The Curse of Being a Slow Writer

I don’t think it’s news to anybody that I am the equivalent of a sloth when it comes to writing fiction. At least, it shouldn’t be. I’ve said it quite a few times. But usually, I try to put a positive spin on that fact, embracing my molasses covered words and declaring it proudly, like it’s some kind of statement of quality. But the truth is, it sucks. It is the single most frustrating thing in my writing career. So today, I’m going to indulge in a moment of venting negativity. Today, I’m not going to try to convince you that it’s OK to be slow; that it’s alright to procrastinate with research, or editing, or any of the other excuses I’ve told myself are justifications for slackerhood. Because it isn’t. If you want to make it in this industry, you have to be prolific. That’s just a fact.

We had a saying at Dragon Heart Tang Soo Do: “If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll have to be a horrible warning.” So let me be your horrible warning. Being a slow writer isn’t a blessing, it’s a curse. Here are the top 5 reasons you don’t want to be me.
 

#1: Limited Productivity Potential

 
At my current rate, I’ll be lucky to finish a novel a decade. And since I also conveniently dragged my feet in deciding to take my writing career seriously, that means I’m joining the party late. So that puts my productivity level at direct odds with the amount of life I have left. If (fingers crossed) nothing horrific happens, I could potentially be looking at a long and happy life. But how much of that will I realistically spend writing? I’m going to say that probably by my 70’s, I’ll be running out of oomph, and likely Carpal Tunnel will get me before then. So given my late admittance that I really wanted to be a writer after all, that optimistically gives me a productivity potential of 4 books. (4?! That’s pathetic. This is why I dislike math, it never pans out in my favor!)

Now, say you were smarter than me and realized early on that you were destined to write for a living. I’m not so ancient that you’d have that much of a head start. Most people figure out their life’s passion during their twenties, and a lucky few know by their late teens. So at best, you’re a book and a half ahead of me. That’s still not a rosy picture of successful writerdom. I suppose there is a chance that you don’t see yourself being prolific. That you only have one or two titles in you and then plan to call it good. But I think the majority of us choose to be writers because we’re bursting with ideas waiting to find their way to the page. Am I wrong?

Which leads us to reason #2 why you don’t want to be me.
 

#2: Royally Pissed Off Plot Bunnies

 
The thing about plot bunnies is they breed like, well, bunnies. I have yet to go longer than a month without finding another cute and fluffy little detour hopping innocently across my path. (Innocently? Yeah, right. Those little buggers know my muse can’t resist them. They’re about as innocent as creepy children in a horror film.) So when I compare my maximum potential output (the measly 4 books) to the avalanche of rabbit fur weighing me down, you can guess what happens.

Personally, I don’t want face the legions of plot bunnies running around in my head when they realize that only 4 will ever get their moment in the spotlight. They’ll probably start a riot. They might even turn carnivorous. I don’t know. But I do know that they’ll be royally pissed off, and that can’t be good for my muse. Or anyone, really.

So unless you’re one of those rare writers content to write only a couple books, I’m guessing you’ll be facing the same predicament. And in case the thought of angry, carniverous plot bunnies hasn’t scared you away from my path of slackerness, let’s move on to reason #3.
 

#3: Getting Lost in the Discoverability Jungle

 
It’s a well-known fact that the fastest way to gain momentum in a writing career is to continually publish new content. Whether you’re self-publishing (especially if you’re self-publishing) or traditionally published, name recognition is everything. In an ever-growing jungle of titles, being prolific enough to constantly have your work in front of readers is the only way to survive. No problem, right? I just established that, like me, you have a plethora of ideas to choose from. “Prolific” will be easy!

Hear that screeching of the brakes? Yeah, you forgot about one key element– reason #1. When you’re as slow as I am, your chances of consistently staying on your readers’ minds goes out the window. I’ll survive in the Amazon jungle about as long as a fruit fly with that level of productivity. There’s no amount of marketing in the world that can save me from sinking into the mire of oblivion.

Pretty convincing case for not being me, no? But just for kicks, let’s say the issues of discoverability aren’t really that bad. That I’m being over dramatic in my snarkiness. (I did warn you I would be venting negativity.)

Welcome to reason #4.
 

