Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


After another lengthy nightstand read, I've finished my second K.J. Parker novel. It's called Sharps, in case you're wondering. And it didn't take me so long to finish because it was a lousy book. Quite the opposite. I'm just a slow reader... and Audible is dumb and doesn't have any Parker novels to listen to. Anyway, Sharps is great, and Parker is amazing. If you're looking for a change of pace with your fantasy, this could be the book for you.

Permia and Scheria are at peace for the first time in forty years. Both countries have been depleted by war. The time has come to toss out an olive branch and reach some sort of reconciliation. How do two nations with little in common do this? Why, a fencing tournament, of course! Problem is, though, that people tend to get killed when swords are involved...

Sharps is the story of a fencing team traveling through a somewhat hostile neighboring country, forced to compete in a sport that may get them killed. Each of the team members (all from Scheria) are forced by their government in one way or another to participate in this risky attempt at peace. It is a lot of fun spending time with these characters, seeing just how hard peace can actually be.

Like the other Parker novel I've read, this is a fantasy without a lick of magic present. I'm not sure it qualifies exactly as fantasy, but that is how Orbit is selling it, so there you go. It's a world other than our own, with different cultures, religions, etc. If that isn't fantasy I don't know what is.

Although Sharps is slow at times, I thought it a worthwhile read. It is told in mostly an omniscient point of view, but Parker certainly cheated a time or two for plot's sake, which ended up bugging me in the end. I'll forgive the book its weaknesses, however, because anything to do with fencing is just plain awesome.

Sharps gets 3.5 stars out of 5. Not as good as The Folding Knife, but still a fun and well written addition to Parker's work. I will be reading Parker's The Hammer or Devices and Desires next. I haven't decided which yet. K.J. Parker is an author every fantasy writer and reader should be reading.

That's all.

-Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Hope you have a great time with family and friends. I have so much to be thankful for in my life, and look forward to the few days of eating and being lazy ahead!  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pre-thinking through your chapters

I'm writing this post in response to my stupid brain. It's 5:30 in the morning, I'm sitting on my couch with the laptop, and I can't write a sentence in my chapter to save my life. It didn't take me long to figure out why. I didn't put any pre-thought into what I was going to write today. I woke up with the determination to write, but my morning productivity is usually determined the night and day before, when I've gone over things in my head to a sufficient extent. I have just wasted my time, and won't be reaching my word count goal today.

It is so important to pre-think what you will write. I'm a discovery writer. I hate outlines. This doesn't mean that I make up story on the spot every time I sit down to write. I usually spend more time thinking about what I'm going to write--more time than I even spend writing--before I put words down on the page. My problem today is that I didn't review the earlier parts of the chapter I'm in, and I took two days off from writing to vote on Tuesday, and then recover from election garbage on Wednesday. It's been since Monday that I've done anything. I haven't thought about this chapter since then. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

It doesn't matter if you are an outliner or not. You still have to decide before writing how you're going to approach a specific scene. An outline can tell you what will happen in the scene, but not necessarily how you will move through the scene (unless you are an incredibly detailed outliner). If you are having similar problems to what I'm experiencing this morning, let me suggest that you pre-think before you write. Take an hour or so the day before you approach a scene and work everything out in your head. It's even okay if you write down how you'll do it. I take lots of notes--on my computer and my phone. If you want to write efficiently, you always have to be thinking about what you're going to say. If you don't pre-think, you'll find yourself staring blankly at your screen like I did this morning. It's never fun to do this. It's a micro slice of writer's block, and it's annoying as hell.

So there you have it. A bit of advice that has helped me avoid being dumb. You're welcome.