Tags: man oh man

josh logo

So...what is the deal with Torchwood?

 Because I've now watched three discs on season one and...I don't get it. 

I mean, it's entertaining enough. I don't NOT like it, but what is it that people love so much about it? What makes it the stuff of cult status? 

That Captain Jack has A LOT of teeth, don't you think? Is that a clue to something? I think it must be.

Do I need to just keep watching, and pretty soon the magic is going to hit me with a two-by-four?

Meantime, several reviews I'd like to share. And, as always, thank you to the reviewers -- both for reviewing and letting me know about the reviews. (Because I don't know if you don't tell me.) 

Dangerous Ground is a Recommended Read at Joyfully Reviewed. Also reviewed at JERR. at Night Owl Romance, and at Literary Nymphs

Rainbow Reviews posted a terrific review of Man, Oh Man! Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h. Also, a very nice post in dakotaflint's LJ on how useful she found the book (which is what I mostly hope -- that it will be of real use).

Speaking of Rainbow Reviews, the giant Scavenger Hunt begins June 1st. All comers welcome (you know what I mean). 

And, finally, last but not least, another thanks to Katie Babs for a review on Dark Horse. 

writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

Once Around the Block

 I meant to write this post sooner but I was suffering from Writer's Block.

Nah. Not really. Not entirely, although that does get at part of what I want to say on the subject -- in case you're the last on your...er...block to pick up the Now Legendary Writing Book. (NLWB)  And, as with the NLWB, I'd like to invite any writers in the audience to chime in with their own thoughts on the subject -- because most of us have some experience on this topic.

For starters, I think it's best not to use the term "writer's block" in reference to yourself. Ever.



Collapse )
josh logo

What I Did On My Spring Vacation

One thing I did, which I swore I wouldn't, was bring my laptop. 

Anyway, it's not a vacation exactly, so I can skulk in my hotel room and check email if I wanna.

Sad, huh? I'm SUCH a goof.

Anyway, before I head back into the fray...two quickie reviews that I very much appreciate. 

noseinabook posted a review of DANGEROUS GROUND right here -- or right there, rather. And my faithful enablers -- er, readers -- now have the official title of Fanyons. Fanyons. I find that so funny. 

Not quite as funny as this line: She should have known better than to let herself enjoy a moment of happiness on behalf of the orphans. But funny all the same.

And the other very kind review this one of MAN, OH MAN! Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h comes from jessewave.
writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

And speaking of blogs

I'm guest-blogging over at Loose Ends today.  Actually I resurrected that old post, The Eyes Have It. Someone had mentioned re-running it, so...here you go. In a slightly different venue.

And I'm blogging -- well, really it's just an excerpt from Man Oh Man -- on the ever popular subject of Angst over at
GLBT Fiction Excerpts.

Also, just a quick note: I'll be out of town until Monday, so I don't know if I'll have a chance to answer all 450 pieces of fan mail I expect to receive while I'm gone. And then I'm away again the 24th thru the 30th. No Internet access, so...if you don't hear from me for a bit, not to worry. I'm not snubbing anyone. I'm most likely sleeping in an airport somewhere.
writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

You Talkin' to Me?

 
I was reading a post a week or so ago (I’ve lost the link now) by erasteswho mentioned in passing that the historical romance writer Georgette Heyer apparently made up a lot of the slang in her Regency and other historical novels. I think I’d read that before, but I’d forgotten it. Anyway, Erastes didn’t like this about Heyer’s work. And, since inaccuracy is one of the things that typically drives me mad, I was wondering why this particular inaccuracy didn’t bother me. Why, in fact, I sort of thought it was…clever. Even admired it.
 
And this is the interesting thing about humans – a good thing to remember when you’re receiving book reviews – for every person who doesn’t like what you do, there is someone who will like it. The trick to success is in pleasing more people than you displease, but regardless: you can’t please everybody. It’s such a simple fact, I think we forget how true – painfully true – it is.
 
Anyway, back to dialog. As I started thinking about Heyer and her made up slang, a couple of things occurred to me. The first is that this isn’t a new phenomenon or even frowned on in the literary tradition. Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler – many of the Black Mask boys made up their hardboiled slang – and, ironically, their slang made it into the vernacular of the day. And The Sopranos is another good example – a current example. I was reading somewhere where the head writer or producer admitted that they use very little actual mob slang, a lot of their more colorful terms are made up or an amalgamation of old neighborhood and stuff cribbed from books they’ve read (where the slang is also made up). But this is the thing about slang: someone has to come up with the word or the phrase, use it enough that others hear it, it rings true and it takes off.
 
