Posts Tagged ‘writing’

So Broadswords and Blasters is dead. At least for the foreseeable future. Why? A lot of reasons, but the amount of time and money Cameron and I were pouring into it, and the relative lack of return we were seeing on it was draining. From most objective standards, our experiment to launch a New Pulp magazine was a glorious failure. Even with our shoestring budget, we didn’t quite break even. We didn’t win any awards[1]. Hell, we weren’t even nominated for any to the best of my knowledge.

And yet.

This past month, with the announcement of our closing, showed that what we did mattered to a number of people. We were the first paid publication (hey, you could buy a burrito at least) for a number of writers. For others, we gave them a confidence boost when they needed it. I’m sure a few people stuck around for our social media feeds (okay, by that I mean Twitter, because I ignored Facebook for the most part), including our allegedly legendary Follow Fridays where I tried to highlight our contributing writers, fellow publications, and friends of the mag. We worked hard to be apolitical in a time where everything is political (how much we upheld the status quo is probably up for debate, but it isn’t one we’re all that interested in having).

We did succeed in one aspect. Our goal, from day one, was to publish action-adventure stories. We weren’t interested in avant-garde structures or allegories or Big Idea stories. We still managed to get stories featuring morally complex characters, plots that tended toward shades of gray as opposed to black and white, and damn if we didn’t get some stories that made us laugh and others that brought a tear to the eye. If there was one big failing, it was that we didn’t get enough readers exposed to the great writing going on in the indie scene and that will be my biggest regret.

So what’s next? For me, at least, it is chipping away at a fantasy novel featuring Liam the Black (a short story featuring Liam is set to be published some time this year by Kzine). I’ve already got stories in upcoming issues of The Dark City Crime & Mystery Magazine, Econoclash Review[2], and Cirsova.

It’s working on more short stories for more markets. It’s reading more. Reviewing more. It’s submitting more places than I did the year before. I should also finish this[3].

Anyway, that’s my year set out now that we’re one half of one twelfth through the year.

None of us getting younger, you know?


[1] We did come in 3rd place among Fiction Magazines in the Critter Poll of 2019.

[2] Now an imprint of Down & Out Books

[3] Seriously, me? 2017? I know at least one person was enjoying it.

Yeah, yeah, so this is going to be one of those posts that is writing about writing. Unlike some of the other ones I’ve done, this is way less about craft and more about content and the fundamental underpinnings of character. So if you are here only for the short fic, might want to give this a pass. Also, I am not writing this to call any author out, except for maybe myself. (more…)

A quick note: I fenced for a number of years. Foil primarily, but I’ve also picked up some different rapier techniques as well as some “heavy” sword work (two-hander, sword and shield, single-handed broadsword along with some very limited small unit tactics). My lens is primarily through Western martial arts, and there are some great additional resources out there (The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts for instance) that I definitely recommend checking out.

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  1. Shut up it’s not too early to talk about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Yes, officially it starts in November, but I guarantee you the best way to successfully complete the requisite 50,000 words in the 30 days given is to start thinking about your story now.
  2. Start thinking about characters. That means description, backstory, motivation. What’re their buttons? What sets them apart? This is more than just the protagonist. Think about your antagonist. Think about satellite characters. What’s motivating them? What’s making them do what they do?
  3. What’s the setting? Rural Alabama is different from Elfy Forestland is different from Noir Cyberpunk where it rains all the time. How does the setting help to frame the story?
  4. Related to the above: do your worldbuilding now. November is for writing the story, not the setting. I guarantee if you let yourself get bogged down in the worldbuilding, if you need to spend time figuring your shit out in November, you aren’t going to get far with the actual writing.
  5. What are the stakes of the story? What happens if your protagonist falls flat on their face? Is it the end of the world? The end of a relationship? End of employment? What if they succeed? The status quo should change by the end of the story.
  6. Do not let your character be a leaf on the wind. They need to be a jet plane. In other words- give the character(s) agency. Have them make decisions. Have them make choices. These can even be bad choices, but make them act in the world you create.
  7. Work out now how you are going to tell the story. First person present? Third person limited past? Now’s the time to make those decisions, not at 12:01 am in November 1.
  8. Think about your beats. Road map out your story. NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words. That’s 10k words an act for five acts. You know who worked the five act model? Shakespeare. Be like Shakespeare.
  9. Allow yourself to suck. NaNoWriMo is designed to get writers to get words on page. They don’t have to be the perfect words. That’s what editing is for.
  10. Don’t give a fuck about genre. You want to write steampunk airship pirates battling Martians? Shapeshifter mutant erotica? Weird West meets Weird Science? You do you.
  11. Look at your schedule. 30 days for 50k words is 1,666.67 words per day. November contains things like Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Having to go to work. Plan out what days might end up being blacked out for writing. Plan accordingly.
  12. There are certain things that drive word count. Action. Dialogue (especially asking questions). Do those things.
  13. Certain parts are going to bog you down. Writing long descriptions. Writing exposition.
  14. Getting stuck on a scene? Put in a place holder. Something like [Exposition on the nature the lamia/sphinx war goes here]. Move on to the next scene. Put that bracket in red, set it off from the rest of the scene. Come back to it later when you are ready to tackle it.
  15. Find your writing groove now. Music or no music? What kind of music? Caffeine? Alcohol? Other? If booze makes you sleepy, you might want to scale back when writing. You won’t get nearly as much done as you might think. Haven’t written anything in a while? Maybe write a couple of short pieces before hand. Take those characters out for a test drive. Writing is a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Further reading:

