A Writer’s Life+

Many, many weeks ago, I wrote down blog ideas. Today’s idea is undecipherable (as in I have no idea why I would pick the topic). So instead, I have to come up with something else.

I thought I’d mention a little bit of what I’m working on.

I’ve got my novel in first round edits—six chapters and the epilogue left to go. I’m more than 3/4ths of the way done! This is exciting for me, as I haven’t really “finished” a novel before (I have another first draft floating around my hard drive but I think it needs a rewrite, not just revision). After this round, and a few more critiques, I will rewrite again before I search for beta readers. I think it’s coming together quite well!

I’m also working on a few short stories for publication (and of course graduate school applications for the fall). I have one that needs a total rewrite to eliminate vestigial syntax and problems that seem to pervade the piece. I have another I’m going to send to a trusted reader for opinions, and I dissect the heart and play more with the piece. So far, these revisions are making me learn much more than I planned on.

For poetry, I have a few pieces I’m going to polish and create about 2-3 packets of poems (about 5 each) and send them off to be published. I think my poetry is finally becoming something better than just something to use in the bathroom. Though I am way behind on my Poetry Magazine subscription (about 2 months behind, soon to be three). Gosh I need more time for reading, but when you have work, you can’t turn it down.

That’s all the writing I’m working on, not to mention that I’ve got other things in the works. I have my classes at www.snowppl.com/courses and I’m thinking of adding a few courses in essays and short one-week classes in creative writing.

I’ve also been going to the gym regularly, as you can tell if you follow me on twitter. I’ve also been working with my dad, and I have another physical job coming up next week. I am a busy person!

In other exciting news, I will be at the Mt. San Antonio Writer’s Weekend this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I will be presenting the seminar “Writing Description That Matters” on the last day of the conference. I’m exciting to participate and present! With last year’s conference past, I know this will be good.

Always More To Learn

As most of you are aware, I’ve been working on my Craft of Fiction class (www.snowppl.com/courses) for the past few weeks. It has gone live as of Monday! Anyway, over the time I’ve been rewriting this class for online, I’ve learned a lot about writing just from reading and writing the information—and I learned that I know a lot about writing, more than I thought.

The important thing that I’ve discovered is that opportunities for learning lie in reading, writing, and rewriting. I’ve read the materials for the class more than once. Each time I read, I learn more as I build on my experience and add knowledge. Also, each time I write and revise a story, I learn. And each time I learn, I can apply what I learn to past writing and stories.

As I continue on my writing journey and life, I know I will have ample opportunities to learn—I have to remember that the past is past and publications will only show my growth as a writer. Writers, myself included, should always be looking to improve their craft. Like athletes, writers can go far by themselves, but with a little help can excel.

In other news, I will be getting a Kindle Touch this week. If you are a published writer and looking for reviews, please contact me!

Happy writing!

What I Wish I Knew About Writing When I Started

These youth are off to a writing critique group.

Though I’m very thankful that I know what I know now (and next week will discuss that there is always more to learn), there are a few things I would have loved to know years ago when I first started writing. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather the few things that would have made a huge impact on my writing.

  1. Adjectives and Adverbs. I would have loved to know this rule about not using adverbs and adjectives. I learned it rather late, about six months ago. I’m still working on getting rid of them in my writing, and I know it has improved. If I had been more aware when I first started writing, I’d have a larger vocabulary of noun and verbs to chose from now, and I’m sure first drafts would be cleaner.
  2. How to write a scene. Gosh this seems so obvious, but when I was younger, I didn’t write as many scenes as I did detailed summaries. Hell, it’s still an issue I deal with, though I buckle down and “scenify” on subsequent drafts. My first attempts at novels were almost all summary (and boring summary at that) and even through college I was writing more summary.
  3. Narrative distance. As several people can attest to, I tend to write distant narratives. I do not get close to my characters on first, second, or even third tries. It takes a lot of work and effort to reel myself closer. Oftentimes, I am too distant when I need to be up close. Through teaching and reading, I’ve become much better at identifying when I need to be closer (almost always, it is yes, I need to be closer)
  4. Action. My characters act, but often when I’m looking over my own work, they do not seem to make their decisions consciously, and that is something that needs work. Action should be clear, though not always immediately obvious. Revision often helps me with this problem, but I would like to focus on other elements during revision!
  5. Plot. And that leads me to plot, still my number one nemesis. I am not a plot-based writer, and while this okay, it is a tool I need to be able to use. I need to answer the “why” of action in such a way that it is clear, but not explained. Often these last two interplay where the actions are not specifically clear, and thus the plot is obfuscated.
Now, it is good to know where my weaknesses lie, so that I can work on and improve my writing. You best believe I’ve been working pretty hard on the first three. The last two still seem to evade my grasp, though over the course of the next few months, I will be tackling action and plot fiercely. If I disappear, you know I lost!

Major Genre Differences

Well, now that you are here… In college I was told there were three major genres in which a writer can write: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Wait, what? What about all those genres we see in the bookstore like horror, science fiction, and romance?

Well, I was baffled. I had grown up reading and loving fantasy books. They are still there, don’t worry, but they are sub-genres of fiction.

How so? Well, I will go ahead and explain the major difference and how a writer can benefit from writing in all three (and other sub-genres as well by extension).

First, we will cover fiction. What is it? Fiction is the telling of false stories, as the basic word implies. In telling “lies,” as it were, fiction writers attempt to create as realistic scenarios (scenes) for as realistic people as possible to either illuminate upon “the human condition” or to entertain readers (or both). Fiction, if you do not write it, is a great way to explore situations and character that would be impossible with other forms. Also, most movies are fictitious in nature, and people like movies. Well, people like stories. Fiction offers readers a way to explore new worlds, magical words, romances, feel terror, etc. As a writer, fiction offers freedom as the imagination is the limit—depending on sub-genre rules.

Genre: Also a gay men's magazine

Next there is nonfiction. What is it? Nonfiction is, basically the opposite of fiction. It means “not fiction” or, in other words, true stories. Nonfiction has plenty of sub-genres as well. Some are memoir, travel, textbooks, “how to” books, blogs, essays, etc. The hallmark of nonfiction is that it aims to offer the truth. As we know, the truth is subjective. Memoir, or creative nonfiction, shares many characteristics of fiction that other forms of nonfiction may not make use of. As a writer, nonfiction is a great tool for research, expressing opinions in a way that is more direct that fiction can offer. Nonfiction is often the mode of writing we are taught in school.

Last, there is poetry. Many people don’t “get” poetry, and more don’t like it. Give poetry a chance! Okay, back to our program. Poetry is fluid in form and meaning. Poetry can be true, and it can also be completely invented. Poetry has, perhaps, the most freedom and the most restrictions. I’ve heard many times that people will not critique poems because of this nature. So, what can poetry do for you? As a writer, poetry lets you explore emotions, thought processes, stories, other perspectives, other worlds.  Poetry is pretty amazing. I find that the more I understand it (meaning the more I read), the more I find I love poetry (though fiction is first in my heart). I think, perhaps, that poetic structures and the necessity of careful word choice offer exceptional lessons for both fiction and nonfiction writers alike.

So those are the major genres of writing. As Western people we like to classify things, so of course there are gray areas between all three, and perhaps modes we are not aware of! I hope this has been informative, and gives you a reason to try your hand at writing within other forms.

Best writing!