Posts Tagged ‘David Farland’

Here’s some of the best advice I’ve read on the subject of writing dialogue. It’s reprinted with permission from David Farland. You can find out more about David and sign up for his free Daily Kick emails at DavidFarland.com. The retweet button doesn’t seem to be working, so you can also retweet from here.

Below David’s Daily Kick, you’ll find a link to an excellent article on “Dialogue Tags vs. Action Leads/Inserts”by freelance editor Lane Diamond.

David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants – Don’t be “On the Nose.”

David Farland

David Farland

The topic for today’s kick comes from a question by Brandon Lindsay, and it’s going to take a moment to get to the point.

In screenwriting, one bit of advice that you’ll often hear is “Don’t be too ‘On the Nose.’” It means, don’t have characters giving speeches, telling you what’s going on inside them, playing down to the audience. Imagine that you have a character who is angry, and we get the following snatches of dialog:

Angela: “What are you so mad about?”

Derek: “You! Why did you have to wear that red dress? You look like a slut, and at my company party!”

Can you hear how hokey, how contrived, that dialog sounds?

There are a number of ways to avoid being ‘On the Nose.’ For example, maybe Derek doesn’t quite know what he’s angry about, or maybe he doesn’t dare say it. Or maybe he’s torn, because Angela looks so hot, and Derek noticed how his boss was eying her. Or maybe he’s even worried that the problem goes deeper. Maybe he’s not sure about Angela. Is she flirting? Does she really feel committed to him?

So you re-cast the dialog, you circle around the truth, skirt the deeper issues. You let the audience wonder what is going on, let the actors perhaps interpret the performance, insert their own nuances. You might reconsider the argument:

Angela: “What are you so . . . furious about?”
Derek: Pushes her away, turns and starts to walk. She follows. “Nothing.”
Angela: “This isn’t nothing. Tell me, please?”
Derek: “Really, I’m not mad.”
Angela: “Liar.”
Derek: Sighs. “It’s not you. It’s . . . did you see my boss, undressing you with his eyes?”
Angela: “He’s a drunken slob.”
Derek: “A rich drunken slob, and other women throw themselves at him.”
Angela: “I’d rather throw myself at you.” Derek hurries his pace, leaves her behind. “Grow up. You’re so immature.”
Derek: Whirls and yells at her: “You looked like a slut! And you acted the part . . . perfectly!”

Now, do you see what I’m doing here? Instead of having a character define himself, instead of having him come to the point, I let him circle the point. I let characters argue about who they are. Derek is defining Angela. She’s trying to define him. Others will be defining each of them separately during the course of the story. In other words, one central conflict in most stories is “Who are you?” It’s not just a question, it’s the center of an argument. A lot of different voices from various characters should come into play, sometimes with wildly different accusations. Who is Derek? Maybe his priest thinks that “He’s that gay guy.” His mother might think he’s too shy to ever “make a catch.” His father worries that he’s an over-educated loser. His girlfriend thinks that he might be ‘the one.’ The local cop might think he’s good for a murder, and the truth is, even Derek isn’t sure who or what he is. The story grows as he decides which roles to take and steps into them.

So, when you’re creating characters for a screenplay or book, you avoid being on the nose. You as the author know all of the secrets, all of the answers. You just don’t spill them too easily.

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Hi, everyone. Moses again. Another article I recommend on writing dialogue comes from freelance editor Lane Diamond. Check out his advice on Dialogue Tags vs. Action Leads/Inserts part 1 and part 2.

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If you want to succeed, hang out with unsuccessful people. Er, am I remembering that right?

If you want to get somewhere, don’t ask for directions. Wait, that’s not how it goes.

If you want to master something, don’t learn from the mistakes of the masters. Hm. That just sounds wrong.

Because I don’t subscribe to the above philosophies, I’ve attended two of the Superstars Writing Seminars. I went there to hang out with some bestselling science fiction and fantasy authors to soak up their best advice about the business of writing. These events last three full days, and they’re chock full of great information.

I could never do justice to everything there is to learn from these seminars in one blog post, but here’s one thing I learned.

Successful writers don’t just write, they write their ____ off.

Brandon Sanderson writes a few books a year, making time to squeeze Wheel of Time tomes into his schedule. Kevin J. Anderson dictates his stories into a digital recorder while hiking the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. He also rents hotel rooms to get away from everyone (p.s. if my wife is reading this, I love you, Honey!) and write his ____ off. Eric Flint writes in binges that last for weeks and during those times, he is dead to the outside world.

