Writing Prompt: The Cube

Continuing the week of Eddie Del Rio, here is a writing prompt of a group of miners (or archaeologists…?) unearthing a massive cube.

As ever, much more goodness on his site.

Short Fiction is Alive and Well

In case you haven’t heard, there isn’t much short fiction available online. WHAT, you say, ABOUT SUCH MARKETS AS TOR AND LIGHTSPEED AND STRANGE HORIZONS AND FIRESIDE AND BASTION AND PROBABLY A GAJILLION OTHERS I CAN’T NAME OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.

Short Fiction, rising from the grave

Short Fiction, rising from the grave

A valid query, my friend, yet new market Terraform has informed us that there is a dearth of short fiction available online. And then they updated it when a large part of the internet informed that, oh yeah, there is a ton of short fiction out there. Now, I write short fiction, so anyone willing to pay me $0.20 a word is a welcome addition to the market, and another short fiction market in general is something I am happy about. And if you want to present your market as new-and-exciting, by all means, do so. But saying there aren’t other markets is tone-deaf, at best.

Because short fiction is kind of the lifeblood of the industry. Not in the sense that it rakes in the publishing dollars the way blockbuster novels that get turned into blockbuster movies do, but in that it is what injects new writing blood into the industry. As a writer, writing short fiction (that anyone buys or not) allows me to hone my craft, improve myself and flex muscles I otherwise wouldn’t. Each sale is a publishing credit to my name, which agents and editors look at, and/or directs new readers to my longer (and more profitable) works.

And perhaps, as their hasty retreat-statement implies, short fiction is for the geeks, not the common folk. To which I say, yeah, probably. But that’s the way of the world, really. There are levels of geek-dom, fandom in anything, and it only makes sense that the ‘harder’ fans of SciFi in general will be the ones who read short fiction, rather than the ones who lump all SciFi into a Star Wars and Star Trek shaped bucket. So, hey, if you can get more people to read it, more power to you. But if you expect a ton of new short-fiction-reading-Uber-geeks to turn out because they loved the don’t-think-to-hard-about-it style of the Avengers and Star Trek: Into Plotlessness Darkness, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. That’s not to say that those people aren’t out there, waiting to discover how awesome short fiction is- they are- but the more constructive way to go about  it is to embrace those who came before, and try to spread the Short Fiction Gospel* together.

 

-DESR

*I am using this term somewhat facetiously.

Writing Prompt: Mech Salvage

I love big robots, and I’d lay odds you do as well. Today’s writing prompt comes from Eddie Del Rio. A mech graveyard, if you will. Enjoy!

Mech Salvage, Eddie Del Rio

 

Adaptation

I love movies. Old movies, in particular. I, along with the civilized world* think adaptations of books are, generally speaking, a terrible idea. There are, of course, notable exceptions, but, by and large, they suck. Even when they weren’t terrible, they fail to capture the essence of the book or piss off the author (see: Poppins, Mary).

Lately, I (along with every person on the planet**) have fallen in love with comic book movies. Oh, sure a few came along previously now and then, but the less said about Dick Tracy and Daredevil, the better. I attribute their recent success largely to the subject matter- A comic book does not contain nearly as much information as a book, and certainly even the most complex has far less ‘beats’ to it than the average novel. The pacing lends itself much better to a two-hour adaption than, say, The Hobbit (rot in the fires of hell for all eternity, Peter Jackson). So you end up with a much more entertaining product that adapts the subject matter more effectively.

Which, in a somewhat convoluted fashion, lead me to wonder why more movies aren’t based on short stories? It’s not like there is a lack of short fiction out there (and lord knows the film rights would probably be cheaper). But check out this list of feature films adapted from short stories. It’s… underwhelming. 3:10 to Yuma, Coraline, Enemy Mine, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, The Shawshank Redemption… Very little jumps out. Oh, god, Paycheck. How is Ben Affleck so terrible? But I digress. There is not a lot out there.

Short fiction should meet the criteria- generally, a story 5,000-10,000 words in length would translate very well to two or so hours. In fact, better, because it would often allow filmmakers to take liberties that they can’t visually with comic books, or will face backlash for in the detailed world of novels. So why isn’t there more?

I, unfortunately, don’t have a good answer. But if any Hollywood people think it’s a good idea, I know a guy***.

 

*I do not mean America. I mean people who hate movies adaptions of books.

**I do mean every person on the planet.

***Not why I wrote this post, but hey, why not.

Public Service Announcement

(edit: updated)

Welcome to 2014, where you can directly engage people who express their opinions about your work. I’m here to provide a PSA to all you authors who may be thinking about about engaging those reviewers:

DON’T

Seriously, stop

Seriously, stop

Did you catch that? Good. Because there is literally no way it ends well. “But Dean,” you say, “They gave me two stars because the battery on their Kindle died*!”

DON’T

Is that person an idiot? Yup, absolutely. Let them suffer in idiocy. “But it will hurt my sales!” you say. Not as much as you calling a reader an idiot in full view of the internet will. “But Dean,” you say, “I just want to thank that person who wrote the glowing five-star review for me!”

DON’T

Looking buddy-buddy with reviewers is not a good look for an author.. “Oh look Author X replies with a syrupy thank you to anyone who leaves five stars” looks like you’re trying to bribe people to leave you high marks.

Seriously, leave it alone. Let it sort itself out. Let other people call idiots idiots. Let other people compliment good reviews. Your time is better spent on more constructive things.

 

*Actually happened (not to me)

The Deanfortythree Guide to NaNoWriMo

It’s almost NaNoWriMo! You have no clue what you’re going to write about, do you? I didn’t think so! And no clue how you’re going to pull it off? That either, I know. Well, never fear, I’m here with all the handy tips you’ll need to make it to December with whatever sanity you have intact!

