Quick Hugo Update

Worth sharing? Yes. This is not shoveling crap, as I put it in my last post on the Hugos. This is sharing useful, relevant information. Or more specifically, sharing useful, relevant information that Mike Glyer found and posted over on File770 (which if you’re a Science-Fiction fan, you should be checking).

Anyway, the useful bit of info was this. In doing some digging on the origins of the Hugo award, Mike dug back all the way to the first Hugo award and found this little tidbit:

Remember, there is still time to (a) do a little campaigning to line up a solid bloc of votes for your favorites, (b) get some members—every membership is a potential vote for your favorites, and (c) get your own votes in …

So, there’s been a lot of stuff flung around by the anti-SP insular group, usually a contradiction in that block voting and slate voting is either A) completely horrible, inexcusable thing that should never happen or B) once pointed out that the insular group has been doing it for years, something that only they should be allowed to do because they’re “special.”

The truth is, everyone, that block and slate voting, suggesting en mass just like the Sad Puppies did, the Rapid Puppies did, and the Insular group did, is entirely legal and totally part of the system to the degree that it was encouraged all the way back at the first ever Hugo award.

I expect there’s going to be some interesting fallout on this one. You can read the original post by Mike here, and remember, if you want to keep up to date on more news not just about the Hugo awards but all things Sci-Fi, consider adding File770 to your regular list of sites. I’ve certainly found it refreshing lately.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron First Thoughts

So, I’ve now seen Avengers: Age of Ultron. I had a great time. And although I don’t wish to do spoilers, and don’t plan on giving away anything, I am going to put my thoughts below the Read More tag. Why? Because I went into this movie pretty blind. And to be honest, the movie is pretty fun that way. I’m not a fan of spoilers, and I like being able to sit there and make my own little guesses about how the movie is going to go. Also, I like to have my own expectations, so if you don’t want to hear what I thought and have your expectations flavored, well, don’t click.

Seriously. Don’t click past this if you don’t want some thoughts before you see it.

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Being a Better Writer: Archetypes

So, for the last few weeks we’ve touched on a variety of subjects, among them topics including “What is a Hero?,” “Building a Hero,” and (of course) “The Antihero.” But in touching upon those topics, I realized upon reading the comments that I needed to expand into another topic of discussion, one that was bandied back and forth by a number of readers. This won’t be a long post (at least, I hope not), but it should be a helpful one for those of you who upon looking over the last few week’s worth of topics got a little nervous.

Basically, I want to spend this week’s post discussing archetypes. What are they? What do we use them for? And what do you need to know about them for your writing?

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Being a Better Writer: Being a Good Critic

This post was originally written and posted January 10th, 2014, and has been retouched and reposted here for archival purposes.

Today’s post is a little different. Rather than being for those who want to write (or those who are interested in the art), today’s post is something for the reader as well. Today, we’re going to talk about critics.

We hear a lot about critics in the modern world. There are movie critics, music critics, game critics, and yes, even book critics. If there’s a field of creative expression out there (or even not so creative, ie the business critic) the odds are that there’s an associated field of critics to go with it. We listen to and read responses from critics on a day-to-day basis. They’re almost impossible to avoid.

Especially since the rise of the internet. One of the textbook definitions of a critic is “one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter especially involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique” (source here). With the rise of the internet, the floodgates have been opened for anyone to offer an opinion. Everyone has a voice now, for better or worse, and everyone can shout their opinion at anyone willing to listen. With that, there has been a surge in one’s ability to make their own opinion known, regardless of knowledge or talent with the relevant material. Which in turn has probably only bolstered the reputation of another definition of the word critic: one given to harsh or captious judgment (same source).

As readers and writers both of fiction, regardless of type, we will often find ourselves granted with the ability to be a “critic” of either kind, sometimes multiple times in a single day. Any time you leave a review on Amazon.com, a comment on a product thread, or feedback on an alpha read for someone’s story, you are being a critic.

So how do you make certain that you’re being the first kind—reasoned—and not the second kind—captious? Because let’s face it, it’s easy to be harsh. And most of us don’t want to be harsh when we set out to criticize someone’s work. In fact, most of us are usually trying to help when we offer feedback. So if we want to be a good critic, what should we do to make sure that we are in fact, being a good critic? What are guidelines we can follow that will make sure we don’t simply become one of the voices that is quickly shoved away due to or because of ignorance (and not on the part of the one the critiquing was pointed at)?

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Speaking on Hugos and Sad Puppies

You know, I must admit I’ve been tempted to talk more on here about the Hugos, since every post I’ve made about the Hugos has gathered far more attention than any other post I’ve made. Honestly, this isn’t much of a surprise. People love intrigue and dispute, and most of the other posts I’ve made on here are far more straightforward. Also educational, which is a struggle for the attentive reader at most times.

But I really, honestly, don’t want to post that much about the Hugos and the Sad Puppies thing. Not all the time, at least. And here’s why.

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Milestones and Goals

While those of you reading this from my other blog will be familiar with this practice, many of you who’ve stumbled upon my work here for the first time won’t be, but I believe in keeping track of one’s progress. That goal-setting and stat-tracking are important, especially as a writer.

Because it’s very easy to sit down at a computer and tell one’s self “This is writing time. I am a writer.” And then spend the next few hours browsing reddit or listening to podcasts or playing games while only getting a small amount of work done. I’ve known people that do this. They spend a good chunk of their week “working” but by the end only produce a thousand words worth of content. Or two thousand. Which isn’t much.

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Being a Better Writer: Too Much Information

Have you ever been trapped in a conversation where someone is explaining something really simple, in great detail? Worse yet, it isn’t something that really needed to be explained, because you already know how to, say, use a cell phone? Or unlock a door? Yet the person you’re talking to just keeps going on about it?

Often readers can find themselves in this same scenario when reading a fresh writers work. And for the most part, the young writers themselves aren’t unfamiliar with it. They often know that they’re caught in a loop, describing in great amounts of detail that which isn’t actually that intriguing. More often than not, if they don’t recognize it, or even when they do, it’s because they’re caught up in the skill of being able to tell, the ability to fire word after word at a mind and bring a construct to life.

One way or another though, a lot of young writers get caught up in the thrill of explaining everything only then to discover that not everyone is as thrilled with it as they are. And then they spout the question that most every author has heard at one point or another: how to I keep myself from writing too much information?

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