Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Posted by James Dashner at 11:57 AM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Posted by James Dashner at 10:46 PM
Friday, September 19, 2008
Posted by James Dashner at 9:05 AM
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Thanks for all the nice comments on my posting of the workshop notes from last week's LUW conference. (If you missed it, check out the previous post.) Stacy Whitman, editor extraordinaire, pointed out that many editors hate semicolons. Guess I'll find out soon how Krista at Delacorte feels! For some reason I like them.
Yesterday my wife asked me to take a day off to get some things done. I, being the incredible husband that I am, agreed. Why am I telling you this? I have no idea.
Today it was back to work. I got an email from Krista this morning with her first crack at the "Cover Copy" for THE MAZE RUNNER, which is the little blurb you'd see on the inside jacket flap or back of the book. This was thrilling to me, I don't know why. I really liked it, but gave her some feedback. She changed it a bit and now it's pretty much ready to go.
The reason she's doing it is in preparation for officially introducing the Fall 2009 lineup to the publicity and marketing folks at Random House. This gave me chills. Also, she told me they're working on the cover and I might see something very soon.
I don't know if my brain can handle seeing 2 covers for 2 books so close together. It's going to be so interesting to see how much of a different feel it has, considering it's for an older audience than my 13th Reality books. I can't wait!!!
Also today - my other editor, Lisa at Shadow Mountain, asked me to write a cover letter they plan to include in the front of the advance copy for 13th Reality 2. And she was so nice to give me a WHOLE day to get it done. Nah, it was easy. I just hope it doesn't make me sound like an idiot. (hold the jokes)
I also spent today running, eating, brainstorming on 13th Book 3, and answering some very old emails. All while hanging at the SLC library with my writing posse: Sara Zarr, Anne Bowen, and Emily Wing Smith (well, not the running part). I'll spare you the details of our very interesting lunch conversation. Let's just say the word "gas" was used frequently.
Completely Random Question of the Day: Do you love or loathe Halloween (coming soon!)? I'll reveal my answer next time.
Have a great day!
Posted by James Dashner at 4:37 PM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Dear Fellow Americans. Actually, blogs are international, huh? So, scratch that. Dear Fellow Earthlings:
THE MAZE RUNNER has been turned into my editor, the wonderful Krista Marino. 2 months of hard work is complete. I am a very relieved and happy man.
I won't have much of a break - I leave for San Francisco next Monday to start 6 straight weeks of touring the country. I also need to begin working right away on THE 13TH REALITY Book 3. As well as a proposal for my next book with Random House. But for now, I shall breathe.
This past weekend at the annual League of Utah Writers conference was AMAZING. I'll blog more about it later, but it was easily one of the best conferences I've ever been to. I had such a fun time and felt so welcome. To all those responsible, a very hearty THANK YOU.
For now, I will post the brief notes from my workshop presentation and then go to bed. Thanks to all those who requested it in the comments. Well, here you are! Remember that I did a lot of expounding on these topics, and they're kinda random, but it's the best I can do without coming to your house and terrorizing your entire family. (The formatting is kind of weird, hope it looks okay.)
1. Differentiate your characters.
o Know their background.
o Think of something horrible that happened in their past.
o Something that makes them happy when they remember it.
o Give them a dirty secret.
o Make sure all your main characters don’t sound exactly the same!
2. Plot – at least a little.
o I challenge you to know how it ends before you begin. It will make all the difference in the world.
o This doesn’t mean you should be stagnant. Anything goes—you can change whatever you want, whenever you want. But start with a path.
3. Always think about the Five Senses when describing a place.
o Don’t forget smells!
4. Avoid one-dimensional villains.
o Create empathy for them.
o Make the reader feel somewhat guilty for hating the villain.
5. Try to eliminate as much of these as possible:
Bad: He knew that he needed to kill her.
Good: He knew he needed to kill her.
o Was xx-ing
Bad: He was standing in the road, glaring at me.
Good: He stood in the road, glaring at me.
Bad: Every few seconds, a blade would pop out of the robot’s chest.
Good: Every few seconds, a blade popped out of the robot’s chest.
Bad: Everything about him seemed to be hard and cold.
