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    My name is Joseph Hall, and I'm a SFF writer from West Virginia.

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  1. Agree wholeheartedly with Kara and Richard on this video. This video offers some good beginner advice (such as don't revise during your first draft, write every day, and speak dialogue aloud while writing it), but in the end it's the same shallow piece of content we've seen a million times before on this board. The above said...there's some dangerous advice here as well. Writing to a single, real person is INSANE and I will die on that hill. Writing is so incredibly subjective. You can't measure the worth of your writing based on one person's taste or opinion...especially when it's not your own. I understand the sentiment behind the advice, which is to form a generalized idea of your target audience in the shape of a single person. But any writing trying to write professionally needs to understand that even members of your target audience will not universally love your work. It's just not possible and it's foolish to approach writing with that mindset.
  2. I think that, while these tips are generally interesting with some thought-out logic behind them, they're lukewarm. Despite what the narrator (and apparently Hemingway himself) believes, these tips alone aren't going to turn bad writing into good writing. To me, this video radiates an inflated sense of importance and isn't nearly as crucial as the tone might suggest. Is this to say the opposite of these tips are true? Not necessarily, but the vast majority of the ideas described in this video are highly subjective beliefs about what makes good writing. It's short and sweet, so there's little harm in watching it...just try to maintain some perspective. Best not to get drunk on Hemingway's reputation and take his word as gospel.
  3. Elise and Hara have it right, so I really don't have much to add. This seems like an admittedly fun plotting exercise, but I find it really unnecessary to plot a serious project like this. The video seems to be made up on the spot and the presenter is just improvising the point of the exercise as they go along. With a little more planning and structure I could see this exercise being an excellent example of how to write out an outline live. If anything, doing something like this would be good for stretching those plotting muscles in your brain but nothing more. I would advise nobody take this video seriously as the be all, end all of outlining techniques. Also yes. ENTIRELY too long. But this has less to do with the concept itself and more to do with the presenter not really planning anything from the start. The whole video just has the meandering vibe that rubs me the wrong way.
  4. Overall, this is a great, comprehensive video for new writers just starting out. Heck, it's also good for writers who just finished their first manuscript and have no clue what to do next. Something I very much appreciate about this video is the tempering of expectations, and the emphasis on curating writing advice by its source. Too often I see new writers falling down rabbit holes of terrible advice from friends, family, or writing groups who don't quite know what they're talking about. For new writers, one of the best ways to learn is to know WHO and WHERE to learn from. I once joined a writing group where I mentioned how one of the writers had no tangible conflict in their story. The writing group leader then began to berate me about how stories don't need conflict...needless to say, I never went back. But everyone else in that group drank the "wisdom" up.
  5. Agreed Michael. Even as a big fan of Gaiman, this sounded like a whole lot of feel-good inspiration and nothing more. Being "honest" with yourself is generally good advice for life and finding your way through the world, but nothing he said explains how to be a better writer. If "honesty" was all Gaiman needed to push him into publication, then he was already a terrific writer who knew how to craft a story. It wasn't a missing fundamental.
  6. I will do my best to be unbiased here because, full disclosure, Brandon Sanderson is my all-time favorite writer. In the context of NaNoWriMo, I find this video to be a useful kickstarter for new writers looking to figure out how they're going to start page one. I especially like the idea of "types of progress" whether it be through information, physical movement, etc. While I do think Sanderson's "Promise, Progress toward that promise, and Payoff" structure is quite a bit oversimplified (the video is short so I'll cut him slack), it's definitely a good primer for writers looking to start their very first outline and to me is a clearer version of the classic "3 Act" structure. However, I do believe writers going for the long haul (not writing for NaNoWriMo) should choose a more detailed style of outline. The big thing I disagree with here is the advice about writing a monologue or a novel in journal entries. I guess the argument could be made that if the writer isn't writing with the intent to get traditionally published it's okay, but that disclaimer wasn't mentioned by Sanderson. Writing a random monologue to kickstart your story might be fun and a good way to get words on page...but outlining is more productive (hence why Sanderson spent more time on outlining). Lastly, I'm so glad he mentioned the concept of the "outside observer" in main characters. It's such a problem with new writers to have a main character who isn't as interesting or as active as the "side characters."