Kevin J. Anderson says something obvious, but powerful: The top professionals in any respected field (medicine, law, you name it) WORK real, disciplined, long hours at their jobs, and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. When you have a ‘real job,’ you keep a schedule and you punch that clock. Serious writers shouldn’t expect to do any less. Kevin recently talked to the Writing Excuses guys about this very thing.

David Farland (Dave Wolverton) is also a Superstars’ presenter. In addition to hanging out with Dave at two Superstars seminars, I also attended his “Writer’s Death Camp” last November. What I’ve learned from Dave is hard to summarize in a flashy bullet point. I’ve learned from him so many fine points on the craft and business of writing, little things that can make all the difference. If you subscribe to his free Daily Kick emails, you’ll see what I mean.

A funny thing happened in one of Dave’s Daily Kick emails last week. Out of the blue, he said some exceedingly kind things about me and my work in his Daily Kick about “The Dangers of Self-Publishing.” Yep, this was a nice surprise. Now the following quote lives at the top of my ebook’s Amazon page:

“Moses is a fine writer and is deserving of success, and I think that it will follow … maybe his project will turn him into the next Amanda Hocking. Personally, I really enjoyed Moses’s work.”
–David Farland, NYT Bestselling author of The Runelords

Though this came as a surprise to me, this quote would’ve never happened had I not made a decision to hang out with some successful authors, to appreciate what they had to share with me (p.s. thanks, Dave), and to just be myself around them.

Here’s another cool thing I lucked into. At the end of the first Superstars seminar, I was hanging around the nearly empty conference room when I saw Brandon Sanderson reading the first few pages of someone’s manuscript. So I walked over to listen to the advice Brandon had for (someone who is now my friend) Joshua Essoe. Brandon asked if I had something he could read.

Uh. Yeah?

So he did. He gave me some great feedback on my first chapter, told me the story was strong enough that he’d continue reading if he was an editor, and then helped me with a technical issue I was struggling with at the time. I can’t tell you how how helpful his comments were.

Then at the second Superstars seminar, I got to sit and have dinner with Brandon and a handful of other seminar attendees. I got to pick his brain about which editors might be a good or a bad fit for me at different publishing houses, and again I learned a lot (thanks again, Brandon).

I also interviewed Brandon, Howard, and Dan from Writing Excuses at the recent conference, as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon (that interview will be up any day now at Adventures In SciFi Publishing), and I got to film a couple episodes of Writing Excuses (thanks, guys) that featured Mary Robinette Kowal and David Farland.

If there’s a takeaway from my ramblings, maybe it’s to spend time with writers you emulate, whether it’s at workshops, seminars, conferences, blogs, or even on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t do it with the mindset of getting anything from them, other than an education. Be yourself, be positive and grateful, and something–hopefully whatever you need most–will definitely rub off on you.

Oh yeah. And if you want to be a writer, write your ____ off.

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If you don’t subscribe to David Farland’s Daily Kick, a free email service that shares outstanding advice about the business and craft of writing, what are you waiting for? (look for the sign-up box on the right, through that link.)

Here’s today’s installment. I decided to mention it because, well, you’ll see. He mentioned me. This will give you an example of a wonderful free service Dave offers. I may write a blog post later this week to add to some of the points Dave made.

Everything below the following line is from David Farland’s Daily Kick, 2/14/11 (and not written by me):

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David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—The Dangers of Self-Publishing

Friday I wrote about Amanda Hocking’s tremendous rise to becoming a bestseller through self-publishing her e-books. I’ve heard from a lot of fans lately who want to give that a try, and by all means, if you think that you’ve got the chops, give it a try.

But let me warn you of the danger first. Unfortunately, you are not your own best critic. Nor is your spouse or your mother or your neighbor your best critic. As a result, when you think that you’re ready to publish, in most cases you’re not.

Time and time again, I find writers who are almost delusional. They’re like the singers that tried out in Hollywood last week on American Idol. They were by far the worst that the country had seen. For some reason, Hollywood attracts delusional people.