#4: Being Stuck in a Permanent Day Job

 
Every writer dreams of waking up every day and spending the entire time writing. But the reality is that most of us still have to work day jobs. The fridge doesn’t fill itself, unfortunately, and the bill collectors don’t look kindly on IOU’s. So chances are, unless you’re secretly a billionaire, married to a billionaire, or homeless, you need some source of income. Where do you get it? The dreaded day job.

Now, some of you may be lucky enough to actually have a career you enjoy. But the rest of us punch the time clock like we’re signing in for a prison sentence. The only thing that gets us through the day is that shiny dream of someday getting to say “F you!” to the boss and walking away with certain fingers held high.

But what happens to that shiny dream when you write like a snail? It shrivels up and disappears. Yep, that’s right, your shiny dream is now a rotting, wrinkled hunk that looks like a dried apricot. Why? Because you’re too slow to be considered prolific. And since you’re not prolific, no one knows who you are. And because no one knows who you are, your books don’t sell. And when your books don’t sell, you get to offer that chicken-scratched IOU to the bank and pray they let you keep your house.

Such a pretty picture isn’t it? I think I’m rather gifted at casting the most depressing slant ever on the situation. But in case you missed the lesson in that dreary portrayal, let me reiterate it. If you don’t want to be stuck permanently in that day job you hate, don’t be me!
 

#5: The Burden of Emotional Turmoil

 
By now, I hope you’re seeing the downfall of succumbing to the slow-writing curse. If not, (man, you’re a hard cookie to convince!) here’s one final reason.

I’ve already covered the practical, tangible reasons it sucks to be a slow writer. But there’s also an emotional aspect. When you move with the agility of a tortoise, you tend to find yourself battling things like frustration, irritation, depression, anger, all the lovely turmoil that goes with swimming in the negative side of life. That self-doubt all writers experience? Yeah, quadruple it about a gazillion times. That lure of perfectionism? You’ll be chasing after it like a siren’s song. The regret over letting your dream slowly starve to death and die? You’ll carry it around until you start to look like Atlas, carrying the world on his back.

My point is, eventually, you’ll find yourself so immersed in the quicksand of negative emotions that you’ll end up writing a blog post just like this. ūüėČ

So there you have it. The top 5 reasons why you shouldn’t be me; why you shouldn’t succumb to the curse and let your writing career languish on the back burner. If you already find yourself hovering dangerously close to joining my sinking ship, don’t despair. There’s still hope. All you have to do is kick your lazy booty into gear. Figure out where you have the time to write and commit to it even if it means sacrificing sleep, weekends and watching Celebrity Game Night. (Seriously, though, that last one’s not a sacrifice. Whoever decided that sitting around watching celebrities play board games was quality television needs to be fired. Immediately.) You can do it. I have faith in you. In fact, how about we make a pact? Let’s take all the negativity and turn it on it’s head. Let’s laugh in the face of frustration and prove to everybody, including ourselves, that we do have what it takes to be writers and we can be prolific. Let’s break the curse together. Deal?

Dark and Urban and Contemporary, Oh My! (Defining Fantasy Subgenres)

I remember, back in the day, (nothing makes you feel old like starting a sentence with “back in the day”) Fantasy and Sci-fi were commonly known by only two genre names– Fantasy and Sci-fi. OK, maybe that’s not 100% accurate. There were probably a few subgenres, but those only really mattered if you were inside the publishing industry. Readers didn’t care about the distinction. Maybe they still don’t. I don’t know. But bookstores do, and the Mighty Zon’s recommendation algorithms definitely do. Classifying your book with the correct genre headers can mean the difference between actually finding readers and getting lost in a sea of other titles like a piece of driftwood. But with a plethora of subgenres to choose from, how is a writer supposed to figure out where their book fits?

Fantasy alone has 31 recognized subcategories. 31! So it’s no surprise that the distinctions between them can begin to blur. I know. I’m guilty of doing it myself. On any given occasion, I’ll declare Unmoving either Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy or some combination of the two. Because the truth is, I didn’t really understand the difference. In my mind, they were virtually the same thing.

Further research proved that although Urban and Contemporary are indeed very similar, they also have distinct differences that set them apart. Curious what those distinctions are? I thought you might be. Which is why I’m going to use my newfound knowledge to give you a break down of the more common Fantasy subgenres. That way you can declare your work a Comic/Arthurian/Steampunk masterpiece with confidence. Or, you know, whatever combination of subgenres it happens to be. ūüėČ
 

Alternate History Fantasy

 
This type of Fantasy takes real world events and creates an alternate outcome, resulting in a fictitious world that may still resemble ours. For example, Alternate History asks questions like, “What if we had lost World War 1 or 2?” The resulting progression of history from that deviating point would be the goal of the story, allowing the author to play with imaginary elements (including the light use of magic) while keeping the believability of the timeline.
 

Arthurian Fantasy

 
Just like the name implies, this includes any story inspired by the King Arthur legends. Whether it’s a literal retelling or simply based within that world, this subgenre is fairly straight-forward. Probably one of the most well-known examples of this is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
 

Comic Fantasy

 
This is the spoof category, where you’ll find over-the-top situations featuring Fantasy elements. Whether humorous or satirical, this subgenre is meant to amuse. Common examples include the Xanth novels by Piers Anthony, Monty Python (I know, not a book) and to some extent, The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
 

Contemporary/Modern Fantasy

 
Contemporary Fantasy simply means it’s Fantasy set in modern times. Magic and magical creatures mix with the everyday world we all know. The important thing that distinguishes this from Urban Fantasy is the location. Unlike Urban Fantasy, Contemporary can take place in any setting, as long as the time period is current. It also tends to be lighter in tone than its Urban counterpart.
 

Cross-Over Fantasy

 
When I first saw this, I thought it was referring to the blending of Fantasy with other non-Fantasy genres. But actually, it refers to stories where the characters can cross between realms and/or time periods. The only example I can think of that fits would be the Magic Kingdom of Landover series by Terry Brooks.
 

Dark Fantasy

 
Ah, my favorite subgenre and the one that most of my work falls into. Dark Fantasy contains elements of Horror, so you’ll see a lot of the darker supernatural creatures appear here. But it also refers to the overall tone of a piece. Dark Fantasy is grittier than it’s more traditional brethren, dealing with the nastier bits of humanity’s psyche. There can be (and often is) a significant amount of violence and gore and it usually contains themes meant to make a reader slightly uncomfortable. So even if there are no vampires, werewolves, demons, etc, a novel can still be classed Dark, simply by it’s voice and subtext.
 

Dystopian Fantasy

 
I don’t think is actually considered it’s own subgenre yet, but trust me, it will be soon. Thanks to the likes of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, Dystopian Fantasy has rocketed up the popularity charts. Fantasy has long played with utopian ideals, containing societies/races in perfect balance with nature, where peace and love reign. Dystopian is the exact opposite. The apocalypse has happened and humanity is suffering under the thumb of a dictatorial society that believes it’s utopian. Usually containing a lot of Sci-Fi elements as well, this subgenre features a lot of rebellion and “down with the man!” mentalities. But hiding beneath that is a cautionary message of hope that humanity can still manage to avoid such a desolate fate.
 

Epic/High Fantasy

 
Otherwise known as your stereotypical idea of Fantasy. This is the bread and butter of the genre and the one I expected to write in when I first started out. (It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized I found the intricacies of personality and psychology far more fascinating than the intricacies of politics and fictitious cultures.) Hallmarks of this subgenre include immense, sprawling worlds with rich histories and more detail than most readers would ever care to know. Expect to see hand-drawn maps and be introduced to intricately crafted cultures, magic and political maneuvering. Think Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Enough said, right?
 

Fairy Tales/Mythology

 
What would Fantasy be without Fairy Tales and Mythology? Although many of the original Fairy Tales have been watered down for modern sensibilities, the original stories were often violent, dark and twisted, meant to terrify children into learning a lesson. This is a subgenre rich in the history of storytelling, drawing on thousands of years of cultural traditions and is an endless well of inspiration for Fantasy writers. Many of the books currently on the market can be boiled down to the retelling of a Fairy Tale or Myth, including my own WIP, which draws loosely from Sleeping Beauty.
 

Heroic Fantasy

 
Where Epic Fantasy focuses on the world and the overarching idea of good vs. evil, Heroic Fantasy focuses on the characters, primarily– you guessed it– the hero. Think of Epic Fantasy as a birds eye view and Heroic Fantasy as the close-up. Often, it will feel very similar to Epic/High Fantasy, with medieval settings, magical creatures, and good vs. evil. But it will stay closer to the hero’s personal journey and growth as a character, and often features a true damsel-in-distress.
 