Now with Heyer her made-up slang wasn’t going to find its way into the vernacular because she was writing historical fiction, and maybe historical fiction slang requires a different protocol than making up slang for your fantasy novel or your modern crime novel -- I don’t know, but what I think is key is that the slang must seem real to the reader. It can’t read “fake.” Because the most important thing to remember about writing – and this is especially true of dialog – is that writing is not about creating reality. It is about creating fiction. And fiction and reality are not the same.
 
Fiction is the illusion of reality. It is better than reality. And good dialog must be better than real dialog. Real dialog is full of ums, ers, uhs, hmms… But very little of that goes a long way in fictional dialog. Mostly you just use it for pacing, to plant “beats” within your phrasing.
 
Real dialog is full of repetition and rambling – people take forever to get to the point, they repeat themselves, they don’t make sense, they’re not funny, they’re boring, they don’t always want to talk about The Pros. Or you get that code-talking thing that happens between people who know each other well. That verbal shorthand that is incomprehensible to outsiders trying to listen in. Real dialog is flawed. It doesn’t make for good fiction.
 
Good fictional dialog serves a number of purposes – all of it focused on one end: to advance the story. Good dialog should amuse, entertain, and interest. It’s smart, it’s witty. Good dialog speaks to characterization, it fills in backstory and foreshadows coming events, it can be used to plant clues, to describe setting, characters, actions that take place off stage. It’s great for helping the writer make quick transitions.
 
And it can be sexy, romantic, and evocative. In a romance novel, it should be all that.
 
Dialog is frequently referred to as “the good parts” by readers. And here you thought the good parts were all about the horizontal bounce! Your main characters do as much or more meaningful interaction through their dialog as they do through sex. More, I’m guessing.
 
Dialog is one of those make or break elements – the thing that separates a writer from the rest of the pack, and it’s very personal because your own voice is going to come through loud and clear in your dialog. In fact, the challenge will be in not letting your own voice overwhelm the voice of your characters – in making sure that every character has a unique voice.
 
Anyway, I’d asked for some general questions on writing, and a few people were kind enough to humor me.
 
carolynjean7000had THREE burning dialog questions:
 
Question 1
I love writing dialog, but sometimes I get into this thing where characters start sounding alike, unless I've given one of them, say, a really distinct speech tic.

I was wondering if you have any nifty tricks you especially like for differentiating characters in speech. Are you thinking about that right at the start? Do you reserve specific words for specific characters?
 
It helps to give a little thought before you start writing. Like one thing I always consider is whether the character is chatty or terse – and how educated he is. This all speaks to characterization.
 
You have to go sparingly with the accents, tics, mannerisms – save them for special cameo appearances or a character you want to emphasize. Partly this is because it grows wearying to keep writing idiosyncratic dialog, and partly because if you’re going to give someone a Cockney accent, you better get it right – or sure as hell you’ll deeply offend the single Cockney who happened to find your book in an airport lobby and takes the time to write you an irate letter.

One thing I try to do is give characters favorite phrases or words – because we all do this in real life. And then I try and make sure his romantic opposite doesn’t use the same words or phrases unless he’s mocking the first character. It’s slightly artificial, but again – the best dialog is artificial. It just doesn’t seem artificial.

Question 2.

"Also, this is stupid, but I love using this interrupted speech punctuation—"

"But in Word, it gives me a front quote instead of an endquote unless I do a workaround. Do you know what I mean? Have you found any tricks to overcome this?"
 
No. And you’d think by now I’d have stumbled across it. I’ve just gotten so fast at the little double hit, reverse, that I don’t really notice anymore.

3. Can you give your opinion on putting dialog between descriptive actions, like when he picks up a martini glass and says, "By jove, that Josh is amazing!" And then throws the glass at the portrait of the horseman.

Or do you prefer that he picks up his martini glass.

"By Jove, that Josh is amazing!" And throws it at the portrait.

I know some people have a problem with "burying" dialog, but sometimes it seems like it should be connected to the surrounding stuff.
 
