Original by Betsy James with permission.
“Top-heavy, too earnest, too detailed” describes most early drafts, certainly my own. That’s how it should be. In the beginning you have to let ‘er rip, pile it on, explore, make a mess. If you don’t you’ll get self-conscious and inhibit yourself.
Then you cut.
Continue reading “On Cutting for the SF Artist”
That machete was my Dad’s. In the 1930s he was a mining engineer in Argentina, working pack mules in the Andes. The machete saw a lot of use then, but when Dad died neither of my brothers claimed it. Heirlooms shouldn’t leave the family; I took it myself, feeling odd that the only daughter should inherit that gigantic phallic blade.
Continue reading “On Cutting: Sharpen the Blade”
A friend who grew up rural poor says his grandpa’s advice was, “Don’t steal unless you know how to steal.” Mine is:
“Don’t use archaic English unless you know how to use archaic English.”
I’m pretty fair at it, yet I’d never risk it in print. I adore when the high-born Irish love-interest in the fantasy romance says, “Hast thee strided anon upon ye poop deck, milord, forsoothly begorra?”
Continue reading “On the Use of Archaic English: Prithee, Risk It Not”
(Originally published in August of 2016)
How to get back to work when the Universe conspires against you
We’ve been suffering a five-year drought here in the high desert. This year the monsoon returned and has been spitting mud every evening for the last several weeks. It doesn’t rain in the southwest like it does in the North- or Midwest where it can rain for three days straight. Here, no one carries umbrellas because you wait ten minutes and the spot thundershower moves on. Well, usually.
Continue reading “When Chaos Rains”
At one point I was trying, with difficulty, to understand a group of five characters. Couldn’t get the dynamics right, even after writing too much backstory and doing stuff like assigning each of them a symbol—circle, square, squiggle and so on.
I remembered (finally) what I tell students: “In imagination, incarnate as your characters. Be them in their bodies. It’s how we are in our bodies that makes us who we are.”
So, being in the body of each, pen in hand, I asked, “Okay—how would I draw a cat?”
Continue reading “Writing and Drawing Snacks: Betsy James on Incarnation”