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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

This is for all my American readers out there. 

Need a free Covid test and / or N95 mask? This is your lucky day!

Omicron just waves as it floats past cloth masks, and surgical masks (while a marked improvement) aren’t always ideal. What’s better? An N95 mask. Unfortunately, top-quality masks aren’t cheap.

The good news? Most of us can reuse N95s, and there are ways to get these masks for free. 

There has been a lot of press about this but in case you haven’t heard or don’t have the links, here’s how to take advantage of these free offers:

Stay safe out there!

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“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”

― Lorraine Hansberry

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“What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.”

― Nora Ephron

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Today, some useful writing advice from award-winning writer Nalo Hopkinson.

The point of fiction is to cast a spell, a momentary illusion that you are living in the world of the story. Fiction engages the senses, helps us create vivid mental simulacra of the experiences the characters are having.

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It’s a snow day! True, I still have to work and all that but regardless, there’s something about a fresh blanket of deep snow that brings back childhood feelings of joy.

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“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”

― Margaret Atwood
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“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

― Stephen King

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

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Ha ha ha ha, this is 110% amazing!

More info and videos on this obviously critical area of scientific research:

So if humans visit underwater environments in a submarine, are these fish driving around in a supermarine? 

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Oh hello, nice of you to stop by. Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

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“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” 

― H.G. Wells

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“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” 

― Carl Sagan

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I am a re-reader. Sometimes I pick up a book that I’ve already read in order to study some aspect of craft, like a fight scene or character introduction, but my primary motivation is usually entertainment.

I love knowing that the piece I’m reading has a great story, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion. Often, that last element is where things fall apart. Over the holidays three books in a row ended with a whimper, and left Reader Me at loose ends, feeling out of sorts and disappointed. Writer Me was not impressed.

Good openings pull readers deeper into the story. 

The first scene can be anything—a funny incident that introduces one of your protagonists, or perhaps an argument that leaves your reader shocked. Maybe you’ll write a scene that will leave your reader admiring your protagonist and cheering for her, or perhaps you’ll introduce your tale with a gruesome murder that will leave the reader horrified but burning with intrigue. Whatever you do in your opening, a great opening scene will almost always find some way to arouse a powerful emotional response in the reader—and the impact of that scene will convince the reader to delve further into the tale, hoping for more.

David Farland’s Writing Tips – Be Excited

All excellent advice. But a good opening isn’t enough. It’s a promise. Endings should deliver on that original promise by giving the reader a satisfying emotional conclusion. If a story opens with a question the ending must close with the answer. Not any answer. Not a conclusion (dramatic or otherwise) that has no relationship to the questions posed at the outset. And not, for the love of all that’s holy, a cliffhanger.

This is why so many books fail, in my experience. Open with a lost dog, close with a found dog. Open with a murder mystery, close with the murderer being brought to justice. 

What if The Return of the King had ended as the One Ring went into the lava? That’s it, right? Game over, no reason to continue. Not quite, and the fact that the story didn’t stop there is one reason I went back to The Lord of the Rings every year for decades. Our emotions are tied to characters, and in this case to one group in particular. Start with hobbits all nice and cozy, end with slightly battered but stronger, more capable, still cozy hobbits tucked up nice and safe at home.

There’s also a reason I have several reliable series on call at all times. I don’t do well with literary disappointment. That’s also the reason I return to some shorts over and over again.

I’ve mentioned this story before and may well again. Do I like young adult stories? Frequently not.* Do I like horror or monsters? Not usually. But everything about this story works for me, and it’s about time to read it again:

Holly Black’s Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind) is everything I love about a story: it’s funny, poignant, trying and triumphant. And fun.

I hope you enjoy it. I know I will.

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Photo by Gaman Alice on Unsplash

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* There are exceptions. This story is one, and there are others like The Scholomance and Rory Thorne books.

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