In this episode we go to extremes to get into our character's head, get deeply disturbed by The Walking Dead, look at the different points of view between male and female characters, and check out the Sterling & Stone podcast network.
Works in Progress
[00:00:34] Mike is writing a story called Rotgut for mashstories.com. The story must include three specific words, in this case: taxes, vinegar and carpenter. He roughed out 650 words and will cut it down to the required 500 words.
[00:01:52] Eric is working on the Don't Wake Up rewrite, plugging along. He is also taking a look at Road of Fire again.
[00:02:13] John is working on the hobo story, but is still not feeling good about the plot. It's going away from the direction with hobos.
What's happening online
Kidnapped and Tortured
[00:02:40] Kidnapped and tortured by electrocution. Author Nathan Farrugia goes to crazy extremes to understand what his characters go through. Everything from scaling rooftops, kidnapping, getting waterboarded and electrocuted.
Eric is leery about this, especially with some of the legality involved, but has taken some courses through On Point Tactical.
Sterling & Stone Podcast Network
[00:04:46] Sterling & Stone Podcast Network is a group of podcasts by Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright. They have more than ten different podcasts, some topical, some ongoing. Mike recommends a few of the podcasts:
Authorpreneurs Almanac (10m): Inner workings of indie publishing company Sterling & Stone, in a real-time look at what works, what doesn’t, and what's learned along the way.
Self-Publishing Podcast (Hour): A live mastermind where we think through process and strategy. Frequently off-topic, often NSFW, and always authentic: three guys telling you what does and doesn’t work for them.
Story Shop (25m): 9-part series on how to create stories.
Smarter Artist (5-10m / Daily M-F): Answer questions, offer quick tips, and deliver keen insight to help creative people who want to make a good living off of their hard work. In just a few minutes a day, we promise to help you get smarter faster.
City on Fire
[00:06:43] In Episode 22 Eric referenced an article in the Wall Street Journal 15 Books to Read this Fall. The article mentioned one of the books, City of Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg and how the 34-year-old debut author received a $2 million advance for his work. While writing the show notes for that episode, John came across an article City on Fire ... Fetches Nearly $2 Million. Ten publishers got into a bidding war for the novel.
"The book drew an advance that is highly unusual for a debut novel. In a two-day bidding war, 10 publishers bid more than $1 million. Knopf emerged the victor, paying close to $2 million, said two people familiar with the negotiations."
The Martian movie is better than the book
[00:07:34] Movies are now better than books is an online article that claims the Ridley Scott film The Martian is better than it's book source The Martian by Andy Weir. The author felt the film smoothed out the over-technical drama of the book and perfected the story because it was limited to a film-length feature.
[00:09:33] Eric is reading The Count of the Sahara by Wayne Turmel. Eric knows Wayne from the Naperville writer's group and Eric is starting his new 5-Star system with Wayne's work.
Eric's new system:
If Eric reads your book, he will review it. For every star less than 5 Eric gives it, the author owes him a beer. If he gives it a 5-star rating, Eric will buy the author a beer.
Mike is reading Pale Queen Rising by A. R. Kahler.
John is still reading The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
John was distracted by the fact that season 5 of The Walking Dead was just released on Netflix. Having not seen most of that season, he's binge watching to get caught up before the premier of season 6.
John Titor's IBM 5100
[00:12:30] Eric's wife was doing some editing, and there was a mention of a time traveller looking for a specific computer.
In the work Ann was editing, there was a non-specific reference to a time traveler looking for a computer. The story was referencing a specific person - John Titor who was a supposed time traveler sent back in time to retrieve an IBM 5100 computer to debug some code from his future year 2036. Eric felt she needed to tell the author that he should specifically call out John Titor and the IBM 5100 even if it isn't largely significant to the story as a whole.
"In the specific is the universal."
Eric asked if it should be specified, even if most readers would not understand the reference. Mike thought it should be included, because when he notices a specific reference, he enjoys the story even more. John agreed. Any time an author can explain how something works it makes the story better, even if "alternate historical timelines" are caused by angels a la It's a Wonderful Life.
"Those little details that you add to your story are those little handholds to help make the story more authentic."
Return of Text to Speech
Eric took the first six chapters of Road of Fire, about 33K words and converted each chapter into its own mp3 file so he could listen to the first draft of these chapters. Although it's in "robot voice", it has been invaluable for him to listen while commuting or on walks. Hearing what he wrote before helps him work out plot problems and characterizations in his work so far.
iSpeech is a Chrome plug-in. The voice is pretty good in this one.
Text 2 Speech is another website that creates mp3s based on given text.
Say command on the Mac
say -f file.txt -o file.aiff
lame -m m file.aiff file.mp3
Last episode (episode 25) we talked about copywork, the process of manually writing the work of authors you admire to understand the composition and structure of a novel. All three of us did copywork over the week and here are some thoughts:
Mike did 200 words or so of a blog post. He learned he doesn't write by hand anymore. He also can't read his cursive handwriting either. He'd like to do it for about 10 or 15 minutes a day.
Eric did some copywork with Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. He ran into the problem of wanting to edit what he was writing. It became an exercise on what he would do differently had he written Cat's Cradle.
You concentrate word-by-word and find yourself second-guessing the order of the words.
John's been copyworking American Gods by Neil Gaiman. He set a timer for 10 minutes and do the copywork, then go back and highlighting words and phrases he liked. John didn't do too much editing, but did find crutch words. Transitions between exposition and dialog was fascinating to John.
John posed the question of doing a manual edit of your own work as a second draft.
Points of View
[00:28:08] From the Obvious Department, comes the post Men and Women have Different Points of View. However, this great blog post lists some of the different things men and women notice in order to make your writing better.