When Plotting Isn’t About Things That Happen

I never really got the whole deal with plotting. Not just because I’m a pantser, maybe torch writer. I wondered why what happened in the story was so important and how it could come first. How did you know what you needed to happen?

I think I figured it out.

I start my stories with one protagonist and, so far, one main character. The goal of the book is to get the two from the constellation at the start to relate in a different constellation to each other at the end. Plus a few emotional ups and downs for the protag.

Have bad graphics:

Sava starts out emotionally bad, goes through ups and downs while getting close to Thanhan and end in a better headspace.

Salma starts out emotionally better, has deeper falls because she’s higher up but ends up with Samson and overall on a higher note.

If you look at the emotional graph from above, it’s just a line, going through the story. I’ll chose a straight line for the protag (because a token straight thing can’t hurt). They are the constant other characters are put in relation to. Because the second important thing is the protag’s relationship/constellation with the main character(s). This, so far, has also been easy because there was exactly one and the motion was getting the two closer:

A time line showing the story progress with a black dart going left to right at the bottom. Over it are a purple line for the protag and a dark green line for the mc. On the left the lines are fat apart, on the right the lines almost touch.

So on the one hand, I’m putting my protag through emotional states that usually correspond with shifts in how they relate to and/or feel about the main character(s). So far the latter was easy because it was mainly, separate at the beginning, close and committed in some way at the end.

This is my foundation for anything that happens. I cannot plot before I do not know what emotions and changes in constellation I want my protag to go through. What use is a quest for riches if that doesn’t move my characters into new constellations that will lead the emotional roller-coaster for the protag?

This became clear to me with the current ms. Poor Yles is going through a lot. I tried for a happy end but so far I am failing. The nice thing about this method is that I can start writing easily because the first motion of the emotional graph is always up. Protag gets something they can lose.

By the time I have set up things, characters have arrived. Now begins my work. I knew that without the happy end the emotional graph for Yles looks something like the above, only with a drop at the end instead of a final high.

There are drops and plateaus, each strengthening Yles in their belief they will make it. (But they wont.) So my “plotting” was taking the possible emotional hits and seeing how they’d bring the greatest pain. Which emotional turmoil would bring the desired effect on the emotions graph?

So I decided to go from small to big punches. Mam dies first because it is a difficult and distant relationship. Yles has their brother and a burgeoning love to absorb the pain. They get really close with their brother. Unfortunately, they are now caught in their mother’s dream, tasked with executing a life they never wanted. But for their brother and friend, Yles sure will.

They have friends, too and are generally on a good trajectory and open themself for more love, even if that one comes with pain packed. In Yles words: it’s better to cry at the end than not have you scent on my soul.

So I can slowly move out the brother and move in the second LI. At the moment when the brother is removed, Yles can fall back on their stable polycule. They can make it, even if it is hard. And they still have friends and a place to call home and improve.

Enter the removal of the second LI. Yles has only their first LI to fall back on and that is not enough. So they reach out to their friends. It helps a little, but catalyst friend takes the chance to push their agenda and cause the final disaster.

Emotional graph plunges. See you in hell.

This, this is my plot. This is what my story is all about. The events I make up to make this happen are secondary. Many will serve their purpose. It’s pretty much a game of luck about what I come up with from where my peeps are, their resources, the environment and what I need out of the events.

And this is what the emotional graph and constellations timeline look like for Yles. Characters come into play, get closer or leave the scene (line stops).

It’s more complicated for me because I have to align the above curve to the shifting constellations below and some of them are working opposite directions. Things need to compound and I am bad at maths.

So yeah. Plotting doesn’t make sense for me. Things Happening is not the underpinning of my stories. People Relating To Each Other is.

And that’s why I will always fail to plot a book from scratch. I need my emotions and constellations. If the events are not serving a higher purpose, they are useless.

The WIM Experience

Weclome to my end-of-experience ramble. 😅

I really loved free-styling last year’s WIM. I waffled about signing up because I was sure that if I did the official thing, nothing would work any more. In the end I did it anyway. (I argued that I could still drop out if I couldn’t whip up a shitass story in the first week.)

I already needed help from a friend (Thanks Erin Fulmer 😊) signing up. Might have been a sign. Almost missed the prompt too.

I like the picture, don’t get me wrong. But last year, I took one look at the prompt and the story flowed out of my veins like liquid smoke. This year – not so much. I was work. I stared at that winter landscape and didn’t know what to do with it.