Because writers aren’t their own best critics, we often hear stories like the one told by Raymond Feist recently. He got a knock on his door, and when he answered, the fellow at the door said, “I’ll be you’ve never talked to a real author before!” Ray, who has sold millions and millions of books, just laughed and said, “Buddy, I think you’ve got the wrong house.” But the fellow persisted and showed Ray his two self-published novels. They were printed to a high quality, which showed that the fellow had some taste, and so Raymond bought them and the fellow went off to schlep his works door-to-door. Raymond then read the first few pages of one and said that it was one of the worst novels that he’d ever seen.

I’ve done that same experience on more than one occasion, picked up a self-published novel only to see a dozen horrible mistakes—everything from typos to misspellings and just genuinely terrible prose—all within two pages.

So I’m worried that in the rush of self-published authors this year, we’re going to see a lot of people embarrass themselves. More importantly, you might actually hurt your career.

Let’s say that you put up a book that isn’t quite ready, and it gets twenty reviews on line, and most of them pan your book. How easy do you think it will be to sell your next book, or the one after that? Those negative reviews will never go away, and they’ll dog you. Indeed, they’ll destroy the name that you’re trying to create for yourself.

So don’t rush to publish in e-book format.

Please be aware that I’m not saying “Don’t publish.” I’m just urging you to be careful.

Last year I won the Whitney Award for Best Novel of the Year with a book that I self-published. When I won the award, Howard Tayler, the self-published author of the famous Schlock Mercenary cartoons, said, “You know, Dave, you’ve just done a world of damage. You self-published for all of the wrong reasons: your mother begged you to do it. You didn’t want to take your regular publisher’s advice. Then to top it off, you sold all of your stock, got great reviews, and won a major award. I keep telling people not to self-publish, even though I’m making my own living at it, and now you come along and just reinforce the wrong message.”

Howard is right of course. Both of us were publishing to small market shares, where self-publishing made a little more sense, and we both succeeded, just as Amanda Hocking is succeeding, and some of you are succeeding.

One of my friends and past students, Moses Siregar, I just found out, is at the top of Amazon’s sales charts with his epic fantasy THE BLACK GOD’S WAR. Moses is a fine writer and is deserving of success, and I think that it will follow. But Moses also knows the risks. I recently heard some other New York Times bestselling writers tell him, “Moses, don’t self-publish!” They pointed out the risks. I then told him, “You know, Moses, I hate to say this, but I think you’ll do it. You’re savvy enough to know what you need to do in order to self-publish well, and I think that you should go ahead.” Now, four weeks later, he’s doing great. So go check out his book at:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Gods-War-Introducing-ebook/dp/B003Z0D2HK

It will only cost a dollar, and if Moses gets the velocity he needs, maybe his project will turn him into the next Amanda Hocking. Personally, I really enjoyed Moses’s work.

Oh, and don’t self-publish! For every one who succeeds, there will be hundreds who will destroy a potential career. Recognize that when you self-publish, you might just be gambling with your career.

Announcing:

Ken Scholes will be speaking to us next on the Farland’s Author’s Advisory Confernce Calls and you are invited to attend at no charge, as always. Mark your calendar, the date is Thursday, February 24th, 9:00 p.m. EST.

Ken is the author of LAMENTATION, and the topic will be “Self-Awareness: an author’s first best tool.”

To get on the call, dial 1-218-862-7200. When the line picks up, dial the calling code, which is 245657. The call is free, long distance charges apply.

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David Farland

David Farland

I attended David Farland’s “Writers’ Death Camp” last month and enjoyed a rip-roarin’ conversation with him about:

  • Dave’s Midas Touch
  • Stephanie Meyer
  • Working with Blizzard on Starcraft
  • The Superstars Writing Seminar
  • Publishing Trends
  • Changes in the Market
  • Ebooks
  • Self-Publishing
  • The good commercial potential for Young Adult
  • Writers with million-dollar houses in Rumania that they don’t know about.

Wanna hear it? Here it go.
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There’s a wealth of free video footage from the first Superstars Writing Seminar available on YouTube. Some of the topics on that YouTube channel include publishing myths, agents, self-promotion, increasing writing productivity, economics for writers, novel contracts, collaboration, self-publishing, networking, and many more (including Dan Wells on story structure).

I attended the actual seminar in March of this year, had a great time meeting other writers (aspiring and pro), and found the material enlightening. More than anything for me, it was a priceless chance to look inside the minds of a handful of best-selling authors and to try to absorb as much as possible by osmosis. I also got to ask more questions than I should’ve been allowed to ask!