Historical Fantasy

 
Historical Fantasy is the long lost brother of Historical Fiction. It takes an actual time or event from history and blends in Fantasy elements similar to the way Contemporary and Urban Fantasy do. Starting to get confused yet? Yeah, me too.
 

Low Fantasy

 
High Fantasy consists of large sweeping worlds, epic battles and a ton of detail, right? So it’s safe to assume that Low Fantasy is the exact opposite. It usually contains little to no magic and more ordinary surroundings. This is a subgenre that is rarely used anymore, since it appears that writers who want this sort of thing tend to aim for the more contemporary variations– Modern or Urban or even Juvenile (strictly for kids). Kind of makes you wonder why it’s still considered a thing if no one uses it, huh?
 

Literary Fantasy

 
Literary Fantasy was created for all the snobby writers who didn’t want to be left out of the fun. (Just kidding.) This subgenre focuses on the actual writing rather than the other elements of storytelling. It uses things like format and style to deliver its message, often creating progressive narratives that don’t appeal to the mass market. Just like the Literary genre is aimed at a niche of highly intelligent readers, Literary Fantasy targets readers who like a little imagination in their pretension. ūüėČ
 

Magic Realism

 
This refers to the type of magic included in a tale, and as such, is most often seen paired with another subgenre. Magic Realism means that magic is an accepted part of the story’s world and operates under a strict set of rules. There are no unexplained, miraculous saves by magic allowed in this subgenre and using magic is often followed by negative consequences. The need for implements and tools to channel magical abilities is also commonplace here, giving magic a requirement of skill and work rather than mere blessed luck.
 

New Weird/Slipstream

 
This is a sister subgenre to Literary in that it actively tries to break the conventions of Fantasy. The landscapes and characters are often bizarre and the language can be highly stylized or poetic.
 

Paranormal Fantasy

 
This subgenre has seen a massive boost over the past decade, thanks to the ever-popular variation of Paranormal Romance. By it’s most basic definition, Paranormal means anything not normal. (Well, no S*** Sherlock, you don’t say.) So the same cast of inhuman creatures that show up in Contemporary, Dark and Urban Fantasy show up here. (Man, those vampires and werewolves really get around!) The most common plots seen in this subgenre are the romantic ones, which are often combined with a detective/police element. (Because only sexy cops can see the supernatural apparently.) But you will also see the age old battle of good vs evil and heroes trying to stop the subhuman from taking over the world.
 

Romantic Fantasy

 
This subgenre combines Romance with Fantasy in one powerhouse combination. How is that different from Paranormal Romance, you ask? Paranormal Romance is usually dark and gritty, and Romantic Fantasy doesn’t have to be. Romantic Fantasy focuses on the romance itself, relying on the question of “will they or won’t they” to drive the plot, while the love story can simply be an added bonus in Paranormal Romance.
 

Sword and Sorcery

 
This is another staple of the Fantasy genre. Back in the early days, (Ack! There it is again! The reminder that I’m old) if you weren’t writing Epic Fantasy, you were considered Sword and Sorcery. This is an action-driven subgenre, with sword-wielding heroes facing off against magic-wielding villains in brutal battles to the death. It’s kind of similar to Heroic Fantasy in that way, where the war between good and evil takes center stage. But where Heroic Fantasy focuses on the character, Sword and Sorcery cares about the badass fight scenes.
 

Steampunk Fantasy

 
This is another fairly new subcategory. Pulling from the Steampunk movement, Steampunk Fantasy lives in an alternate universe where combustion was never discovered. Technology is reminiscent of the old west, with steam-powered everything, and the settings are usually Gothic or Victorian with a definite feel of the Industrial Revolution. Plots in this subgenre typically pull from similar themes as Dark and Urban Fantasy, with those promiscuous vampires, werewolves and demons popping up yet again. The important thing about this subgenre is the adherence to the rules of Steampunk.
 

Urban Fantasy

 
Last, but not least, we have Urban Fantasy. As mentioned above, during our definition of Contemporary Fantasy, Urban Fantasy is dark by nature. It’s gritty and bloody and showcases the uglier side of humanity. And it absolutely has to take place in a city. Hence the “urban” designation. But, unlike Contemporary/Modern Fantasy, that city can be in any time period. Most often, it will be current times, but it doesn’t have to be. Which is why you’ll also see a lot of the Urban style in Steampunk and Paranormal.