The first thing that came to me was the feeling of being cast immovable over the ocean, hanging in the sky frozen with this view. Nest step was thinking what could get you into that situation. And then my general, undirected anger with the obsession with protagonist’s agency kicked in.

I cobbled together something that might pass for a story. If you squint. With a lot of goodwill. The first draft ended up feeling like a short version of my current novel WIP. (Though is is definitely not. It’s just a brainsoup thing.)

The first draft ended up about 200 words too long. I also did some soft editing while stitching the pieces together. Well, almost together. I left a gap I didn’t care for and just put a scene changer in there. 🤷‍

#

Self-editing now. Where do I even start. I hate editing. I hate it with a passion. Short stories are especially difficult for me because when I write them down and get to finish them, usually I think they’re really neat already.

This time was no different. I like how it came out and dig the prose. Some polishing, sure, but big changes? I don’t see it.

That’s also why I signed up because if I can’t see where the story need editing, maybe somebody else can?

I did what I thought necessary and helpful and sent to my CP. Asked for help cutting stuff. I’ll see how it goes. Ngl, I am worried about the editor round because I don’t know if I can cut 200 words and still love the story. And I’d rather have a story I love than a pass with an editor.

#

The edits of my CP were stuck in the outbox so I got them a little later than I would have liked. Unsurprising to anybody but me (again) it was not a detailed take-down of how the story is trash and I should find something else to do with my time. 🤷‍

Some of the feedback was surprising. Mostly in a prolly takes one to know one or target audience kind. Others was not. I knew I could save up on A Lot of words if I cut down my pretty prose. Some of it showed that what I wanted to do worked – my CP just didn’t know what to do with it.

I’m a little sorry because I am currently ranting against prescriptive writing advice and publishing wisdom in my shorts. The Power Of is basically me giving the finger to the idea that a protagonist needs to have agency. The protag does shit nothing in the story.

I thought about all the questions. I like getting questions as feedback because it makes me think about what I want to achieve with my words and if it is working acceptably. Took some of the suggestions. Called stet on others. Didn’t cut many words.

Accordingly, I agonised about the length of my story and the edit looming on the horizon. The choice I had was to send a story that was too long and not get an editing eye on it. Or to cut it down into 1k which I didn’t care if it rolled into Satan’s asscrack.

Being nd doesn’t help. I have a thing about rules. I like them if they are clear and consistent and easy to understand. I understand when I do not follow. And I am ready to accept the consequences. I could not – could not – send a thousand words I care nothing about to my assigned editor.

I explained myself and sent my too long story with little hope.

#

I started off this part by dying. You can kill me with the smallest bit of kindness. I don’t expect it, I’ll never see it coming and it will always knock me over. So getting the edit anyways did just fine.

Unsurprising to anybody but me (again) it was also not a detailed take-down of how the story is trash and I should find something else to do with my time.

Not sure how fun it is to find out the noun you were certain is a noun isn’t really a noun after all. 😬 Thanks for nothing Marilyn Manson. OK, I looked it up and it seems to be a noun after all. Maybe not a terribly common one. Anyway, stet. 😅

One of my writing quirks seems to be the casual use of “you” constructions out of the blue. Not sure where that will lead me but since this is a thing that’s followed me for years now I will look into it. One day that will be its own blog post, I guess.

Also not sure if the number of times I called a stet on the editor suggestions bodes well for my tradpub future. I understand where the changes come from. I get it. On the other hand, I have chosen the words and punctuation carefully. Does it read like a slightly disjointed, unrelated staccato? Yes, yes it does. I actually meant to do that.

It feels a little like moving the “only” around in “She believed him” and thinking any position would do the same thing. Even if they are all perfectly fine. Moments like that I have to take deep breaths and remember that this is my story and my vision. Yes, it can be made more palatable. Yes, it can be streamlined. But I wouldn’t think of editing the nose off Barbara Streisand either.

#

Overall, I really need to learn to trust my process more. I need believe my inner voice when it tells me something is fine (for a first draft), it’s FINE.

The story didn’t change much. I thought about the feedback. I have made changes based on it, even if sometimes those went a completely different direction than suggested. I leant hard into poetic language in this story and I understand that that doesn’t always work with common grammar. Common grammar is a sacrifice I am willing to make. 😅

And something I need to learn even more, something I need to lean into hard, is that I am writing for my own pleasure first and foremost. I am old and I am stubborn. I know what I like and since I rarely get it served in the writing world, I’ll create my own.