There will be another Superstars Writing Seminar January 13th-15th, 2011 in Salt Lake City, UT. The presenters are Kevin J Anderson, Brandon Sanderson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Farland, Eric Flint, and Rebecca Moesta. I found all of these speakers to be very friendly and helpful at the first event (all of them were at the first event, except for Sherrilyn Kenyon). I even video-interviewed a few of them while I was there (Sanderson, Farland/Wolverton, and Flint)

At the event, I also filmed some attendees who talked about their opinion of the seminar. One of them was Marc Scott Zicree, a multi-talented Hugo and Nebula award nominee. Here’s Marc talking about the Superstars seminar (the YouTube channel that the testimonial is on also has three others, including one from the awesome Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl):

I’m going to attend the next event as well, because anything worth hearing once is worth hearing twice (thick skulls and all that). I hope to see you there! By the way, if you can’t make it, they also sell the complete audio and video recordings from the first seminar.
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Kevin J Anderson

Kevin J Anderson

I’m going to just copy and paste this info from the email that David Farland just sent out to his email list. Everything below was written by David Farland.

Free Conference Call with Kevin J. Anderson Tomorrow Night (Wednesday)

With over 100 books published, Kevin J. Anderson is well-known as a prolific writer. After talking with his fellow writers over the years, he has compiled a list of techniques to increase writing productivity. He’ll share these “Eleven Tips” on a special conference call, discuss his writing process, and also take questions on November 10th at 9:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time. Call 1-218-862-7200. When the system picks up, enter the code 245657.

Instructions on how to use the phone system are at http://farlandswritersgroups.com/viewtopic.php?f=101&t=1219

If there is still time at the end of the call, Kevin may also give us the inside scoop about the 2011 Superstars Writing Seminar.

We present this to you from www.FarlandsWritersGroups.com. The call is free; all you pay for is your long distance charges. Writers Groups forum members are invited to join the call up to fifteen-minutes early for a discussion and the author might come on early as well.

Please help us publicize this event by sharing it on your facebook and Twitter pages, as well as your blog and any forums you visit or writing groups to which you belong. Go the extra mile and post it at bookstores, libraries, etc. We appreciate any way you will help us spread the word. Thank you.

P.S.–David Farland will be talking to us next on November 30th at the same time, phone number and conference code number. David will be talking about writing the basic parts of the story.
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David Farland

David Farland

No matter how long you’ve been writing, the study never ends. Whether it’s the nuts and bolts of craft, how to construct a gripping story, or how to sell a manuscript, there’s always more to learn, even more so because the world publishing is rapidly changing.

It’s not easy to find an old pro who will share their best secrets and tips with you, but that’s what David Farland (the pen name of Dave Wolverton) does for free with his email service called the “Daily Kick in the Pants.” I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve learned from this free service. I knew David Farland was a respected and successful writer with decades of wisdom behind him, but I didn’t realize how invaluable some of his tips would be until I started reading his “Daily Kick.”

You can sign up for it at DavidFarland.net.

There’s also new item on David Farland’s home page (10/19/10), a free recording of a recent conference call:

David Farland’s First Authors Advisory Conference Call

Listen in on David’s first ever Authors Advisory Conference Call where Dave covers everything from world creation to adience analysis!

David Farland will also be speaking at the next Superstars Writing Seminar in Salt Lake City, UT, January 13-15, 2011. I attended the first event and loved it Here’s a blog post from Kevin J Anderson about the event. Early bird pricing is still in effect until the end of October. Tell ’em Large Mo sent ya!
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23
Jul

The Answer, My Friend, is Grasping for the Wind

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III    in My Work

I’m taking my talents to South Beach–wait, no, I can’t play with D-Wade because I’m an alpha dog–to Grasping For the Wind. It’s a great site for fantasy and science fiction news and reviews, and I’m thrilled to be a monthly columnist at John Ottinger III’s always fresh blog/site.

He welcomed me to the fold today.

And then–as if by magic–I made my first post, featuring my video interview with Eric Flint on publishing and new writers. I also link in that article to video interviews I conducted with Brandon Sanderson and David Farland.

Do check out John’s site. He reads and reviews books at a brain-breaking pace, he’s reviewed for PW and many leading SFF publications, and he is awesome.
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