Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Adverbs, for instance. Nearly every single "how to write" book out there tells you to chop adverbs from your writing as though they were cancerous growths. That doesn't stop Lawhead or Neil Gaiman from using them happily, excitedly, thickly.
Also, apparently Brits don't have to spell things correctly. They can have a character analyse a full-colour catalogue that features a centre-spread advertisement about the theatre, and their editors won't even blink an eye.
British people sound cool.
The BBC produces awesome television.
Oh!--I hear the teapot singing. I best be off. Till next time, chap!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
While I wait for her response, I was contemplating what I should work on. I could just plunge ahead and write the rest of the book, but if she suggests any major changes to the characters or plot, I'd rather implement those now instead of have to change everything later.
I was contemplating, and then the thing happened that every writer lives for: A NEW BOOK IDEA!
These can come out of nowhere. They usually hit like a pummel stone brick between the eyes. BAM! You can't stop thinking about it. It consumes you. My wife and I spent at least an hour talking about the story, fleshing out the characters and the plot. I can't get it out of my head.
I must write it.
These are some images, whether I actually saw them or whether they were in my head, that helped spark and form this new book idea:
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
When creating a character in a novel, authors will often give the character a hard time to make him or her more likeable to the reader. We sympathize with somebody getting a flat tire, dropping their wallet into the sewer, or having their refrigerator die and all of their food go bad.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Everyone is aware of content ratings for movies. We know what PG means, PG-13, R and so forth. We accept this when it comes to movies. Can you imagine what it would be like without this rating system?
So we come to books. Why isn't there a content rating system for books? Should there be?
Here's my thoughts on both of those questions.
It would be very sticky business to give a book a specific rating, such as PG-13, because of the simple fact that so much of a novel's content depends on the reader's imagination. Also, there is a substantial group of people who seem to think that kids should be encouraged to read anything they like in order to broaden their horizons. These people and others would certainly cry foul if the latest popular young adult novel earned a PG-13 rating claiming it questionable for children under the age of thirteen.
Should there be a rating system? I don't think we could or even should implement a strict system to books. There is simply too many gray areas in literature to say that certain descriptions of violence or sensuality are of a level too extreme for a certain age. A writer could mention a women's a low cut blouse and for Reader #1 that doesn't show a thing, but for Reader #2, the book just became a Zack Snyder movie.
Instead, I think it would be appropriate for books to have a brief content description. Perhaps this could be on the inside of the cover somewhere--just a few lines that mention the potentially offensive material in the book. Maybe the book has "Some Language" or perhaps it contains "Strong Language" or maybe it is written by a certain Mr. King and contains "Lots And Lots And Lots Of Not Very Nice Words".
I, for one, would be in favor a simple system like this. I also think parents would appreciate being able to flip open a cover and see that the book their eight-year-old wants to read contains Violence, Language, Sexual Content, And Pervasive Boogers Throughout.
What do you think?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I’m writing a book told from the first-person viewpoint of a woman.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Dear Big Name New York Publisher,
Thank you for you recent offer to publish my book, The Novel. After careful consideration, I'm going to have to pass.
Your offered advance of one million dollars, while certainly generous, is a clear example of your inability to discern quality fiction. While I agree that The Novel does have certain merits, it is in no way worthy of such a large sum.
I am quite frankly disturbed that you would go so far as to call The Novel “The best thing to come across my desk in years.” If this is truly the case, I would wonder if you have been checking your mail, and if you even have a desk at all.
Furthermore, you go on in your five-page letter to express your excitement over the wide appeal of The Novel. I can see how you would think that women and men could enjoy the book equally, but teenagers and children as well? Did you even read the manuscript?
I was shocked to read the line, “We think you as a writer have the potential to be the next great American novelist.” It becomes more and more clear that you did not take the time to clearly examine The Novel or myself.
Lastly, and most offensively, you had the audacity to send a copy of The Novel to Stephen King, who—you claim—gave it this endorsement: “Never before have I been so taken by a book as I was by The Novel. Mark my words, this will be the classic of our times, perhaps the greatest book written this century, or ever. I am in awe.” Obviously you paid Mr. King a great deal of money to compose such lies.
Your offer to publish The Novel is rejected in light of clear disregard for quality fiction, your pie-in-sky predictions about the book and about me, and your juvenile use of subterfuge to influence the reading public.
I wish you the best as a publisher, and might suggest that you take more time in the future to properly consider submissions that come your way.
Wanna Be Published
Monday, June 28, 2010
Recently I had the privilege to sit down with the future Travis Thrasher and ask him some questions about his career. He talked about life as a bestselling author, addressed some rumors, and hinted at what’s to come.
JAW: Mr. Thrasher, it’s great to see you. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down and chat with me.
TT: No problem, James. I still remember the days when I did book tours and nobody showed up at the bookstores. It’s nice to drive cross country and hit twenty stores and meet all my fans.
JAW: You certainly have quite the following these days. I think it’s safe to say that your career really took off when the second book in your Solitary Tales series hit the New York Times Bestseller list. The movie based on the first book in the series is in production now, and book four, which doesn’t release for another three months, is already climbing the bestseller charts. Tell us about the inspiration for this series, and your reaction to the overwhelming response.
TT: That's wild how a book unreleased can climb the bestseller charts, but so much has changed in the world since the Great Oil Leak and man stepping foot on Mars. Yes, things all seemed to come together with The Solitary Tales. It seems I've killed off so many main characters that one has to wonder if Chris himself might be dead. Or undead. The irony is that this bestselling series was the result of a booksigning that I was supposed to take part of, but when I arrived at the bookstore another author happened to be signing (true story). So I went next door to a Mexican restaurant and sat outside in the sun wondering why some things in publishing had to be so difficult. As I ate chips and salsa, the idea for The Solitary Tales came to me. I wrote it in my trusty journal, never realizing what would happen.
JAW: Ah yes, your trusty journal. We'll come back to that in a moment. I hope you bought a jar of that salsa to eat whenever you need inspiration. Now, let's set this controversy to rest: Is Chris dead?
TT: Definitely not dead. But everything changed in book three (as it did in books one and two). So we'll see. And as everybody knows, I have no problem killing off my lead character. Or those around him.
JAW: I still remember how shocked I felt when you killed off Chris's pet ferret at the end of book three. Unbelievable. In regards to the movie, we know that J.J. Abrams is directing, but information on the cast still seems to be under wraps. Any names you can tell us?
TT: I'm sorry to say there will be a high body count for the animals in book four. But of course that was inevitable.
The leads are still being kept under wraps, but the Irishman is going to be played by Nick Nolte. Aunt Helen by Helena Bonham Carter. That's all I can tell you without getting in trouble.
JAW: One of your earlier books, The Second Thief, came out as a movie last year. Were you happy with how Christopher Nolan brought your story to the big screen?
TT: I loved how Nolan took a short story, in a sense, and made it into something completely different. Same story but much deeper. Loved how it served as a nice bookend to Inception. Of course, between the two is that little Batman blockbuster . . .
JAW: Earlier you mentioned your trusty journal. A while back, there was a lot of press about this. As I understand it, your journal with all of your story ideas went missing. It later showed up on Ebay and was going for a hefty price tag, but something happened to the person who was selling it. The press said that Dennis Scott simply went missing and that the police retrieved your journal for you. Other sources have come out and said that there was foul play involved. It's been said that you had something to do with Mr. Scott's disappearance. Can you tell us what really happened?
TT: I guess the only thing I can say about that is this: was there ever really a Dennis Scott in the first place? I stay out of the marketing and promo stuff these days, but it sounds like a pretty good publicity stunt that an author would pull. But you know me—I got off Facebook and Twitter back in 2011. I'd never do anything like that.
JAW: You are hugely successful with a massive following. How is writing different for you now that you are so popular?
TT: Success is a funny thing. I remember when I was stressed out about how many "fans" I had on Facebook. Now I don't even pay attention to any of that. Back in those days, I wondered how long I could keep it up—writing full-time and supporting a family. So not having to worry about that is such a blessing. But there are downsides, of course. I can tell some stories but all I'll say is this: you have to be careful who you trust.
JAW: Before I let you go, take a moment and peek into the future. Where do you want to be in five years? Is there a story you've been dying to tell that you haven't been able to yet? What does the future hold for Travis Thrasher?
TT: I remember that around 2010, I made a pretty big transition in my writing. Most people probably didn't even notice, but it was a big picture thing for me. For the first ten years after I was published, I spent a lot of time experimenting with voice and style and technique. Not just to do this but as a way of figuring out what worked and what didn't work for me. So much of what I wrote was biographical in nature, and featured characters who seemed to avoid going on their mythical journeys.
The books I'm doing now (my W&L series, The Solitary Tales, even the stories under my pseudonym) are more about heroes taking journeys. I'm working more on the STORY than on style. Of course, I still can't help myself at times, but that's where I'm at now.
I've been tinkering around with my Bull Road, which I call my Prince of Tides. One day I hope that will be released. There's also a book about the other side of my family down south, my father's father who served in World War 2. I see those as sweeping, literary novels, dense and hopefully beautiful. By then I'll have gotten all these other stories off my chest.
But by then, who knows what other ideas will come to mind.
JAW: We can’t wait to read them all. Thank you again for your time, and best of luck.
Special thanks to the current Travis Thrasher for setting up this interview with his future self.