It’s time for me to leave. Once again, watch the YAvengers blog for updates from me, which I wrote and scheduled this past month. Enjoy your summers, and I’ll see you in November!
I am a fan of the TV show Castle. I can spoil almost every episode for you right now.
I’m not going to, because I’m a nice person, but I thought I’d put that out there. I can also spoil Elementary, Fringe, the three NCIS generations, JAG (although I’ve only watched a couple episodes), and all six of the Star Wars movies.
To be fair, though, I know Star Wars backwards and forwards, and the spoilers are already plastered over everyone’s eyeballs, so there’s not much surprising there. The point remains that I can spoil a crime show, almost any crime show, almost any episode, with a little thought and the first eight minutes of the episode.
I’m not going to tell you how— this knowledge cost me enjoyment of all recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations— but I can tell you why. Why can a mild-mannered student of writing quickly tell the who did it of any whodunit?
Because most fiction, especially serialized on-a-deadline fiction like a TV show, has rules. Read the full post »
Posted by Liam Wood on June 25, 2015
I told you it wasn’t my last post.
That last post still applies. Everything in it is true except the part where I say farewell. I learned how much I missed the blog about 24 hours after posting that. 24 hours after that, I realized how much time exists in a month and how much fun we can have together. And here I am, writing another blog post because honestly, if I really wanted to, I could write my 700th post before I leave. (This is #669, so I’m not sure I really want to, but it would be amusing.)
In trying to be dramatic and serious and stoic, I accidentally gave myself a five-month absence instead of just four months. Now I’m taking this month back. (To be clear: July, August, September, October, I’m still gone. June? Nope.)
Let me tell you about a project I started a couple months ago, and truly got working yesterday. I’ve been a pianist for a long time— it was my first musical instrument, at age 4, and I took lessons for a good ten years. Since I stopped, however, I’ve kept noodling. I’m particularly good at playing by ear, but I also enjoy improvising. In fact, if I have sheet music for a song, I will still improvise, by ear, that song. At this point I’d rather make my own version than be restricted.
If you think about it, that sums up my writing process too, at this point. I make a story up as I go along, to fit imperfectly the image I have in my head, rather than follow a set outline, even if I wrote it myself. I’d rather improvise an imperfect, but fair, solution than hammer down and get a perfect one that doesn’t allow for mistakes. At least, that’s how I feel about it. Read the full post »
Posted by Liam Wood on June 3, 2015
One of my favorite character stereotypes is the confident character. Richard Campbell Gansey III, Dorian Havilliard, even Valerie Solomon from Tessa Gratton’s story on Merry Sisters of Fate. There’s something about the character who has it all, who has an all-purpose mask they crafted for themselves over the years. Of course, since we write crafted fiction, this mask never stays on. Something will happen to tear it off, and there— that’s when you really enjoy the character.
Half of me wants to be such a character with such a mask. Half of me just wants to write millions of those characters. For the convenience of everyone, and especially me, here’s a step-by-step how-to on creating the confident character. Read the full post »
Posted by Liam Wood on May 20, 2015
Affection is the cornerstone of both romance and friendship.
Think about it. Romance without affection is nothing. Friendship without affection is two people hanging out together who have no reason to stick around each other. Flirting without affection? Basically just a cryptic argument.
Affection upholds both romance and friendship. It’s the glue that keeps two or more people together even though one of them is Ronan Lynch or Tony Stark or Mr. Darcy. Since both love and friendship deal with affection, we can manipulate both in the same ways. Basically, a good friendship is two inches from being a romance.
You can use any romance plot line you find as a friendship plot line. You can use any friendship plot line as a romance plot line. And whatever you choose, someone will want to write a fanfiction based on the opposite choice.
Let’s look at a classic example: Pride and Prejudice vs. The Lord of the Rings. Read the full post »
Posted by Liam Wood on May 15, 2015
When I was a little sprout, I joined a homeschool public speaking group. I went every week, did all the assignments, and did my best to speak in public, as the class seemed to demand. This was about three years before I began writing seriously, and while I had noodled around with fiction a couple times, it had never gone anywhere for me. I was much more of a reader than a writer.
It showed. I wrote essays and read them in class, calling it public speaking. I wanted to be funny, but the speeches turned out boring. I wanted to be enthusiastic, but the script never sounded as good as it did when I read it over. I wasn’t a bad speaker, all in all, and I learned through the class, but I certainly wasn’t a good speaker.
Fast forward to this year, approximately five years later. I’ve written seven novels. This post is my 665th on this blog. Whether fiction or nonfiction, I write a lot. I’m sure you’ve realized that. This year, I also took a public speaking class, because I’m interested in becoming competent in that area. I can write for an audience, but I also want to speak to an audience— having that skill is important to me. So I took the class.
I quickly discovered I was much better than I had been five years ago. I’m certainly not perfect, but speaking comes almost naturally these days. Stories flow easily. When I write a speech, I can hear myself speaking it. It doesn’t feel the same as something I’d publish here, or hand in as an essay. Writing, I’ve found, doesn’t just help your writing. It doesn’t just help your reading. It helps everything you do that involves words. Read the full post »
Posted by Liam Wood on May 10, 2015
We as readers like to be surprised, but not all at once.
Readers like to have expectations which are then turned on their heads. I’m sure you know that. That’s what plot twists are about, that’s what the gee-whiz factor of an idea is about. We go into a book expecting one thing, and when we’re surprised, we get excited.
But not exactly. We like to be blown-out-of-the-water surprised, in the sense that as far as we fly after the explosion, we’re going to land back in some water somewhere. We don’t like to get blown-into-bitty-pieces surprised, or blown-into-outer-space surprised. What do I mean by this? We like to be surprised, but not all at once.
If you pick up a romance, read the first quarter, and decide that you’re enjoying it, that’s great. If the beginning of the second half turns the romance into zombie apocalypse, it would be surprising. It would also be blown-into-outer-space not okay. You picked up the book expecting a romance. You got a romance for about the first half. Then it turned into a dark, raw horror story. “Bill, you aren’t the man I fell in love with! At first I thought you loved me for my personal charm and good looks, but it turns out you’re only after my brains!”
We like small surprises that subvert our expectations while still satisfying our desires. That’s the basis of a good plot twist. Even though the main character’s sister eloping with the local surgeon blows you out of the water, you’re still reading a romance novel— you land back in the water.
The same thing happens, in a character sense, with diverse characters. Read the full post »
Posted by Liam Wood on May 1, 2015