Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Life, the Universe, and CONduit

LTUE was GREAT fun!

The three of us attended some really excellent discussions and workshops, including "Blurb Boiling" by Lesli Muir Lytle on writing the query letter that'll keep the potential editor/agent reading; "Crafting a Story" by Clint Johnson, a soon-to-be published Dragon Lance world writer; a discussion on writing sequels with Dave Wolverton, Tracy Hickman, Brandon Sanderson, and others; a discussion on myth and mythology with Lee Modessit, Mette Ivie Harrison and others; an address on "Creative Reading" by Tracy Hickman; a discussion on writing for the MG/YA markets with Jessica Day George, Mette Ivie Harrison, Julie Wright and others; a discussion on filling a novel with 100,000 words with Tracy Hickman, Brandon Sanderson, Dave Wolverton and others.

AND we had lunch with Kathleen, AND I got up the nerve to run an idea by her.

I asked her what she thought about me teaching a workshop for next year's LTUE on writing SF/F for the flash fiction market.

She says, "Well..." And I'm thinking, 'Crap! She hates the idea.' But then she says, "Why don't you do it for CONduit in May?"

CONduit is a local sf/f con held yearly in Salt Lake City, Utah.

So she passed the idea by the programming coordinator for CONduit, whom I have contacted, and I've begun the process of doing just that.



I'm really excited, nervous, excited, nervous...

But mostly excited.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's Missing

So, as I've said, I've been reading a lot of slush lately. (We're getting a lot more really good sci-fi and fantasy now that we're an SFWA qualifying market. By the way, did I mention that FLASH FICTION ONLINE IS AN SFWA QUALIFYING MARKET???!!?!??!?!!?)

While I haven't had a lot of time for anything else, I've had some time to reflect on those stories. I've read a whole ton of stories that are, meh, Okay. Not awful stories, not full of grammar mistakes, but missing something--something that makes them SPARKLE!!

And I've decided what that is:

Style and/or voice.

Too many otherwise good stories lack them. Com. plete. ly.

Style and voice make a story distinctive. They help the reader suspend disbelief by helping the reader get easily inside the minds and attitudes of the characters. If the character has no attitude, the reader doesn't get inside his mind; and if the reader doesn't get inside his mind, the reader doesn't imaginatively engage; and if the reader doesn't imaginatively engage, he has no reason to care; and if the reader has no reason to care,







Wow! If I had to choose only one attribute to really MASTER as a writer, I'd choose characterization, bar none; and style and voice are an important part of that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life, the Universe, and Everything!

No, not the Douglas Adams book.

It's a free annual sci-fi and fantasy conference hosted by BYU in Provo, Utah.

And I'm going.


This is my third year. Last year I took my older kids with me, and we had a fun weekend of it. They're coming again this year. My son is most excited for the Munchkin tournament on Saturday. We LOVE playing Munchkin!

We'll be meeting Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury for lunch on Saturday, I'll try to come out of my shell and do a little more shoulder rubbing with authors like Brandon Sanderson, Dave Wolverton, Jessica Day George, Brandon Mull, Tracy and Laura Hickman, I hope to learn a little something and just have fun.

My youngest, who is staying home with her Daddy, wants me to take our copy of Fablehaven for Brandon Mull to sign.

Oh, and I need to pick up a printer cartridge somewhere along the way.

Office Depot--they've got my cartridge the cheapest!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Well-Deserved Congratulation!

To my friend, Mary Robinette Kowal, who just sold her first novel to Tor! And not just one novel, but TWO!


You GO girl!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Flash Fiction is NOT!

You may argue with my definitions, but that's fine. There are almost as many definitions of flash fiction as there are writers of flash fiction.

At any rate, Flash Fiction is NOT...

...a story summary. If your flash story has nothing but blocks of narrative, it's probably a story summary, rather than a fully fleshed-out story with active scenes and dialogue.

...a dialogue fest--or the opposite of a story summary. If your story is nothing but dialogue you're probably leaving out all the stuff that really makes your story interesting and penetrating in order to try to get the basics of the story in by leaving out the narrative and just stuffing in all the dialogue.

...a chapter from a novel. A novel chapter almost never stands alone as a story. Novels are structured so that crucial information is doled out a little at a time, as it becomes relevant to the story. By snatching a chapter out of the novel and calling it flash fiction, the writer offers a confusing mess with no complete conflict/resolution cycle.

...a venue for your teen/frustrated male/homosexual sexual fantasy. There are places for that sort of writing. Most reputable markets are NOT those sorts of places.

With the exception of the last, all these NOTs have exceptions. I've read them. I've read novel chapters that could stand alone perfectly well, and stories that were nothing but dialogue that worked beautifully, and stories that were nothing but narrative that also worked well.

But what all those exceptions DID have were a clean, clear conflict/resolution cycle, a story uncluttered by extraneous information and characters, a story that effectively created characters that were both believable and likeable.

None of that is easy to do. It takes work, study, and practice.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Writing Exercise #1

Yesterday I had some down time, some waiting time, and I had a pen and a notebook with me to, hopefully, get a story started, but no ideas.

So I asked my daughter to give me an interesting word.

She gave me 'drugstore.'

Then I asked for a name. She gave me Mary.

The I asked for another word, and another, then a verb and an adjective after that.

In the end I had six words and by the time the sixth was on the paper, I had a story formulating in my head.

So try it. Here are your six words:


There you go. Write a story. Edit it once. Run it through a crit group or workshop if you want. Edit again. Then get it out on the market!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flash Fiction Online, February Issue

Our February issue is up and excellent!

Love with a twist.

Check it out: