[My Guest Post] Are You Owning, Renting or Leasing Your Writing?

This month at the How To Write Shop I was inspired to talk about content ownership. As in: your content ownership.

Although the internet is filled with tools to publish and produce stories, blog posts, images, etc. not every tool is creator-friendly. In this case, I’m not talking about copyright. Instead, I’m talking about something much, much more frightening. Many places that you post your words online–including Facebook–spell out the fact that you do not own your own content. What’s worse, in some cases you rescind your rights even after you delete your content.

Why does this matter? Writers, artists, photographers, illustrators, musicians, etc. make a living not only by the creation of original content, but by its distribution. For people like us, our words are valuable because it’s what we get paid to do. In other words–your content is your greatest treasure. –SOURCE: Do You Own, Rent or Lease Your Content?

In the article, I also offer five tips on how you can ensure that your content is exactly where you want it to be. To read them, visit Do You Own, Rent or Lease Your Content? at the How to Write Shop.

Guest Post by Phil Brucato: Green Room Writing

Today I’m happy to turn my blog over to acclaimed author Phil Brucato. Phil is a professional author with years of experience under his belt. Although he shares a background with me in the hobby games industry, Phil has branched out and has been published alongside many well-known authors. This article talks about writing from an unusual, yet necessary, perspective.

Not everything in a story happens on the page. When an author writes material that occurs “offstage,” that so-called “green room writing” may inform the events that the audience sees. Giving foundations for the characters, their motivations, personalities and activities, green room writing may well feel like wasted effort. Trust me, though – it’s really not.

I coined the term green room writing when describing the many false starts I had with my short story “Ravenous.” An intense urban faerie tale inspired by my experiences in a heavy metal group, “Ravenous” featured the implosion of the narrator’s band in mid-gig. The story’s first few drafts began in the “green room” – the often-cramped backstage space where performers wait before a show. My original versions of the tale started with the bandmates sniping at one another while a warm-up group performs out front. By the time the first show ends, all five members of the narrator’s group are ready to blow… and soon do.

It didn’t work for me, though. The characters seemed realistic, the dialog zinged, the tension radiated in all directions… and yet, it didn’t work. I pounded through two or three drafts of the opening like this, wondering why my inner critic kept pouting at it.

Then it hit me: The action didn’t begin in the green room. It started as the band stepped onstage – tense, pissed off, surging with adrenaline and facing a drunk, voracious crowd.

“Ravenous” doesn’t kick in when the music does – that option seems too abrupt, and doesn’t give the reader time to care about the characters. (I know; I wrote that version, too.) The tale starts just before the lights go up, with five fiercely terrified young people ready to pounce and be pounced on in return. “I’ve got that just-before-the-cages-open feeling in my chest,” says our narrator, Nikita. The bomb’s just about to explode, and in the next few paragraphs, it does.

By the time I wrote the band’s detonation, I knew every character on stage. Each one spoke with a distinctive voice; each had a unique personality. I knew how the bandmates looked, what they wanted, why they blew up in the ways they did. That scene essentially wrote itself. From first draft to final, I changed hardly a word of it.

I was able to write that scene the way I did because of the various passes I’d run through in that green room. Although they didn’t appear in the final story – nor should they have appeared – those literally offstage brainstorming sessions informed all that followed afterward.

Green room writing can feel frustrating. Personally, I get annoyed when my Muse dictates something that probably won’t make it to the final draft. I often feel like I’m wasting my time, and that goes double if I actually like what I’ve written and know at the time that no one but me (and possibly my editorial first-readers) will see it. That said, I realize that green room writing is helpful… even, sometimes, essential to a good story.

Sure, I’ve written many tales that leapt full-force from my imagination, with engaging characters and fascinating action intact. It CAN happen that way… but it doesn’t always. More often than not, especially with long or complicated storylines, I need to “waste” time and words figuring out what happens in the green room. As frustrating as it might be to throw scenes out or re-write that damned first hook yet AGAIN (yes, Holy Creatures To and Fro, I’m looking at you!), those secret stories we tell in the green room can make the ones seen in the spotlights sing.

About Phil Brucato

A professional author for 20 years, “Satyr” is best-known as Phil Brucato, the driving force behind the award-winning RPGs Mage: The Ascension, Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade and Deliria: Faerie Tales for a New Millennium. Beyond his RPG work, though, he’s also published…

  • The anthology RAVENS IN THE LIBRARY, a benefit collection featuring Holly Black, Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, Laurell K. Hamilton, Amy Brown, Carrie Vaughn, Terri Windling, Midori Snyder and many others. For details, see http://www.sjtucker.com/ravens.html.
  • Short fiction (the magazines Weird Tales, newWitch, The Tomb, Cyber Age Adventures and The Morning Star, plus over half-a-dozen anthologies from Daw, Masquerade, Harper Prism, White Wolf and other publishers).
  • Essays, columns and interviews (newWitch Magazine, Realms of Fantasy Magazine, Disinformation Press, beat-a-go-go.com, Fantagraphic Press, Citadel Press and Knights of the Dinner Table, plus several local newspapers and weekly magazines).
  • Comics (White Wolf Publishing, Infobia Magazine) and a forthcoming webcomic called STRING THEORY.
  • Novels (the Ascension Warrior trilogy)
  • …and a variety of pending-publication projects.

    Not everything in a story happens on the page. When an author writes material that occurs “offstage,” that so-called “green room writing” may inform the events that the audience sees. Giving foundations for the characters, their motivations, personalities and activities, green room writing may well feel like wasted effort. Trust me, though – it’s really not.

