Luftpause

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To be blunt about it, the last few years of my life have been crazy. It has often felt like I was caught up in a hurricane — a sense of rushing wind, of not knowing where I was being swept to or how fast or where I would land. Some of that motion has been of my own making, but it has been no less disorienting or tumultuous than the storms that came from elsewhere.

Earlier this month, after finally delivering the last copy of Mornnovin to the last Kickstarter backer who was due one, I found myself suddenly between chaoses long enough to take a much-needed beach vacation with the best man in the world.

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If we look exhausted, it’s because we drove through the night to get there.

As I was sitting on our shady balcony in the nice sea breeze with the soothing crash of the surf in my ears, I realized that for the first time in I-can’t-remember-when, there would be no major thing waiting for me upon our return home. There would just be… life, such as it is.

After swimming dizzily in the void of that realization for a few minutes, I decided it was a good moment to take a breath and have a look behind me. I opened up a Word file on my laptop and started a bullet-point accounting of everything that had led to me being in that moment with that man on that beach.

The resulting list starts with Jiro’s death in December of 2013, ends with leaving for vacation on the 6th of this month, and pared down for brevity is ten pages long. So many things were happening to me or needed to be done that it’s no wonder I felt like my whole world was in the air.

Our return home did not end up being quite as leisurely as I expected, what with an immediate dog crisis and the revelation that there are ongoing issues with the hardcover edition of Mornnovin (ugh), among one or two other annoyances. (Why does the office suddenly smell like vomit?) But once the dust settled even from those issues, it is still true that for the first time maybe ever, I’m getting to just kind of go along and mostly do my own thing for a minute.

I’ve got stable housing, a supportive partner, a great dog, I live in a climate that isn’t killing me, and for the first time in my life I’m more or less earning adequate money to handle my expenses. I have to spend more of my time than I’d like every day running around satisfying the demands of capitalism, but we all have that. It’s pretty much just me, my guy, our doggo, and our art.

In some ways, it feels like my fantasy series and my life are both starting Book 3 at the same time. And maybe that’s why I’m not sure yet where it’s going to go.

It’s going, though. They both are.

Perhaps finally at something like my own pace.

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Two Days!

Okay, yeah, I dropped the countdown ball. It’s because 1.) I am bad at this, and 2.) there has been a lot to do as far as actually getting ready for launch. I spent an entire evening this week signing book copies, and then spent the next two days getting shipments packed up and sent out. Not all of them, I’m afraid, but many. As many as I could do in the time I’ve had. I will continue to chip away at it as I can.

But I mean. Check this out.

50 books

This is what a shipment of 50 books looks like. There is another shipment like this on its way.

So, I do actually have some more work today, finishing the special hardcover edition for the two people who will be receiving it. But before I turn my attention to that, and because I am a nerd, I want to spend a little time talking about conlangs with you.

What is a conlang? some might ask. Boy do I have your back.

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Image from Wikipedia. According to the website of Language Creation Society: “The Conlang Flag was designed by Christian Thalmann, Jan van Steenbergen, Leland Paul, David J. Peterson and Adrian Morgan.”

“Conlang” is an abbreviation of “constructed language,” a term used to refer to a language that was deliberately invented and planned rather than developing naturally. The most widely-spoken conlang is Esperanto, but other examples include Klingon (Star Trek,) Dothraki (Game of Thrones,) and, of course, all of the languages created by J.R.R. Tolkien.

It has become more common, especially in the age of moving media, for storytellers to create languages — or at least just enough of one — to lend their work a greater element of verisimilitude. But in fact, Tolkien is on record as having stated that rather than inventing languages for his stories, he invented stories to explain and lend context to his languages. “The invention of languages is the foundation. The ‘stories’ were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows.” (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien)

As a lifelong word-nerd and language fan, I have always been utterly charmed and delighted by this approach. I actually think this is one of the things that first drew me to Middle Earth when I was very young. It is completely unsurprising, then, that within minutes of having drawn a map of Asrellion, I was already thinking about my languages.

Obviously, I was very young then. What has eventually evolved into my Elven language bears nearly no resemblance to those early scribblings. (Neither do my names, although the places and people are the same places and people they’ve always been.) Honestly, what really kicked my language-development into high gear was when I began to study French in the eighth grade and, at the same time, my extremely exacting English teacher was having us memorize our Greek and Latin roots.

