How a Scene Evolves from First Draft to Last

Rewriting a scene is where the magic happens. First drafts are usually crap (although sometimes they have nuggets of brilliance). Many writing teachers will tell you this, but it’s something that every writer needs to learn for themselves.

I want to compare a scene I wrote three years ago as a first draft with the second draft of the scene, which I wrote last week. 

The text still isn’t perfect. I even did two edits to it as I was re-reading it for this blog entry. Is this important? Individually, the small things like which version of the sentence is better aren’t important, but in the big picture of building a well-crafted story, yes, these little decisions add up - to either a good or bad reader experience. READ ON

Writers I’ve Known and Their Books

William Kamkwamba is probably the best selling author I’ve known. He was a student at African Leadership Academy back when I was the Communications Manager. He made my live very interesting. His memoir, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind became a big hit in 2009, leading him to make appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Good Morning America, appearances with Mitch Albom and Tavis Smiley, and many other news programs. Since he was a student at our school, I managed his time vis-a-vis his publicity and his school work, acting as the gatekeeper, often having to refuse requests (sorry, Sky News. One day you’ll forgive me like CNN did.). I don’t know that I learned a lot about the publishing industry from this experience, but I certainly saw the hustle that an author goes through to promote a book, especially a bestseller.

Terry Pratchett Stories That Will Never Be Told

Terry Pratchett, make that Sir Terry Pratchett, was visited by one of his creations, Death, this past March. The world of fantasy and humour are worse off for that visitation.

I wouldn’t say that I am his biggest fan, I’ve only read 35 of his 41 Discworld novels and four or five of his non-Discworld novels. I haven’t read any of the companion books, for example (Science of… Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook… etc.). So you know, I’ve only read about forty of his books. So I guess I’m not a big fan… ;-)

… but even I know that Terry not only left a rich world, he left one full of interesting, yet untold, stories.

10 Novels that have stayed with me

David Gerrold, noted science fiction writer, had an interesting article on his website, 10 Novels that have stayed with me. One thing that amazed me is how much of a crossover there was with his list and my (then hypothetical) list. One thing that saddened me was that he gave the list (2 actually, one of books and one of authors), but no rationale for how they had impacted him. I thought I'd make my own list, but giving rationales for each. Read on...

Buying a Book for all the Wrong Reasons

Can there be a wrong reason to buy a book? I think there can, and I think I’m guilty of it. The book in question is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, which won the Hugo (Science Fiction’s premier award) in 2014 for Best Novel. Even before I knew that the book had won the Hugo, i had seen the cover and been intrigued enough by it to pick up the book and read the back blurb. Something about the blurb always put me off, and I didn’t buy it. Now I have, and now I know I should have listened to my gut and saved the money.

What led me to buy it? The “Sad Puppies.”

There’s a bit of history here that needs to be explained. A few years ago, some members of the science fiction community noted that the Hugo tended to be awarded to (apparently straight) white male writers, which was fine when that was what the industry was made of, but the growing diversity of the writing pool seemed not to be represented in the Hugo nominees, and good works by women and people of colour (PoC) had little chance of being nominated. Some prominent people in sci fi started suggesting the names of writers who were being overlooked, and last year, the Hugo nominees were much more diverse than in previous years, and Anne Leckie won best novel.

Lesser-known Science Fiction Stories That Have Stayed with Me… and few classics that haven’t

There are some books that may not be well known as science fiction classics, but that I’ve found myself reading repeatedly. Dune is a classic, and I’ve written about it elsewhere, so it’s not on this list, not because it hasn’t influenced me considerably, but because it is so well known in the genre.