Plotboilers Presents: “The Count, My Grandmother, and Seeing Through Another’s Eyes” by How to Write Good Podcast!

Today I’m sharing an episode from another podcast, How to Write Good. Why? Because the host of HTWG podcast, Daniel Poppie, was kind enough to invite me onto the show as a guest! I’ve never guested on a show before, so this was a new – and super fun – experience. Join us as we talk about a few recent books I’ve discovered along with their creative implications. You can join the discussion in the comments below or on Twitter at @HTWGPodcast. I also encourage you to subscribe to HTWG podcast on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts!); it’s well worth your time if you enjoy writing and/or thinking about the creative process from a fun yet philosophical perspective.

Books mentioned in this episode:

  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

 

Why Are Short Stories So Hard to Write?

Let’s talk about short story writing! On the one hand, short stories are simpler than novels because – as the name implies – they are short. On the other hand, the target is a lot smaller which means the margin for error is a lot bigger.

I’ve compiled a few of the things that I think make short stories a specific breed of difficult, and also a few notes on my personal process for writing them. Obviously, everyone’s creative process is different, but I’ve discovered that it’s actually harder to find solid resources on short story writing, opposed to long-form stories like a novel.

At the end of the day, short stories are a challenge because they don’t always (or in my experience, ever) fit the traditional three-act structure. That might sound crazy coming from someone who talks about story structure a lot, but it’s true. Depending on how short your story is, it’s probably not going to have a clearly defined first, second, and third act – at least not in the same capacity that a novel about the same topic, character or situation would. On the flipside, examining your short story through the lens of the three-act structure can be beneficial as well.

P.S. – You can find me on iTunes. If you like Plotboilers, it’d make my day if you rated and reviewed the show there!

Music: Twine by Podington Bear © Chad Crouch

How to Create Book Reviews People Want to Read

Creating a good book review isn’t easy.  I know, I know – it all boils down to personal opinion, right? Well, kind of. The way I see it, book reviews are a balancing act between personal feelings and critical feedback. In one of my recent podcast episodes, I recommend Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Clothing of Books” but hesitated to call it a review.The reason is simple: I just gave my opinion; I didn’t offer any critical feedback about her work. As far as I can tell, that’s the biggest difference between a recommendation and a review.

I did the same thing in my 2017 Halloween episode but under different circumstances. In that situation, I had a list of books I enjoyed but didn’t spend very much time talking about them. With less real estate in the episode for each story, I didn’t have the space to analyze them critically. Hence, recommendations.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my process, I want to clarify something: People don’t just read book reviews. They also watch and listen to them. Mine, for instance, are in the form of a podcast. That’s because I love podcasts and enjoy absorbing book reviews (and books) by listening to them. When I use the word “read,” I’m talking about principles that apply to blogs, videos, and podcasts alike. Additionally, I’ve made a handy-dandy infographic with the points outlined in this blog. Check it out and feel free to use it as a guide for your own reviews in the future! Continue reading “How to Create Book Reviews People Want to Read”

Book Recommendation: The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa LahiriMay the record show this episode went live in February! Well, at least for those of us on the West Coast. To celebrate the shortest month of the year, I’ve got a quick book review (recommendation, really) for you. And since this book is actually about the writing life, I’ve combined the show’s normal segments into one. If you haven’ read Jhumpa Lahiri, I highly recommend her two collections of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth. Someday, I’d like to review some of her other other works but for now, I hope you all enjoy my discussion of The Clothing of Books.

Books mentioned in this episode:

The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Carve the Mark Book Review & New Years’ Writing Resolutions

Carve the MarkIn my last episode of 2017, I’ve reviewed Veronica Roth’s “Carve the Mark” and put together some tips and tricks for setting challenging yet achievable writing resolutions for 2018. (If I’m being totally honest, I really don’t like New Years’ resolutions – but improving yourself is always a good thing, right?)

Carve the Mark is, as I forgot to mention on the show, the first in a two-part series. (Duology?) It also hit bookstores in the wake of Roth’s super successful Divergent series. Now that I think about it, I’ve read a few post-break-out novels this year. Aka, books published after an emerging author’s breakout debut. I’m diving into genre, characters, world building and a lot more – so let’s see if Carve the Mark lives up to the fast-paced and fun expectations Divergent set. Happy New Year, bookish friends!

Books mentioned in this episode:

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

Updates, Kitchen Timer Method, and #BraggingWrites

I’m not going to do the math to see how long it’s been since I’ve posted, but it’s been a while. Like, more than a year. Anyway, I’ve got a couple updates and some exciting news. Moving forward, Plot Boilers is going to take a slightly different direction – and I’m really excited about it. Basically, it’s about to get personal. Not TMI personal, just less stuffy and (hopefully) a little more exciting.

It’s a blog, after all – not the next great American novel. (And I’m the only person editing this so no one can stop me.)

That said, the information you see here will probably be the same-ish: Tips and ideas on writing, story structure, etc. An occasional book review, maybe some book suggestions – you get the idea.

Continue reading “Updates, Kitchen Timer Method, and #BraggingWrites”