Too Soon Tragedy

Hi Jim,

I wanted to ask you about writing about tragic events. Example, let’s say you’re writing a story that’s taking place in the modern day and then something happens, does that alter your writing?
Let me give you an example… Part of one of my stories is set in Berkeley California. There was a major riot out here and part of the area that I was writing about was damaged as a result. Do you think I should ignore it or address it in the story? I’m concerned that when people read it, they’ll be a little upset because its still a fresh wound.

Thanks,
Melinda.


Hi Melinda,

Good question and you happen to be in luck. I had a very similar situation happen to me. I was at work and it was a slow day (Marathon Monday in Boston). I opened MS word and was typing up a couple of scenes for Magnifica, which takes place in Boston. An hour or so into it, I received a ping on my phone from a friend that was downtown to turn on the news.

Yeah… the Boston bombing happened literally right where one of my scenes was taking place. I had to think about how I wanted to handle this. I know that some people may think that I was cashing in on a tragedy (the same criticism was levied against Mark Wahlberg for his movie about it).

In the end, I just didn’t see it as realistically feasible for the scene to continue to take place in that location given the police presence and repairs that would be needed over the next few months, so I moved it from Boylston Street to Newbury Street. If you know Boston, this would make sense.

Honestly, I’d say that if its realistically feasible, I’d bring it up in the story. Don’t bring your story to a halt, just have your characters notice it and move on back to the story. If the area isn’t majorly significant to the plot, it should be fine.

If it is significant to the plot and the damage affects whether or not you can continue to use that area logically… I’d say move it.

Your other option, and I’d recommend against this, would be to date your story prior to the riots. I call this time-machining. I honestly would recommend against this as it strains suspension of disbelief, but its up to you.

Hope this helps. Feel free to email me if you need additional help!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

From My Writing Playlist

 

Yeah this little gem is a little-known song from the D2 Mighty Ducks soundtracks. I honestly feel bad for this song. It’s a really adrenaline-pumping theme that came out a few years too late. This is a song that belonged in the 1980s and I get what they were trying to do here, given that the original came out right at the ass end of the Hair Metal age.

Its a rare gem that almost forces your muscles to head bang as you listen to it.

When to Listen: General playlist for me, but you could make the argument that these belongs as a build up song. A song where the main hero is putting in the last bit of training he needs to take on whatever his final foe is.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Levying Criticism

So I’ve gotten this question a lot ever since I posted my piece of how to handle criticism. From people wondering how to write criticism without insulting the creator or their work.

The best I can offer in the way of advice is to just be respectful, be constructive, and avoid hyperbole.

For example:

“This book sucks!” <This is not constructive.

“I didn’t care for this book.” <More polite, but still not constructive.

“I didn’t like this book. I felt it was far too drawn out. The story would have been good, but the writer spent too much time on physical descriptions and alteration that it took me right out of the story.” < DING DING DING DING!!! This is exactly what you want.

“I liked the story, but was really turned off when the writer took his main character out of the story to go on a political tirade. It just really didn’t seem like it was part of the story or had any relevance. Had he left this out, it would have been a decent story.” < (Looking at you Marvel) This is also constructive.

So that’s pretty much how to do it. Be courteous, be constructive. Say what you didn’t like, why you didn’t like it, and what you might suggest for future writing .

Jim, I followed your advice and got a very harshly worded response from the creator. 

Ugh, yes this will happen from time to time. Not everyone is going to agree with you or appreciate your opinion. Basically they just want positive comments, they want yes men and nothing else. Honestly, don’t worry about these people. They are the ones with the problem, not you.

Hope this helps. Readers, please let me know below if you think there’s more we can do or if my advice is missing something.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Scripting??

Hi Jim,

So I noticed that you’ve given quite a bit of advice on publishing books, but what about scripts? I have a screenplay that I would like to get someone to look at, any thoughts?

Thanks,
Jere


Hi Jere,

Oh man, well I admit that you’re having me step way outside of my knowledge area, but as I’ve never turned away anyone up until now, I’ll share what knowledge I do have…

So you have a script, its done, polished, and ready to go? If not, I’d find someone to edit it for you, same as with a book. It needs to look professional before anyone will even glance at it. This should be a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of agents and publishers throwing manuscripts in the garbage because of how poorly they are written.

All right, now that you have your script as professionally written as humanly possible, it’s time to make some hard decisions. Honestly my friend, everyone has a screenplay to sell. EVERYONE! I’ve been to Hollywood and I’ll tell you that what you seen on TV about everyone down to the bus boys having screenplays to sell is 100% true! So you’re going to have a hard time.

Personally my friend, the task ahead of you is an impossible one. Hollywood current considers original scripts and screenplays to be box office poison, that’s why almost every movie you see come out is based off of a book or some other medium. Now, does that mean that there aren’t original stories that come out? No. Many do, but they’re usually not well advertised, don’t do as well at the box office, and are usually left to the indie circuit.

The best advice I can offer you is to rewrite your screenplay as a novel. Turn it into a book and then publish that book. Get a decent readership, then look for an agent and see about the screenplay. Will it be hard work? Yes. Will you most likely flop and never see your creation on screen? You have to be prepared for that reality. You stand a better chance of getting drafted into the NBA, honestly, but I really think that this is the route you want to take.

If you decide not to or that it’s not really your thing, the other recommendation I might offer is to get in good with an indie director/studio and go from there. You stand a lot better chance getting your film made.

Hope this helps, take it for what it’s worth.

-Jim

I’ll also open this one up to the floor, hopefully one of my readers has a touch more experience navigating these waters.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Writing’s Most Difficult Aspect

“I’m curious, but what have you found one of the most difficult things that comes with writing?”

