Posts by CN James

22 Story Telling Guidelines

I found this list that someone at Pixar published not too long ago. It’s good stuff for story tellers. 1.You admire a character for trying more than for their successes. 2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different. 3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite. 4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because
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A Tribute to Ray Bradbury

It was the future: 1999, back when the 2000s promised flying cars, silver jumpsuits, Y2K, and Jeston’s-like fare. For me, however, I was being introduced to the past. It was then that I went to hear a man named Ray Bradbury speak. At the time, I hadn’t read any of his work, but I sort of recognized the name. I thought it might be interesting to go and see a famous author give a talk, and I had to attend at least one public speaking engagement as a requirement for a theater and film class I was taking at the
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Minor Characters: Who are they? What do they want?

In the world of music, the word “minor” refers to the name of a sound. It’s the low, “darker” sounding chords. Therefore minor doesn’t mean it is a less important harmony, it stands alone as its own thing. In the world of fiction, I feel that minor characters should be seen in a similar light, meaning that just because they are not driving the story doesn’t mean the reader doesn’t want to know something about them. One of the best examples of this that I can think of is Louis’ brother in the Anne Rice novel, Interview with the Vampire.
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Why Sci-Fi?

As a genre, science fiction and its relatives (from horror, to fantasy, to dystopias) are by in large dismissed by the literary community. To me, to dismiss sci-fi and fantasy is to dismiss George Orwell (1984), Margaret Atwood (Handmaid’s Tale), Mary Shelly (Frankenstein), Bram Stoker (Dracula), Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), and Beowulf, to name a few.  Recently, Pulitzer-Prize winning author, Michael Chabon wrote of his frustrations early in his writing career when his sci-fi flavored stories were dismissed and ridiculed.  On the surface, the literary community makes some good points. The otherworldly impossibilities are often times nothing more than imaginative
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Before You Write

There are plenty of days where I can think of nothing else other than getting home so I can get back to writing. However, there are plenty of times that as the day goes on, my enthusiasm and creative charge fades by the time I can finally get to it. So I’ve developed a system to help me out, and I thought I’d share my ideas. You could think of it as a method for setting yourself up for a creative and productive writing session. Before you write: 1.) Read Read something, even if it’s just a paragraph. You should
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Six Tips for a Memorable Book Trailer

To make this simple, let me say this: Book trailers are not, and should not, be movie trailers. The two medium are far too different and shouldn’t be sold in the same way. Books are a personal experience. No one can really read a book with you. Reading asks you to interpret and imagine the text in a way that no one else will. And as such, the reader needs the freedom to be able to imagine their own version of the story, and make it come to life in their mind’s eye. A movie is a totally different experience.
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Crafting Interesting Characters

What do readers want to know about the characters? 1. The basics The characters should be directly affected by the events unfolding in the story, i. e. the plot. Their demeanor, the way they dress, act, and interact with others should all stem from three places: 1. What is happening to them in the story. 2. Their personality. 3. The internal conflict and how they are going about to resolve this conflict. 2. The superficial characteristics What the character looks like should give the reader some guide as to how they present themselves to the world. It is often taken
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What is Speculative Fiction?

Defining a genre often leads to muddled ramblings about what that genre should or shouldn’t be, and normally ends up leaving something important out in the process. That said, there are certain genres that are fairly clear cut. Romance, for example. If you are a romance novelist your readers expect all the joys and sorrows that come with the games of courtship and marriage. However, when it comes to other genres the definitions are unclear and confused. One genre label, which I personally subscribe to, that sadly falls into this unfortunate area of ambiguity is speculative fiction. So, and I
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