Stalled Again

If you’re trying to get through a maze and you come to a dead end, you go back and look for the first wrong turn you took, you don’t stand there pressing your body into a hedge trying to will the pathway to appear. –Martha Wells on Plot Stalls


Creative Thinking and Failure

I really liked the post Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking on Psychology Today, especially this part:

9.      There is no such thing as failure. Whenever you try to do something and do not succeed, you do not fail. You have learned something that does not work. Always ask “What have I learned about what doesn’t work?”, “Can this explain something that I didn’t set out to explain?”, and “What have I discovered that I didn’t set out to discover?” Whenever someone tells you that they have never made a  mistake, you are talking to someone who has never tried anything new.

And #10 You do not see things as they are; you see them as you are. This goes along with there is nothing original but no one else sees things as you do.

Finally, #13 (did they not notice there are 13 points in this article?):

And, finally, Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.

In her creative office, every writer should feel like she’s on a high wire twenty stories off the ground over a major highway with no net to catch her if she falls. She should worry that this book is beyond her skill level, that she might not know enough to write this one, that she might not be good enough to pull this off.

At the same time, she should be having fun—but an adrenalin-junkie kind of fun, an I-can’t-believe-I’m-up-here-trying-this kinda of fun.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on The Business Rusch

Every writer should feel like she’s on a high wire …

Read Like a Writer

From a guest post by Carmela Martino on Mary Kole’s Kidlit blog:

Writing Workout: Reading as a Writer

In preparation for “reading as a writer,” decide what aspect of writing you will study [when reading a book]. For example, you may choose to focus on characterization, dialogue, description, plot, setting, use of flashbacks, etc. When I started at VCFA, I knew one of the shortcomings in my own writing was a lack of specific detail. So, in my first two semesters, I read to study how authors incorporated details into their writing.

There’s more in the post, check it out.

Writerly Paths and Roller Coasters

English: Opening to Roller Coaster in Spreepark

Image via Wikipedia

Sara Zarr and Gayle Forman blog about difficult paths to publication, celebration and choosing not to be bitter. And Zoe Marriott blogs about the roller coaster of  writing.

5 Days of 5 Years of Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr

Turning Points, Gayle Forman on Distraction No. 99 (how great a blog name is that?!) of Nova Rem Suma

A Question of Rollercoasters, Zoe Marriott on the Zoe-Trope (no I can’t get the umlaut over the e in Zoe. Just imagine it’s there). Sometimes there’s amazing comfort to read about other people going through the same kinds of experiences.

Tropes and Cliches

A plastic yellow bucket.

Image via Wikipedia

Yeah, yeah, happy new year, I’ve been gone a long time, did NaNo, hope 2012 is better than 2011, blah blah blah…

And now for links to two great blog posts on tropes and cliches and avoiding them; making your characters sweat buckets of blood, and sweating those buckets of blood yourself to twist and turn to avoid the trope traps.

Trope Avoidance: How to Stop Writing What Everyone Else is Writing by Kameron Hurley

CLICHE KILLER PART TWO: The Revengening, by Zoe Marriott

Reading Links

It’s crazy times at work, so I haven’t had much energy to write or blog, but here’s a roundup of the many things I’ve read in the last two weeks or so:

The Yes Gay YA discussion still raging across the internet:
The original post: Say Yes To Gay YA
The baffling response: On Being Used, the Lack of LGBTQ Characters in YA, and Why It’s Important to Work Together
The roundup: What’s going on with #yesGayYA
Some responses worth reading:
Marie Brennan: Swan Tower – Followup on “Say Yes to Gay YA”
Steve Dos Santos: Ixnay on the Gay: The Gay YA Controversy: A View from the Trenches!
Scott Tracey: YesGayYA
Malinda Lo: I have numbers! Stats on LGBT Young Adult Books Published in the U.S.

In the movies and TV:
‘Thelma & Louise’: The Last Great Film About Women on The Atlantic. It’s true. There’s lots to choose from for male buddy movies, but movies that look at women’s friendships? Not so much.

John Scalzi explains why Ellen Ripley Is Clearly the Best Female Character in Scifi Film, and That’s a Problem on Film Critic

How To Discover Classic Doctor Who In 3 Easy Steps on io9 (The real doctor is always the one you watched first)


Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did by Hamden Rice on Daily Kos. I’ve mentioned a lot of links in this post, but if you read just one, read this one. Mind rattling if you’re from a privileged group in any way… He makes the connection between racism and living in a terrorist State.


Writing Muscles by Shannon Donnelly on BVC blog. Exercises to train yourself to write more. I particularly like the directive Plan Your Training. This is something I don’t do. This is something I should do.

Malinda Lo on Authenticity. What does “authentic” mean, anyway?

Kate Elliott continues the discussion with her post Authenticity and Authority

She also tackles beginnings: Empty Space: Some thoughts on openings in novels

New York Times The Children’s Authors Who Broke the Rules

YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominations

I haven’t had a chance to watch this video yet, Comforting Words on the Creative Process from Ira Glass


The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills

Pictures of dinosaur feathers!

My new favorite blog TalkToYoUniverse by Juliette Wade (Where I talk to you about linguistics and anthropology, science fiction and fantasy, point of view, grammar geekiness, and all of the fascinating permutations thereof…) prompted by this post Why Nouns Matter, part 1: Proper Names

And here’s the comment I couldn’t get to post

Yes! And it’s so fun to break down character names within a story to subtly show cultural, ethical, religious, racial differences by using different “families” of names. A not subtle example is George Chester Wallace III and Agamemnon – already you’re clued in to two wildly divergent histories. When you’re writing speculative fiction you can make up the names whole cloth to get a similar effect.