Classic Being a Better Writer: Some of the Small Things

It’s time for another Classic Being a Better Writer post! Rejoice, newcomers and old fans alike, and get ready to travel back in time to an older day, a day wherein writing topics were discussed!

Which really doesn’t make this post that different from what currently goes up the site, except that the BaBW posts you’re about to see here are old rather than new. Because Classic posts are all about returning to some of the posts of old in order to introduce newer readers to the admittedly bogglingly-large archive of BaBW posts. At four years with a new post almost every week … it is a bit of an archive dump.

This week? We take an in-depth look at some small but surprisingly vital elements of character design and writing in your works,  things that may seem unimportant, but can really provide that extra polish to make your story shine. In other words, some of the small things.


Underpowered and Overpowered Characters—
The real question that they want to ask, I feel, is this: how do I create a character with enough skills and talent to overcome what I place in his path without giving them too many skills and talents?

Because you see, that’s the real challenge that these writers are worried about. They want to create characters that can survive everything that the plot is going to throw at them, but they don’t want their character to just magically have the skills to survive everything. And of course, they don’t want a character who survives off of dumb-luck either. Both of these approaches will—while they work at first—gradually eat away at the reader’s enjoyment of the story. They may not ruin it (after all, there are plenty of other moving parts to enjoy), but they certainly will lower the expectations.


Showing Character Through Dialogue—
So, to start off this week’s writing guide, I have a question for all of you. What’s the difference between these two sentences?

“No thanks,” he said.

and

“No, thanks,” he said.

At first glance, any editor can tell you what the problem is. The first sentence is grammatically incorrect, while the second is grammatically correct.

Except therein lies our problem. Because while the second is grammatically correct, contextually, it’s incorrect.


Worldbuilding Colloquialisms—
See, the thing is, colloquialisms and slang are one of those things that we don’t often think about unless it’s pointed out to us, because by definition a colloquialism is not something formally recognized (except in title) nor literately correct. A colloquialism is just a quirk of day-to-day dialogue, an odd phrase or word that has taken on a new—and often temporary—meaning. They’re rooted in culture. Deeply rooted in it, in fact. So deeply rooted that most of the time, we don’t even think of them. We just use them, lose them, and pick up new ones.


 

 

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Rolling Sale Now Over

Well guys, that was it! The Rolling Sale is now officially done. Whew!

Still, I think it didn’t do half bad. I’ll certainly have to do it again sometime. For now, I may as well give you guys the final tally. Colony sold enough units during the sale to get Shadow of an Empire to launch at a 13% discount—not bad for a pre-order or early-bird purchase perk. And that will be the last bonus. Buying copies of Shadow of an Empire won’t get you anything except Shadow of an Empire.

Thanks to everyone who took advantage of the Rolling Sale, and may you enjoy your new reads! Don’t forget to leave ratings on Goodreads or reviews on Amazon when you’re done!

Being a Better Writer: Tragedy and Hubris

“All the honors go to the tragedian for chewing up the scenery, while the comedian, who has to be much more subtle to be funny, is just loudly criticized when he doesn’t come through.”
Attributed to Edmund Gwenn

Welcome back, readers! It’s Monday here, which means that it’s time for another Being a Better Writer post! Even better, today’s topic, Tragedy and Hubris, is the last topic on Topic List IX! Which means we’ll be moving to list X next week! New topics, new things to discuss …

Anyway, that’s for next week. But while we’re on the topic of not being quite on topic yet, don’t forget that the Rolling Sale is still going strong with Colony up for grabs at 63% off. As long as you’re reading this article in the week it released, that is. If you’re not well … check the book out anyway. Check the books tab!

Okay, so that out of the way, let’s get into today’s topic: Tragedy and hubris. Some of you might be wondering why I started a discussion on the topic of tragedy with a long-form version of the famous saying “Dying is easy, comedy is hard” since such a quote is usually used to discuss comedy (and in fact, I have listed it before as a reason for not yet being comfortable discussing comedy). And yes, while is is often associated with comedy for what it says, I think there’s some value in looking at what the original attribution says about tragedy as well, even if in jest.