So, there you have it. A cheat sheet to some of the more popular Fantasy subgenres. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if you feel I’ve overlooked an important one, (or gotten the definitions completely wrong) feel free to add/fix it via the comments below. As you can see, many of these subgenres overlap or can be combined to create new ones, making the task of defining your book all the harder. But hopefully I’ve helped clarify things, at least a little. I know I’m much more confident defining my work now, after learning all of these. Are you?

From the Editor’s Desk: A Foundation in Wisdom by Robert Loyd Watson

This week, I’m introducing a new feature to Nightwolf’s Corner (seems like I’m doing that a lot lately). As an editor, (both freelance and under REUTS Publications), I have the wonderful opportunity to see amazing novels during their developmental phase. And I wanted to find a way to share them with all of you as they became available. (I also wanted to find a way to help support the authors that trusted me with their manuscripts.) So think of these posts as my own personal book recommendations, straight from the editor’s desk.
 

A Foundation in Wisdom

By Robert Loyd Watson

 

Cover Image for A Foundation in Wisdom

 

History repeats itself. This is what I taught, and always believed. Then I met Sheridan, a man hitchhiking down the highway without a care in the world – a lonely figure who told me history, and the world, was ending. His evidence was the story of a mathematician who tried to prove the world didn’t exist.

It was a silly proposition. Nobody can prove the world doesn’t exist. But as I became more convinced Sheridan was right, that the proof lay at the edge of reality, I could only wonder, where would we go?

 

A Foundation in Wisdom is not your average tale. An intellectual adventure, steeped in mystery and suspense with a quirky sense of humor, it calls up shades of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and cross-breeds it with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Intriguing blend, isn’t it?

The book starts by introducing us to John Bartlebee, a traveling scholar that teaches History seminars across the country. On the way to his next appointment, he stops to help a guy stranded on the side of the road, offering him a ride. But from the moment he meets Sheridan, he knows something’s not quite right about him, and very soon realizes that he may have made a grave mistake by picking him up. Sheridan insists the world is ending, and proceeds to offer John proof in the form of a story.

Sheridan’s protagonist, Marcus, is a young mathematician trying to find his place in the world. When he accidentally stumbles on the ability to prove away existence, he’s set on a quest to discover what existence really means. What follows is a fascinating cast of quirky characters and an adventure of intricate twists and turns. All while the mystery of Sheridan continues to build and John starts to wonder if maybe he isn’t quite so crazy after all.

Robert Watson has created a unique blend of mathematics philosophy and fiction; a refreshingly different combination that I’d never seen before.¬†He expertly builds tension around Sheridan and John’s half of the story while keeping us entertained with Marcus’s. But underneath the sarcastic, slightly strange plot, Watson poses some deep philosophical questions.

“What does it mean to exist?”

“What if you could prove the world away? Would you?”

To learn more about A Foundation in Wisdom and the rest of An Orthogonal Universe, please visit the series website. And if you’d simply like to purchase it, (which you should! It truly is fantastic!) you can find it in both digital and print versions at Amazon.

Thank you to Robert for allowing me to be a part of your journey. I wish you all the success you deserve. ūüôā

Story vs. Concept; A Demo Team Showdown

Recently, I found myself on the wrong side of an angry, pitch-fork touting mob after I eloquently shoved my foot in my mouth. (Turns out, there’s a fine line between snarky and jackass. Especially when it falls on the wrong ears.) And as I was being schooled by a student who naively believed I was a demo team idiot, I was amazed at how often the terms “concept” and “story” were used interchangeably, as if they were the same thing. I’m not sure if this is a common misconception, but since I was due for a demo team post, I figured why not take a moment to clarify the definitions and try to make something good out of my embarrassing mistake. And what better way to do that than to pit story against concept in an epic battle of demo team terminology. Sounds fun, no?

So, here we go! Contestants to your places, aaaaaaand…fight!!
 

Round One: Concept

 
Concept does not, in fact, equal story. If it was synonymous with any word, it would be theme. And what is theme? The point of your project. It’s the message or idea that you want to convey to your audience. Let’s check out some examples.

