Bait and Switch

In real life if someone were to pull a bait and switch on you, it would be bad. They plan on presenting one thing to you, make you pay for it, and then deliver something different. It’s actually quite frustrating to be on the receiving end because it’s hard to explain on the spot. It kind of takes the words out of your mouth because it’s dishonest, but it’s not straight forward enough to call out.

It’s also pretty frustrating when writers do it. Not that they sell something and deliver something else. This is more about presenting information and then contradicting it soon after. It’s rarely intentional, but it’s very jarring for the reader.

It’s usually done in descriptions. The conventional wisdom on describing things in writing is “show don’t tell”. Which is good advice on it’s own but it gets mixed in with weird magical number rules. Like “only one adjective per sentence” and “always pick 2 senses and never sight.” There’s a lot of absolute advice out there that is catered to the individual giving the advice, not to the recipient. So it ends up creating bait and switch in writing.

Here’s an example:

The soldier walked into the room. His best friend Stephen gathered around him, weapons in hand. Their shimmering glow lit up the room, almost like magic. The table in front of them drew out the battle lines. One assault from the first set of riders, then an assault from another.

Riding wolves is hard. The men on the battle field knew that their steeds were not as well trained. And the sound from the plasma rifles easily startled these beasts. But their ferocity more than made up for their skittish nature.

So what happened in this scene? We were presented with an unknown setting, slowly fed details, and led onto what our imagination painted the setting to be. We get all the way into a fantasy world before the first detail completely erases the perception. Riding wolves? Plasma rifles? This is a really jarring reading experience.

Now the example above is really just made up on the spot, but many writers of varying sets of skill do this by accident. As a writer the world is clear in their head, but as a reader we are painting it, and trying as best we can to match what is in the story. The varying differences are what make written word so great, but losing the reader completely is bad.

The takeaway I’d like people to have from this is to suit your own skill, and not blindly take advice, especially with magic numbers assigned. Do what works for YOUR writing. Do what YOUR readers need. And please, bring consistency to your work so that people are not jarred away. It may not always make somebody put the book down, but it leaves a sense of unease through the rest of the page.




Concordance Character Bible for Google Docs

concordance_smThe first question that I ask any writer that I come across these days is simple: “What tools do you use to write?”.

There are such a wide variety of authoring tools out there that it seems every writer has their own set of tools. Where microsoft word may be popular for many to write the story, they each have a different process for brain storming and creating story webs. There even seems to be as many brands of writing software as there are ways to write! Some have amazing professional tools, some are great at publishing but not writing, some are great at brainstorming but not publishing.

So what about writers who are on a tight budget or simply would rather use Google Docs?

For me, Google Docs is a must have. What I need more than anything out of a writing tool is collaboration, web editing, and revision histories. I can hobble together story timelines and character narrative charts easier than I can handle passing around save files from computer to computer. I just always wished that Google Docs had more tools to make the job easier.

Enter Concordance Character Bible! This is the first app in (more…)

You Are Your Own Main Character

The prevailing culture driven by, I think, social media is one of not being proactive. If we care about something, we give it a thumbs up online. We pay lip service to our friends. We talk about how fun it would be to at on things with nothing more than hope that they will get done.

This is a sad existence. We’re not satisfied with that kind of interaction. We’re humans. We’re natural story tellers. We crave explanation, detail, and meaning. We never act without a story to tell after, even if told only to our own minds.

We can be part of a different culture instead, one that operates around and above us. That culture consists of people who live their own stories. People who have decided to be main characters in their own story.

The tendency in the inactive culture is to allow things to happen around us. To be reactive people. It’s a thought that our life only changes when things change around us. We need to be (more…)

#Writing on Twitch!

I’ve recently discovered the writing community on twitch. They are a bunch of inspirational yet silly people. Everyone there is trying to push authors along to get their works done, and that’s super cool!

Timeless the RPG has joined in as well. Every Saturday and Sunday morning starting at 7:00am EST tune into twitch for the latest in Timeless development. You get to be a part of the writing!

While you’re there, check out many of the other talented authors:
Danika Brown
Judy Dawn
Thia Crish


Writing Blogs and Craft

It hasn’t been for very long in the grand scheme of things, but one of my hobbies is to read through insightful writing blogs. It’s a lot like following a tech blog, really. It’s my opportunity to find out about trends and to see the new things in the writing world… but I’m not so sure it’s all a good idea

In a nutshell, the blogs themselves are focused on fine tuning elements of writing to appeal to the right audience. That sounds great, but it’s a lot like codifying a skill. Skills are just raw talent applied to experience. Translating a skill into knowledge by writing instructions on it is strange, though. It’s very easy to write instructions but you tend to focus on those instructions yourself, which throws off the balance of skill.

Think of a great baseball swing. The way you hold the bat is a large part of having a great swing, but a heavy hitter who writes a 12 step instruction on holding the bat can lose the actual element of skill that made him a heavy hitter. The next time he swings he may try to prove that the 12 steps are so important and simply abandon the rest of what makes up his skill.

To put this much shorter and more familiar, there’s a reason we say that those who can’t do, teach. (more…)

Mundane Magic – Progress

Art is not my forte. It’s not even my fifth-te or my sixth-te. But I’m slowly learning tips and tricks and getting pretty happy with the results. So I thought I’d share another batch of images as things go along. As stated in the last post, these pictures are released in the public domain and constructive criticism is welcome.

twohandedsword battleaxe leatherarmor

maingauche spear throwingknives