24 comments:

  1. Aliens in Blade Dancer: How come so many of them are humanoid and able to breed with humans?

    NB: Not a criticism, just curious.

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  2. Zornhau wrote: How come so many of them are humanoid and able to breed with humans?

    Because I knew it would piss off so many of the genre purists, lol. Actually Edmund Cooper is responsible for it, in a roundabout way. He wrote a book that I read as a kid (Sea Horse in the Sky) which fronted the theory that all intelligent life in the universe came from the same source species hopping from planet to planet. I went with that and made my planet hoppers humanoid. Also, I don't buy the popular "aliens can't crossbreed" theory because we've never met any of the neighbors, so no one can say for sure until we do.

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  3. Ah, I guessed you might be using the forerunner species trope, but couldn't work out why you didn;t mention it.

    Myself, I think the science of this sort of SF is pyschology, anthropology, politics and history. The SF is a sandbox, rather than an attempt to model the future.

    Also, I like your aliens because they give the setting the feeling of an updated Pulp - in the positive Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Bracket, Clark Ashton Smith, Lin Carter sense of the word.

    I still smile at that moment in Stardoc where she nearly puts an ambassador in the bin.

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  4. Just bought & read WOTC . . . thanks for that, it will be a huge help!

    Question: You write quite a bit and in multiple genre, I was wondering how you split your work time? Do you schedule a set amount per year for each genre or just take contracts as they come? Which begs a second question: do you work strictly off accepted proposals or do you occasionally write what you want?

    Later!

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  5. PBW, what is the most useless technique, process or bad habit that you see writers fall into?

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  6. Anonymous9:47 AM

    No question today yet...just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your book "Way of the Cheetah"...did a lot fo highlighting, tagged sections and even managed to put a few of your suggestions into action last night.

    Love the "Happy Cheetah Meal" comment! :)

    Christyne

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  7. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Hello!

    This ties into JAC's question: How do you organize your stories while you are working on them? Do you keep chapter folders in a word processing program, do you have thousands of 3x5 notecards on a bulletin board? Also, I'm always interested to find out which writers write sequentially and which ones work on scenes and then sew them together. . . (OK, that's probably more than my fair share of questions, pick from whichever you like).

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  8. How does novel-planning fit into the writing schedule you talked about in WOTC, and how much/what kind of planning do you do?

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  9. Zornhau wrote (along with many compliments that make me want to hide under the bed): I still smile at that moment in Stardoc where she nearly puts an ambassador in the bin.

    That scene was inspired by an unfortunate incident in real life, when I discovered and nearly dumped a container of leeches into a hazmat bin. A horrified doctor grabbed me just in time and explained they were very expensive therapeutic leeches, used for our amputee and skin graft patients. Which almost made me quit medicine right there...

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  10. J.A. Coppinger wrote: You write quite a bit and in multiple genre, I was wondering how you split your work time? Do you schedule a set amount per year for each genre or just take contracts as they come? Which begs a second question: do you work strictly off accepted proposals or do you occasionally write what you want?

    I really juggle the genres both ways; planning and pitching what I'd like to write for the year ahead (I'm now pitching two years ahead of present schedule), then revising according to what the publishers will buy. I also set a limit on what I will write depending on genre, word length, the amount of work involved, whether it's original or WFH writing, etc. For example, if a historical fiction publisher wanted to buy four HF novels from me, I'd agree to write them over 18 months versus a romance publisher wanting four paranormals, all of which I could write in 8 months. I like to mix it up, too; the more variety of genre I write in, the happier and more productive I am.

    I do not write much in the way of on-spec novel-length work. It's not worth my time to write an entire book without a contract. Even the one novel I could classify as borderline on-spec because it's not under contract has attracted interest from three publishers and an semi-offer from one. I do write short stories just for family, friends or just myself, though, because I think you should do some writing that isn't for pay.

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  11. Mary Stella wrote: PBW, what is the most useless technique, process or bad habit that you see writers fall into?

    Back-tracking and rewriting; it eats up huge amounts of writing time that could be used to produce new material. This kind of habit can become so bad that it paralyzes the writer, and they never make it past the first chapter of anything.

    Runner-up: pointless housekeeping dialogue, or starting every scene with mesmerizing lines like "Hi, how are you?" "I'm fine, how are you?" "Terrific, how's your mother?" "She's wonderful." etc.

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  12. Christyne wrote: Love the "Happy Cheetah Meal" comment! :)

    I always wanted to see them come out with a Happy Writer Meal, myself. Imagine the toy. :)

    Also, my thanks to you and J.A. for investing in WotC, and the rest of you out there who did.

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  13. Anonymous wrote: This ties into JAC's question: How do you organize your stories while you are working on them?

    For my notes, pitch, synopsis etc. I use story notebooks, which are those three-ring binders with tabbed sections for pertinent info. All my notes, research, character outlines, etc. go into these.

    Do you keep chapter folders in a word processing program, do you have thousands of 3x5 notecards on a bulletin board?

    For the novel file itself, I save two versions of each day's work: first draft and the daily edited version. I am not a notecard or bulletin board user, but I will sometimes use a dry-erase board to work out a novel plot.

    Also, I'm always interested to find out which writers write sequentially and which ones work on scenes and then sew them together. . .

    I work sequentially, start to finish. On rare occasions I will draft a scene before I start working on a series novel, but that's usually for a teaser the publisher wants to put in the back of a preceding novel.

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  14. Zoe wrote: How does novel-planning fit into the writing schedule you talked about in WOTC, and how much/what kind of planning do you do?

    The long version is down on the sidebar to the right (the links under how I write novels) but the short version goes like this:

    I start with a character, and ask three questions: Who are, you, what do you want, and what's the worst thing I can do to you? That gives me the character outline and backstory, and some idea of what the primary conflict will be.

    I then look at the market, upcoming trends, what editors are buying, etc. and, because of time constraints with my schedule, how much work will be involved in writing the novel.

    If all of the above works out, I then decide if I want to write the novel: is my interest high, do I feel passionate about it, etc.

    I then plot out my cast of characters and the novel story, put together the pitch, pitch it to my agent or an editor, wait for a contract offer. Other than what I do for the pitch, I don't write anything more until I get a contract for the book.

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  15. No question, I just wanted to thank you for making this comment:

    I start with a character, and ask three questions: Who are, you, what do you want, and what's the worst thing I can do to you? That gives me the character outline and backstory, and some idea of what the primary conflict will be.

    I never thought about looking at my writing that way, but just reading over the questions tripped a new subplot for my current novel that I hadn't considered before. *-* I'm going to print out those questions and post them on the corkboard I have over my computer as a reminder.

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  16. What kind of printer do you use at home? And if the writing-accesory fairy were to grant you any kind of printer you wanted, what would it be?

    ~Sarah
    (who seems to have killed her fourth printer)

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  17. Anonymous2:49 PM

    Thanks for writing The Way of the Cheetah.

    How and when do you use a kitchen timer?

    Do you write yourself into a corner? And what do you do to get out?

    What is the shortest time you've ever written a novel?

    Do you think that editing on the computer screen is as good as editing on a hard copy?

    Best,
    Pencilone

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  18. I’m interested to know how you write and edit using the Dragon Dictate software. I spend a lot of time on the pattern of words as they appear on the screen – I’m a rewriter as I go, so you can spank me if you like – so how on earth do you speak a novel in one go?

    Is it like those old films where you see the author reclining on a couch (because I can’t spell chez longe)?

    I quite fancy a nice blonde secretary in a knitted dress taking down everything I say. In a non-misogynistic asexual sense, of course ;}#

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  19. Andi wrote: I never thought about looking at my writing that way, but just reading over the questions tripped a new subplot for my current novel that I hadn't considered before. *-*

    I'm glad it gave you a different perspective. Btw, I like dramatic, powerful conflict, so that last question What's the worst thing I can do to you helps me zero in on the character's greatest challenges and fears. If you're more interested in more subtle, genre-specific, or other types of conflict, you might change the last question to something else like Who is the last man/woman on earth you'd fall in love with? or What would you be willing to do to save the future of mankind?

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  20. Sarah Jane wrote: What kind of printer do you use at home?

    My work printer is a HP 2430DTN, but I'm currently fiddling with a 4350DTN on loan from a business friend who's trying out something else for her department. It's way too big for my needs, but man, it's like the Lear Jet of printers. Zoooooom. :)


    And if the writing-accesory fairy were to grant you any kind of printer you wanted, what would it be?

    Laserjet, black only, no frills or additional functions, with a cartridge I only have to change once a year. The simpler the better.

    Also, I like HP because their printers are the most reliable and long-lasting that I've used over the years. About the best plain printer I've found so far for home use is the HP Laserjet 1320m, which is what I use for personal printing. It's not a huge sophisticated commercial machine with dozens of perks, but it gets the job done, and the kids have no problem loading the paper, changing cartridges etc. when they use it for homework purposes.

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  21. Pencilone wrote: How and when do you use a kitchen timer?

    I log on to the internet a couple of times a day, so I set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes before I start surfing or writing/answering e-mail. When the bell goes off, I log off and get back to work. I also use the timer for when I'm doing timed writing exercises.

    Do you write yourself into a corner? And what do you do to get out?

    I don't get into many corners because I plot out every book before I write it. There are times when something I've planned doesn't work out on the page, but once I've figured out why, I can write my way out of it.

    What is the shortest time you've ever written a novel?

    Ten days, and it about killed me.

    Do you think that editing on the computer screen is as good as editing on a hard copy?

    Depends on the type of edit. For quick editing purposes (spelling, grammar, word placement, etc.), on-screen editing works fine for me. For a final, thorough edit (flow, voice, style, logic, consistency and so forth) I prefer to use a hard copy.

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  22. Stuart wrote: I’m interested to know how you write and edit using the Dragon Dictate software. I spend a lot of time on the pattern of words as they appear on the screen – I’m a rewriter as I go, so you can spank me if you like – so how on earth do you speak a novel in one go?

    I'm not a rewriter or a spanker. In my house, you get a time out and dish duty. :)

    While using the Dragon I still see the words appear on the screen just as a writer who types with their hands would. I make the same connections I did when I used a keyboard. The only difference with using the Dragon is that I have to be more precise about composing the lines in my head before I speak them.

    I quite fancy a nice blonde secretary in a knitted dress taking down everything I say. In a non-misogynistic asexual sense, of course

    I had a blond secretary a few years back; very nice college boy. :) I should mention that one of my jobs in the military was to monitor and transcribe certain transmissions, and I also used a dictaphone when I worked in the corporate sector, so speaking to write and transcribing from sound files is second-nature for me.

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  23. Did you really write Lots of Dads? (And Lots of Moms?)

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  24. Alison Kent wrote: Did you really write Lots of Dads? (And Lots of Moms?)

    Neither one. It's another Amazon.com screw-up; they think I did because one of the co-authors is named Sheila M. Kelly (my middle initial is not M.) I have written to them about it, they've never changed the listing.

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