(These are some of the more common demo themes/concepts I’ve seen over the years.)

  • Video Games such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Etc. (I’m guessing there’s a secret sect of Comic-Con Cosplayer geekhood within the martial arts.)
  • Medieval Asian Warlords (Yes, the Asian part is particularly important. How else can you create something as awesome as a D-grade Kung Fu movie brought to life?)
  • The Korean and/or Association Flag (Especially prevalent in the WTSDA. Apparently, we have a lot of association pride. And unoriginality.)
  • Badass little kids taking over the world (Cute factor combined with awesomeness. Who doesn’t love that?)
  • The Matrix movie franchise (Does this really need further explanation? The Matrix was just, like, the most epic movie ever!)
  • Pretty much any popular movie franchise (Further proof of my statement on example one. Maybe we’re all nerds at heart?)
  • Women’s self-defense (The only thing better than badass kids is watching a bunch of girls pummel a bunch of dudes, right?)
  • Peace, Love and Unity, Man (Otherwise known as the undefinable, “high” concepts.)
  • The Elements (Because there can never be too many interpretations of wind, fire and water.)

(I hope by now you’re laughing with recognition.)

Despite my mockery, these are all perfectly acceptable examples of concept. I’ve used some of them myself. (There may or may not be multiple versions of Mortal Kombat costumes lurking in Dragon Heart’s demo team archives. ūüėČ ) The problem comes when that’s all there is to your demo. The concept should be the foundational element, the first spark of creativity. Not the entire focus. Here’s why; concepts are simple. They contain absolutely no allusions to the story they might evolve into, making them a two dimensional, cardboard cut-out experience guaranteed to bore the life out of your audience. Don’t believe me? Let me show you. A concept’s inception typically looks something like this:

Student One: “Dude, let’s do a demo about the Korean flag!”

Student Two: “Like, oh my god! That would be totally awesome!”

Ok, maybe that’s a little facetious, but it’s not that far off the mark. A concept is that first burst of enthusiastic direction, not the ultimate goal. Don’t get me wrong, concept is very much an important part of any demo. Not only does it provide the inspiration, it has influence over decisions like costuming, set/prop design, characters, and overall presentation as well. But it’s focus remains purely on technique, and will rarely impart any lasting impression or emotion on the audience. For that, you need story.
 

Round Two: Story

 
If concept is the idea, then story is the way you impart said idea to the audience. It builds on the foundation concept provides to create something with a far richer experience for everyone. However, story is often misconstrued to mean flash. As in, an overly theatrical fluff-fest that’s trying to compensate for a lack of technique. That, my friends, is sadly mistaken. And probably the reason story is given so little respect in the creativity division.

All those components that instantly scream flash– costuming, props, etc– are not actually controlled by story. They reside within concept’s domain. (Cheeky bugger, fooling everyone by pointing the finger at story.) The only thing story controls is choreography. Why? Because choreography is how you tell a narrative in a demo. The rest is bonus to help ensure the audience understands. But you don’t actually need anything beyond choreography.

Story is defined in the literary world as conflict. Meaning, there has to be something happening. A journey from Point A to Point B. I’ve gone on about this topic at length in my previous post, Storytelling for Demo Teams, so rather than repeat myself, I’ll provide an example of how story elevates concept. And how it doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated to be effective. (There’s only so much you can cram into a 5 minute span, after all.)

I’m going to use one of my own demos for this exercise– The Dream Sequence— which I have featured before.

The concept for this demo actually came from the music itself. (As do all my ideas, which many of you know by now.) I wanted to show a dreamy, ethereal world that matched the tone of the music. But since that isn’t enough for a competition-grade demo in my opinion, I needed a story that would deliver that message to the audience. So I created one about a little boy who falls asleep and finds the dolls he was playing with have come to life around him. When he wakes up, the dolls disappear. Literary genius, isn’t it? But that’s my point. No one said you had to be a master storyteller; you just have to tell something.

So, to recap:

Concept = dreamy, ethereal imagination.

Story = slightly creepy dolls coming to life inside a child’s dream.

See how neither of these statements is really that complicated or involved? And how, when combined, you end up with an idea that’s far more powerful and interesting than the concept alone? That’s the beauty of story. (If you haven’t seen the demo I’m referencing, take a moment to go watch it. I’ll wait. ūüėČ )
 

And the Winner is…?

