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YMMV: Edit for Clarity First (Line Editing, Part 1)

☀️ I Can See All Obstacles in my Way... Bit of housekeeping up at the top here: I have indeed burned through more material than I'd expected in the first quarter of the year, so I'm going to be dropping back to one post every other week for at least a little while. The editorial board apologizes for any inconvenience. Edit For Clarity First "Editing" is one of those terms that is used to cover so many bases that it has almost become meaningless. The person who buys stories, the person who helps develop stories, the person who checks spelling and punctuation, the person who checks for continuity, the person who looks at word choice and sentence structure--all of these people have "editor" in their job title. So needs must that we hone in on one, and over the next few posts, I'm going to be looking at my favorite of these: line-editing. Or "wordsmithing," if you like. Now, most authors find line-editing to be a chore. I love it. I love it so muc
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YMMV: Write for Audio

📻 Girls, rock your boys, get wild, wild, wild... I've blogged before about how, in art, form follows format . If I may quote myself: "...there's a reason hour-long television shows used to have a 4-act structure with A and B plots--they were built around commercial breaks and you needed things to cut between. Then, with the rise of prestige television and on-demand streaming, that formula largely disappeared and was replaced with serialized cinematic storytelling because that's more bingeable." This holds true across media, and right now fiction is cross-format, existing in print, digital print, and audio. The preferred format is still print, but I have a feeling that this is going to change in a few years and that we should all... Write for Audio Let me first admit my bias. The physical act of reading has always been a bit of a struggle for me (hellooooooo ADHD), so I consume most of the books I read as audio. And there are certain things that books do when tran

YMMV: Stop Using Scene Breaks

🌅 Run Away With Me for the Summer... I've written before about how much I didn't enjoy The Dinosaur Lords  by Victor Milàn. Its faults are legion, but the issue that had the most lasting impact on me was Milàn's use of POV. The perspective character would shift sometimes every few paragraphs and the result was... well, in the linked write-up I described it as being "like trying to read a tennis match." It was incredibly taxing to have to deal with the constant shifts back and forth, and from that point on I decided to... Stop Using Scene Breaks Let me start out with a brief overview of what POV means for the newbies. If you don't need the refresher, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. Point of View (POV) or perspective refers to whose eyes the story is being seen through. In the broadest sense, these are delineated by which pronouns the narrator uses vis-à-vis the perspective character. 1st person uses "I," i.e., the narrator is  a character in

No, Boeing Didn't Murder a Whistleblower

📎And I'm Still in the Murda Bizness... Content Note: suicide Full Disclosure: a member of my immediate family worked at Boeing for over a decade and has not been consulted on this in any way. I have no inside knowledge of the individual or company in question. About a week ago there was a BBC News article making the rounds about a 62-year-old named John Barnett who was found dead in his car of an apparent self-inflicted wound. Barnett was a former employee of Boeing who had filed a whistleblower complaint in 2019 over lax safety standards. At the time of his death he'd given one deposition on the matter and was scheduled for another. The internet promptly jumped down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole and assumed that Boeing must have had the man murdered. And my hackles got raised . This is me going on the record that I find the idea ridiculous, for reasons I'm going to detail below. I was very irritated with friends and coworkers for hopping on this stupid bandwagon. Of

YMMV: Start With a Question, End With a Choice

🤷 Question: Tell Me What You Think About Me?... A lot of what's coming up in this series is home-grown and developed by me over the years. But there's a good amount that is adapted from other sources as well, and today's in one of the adaptational posts. Specifically, this comes from a  Lessons From the Screenplay   video about act structure in films . Using a five-act model, the video goes through  The Avengers  as an example of how each act starts with a dramatic question and ends with a character choice. I like it, but I also spend a lot of time thinking about how movies and books are fundamentally different, and while this model works pretty well for film acts, I like it even better for shaping chapters. Start With a Question, End With a Choice Something that comes up fairly frequently with new writers is that their chapters cover the ground they need to, but they don't really flow. It feels like it has too much preamble, or maybe it takes too long to wind down. It

YMMV: Write More Flash Fiction

⚡The Fastest Things on Two Feet... There's a scene in one of the last few episodes of Ted Lasso  where the character Nate is visiting his childhood home and picks up his old violin and begins to play it. It is the most honest depiction I've ever seen of what it's like for a musician to return to an instrument that they haven't played in years. He's not playing anything flashy, he's not stumbling over himself, he's just playing something simple and concentrating on getting each individual note to sound right. He's losing himself in the instrument, remembering why he used to love it. Anyway, this is why you should... Write More Flash Fiction Last week I talked about my Friday Flash Fiction  project in which I posted a new piece of 600-word original fiction every Friday for two years. I said it was one of the best things that happened to my writing career because it taught me how to write to a word count. This is all true. But it was great for a number of o

YMMV: Write to a Word Count

📈 It's a Competitive World... In the early teens, I started what would become a two-year writing project called Friday Flash Fiction , in which I committed to posting a new original 600-word story every week. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me as a writer; I learned a number of invaluable skills. Most of those I'll get into in more detail in a future post, but the most important by far  was how to... Write to a Word Count It's funny how all of this came about. You see, circa 2012 I had a pretty serious SEO problem. The first search result for "Kurt Pankau" linked to my personal page on a now-defunct social media platform called Atheist Nexus. I'd joined it in a fit of pique, gotten immediately bored of it, and deleted my account. Several years later, it was still my top google hit for some ungodly (ahem) reason. This was a problem, because I live in the Midwest and I was getting ready to go job-hunting. While I make no apologies for or att