Welcome to Space!

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Today officially kicked off a new phase in development of The Next Big Thing I’m working on along with Nick Hurwitch.

That’s right, it’s a new book, titled, Set Phasers to Stunning: The Space Hero’s Guide to Space The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory: How to Get Off Your Podunk Planet and Master the Final Frontier. A spiritual successor to So You Created a Wormhole, we’re looking to do with space travel what we did with time travel — explain it, make fun of it, reference a lot of science fiction that we love, and make fun of that, too.

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5 Social Media Dont’s for Writers

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Hey, you’re a writer now. You know what that means? It means that a big part of your job every day is social media-ing, in hopes that anyone anywhere might actually read your goddamn book, story, article or whatever. If you do your job right, you might get some traction. Most likely, no one will read it, but you might get a few “likes.”

That’s okay, I’ve decided. Having hammered away at social media for more than a year now in a more or less official capacity on behalf of So You Created a Wormhole, I feel like Nick and I have carved out an incredibly modest divot into which we fit neatly. I’ve also realized that the vast majority of this s–t is in no way worth the time, money or effort.

I can’t speak from anything but my own experience when it comes to any of this stuff. And I can’t say that I’ve been hugely successful. But I do know what things not to do when other writers on various social networking platforms do them, and if they bother me — a writer who seeks out and pays attention to other writers — I’m almost positive they bother other people too. So here’s the best I can do in terms of social networking advice: a list of s–t to avoid (mostly because I dislike it).

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Writing Kids: Try NOT Making Them Into Horrific Hellspawn

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I’m continually flabbergasted by the way writers portray children, particularly on TV and in movies, particularly if they are teenagers, particularly particularly if they are teenage girls. It’s like these people have no idea what it was like to be a tinier, dumber version of themselves and so just opt for “most annoying creature I can devise” as a strategy for writing young people.

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All About Balance: What I’ve Learned About Game Reviews

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Video game reviews are a big part of my job as a writer at GameFront.com, and undoubtedly they’re a part of just about every writer’s workload in this industry. They’re usually the easiest content to produce and also some of the more heavily read pieces — it’s a straight opinion, and contentious opinions about games often generate lots of reads and the occasional controversy.

I’ve done my fair share of reviews by this time in my career. Something I’ve been seeing more and more lately, which is an interesting development, is the response reviews have been garnering among the readership at Game Front. To be honest, I’m not used to many people reading my work, in large part, and as we gain more readership, I’m spending more time reading responses from others and their comments, and engaging in conversations with them.

The biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from this is that readers seem very appreciative of balance in reviews. It’s almost counter-intuitive, in a way; the best responses I’ve gotten so far have not been from people responding to a particularly funny or “harsh” review, as one might expect. They’re instead from the reviews on controversial but popular titles, in which my striving to take a balanced approach to the experience has come to the forefront.

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Brand-Building Sucks — Just Talk to People

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Friend and colleague Phil R. Owen sold a column to gaming site Kotaku earlier this week, and was I was talking to him about the project, he said that advice I had given him had helped in the sale. Namely, that advice was that he should write articles and sell them, rather than rely on pitches of abstract ideas. I’m taking that as an endorsement of the list of tips I posted a while back, which you can find here.

Meanwhile, Phil’s story seems to have really touched a nerve, because the Kotaku story (here) got a fair amount of attention and a lot of positive response from readers.

Phil called me to tell me how excited he was about the story’s success, as he’s lately been trying the route of straight freelance rather than working for a specific games outlet. Getting published on Kotaku, especially with the article he sold (it discusses issues of mental health, namely depression), is a big win in that regard, and he seems to be getting his feet under him, which is great.

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Forcing the Ending: Finishing a Screenplay a Year Later

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A while back, I participated in Script Frenzy, a writing project/contest that encourages writers to finish a 100-page screenplay within a single month.

I hit the goal, and actually exceeded it, but the project was actually not “completed” when I completed the contest. I finished the contest, but I never wrapped up the story of the script. And then So You Created a Wormhole happened, with everything that entailed, and I had to leave the screenplay in a metaphorical drawer somewhere while other things took precedence.

Almost a year later, I’ve finally come back to the untitled project. It remains without a conclusion, although most of the pieces are there. I just need to figure out how to wrap it up in a satisfactory way.

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Writerly Advice: You Need an Editor

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I’ve started reading a self-published book that, at some point, I snagged in e-book form from Amazon. I can’t remember where it came from or what drew me to it, and discovering it on my list of Kindle books was the reason I started to read it to begin with; it was like locating a treasure map I didn’t know was in my possession, and I’m wondering where it might lead.

Though I’m not too far into the book, I am intrigued so far. The author seems informed and proficient in the important technicalities of what’s going on in the plot (concerning computers and astronomy), and the slow burn of the work as it progresses is pulling me along quite well.

But I’m given pause pretty often as I read it, because the book really desperately could use an editor.

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Preparation is Key: 5 Things to Do Before Writing

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It’s always tempting — you come up with a good idea. A cool character. An awesome death scene. A villain who’s not only creepy, but a bad-ass mf’er who also happens to be completely empathetic from his point of view. And you want to just start writing, before you lose that inspiration.

Here’s the thing about that: that high is fleeting. That “inspiration” isn’t actually doing you any favors. Sure, you might get a lightning strike, sit down and hammer out something great.

But then what?

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Revisiting old stuff to see if it sucks

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I started working on my Script Frenzy script again last week, which I completed as part of the month-long script-writing event in (holy crap) 2010. It was already way too long — the Script Frenzy goal is 100 pages and I was at 117 — and I added to it significantly yesterday. (I posted on it some time ago, which also includes the first 10 pages.)

It’s good to be back in old projects again.

In fact, I’m finding there’s a lot of benefit to checking out old stuff lately. It’s an exercise in seeing where you’ve been and how you got to where you are, which is enormously beneficial. And then there’s the fact that it’s easier to see how to improve your work when you see the crappy parts of old stuff that you made when you were less good. And you’re always less good in the past than you are now.

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