Tag Archives: Blog

The day I ask what you’d like to know.

Question MarkI write many topics here on the blog; personal, professional. Reviews, gaming, roleplaying, game design, writing and more.

I know what brings my Google traffic: SWTOR, Wheel of Time, D&D and managing OCPD. I don’t know how much of that traffic returns to read other things, or how much my regular readers are interested in those topics.

To a large degree, it doesn’t matter what I write; the challenge is to make any topic both interesting and accessible to any visitor.

However, in the wake of personal stories leading up to our anniversary, I’m curious what you, my daily or weekly visitors (especially lurkers) find interesting. What were your favorite posts? What would you like to know more about?

I’m deliberately not attaching a poll or links to specific articles, leaving the question open-ended.

 

The day I played Starcraft while my blog automatically updated.

When I first committed to blogging daily, I had nothing planned or prepared. It was like jumping from an aircraft with a pledge to knit a parachute on the way down. I liked the idea because it was bold, daring and would force action. I thrive under pressure. Give me three years to complete a project and watch me “multitask,” confident you’ll forget. Give me three hours and be amazed. Read More →

Yeah, let’s try this.

It’s always been hard to post comments here, due to my constant battle with spam. I’ve recently installed DISQUS, a comment plug-in I discovered while contributing articles to a different website. DISQUS impressed me because it let me use my gmail or facebook (and a few other) logins to post comments, instead of having to have an account for the particular blog.

So if you’re reading this, try to post a comment. (If you’re reading this on Facebook, visit jasonrpeters.com and try to post a comment on the actual article.) Let me know if it works. Tell me if it’s easy. It should be easy.

Unless you’re a spambot. Then it should be really hard. I’ll let you know when I’ve finally threaded that needle.

Now Introducing: Columns

I’ve been advised to keep “focused” here at jasonrpeters.com. But what does that mean? Should every post revolve around writing?

Monitoring and sharing my progress as a writer is the primary reason I started this site. But if I were to constantly write only about writing, I would consider that:

1. Boring to my readers and

2. Immature of me as a writer

Writing about writing is easy since it’s the topic I probably know the most about. It’s also much easier to write a book about how hard it was to write a real book than it is to write a real book.

Writing about anything else takes research, effort, and talent. Also, if you look over the history of blog, you’ll notice a predictable trend. Articles about where I am as a writer get barely any comments. This is true for the mirror posts on Facebook and for email correspondence.

Articles about politics, video games, philosophy, religion, books, and movies generate interesting discussion. That’s what writing is for, to open the mind. (An open mind is an open door, no?)

But my detractors are correct, I do need to keep the site more focused. And I’ve figured out a way to do that AND advance my career and maturity as a writer:

Columns.

This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, and now seems like the perfect opportunity. First week of the new year and all that crap.

Columns are how websites or publications with many topics divide up their topics among their staff and among their readers into organized, methodical components. I have a staff of only one: I’m writer, editor, webmaster, controller, and owner. And today I’m giving myself some specific assignments.

Writing columns will help me stay on topic for the website week after week, rather than rambling about whatever pops into my head, while allowing me to set aside the topic of my own career.

Below are the column ideas I have currently; I’m sure they will change or evolve based on your responses and involvement, but the ones I have so far will at least help get me started with some broad topics. I have ideas for several more columns than the ones below, but I’m going to start small and see how much time these occupy before committing to something like one per day.

ASK JASON ANYTHING

It’s a writer’s job to know a little bit about everything, and to thoroughly research anything he doesn’t know. ASK JASON ANYTHING is your opportunity to challenge Jason with a question of any kind, whether it’s scientific or religious, financial or social, political, historical. It can be something you already know, or something you’re genuinely curious to learn. You can ask trivia or knowledge or advice, and every Thursday, Jason will do his best to answer.

JASON ASKS EVERYTHING

On Fridays, Jason selfishly turns the tables and asks questions of you, the readers, why things are the way they are, and what we as individuals or a culture can do to make our world better. Where do you worship? Where do you work? How do you vote? What do you buy? And how is your life, and the lives of those around you shaping up as a result?