Oh, that’s not to say that the Elven of Asrellion is Fantasy French — not at all. Just that, for the first time, I was really starting to peek behind the curtain of grammar construction and the relationships between vocabulary elements. It made me realize how small I’d been thinking. From that point onward, I wasn’t just pulling a word here and there out of thin air. I was building a coherent linguistic structure, thinking about how words related to each other and what roots they might have come from, and the sort of sounds the culture I’d created would use to express itself.

And doing that, organically, led to me thinking more about the philosophies of the culture I’d made. How those philosophies would manifest in the language, how they would have shaped its development. The language grew from the civilization, but the civilization also grew from the language.

I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say, like Tolkien, that the language comes first and the story is secondary. I am after all my own writer with my own voice, my own process, and my own stories to tell. But I do very much feel him when he says, “To me a name comes first and the story follows.”

All of this is to say that in two days, when Mornnovin officially launches, it will bring a brand new conlang into the world with it. I hope my fellow word-nerds and language fans are just as excited by that as I am.

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The countdown continues on this April the 2nd

Today it is seven days to Book Launch, and it is also World Autism Awareness Acceptance Day. This seems like a good moment to call your attention to this blog’s header.

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That’s right! We’ve got an autistic person on our hands here! And I can assure you that it has most definitely shaped the writing I do. How could it not? Autism is not a thing I have, it’s a part of who I am.

I was twenty-five years old when I received my autism diagnosis. At that time, my life had been decomposing at a snowballing rate for the last several years and I’d been trying to get to the bottom of why I couldn’t handle very basic everyday things that everyone else seemed just fine at. In retrospect and placing it within the larger context of my childhood moving forward, the diagnosis of autism seems super obvious. At the time, it was a revelation that helped me slowly begin to get my life under control.

By then, I’d already been writing about the characters and cultures of Asrellion for a decade and a half, so they were already fully-fledged even so long ago. And without knowing it or even doing it on purpose, I had written what my friends would later observe (as if it were glaringly obvious) was an autistic protagonist. Not just that, but an entire autistic culture.

I remember an occasion early in my first marriage when my husband-at-the-time was raging at me about whatever had flown up his nose that day. The angrier he got about the subject, the more vital it had seemed to me to remain calm and rational. Someone was going to have to do something about this thing that was enraging him, and I didn’t see how it could be either one of us if I started foaming at the mouth the way he was.

But the calmer I remained, the more intense his rage grew. He asserted that I obviously didn’t care about [whatever damn thing it was] since I wasn’t getting worked up. I explained my thinking to him. In a towering fury, he spat that I was “a damn Vulcan!”

He had meant it as an insult (which, what?) but refusing to take it as one, I simply replied calmly, “I think you mean elf.”

Needless to say, he wasn’t amused, but this isn’t about that jackhole. The point is that even then, and without quite meaning to, I had developed a culture and worldview that functioned in a way that made sense to me as an autistic woman. I’d invented a society of, essentially, Vulcan elves. And how my elves and their culture fit into what is for all intents and purposes a larger neurotypical world is a major ongoing plot element in the stories I write.

I don’t want to do too much telling before any of you have had a chance to read the novel, but I do think it is obvious, relevant, and interesting how my atypical neurology plays out in the world of Asrellion through my characters.

On this World Autism Acceptance Day 2019, as we count down to the launch of Mornnovin, I invite you to ready yourselves for a fantasy world and protagonist that are unashamedly neurodivergent. To restate the old saying, this novel is about us and by us.


As a postscript, April being Autism Awareness Acceptance Month, if you are feeling any inclination to get involved with autism charities, outreach, education, or activism, as an autistic person I implore you to steer well clear of Autism Speaks. They are among the worst (if not outright seizing the title of Absolute Garbage Nightmare Worst) offenders in the predatory, disreputable charities department.

Instead consider giving your attention to one of the wonderful groups being run by autistic people for the benefit of our own community, such as The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network or the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network.

Countdown to Partytime: Day 8

When I was running the Kickstarter campaign to fund this publication, I shared several updates about my fantasy setting and the characters who appear in this first installment of The Way of the Falling Star. This seems like a good moment to bring those introductions off of the Kickstarter page and into wider circulation.

As the day draws near for Mornnovin to permanently enter the world we live in, I thought I’d start to build a little excitement by talking about another world:

Asrellion.

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Earth, meet Asrellion.