How to Write a Novel in 3 Days (The Michael Moorcock Way)

The official NaNoWriMo website.

Yes, I am considering participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I did it years ago. 2001 I think? And I finished. And if I do participate I’ll be posting the word slurry here, one day at a time.

This week, pick a title and go! I’ve used Blake before in a bit of flash (“Nothing Like Getting Rained On“) though if I’m being honest this is more vignette than flash. Ah well, and so it goes. I think I’ll come back and flesh this out, give it a proper plot.

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I just finished writing the main segment of Burned Lands, a twelve part serial story for Dark Futures.

The idea was simple enough: write three chapters of around 2.5k words each. Each chapter would be told from a first person point of view, but after three chapters the viewpoint would change to a different character. Then, after all is said and done, compile the whole shebang and put it out there for sale.

What could be easier? (more…)

I have a certain style of character that I tend to write.  That type can be described as male, heteronormative, and nominally white. They also tend toward liking knives, cigarettes, and having a drink or three. (more…)

“Ooh, ooh, I know. I’ll write about an evil twin!”

“Yawn. Boring.  Done. Very 19th Century.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Ever heard of doppelgangers?”

“I thought that was a D&D monster.”

“Buzzz. Wrong. Try again.”

“Okay, how about a dream sequence? And there’ll be cats! Lots of cats. Only, this time they’ll be good.”

“H.P. Lovecraft called. He wants his story back.”

“Fuck you. Uhm. Okay. How about this. A barbarian, only he’s not all Noble Savage and wants nice things. And, like instead of a loincloth he wears armor.”

“Done and done by Crom! Have you never read any Howard?”

“A master thief who also knows some magic?”

“Leiber.”

“A sickly prince of a decadent civilization?”

“Moorcock.”

“An aged fighter, come back for one more fight?”

“You mean ‘Legend’ by David Gemmel?”

“Fine, fine. What do you think I should write?”

“No idea. But it’s fun to shoot your’s down.”

query letter

 

The submission process can be a daunting one, even for veteran writers. You’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into a piece, and now you are sending it out into the great wide world. It doesn’t matter if it’s a poem to an online journal, a non-fiction piece, a short story, or a manuscript submission to an agent; you are opening your writing up to a larger world, and what’s worse, rejection. (more…)

Swords are Overrated

Posted: April 22, 2014 in On Writing
Tags: , ,

Swords in fiction are overrated. There. I said it. They show up everywhere, being the weapon of choice for heroes and villains. Even pieces set in futuristic societies can’t escape the ubiquitous nature of the weapon.

Here’s the thing, swords were never that common. For one, they use an extraordinary amount of costly material to make. A spear with a wooden shaft, a hammer or axe with a wooden haft . Iron, and more importantly, steel, was never cheap. It requires quite a bit of specialized skill to forge a sword that will stand up to combat. It’s a time consuming process, and not something the village blacksmith is just going to be able to bang out with a bit of pig iron. To be sure, some armies were equipped with swords. The Roman Legions for example, but they are an anomaly as they were the product of a well-organized military state. The auxiliaries that fought alongside the legions? Not nearly so well equipped.

Swords require a lot of training.  It was a weapon of the warrior class, a group of individuals who were trained almost exclusively in warfare from a very young age, and not the sort of thing a commoner would ever have reason to learn.

So if not the sword, what then? (more…)