'Easy' Is For Other People by Seanan McGuire


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Post March 20, 2013, 06:45:15 PM

'Easy' Is For Other People by Seanan McGuire

Ah, another hard lesson . . . I'm still working on learning parts of this one. Or applying it, anyway.

I especially appreciate the section titled, "Nobody Notices Hard Work Until It Isn't There."

I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, but I have a friend who keeps reminding me of this, by way of contrast. He slaps stories together haphazardly and thinks they're wonderful. I met this guy in a writers' group, and we were there last night. After his reading, I challenged him on an item. He had written that one of his characters "desperately needed" a job promotion, and I asked him, Why? He just grinned and said, "It doesn't matter!" I told him it does matter, since he had called the reader's attention to it. I told him that if it didn't matter, he should not have made it sound so urgent. His response: "You think too much."

And he thinks that agents and editors are going to miss the plot holes and inconsistencies that I bring up in his work. I bring up a problem and he says, "Nobody's gonna see that." I tell him, "I saw it! And agents and editors are certainly going to see it!" He denies that, too.

I suppose he's right; no agent will see those things; his manuscript will go from slush-pile to round-file and never get as far as any of their desks. But he likes 'Easy.'

He really is a nice guy, and I like him. I try to help him become a better writer. I may have to quit, though; I can't help getting aggravated with him.

Not that I don't have my own problems, but I go to the effort to fix them. I just hope I find them all, and sometimes I don't. Just a few weeks ago, I caught a doozy; a plot hole so deep and wide it would have toasted about ninety percent of my whole story line. And I hadn't noticed it, for months. Truly frightening.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

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Post March 20, 2013, 09:32:54 PM

Re: 'Easy' Is For Other People by Seanan McGuire

Tell him to go into sitcom writing! :o

SF writers have lamented some of the quality differences between words and scripts for decades. For the few scripts that get "repaired" by a good director or even a hired co-writer, various SF authors have watched in horror as the script floats around getting poked at by too many separate players until the end result is the worst kind of compromise.

Verse's favorite TV Tropes site has bunches of good entries on stuff like this. "Fridge Logic", and so on.

P.S. Thanks Lester for doing the thread openers. Starting about last month, I tried the finesse of making *all* of my thread openers "blank", and then on the couple that I actually had comments for, to "reply to myself" so that people can see "# replies is not 0" means there's actually a comment there. So yes, by now this post of mine does that; it was just a finesse so that people can spot the couple of good comments you have separate from the shell threads.

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Post April 14, 2013, 02:14:09 PM

Re: 'Easy' Is For Other People by Seanan McGuire

This writer is so good. I am amazed at her insight.

Not everything you write is going to be easy, and not everything you write is going to be fun, and if you think "easy" and "fun" are your rights as a writer, please go find something else to do. Every book has a chapter you don't want to finish. Every story has a connective segment you just want to be done with already. It's going to happen. Acknowledge it now, and when it hits, you won't be so surprised. But you'll still be a little surprised. The painful parts of a project are like ninjas, and they sneak up on you.

This should be on a plaque in front of every author.

Read this - you don't want to miss this advice!

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Post April 16, 2013, 06:46:20 AM

Re: 'Easy' Is For Other People by Seanan McGuire

Post Count Adjuster because the thread opener was a comment.

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Post April 16, 2013, 08:32:09 AM

Re: 'Easy' Is For Other People by Seanan McGuire

Lester Curtis wrote:I especially appreciate the section titled, "Nobody Notices Hard Work Until It Isn't There."


THAT line suddenly became different! I'll let that drift in the air a minute...

Meanwhile, back at writing, the "hardness" of the work has affected me in different ways. Here comes some structure!
1. Getting going at all.
A. Non-Fiction
Once again I'll apologize for not commenting enough. Some of it is "taking things for granted", a dash of "gee I didn't notice this was 2013 and not the Good Ol' Days of _____ when it seemed to matter less", and a few other jellybeans.

Getting going for me comes in two levels
A1: I can typically blast off a short comment at at time with grand ease. But then it overloads my first tier ability to keep track, so after one little lightning-bug flash of inspiration goes away, then I get into bad problems of focus.
A2: Turbo-Thorough.
Then in that "close orbit" I decide that something suddenly became Topic of the Week again, and then crank out a slightly disturbing explosion of new material. Later on I then struggle to remember exactly how it all came about, and how to do some of the neat tricks used in the middle of the project to get there.

B: Fiction - always my weakest side by large factors.
B1: Flash
I used to be able to at least do a couple of these "almost in the time allowed". It's been quite a while since I really tore at a Flash Challenge. The main fiction of the last several months was more some set pieces over in Writer's Workshop. However the April challenge looks neat, so I have to strain to see what I can recover and learn to do again.
B2: Long Fiction
This gets a little fuzzier, because of the certain word limit divisions we use. It's been years since I attempted a coordinated long story. The above Workshop pieces, and a few things done elsewhere have appeared in the almost-near past, averaging I think some 3000ish words, but I haven't counted. However the last really long piece I have done I believe was about 2006, so time is passing! With the new call to arms in that category, I have to hope to "ride the near comet orbit" to see what new ground I can break.

Overall, to tackle difficult things of any capacity, when my abilities are operating at all, I am a heavy Revisionist. Shell Setups, Fragment-Drafts, Mockups, Placeholder partially done stuff, half-completed chores, and more. I rely on a certain brand of intuition that burns out rather easily, so it's easier for me to flash out a fragment, then "re-read the situation" to see what belongs in the next stage. When it works properly, it becomes nearly seamless over a few-day period indistinguishable from more "work from start to finish" style.

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