  7. Overall, I appreciate the sentiment. Once again, this video seems to be aimed at first-time novelists who more than likely feel lost or don't know what they're doing. It can be a great source of inspiration/direction for them going forward. I particularly like his advice about writing non-linearly or keeping a document to mark changes in future drafts. Good ideas that work for many people. That said, I do think there are nuggets of dangerous advice here that an impressionable writer may take the wrong way. First, I don't agree with him that you can't control your own characters. If you can't control them, then you don't have a strong enough grasp on your story to hold it together. It's more a failure on our outlining/planning phase than the characters "taking over." As fantastical and fun as it is to think our beloved characters are real...they aren't. A serious writer shouldn't give in to that mindset. I also don't agree that all writing-related activities are "writing." No, going down a rabbit hole of research about the invention of ice cream flavors to be educated for your ice cream parlor setting is not productive writing time. There is very easily such a thing as too much brainstorming/researching. It's hesitation manifesting itself through action. Writers need to know not to be married to their first drafts and just get the words on the page.
  8. I'll respond to this video with the same amount of substance it gives to its viewers. This isn't advice. This is the same boilerplate "don't give up. WRITE." advice you read/watch literally everywhere. Except she's annoyingly cynical about it. No insight. No useful information. It's a big nothing burger of a video that tries to spin an elitist, do-or-die angle that isn't productive or helpful. I made it to about 7 minutes. Who knows...maybe there was a golden nugget of wisdom at the end. Spoiler alert: there isn't. I guess she is right about one thing though: I didn't care about her or anything she had to say.
  9. I agree with KaraBosshardt here. This person knocked it out of the park with how the process realistically works, especially for new writers. She tempers expectations, she warns of the common "new writer" pitfalls such as editing while you draft/learning to handle doubt, and she very clearly understands plotters/pantsers and the merits of both planning styles. THIS is the video I think I'll be showing to new writers from here on out. While the process isn't nearly as "simple" as she makes it out to be (and I think she would be the first person to say there's nothing simple about writing a book), what she does is make the concept of writing a book extremely approachable. That is what's going to get new writers to finally break open a word doc and write their very first page. After all, the hardest part about "becoming" a writer is gathering the courage/discipline to write. I'm curious to see what other knowledgeable or even dangerous "author vloggers" have risen from the pandemic. One key thing to remember is that there is TONS of terrible, no good advice out there for unsuspecting authors trying to learn the craft. Thankfully, she is one of the good ones.
  10. I do think he confused boilerplate rejection with praise, but I don't blame him for including it in his speech. His title is also a bit misleading, yet I appreciate the sentiment. This lecture is less about how to write award-winning novels and more about how to motivate/encourage yourself to do it. This is very much the kind of Ted Talk I would have watched as a fledgling writer just starting out. To the speaker's credit, I think that was his target audience. While the speaker does promote some pretty bad writing habits to form (such as over-editing on the first draft and sending in submission materials to agents before the manuscript is finished and edited), I think the lecture succeeds in what it's trying to do, which is encourage people on the fence about diving into novel writing. Now, would I show a budding writer this video? I don't think I would. While I agree with most of what he says, the habits he talks about/doesn't refute rub me the wrong way. The last thing I would want to do to a new writer is suggest it's healthy to spend an entire week nailing down a first line on the first draft. It's bad practice. Still, there's a lot of encouraging advice to gleam from this. New writers, take everything this guy says with a grain of salt, but listen to what he says about encouraging yourself and learning to roll with the punches. On those notes, he has it right.