I was ten years old when I drew the very first version of this map to impress a cool new girl at school who I wanted to make friends with. At the time, I was OBSESSED with Tolkien to the point where I could actually draw the full detailed map of Middle Earth from memory. It should come as no shock that my first stories of the adventures in Asrellion pretty closely mimicked the tales and faces from Tolkien’s world.

That was a long time ago, and my stuff is now my own stuff after taking a meandering detour through a lot of Shakespeare, various fantasy greats (Roger Zelazny, Tad Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Susan Cooper, Stephen R. Lawhead, and Lloyd Alexander among others,) a smattering of sci-fi, and a loooooooooot of fanfiction over the years.

Now, the world of Asrellion has become the world I’ve needed to see in fantasy and haven’t until creating it myself. I guess you’ll see what I mean if you read the book.

“Don’t like it, make your own!” the jerks like to say.

Okay. I did.

Strap in for Ye Olde Creation Legend.

Continue reading

*endless screaming*

The proof copy of Mornnovin was supposed to arrive today, so I was pretty excited as I checked the mail. In fact I opened the door, looked down, saw a package, and literally squeaked.

Let’s get this bad boy inside!

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Well that does look pretty book-shaped. Let’s see what–

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OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!

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*screaming*

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THIS IS MY BOOK. WHAT THE FUCK‽‽‽

So yeah. Um.

I made a book and I am not calm about it. You must excuse me while I go hyperventilate.

I’m pending!

Having shared this first with my backers on my Kickstarter page, and then having taken a moment to finish screaming, I’d like to announce that my debut novel, Mornnovin, has a (tentative) release date of April 2nd, 2019.

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cover art © Scott Baucan 2019

This is obviously tremendously exciting. There’s still a lot to be done and shockingly little time left in which to do it, but let’s just all scream together for a moment, yeah?

HOLY SHIT, I’M PUBLISHING A NOVEL! LOOK AT MY BEAUTIFUL, REAL COVER!

So, yeah. Stay tuned for more about this VERY EXCITING thing that is happening. Like, I’d actually like to do a post about the backer rewards I’ve made, because I’m pretty proud of them and I want to share, but for right now it’s all about the fact that at this very moment, somewhere in the world, a physical copy of my novel actually exists and is in the mail on its way to me for my final approval, and how that’s so surreal and wonderful that I can hardly breathe.

 

this has been Week One proper

Did I forget to mention here that, at long last, I’m finally making a book?!

Although my Kickstarter campaign closed (successfully!) on January 4th, I’ve spent much of the month in creative limbo while waiting for the site and my bank to process the donations. The waiting was not awesome, knowing what I needed to be doing but not having the means to do it.

Following the national holiday on Monday, the funding finally came through on Tuesday, and after doing a squealgasp of excitement I got to work.

The LLC is filed and paid for; I am now the somewhat giddy owner of my very own shiny new publishing imprint. That’s a check on the copyright, too. I also bought a bulk package of ISBNs and so was able to start compiling the files for the eBook, paperback, and special hardcover copies of the novel.

Do you know how long it takes to browse 658 pages of fonts online? I do, because that’s how I spent last Sunday night instead of getting a full night’s sleep, shopping for the perfect cover font.

One of the prizes going out to my backers is a short story set in the world of Asrellion, and I’d been kicking around the idea of using some of the surplus funds to print out nice little physical copies. That idea, unfortunately, has turned out to be a bust (too cost-prohibitive for anything halfway decent) so it’s back to Plan A on that which is digital. But work on the other little bits and bobs of backer swag continues while I also try to get a handle on the business aspect of everything that goes into not only publishing but promoting a novel.

Most thrilling of all, I’ve been getting progress sketches all week from my cover artist, Scott Baucan, culminating in a surprise message yesterday that it was done already, ahead of schedule. And guys. It. is. gorgeous. I can’t tell you how much I love it and how excited I am to see it in my hand on the front of my book.

Here is just a little teaser-taste for your ogling enjoyment.

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This week I’ll be getting craftsy, and continuing work on the files to be sent to the printing company. I’m trying without much luck to untangle a pretty knotty riddle: they want my page count in order to complete the setup file and issue my cover template, but how do I know what my page count will be before I’ve seen the thing formatted as a print book?

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. Now that I’ve got an imprint, and cover art, and ISBNs, and funds to pay for printing, the only thing standing between me and a spring release of my debut novel is my own ability to format the interior files, navigate the setup process, and figure out how one goes about obtaining advance reviews on a book that does not yet physically exist. This is dizzyingly exciting, but I’m also discovering that the stress and anxiety of being in charge of this whole thing myself is pretty nauseating and I’m sure I’m going to mess up something crucial.

