I’ve got some real juicy articles in the pipeline for you folks. There’ll be interviews with some hot, up and coming authors you should definitely be reading, some reviews for books that haven’t even hit the shelf yet (Yes, I totally use my time travel abilities to get my hands on books before their release. Lamest use of a super-power ever? Perhaps), and an article or two that are bound to get some hackles frazzled and mouth’s foaming.
Until then, I just wanted to stop in and touch base ’cause I know how you start suffering from withdrawal if you don’t get enough word candy for your eyeballs.
Let’s start with the big one. The Hugo Awards were this weekend. For those of you that don’t know, this is a big deal in the SFF community, especially so this year as the whole question of voting manipulation was drawn into the spotlight when a bunch of Sad Rabid Puppies tried marking everything as their territory (don’t know what this means? Succinctly put, they pissed on everything) and in the process, pissed off pretty much the entire SFF community.
I’m not going to lend the Puppies arguments any legitimacy by reciting them here. Wired did a great article on it, so read that if you’re interested (and bored). For now, I think it’s time we let those hateful jerks wallow in obscurity.
Seriously, I know they gamed the system this year, and sure, that’s a threat in the future. But the best thing to do moving forward is ignore them. The Hugos this year proved that they simply aren’t relevant. They got some authors, books, and editors onto the ballot that had no business there, but when the final votes were tallied, fandom replied with a resounding, “We’re done playing with you.”
And so am I.
But, before I pack up the bat and ball and sache home, I want to throw out three ‘attagirls.
Two of those back-pats go to Anne Bellett and Marko Kloos. If you remember, these two were voted onto the ballot, but refused their nominations on the grounds that they didn’t want to be pawns in somebody else’s political scheming. This is all the more heartbreaking considering when the final results were announced, it was revealed that Bellett would have made the ballot even without the tampering. Bummer.
But, but, but… it’s okay. George R.R. Martin made everything okay. He gave them a couple Alfies (which is an award he hands out to deserving authors at his yearly Hugo
Losers Award Ceremony). Personally, I think this is way cooler than getting a tainted Hugo.
The third ‘attagirl goes to The Three Body Problem which took home the Best Novel Award.
An amazing result considering the fact that The Three Body Problem didn’t make the original finalist ballot. Without Kloos’ withdrawal, the best book of last year would’ve been left out. It’s good to see that sometimes evil doesn’t win. Congrats to Cixin Lu and translator Ken Liu.
Alright, enough about the Hugos. Let’s talk about me.
In an earlier post I alluded to the fact that Time Heist would be getting the audiobook treatment in the very near future.
Well, I’m proud to announce that the project is moving forward. There are some contractual things that need to be hammered out, so I’ll wait until the ink is dry to reveal the announcer, but let’s just say, I am really excited about the talent we’re bringing on board to get this done. I think you will, too!
It’s been brought to my attention that, outside of writing, I never really talk about myself on here. There’s a good reason for that, namely: I’m not all that terribly interesting. But in the interest of appeasing the masses, here are a few pictures from my weekend spent rock climbing up in the Sierra Mountains. For those of you not in the know, I’m an avid rock climber. I’ve spent pretty much the last decade traveling the world with only one goal: climb as many rocks as possible.
No work gets done in this house. Too many cats!
No, dammit, I need that!
What I believe to be a dead beaver.
Well, okay, not always writing. Sometimes climbing.
And now you’re in the know. Congrats. Alright, folks. Get back to work!
Aw, how cute. Somebody just carpet bombed all my books on Goodreads with 1 star ratings. An effective strategy for…
For what exactly?
See, what I can’t figure out is, if you thought the first book was 1 star worthy, why read the next one? And if you thought that one was 1 star worthy as well, why go on to the next one? And then the next one. And then th–
You get the idea.
I think it’s safe to assume this guy hasn’t actually read any of my stories. Oh well, haters gonna hate…and be the first ones destroyed when my lazy robot army gets off its collective lazy metal butts and starts doing something productive…like taking over the world or making me a pizza.
In the meantime, if you wanna help combat mean-spirited folks (and stay on the my robot army’s good side), consider popping over to Goodreads or Amazon and leaving a review. It can be a 1 star, that don’t bother me none, as long as it’s honest.
Wait, what’s that you’re hollering from the bottom of that well? You haven’t actually read any of my stories?
Hold up, what are you doing down ther–. No, you know what, nevermind. It’s fine. I don’t want to know. You do you, stay down there if it makes you happy. I’m not judging.
Okay, let’s address your question. It’s wrong to throw out 1 (or 5) star shaped shurikens at books you’ve never read. For those of you facing that obstacle, I’m gonna do something a bit crazy here.
For the next week, I’m offering my entire library of books for FREE across all platforms.
I see you rubbing your eyes and blinking more than is probably healthy. Too good to be true, right? Well, calm down, there’s at least one guy over at Goodreads who thinks everything I’ve written is absolute dreck.
And you know what, he may be right. The only way to know for sure is to pop over to your favorite online retailer, whether that’s Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, or Itunes, and grab yourself a FREE copy of any of my books.
My books aren’t currently available on Amazon for FREE, but you can help with that by going to whichever book you’re interested in, scrolling down to Product Details (just above Author Bio) and click on the button that says “Tell Us About A Lower Price.”
*Quick Note: As of Monday night all my books are available on Smashwords for FREE, but it takes time for the other major retailers to get their act together and follow suit. This is a spur of the moment special deal motivated purely out of spiting a hateful one star troll. Also, I really like you alot and want to give you free stuff. Please take my gifts!
Okay, now that you’ve got your free books, consider going so far as giving them a read. Hindsight, Parallel, and Sins of the Father are all pretty short. Perhaps start there if you’re not ready to commit to a long term relationship with Time Heist.
After it’s all said and done, please take that final step and leave a review somewhere (again, it doesn’t even have to be a good review, just honest). I can’t express with words how much your reviews will help. But I’ll try.
Here it goes: Your reviews will help…a lot.
See, told you I couldn’t do it. And now I’m going to go sulk.
Thanks ladies and gents. Happy Reading!
If you have any difficulties, shoot me an email at Anthony@OneLazyRobot.com. I have digital wizardry skills that can part the cyber-seas, no problem.
I’m a sucker for fan art. Thanks to The Mad Artist for the little pick-me-up on this slow, hot Sunday afternoon. Check out his site if you’re in need of some graphic art. I haven’t personally used him, but the stuff on his site looks great. TheMadArtist.
For those interested, by the way, I’ve begun the process for getting Time Heist into audio. My goal is to have it out by this November, but we’ll see how that goes. I’m not committing to any firm dates yet. I’ll drop more info on this as it appears. For now, consider yourself teased.
Also, in the coming weeks I’ll be accepting beta-reader volunteers. Interested in getting your hands on my words before the rest of the world? Want to critique, offer invaluable feedback, and break my fragile little heart? Well, this might be the opportunity for you.
Interested in signing up ahead of the rush? Shoot me an email at Anthony@OneLazyRobot.com with the word Beta Reader in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you eager reading beavers.
Vocalized or not, we are all just sitting around talking to ourselves. It’s called Inner Dialogue and it’s pretty much how we process…well…everything.
To prove this point, go find your favorite bean-bag chair and spend the next five minutes sitting quietly. Let your mind wander wherever it may, don’t censor yourself or try and corral your thoughts, your job is merely to observe your inner voice.
Most of the time we don’t think of it in these terms, but it’s as if there’s a tiny person living between our ears, engaged in an endless deluge of babble. The thing is, we hardly notice this little voice, which is a good thing, because if we did, we’d probably all go insane. Seriously, I don’t know about you folks, but most of the drivel trickling through my cerebellum is straight up bonkers.
If I acknowledged each and every thought pouring through that gaping mind chasm, well, I don’t suppose that’s a world I’d want to live in.
I hear your little brain-voice over there saying, “So what? Give me waffles. And sex. Ducks are fantastic, purple scream tree birds poop. I love poop and sex–I should get some more toilet paper. The soft stuff this time, like Charmin. I like bears. Garbhglauyduos, I want sex.”
Don’t be freaked out by the fact that I know precisely what you were thinking. I’m a mind reader after-all. Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a bunch of thought bubbles floating over your head. So…there’s always that.
Seriously, how horrible would that be?
Anyhoo, that’s sort of what storytelling is, right? We get inside the character’s skull and hear the edited version of that little brain-dude’s monologue. Problem is, in our daily lives we hardly ever acknowledge these thoughts. They are there, and we act on them, but we rarely actively reflect on them.
So then why do we see so much damn Inner Dialogue in stories?
Well, there’s actually a lot of reasons for it, but we’re going to focus on these three.
- It gives insight into character motivations that wouldn’t be available from the outside
- It increases or decreases scene tension
- Exposition purposes
Let’s go through a couple examples to see these concepts in action. Then we’ll break them down to figure out when and why you should use them, and when you should run away from them like your underoos are on fire.
This is one of the most widely used aspects of Inner Dialogue. Consequently, that also makes it one of the most abused. What I see occurring most often are authors lacking confidence in their readers ability to put the pieces together. The author says or alludes to something, but then, fearing the reader won’t “get it” they include a thought tag where the character just lays the cards right out on the table.
It’s patronizing and if you do this (and chances are you do, ’cause we all sort of do this at one time or another), you need to stop. Treating the reader like a third grader is not a great way to build trust in the narrative.
Now, I see a couple of you sitting in the back, arms crossed and shaking your head with disapproval. If that weren’t enough, I can see your thought bubbles.
It was like he could read my mind.
You’re thinking, I would never do this. I wish that were true, but even really good authors are guilty of this trap. At the moment I’m reading a book from a well-known author and he is dropping Inner Dialogue every other paragraph and it’s making me want to throw an old Motorola Razor at his face.
Let’s get meta for a second!
Take a look at the construction of the paragraph above and below the picture. Notice how I used an Inner Dialogue tag to straight-up explain the reason behind the behaviors I ascribed to you?
“You’re standing there with arms crossed and shaking your head with disapproval.”
The fact that I go on to explain why in the next sentence by way of an Inner Dialogue tag means I don’t trust you as the reader to draw the correct conclusions.
Do you feel a little pandered to? Does it feel sort of bad (and not the good kind of bad)?
Great. You should feel bad. You’re an intelligent person, and so is your reader. Show them a little trust!
Here’s an example pulled from the book I’m reading currently:
“Several crossbow bolts cut through the sky in his wake, but none of them came close. He smiled as he swung onward. One hurdle crossed; now for the real threat.”
That Inner Dialogue is clunky and pretty much adds nothing of value to the paragraph. Yes, we know he crossed a hurdle, he’s literally swinging through the air with arrows flying at him. Yes, we also know it wasn’t the real threat by the fact that none of the arrows came even remotely close to him. Pointing all of this out in such a matter-of-fact way only annoys the reader.
It’s like explaining a joke–something I fully admit to being guilty of in my younger-days.
A lot of it stems from lack of self-confidence (or in my case, an over-abundance of self-confidence). I would explain my jokes because they tended to be obscure, products of weird tangential lines of thought that the audience wouldn’t naturally arrive at on their own. So to make sure the audience got the joke, I would explain it.
Surely then they’d see how funny it is, right?
No. If you have to explain a joke, it sucks. End of story.
Same with your fiction. If you have to explain a behavior, you’ve failed somewhere earlier along the way.
Adding Inner Dialogue is the quick and dirty fix to this problem. Think of it like duct-tape. It’ll hold the narrative together and do its job just fine, but if the whole thing is spackled with duct-tape, it becomes an unsightly monster that nobody wants to look at because it makes them want to cry.
Don’t make us read your duct-taped story. Don’t make us cry.
Insight into character thought is a powerful, specialized tool. As is the case with all specialized tools, there is a time and a place. You don’t use your expensive kitchen knives to open letters and chop firewood, do you?
You do? Oh. Well, nevermind.
When is the right time to use Inner Dialogue for Insight? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m sure there is a good time, but the problem is the moment you transition into Inner Dialogue you’re telling, not showing.
That’s not to say you should avoid it outright, but damned if I have a good answer for you. If you figure it out, stop back in and let me know.
I pretty much only use Inner Dialogue to either increase or decrease tension in a scene, so I’m sort of partial to it. It’s one of my favorite tricks. When used well, it’s a fantastic way to subvert reader expectations and give the old razzle-dazzle.
“Rhonda stood there, hands balled at her side, knuckles white and trembling. Rain mixed tears streamed down her cheek, flowing through tributaries of grief worn wrinkles.
“Don’t you love me?” she asked.
Not anymore. But those words were too heavy for 10:30 on a Wednesday night. He had work in the morning and just wanted to be out of the rain, in bed. “Of course I do.”
This is by no means a great example, but it highlights the value of having a character thinking one thing, but saying another. Learning this trick will add a texture filled layer of depth and reality to your work.
On the other hand, you can decrease tension in a scene with Inner Dialogue.
Another Horrible Example:
“Father O’Malley stood in the foyer shaking hands as the parishioners hurried back out into the world. They’d received their weekly inoculation from sin, no point in lingering.
“Father!” Mike Briarton shouted into O’Malley’s ear. “Great sermon. One of your best, if you ask me.”
Does he not realize I saw him playing angry birds? “That’s very kind of you to say.”
“Say, if it’s not too much trouble,” Mike said. “Could you put in a good word with the man upstairs. The Bears are playing this afternoon and they could really use a win.”
“Of course, Mike. I’ll see what I can do.” Dear Lord, please smite the Bears.
Oof, that was rough, but you get the point. Use Inner Dialogue to juxtapose what a character thinks versus what they do. Play around with this one, but, as with all things in life, don’t overdo it.
This is, without a doubt, my least favorite use of Inner Dialogue. Unfortunately, it appears so damn much in fiction. I mentioned earlier why this is bad, but it bears repeating: Inner Dialogue by it’s very nature is telling, not showing. Doesn’t matter if you throw exposition in italics, it’s still exposition. We’ve talked frequently about exposition and infodumping in the past, so I refuse to go any deeper into it.
Follow these links if you’re rusty and need brush up on exposition and infodumping.
Worldbuilding: Avoiding The Dump
We don’t need to beat this one over the head, but here’s a real quick example (again from the book I’m reading).
“She reached around to the stem and pulled, tearing it off at the head. Sounds just like the one serving of vegetables we got back in Omez’s pens. We only had to be healthy enough for labor, not healthy enough to keep our teeth.”
This is the sort of painful infodumping that stops a reader cold because it comes off so incredibly unnatural. People simply don’t talk to themselves like this. That last sentence especially bothers me because it is the type of thing a person might say to another person in conversation. In that context, it would be fine ’cause they are explaining an experience they had.
But people don’t explain experiences to themselves like that, mostly on account of the fact that we already know what is going to be said. Which means the only reason to say it is to pander to the audience. When you do that, you might as well donkey kick the fourth wall and talk to us directly.
We never say: Boy, it’s windy up here, just like that time I stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon. That was hard, dear reader, because I’m so afraid of heights. That is until Sarah came into my life and helped me conquer that fear.
If you don’t see how these examples are stilted and confusing, message me and I’ll try and explain. If you get the gist, then go ahead and knock it off. Stop inserting these types of misuses of Inner Dialogue into your story.
Ah, see… now wasn’t that fun? Admit it, you had a hoot. No? Really? You didn’t? Well, your thought bubble says otherwise.
Before you leave, stop over to the comments and tell me what aspects of writing craft and science fiction you’d like to talk about in the future. I love suggestions!