Last of the Summer Series: Brandon Sanderson BYU Writing Class

Children are back in school, pumpkin spice lattes are making a reappearance, and I’m getting back to a more normalized schedule.  Fall is here and I have one last link to share as a part of the summer series of YouTube videos (and podcasts) I have found helpful for writing.

I was able to spend a lot of time this summer listening to writing podcasts and an assortment of audio books at work, all of which I believe have helped to strengthen my craft.  I’ve also developed a taste for Yoga and I’m hoping the introduction of a new discipline will also aid in getting back into the regularity of a writing routine (though bribing myself with pumpkin spice lattes are also likely to help).

That said, here’s the video of the week.  Brandon Sanderson, in addition to hosting “Writing Excuses”, also teaches a creative writing class over at BYU wherein the assignment of the semester is to create a novella.  I believe one of the stipulations of him teaching the class is that his lectures must be allowed to be available online.

What that means for the rest of us is a free workshop on writing fiction with one of the great high fantasy authors of our time.

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“Why Do So Many People Love SAO – The Art of Mass Appeal” by Mother’s Basement

For those of you who missed my first summer series post, the idea is that with how crazy my summers are I will be posting helpful Youtube videos for the creative process.  This helps me keep up with the blog while diverting the majority of my attention to my current projects.

While I was looking through anime related videos, I came across this feature on Sword Art Online.  I have a soft spot for SAO myself since it got me back into anime last year.  I loved the first half of season one and all the emotions it carried with it.  I came to deeply care about the characters and whether or not they’d survive.

That being said, I hated the second part of season one for reasons this video addresses.  I do think the second season was far stronger, and while I didn’t connect with it as much as I had those initial episodes there was still some powerful storytelling going on.

What I like about this video, is that it does examine why Sword Art Online is loved by so many people. The practical reasons he lists for SAO’s success are points I can use as tools to examine aspects of my own work.

That being said, enjoy!

The Author Stories Podcast by Hank Garner

I ran across this podcast earlier this year and it has been formative in a few ways for me.

The first, and perhaps most importantly, it has been helping me realize that this writing thing is truly a good fit for me. It’s fascinating listening to the responses to his opening question regarding each author’s earliest memories of wanting to be a writer (or storyteller). In the responses to this question, I have found many similar themes to my own life.

The authors often discuss aspects of how they write. Each tidbit discussed I keep in mind for my own writing and marketing.

Lastly, the podcast is extremely affirming. I am a writer. The ominous “Have you sold anything yet?” is a cloud that does not and should not reside over my writing.

Writing Excuses

The name of this post is a bit of a double entendre.  For one, I’d like to point those interested in writing to the podcast titled “Writing Excuses” put on by Wesley Chu, Piper J. Drake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mary Anne Monhanraj, Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, and Dan Wells.  It contains fantastic information and writing advice from established authors, I have enjoyed it and found that it does help my own writing.

Now, the other reason for the title is my excuses for not posting as often this spring.  I have been deep into edits and my day job has been extremely busy as of late, and both have cut into the time I have for keeping up with the blog as often as I’d like to.

There is some good news though, I have gotten a good deal of notes prepared on my novella and have been working on rewrites.  The short story collection I’m working has been put on pause for the moment.  I do have a few micro fictions I’d like to get posted here in the next few weeks.

And in the section of general geeky updates, I’m finding myself identifying more with Dr. Strange out of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes.  This has a great deal to do with my recognition that I need to take care of myself and not just my projects.  I tend toward worrying and anxiety, both of which have been catching up with me.  As a result, I’ve been looking into the benefits of yoga and aromatherapy to help keep myself centered and grounded.  There may be more here on that later.

Hope you are all having an amazing day!

Microfictions: Sentry & Shoes

I’ve been dealing with quite a few computer problems over the last couple of days and with my Camp NaNoWriMo participation this month I haven’t been able to post as often as I would like. So here’s a couple microfictions in the meantime.

Sentry

The hordes below the mountainside were as vast as a hill of ants. A cold sweat broke out on the sentry’s brow. His hand tightly held his sword for the comfort of its steel, as his fingers remained close to the trigger of the gun embedded in its hilt.  The enemy was moving directly toward his village.

Scurrying backwards he moved silently, a figure quickly obscured by trees as he raced through the night to make his report.

Shoes

He had found his lost show, along with the gold inside. The other guy hadn’t been so lucky.

A Novella

“I’ve got a jar of dirt! I’ve got a jar of dirt, and guess what’s inside it!” –Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

I started a fantasy novella last July as a means of giving myself a break from my first novel. It was meant to be completed in the month as part of Camp NaNoWriMo in conjunction with watching Brandon Sanderson’s BYU classes on writing. Unfortunately, I got busy and the plot was giving me a few issues, so it remained in stasis for a while.

Part of my reason for writing it was to get a microcosm of the writing process, like learning to bake a cookie so that I can eventually go on to creating a soufflé. Another reason for writing it was also because I’ve spent the last ten years putting the pieces of my high fantasy work together, I needed a break and proof that I was more than just a one idea and done author.

So there you have it, the main reasons I’ve been exploring short stories and this novella over the course of the last year is because I need the practice before I go back and work on my high fantasy trilogy.

So why am I going on and on about this?

I finished the novella yesterday! It doesn’t necessarily mean it will be released any time soon, but it is another step forward. And I’m looking forward to what the story can teach me about the editing process.

The reason I love the Pirates of the Caribbean quote above is because that’s exactly what I have in this draft.  It is what amounts to a jar of sand that I’ll use to build my sandcastles. (Writing as related to sandboxes is a popular metaphor shared by at least both Ted Dekker and Shannon Hale regarding writing.)

What should be coming sooner than a published novella however, is news about short stories: the rest of this month will be committed to the backlog I’ve created of short story and flash fiction drafts. I’ll be cleaning them up and sending them off for submission.

For tonight though, I’ll continue celebrating that another major rough draft is finished.

 

 

 

(Here’s the first in the Sanderson lectures if you’re interested:)

Weekend Microfiction: The Chase

The words of the forest were dimmer today. The young mage was unsure how to approach the ancient trees. The soldiers would be here at any time and the mage needed the words of power, now. She felt sweat bead on her forehead as the pounding of horse hooves began to echo closer. The inquisitors were likely behind their speed. She looked at the trees and then at the sky. “Please.”

She was not sure where the plea was directed, but moments later her body filled with warmth, like golden light filtering in through a storm.