Essential. Maas describes the elements of a “breakout” novel, showing how to make any plot or story more compelling. He pulls examples from recent (well, recent to the year 2000, which is when the book was written) novels to illustrate each of his points, and even has exercises in each chapter you can do for your own novel.
I’m already mixing in his approach as I prepare for NaNoWriMo. It’s given me another set of questions to ask about my characters, plot, and setting, to help me push them to a higher level.
Three things I learned about writing:
- People have been talking about the death of the mid-list since the 1970s. Don’t let it phase you.
- Escalating stakes doesn’t mean making the one danger greater. It means adding more, different, dangers for the protagonist.
- Characters need to be larger-than-life. Find the extraordinary in ordinary people, and bring that to life.
Surprising, strange, and very well done. Manages to weave alien contact, game development, and anarchist politics into a story so good and smoothly written that I finished all 300+ pages in just two days.
Can’t believe I didn’t hear about this one until just a few months ago.
Learned several things about writing from this book, including:
- Little touches can go a long way to building both humor and character. For example, the narrator of the book is Jewish, so whenever a character says ‘God’, it’s written out as “G-d”
- Using blog posts as the main form of narrative lets you cut out a lot of scene-setting description, get to the meat of each scene faster.
- Be careful mixing blog posts, real life narrative, and other written forms in one novel. If they all adopt the same casual, conversational tone (as this book does), they start to bleed together, and you lose the advantage of keeping them separate.
Human Shields, Cabals and Poster Boys
I think if these tactics had been used to ensure that only women got nominated for the Hugos this year, or that only PoC did, the Sad Puppies wouldn’t see that as right or fair.
I also think that they had — still have, I guess — a chance to act on their feelings of rejection in a positive way, by starting their own convention. No one could fault them if they started a Con that promoted the authors they prefer, nor would anyone be this mad if they’d launched their own awards at that Con.
If you like my short story, Chase, consider grabbing an ebook copy. You’ll be buying it direct from me (via Payhip), so no DRM!
Absurdistan: a fat, paranoid slob has a series of misadventures. Wasn’t that a book called A Confederacy of Dunces?
Continue reading “Haven’t I Read This Before?”