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Like Sharks in a Harbor (Flash Fiction)

Woong counted no less than four alarms when he poked his head into the observation deck. He could pick apart each one: proximity, emergency, something blocking the cargo doors.

But the last one, a sort of angry beeping that sounded important had the sound of authority, like it wasn’t supposed to be ignored.

He didn’t know what it was, and he definitely didn’t have time to figure it out. Woong had to find the system that controlled the cargo door, disengage whatever safety protocols this freighter had in place, and get the door to open.

The short range crackled in his ear, “Woong! How’s it going in there?”

“Found the obs, it’s clear. I’m looking for the door controls now.”

“Nice. Know what you’re looking for?”

Woong scratched his head, his eyes darting from one appliance to the next. The room was poorly lit, except for the hypnotic glare from monitors, and the light from the giant window that looked down into the main cargo bay.  “I’m looking for a computer right next to an override, but I don’t-”

Continue reading Like Sharks in a Harbor (Flash Fiction)

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What Motivates Your Character (and Is It Enough)?

You have reasons for coming here (you want to learn more about writing, to communicate as one author to another, or maybe you were baited by that tantalizing title). I have a reason for writing this post (to inform you, to give you a place to discuss, and to ensnare you with clickbait! HAH).

The point is, everything you and I do is brought on by some sort of motivation. We are human, we want, and we will always want.

Your characters should also want something (even if they aren’t human). Coming up with a motivation is easy: Is your thief greedy? Is your president obsessed with power? Is your romantic lead drawn to honor?

However, one motivation won’t cut it if you want to make your characters interesting. So what is the secret?

Continue reading What Motivates Your Character (and Is It Enough)?

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Fear of Writing

My name is P.S. Hoffman and I’m afraid of writing. It’s a subtle thing, a small thing that’s hard to notice, but it’s always there. In between every word, there is a pause, a tick where I’m not sure if I can do it, I’m not sure if I can write the next.

I’m afraid I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m afraid nobody will care, or worse. I’m afraid that what I’ve written now is the last I’ll ever write, because nothing I do will ever be good enough.

My name is P.S. Hoffman, and I’m finished with fear. I have too much to say, I have too much to share, and I don’t have time to be afraid.

And neither do you.

Continue reading Fear of Writing

Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal

Do Writers Talk to Each Other?

Most of the people I’m connected with on the internet are writers: Best-selling novelists, bloggers with heavy clout, and budding new writers.Sometimes I wonder, do the authors and bloggers I follow on twitter know each other? I mean, really know each other.

Do they talk? Do they invite each other out for tea or sex or housewarming parties?

I think it’s more likely that they can’t stand each other – too much jealousy, or popularity issues, and the desire to distance yourself from so-and-so because “he’s not a real horror writer, he just writes really long chapters about murders.” Continue reading Do Writers Talk to Each Other?

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Posting on Wikipedia? + Character Building Excercise

I read this article from The New Yorker.

In it, Author Philip Roth (The Human Stain) writes an open letter to Wikipedia about the silliness that can ensue when you try to change a page on Wikipedia. You see, there was an error on The Human Stain‘s Wikipedia page, one that Roth wanted to correct. A claim based purely on rumor erroneously explained that Roth was inspired to write his novel by ‘the life of Anatole Broyard’.

Roth disagreed. He says he was inspired by his friend, a Professor of Sociology at Princeton, Melvin Tumin.

Continue reading Posting on Wikipedia? + Character Building Excercise

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You Can’t Please Everyone: How to Write about Sensitive Topics

This post was written in tandem with my fellow blogger, Samah. Go read Samah’s blog for an illuminating glance into the diverse lives of Scarved Muslim Women.

I’m going to say a word, and you’re going to feel a quake of emotion; I don’t know if it you’ll have a positive reaction or what, but I want you to focus on what you feel.

Are you ready? OK. Here it goes: Feminism.

Feminism is a blazing hot topic, especially on the semi-anonymous internet battlefield. It’s infamous for starting absurd internet wars and it’s divisive enough that sometimes feminists clash with other feminists.

The point is, touchy topics like feminism are so sensitive, they might as well come with a ‘WARNING: FLAMMABLE” sign. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about them.

Here are some tips for you, dear reader, on how to write about sensitive topics without poking the bee’s nest.

Continue reading You Can’t Please Everyone: How to Write about Sensitive Topics

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How are YOU preparing for NaNoWriMo?

November is coming! (Already? Dammit!).

I’m working with some other social media websites, and I wrote something on Storify about how to prepare for NaNoWriMo:

https://storify.com/pshoffman/na-no-wri-mo-and-why-you-should

Told you it was a short post!

How are YOU preparing for NaNoWriMo? What are you going to write? Are you READY?

Comment below, and don’t forget to like and follow the blog!

Photo by Rudolf Vlček

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10,000 Words a DAY?! (or How to Use Science to Write More, Better)

The most Novembery of all months is bearing down on us, and soon everyone around the world will be getting to work on novels they’ve been putting off for far too long. Authors will be completing first drafts of novels in November, because who wants to go outside in **the weather**?

Wait. Novel first drafts in a month? How is that possible? That’s like, 5000 words a day, without deleting anything.

If you had asked me 6 months ago, I would have said “That’s impossible.” But I’ve been working up there (I think I’m at around 2000 words on a good day), and if you asked me a few hours ago, I’d say “That’s improbable. Only full-time writers can even get close to that.”

Continue reading 10,000 Words a DAY?! (or How to Use Science to Write More, Better)

Waiting at 34th Street

Books Too Difficult? Why You Should Read Them Anyway!

I read this article and my brain flopped out of my gaping mouth.

The article picks apart some recent statements by bestselling novelist Nick Hornby, and his suggestion that readers should not force themselves to read difficult books. Hornby says, “Novels should be like TV. It shouldn’t be hard work and we should do ourselves a favour.”

OK, before I get passionate and start ranting, I want to say this: TV can be thought-provoking, immersive and emotionally powerful. TV can be fantastic.

And there is nothing wrong with authors writing easy-to-read books; sometimes you just want to curl up after a long, hard day and relax.

But to prescribe that all books should be easy, that all books should be nothing but popcorn entertainment — this is evil.

 

Continue reading Books Too Difficult? Why You Should Read Them Anyway!

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How Much Do You Sell For?

This article in The New York Times bemoans the issues of being a writer; namely, not being paid. The author, Tim Kreider, addresses the frequency of people asking him to write for free. Sickening, isn’t it?

Kreider ends his tirade by pleading with all writers to never, ever, ever give out their writing for free. He says, “Do it for your colleagues, your fellow artists, because if we all consistently say no they might, eventually, take the hint.”

But if you’re a self-publisher, or a self-marketer of any kind, maybe you should not heed his advice.

I want to point to this post from The Creative Penn.

It’s an interview with  full-time, independent author Lindsay Buroker. Buroker gives away the first book in The Emperor’s Edge series for free, and sells the rest for $4.95.

You know what? It’s working for her. And she isn’t the only one who advocates this type of marketing. According to this interview (Thanks Lindsey!), Neil Gaiman experimented with giving away one of his books free for a month, and his sales went up by 300% the following month.

So I wanted to ask you, dear writers: Do you sell your work? How much do you sell for? Do you know how other authors do it?

Post your thoughts in the comments below! Don’t forget to like or follow.

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