On Writing

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Why I never give characters temporary names

If I give a character any kind of temporary name, it might stick. That’s why I never do it. I give them the name they will keep, or I identify them in strictly descriptive terms—the Prince, the Enemy Leader, the Chief. The less descriptive, the better. (Though sometimes, even those stick. I’m looking at you, True Head Cultist.) It’s a lot easier to give a name to the Swordsman than it is to rename a character with an ill-considered temporary name. Temporary...

Daily 11: The risk of naming early

I’ve learned a lot about naming over my time as a storyteller. Here’s the biggest tip: don’t name anything until you absolutely need to, use placeholders instead, and when you give characters/chapters/books their placeholders, make sure they’re flexible. It causes trouble down the line otherwise. I’ll give you some examples. The biggest one is that my upcoming book is not Book 3 as far as my notes are concerned. It’s Book 2. That’s because I reasoned that full-length, continuous novels should be...

Moody blogger

I’ve been thinking about my ViVid Strike intro at RandomC. In the comments, I received some criticism that struck a chord with me. Several people wondered whether I was cynical for not being taken in by the main orphans’ struggles. From where I stand, that’s absurd. In the context of my life, I’m the least cynical version of Stephen W. Gee that’s existed since I was a child. Teenage Stephen was a cynical bastard. College Stephen was only a little better. Early professional Stephen was...

I love sales jobs

It might surprise you to know that I, the author of Wage Slave Rebellion, a book where one of the main characters is so disgusted with his crappy sales job that he’d rather become a glorified mercenary, do not in fact hate sales jobs. In fact, sales and marketing fascinates me, and I may soon have a sales job once again for my full-time side job (i.e. the one that pays well enough so I can keep writing books). Does this surprise you?...

Momentum & mental space

The past month or so has been a reeducation in some of the inviolable rules of writing. And, like most reeducations, they’re brought to us by the wonderful teaching power of failure. Yay! I moved to a new city at the beginning of the month. Before that was packing, spending time friends and family for the last time in a while, then moving, then unpacking, then buying the furniture I was missing and setting that  up, then gradually getting settled in—and that doesn’t even mention the beginning of the new...

Sheet music

A good story outline is like sheet music. When you read it, you should be able to understand the whole story. That’s not the same as truly experiencing the work, of course. Just because you know where the notes go doesn’t mean you can feel the ebb and flow, nor experience the unique connection that only the intersection of author and reader can birth. But when you’re playing a song, it’s nice to know where the notes go, even if you plan on riffing off them once you get started. The guideline...

The miracle of sitting quietly

“‘Every book is a miracle,’ Bill said. ‘Every book represents a moment when someone sat quietly — and that quiet is part of the miracle, make no mistake — and tried to tell us the rest of the story.” – The Tender Bar, by J. R. Moehringer Much ink has been spilled about how our attention spans are shrinking. There are so many things happening, and so many distractions—the thinking goes—we can’t focus anymore. How is the noble book supposed to...

Import, don’t recycle

When I look at the other fantasy novels at Amazon or other bookstores, I’m filled with hope. Not because they’re bad, but because what I’ve written is different. What I noticed today had to do with tone. So many English-language fantasy novels are so serious, but not mine. Its tone is notably lighter. I like banter, I like adventure, and I like to occasionally laugh while I read a book! So that’s what I wrote. There are serious scenes too, but it’s deeply rooted...

Delusions of importance

“Don’t you think that that’s why we ended up here [on TV]? It takes a slight delusion … to believe that what I have to say is worthy of people sitting there and paying money to listen to.” “That seems natural to me.” “It does to me too, but I don’t think it seems natural to everybody else.” -Jason Segel and Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, 9-9-14 I’ve always thought it was the height of arrogance to want to write. Who am I...

Vacation, & a taste of what’s to come

September is going to be a busy month. Rather than sitting around, writing about anime, preparing the season preview, and finishing my book, I’m going to try to do all of those really fast, because Stilts is going on vacation! I’ve got two overseas trips planned, one for work (blegh), and one for fun (yay!). If any of you happen to be in Munich at the end of the month, and you happen to see a ridiculously tall blond man at Oktoberfest yammering about something nerdy...