Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Getting Started: Attention to Detail Matters

I'm listening to podcasts going on about Justice League, and I see a theme regarding the opinions of those talking about this film: a lack of attention to detail damaging the reviewer's ability to engage and enjoy the story. It really is the little things that make or break an audience's appreciation of a work.

That's a problem a lot of us run into as we get going as writers. It's why we have a practice of letting manuscripts cool off before going into revision, and it's also why we have editors; in both cases, it's to get distance from the act of creation so that missing or misplaced details can be noticed, flagged, and fixed before publication.

There are things you can get away with and succeed. Not paying attention to detail isn't one of them. This can, and does, impose constraints on you as a writer because it means you need to make sure that your narrative functions as intended. You can see that even at the most popular levels of commercial storytelling, this makes a big difference; it is entirely plausible to state that the film aforementioned would have far better word of mouth and box office if better attention to detail had been paid.

I know that "The Ghost Fist Gambit" would not be as good as it is were neither my editor nor I paying that attention to detail; all the effort spent finding and fixing those things paid off spectacularly. Even at the short word count I had to work with, my editor and I managed to make that effort and get that pay off with the final work published in the PulpRev Sampler. It's worth it, folks.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Night Demons Part 6 of 6







Dozens, hundreds, thousands of minor parasites swarm all over me. They are gnats and centipedes and biting worms, landing all over my aura. They crawl and wriggle and bite and chew and tear. My skin begins to itch, and my eyes flutter involuntarily.

Easiest option is to run them through with cold steel. But there’s too many people around. If they saw me do that, they’d call the cops on me. That’s how demons fought, by turning people against each other.

Instead, I step aside, whip out my phone and pretend to stare at the map. I want to call down the Light, to burn off the things crawling over me. But that is an inefficient use of limited energy.
And there are better ways to do this.

Getting Started: Making Good Use of Serial Fiction

I hope that you folks read and enjoyed Benjamin Cheah's serialized story this past week. As I said previously, the blog is a viable successor to the old serial fiction magazine for publishing short fiction.

It's also good for another application, which I would like you new authors to consider: releasing tie-in material.

You're going to run into situations where you're working on a story, only to have to cut a plot thread that--while interesting--is not relevant to the narrative you're out to create. Now you can make use of that material to promote your story by serializing it at your blog, using its link to that narrative as the way to entice readers to buy your work.

This is a good practice for a few reasons. The first is that it gives you a solid reason to write daily; nothing you do will be wasted, at all, when you recycle cut content in this manner. The second is that you maintain a regular presence, keeping fans that already like your work engaged while giving new people something concrete to read so as to ascertain if they want what you offer. The third is that can become a salable product down the road when you can collect your serial shorts and republish them in volumes, which you can time for when your publication schedule would otherwise have an undesirable void. You can also use them for anthologies as the circumstances allow, further spreading your reach to new audiences.

So, again, don't dismiss the serial format. It's got good artistic and commercial applications, both of which are firmly in your control as the author, and you are foolish to not exploit it accordingly. (I will presently, as I'm working on a new story, so what I cut will be revised into a related serial.) Ben Cheah does a bang-up job with it, and you can bet people reading and liking these will be more likely to buy his books now that they have a sense of what his style is like- they want to keep him writing, and buying his books are the best way to make that happen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Night Demons Part 5 of 6









It’s too bright and too crowded for me to act. A hostile entity wouldn’t feel constrained by people, but if things went dynamic and if I had to perform an exorcism… I don’t need the attention.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Night Demons Part 3 of 6









When going to war, first build an invincible defence. And I am strongest at my home.

Home is a studio apartment a few minutes away from the Farrer Park MRT station. Unlike most single Singaporeans my age, I live alone, well away from my parents. It’s for their safety. They’re normies, and given my lifestyle, the last thing I need is for demons to show up at the doorstep of my family home.

It’s happened more than once. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Night Demons Part 2 of 6




I glance around the room. The miasma redoubles in strength. The Lums' spirit guides are fleeing to different realms for cover. But there is no overt sign of the evil spirit.

I’d have to flush it out. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Night Demons Part 1 of 6




Stepping out the car, I sense the miasma. A black, viscous, oily fog that clings to my skin and tries to eat into my flesh, my bones, my soul. My shield holds. For now.

My Uber drives off, oblivious. A tiny bit of miasma lingers on the car. Nothing to worry about; the late afternoon sun would burn it off soon. There wasn’t any point telling the driver about the miasma either. She didn’t have the second sight. Didn’t have the trained and conditioned third eye chakra needed to see the astral world. Without it, she couldn’t see the dark energies blanketing the housing estate. Feel it, maybe, like a general sense of uneasiness, but not see it. Like most normies, she probably never would. Not in this lifetime.

Which meant I’d always have work.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sword and Sorcery Short Story: The Far Side of Villainy

Hello everybody, I thought I'd let you know that my sword and sorcery short story The Far Side of Villainy is free to read at the Mighty Thor Jr. blog.

Mighty Thor Jr. is an excellent source of information and commentary about sword and sorcery, and I am proud that my story was chosen as the blog's first piece of original fiction.

The Far Side of Villainy is about a marginalized, morally bankrupt city dweller who falls in love with the powerful head of a desert harem, who is visiting the city where he lives to sell harem slaves. When her harem conspires against her, will he be able to rise to the occasion and save her life, or will he continue in his cowardly ways? Find out in this romantic, adventure-filled tale!