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT

Each Saturday, Jason spotlights one product or service he finds particularly useful or enjoyable; the kind of things that make you wonder, “Why doesn’t everyone have this?”

The Heroes’ Council Revisited (and) Adding Scene 3.5 After Scene 9

I’ve come to discover that the “no comments” link here on the blog is a little misleading.

I have the blog set up to post directly to Facebook; sometimes friends comment there. Just as often, readers email me comments or suggestions instead of posting here.

Several people have gotten back to me with advice about the Heroes’ council. Some advice was to cut it out; others suggested tell it from a POV that would be more interesting than just listening to a bunch of old guys talk, or add another twist.

All of the suggestions combined boil down to one simple goal:

Make it interesting.

Of course, putting it that way is rather vague, but the crux of it is to add a character, or agenda item, or twist, or perspective to make it interesting, because on its face, a bunch of old guys debating political action isn’t necessarily by itself all that fun to watch.

I had already written most of the scene, but disliked the “I’ve seen it all before” feel. Last night I redressed it a little bit. The interesting angle (to me) was Damek’s ability to hear the thoughts of those present. And yet I didn’t want to fall into the trap presented by third-person omniscience, where the narrator seems to bounce from person to person so rapidly that the reader becomes disoriented and disconnected.

Many of other men’s thoughts/feelings are generalized, summarized, or grouped together when they are similar so that I can rattle off the description more quickly and move on to the dialog again.

I was also able to give the whole scene what I thought was a sharper impact upon conclusion, in not just one, but two angles of dialog. But I’ll have to wait until I’m ready to preview it here (I don’t think it’s ready yet) for you to tell me if I’ve succeeded.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Part of my struggle to move from amateurism to professionalism in writing requires me to embrace new methods I haven’t previously used.

One such method is writing non-chronologically. I’ve always done the traditional thing, starting a novel on page one. I spend about a week on the first sentence, another week on the first page, and then dive in more fully. Whatever happens next is whatever I write next.

This is not necessarily the best method for completing a novel. One of the critiques I’ve gotten for Perfect Justice is that the beginning doesn’t entirely set up the ending.

Well, “no duh” as I used to say; when I started writing the story, I had a different ending in mind than I did when I got to the end.

This is why some people write the ending first — not only do you have someplace to go, but you know exactly what it is. You can then insert a clever turn of phrase or choice bit of dialog 300 pages earlier which directly impacts the conclusion.

I haven’t written the ending for FRAGILE GODS yet (though I have outlined it), but I have a pact with myself that if a scene jumps out at me before I reach it in prose, I will dive in and write it without waiting one, two, or fifty chapters in the interim.

What I didn’t expect was to apply this in reverse…having already written 8 or 9 consecutive scenes, it became clear to me that an idea I had was far more appropriate as scene 4 than as scene 10. It’s a scene about the Jek’s farm after the tragedy in Scene 2. As far away as Scene 10, it was just distracting, whereas after scene 3, it helps build suspense.

OLD SEQUENCE:

1. Damek (A)
2. Jek’s Farm (B)
3. Damek (A)
4. General Shoji (C)
5. Damek (A)
6. General Shoji (C)
7. Damek (A)
8. General Shoji (C)
9. Damek (A)
10. Jek’s Farm (B)

Viewed that way, I can tell the return to Jek’s farm is a bit jarring so late in the game. Plus it introduces a new character, one who plays a huge role in story later. Introducing her earlier allows me to weave three story elements together like so:

1. Damek (A)
2. Jek’s Farm (B)
3. Damek (A)
4. Jek’s Farm / Issia (B)
5. Damek (A)
6. General Shoji (C)
7. Damek (A)
8. General Shoji (C)

Hey! It’s working again!

ipod_blackI finally got the iPod to sync with my computer and update my songs library.

This is bad because it erased the customized playlists I’ve carried with me for years. (All good things must come to an end and be reproduced if worthy, though.)

It’s GOOD because now I can finally get podcasts at work and in the car. Especially podcasts by and for writers.

