Another Review on Fantasy-Faction

This month, I reviewed Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal for Fantasy-Faction. It’s an alternate history mystery/spy story set in World War I France, and it’s a very good read. Head on over to Fantasy-Faction to check out the full review. No spoilers here.

And yes, I know I said that I would have some changes to the site, but so far it seems like same-old, same-old. Bear with me. Not only are more thematic changes coming (hint, hint), but also posts that aren’t reviews. So watch this space! But for now, head over to Fantasy-Faction for my review.

An Interesting Anthology

While walking my dog this morning, I listened to the latest episode of the Writing Excuses podcast. In addition to valuable advice on pre-writing tools, Brandon Sanderson also announced that they are releasing an anthology, SHADOWS BENEATH.

Anthologies come out quite frequently, and many of them are exciting for any number of reasons. Heck, I have a copy of ROGUES sitting here, just begging to be read. But what sets this anthology apart, in my opinion, is the inclusion not just of stories by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler, but also the inclusion of their brainstorming sessions, critique groups, and personal line edits.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read 100 stories this year (You can track my progress either on my Twitter account or by searching for the hashtag #100ShortStoriesIn2014) because I wanted to write more of them. But when I started writing a short story, it quickly exploded into a potential novel.

Although my interest in writing short stories has diminished, I am still incredibly interested in learning from published authors–how they create, how they write, and how they edit. For $25 for the hardback version or $10 for the e-book version (you get the e-book free when you buy the hardback), I get new stories and useful lessons? That’s a heckuva bargain.

Long Reads Friday

For many of us, this is a three-day weekend. So if you don’t already have a book or three to read, here are a few articles to keep you entertained, now that we have no football any more, baseball and March Madness haven’t started, and there are only so many hockey games.

The first is a novelette released by author Mary Robinette Kowal on her 44th birthday. It’s part of an anthology wherein authors took the first line of a famous story and used it to springboard into a new story. She used the first line from THE WIZARD OF OZ, “Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife.”

The second is an an article from GQ describing the exploits of fugitive George Wright. Here’s how GQ describes the story

George Wright, America’s most elusive fugitive, ran for forty years. He ran from the cops after escaping from prison. He ran from the feds after the most brazen hijacking in history. He ran from the authorities on three continents, hiding out and blending in wherever he went. It was a historic run—and now that it’s over, he might just pull off the greatest escape of all.

The third is a article from Grantland about Dan Harmon and his post-Community life as a comedian, writer, and semi-pro drinker.

The fourth and final article is a manifesto by author Damien Walter about the importance of art and creation.

Enjoy the reads, everyone. And if you get Monday off, enjoy the long weekend.

Back to Work? Bored?

For many people, it’s the first day back after a long holiday. Odds are, the day is dragging, and you’re surfing the internet, looking for distractions. Well, good news, I found a couple things for you.

First up is a 20 minute interview with Brandon Sanderson about how he got started as a writer.

An Interview with Brandon Sanderson: from Derek Pearson on Vimeo.

Second, speaking of getting started, the latest Story Board is up, and it’s about beginnings. Hosted once again by Patrick Rothfuss, it also features Mary Robinette Kowal.

You’re welcome. Now plug in your headphones, and get back to “work.”

Need a New Plotting Method? Here are Two.

So although I’m a latecomer, I’ve become a big fan of the Writing Excuses podcast, hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. The most recent episode discusses Dan Wells’s Seven Point Story Structure. Apparently, it’s a structure that Dan discovered from a role-playing game, but he has since learned that it’s a pretty common tool for screenwriters. And as you can guess, it’s a list of seven points that every story should have.

This episode was inspired by editor Lou Anders’s confusion about the technique. And I’ll admit that after the first run-through of the structure, I was confused too, but the hosts apply the structure to a story brainstorming structure, and it made more sense.

Nevertheless, if you are still confused by the program, Dan explains the structure in a series of five ten-minute-long videos. Check out the first video below.

Oh, and why was Lou Anders requesting the structure discussion? It’s because last season (before I started listening), there was an episode that discussed the Hollywood Method of plotting. Like all Writing Excuses episodes, it’s only 20 minutes long, so listen in for a quick lesson. Then you can compare and contrast between methods.

I hope you enjoy these plotting methods. Hopefully they will help you tighten up your stories.