Give Up Now: Let’s be honest, you’re not going to make it. Why not beat the rush and just quit now? Then take to your favorite social media platform and ridicule your friends as they toil in vain! Take pleasure in each one who fails, gives up and joins you. That is your NaNoWriMo. You’ll enjoy it 10000% more.

Do Not Plan Ahead: If you’re going to insist on going ahead with some insane word count goal, don’t plan it out. That will just drive you crazy. Wing it. Plus, you’re basically Hemmingway, Shelley, and King all rolled into one, so there you’ll be ahead of the curve by day three anyway.

Share Your Word Count: At least every hour. Everyone is waiting for those updates. Hashtag it up, too. Something like “#wordcount: 12 #writing #amwriting #NaNoWriMo #lookitme” should do it. The world awaits your brilliance.

Edit as you Go: Don’t be the dork who comes out of NaNoWriMo with a first draft. This is the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, not some hack crap. Make sure every sentence is perfect before moving on.

Surf the Internet: Inspiration is a combination of lightning striking and magic. You never know when, where or how it will hit, so maximize your chances by scouring every corner of the internet. I recommend three windows of twenty tabs apiece. You won’t miss anything THAT way.

Panic if you Fall Behind: This is the killer. You get a little behind, and you’re screwed. Cancel all your plans, and scribble furiously until you’re caught up (then make sure you edit it, as above).

 

There you go! You’re all set for a great NaNoWriMo!

Writing Prompt: Spaceport

Happy almost-NaNoWriMo, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Here’s a writing prompt, from the incredible Jeff Zugale:

Spaceport, Jeff Zugale

The clouds, incidentally, are from a photo by none other than John Sclazi, so double awesome. You can find more of Jeff’s awesome work on his site and art blog, as well as the comic Not Invented Here.

PS Jeff, if you read this, please draw me spaceships.

Come Out Swinging

Because, why not? Let’s just put everyone who hates self-publishing in one corner, and everyone who hates traditional publishing in the other, and have them beat the everloving crap out of each other so they will all finally shut up and we can have some actual progress. In the middle will be Hugh Howey, so he gets double beat up.

We’ll sell tickets. It’ll be grand.

I get it, though. Everyone always wants their way to work, to be the best. And, hey, that’s great. Share what works (and more importantly, what doesn’t). But I think we’re losing focus on what this whole thing is about: getting books into reader’s hands. There is a lot more too it, but those are details. When we- ‘we’ as authors, ‘we’ as publishers, editors, et cetera, start pushing agendas instead of focusing on that goal, well, this crap happens. The machine stalls, and no real progress is made.

The Platonic ideal lies somewhere in the middle, I’m sure, but no one wants to talk about that, or give any ground. If someone comes to me and says “Hey, Dean, I’ll print, distribute, edit and market your book(s) for you and here’s fifty thousand dollars (or, hell, five. I’m easy) up front and then we’ll give you fifty percent”, guess what? I’m taking it. Because damn if that crap isn’t a lot of work I don’t really want to do.

And the alternative is paying someone, and that adds up fast (this is to say nothing of choosing who to hire). And if you do hire someone(s), guess what? You run a publishing company.

If you’re ‘traditionally’ published, read your damn contract. I have heard, first-hand, not some rumor, of publishing companies not holding up their end of the bargain. If you, the author, are having to do everything yourself, then do it yourself. But if not… why the hell would you?

If something works for you, by all means, share it and talk about it. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the only way.

Writing Prompt: Lost World

Today’s writing prompt comes from Lothar Zhou. You can find more at his DeviantArt page or his site.

I wonder what future civilizations, thousands of years from now would make of the relics of our wars.

Lost World, by Lothar Zhou

Lost World, by Lothar Zhou

Six of One…

The internet does not lack for head-shaking pieces opinion pieces- half the time, I am pretty sure that is the very definition of the internet. And certainly it doesn’t lack for pieces on the present state of the publishing, to which I have contributed my fair share. But sometimes (weekly), one comes along that is BOTH, and sets itself above all the other dumbass pieces on publishing.

Here is the most recent example.

He looks smug because he is taking your money and stamping out local businesses, dumbass.

I am an author-publisher. But that doesn’t define me, as either of those things. And the fact that I can publish my own work doesn’t mean that publishing is going to die, nor does it mean that publishing is evil.

The basic premise of the article- the title in fact: “Amazon is doing the world a favor by crushing book publishers”- is 100% weapons-grade bullcrap. The author instantly asserts that books are published by huge conglomerates. OK, awesome. How is Amazon better? Well, at least with Amazon we know we’ll get honest information and ethical behavior. Except, not. Amazon- unlike a later assertion- doesn’t presently have much in the way of competition, and does anyone actually believe Amazon won’t drop the 70% cut it gives authors the second they have the opportunity to do so? Maybe Hugh Howey, but relying on his opinion of Amazon is kind of like asking the North Korean Director of Propaganda if Kim Jon Il was a good dude.

All this is to say nothing of “the traditional publishing paradigm”, which the author treats as though no one buys a physical book anymore. Except physical books are ~70% of book sales. Scroll down a bit in that link- Amazon isn’t crushing publishing houses; they’re crushing bookstores. Huge conglomerates know how to make money, even if it takes them time to adapt.

Capitalism is capitalism, and nothing is going to change that. Publishing will shift, ebooks will certainly gain marketshare over the next few years, and are sure cheaper to produce than paper ones, but pretending Amazon is in any way better than the publishing companies that are out there is irresponsible and idiotic.

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