To read The Far Side of Villainy for free just follow this link:
https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/short-story-the-far-side-of-villainy-by-j-manfred-weichsel/

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Congratulations and Good Luck to Jeffro Johnson & Brian Niemeier

We've gotten word that Jeffro Johnson has stepped down as the editor of the Castalia House blog, and that Brian Niemeier has taken leave of Geek Gab, both events coming due to an increase of professional demands upon their time (in addition to other factors).

On behalf of the rest of us here at PulpRev, I congratulate you both on your successes as editor and podcast host (respectively), and wish that both of you enjoy even greater professional success in your new and ongoing endeavors going forward. We here at PulpRev look forward to both of you publishing new and exciting works that build upon your previous literary accomplishments. The return of a culture of fun built on what is true could not happen without both of you doing what you've done (or doing what you're doing), and as such we are all grateful.

Good luck, good hunting, and may God smile on you and yours hereafter in all your doings. Godspeed!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Pulp Speed Transformation


NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words in a month. An enormous undertaking for any writer, especially hobbyists and newcomers. But having written at Pulp Speed for the last two months, the NaNo challenge suddenly seems diminished.

In September I wrote about 75000 words. In October I clocked 108000. In the past 4 days, 17000 words. Yesterday, I completed my novel KAGE NO OUJI, with a total word count of 200307 words.
In 2 months, I completed NaNoWriMo 4 times.

I do not write this to boast about what I have done. There are many better and more prolific writers out there. Peter Nealen writes much faster than I do, on the order of 5000 words in 2.5 hours. Dominika Lein has pledged to write 175000 words for NaNoWriMo, which averages to 5833 words a day -- and so far she has exceeded 6000 day after day. Larry Correia starts writing at story at 5000 words a day, and as he gets into his groove, tops off at 10000.

And yet, having passed through the fires of Pulp Speed, I can no longer be the writer I once was.

The Simplification

To meet the demands of Pulp Speed, I reduced my life to the essentials. Work. Writing. Training. Sleep. Eat. Hygiene. Social and business activities where appropriate. That is all.

It is a purity of existence, defined by activities needed to sustain and grow life and relationships, by the stuff I do to pay the bills, and by writing. There is no space and time for activities and beliefs which do not make me stronger, healthier, wealthier, or otherwise help me achieve my goals. I ignore thoughts and beliefs and words that hold me back, and listen only those that spur me on. For entertainment I reserved time only for that which helped me, in some way or other, become a better man: reading high-quality works of fiction and non-fiction, educational videos, inspirational music, the odd game that I can connect to the writer's craft or to the pursuit of self-perfection.

A life free of useless of self-sabotaging activities is a life focused on success. By cutting away everything that pulls you down, and replacing them with everything that builds you up, you can only get better. By eradicating beliefs that limit you, you become limitless. By replacing mindless entertainment with dedicated work, by trading in soul-numbing couch-surfing for purposeful training, by consciously building mind and body and working towards your goals, success becomes inevitable.

The Discipline

Get up and write. Transform break times into writing times. Before bed, write some more.

Every day. Rain or shine, sleepy or refreshed, frustrated or inspired, no matter what, I kept writing. By consistently writing at my worst, I am able to make the most of the moments when I can write at my best.
Stories do not care how you feel. Readers do not care about your mental or emotional state when you are writing. All that matters is whether you are writing or not. If yes, you have skin in the game and you will complete the story if you keep it up. If not, you are not a writer.

Anybody can write when they are feeling on top of the world. But to be a pro, you have to write regardless of how you feel at the moment you touch your fingers to the keys. Once you achieve this, success is inevitable.

The Transcendence

KAGE NO OUJI is without question the best story I have written yet. Within the pages I have filled moments of sorrow and joy, terror and relief, rage and levity... and transcendence.

It is righteous fury married to calm calculations expressed as a whirlwind of primal violence. It is finding the serenity to confront something old beyond time and malicious beyond measure with a serene heart, for an even greater and more powerful being of goodness and truth is behind you. It is the recognition that all creation has conspired to place you in a moment in space-time to do what only you can do. It is the veil dropping from mundane reality, revealing the hidden truths that underpin a glorious cosmos.

I cannot say that I, this ego, wrote these moments. Only that with these mortal fingers I pray I captured on the page a glimpse of something higher and truer and greater than the foibles of mere men in this dewdrop world.

But to get to this point, you must have discipline. You must set up the scenes and characters so they make sense. You must spend the time and energy to build up to the payoff. You must show up and do the work, or you will never reach the summit of your skills.

Without the discipline to manifest it, an inner vision of the transcendence becomes a mere daydream. With the efficiency of a simplified life and the ironclad discipline to put in the work, success becomes inevitable.

The Next Stage

After this story, what next?

Another story, of course. The world waits not for the writer who grows fat and complacent. I have a veritable library of ideas percolating in my head; I need only figure out what to write next. And now, in the full knowledge that I can write a lot and write well, the process of choosing becomes easier.

Should I dedicate myself to it, I can start and finish a series in a single year. I can explore more experimental stories without having to sacrifice writing profitable ones. I can take time off to write shorter stories for practice, for profit, and for pre-series preparation. My career options have expanded dramatically. With prolific output and an ever-growing backlist, commercial success becomes inevitable.

But there is always room to grow. I aim to learn to write faster, to produce new kinds of stories, to try different writing methods for maximum output. I can always be more than who I am now.

On a far shore, a new story beckons. I take up my pen and prepare for the crossing.

--

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If you'd like to check out my fiction, you can find my Dragon Award nominated novel NO GODS, ONLY DAIMONS on Amazon, with 45 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.