Stargate Monuments


Martha Wells

My Flying Lizard Circus

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Writing Link:

BookLife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer This is Jeff VanderMeer's new site: Welcome to, a site that serves as support for and a supplement to my new book Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer. My book is somewhat unique: a manual that’s about how to be a writer in our new media age, but with the spotlight on sustainable creativity and sustainable careers rather than on new media tools, although tools are an integral part of the discussion.

For the new writers getting ready to try Nanomowrimo for the first time, here's two of the basic mistakes I see beginners make:

1) Using stereotypes. Not just the obvious racist or sexist stereotypes, but all stereotypes, any stereotypes. They're a sign of sloppy writing and sloppy thinking. Think about every character in the book, even minor characters, as a real person, with feelings, attitudes, a past, a future, an agenda of his or her own. You don't have to tell the reader all of that, or even any of it, but you have to know it, because it should color how that character speaks and acts.

2) Thinking about what you would do in a situation instead of what your character would do. If your character is a tough adventurer, and you are a tiny person with stress asthma, make sure your character approaches challenges and difficulties like a tough adventurer. And vice verse.

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i'm so happy you said this! I think one thing I am very skeptical about when it comes to Nanowrimo is the process by which characters are created. Plots are a dime a dozen but good characterization is not something that can be worked out in a month. And because so much of plot depends on working out character motivation beforehand, I wonder how much ground you can cover relying on plot elements to pull you through a book in 30 days without also having a deep wellspring of characterization to direct those actions.

And especially yes to #2 because I feel like it's something that lots of people have trouble thinking actively about. I know I do. I will sometimes realize that my characters are resisting physical actions or responses to situations, because I am resistant to physical expressions & reactions. But that does not make for very exciting writing, so sometimes I have to realize this and push my own reticence out of the way. :D

Yes, very good points. You need to think of your character and the culture that produced him/her. I am personally not fond of what I call "the civilized barbarian." How many books have you read where the women have few or no rights, but the male Good Guys just happen to have very modern attitudes about women? You do have to be careful not to have the characters be *too* authentic, I think, because you want your readers to like them. But sensible. I caught myself doing it once, in my WIP, having my male character thinking about how women wanted to get into law enforcement, and how he thought that was just fine... modified his thoughts t include "as long as it was simple patrolling or working around the station... wouldn't want 'em doing anything dangerous..."

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