-Steven Capps


Hi Steven,

There are a lot of hurdles to overcome in writing… a lot. This is just me personally, but the hardest thing for writing is finding the time to write and then pulling myself away from the keyboard when I need to. It is so hard when the ideas are flowing like a waterfall and you want to get everything down before you miss something. The problem is that life get’s in the way and for people, like myself, that have other jobs, families, and other responsibilities, we don’t always have the time to write. The result usually being that we lose a few of those great ideas. At this point, the only advice I can offer is to not let it get you down. You came up with one good idea, you’ll have another one soon.

Hope this helps!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Let’s talk about Hate

“Hi Jim,

You mentioned in a previous post that you explored the topic of prejudice and racism. I’m trying to write a book exploring the topic, but I’ve never really dealt with it in my own life. That is to say, I’ve never been the victim of racism. Do you think someone can write about the topic if they themselves have never experienced it?

Thanks,
Alissa”

Hi Alissa,

Great question. I would refer you to the ‘creative’ work of Neill Blomkamp he seems to tell the story about it over and over again. 🙂

Okay, on a more serious note, let’s face it, we’ve all faced discrimination at some point. Like it or not, it’s true, we all have. Not necessarily racism, but prejudice of some kind. Somewhere out there, someone doesn’t like us because of who we are, where we come from, our religion, the color of our skin, etc. etc. Granted, some people face it a lot more than others. So your best bet would be to go back to a time that you were unfairly treated for reasons beyond your control. Think about a time someone made you stand out for something you couldn’t help or because of who you are. Think about how it made you feel and how it changed your view of the world around you, then write.

For me personally, when I wrote about Lia’na’s experiences, I partially took from my historical studies of the civil rights movement, but then was also able to give a more in-depth view into the emotional aspects when I went back and thought about a time in my life when I had experienced prejudice.

Allow me to provide a little background… I’m Irish Catholic. In certain areas, there has always been and always will be some people who have an extreme bias against people who share that background. Most of them originate from areas known as the ‘Old World,’ more specifically, areas of Europe, perhaps in greater amounts from the UK. Granted these resentments have decreased greatly they still exist. In my particular case, it happened in college. I was dating a girl of Welsh/Scottish descent and she was a first generation American.

I’m not going to go into great detail, but let’s just say her mother took issue with her dating someone of my… background and made no secret of it. Long story short, the whole experience didn’t end well. When I wrote Lia’na’s backstory, I brought out those memories and feelings of resentment and confusion, and was able to use them in my writing.

I know there are a lot of people out there who would say that you can’t write about racism if you haven’t faced it, white people shouldn’t write about it, reverse racism doesn’t exist, etc. To those people I would say that racism and hate doesn’t know a skin color. Look back over history, every group of people from every walk of life has been enslaved, massacred, discriminated against, or mistreated because of who they are and/or where they come from. It is a fact.

Homophobia, bigotry, racism, religious persecution, and gender bias are not owned by any one group or groups of people. I agree that reverse racism doesn’t exist though. Racism is racism regardless of skin color. Unfortunately, in recent months, there has been a lot of examples of racism, not only in things like the shootings of those poor souls in South Carolina, but also the reactions of some simple-minded individuals who have been raised to hate, play the victim, or intellectuals who use race for self promotion.

Like it or not, THIS is just as racist:

As this:

I’m sorry, but it is. You can try to explain it away, you can try to say that one was making a point while the other was showing his true colors, but all partisan beliefs aside, prejudice knows no color and until everyone recognizes that and works towards a better future for all, any thoughts of unity, equality, or harmony are as much a fantasy as the book I write.

Personally, I have a feeling that the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King would be dismayed and ashamed by the state of both sides of isle on this one. Those who cling to traditions that are no longer appropriate in the modern world are not helping their cause anymore than those who continue to promote stereotypes.

Anyway, I hope this helps Alissa. You don’t always have to have experienced something first hand to write about it. You can always do a third person account based on the experiences of someone else, or just look to an above example like I listed. Please feel free to email me if you have any further questions, I’m also going to open this one up to my readers and ask them to offer their two cents.

Thanks Friend and good luck!


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

‘Damn’ Obstacles

“Dear Jim,

I saw the updates on the book you have coming out (congrats by the way) and was wondering if you could tell us how you overcame certain obstacles. For example, in my writing, I’m having a hard time establishing character relationships. I don’t want my story sounding like a Disney princess story where two people just instantly fall in love, but I don’t want to flood my book with a lot of filler dealing with how they fell in love. I’m not writing a romance novel, but I do want it to have a romantic element.

Thanks,
Jbob”

Hi J,

Good question… and personally I myself have been trying to find ways around it for a while myself. There are three ways I’ve discovered so far;

1. Start the story off mid-relationship. Establish that your characters have had a relationship all along, so that when the story starts, you’re already where you need to be. You can go into detail through monologue or character discussions as to how the two of them got to where they are throughout the story. That isn’t something you necessarily need to find out early on.

2. If you plan to start your story off before your characters meet, this is where it can get a little more complicated. The way I’ve used so far is to start the story off before they meet, have them meet, summarize in a page or two what they’ve been going through over a few months to a year and then get back into the main narrative. This way you get the beginning of the relationship set and you get moved right to the main point in the story.

3. “The afterthought.” Start the story off at the climax and have the main character remember back to when they first forged their relationship and have him/her describe it in a few chapters leading up to where they are now.

Hope this helps, but I’ll open it up to the floor and ask my readers if they have found ways to establish character relationships quickly for the sake of the flow of the story. Feel free to email me if you have any more questions.


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim