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The Right Impression

This is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, and my nominee for Greatest of the Geeks and Nerds.

Aside from being good-humored and confident when he speaks, he’s fountain of knowledge, not just on astrophysics, but on most everything.  Naturally, this makes him a wonderful choice to host the new revival of Cosmos.

Toward the end of the first episode, after exploring the vast known universe and touching upon the slight notes that led to modern scientific principles, he told a simple story.  In the short tale, Tyson described his interactions with the original host and creator of Cosmos, Carl Sagan.  He started by listing a few of Sagan’s notable accomplishments, then opened a backpack.  Inside, he had a copy of Sagan’s day planner from 1976, with one page marked for a meeting with “Neil Tyson.”

Tyson showed another book, a signed copy of one of Sagan’s writings.  As he showed these things, Tyson also related how personal nature and compassion that was inherent in Carl Sagan.  Even though Tyson did not go on to study with Sagan, the meeting still had an impact.  It showed Tyson what kind of man he wanted to be.

Cosmos might be about the vastness of the universe and the grand mysteries waiting to be discovered, but it’s appeal is in embracing the smaller details.  Even something as simple as a professor offering a potential student a place to stay for the night can open doors into a much larger world.  If that can work for Neil deGrasse Tyson, surely it can work for other storytellers as well.

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Brandon Sanderson’s writing.  I started following his work with Elantris and Mistborn, carrying on to the present.  His latest novel, Words of Radiance, is the second book of The Stormlight Archive.  The main female character of this series is Shallan Davar, a scholar filled with secrets, talent, and wonder.  She’s become my favorite character from any novel.

As such, I would like to share my appreciation of Shallan with the following, a love letter.

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Everyone Has A Story

Given the discussions I’ve had about the possible twist with the ending of How I Met Your Mother,  I realized a simple lesson about characterization that I wish I would have picked up on a long time ago.  Even if I’m wrong about what happens in the finale, I’ll have still learned this lesson, which I’m going to share with you now.

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Storytelling through Lore

There are times when writers experiment with ways to tell a story, but one thing remains consistent: using what isn’t said to tell the story as much as the words on the page.

George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is an excellent example of this, using recollections and the presence of lingering artifacts to tell the story of Robert’s Rebellion and the ancient history of Westros.  However, Martin has nothing on Hidetaka Miyazaki, chief director of FromSoftware’s Dark Souls.

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Reading as Elitism

Too often, I see articles about the “battle” between traditional publishing and e-books.  I’ve seen discussions about Amazon being great or brick and mortar stores being better.  It’s left me wondering if reading has become rare to the point of becoming elitist in the future.

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In my days as a bookseller, I heard a common complaint about most authors: They don’t write fast enough.

This isn’t a bad thing to have someone reading your work say.  I’ve only had two short stories in print and I’ve had people tell me that about my own work.  Typically, it’s a sign that people want to read more of a writer’s work.

Sometimes, it’s an actual complaint.

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I recently got an email message about a submission.  Any time I have material waiting for a response, these messages tend to come in, most of them rejections.  This one was different, if only because of the length of time involved.

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A Gun On The Table

I wrote recently about a few chapters I was reworking.  For a while, I knew I would have to rewrite one of those chapters, if only so the main character could ask more questions.  Since he’s an intelligent guy, it’s hard for me to force him to act like a dumb hero just to ask questions.

Eventually, I came up with an idea of how I could get the main character to ask questions and not seem like a fool at the same time.

I had him put a gun on the table.

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Don’t Kill Your Darlings

In editing mode, it’s often brought up that writers should kill their darlings.  We should all just look at our prose and hack it to pieces, then forget about the junk we wrote before.

It’s an interesting idea, except it can only be used to refine a specific set of words.  Killing darlings isn’t enough; we have to premeditate their murder.

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A Good Day

There are days when things just go right.  For me, yesterday was one of those days.

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