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nick nurse

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  1. Gabe, From my limited successes thus far in the world of agents and big-house publishers, I've gleaned a pretty good picture of how it works in New York. Before I go briefly into some of the ins and outs of the publishing world, I'll briefly talk about my "credentials"--ie, the experiences based on which I draw my conclusions on the nature of the biz. I sent out five query letters to agents for What It Feels Like for a Boy (formerly known as Tristan's Redemption) and from those five I have sent out, four agents asked to see it. One took a pass. The novel is currently under review or going out in the mail to three of those agencies. These aren't podunk agencies, either; they're agencies with a proven track record of sales and, in the case of a few, NYT bestsellers. Anyhow, it seems that agents are willing to consider material that has something new and different going on. If I may be so self-aggrandizing as to say this, I wrote a fairly strong query letter. Think of it like a pitch--you have a paragraph, basically, to sell an agent on your story, so it has to be snappy, attention-grabbing and clever. Then you send them the material and wait. Anyhow, I'll add more later--right now I am dashing out the door. Good luck and don't worry--not all the news is grim! I'll continue on this vein soon.
  2. There once was a boy from Pompeii Who had a deep fear he was gay The sight of a girl Made him want to hurl And he'd cum on the boys in a spray. Bring it on, dear Mr. Ben Dover. :D
  3. There is a concept I am reminded of that is known as deus ex machina. Roughly translated, it means "God from a machine," and it hearkens back to the days of ancient Greek theatre, when oftentimes conflicts were solved only by the arrival of the gods (in later stage performances, figures representing the gods were lowered to the stage from above by rudimentary pulley machines, giving rise to the phrase). In the modern usage, literary theorists refer to deus ex machina as the use of convenient coincidence in fiction. What this becomes, then, is essentially a fate versus free will argument. To some degree, particularly in the outset of the initial conflict, coincidence is "okay" to some degree. That which we cannot control plays a very real role in our lives: some of us get in car accidents; some of us win the lottery; some of us get cancer or another debilitating disease when we're very young; some of us are born gay. So if the initial plot device is coincidence, this is fairly true-to-life, and usually is acceptable in literature. Many great works of literature draw on coincidence as a plot device; for instance, Dickens had two men, unrelated, who nevertheless looked nearly identical in A Tale of Two Cities. This developed into a substantial plot device in the novel. Now, why does the use of coincidence matter? Fiction writing requires what is known as the "willing suspension of disbelief"--in other words, we have to be able to convince ourselves, when reading a piece, that what is happening is real. In other words, if we have a character who loses his best friend to cancer, has two parents who die in an auto accident, gets randomly beat up by homophobes while on his The Price is Right free vacation in Tahiti and then gets struck by lightning and killed, there is absolutely no way we can convince ourselves that anything like this is believable. Add to this that the character in question has a two-foot cock, and now we're really outside of the realm of believability. So coincidences aren't really valid plot devices except as the inciting incident--the thing that gets the story rolling. I'll admit that there are exceptions to this rule: well-foreshadowed coincidences can be used successfully, but it's difficult to make it believable. Coincidences off-screen that affect the story only slightly are also usually fair game--I used this device once in Tristan's Redemption, when I revealed that Julian's love, Mark, had been killed in an auto accident a year before the story opens. So, with coincidence off the table as a legitimate plot device, where then can conflict arise? I offer this scenario: Story opens with Gay Teen #1. Let's call him Edgar. Edgar does not have a two-foot cock. In fact, his is pretty average. Funny how that works sometimes. Edgar has a best friend named Gladys, who has a rare eye disorder, and one day Gladys encourages him to buy a lottery ticket. Edgar wins the lottery and becomes instantly rich. Hooray for Edgar! He gets enrolled in a new private high school, then goes and buys himself a really cool sports car, which he drives really really quickly everywhere he goes. His lover, Gay Teen #2, whom we will call Percival, goes everywhere with him, even though they go to different high schools now. Edgar racks up a long list of speeding tickets, which he refuses to pay. His license is revoked. Now he can't see Percival! Angry, he takes Gladys and they go to see Percival anyway. Gladys is legally blind and can't drive. So Edgar drives his car illegally, flips it while speeding, and kills Gladys. Poor Gladys. Now, Edgar gets arrested and goes to prison for manslaughter. Out on bail, Edgar finds himself the victim of a thorough beating by Gladys's brother's football teammates--not because he is gay, but because he is the proximate cause of Gladys's death. Sad, huh? But fairly realistic, also. If constructed right, a good author could easily make the readers suspend their disbelief--instead of saying "wow, this could never happen" or "hm, this could happen," the readers say, "yes, this did happen," without questioning it. Why? Because everything that happens to Edgar, as melodramatic as the incidents are, are the results of his actions rather than random happenstance. Instead of using coincidence as a plot device, that which ratchets up the tension, the conflict, the plot of the story is Edgar's choices, dictated by his free will. Everything we do in life has logical consequences, and just as we can make our own choices, we too must abide by the results of those actions. Yes, coincidence and random fortune or misfortune play a role in our lives. However, the majority of what comes our way, for good or for ill, is the result of our own actions, and fiction must be true to this aspect of life. So, then, in plotting a story, rather than resorting to deus ex machina and contrivance, make the conflict a logical extension of the actions taken by the characters in your story. Someone decides to come out? Maybe he gets beat up. Someone decides to tell a friend he loves him? Maybe that friend rejects him. Or says "I love you too." But whatever conflict you create, in order to seem real, should be the logical conclusion of previous action. Before I finish this long post off, I wanted to add two examples, because everything is bettered with examples to prove a point. There are some spoilers here, so if you haven't read my story or most of The Least of These, you might want to skip this part. Okay, fair warning. So I, in Tristan's Redemption, deliberately attempted to avoid the influence of coincidence on the actions that befell my characters. Everything that happens to Tristan--his fight with Garrett, his friendship with Julian, his involvement in Julian's gay-straight alliance, his brief fling with Seth and his eventual romance--are all the results of his own actions. Good or ill (and at points mostly ill), the sources of conflict in Tristan's life are the results of the choices he has made. Similarly, in The Least of These, the characters' native intellect and skill with computers leads them on a very logical progression: they first design simple code, then patent it, then market it, and then stand to make a very large sum of money off of their ideas. Again, the fate the characters share is that which they make for themselves. It is this that is one of the most important lessons of conflict and of plot: eschew the coincidental in favor of the logical. Alright, I've made my point and I am done. Comments, anyone?
  4. While Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page often played his Gibson with a cello bow, probably most notably on Communication Breakdown--who's heard the really long and amazing version of it on their new compilation of live material, How the West Was Won?--that doesn't make Jonsi any less original. The style and intent behind Sigur Ros's use of the cello bow is far different than Page's. Point is, it's still uncommon, no matter who did it first--I'd be willing to bet that Page wasn't the first either--and it sounds beautifully atmospheric when Sigur Ros does it. NN
  5. Well, since I'm the one who started this thread, I guess I should put down a few of my favorites here too. I'm a really big categorizer. I have clearly-delineated favorites, so this sort of thing is easy for me. For instance, my favorite band is, in fact, Sigur Ros. Check them out, Blue. They're an Icelandic ambient rock band--really brilliant and very creative. The lead singer, Jonsi, is gay and blind in one eye, and his voice is otherworldly, it's so high-pitched. He also has a habit of playing his guitar with a cello bow on certain songs. You absolutely must get the two albums that are widely available: Agaetis Byrjun and ( ). I listen to several different types of rock: indie rock, post-rock and classic rock. While Sigur Ros is post-rock, my second favorite band is indie: Death Cab For Cutie. Their albums Transatlanticism and Something About Airplanes are phenomenal. Also in the indie rock vein, which is really where all the good music is being made, I like The Postal Service (same lead singer as DCFC), the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand, The Darkness, Muse, Interpol, Rilo Kiley and Radiohead. As far as post-rock is concerned, I like Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You Black Emperor, A Silver Mount Zion and From Monument to Masses. Classic rock: Led Zeppelin all the way, followed by Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. My favorite singer is Sarah Brightman (classical and pop-ish music), and I also really like Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Enya, Bjork and Sarah McLachlan. For all you downloaders out there who might be interested in any of this stuff, I'll list one good song from some of the groups/singers I mentioned. Sigur Ros - Untitled 8 and Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa (the video for this song is about two gay boys falling in love) Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism Postal Service - Such Great Heights and Brand New Colony Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps and Y Control Snow Patrol - Run Franz Ferdinand - Michael and Take Me Out The Darkness - Love is Only a Feeling Muse - Time is Running Out Interpol - Obstacle 1 Rilo Kiley - Pictures of Success Radiohead - Let Down Explosions in the Sky - Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean Godspeed You Black Emperor - East Hastings Led Zeppelin - Achilles's Last Stand Sarah Brightman - Eden Tori Amos - Taxi Ride Kate Bush - This Woman's Work and Hello Earth Enya - Carribean Blue Happy downloading! NN
  6. Okay, so here's something that hasn't yet been discussed in the forums, and this seems like the place to do it . . . What sort of music do you Awesomedude fans like to listen to? Seeing as there is a wide variety of people who visit this site, I imagine everybody's into different things musically. Here's the place to tell us all what and why!
  7. Thanks Blue and Pecman for your comments! I will begin discussion on finer points of the actual process of fiction writing in the next few days. I have a few things on my plate that are keeping me from writing long diatribes on the subject, so hopefully I'll get to that soon. Good to see you both here! NN
  8. This board is for general conversation on poetry of all sorts, and for members to post their own poems, which we can then place in the Poets' Corner of awesomedude. Everyone is welcome to post!
  9. Dear Awesomeduders, It?s been this particular forum that I?ve been most anticipating, given advance interest in posting here. There seems to be several beginning to intermediate-level writers using this site (I shy away from the term ?young writers? because age is not so much a factor in fiction writing; it is experience that is the determining factor in skill), and I hope that this forum becomes a positive force for lively discussion on the nature of fiction writing of all sorts. As some of you may or may not know, I am a student of English at a pretty famous university in the States. Of course, it?s not that that lends me any credence when it comes to advice on writing. What lends me any credence whatsoever is the fact that I?ve been writing lengthy pieces of fiction, both novels and short stories, for ten years. I?ve had some little practice at the craft. However, I?d recommend you read at least part of my novel, Tristan?s Redemption (posted here on awesomedude, of course), before you take my opinions with anything more than a grain of salt, because essentially they are no more than just that: opinions. Writing is by its very nature as an artistic endeavor the sort of activity that defies rules and borders; at best, what I would hope to do is offer a few general guidelines that have helped me and hopefully will, in turn, help you as well. Before I really jump into things, let me point out that I am a firm believer in breaking the rules. I also believe, though, that it is best to be cognizant of some of the various overarching principles that have guided authors for centuries before you go about smashing them to bits. After all, if you know you?re breaking the rules, it?s so much more fun than if you?re just breaking them without knowing any better. Think of it like speeding: if you have no idea what the speed limits on a freeway are, going 80mph doesn?t sound so cool, but when you know you?re only supposed to be doing 60, suddenly you feel like NASCAR racer on crack. That having been said, the point is this: there are a few rules that really really really have stood the test of time. They?re there for a reason. Practice with them until they are second nature. Learn them, internalize them, let them become a part of you that breathes in and out alongside you. Now, once you?ve done that, break em. Break em all. Be experimental, be different, be wild, be yourself and be unique. No literature would be worth reading if writers weren?t constantly pushing the boundaries of the acceptable. Dante wrote in the vernacular, eschewing Latin in favor of writing in Italian. ee cummings hated to capitalize anything. Joyce broke all the rules when he released Ulysses and, later, Finnegan?s Wake. Our modern era is the era of experimental fiction, and there is no reason that you should not be a part of that. There is, however, one totally utterly inviolable rule of fiction: be passionate. You must must must absolutely care about what you are writing. I don?t care if you?re doing a modern interpretation of War and Peace in the second-person present tense from the viewpoint of a squirrel watching it all or if you?re copying out a recipe from your grandmother?s secret stash (not that secret stash, people?you shouldn?t be thinking about your grandmother like that anyhow)?make your readers feel your passion. There is no more important rule than that. If you?re not prepared to laugh along with your characters, weep with them, bleed with them and feel their every footstep through the pages of your story, then don?t bore us with the details, cause we?re not going to laugh or weep or bleed with them either. In the world of your fiction, you are God, and if God doesn?t care, who will? So, what are some of the other guidelines that need to be learned before they can be broken? Well, I?ll add to that in later posts, but here are a few, starting with an easy one: Grammar is Good Grammar is your friend. I promise. Please pay attention to proper punctuation, spelling and syntax. Buy a grammar guide if you have to. Or ask someone with a pretty good grasp of English grammar (raises hand) to take a look at it for you. If you really want to, you can always send me your pieces and I?d be happy to take a peek at the grammar and spelling and stuff. But! Do not let any nervousness where grammar is concerned keep you from telling your story. If you don?t remember it all/speak English as a second language/write to frenziedly to care about where silly things like periods go, fine. Write your story!! That is the most important thing. But edit it when you are done if you want to be taken seriously. Briefly, a few common mistakes: you?re, your: the first is a contraction of ?you are.? Say your sentence