Still. For tonight, I leave on this high:

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Guys that’s my name on the cover of a book — my book!

 

Do you like pretty things? I do.

Well, Christmas is over. The year is on its last legs, and so is my Kickstarter campaign. At 10:30 a.m. on Friday, January, 4th, this fundraiser ends for good or ill. Will we make it to $4000 by then? I think so. There’s only $1244 left to go. But we can’t let up, not yet.

This is a time of year that I always associate with beauty in all its forms. Sparkling, glittering, star-filled nights, delicious aromas, lovely chords of magical music, the warmth of love and kindness. The holiday may technically be past, but the season is not. Not just yet. It is still a time of beauty, of magic, for just a little longer. I think it’s fitting that this is the setting for the final days of this fundraiser.

In the spirit of that beauty, and because it’s all Kickstarter all the time for a few more days yet, today I’m going to show you something pretty. One of the very special rewards I’ve offered to backers at the $100 level is “a hand-made piece of custom elven jewelry crafted by the author.” So I thought I’d share some of the jewelry I’ve made in the past, to give an idea of what that might look like.

Most of the pieces of jewelry I’ve made over the years have been gifts, so all I have anymore are the unimpressive cell phone photos I snapped before sending them on their way. Here is one:

That is a pendant hand-sculpted and then finished with gold and silver leaf.

This is an iridescent bit of seashell I picked up at Cannon Beach in Oregon. I fixed it with a genuine pearl and finished the back with silver leaf.

Hand-sculpted iridescent purple lily.

Swarokvski crystals, genuine pearl, feathers, paper flowers, and a crocheted choker band.

This isn’t jewelry, but I sculpted and leafed these leaves too:

This also is not jewelry, but it was intended as a sort of mixed media rendering of Loralíenasa Raia’s falling star symbol. Here is my old sketch of the symbol itself, for reference:

And here is the craft version:

But this is my favorite. I made this for one of my very best friends, oh, so many years ago that I couldn’t even tell you when, and she still wears it. She wore it to my wedding in October.

So there you have it: a sampling of some pretty elfyness. If you like what you see here, maybe take a jaunt over to the fundraiser page and think about donating to the book. I’m so close to being able to publish this thing, and I’d love to be able to thank you for your help.

Friday morning thoughts

I knew before I started running this fundraising campaign that this is well outside my wheelhouse and I’d be groaning about existence before it was over. I’ve got 13 days to go and let’s just say I have mixed feelings about that.

Want to know what’s great? Being only $1514 away from your $4000 goal.

Want to know what’s really stressful? Still being $1514 away from your $4000 goal.

You know what, though? I really feel like this is going to happen. $1514 may be a lot of money, especially at Christmas, but it’s not an impossible amount. Just look what all those frightened xenophobes have managed to raise in order to keep the poor and the needy at arm’s length at the holiday season. (Imagine what they could have done to care for those poor souls with that same amount of money. But I digress.) There’s another $1514 out there somewhere for a hopeful, starry-eyed writer just trying to get her words out into the world. I have to believe that.

I might be feeling a bit maudlin today because of the grey weather, an immune system that’s struggling to fend off the crud my husband brought home from work, a puppy who has an upset stomach, the adrenaline crash of being done with all of my Christmas preparations, and the inevitable feelings of inertia you get when you receive word that something (in this case the arrival of a client) you were all geared up for is going to come later than expected. Tomorrow it’s fun goofing off and holiday parties and another update to the Kickstarter, but for right now I’m taking a moment to say, candidly, “Oof.”

And hey, you could help me shave that $1514 down a bit, eh?

MORNNOVIN: The Way of the Falling Star Book 1

A new friend, and an exciting offer.

As we near the halfway point, both in the campaign and in funds raised, I’d like to introduce you to another one of the characters you’ll find in MORNNOVIN.

I’ve chosen this particular introduction as a shout-out and thank you to Natasha Gonzales, who is not only a great friend but has also been one of the biggest supporters of my writing over the years. If you are of the fandom persuasion, it might interest/excite you to know that Tasha has offered to write custom Asrellion fanfiction for anyone who can show a receipt that they’ve backed this fundraiser.

This, friends, is Víelle Sívéo.

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Gina Carano appearing as the author’s facecast

In Evlédíen, the elves’ hidden new home, the Royal Guard is no longer the almost ceremonial entity it used to be in more innocent times. Its members are respected even as the need for their work is a constant reminder that those innocent times are gone forever.