Just my preference, there is no one right or wrong answer here, but I usually like to bury the dialog. But I think that works best if you keep the action simple and related to the dialog. And I’m not a big fan of a lot of busyness in a scene. It there is action there, it’s gotta be there for a good reason, not just as filler.
 
Now, if I want to particularly emphasize an action or a piece of dialog, I’ll pull it out so that it stands on its own.

I hope I'm not abusing your expertise hospitality.
 
CJ, did you spill your dirty words all over my clean floor?
 
femme_savantwrote: So, what're your thoughts on the proper balance between description and dialogue? Is there such a thing as too little dialogue? Do you think the balance changes depending on POV (1st vs. 3rd)?
 
Again, I consider dialog to be “the good parts” – and from what I hear, most readers agree. Dialog is where the characters really begin to interact. When we want a relationship with someone, we don’t just want to observe them from afar, we want to interact with them, we want to talk to them. This is what readers want to see happening, characters talking – communicating. 
Can you have too little dialog? Absolutely. But you can also have too much if the dialog isn’t good.
 
Your characters must talk with purpose, they must answer each other and not talk in tangents (or lyrical speeches), they must communicate honestly and not avoid asking (and answering) the obvious questions that real people would ask (and have to answer). Good dialog is artificial, but it’s never contrived. There’s a big difference.
 
abstractrx: I've gone and created a main character who is deaf, and I've had to Macgyver how dialog occurs for (so far) 116 pages. When dialog has to occur by signing, lipreading, texting, or writing, one gets inventive. One hopes. What's fun is figuring it out... and hopefully not boring people to death with the logistics... pray for me.
 
This is great though. This requires effective use of internal dialog and the dialog of motion and gesture. I look forward to seeing how you handle this.
 
msmoatasked: Dialog questions...um...so, what are your thoughts on phonetic dialog?
 
And like a smart ass, I replied: Wotcher mean, mate? S'all good, innit?
 
But for me, this is the key. You’re aiming to give your dialog a flavor of the dialect, accent, regional eccentricities – you’re not actually trying to reconstruct the real thing. Because that would be tedious to read and interfere with the story flow. You don’t want that. You don’t want the reader having to sit there puzzling over pronunciation, or worse, trying to figure out what you even said.
 
And – this is a pet peeve of mine in Pros (don’t get me started) – I’ve heard some of these rants on “Britishisms,” and while I absolutely agree you want to get it all as right as possible, the key to brilliant dialog is NOT all about Britishisms. You could have perfect Britspeak, and your dialog could still be weak, dull, pointless – BORING.
 
But enough of that. Especially since it’s never been a problem for you.
 
And the lovely Samantha Kane wrote: I know it's basic, and you are surely already planning on it, but you should cover excessive tags. I've been seeing a lot of that lately. I'm in the middle of Man Oh Man! Kudos. I love the way your distinctive voice comes through, even in a how to book.
 
Dialog tags are tricky. Dialog tags are very much out of favor in contemporary fiction, but there are trends and fads in fiction like anything else, so like just about everything in writing, there is no one single right way to do it. I come from a…let’s say…expressive family. When we talk (usually all at the same time) there is much variation in tones, faces, gestures – so I’m very much aware of “nuance” in dialog, and the words “he said,” just don’t fit all and every occasion.
 
Not to mention the beautiful, complexity and power of the English language which gives us a multitude of perfect words to describe each and every syllable uttered. BUT like anything in writing, it’s about quality, not quantity. It’s better to use a lot fewer of these tags than you think you need – especially, especially when you are starting out. 
writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

Pardon My Promotion

So the legendary writing book went live in its electronic incarnation at Fictionwise yesterday.  MAN, OH MAN: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h can be ordered in print from your favorite indie or GLBT bookseller now, but it will still be a week or two (or four) before it pops up on Barnes and Noble or Amazon. 

Anyway, I don't want to blab on and on about the book. I do want to say -- briefly -- that there were writers, editors, reviewers, publishers who I didn't interview and I probably should have. This wasn't a deliberate slight; mostly it was a lack of awareness. I asked to interview the people I'd read or had come across in my initial months within the M/M community. I know more people now, so needless to say, if and when there's a second edition, there will likely be a broader spectrum of opinions and input (although we've got a very interesting selection of "voices" now).

The other thing I wanted to mention was that in a few cases, people and companies I invited to participate just never managed to get their act together. In one case I held up production for a publishing house that I thought would be valuable to include, and they still couldn't pull themselves together. So it's not like I didn't try to get the broadest possible selection. And then there were companies like
Blind Eye that I just didn't find out about in time, but would have loved to include.

Anyway, that's pretty much it. The book is out, and I'm relieved and happy. No, it's not the final word on the subject, and yes, many people will have different ideas on wriitng and publishing. Good for them! Dialog is great. I hope this book is of use -- and entertaining. Because those were my two aims. To inform and amuse. Ideally at the same time. If I've managed to do that, I'll have done what I set out to do. And if by some chance I actually manage to influence M/M fiction for the better, I can die happy.

(Though preferably not right away.)

For anyone who'd like detailed information on the book, [info]angusdevotee has done an incredible job of summing the thing up, so I refer you to her site.

And that's pretty much it for the Blatant Self Promotion. At least on this subject. So what do you want to talk about now?

 

 

writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

Wanna Play?


So kimnik came up with a little exercise -- well, let's call it a challenge -- for conflict in M/M romance:


 On a related topic, as I was walking to the third job today, I realized that conflict is hard to talk about outside of the context of the character and that's why it's hard to sort of theoretically talk about conflict. I was thinking it would be fun to do an exercise in conflict.

(My exercise is SF/F cause that's what I write)

For example, you have two characters:
One is a park ranger and one is a werewolf living inside a national forest. What could be the conflict?

And of course this idea just amused the hell out of me. So...to make it interesting, I'm giving away an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of the electronic version of Man, Oh Man: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h -- which debuts tomorrow from FICTIONWISE -- to the person who can come up with the most potential reasons (within the context of an M/M romance) for conflict between a park ranger and a werewolf living inside a national forest.

And I don't care how farfetched or insane the reasons are. Just...surprise me. What are potential points of conflict?  You want to be a smart ass, feel free. Let that imagination roam.  Hey, and DO NOT forget the extended families and friends of both these characters or I will be very disappointed.

AND just to keep things amusing, Nikki posted a second challenge. This is called STUMP THE EDITOR.

(Hit me with a couple of characters and I'll see if I can find a conflict. I really want to try to play this game that I just invented this morning. It might fail, but it could really be fun.) 

So if you feel up to it, throw out your own wild character scenario and see what points of contention and conflict Nikki -- and maybe Dawn, maybe me, maybe anybody who wants to play -- can cook up on the spur of the moment. 

Come on, are you having trouble with that WIP, slip your dilemma in here, and we just may find the cure...no charge to you!

writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

Them's Fightin' Words

 So if you didn't get enough of me blabbing about writing conflict during Wednesday's workshop -- or you'd just like to post your own thoughts on the subject, I'm guest bloggin over at Loose Ends today. 

Seeing what a problem conflict is for so many M/M writers -- this, by the way, being the opinion of the readers and reviewers I interviewed for Man, Oh Man: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks and Ca$h, not just something I cooked up on my own -- I'm hoping we might get a spirited discussion to day. 

Anyway, drop by if you've got the time.
  Or feel free to post your thoughts here too!
josh logo

Where the Boys Are

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow -- Tuesday the 25th -- I'll be doing an online workshop for Cobblestone Press on the ever popular topic of writing M/M fiction. Where the Boys Are: How to Craft a Stand Out M/M Novel.

The workshop begins at noon central. If you want to take part in it, make sure you register today as soon as possible, so that you can be approved for participation. The workshop is free and open to the writing public. And I plan to give away a few copies of the rough version of the legendary writing book (minus the graphics and index). 

Hope to see some of you there!

writing, how to, m/m, gay fiction

Woe is Him

It had conveniently skipped my mind that I'd agreed to do a guest blog for Romance Junkies a while back, so I had to put something together speedily, and I yanked another excerpt from the legendary -- and I'm beginning to think it only lives in legend -- writing book. This time the topic was ANGST, which is actually one of the more entertaining and powerful elements in both fan fiction and original M/M writing. 

And also there's a little tiny contest, but if you've already got SNOWBALL IN HELL it won't do you much good.
 

So there it is, read and enjoy. Agree to disagree. Comment or not. But never forget that it is FRIDAY. Yaaaaa-bloooooody---HOOOOOOOO!