Thursday Thoughts: A Book About Nothing (contains spoilers)

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I have time to reflect on the process of writing a book. I am reminded by this iconic scene in pop culture:

[Two men sit across from each other drinking coffee in a diner]

“This should be the show.”
“What should?”
“This.”
“Just talking?”
“Just talking.”
“About what?”
“About nothing.”
“Nothing?”
“Nothing.”
“You want to do a show about nothing?”
“Everybody’s doing something. We’ll do nothing.”

It never is about nothing, though. Even the most mundane events are something, but who wants to watch or read about mundane events? (I see that no one has their hands raised.)

When writing fiction, something has to happen. And not just one thing. In The Lord of the Rings, the trip was not uneventful. They were chased, attacked, pursued, captured, and trapped. They needed to venture through caves, haunted woods, got caught in snow and floods, and fought their way through armies. It was one thing after another, and it felt like the whole Middle Earth was against them*. And they only lost one, and he wasn’t even part of the original group. Pretty good story, huh?


[inaudible]
What’s that?
[inaudible]
They lost two? Well, you can’t count Gandalf—
[inaudible]
Because.
[inaudible]
Just because. It’s magic.
[inaudible]
Then don’t read it then.
[inaudible]
No need for that language…

The reader has already bought into the premise that the characters will encounter difficulties and problems they will have to solve to survive. That’s why they are reading your story, right? Your characters have to get into jams—and out of them. If they don’t, the story ends.

Things have to happen on a regular basis. Too much time between events or not enough suspense will lose a reader. Too many in a row will exhaust them (The Fast and Furious, anyone). How many crises is too many to have on an adventure? And if your protagonists keep finding ways to solve them, does it become unbelievable? There is a fine line between believable and ridiculous —even when you suspend your disbelief.

When it comes to believability, science fiction has the majority of nit-pickers. There are great writers who research and employ experts in order to get the science (or potential science) right. I don’t write technical science fiction. I don’t enjoy reading overly technical stuff either and I’ll skim over those parts. So, how do I explain my technology to a reader?

Q: “How does your Faster-Than-Light drive work?
A: “You press the green button.”
Q: “Then?”
A: “You get there fast.”

How many times do read read about or watch a main character dangle precariously off a cliff or building and still feel tense, knowing that they are going to get out of this alive . . . or will they**? Can you kill off a main character? Sure, but you have to do it in a way that moves the story forward—and not in the first chapter.

Also, have all the good (and bad) tropes been used***? Is there anything truly original or is everything just a variation of a previous story. I found myself having to go back and change something I previously wrote because I’ve read a published book with the same idea. The same book that’s now in the hands of my editor. Yeah, there’s stuff in there that I swear I thought up all on my own. Really.

Readers read to escape. Writers write for much the same reason and to entertain, of course. You can’t entertain with a book about nothing, can you?.

-Leon

*Spoiler alert: It was
**Spoiler alert #2: They do.
***Spoiler alert #3: Yes


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Weird Wednesday: The Very First One

19 511

I did alright this month. [pats self on back]

NaNoWriMo is over (whew!). I wrote more than I did last year, and I use it as some extra motivation to be more diligent in my writing. What did I work on, you ask?

Well, last year, I started a novel which wound up being a novella, using the short story, The View from Here as a starting point. When I wrote that story, I wanted to leave it open ended, not that I was planning on continuing it, but because I think that some short stories should leave that reader wondering, which many of mine do.

Anyway, it took me 7 months to complete it, and a few more to reread and revise before sending it off to my editor, Doreen. I just received it yesterday (Monday), so I’m reviewing her changes (oh, those comma rules and split infinitives) and suggestions. 

That story could stand on it’s own, but I got to thinking about what Thomas and April might be up to, so when I began to plan my next story, they needed to be part of it.

Stay tuned for an ARC of my latest book (title TBA), and of my new poetry collection, A Wonder of Words. You can contact me if you would like to be an advance reader/reviewer. There’s an email link at the bottom of the page.

My mind was elsewhere this week, so here is the final look back for a while:

I forgot to reset my price so the paperback will be on sale for about 24 hours

My newsletter goes out on Wednesdays:

Lines by Leon Newsletter: December 1

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Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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NaNoWriMo Last Day: Yikes! Better get a move on.