Guard member Víelle (pronounced vee-yell) is all too aware of the grim reality of the world her people now live in and she is committed to keeping them safe by any means necessary. Even if, say, those means are not strictly legal.

She’s into swords, leather, duty, music, deadpan humor, her wife, and doing her own personal best at whatever she tries to do.

You’re welcome, Tasha, and thank you!

25%, baby!

The Kickstarter to fund MORNNOVIN has hit the 1/4 mark after five days.

This is good, but not great. That is to say, theoretically, as long as I secure $1000 a week of the total $4000 goal, I’m still on track. However, I can’t expect to have multiple big-number days like launch day, so there’s a chance I might see my progress peter out here.

Still, this milestone is cause for celebration! Head over to the link for an update and a cute video of my dog eating snow. And, as before, tell all your friends!

It’s here! It’s happening!

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My friends, this is a huge day for me — as a writer, as a fantasy fan, as a human being with a life-long dream — and not just because it’s snowing and I’m a starry-eyed desert rat. It’s a huge day because as of riiiiight… now! the fundraiser to gather the funds to publish the first novel in my fantasy series is live!

MORNNOVIN is happening!

Oof, you might say. A fundraiser at the holidays? That’s rough.

Maybe! But also? Maybe (I’m hoping) we’ll tap into some of the spirit of giving. Some of that milk of human kindness. Some of the holiday cheer that loves a chance to make dreams come true.

Wander on over to the fundraiser page. Have a look. Maybe save it for later if you feel so inclined. Please do share far and wide.

And Happy Holidays.

Great news, and some just news

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photo by Jamie Carey

Two weeks ago, on October 13th 2018, I had the joy and the privilege of exchanging marriage vows with the most wonderful man I’ve ever known. It was a mad, chaotic day, but I came out of it joined to someone whose perfection as a counterpoint, friend, and partner to me cannot be adequately expressed. That’s the great — the greatest! — news.

The just news is this:

With wedding planning and the last of the formal wedding responsibilities now in my rearview mirror, it’s my intention to dive headlong into the work necessary to self-publish Book 1 of my fantasy trilogy (with Book 2 to follow as soon as I’ve paved the way.) Watch this space for more news on that front as it develops!

Question 2: Natural Writing

In the realm of reasons to leave a half-written blog post shelved for several months past its intended publication date, I’ve got one of the best. Let’s just say that my personal life has been going very well and I’ve been happily spending more time than usual away from my keyboard.

But because I really have been meaning to get back to those writing questions, today I’m finally going to talk about this one:

“How to sentence structure without sounding like an essay?”

Well, for me, it’s easier to work on a problem when I understand its parts. So let’s break down what I see as some of the factors that lead to Essay Speak.

(Caveat: there is no one correct way to write any more than there is only one good kind of writing. This advice is geared exclusively toward combating the formulaic nature of academic writing, not necessarily toward producing the finest of literature.)

1. Word choice.
2. Pattern redundancy.
3. Formality/distance.
which all plays into
4. Voice

As it happens, I’ve talked about some of these things before at another place for writers. I was a good deal more pompous back then, but my thoughts were still good, so I’m going to riff off of them here.

Word Choice:
Words are power. The right word gives you more power over your reader; the wrong one weakens your ideas.

Avoid vague language — words like “big” and “very” and “stuff” that don’t tell us what you really want us to know. Besides being uninformative, these words are also boring. Precision is not only easier to read, but often infuses more color. And why would you want to only come close to telling us what you want us to know, when you could use the right word and nail your ideas firmly into our brains?

Along with vague language, you also want to avoid tired, weak words. You can do this especially by paying attention to your verbs. Choose exciting verbs that push your sentence and the action forward and give you momentum. Dazzle, swagger, gleam, beguile, demand, force, bequeath. So much more interesting to read — and so much more informative — than your run-of-the-mill go, walk, do, be, ask. Try not to be passive with your language. Where possible, tell us what happens, not what is being done to something/someone. (See how one construction there is concise and the other wordy?) Also, words that are unexpected or that appeal to the senses are more engaging to the reader’s imagination and anchor them in your narrative.

That having been said, don’t force it. If you’re not comfortable with what you’re saying, your reader won’t be either — they can tell when you don’t sound like yourself. The thesaurus is especially not your friend if it leads you to incorrectly use words you don’t properly understand. The thing is that there’s no such thing as a true synonym. There are only related words that mean close to the same thing, but each has its own unique contextual applications and conveys its own individual flavor. You get a different idea about who I the author am, the tone of my voice, and what I mean if I say infuriated rather than angry.