aloud to yourself. If you can say ?you are? in pace of the ?you?re,? then you?ve used the right one. The second is a possessive. If the thing you?re talking about belongs to someone else, than it?s yours. Examples, at the risk of sounding didactic: *?You?re such a good fuck.? See how that can as easily be said, ?You are such a good fuck?? *?Your dick is a fascinating shade of periwinkle.? Here, the unfortunate periwinkle dick belongs to someone who probably doesn?t want it. But it?s theirs anyway. And that brings me to my next point: there, their, they?re: the first refers to location. Use it when someone is talking about where something/someone is located. The second is possessive about a group of people?multiple ?yours?, if you will. Use it when the item(s) belong to a group of someones. The last is a contraction of ?they are,? and, again, if ?they are? can be said in place of it, then you?re using the right one. Examples: *?I didn?t know you had so much hair down there.? See, location: down there. Also, it can be used as in this example: ?There are lots of naked men in that room.? *?It was their dildo, so I had to give it back to them when I was done.? Here, the dildo belongs to a group of, one hopes, rather sanitary individuals. *?They?re really into farm animals.? Lastly, replace ?they?re? with ?they are? and you?ll see that it works equally well. It doesn?t make the sentence any less weird, of course. But hey. to, too, two: ?too? expresses two things: a synonym for the word ?also? and an issue of degree, as in, ?you?re too much to handle.? ?Two? is totally self-explanatory. For any other uses, use ?to.? You?re probably gonna be right. Quotation marks: All punctuation goes inside quotation marks. Always. There are two exceptions: the colon and the semicolon, in a few rare circumstances, go outside. The question mark can as well, but again, only in rare instances. In dialogue, though, the punctuation?periods, commas, question marks and exclamation points?always go inside the quotation marks. So, ?Dude! I never knew you had a third nipple!? is correct, while ?Can I see it?? is not. Lastly, a personal pet peeve: This is just me, but I really hate it when people use internet lingo, emoticons or ::emotion:: things in stories. This is not an internet conversation. Writing ?hehehehe? or ?LOL? or ?::blushes::? in a story is not acceptable. Ever. Period. All it says is, ?I am a writer who is too lazy to indicate to the reader that I am being amusing, sarcastic, playful or whatever it is this character is trying to convey by lamely writing ?hehehehe? as though this were an internet conversation and not a fictional work I want you, the reader, to take seriously.? Instead of stuff like, ?And plus, he was cute . . . hehehehe!? a writer should say, ?And plus, I thought he was cute, although I was a bit embarrassed that I was so goddamn shallow and insipid, and as a crappy character in an equally crappy fictional story I?m a worthless waste of kilobytes, so I should be destroyed now.? Or, less vehemently, ?And plus, I thought he was cute. Oh, man, even thinking about that makes me blush.? or ?Giggle? or ?Wet myself? or whatever is appropriate. So much for the easy one. If you can string sentences together coherently, you?re well on your way to being able to write a story. There are lots of elements that go into a story, though. Let me boil them down into three things right here: *Characters *Plot *Diction/Syntax and for bonus points, I?m gonna add *Themes *Imagery/Figurative Language *Milieu But with each of those categories comes a whole array of choices. For instance, with characters come these questions?and these are hardly all of them. Who?s the narrator? Is the story in first, second or third person, or a combination of those three? What tense is the story in?past or present, or something else? Which characters need to be ?round,? and which can be ?flat?? (That?s when question marks can be used outside of quotation marks.) Who are my major characters? Who are the minor characters? Who is my protagonist? What is his motivation? Who is my antagonist? What is her motivation? What is my main character?s background? What are his beliefs? What are the backgrounds/beliefs of my other main characters? And so on and so forth. The good news is that when you can answer those questions, you?ll be well on your way to having part two in place: a plot. Now, before this entry gets any longer, I?m going to cut it short here with the understanding that in my next posts I?ll try to talk about the six elements of a story I brought up above. Of course, questions, comments and friendly criticisms are welcome, and remember as always that all rules are made to be broken. Well, except one. The only rule you cannot break is that you must be passionate about everything you write. So make your characters dance and sing across the stage you create, because in the end it is that more than anything else that will make you a writer worth reading. Until next time! NN
  10. This forum is geared toward discussion of guidelines on writing fiction: what they are and when they should be broken. I encourage everyone to post their thoughts and opinions!
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