Yes, make no mistakes, while it roundly mocks tragedy … it does make a good point about a popular perception of tragedy anyone who wants to write tragedy should consider: That it’s easy. Which, in turn, is why you see tragedy being an extremely common theme among young writers. Especially in fanfiction. Oh man, go to any fanfiction site that uses tags as a way of sorting/categorizing stories and select their “tragedy” tag and you will be flooded with stories bearing the mark. Enough to drown yourself in a sea of salty, melodramatic tears.

Now, those of you who are familiar with some of my prior postings may have noticed a “red flag” in that last sentence that may have brought pause: Melodramatic. Yes, that term that describes overblown, overdone, over-emphasized sadness and suffering that’s just so sad you really should be sad and why aren’t you sad yet! Yes, I use that term, and I use it here with purposeful intent, because quite honestly, 99% of those tragedies you find by using a tag search like that aren’t tragedies. They come back to this misconception that “tragedy is easy.” A new writer wants to write something “good,” and whether acting consciously or not, decides to write a “tragedy” because it’s easy.

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Random Musings on Star Trek: Beyond

Nothing serious here, readers. Just some thoughts from this morning that were kicked off by an only tangentially-related internet thread.

But first, gotta pause for the advertisement. That’s how this works, right? Get it out of the way early! And that advertisement is: Don’t forget the Rolling Sale! Colony is 63% off right now, and you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t pick up one of the most original Sci-Fi adventures you’ve ever read! Click the banner on the right and grab a copy now!

Otherwise you’re really going to feel left out a few years down the road when everyone else is talking about what’s going on in all the sequels, and you’re just sitting there thinking “Dang it! Why didn’t I read that before it was big?”

Right, aside over, back to the musings! So, Star Trek. Specifically, Star Trek: Beyond. Yes, I’m talking about the new, rebooted Trek movies (not the upcoming show that seems to have a lot of series fans biting their nails and glancing nervously at their communicators).

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The Rolling Sale – Colony

The date has been set. The time is near. Starting August 10th and running through August 16th, the penultimate step of the Rolling Sale will go live, and Colony will be 63% off!

Yes, you heard that properly. 63% off. In other words, you’ll be able to pick Colony up for $2.99!

Now, if you’ve been following the rolling sale so far, you know how this works. A title is put on sale and purchases, Kindle Unlimited reads, and reviews all go toward unlocking discounts on the next title in line. The difference here is that Colony is the latest book I’ve released chronologically, right? So what could possibly come next?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Because as it turns out, something can come next. Because I’ve got another book I’m working on getting out either late this year or early next year. ASAP, really. You may have heard of it? Shadow of an Empire? It’s a fantasy western.

And it is the final destination of the Rolling Sale. Except this time, rather than unlocking a sale for an existing book, sales of Colony will unlock a discounted launch and pre-order price for Shadow of an Empire. That’s right, the price the book will be initially offered at, all through the pre-order phase and through the first week of being up for sale. After that, the price will return to the standard launch price.

So yeah, units moved, KU reads, and reviews left on Amazon or Goodreads for Colony during the upcoming week-long sale will provide a discount to the release of Shadow of an Empire. Which, BTW, doesn’t have a release date yet, as it’s still in Alpha. Looking to release this year, however.

So then, just as before, let’s have a look tiers available for Shadow of an Empire to achieve. Fair warning, these are the toughest tiers yet. It’s offset a little by the steep discount of Colony, and a bit to reflect that this is for a title that hasn’t even released yet.

  • Tier One: 0 – 10 Units Moved – $7.99 – None
  • Tier Two: 11 – 25 Units Moved – $6.99 – 13%
  • Tier Three: 26 – 50 Units Moved – $5.99 – 25%
  • Tier Four: 51 – 100 Units Moved – $4.99 – 37%
  • Tier Five: 101+ Units Moved – $3.99 – 50%

All right, there you have it! The finale of the Rolling Sale has shown it’s hand at last! If you’ve not picked up a copy of Colony yet, then this Thursday is the time to do it!