I Know Nothing?!

On Saturday I watched all of season three of Game of Thrones. Poor Jon. But I reflected upon this, and yesterday I was reading “Writer’s Digest,” and I thought, I know nothing. I’m Jon Snow. Where is my Ygritte? I can do pretty amazing stuff with my tongue, too, he’s not the only one. But I digress.

I was reading an article from the book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Orson Scott Card was one of the contributors, so how can you go wrong? I immediately went to B&N, picked that up, got the 2014 Writer’s Market book (it was sitting right there, so why not?), and picked up a limited edition Green Eggs and Ham, which has a shiny cover. If my nephew is anything like his uncle, he’ll be drawn to this book. Because it’s shiny. I’m all about trickery to get children to read.

Now the reason I bought the how to write book was due to me writing about how I world build. I want to sound as educated as possible, and these writers who helped conjure this book are to be some fairly intellectual beings, so I bet I could learn a lot from it.

This is not my full review. I’m not saying the information is bad. For someone who loves reading speculative fiction and hasn’t quite grasped the creative journey, or for young writers who need a little firmer foundation for their direction, this is an incredible read.

The greatest advice I’ve gleaned is that everyone creates a world in their own way, and every world is created differently, even if it’s the same author. But after that? Aside from the history of genres and how fantasy and science fiction were finally split (that’s right, they’re different genres!), along with a few suggestions on great magazines for beginning authors of science fiction, I knew.

I’m a third of the way through, and I’ve had my convictions confirmed. Great worlds take months to years to create. Many times they’re stream of conscience creations where you keep asking questions of what you already have, while also taking in what you see in the world. Doodles are a great way to come up with random ideas, as well as randomly jotting down notes on what you thought last night. Often times you will create information for your world that your reader will never see. They might only get a sentence about it. Still create it. Your world will be flat without the knowledge, and even though the reader doesn’t know what is missing, they will know something is missing.

I did learn a great deal about where the markets are for fantasy and science fiction, which will definitely help me a great deal in marketing when going forward. I learned both markets are super saturated, but the science fiction has a larger reader base. I didn’t feel this was true, but the book is relatively new and I’m guessing Card did his research. I’m simply surrounded by friends who prefer magic and swords to lasers and star cruisers.

The later chapters are on magic, paganism, religion, and other details of the world. I was told to always come away with something, so I will work to find those gems, but I am partially hoping this will be an affirmation of what I’m already doing. First, it means my processes are the same as some of the most amazing writers out there. Second, it means I can skim.

I’ll be reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves next because I know it will not affirm my grammar abilities. It will scold me and bring me low, while giving me the tools to lift myself back up. I know I don’t have the craft perfected, and that vocabulary and grammar are my major issues, but it’s good to know I have a good grasp on the creative aspect.

What do you find you do great for writing? Where are your strengths? Where are your weaknesses?

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17 responses to “I Know Nothing?!

  1. I apparently write really scary stuff. 🙂 But in seriousness, I found that true when I was reading some “how to write” books – they had some good points and a few tricks that I found helpful (like using note cards to organize the story), but overall, I knew much of what they were talking about and the book was more of a refresher/affirmation thing.

  2. Others have had an easier time with world building. For example, “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”
    I’m going to get a few books on the subject of world building. If only to discover I was doing it correctly also, would be a relief, and therefore, money well spent.

  3. When I read books on writing they’re usually like “On Writing” by Stephen King and “I’d Rather Be Writing” by Marcia Golub. These are two of my all time favorite books. They talk about writing from the writer perspective and they give a little detail on the life of the writer. I need to reread my copy of “On Writing” and pick up a physical copy of “I’d Rather Be Writing” as well as get a copy of “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty (about the founding of NaNoWriMo and tips on that so it helps me apply that to deadlines). I read really weird books on things. Doesn’t matter what I’m researching or anything. I just like weird things.

    If you find some good ones let me know? I’ve read “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” and I like it, but it’s so much more technical which doesn’t flow with me. I like story examples with my reading on learning things. >.>’

    • I need to improve my grammar more than anything, so the technical books are currently what I should be aiming for 😦 However, overall, Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction was a good read. I would suggest it. Thanks for the suggestions.

      • Awesome.

        As for weak points with me it’s battle scenes. I just feel like they lack so much. And beginnings. If there’s a book on writing beginnings I need that.

      • I’ve learned a lot from mythology when it comes from battle scenes. “They beat the crap out of each other for twelve rounds, then X ran Y through with a sword.” I really like their style. As for beginnings, at current all I have is “Delete the first paragraph.”

  4. My favourite example of grammar is:
    “Let’s eat, Grandma!”
    “Let’s eat Grandma!” – grammar saves lives. 😉

    I have a hard time with description, even though I’m good at visualizing. It’s keeping the character in the description of a room, for instance, that I find keeps the description interesting.

    .. sorry, I’m still distracted by your amazing tongue…

    *blushes*

    • Haha. Well bring the loin cloth.

      I know what you mean about that. It’s one thing I really admired about GRRM. He does a great job making the scene matter to the character, it’s not just “vomit a three page description of the forest onto the page.” He lets us know how they go through the forest, what they notice. Makes it human.

      • There’s a lot of sex. His comment was so many people like to see an ax to a skull, but a penis and a vagina are so much more pleasurable. What’s wrong with writing more about those? And watch the show. Season three was pretty tame, but season one? I was definitely watching HBO.

      • It follows the spirit of the books 😛 That’s the best way I can put it. There are quite a few things which happen in the show, but not in the movie. A lot of the show view point characters are not book pov characters. But ultimately, yes.

      • So finally finishing the second book. One thing, there are a lot of really powerful scenes in the book that while reading it you just think, “Why didn’t that show up in the series? Or in your more refined case, you’ll be watching the show wondering why they didn’t include the scene from the book 😉

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