If any aspiring writers happen by this blog, there are two I recommend above all others:

The Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop (particular to my genres, of course). The sound quality isn’t always great, and the biggest disappointment is that there aren’t more of these. But the advice from a variety of editors and successful writers is “fantabulous”.

A less formal but probably more entertaining podcasts is “Writing Excuses“. One of the three hosts is Brandon Sanderson; obviously I’m a fanboy of his work so far. This also leans towards my preferred genres (two of the hosts write fantasy and horror).

I thought this was worth posting also as a quick follow-up to my pseudo “why Apple?” rant.

I now officially have an Apple product that’s working. (Mostly.)

Just writing is easy. But Actual Writing is hard.

Overwhelmed?So, the blog began as a little extra work to keep me in the practice of writing. Also a way for me and my readers (aka friends) to keep on top of my work, progress, and writing career. (Even though the most lively discussions are, predictably, a little off topic.)

Things have changed.

The overall feeling of having an audience has been trans-formative for me. The best thing I can compare it to is that if you’re at work and conversing with a buddy, you might talk about anything that comes to mind. If you’re in that same conversation and suddenly your boss walks by, you may or may not change your topic or tone, but you’re likely to be a little more self-conscious. (Even if your direct supervisor doesn’t make you feel this way, chances are there is someone who does. Regional manager. Vice president. Auditor. Whomever.)

This makes me want to present the best of myself, especially in the focus for the site: My fiction. The various political commentaries are just an exercise…stretching my descriptive muscles, as it were.

To that end, writing has slowly but inexorably taken over the cracks in my life. It used to be that I would play video games or other forms of recreation for most of the evening/weekend, and then fit a little writing into the bored cracks between other activities.

Now the reverse is true.

I listen to podcasts on writing on the way to work and back. When I’m doing mindless data entry, I listen to podcasts on writing while I’m at work. And when I’m not learning from these podcasts, I’m mentally critiquing them — still literary exercise.

Now I even listen to podcasts about writing at home, because it’s as close as I can get to having professional writers in the comfort of my own home giving a constant stream of advice.

Sometimes I’m writing. Sometimes I’m formatting a work for submission. Sometimes I’m buying supplies. Sometimes I’m working on the website.

Sometimes I’m planning what to write. I spent about two hours this evening just working on an outline for a novel — and bear in mind, this is a novel for which the first 10,000 words have already been written — not a new concept.

When I started, the blog was extra work to get me to write at least a little bit every day.

Now, blogging is where I turn when I need a break from writing fiction.

Oh, how far we’ve come in just two months.

I hope this trend continues indefinitely. But more-so I hope it is reflected in the scope and quality of my work.

A buddy told me at work today that until I’m reporting earned income on my taxes, I’m still an amateur writer. This was partly good natured ribbing, and partly his excuse for why he hadn’t read any of my stories even though I explicitly printed one out and handed it to him…I think over a week ago. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think he realizes how seriously I take this — and that’s understandable. I’ve certainly met my fair share of wannabe writers whose work makes me think, “Are you kidding?” I personally cringe whenever someone says, “Will you read this? I wrote it!” so I can hardly blame others for setting those pages aside.

But even if he was totally kidding, there’s some truth to what he said, and it only inspires me to drive harder to reach that magic benchmark of publication. Will it be this year? Next year? Ten years from now? My next submission? God only knows, but I won’t stop until it happens, until the work sells, until the first movie contract, until the first blockbuster, until I make so much money writing that far beyond having a regular day job, writing is my job, and not only that, I’m so good at it that I no longer write because I have to…I write because I want to.

That’s negative reinforcement. I also get it from www.101reasonstostopwriting.com.

Positive reinforcement comes when Mr. Snuggles posts that a scene is my cleanest yet, when my brother-in-law who I never even expected to check the blog tells me he gets my RSS feed, and he and his girlfriend have real feedback on my latest story. When Elizabeth comments on one of my rants and I know she’s still reading even though I probably drive her nuts.

Slowly but surely, writing is becoming as much of a constant obsession as online gaming ever was. Keep pushing me in that direction, I beg you.

Now I must return to that outline and consider adding another scene to Second Chances.

Break’s over.