And that’s where it may stop. My own. For me and maybe a couple of people who get to see it in the process. And that’s okay. Because I still have it to make me happy. Maybe someday somebody else in a relevant position will get it and lets me show it to the world. Hope dies last.

Anyway, see you next year for WIM. 😄

OMG You’re Hilarious – Thanks I’m Autistic

—no no bear with me. Those two a not only intricately intertwined, they are causative.

But, how, I hear you ask. Autistics don’t understand humour! 🙄

Well, firstly, fuck you.
And secondly, fuck off.

I know humour is hard. You know what else is hard? Socially acceptable replies. There’s so fucking many situations. It takes forever to learn them all. I am far from done, I tell you. Just recently, when I couldn’t fall back on a joke in a conversation I was floundering. Absolutely lost.

But in 80% of situations, you can get away with a joke. Make that 95% if you are willing to take a little awkwardness. (Not comparable with the Big Awkwardness™ resulting from a Bad reply.)

And you know what autistics are good at? CORRECT! Pattern recognition. And humour has a pattern. It takes some time to recognise. I don’t think I was very funny before I turned – oh, 30 at least.

It is a tentative estimate and I put it with me starting to write my hilarious PoV which I have now honed very much. But it started back then and I learnt a lot from the kind people commenting on my updates and telling where they laughed. I put that to good use.

And once I mastered the trick – it worked.

I rarely have to fear spouting a Bad Reply nowadays. If in doubt, joke it out.

The time before tended to be excruciating. Learning humour isn’t fun and having jokes fall flat or bite you in the ass hurts. It was, overall, easier than learning my replies to all possible social situations. (Full disclosure, I don’t think you can do that.)

I also don’t know how I did it in detail. Trail and error at least because I remember some ear-burning shame for really bad jokes that didn’t make it. The positive enforcement from humour that did land would have been double, though: getting around a social interaction I had no idea how to master plus being seen as a fun functional person.

I may or may have neglected my snooping out how to properly react skills. (I think I did.) I’m a waking joke-machine. And while I like it for obvious reasons, I am not sure how good it really is for me.

Also, maybe I am completely wrong about this and the gods just gifted me with a late-blooming talent for utter hilarity. 🤷‍

Nobody Writes like You

Do you have those moments when you just feel like putting down the pen because it doesn’t even matter? The idea isn’t new, the characters resemble archetypes or worse, clichés. The plot is just hobbling alone and who wants to read all that rambling inner monologue anyway?

Let me tell you a thing: Your story is going to be a unique work of art and only you can do it. Because there is nobody else in the whole wide world who writes as you do. Doubly.

Let me explain.

Firstly: nobody writes like you.

Ideas are a dozen a dime. They wait everywhere, there’s generators for them. The real work is fleshing them out and writing down the actual story. When you tell people ‘I write stories’ how often do they reply: ‘I have this great idea, why don’t you write that?’ Because, let’s face it, the actual writing is the short end of the stick here.

Few people bother with it. Why put down the story in words when it is so perfect and shiny in your head already? Why fight the battle we do when the words don’t come out the way we want or expected? You do. And your voice is unique. The vampire romance in the zombie apocalypse you write has never been done like that before. Your struggling heroes have never been these exact people. Their thoughts and words are new.

The shy girl finding she has superpowers and finding her place in the ‘real’ world and the world of heroes is yours. She will not get her say if not for you. We will never know her. We will only know her sisters. That would be a shame.

You’re slaving over a fix-it fanfic for your fave characters? So what if others have used the same characters or even the same way to fix things? They could never use your words. Your take on things is your very own. So will your story. Nobody before you has taken the words you took and put them the way you did.

You are unique and so is your story. Don’t be discouraged by feeling like an impostor. There are many heroes’ journeys out there, a deluge of coming of age stories, uncountable romances and still people always want more. They want your take on things and they want your story.

Secondly: nobody writes like you.

And I mean your process. It is as unique as you are.

There is a lot of writing advice out there. It will tell you to outline, to plot, to research, to do three arcs, to do five, to use the door system, to know your characters every detail, to avoid adverbs, to avoid ‘said’ to use ‘said’ whenever possible. There a character sheets that tell you what you MUST know, manuals on how to force your story into a certain structure.

But nobody writes like you do. You can find a lot of helpful advice out there. It is still likely that none fits you 100%. You have your own process that works for you. Experimenting to find it is a great thing. Sticking to what you know will work for you can be difficult.

I am a 97% pantser. I do not outline. If I am lucky I have a few places to visit while my characters work their way from the beginning to the end. Yes, I do know the end when I start. It’s like going on a road trip. There’s many ways I can take to the destination. And no, I don’t have character sheets either. Do I know the colour of their eyes? Possibly. If it had relevance at some point. I write those bits down in my little wikis as I go.

I have spent years in anguish over my inability to craft a plot and killed several stories by trying to outline them. But I wanted to write stories and if there was a right way to do this, I needed to learn that, right?

Then one day in my thirties (don’t laugh, ok, well if you have to) I found a summer class by Brandon Sanderson. He took the time to explain several ways of getting an outline for a novel done. Then he said not everybody does it. There are published authors out there that don’t use an outline. I was saved.

So look at what works for you, tweak it, poke it, make it work better. Your best practice can change over time – give it breathing space. And shrug off anybody who tries to tell you you’re doing it wrong. If at the end of the process you have a story, you are doing it right.

Nobody writes like you.

The Eye of the Beholder

My last blog entry really got me thinking. A lot of things came together, and I am still sorting through the wild knots. But what is becoming clear that I cannot just write my experiences and expect to be understood.

If I tell my story in the traditional way by showing, the neurotypical reader doesn’t see me. Accordingly, how can a neurotypical agent or editor? If I just tell my story without explanations, the NTs won’t get it. This is where the dreaded “cannot relate” comes into play.

This experience of having to explain myself in order to be understood correctly, also informs my reading habits. (And how I consume media in general.) If you show me a thing without explanation, I assume my initial reading will be off. And I have to manually calibrate to an NT reading. For me, the creator chose a way of displaying things that leaves unquestionable openings to change the reading later on.

I can never believe you are telling me the truth about a character or a situation if you only show it to me. Hence, every piece of media is chock full of subtext and possibilities. What is going on behind the layers of masking I am shown? How do the actions relate in a system of reference that is not neurotypical?

To apply that to Heater Girl – if the book only shows the events (girl under heater, doesn’t come out until left alone), NTs will assume a need for attention. NDs may also assume a need for attention because we are very good at learning what the “correct” reading of a situation is from NTs. (If we don’t, we die.)

Without the explanation form inside the girl under the heater, this reading will stand. Other actors my bring up the ND reading as an option, but our NT habits are either hard to break, or dangerous to break. Usually, we just don’t.

This is why I have to tell readers what is going on. For those who don’t know and for those who don’t believe it. Only by saying “this is what is happening here” can I be sure the events aren’t misread in a NT way. This is how I make sure you get to see what happens behind the layers of masking. And to do that, I have to break the accepted form of writing which says: “show, don’t tell” what’s going on.

Right now, it feels like a vicious cycle. I can write to expectation and won’t be seen. My being and existence is overwritten by NT readings and interpretations. Or I can write against expectation and not ben seen either because the manuscript goes nowhere. Because it is not written correctly. Because my characters are not relatable, make no sense.

I have no solution or even conclusion. This is how things are right now. I am invisible even in my own words.

Hamster who holds up one paw making a peace sign fades out into nothing.

Heater Girl

My mum kept telling a story about me in kindergarten. You see, I was a quiet child and usually unproblematic to handle, invisible. But in kindergarten, oh in kindergarten I was an attention whore.

As soon as I was dropped off, I’d crawl under the heater and wouldn’t come out. No amount of coaxing or bribing would work. I would stay put. Only when left alone I would finally get bored and leave my hiding place in search for more attention.

I believed that story.

And why not. I don’t remember this. I remember nothing from kindergarten. And what sane person would crawl under a heater anyway? What reason could there be, if not having the kindergarten teachers give you their undivided attention in the attempt to lure you out?

Today I look at the poor little critter trying to find some peace and quite under a heater, trying to process too many things going on at once. She’s overwhelmed and nothing will change that – except leaving her alone. Once little!Mel has calmed down, she can face the world again.

Who gets to tell my story?

For the longest time, my mum did. And I echoed the story, trying to find the charm in it. Because it had to be charming, didn’t it?, to bear repeating? I understand the desire to have one-on-one interactions. Crowds are noisy and complicated. And while I crave attention, I also want to be safe when receiving it.

Today I have accepted that there is only so much interaction I can stomach. (Masking is exhausting.) I worked on a fair for six hours this Saturday and slept off the exhaustion for most of the remaining weekend. People are too much. Even when I love them and love being around them, they are A Lot. I need a break.

I didn’t intend this to be be about writing. But I’m a writer; it’s what I do. And these days I am writing my own story. The story where I am lying under the heater overwhelmed. My characters are allowed to be like me. They act like me, think like me, perceive like me. They most definitely express themselves like me.

I didn’t always put it into my stories on purpose. But I think all my protagonists have it because I wrote them to be normal like me. (gigglesnort) When I write today, I know my protagonist will be neurodivergent. (On top of being an enby, bitches love enbies! It’s me I’m bitches). And I lean into it. On the page, I can be perceived safely – ticks, tells, and stims.

I hear that this is wanted, that my voice is important and needs to be heard. People like me want to see themselves, people not like me need to see us to understand us. And yet, I so often get the feeling that it’s not not what publishing wants at all. They want the little attention whore, the motives they understand.

As soon as I stop explaining myself, I am automatically read like the attention seeking version of my story. If I show you who I am, you see something else. (This ties in closely with my problems of Show Don’t Tell As described in Lies, lies everywhere and my I Don’t Believe You blog posts.)

I cannot exist as myself and not be misread. I cannot write myself and not be misread. As soon as I stop explaining myself, I am no longer playing the game correctly. A little girl huddling up under the heater is not an active protagonist. She has no agency. Unlike her little twin that is making others do her bidding, who has an effect on the outside world instead of the other way round.

The world has an effect on me more often than I can affect it. Being left alone when overwhelmed is a comfort-fantasy. Being helped through the pain is a power-fantasy and one I am only now learning to write. Stars know if I ever get to a place where I can live it.

Does this bode well for my books?

What can I say…

…my mum tells this little story about me – about her little attention whore that was otherwise so perfectly invisible.

Since the Last Goodbye

You can’t leave like this.

Branka looked back into the chaotic apartment. It seemed that nothing was where it belonged, not even the floors and lamps.

You can’t leave like this.

For a moment she considered cleaning up, putting everything where it belonged, the books on the shelves, the laptop on the desk, the broom in the closet. But how would she handle the floors? Or the lamps?

One of them still swung slightly as if there was a breeze it knew about and Branka didn’t. She watched the hypnotic movement for a while. Back and forth, back and forth, the motions becoming ever so much smaller. A shade hung askew, another was missing, probably lost in the chaos and broken.

It is not your chaos, she told herself. Not your plates shattered all over the kitchen floor, not your curtains hanging ripped and tattered, not your vase, the flowers crushed and the water dripping from the windowsill into the carpet. It is not your carpet, either. Get a grip, Branka. Leave.

She didn’t move. Why are all the glasses broken? Why didn’t one cup remain whole? She couldn’t see the shelves from where she stood, but she remembered. Tilted, ripped out, some of the cutlery stuck in the walls. If she cleaned up the mess, would she have to smooth down the holes? Fill them in? Paint them over? Would that work?

And then? The pens back into their holders. The paper could be stacked, some of it smoothed out again. Righten the TV, put the remote beside it. But what good would it do? It is not your TV, she told herself. It is not your remote. What are you even doing here?

I was living here.

And what good did that do?

Branka looked at a trail of crisps leading from the middle of the room to nowhere. There was a broken bowl somewhere around here, wasn’t there? She couldn’t remember.

But I lived here, she wanted to say. I should know.

And what good would that do?

What good is talking to myself?

Are you?

Branka ran a hand through her hair. It was wet, tangled and starting to clot. A shower, after all the cleaning, that would be it. Even if the shower curtain lay on the floor now, some towels were jammed into the toilet, the mirror broken, shining pieces of silver all over the apartment. Slivers lined with red.

It is impossible to tidy up everything, she told herself. And who had tidied up after the big bang anyway? Nobody, that’s who.

Leave it, Branka, leave it like this.

But her eyes were roving across the scene, fitting things into their places in her mind as they went. Righten the vase and smooth out the petals of the flowers. Scoop up the water from the carpet with the hands and return it into the vase. Scoop up the blood with the hands from the carpet and return it to the body.

What good would that do?

A Word on DVPit

Due to recent developments, I need to get a few things off my chest. Pitch events are a time of high-strung nerves. I like to pretend I’m cool, but I’m really not.

I’ve done a lot of such events – PitMad, PitchDIS, DVPit, genre specific events, publisher specific events. If it’s out there, I’ve done it. I started doing pitch events at the end of 2020 which, I understand, is a bad thing to start anything in tradpub.

It’s probably telling on how things went considering that now my reactions to a Like on a tweet are:

  1. Who of my dear friends doesn’t know it’s pitch day?
  2. Which schmagency is out fishing for customers now?
  3. Wait, what? The fuck you mean an actually legit like?!?

Sad but true.

This is how it goes inside my head.

Did I get many agent Likes for my participation? Nope.

I got likes from an indie publisher that I really appreciate. Unfortunately, they were looking for a stand-alone romance with spicy bits, which my manuscript is very much not. And while I do write spice when I want to, I’m pretty sure I put the necessary amount of explicit into each book I write. And sometimes, that amount is none. And that’s that for the book.

I got likes from schamgencies. One event we formed a club of authors who got our pitch liked by the same vanity press that was out in full force on a discord. I think we all made it into the club.

I get likes from people who don’t know what a pitch event is or how it works. After looking at their profiles, I decide if they would benefit from having things explained to them or if it’s just the way life goes.

tl;dr I don’t expect anything legit to come from a pitch event. I am not cool about it after all this time. Hope is a bitch that won’t give up. 🤷‍♂️

Did I get a legit like this time around?

Hell, yes!

Was it an agent on my radar? No. Did I go to research them immediately? Yes. And, ngl, I was doing very badly because the agency website and I will never be friends. 🤷‍♀️

I wasn’t really questioning that I wasn’t finding info immediately. My head was already going: heh, just another of those, just what I have to live with because I can’t not do pitch events even if they make me sad and empty.

Surprise, though. After poking some more holes into the internet, I found the info. And it was all legit. What’s more, I read their mswl during my agent trawls. I read it so they’re looking for a sub-genre my manuscript is not. I mention that in the query, because nobody needs to waste no time on a clear non-fit.

Headshot of a black person with a colourful headscarf in front of a brick wall. The caption says: Ain't nobody got time for that."

Am I excited? I don’t know. I know how many queries and agent can get that is not a big amount of queries at all and how overrun agents can get opening for just a few days. It’s hard. The competition is high. There’s so many manuscripts out there that deserve to be books.

On top of the regular, I am scared the manuscript isn’t the sub-genre the agent is looking for; I’m scared they hate the voice once exposed to it for longer than a tweet; I’m scared I’m trespassing on the territory of the diverse where I am not enough to be included.

But yeah, hope that little bitch. If it wasn’t for her I sure wouldn’t have even sent the query. Also, it feels really good to be seen. There always seems to be so little agent interaction at such events. (Disappointing, but understandable when they’re already drowning in their regular subs.)

Which brings me to an unexpected disk horse.

Side Subject: OMFG, an agent like 500 pitches!

Yeah, that’s probably the end of tradpub as we know it. 🙄

In the overall numbers-game of queries an agent can receive, that is not a lot. In the amount of work rolling towards that agent now, it is still a lot. If they spend only 5 minutes per query, that’s a full work week. And many agents spend more time on a query (unless it’s clearly not a fit).

Am I flabbergasted? Yes.

Pitch Likes were sold to me as golden tickets. A red carpet rolled out right to the top of the submission pile.

That doesn’t mean everybody has to or does use them like that. (I have also been informed that on average only LESS THAN half the liked stories are submitted. Like, le what?!?! 😱 this doesn’t compute in my little hamster brain. You like my pitch and are legit, you gotta run if you want to escape my manuscript. (Blacklisted agents exempt 😅))

For the statistics, I think Queries George* should not be counted if they distort the results. My 3.2 maths brain cells that love statistics won’t allow it.

On the other hand, if one agent going beyond by making sure they build a diverse list can skewer the results of an event committed to doing exactly that – halt die Welt an, ich will aussteigen

a diver in a neeoprene suit under water. they kneel at an underwater chasm and jump into it headfirst, vanishing into the black depth.

*Correction!
Queries George isn’t even alone?!?
The line between “normal” and “outlier” in the data I refer to is in a place that makes no sense to me. I have no idea how the data is being processed any longer but my 3.2 maths brain cells hate it here.

Seems you really can’t trust any statistics you didn’t forge yourself. 🙃

Go Queries Georges! Take tradpub to the diversity it should be at. 🥳

You Can’t Write If You Don’t Read

Writing advice – I really would like to write sarcasm laden essays on most of it. So, I’ll start here.

I am almost 40 years old with a demanding full-time job I love. The time I spend reading can be measured in thimbles.

Does that mean that I can’t write?

Fuck you, it does.

I won’t have anybody tell me I can’t write. I bloody well can and will. Actually, I do.

So what. Am I a mysterious creature of legend?

Doubtful.

What I am is 40 years old with a reading history as long as god’s proverbial arm. I know my grammar and spelling. I know my style and though I am not always happy with it, it is distinct. And my ultimate struggle will always be plot.

To get back to that intrusive piece of advice. What it completely fails to take into consideration is that there are stories in many more mediums that just writing. At least it is taking fanfic and such into account because it doesn’t tell you what to read. Go read a cookbook.

But we are surrounded by stories in so many other forms. Comics, movies, series, audio dramas, podcasts, games. Hell, take theatre. Tweets and tumblr posts can gear up to be a story. And you know how much I consume of those?

Just because it’s a game , doesn’t mean I won’t see the gaping plotholes. I can appreciate the characters in a podcast, there is definitely still prose to be found in audio dramas. Listen, if you want to learn writing dialogue, plays can be your best friend.

I’m not saying you never have to have read to writer. I am certain it helps. But don’t let anybody tell you that stories is only what is written.

Special (narrative) Needs

I’m not sure this has anything to do with my being a frothing mass of angry nd. Maybe it does. I cannot say because I have no framework of reference. Guess I am not (yet) moving in all the right circles for me.

Of course, this was once more sparked by Craft in the Real World my Mathew Salesses. There is a part where he speaks about Chinese traditions in storytelling. That has nothing to do with my own storytelling. Some things stood out for me simply because I want them in my stories. The ones I write as much as the ones I read.

Explicit emotions, wanting to make the reader feel something. Purposeful lack of interiority. Romantic irony. Directly addressing the audience or at all times an awareness of the audience and the structure surrounding story telling with all its participants.

I have never put names on these things except for myself and always as ways I deviate from correct writing. It is on me that I don’t understand why a protag’s head can’t just be empty, its last brain cell being squizzly squiggly fucking bendy and gallivanting around on a perpetual 404-error.

That the protag shouldn’t be addressing the audience (in)directly. Like, am I the only one who does this? Talk to my imagined audience in my head, performing on a stage of my own making as if I’m in a live feed?

That direct and unabashed emotions are the food for the soul my heart hungers for. Why would a metaphor transport the point better? Emotions are raw and leave you vulnerable. Why should I put up walls around that again when I just chipped them away carefully?

These are things I like. (along with free-floating dialogue, no descriptions, and info dumps). But they are branded as Bad Writing. When truly, they may all just be part of a different tradition. Maybe I just don’t know because all I get is western style stuff.

I grew up not questioning it. Writing craft advice was The Gospel. It was me that didn’t get it. Somehow I managed to not get the basics of writing, my fave pastime of all time. But try as I might, I could not like what that advice produced in my hands. It was obvious, that I was the problem.

Tell you what? I will be a fucking problem.

I was taught there is a right way to write, and now I begin to understand it is just one tradition. A dominant tradition people are loth to let go. Hell if I know why. Maybe it is easier to judge stories following a pattern. If it strays, it is a bad story. Easy.

If you have different right ways to tell a story, this becomes increasingly difficult. Not only are you expected to understand the different ways (but do you have to? Can’t you just enjoy?) The possibility to be “wrong” increases. You are prone to make mistakes.

I can see where this is making a lot of people very uncomfortable. Can’t say I care, though. I have been made very uncomfortable approaching the subject from the other side for a long time. How about we meet in the middle?

Or better yet, yeet those preconceptions into the sun where they belong. Embrace the multitude of traditions and writing styles. Celebrate them merging into a kaleidoscopic flux of self-renewing creativity.

Not everything that can come from this will be gold. But let’s be honest. How much is getting published these days that isn’t gold either?

The one thing I know now is that traditional western story telling can never meet all my narrative needs. It was not made to. It does not have to.

But for bogssake, give me other options!