Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Less Science, More Fiction, Please

   I remember, as a young man, reading some of the early, great Science Fiction writers of our time. This was long before we actually put a man in space, but the idea of space travel was always taken for granted. The stories were about the experiences of the characters, and how they dealt with the situations they encountered in their travels. It was rarely about the science involved.
   Even in later stories such as Star Trek and others like it, Warp drive, transporters, etc, were just means of travel, not the point of the story. You never saw an episode where Spock goes into a long discussion on how transporters work, or Scotty explaining the physics of Warp drive.
   Someone writing a modern murder mystery doesn't go into an explanation of how jets fly or how the internet works. These things are part of the world and accepted by the people involved. While some may understand the science behind flight, the majority of the population doesn't give it a second thought, it just works. Why do some writers feel it's necessary to fill up their story with scientific discussions of how everything works in the world they've created? Is it important to the characters and their journey, or is the author trying to impress me with their technical knowledge?
   This applies to Fantasy stories as well. I don't need, nor am I interested in all the discussions about how a particular magic system works and why. What is important to me is how the characters with this special ability use it. Do they use this power to help others, or help themselves? How do others without this power perceive those who do?
   Also, a fantasy doesn't need hordes of magical creatures to make it a creative story. I've recently read a fantasy without fiercesome beasts or an all powerful wizard. Transportation was by horse or wagon, weapons were swords, and a small portion of the population had the power to heal with their mind. The story was about relationships, political power and greed. The power to heal was an important part of the story, but not the focus. It was one of the most engaging stories I've read in a long time.
   Personally, don't try to impress me with your knowledge of physics or your ability to create outrageous creatures. Tell me a story about the human experience. How do your characters handle their emotions, strengths and weaknesses, compared to others in your world? Technical advances are expected in science fiction, and so is magic in fantasy, but they shouldn't be the focus of the story.
   Maybe I'm just a simple man, but less science and more fiction works best for me.
   Thanks for reading.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

First Draft - Edit - Done

   For the past several years I have attempted to emulate the writing style of others, and it's been nothing but frustration. So many writers talk about daily, or weekly word counts, and write multiple drafts, I thought I needed to do the same. I've finally accepted the fact I can not write that way.
   I write in my head. Where others do draft after draft on paper, (or on the computer), I go over each scene in my mind as many times as it takes until I'm satisfied. Part of that is because of my ability to envision the scene like a movie. I continuously hit replay, changing the characters voice, interactions and actions, the setting, etc, until everything fits together correctly and I can put it on paper.
   I have to thank my writing partners who convinced me this was okay. I felt bad only submitting maybe 8-10 pages for critique while they had written 20-30. They pointed out that they would end up re-writing those pages three or four times, where as mine, after little or no changes, was done.
   I'll never be able to pump out a story every couple of months, but I've already got many of the important scenes for the next two books set in my head. Like one of my partners said, "Even when you're not writing, you're still writing." The closer I get to the end of this book, the easier it is to write since I've been developing these scenes in my head for over a year. Whoever said you should know the end before you start, had it right. It's so much easier to put in foreshadowing and gauge the progress of your characters when you know where they need to be at the end.
   Hopefully this means I'll have this book ready to publish before the end of the year. I still have to find the time to sit down and write what's in my head into a notebook and then into the computer. Sometimes that can be a challenge with the way my life is.
   I can't imagine I'm the only one who writes like this. If this is similar to your writing style, I would love to hear from you.
   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Is Quality Writing A Thing Of The Past?

   Not long ago, a fellow writer lamented the lack of quality books available either traditionally published or indie. Personally, I believe that person has become a little too critical, but I also believe the quality of writing has steadily declined over the years. I will try to explain what I mean.
   Years ago, when there were many publishing houses, the competition for quality writing was extremely high. Not only did the story have to be nearly perfect just to be accepted, the publishers had an army of editors who would help the authors polish their work to an even higher standard. Obviously, the idea being the best books got the best reviews, sell the most copies, and make the most money for the publisher.
   With the advent of e-books and self- publishing, it feels like the emphasis has shifted from quality to quantity. Where before, the expectation for the author was to sell a large number of one quality book, the reality now is the hope to sell a mediocre number of many different books. Profits have dropped, forcing the publishing houses to reduce the number of editors, yet increase the number of books. The small number of editors no longer have the time to ensure the quality of the books being offered.
   Some self-published authors understand that to have any success, they have to make sure their stories are at the highest level of quality and will hire several different editors to help that happen. Unfortunately, without a large advertising budget, these authors are hard to find. The only thing on their side is time and word of mouth.
   The other problem I see is with the ability of the average reader. It's a sad fact that reading comprehension has been on the decline. The last report I read claimed the majority of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. This is reinforced by the fact that most popular books are written at a lower grade level than ever before.
   Having decided to become a writer myself and learn the proper mechanics for creating a quality story, it's easy to spot many of the mistakes made in today's books. However, as someone who is more interested in story telling than perfect grammar, I can forgive a multitude of errors if the story pulls me in and takes me for a ride.
   Whether this is a bad thing, I have no idea. I'm certainly no expert, and these are just some of my observations. I would love to hear your thoughts or opinions on the subject.
   Thanks for reading.