Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa

Fantastic. Many of the essays are very, very personal — sometimes painfully so — but that only makes the advice they contain more powerful.

Her writing is both clear and funny, making this book both a quick read and a fun one.

Three things I learned:

  • Jeremy Renner got his start as a make-up artist (!)
  • It’s ok to ask for help when something happens in your life (your career, your marriage, etc) that you don’t know how to deal with
  • Writing fan mail isn’t cool, but that’s ok: if you like something someone else has created, let them know!

Chugging Along the Editing Rails

The major flaw in the novel is almost fixed. I’ve been editing around it, working my way from the scenes where the initial cracks in the story start showing through, down to where the plot hole opens up a mile wide.

I’ve started building a bridge across that chasm, a way to connect what happens on both sides so that it’s no longer an abrupt fall.

Today I made it up to the turning point itself, the central event at the heart of the flaw. I’ve finished editing that scene, and will continue on past it, smoothing things over until I feel the problem is fixed.

Once that’s done, it’ll be on to the next issue, and the next. Those are much smaller, so I’m hoping their edits go faster.

Onward!

Once More Unto the Comics Reviews Breach, My Friends

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol 2: Still hilarious, easily one of my favorite comics. The characters are fantastic, the art is clear and pops, even the fan letters are great.

Thor, vol 1: Hail the Goddess of Thunder! Great voice for the new Thor. The art is generally good, but sometimes confusing in action sequences. The villain’s plot is just ok; it’s the layers of mystery around Thor (old and new) that made these issues interesting to me.

D4ve: Maybe too juvenile? Overall good, though the plot was generally cliché. Still, funny in parts.

Pretty Deadly, vol 1: Took two reads for me to get into it. The panels are cramped and hard to read for first few issues, but I stuck with it and things clicked into place. Turned into a fantastic story by the end.

The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin

Masterful.

Jemisin’s mentioned in several interviews that this was a hard book for her to write, one that she almost deleted and quit on several times. Given the difficulty of what she’s achieved — weaving second-person narration together with multiple storylines that take place entirely in flashback — I can understand. I’m glad she persevered, though, because this is a wonderful book.

Three things I learned about writing:

  • Using second person can be useful for handling certain situations: when a character has amnesia, for example, or when they’re shifting from one identity to another. Saying ‘you’ eliminated the need to juggle multiple names, or even care about them.
  • Sadly, prejudice and cruelty in characters can make them seem more, not less, human.
  • When introducing new terms — as one often does in sci-fi or fantasy — it helps to have different characters use them, each in their own way. The repetition with slight variation colors in the definition for readers.