    I coined the term green room writing when describing the many false starts I had with my short story “Ravenous.” An intense urban faerie tale inspired by my experiences in a heavy metal group, “Ravenous” featured the implosion of the narrator’s band in mid-gig. The story’s first few drafts began in the “green room” – the often-cramped backstage space where performers wait before a show. My original versions of the tale started with the bandmates sniping at one another while a warm-up group performs out front. By the time the first show ends, all five members of the narrator’s group are ready to blow… and soon do.

    It didn’t work for me, though. The characters seemed realistic, the dialog zinged, the tension radiated in all directions… and yet, it didn’t work. I pounded through two or three drafts of the opening like this, wondering why my inner critic kept pouting at it.

    Then it hit me: The action didn’t begin in the green room. It started as the band stepped onstage – tense, pissed off, surging with adrenaline and facing a drunk, voracious crowd.

    “Ravenous” doesn’t kick in when the music does – that option seems too abrupt, and doesn’t give the reader time to care about the characters. (I know; I wrote that version, too.) The tale starts just before the lights go up, with five fiercely terrified young people ready to pounce and be pounced on in return. “I’ve got that just-before-the-cages-open feeling in my chest,” says our narrator, Nikita. The bomb’s just about to explode, and in the next few paragraphs, it does.

    By the time I wrote the band’s detonation, I knew every character on stage. Each one spoke with a distinctive voice; each had a unique personality. I knew how the bandmates looked, what they wanted, why they blew up in the ways they did. That scene essentially wrote itself. From first draft to final, I changed hardly a word of it.

    I was able to write that scene the way I did because of the various passes I’d run through in that green room. Although they didn’t appear in the final story – nor should they have appeared – those literally offstage brainstorming sessions informed all that followed afterward.

    Green room writing can feel frustrating. Personally, I get annoyed when my Muse dictates something that probably won’t make it to the final draft. I often feel like I’m wasting my time, and that goes double if I actually like what I’ve written and know at the time that no one but me (and possibly my editorial first-readers) will see it. That said, I realize that green room writing is helpful… even, sometimes, essential to a good story.

    Sure, I’ve written many tales that leapt full-force from my imagination, with engaging characters and fascinating action intact. It CAN happen that way… but it doesn’t always. More often than not, especially with long or complicated storylines, I need to “waste” time and words figuring out what happens in the green room. As frustrating as it might be to throw scenes out or re-write that damned first hook yet AGAIN (yes, Holy Creatures To and Fro, I’m looking at you!), those secret stories we tell in the green room can make the ones seen in the spotlights sing.

    This article was written by Phil Brucato and has been republished with his permission. For more about this acclaimed author, read his full bio and other shenanigans on Phil Brucato’s LiveJournal.

    My Guest Post at SFWA: An Overview of Writing for Print vs. the Web

    As a writer, I’m often asked to describe the difference between writing for a print publication and writing for the web. This month, I had the chance to write an in-depth article for SFWA.org that provides you with some insight as to why writing for an online publication is so different from writing for print.

    Here’s a quote from the article:

    Many, if not all, online content providers know about search engine optimization and how powerful well-created content can help lift a site in the search engine rankings to attract visitors. This content, however, doesn’t come “free,” which is why there is such a huge need for good content written with SEO in mind. SEO is one of the reasons why there are places online that want your writing; many companies are looking for good, keyword-driven articles that they can use on their website. Some of you may feel that SEO isn’t really important all the time; in my experiences, SEO is a component of your online writing toolkit but it isn’t the only one.

    Be sure to read the full article entitled An Overview of Writing for Print Vs the Web. If you have any questions, feel free to add your thoughts over there.

    Guest SFWA Blog Post on Website Usability and Design

    Hop on over to the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website to read my latest guest post entitled, Authors! 8 Tips For Your Website’s Usability and Design.

    Here’s a quote from the article:

    In today’s article, I’d like to share with you some tips to consider when you’re reviewing your current website or when you’re thinking about creating one. Let’s take a look at these tips for your website’s design and usability.

    1. Structure Your Theme Around Your Update Frequency – First and foremost, I believe that you have to make a decision, up front, about how often you plan on updating your website. If you’re not going to blog or update very often, you can simply choose a different website theme that’s a little more static than a blog, but still attractive and professional. — SOURCE: Authors! 8 Tips For Your Website’s Usability and Design

    Enjoy!

    Guest Post: Gender Portrayals and Genres at Apex Book Company

    This month, I talk about Gender Portrayals and Genres over at Apex Book Company.

    In early science fiction and even horror, gender roles were often idealized according to the culture and the author’s views and experiences at the time the work was written. A good example of that are the few female characters in H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction and his attitudes toward other races and classes. While it may be extremely difficult to read some of his stories now, because they are rife with depictions that we would not deem to be politically-correct, Lovecraft was also a product of his generation. Could the absence of women in Lovecraft’s work be the reason why there are so few mainstream horror female authors today? Hard to say. I think what we can say is that an author’s lifestyle and background often play a subconscious role on the evolution of their characters, too. Whatever Lovecraft believed played a role in not only what he had written, but how he wrote it.–SOURCE: Gender Portrayals and Genres

    Stop by and read the post, or check out a preview of THE CHANGED by BJ Burrow, which was published by Apex Book Company. I have several of their titles on my “to read” list, so if you’re into horror and science fiction, you might want to check them out.

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