  11. Name: Joseph Hall Novel Title: ARKFALL (90,000 words) Genre: Adult Sci-fi Comparables: The celebrity main character of EMPRESS OF FOREVER hurled into the indifferent cyberpunk world of ALTERED CARBON. Hook: A cybernetic supermodel infiltrates the corporate underworld to exact revenge on the CEO who murdered his childhood family. Pitch: In a distant future where Earth was rendered uninhabitable, mankind now lives in helio-centric megastructures that orbit around the sun. Living on Solar Ark Terra, Vino Belissi is the solar system’s hottest cybernetic supermodel. He’s got wealth, connections, status, and his name alone is associated with high fashion. But Vino isn’t in the modelling industry for the prestige or the money. He’s in it for revenge. When Vino was a child living in the Heat Pit slums, the corporate underworld killed his entire family, and now Vino lives a double life. By day, he’s cavorting with CEOs and executives at parties and media events, and by night, he’s honing his deadly talents with his rare psyonic abilities through use of the superdrug, “Psych.” Vino’s master plan is simple: infiltrate the corporate underworld, prove his worth with his powerful psyonic abilities, work his way into CEO Ricci Alito’s inner circle, and then destroy the entire organization from this inside out. Starting with the head. But as Vino dives deeper, the plan changes. He falls in love with an enemy who teaches him there’s more to life than revenge and hate, his plan is discovered and he goes on the run, and he also becomes trapped in the middle of a system-wide conspiracy that threatens the stability of every Solar Ark around the sun. To survive, Vino must now fight for not only himself, but for everyone he's come to love in his fabricated life. 500 Word Sample: Chapter 1 Celebrities have an incredible advantage when they’re trying to kill someone: if the victim survives, no one will ever believe them. Vino Belissi knew these words to be true better than anyone, and he intended to prove it. The drug dealers of Solar Ark Terra occupied every social class within their home inside the gigantic starship orbiting Earth’s irradiated husk, but most were forced to a life of squalor in the Heat Pits where the enforcer drones didn’t even bother patrolling anymore. A place everyone liked to pretend didn’t exist, and where the goodness in mankind went to die. However, Vino didn’t travel to this end of the ark to chase nobodies. No, he had come for a man named Ryan Holmes, an ambitious Psych supplier from Solar Ark Deimos, and a perfect opportunity. Rumors around the darker fringes of the SolNet claimed Ryan had just built a new production house in the heart of the Pits, so Vino thought he might drop in and take everything from the bastard. His business, his contacts, his future, and most importantly his Psych. Vino was going to need as much of that juice as he could get his hands on for what he was planning to do later in the evening, and didn’t plan on paying a single Arkbyte in exchange. Monsters like Ryan didn’t deserve success. Not when they destroyed lives and tore apart families for the sake of profit. No, he needed to pay, and no one else was going to make him answer for his crimes. Vino walked alone down a grated pathway between homes and shopfronts built from rusted steel with hard edges. Soda cans littered the street, and plastic wrappers and paper trash clung to the ground and walls, damp from the moisture in the air mixed with the heat of the Solar Ark’s exhaust vents which blasted borderline toxic air hundreds of feet above. The high temperature and pollution rendered the Pits almost unlivable, and Vino sometimes couldn’t believe he used to live in this place, and as a child no less. But that was a long time ago, and now Vino was a different person in every sense of the word. He stopped in front of “Paolo’s Pawn and Repairs,” a little hole-in-the-wall with a burnt-out neon sign. The place had been around since Vino was a kid, and he vaguely remembered how jealous he always was of the owner’s cybernetic arm. Now, Vino’s cybernetic right hand alone was probably worth more than the shop’s property value twice over. Incredible what a span of twenty years could change. A little bell chime rang when he walked inside, and all eyes turned toward him. One look was enough to figure out Vino didn’t belong in this neighborhood. At least, not anymore. In the Heat Pits, people wore thin worker’s jumpsuits, second-hand thrift clothes, or rags and shorts. Vino—on the other hand—strolled in wearing designer sunglasses, a white, flat-brimmed hat to conceal his newly-dyed black hair, and a maroon leather coat that shined with a fresh layer of oil, golden buckles, and chrome zippers. A designer coat like his wasn’t merely a fashion choice. Wearing something so unique told everyone Vino was from a different place, and that he wasn’t afraid of anyone trying to rob him. It also meant he was wearing synthetic skin since no one in their right mind would wear leather in the Heat Pits. And every pit dweller knew not to fuck with someone wearing synthetic skin. Cyborgs didn’t need voltblades to kill people, and ones as advanced as Vino wouldn’t even have to catch their breath afterward. Looking into these people’s eyes and gauging their reactions was surreal. At what point had Vino transformed into the sort of man he used to hate? If they only knew the truth. Deep down, he would always be one of them.
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