I use the NaNoWriMo site to update my progress. It does keep track of many different statistics:

Hey, I did have a few good days.
January? My last novella* took 6 months. This one in 3? I’ll take it.
I was close on Day 1
Yikes! But I did write 330 words this morning

OK. Back to work, only 31248 left to go . . .

*Speaking of my last novella, I did receive it back from my editor, so I have to start reviewing that one as well.


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Music Monday: Songs You Might Want to Hear

NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 17 810 words, 27 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum & Coke, one glass of cabernet, one pint cream ale, and a half-pint of a Session IPA.


There is a radio show on CBC here in Canada that occasionally does a feature called SYNTH: Songs You Need To Hear.

Now, I can’t say to someone, “You’ll like this song” (or book for that matter) because I can’t presume that others will share my taste in music (or books), so it is safer to say, “You might like this” and if they don’t like it, so be it.

Maybe you will find a new favorite.


Some might think my focus is on Canadian artists. It is not intentional, but those are the ones that may not be heard elsewhere and deserve a shot at other listeners.

Donavan Woods is another in that category.


Are any of these people Donovan Woods*?

-Leon

*It may surprise you, but he’s in there. Yup. He’s the guy that looks like a lumberjack. Welcome to Canada, eh?.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Update

Last day

Available @ my Zazzle store: Lines by Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Short and Sweet Sunday


NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 17 190 words, 27 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum & Coke, one glass of cabernet, one pint cream ale, and a half-pint of a Session IPA.

Two days left:

US and UK for Kindle price. All other regions have the paperback price

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Weekend Wrap-up Nov. 27

NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 16 664 words (17 264 if you count the forward that I wrote and and some duplicate paragraphs I found lurking at the bottom of the word doc.), 26 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum & Coke, one glass of cabernet, and a half-pint of a Session IPA.

Am I happy with my novella progress? Yeah.


From my blog this week:

Short Story Sunday: Well, short, short stories. – I took a few moments to pen this humorous tidbit

Music Monday: Songs You Might Want to Hear – Like Canadian musicians? We got lots. Here’s another one.

Black Friday Stuff and my latest interview: In Conversation With Author Effie Kammenou

From the blogs of other’s:

-Leon

US and UK for Kindle price. All other regions have the paperback price

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Weird Wednesday

The paperback is actually on sale right now.

Amazon only allows me to discount my Kindle version on the US and UK sites. Why? I have no idea. But, maybe check in your region on Friday—maybe they had a change of heart*.

NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 15 380 words**, 23 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum & Coke, one glass cabernet, and a half pint of Session IPA.

Cartoons

The Untitled

The Miniscules: The Very Latest One.

My newsletter goes out on Wednesdays:

Lines by Leon Newsletter: November 24

*HA! I say. HA! You’re so funny Leon…
**Bonus points if you noticed that I didn’t write anything yesterday.

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Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Time Machine Tuesday: Lists

NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 15 380 words, 22 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum & Coke, one glass cabernet, and a half pint of Session IPA.


Just a short one from about a year ago:

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Weekend Wrap-up / Nov 20

NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 13 580 words, 19 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum & Coke, one glass of cabernet, and a half-pint of a Session IPA.

Weekend Wrap-up:

Did I mention that I’m a slow writer? 1000 at a sitting (usually an hour or two) is doable and I occasionally reach that, but 300-800 is usually the norm. If I had all day to write, maybe I’d have more, but I’m like a bucket under a leaky pipe.

Huh?

It fills up slowly drip by drip, then when it’s full you dump it out before having to wait for it to fill again.


From my blog this week:

I revisited some reading related posts from a year ago, but I won’t repost the reposts.

Music Monday: Songs You Might Want to Hear – Like Canadian musicians? We got lots. Here’s one.

Nov 19 – Free Book Friday / Interview: In Conversation With Author Dani Hoots

From the blogs of other’s:

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

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Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Throwback Thursday: Paper or eBook?

NaNoWriMo Totals to Date: 12 536 words, 17 cups of coffee, one cup of Earl Grey, one cup of tea (unknown), two glasses of Rum &Coke, one glass of cabernet, and a half-pint of a Session IPA.


Here’s another post from the annals of history:

OK, it was only at the beginning of this year. But I got to use the word ‘annals’.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.

Purchase paperback directly for the author!