And maybe most importantly, don’t use any words you don’t need to. (Need, of course, being dictated by style and not just meaning.)

Pattern redundancy:
This is one of the worst culprits where it comes to Essay Speak, and it’s inherent to the format of essay-writing. Statement, supporting idea, supporting idea, supporting idea. Repeat in new paragraph until essay is complete. It gets so easy to structure every sentence exactly the same way because what you’re doing is essentially math in written form — adding sentence to sentence until you’ve racked up enough to fill your page or word requirement. But there’s no passion that way, no spontaneity, no art, and no one wants to be reading that. Especially not in fiction.

You combat the academic doldrums with passion, spontaneity, and art.

Be concise, but be flexible. Get excited about what you’re saying, Get so worked up that your ideas aren’t even coming out as complete sentences. Vomit your feelings onto the page. Feelings don’t follow neat patterns. After you’ve written them down, when you’re in editing mode, that’s when you worry about making sure your sentences are grammatical enough to make sense. What matters most is that you’re definitely not going to be writing a series of “This is Spot. Spot is a dog. Spot likes playing catch. Catch is a fun game,” sentences. Short statements are good for punch here and there, but too many in a row become just as boring as meandering monsters with a million clauses.

Reading your work out loud is an excellent way to hear whether you’re repeating words or sentence structures. Also literally pulling your visual focus back far enough from the work to see the paragraphs as impressionistic shapes instead of a series of sentences can give you an immediate sense of whether you’re throwing down one same-size paragraph after another.

Formality/distance:
Word choice is a significant part of this, but it’s also about ideas and structure. You may imagine that speaking in a way that isn’t natural to you sounds intelligent or more organized than you innately are, and maybe you can manage to pull that off, but it’s like wearing a tuxedo on a first date. It’s distancing and your date can tell that you’re not letting them see your natural presentation. It’s a deliberate, obvious barrier. Readers can tell when you’ve removed yourself from the work and it’s alienating.

It’s no accident that academic writing feels impersonal. The distance allows facts to stand on their own merits without being shaded by the author’s opinions. So the natural counter to this deliberate removal of the author from the work is to put more of yourself in. Use quirky turns of phrase. Say things to the reader that presume a connection. Be revealing. Be provocative.

Be you.

And that brings us to,

Voice:
It takes courage to be a writer, and this is where you need it most because simply put, voice is you coming through in your writing. Your unique perspective, your idiosyncratic speech patterns, your own way of approaching and prioritizing and talking about your ideas. It can be scary to expose yourself this way, but this is where authentic writing comes from.

Mastering voice is simple but not necessarily easy. Just, be honest. Write what you actually feel, not what you imagine someone else wants to hear or what you think is the “right” way to say it. You are the only you, the only one bringing exactly your combination of experiences, education, vocabulary, attitudes, and humor to the written word. Show us the world through your eyes because no one else can do it. This is the opposite of Essay Speak, which aspires to ignorable sameness.

Write the way you would speak – but better, because in writing you have the ability to plan your words and only say the ones you mean to say – and do not do not do not try to be impressive. A reader can tell when you’re being honest, when you believe what you’re saying, when you’re confident and when you have conviction because you’re sincere. They can also tell when you’re full of crap and trying to wow with vocabulary and ideas and a style that are not your own.

Basically what I’m saying is that the best way to sound like a person and not an encyclopedia entry is to keep things light and fresh. People speak in unexpected and unpretty ways; essays follow neat patterns and try for one particular, unnatural voice. Once you’ve gotten your messy realness down onto the page, then you can clean it up to be whatever it needs to be.

And that, for whatever it’s worth, is my advice on how to sentence structure without sounding like an essay.

The Beginning: a Very Good Place to Start

I’ve had enough questions – or big enough questions, at least – that I’ve decided to give myself the space of more than one post to tackle them. (This might also be a move calculated to give me time to think about some of the more complicated or more philosophical ones. I’m not an expert, here. I’m just some goob who has been trying since first grade to write things other people might like to read.)

It seems only fitting that we begin with beginnings, and it’s also the question that prompted this series of posts.

What is the best way to start off a novel? The first page is always the hardest because you have to set everything up while still being interesting and unique. I’ve never really been very good at attention getters.

 

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