Good: Everything about him was hard and cold.
o Same word close together
6. Semicolons. I love semicolons!
o Okay: His back struck a hard metal wall. He slid along it until he hit the corner of the room.
o Better: His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room.
7. Chapter structure can do wonders.
o Short, but not too short. My rule of thumb: 1500-2500 words.
o Intriguing endings, but don’t do cheap tricks.
Bad: She opened the door and gasped.
Good: She opened the door and gasped. There, lying in a pool of dark liquid, sat a lumpy bag with her name scrawled across the front.
8. First lines. You must have an awesome first line. First page. You must have an awesome first page.
9. Set writing goals and track yourself. Be nerdy about it.
10. Dialogue. Read it out loud. Have focus groups read it. Make sure it sounds natural and true to each individual character. Use dialects if it makes sense. Maybe a character has a quirky word or phrase or way of speaking. But no matter what, your dialogue must be strong.
11. Take your time. Develop things. Describe things. Give lots of internal thoughts. Envelop the reader in a journey, not just a step by step narrative.
12. Be original in your similes and metaphors, and use lots of them. As you go through the day, look for things that make an impression on you, write them down, then use them in your writing.
13. Read like crazy – don’t let writing lessen your time reading, AT ALL. I’ve learned more from reading Stephen King than any class or workshop I’ve ever taken.
14. Do research or people will catch you.
15. Story. It’s all about story. Make it compelling, make it exciting, make it terrifying, make it full of conflict. Have your characters suffer sacrifices before they win. Have surprises and plot twists. The writing will come, and should always improve. But first and foremost, make sure you have an AWESOME story.
16. Be creative in how you create mysteries. Even simple events and revelations can be tweaked to turn them into mini mysteries that help intrigue the reader and keep them moving through the story.
o Mom’s revelation in Book 2. Cool, but I made it better. Added scene in beginning where she runs toward Tick, saying she has to tell him something. Revelation comes at end.
17. Avoid cliché like the plague (get it?). Don’t write a book about a farm boy in a fantasy land trying to obtain a magical object to save the kingdom. Just don’t do it. Come up with something the world has never seen before. Not an original idea, per se, but your own twist to it.
18. Rewriting. It takes work. A first draft is not publishable. Neither is a second draft. Maybe not even a third. You have to devote yourself to working hard on revisions if you want to make it.
19. Don’t write the same way you’d tell a bedtime story. It’s totally different.
o Avoid: this happened, then this happened, then this happened…
o Write cinematically.
20. Make your characters strong. Act, instead of react.
o However, give them flaws. Make them do things that will cause the reader to dislike them momentarily.
Posted by James Dashner at 12:01 AM
Friday, September 12, 2008
Just a quick note to say I'm off to League of Utah Writer's annual Roundup writing conference. I wish all of you could come - it's gonna be good times. I'm sure most of you will just happen to be in Ogden, Utah anyway this weekend, so stop on by!
The class I'm teaching is called "20 Things I've Learned Since First Getting Published." If anyone is interested, I could post the content of this workshop sometime next week. However, I shan't be so presumptous to assume you guys wanna read my boring junk. So let me know.
The only painful thing about tomorrow is I'll miss the Georgia-South Carolina game, and there's no way I can avoid hearing the score before I get back home and watch it on the DVR. Maybe I'll have my eardrums removed. Oh, and my eyes. Really not practical, actually.
Due to high demand (one person asked me about it), I may resurrect my old thing of posting lyrics of the day. Maybe. Here's a line that's kinda weird, but for some reason I just really like it:
Last time you were here,
Couldn't look you in the eye.
You're just like an angel,
Your skin makes me cry.
Posted by James Dashner at 8:47 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Posted by James Dashner at 8:52 PM
Monday, September 8, 2008
Posted by James Dashner at 10:14 PM
Monday, September 1, 2008
The moment we've all been waiting for.....
Our Grand Prize winner from the One Year Anniversary of The Dashner Dude is.....
JN Future Author
Shoot me an email. Congrats!
As for me, I'm not going to say much else today. I think everyone's out partying for Labor Day.
THE MAZE RUNNER is due two weeks from today. Wish me luck.
Posted by James Dashner at 2:13 PM