 
Neither.

That’s right, our epic showdown actually ends in a draw. Anti-climatic, I know. But that’s because one isn’t better than the other. They work in tandem, not competition. The ideal demo is a balance of both, pulling from the strengths of each to create a wonderful masterpiece people remember for years. But, because the two terms are separate elements, it is possible to create award winning demos using only one of them. You can have a traditional demo that focuses primarily on technique, with no storyline, just concept. And you can create a moving, story-driven demo featuring absolutely no costumes, props or flash. (Technically, though, if you have a story, you have a concept, regardless of the addition of flashy elements. Concept can live without story, but story needs concept to survive.) The trick is knowing your ultimate goal and utilizing your team’s talents to their fullest. (I’ve given out a lot of helpful tips about how to do this.)

And remember, if you find yourself having to explain what your demo is about, you failed. (Harsh, but true.) Whether your aim is traditional/concept-driven, or theatrical narrative, your audience should always receive your message clearly. That is, after all, the entire point of demos, is it not?

Blogiversary Link Round-Up

Well, the day has finally arrived– the one year anniversary of my first blog post. (And the announcement of the giveaway winner, which is why you’re all here, I’m sure.) I’ve made some incredibly awesome new friends over the past year and written a total of 51 posts. (Not counting this one, obviously, or my year would have magically lost a whole week. You know, now that I think about it, maybe that’s where all the non-existent time I wish I had disappeared to.) That’s a grand total of 60,172 words! (Yes, I counted them. So what? I was bored, and just a tad curious.) That’s officially a record for me. Sad, but true. Just think, if I had spent all that energy on Unmoving, the darn thing would be almost done by now! But then I wouldn’t have met all of you and discovered that I actually thoroughly enjoy blogging. Most of the time. ūüėČ

Before we find out who the lucky winner is, (Don’t you dare scroll down and spoil it….Don’t do it…Darn you! I told you not to do that!) I want to share a few highlights from the past year by way of some statistics. Think of it as a little mini-archive, a chance to catch up on some of the cool things you might have missed.

My most popular post, with 49 page views was: Marketing via Wattpad & Authonomy–Smart? (I’m not counting the miscellaneous catch-all known as Home Page/Archives or any of my Bio pages, which surprisingly outranked everything else. Who knew I was so fascinating?)

Randomness Galore: An Interview With Me received the most likes, (again, who knew I was that interesting?) while Nightwolf’s Corner Birthday Giveaway clocked the most comments. (Not shocking considering that was one of the ways you could enter.)

The Devil’s in the Details was shared the most, while my series on the merits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing– The Traditional vs. Self-Publishing Debate (Part One), The Traditional vs. Self-Publish Debate (Part Two), The Traditional vs. Self-Publish Debate (Part Three) — received the most references on other sites.

My record-breaking day, with 58 total page views is thanks to Storytelling for Demo Teams, the last installment in my demo team basics series. The other posts in that series are Demo Teams: A Brief Introduction, So You Think You Want a Demo Team, All About Staging: The Invisible Spotlight Effect, and A Lesson in Musicality, just in case you missed them.

The Definition of Black Belt is a fan favorite outside of the blogosphere, and Featured Image: Myusa Won Hwa Logo has been the most Googled, thanks to a shout out to Larry Wick’s Split Second Survival program. (Which appears to have vacated the web temporarily and is currently unlinkable.)

Writing…With a Twist is my least popular post (poor thing, maybe go show it some love?) and Introducing REUTS Publications is the shortest. The honor of being the longest is currently held by All About Staging: The Invisible Spotlight Effect, but that could change by this time next year.

I had originally intended to do a round-up of all my favorite posts. But conceited has never been on my list of personality traits, so I decided this was a better approach. I’m curious though, do you have a favorite post from the past year? If so, please share in the comments below. I may not be conceited, but I’m also not anti a little ego boost now and then. ūüėČ

Which brings us, finally, to the moment you’ve all been waiting for– the giveaway winner. Drum roll, please!

The lucky winner…

is…

Jon, of Jumping from Cliffs fame.

Congratulations! You’ve won your chosen prize– the substantive editorial critique. Be sure to check your inbox for more information.

But wait, there’s more!

I decided I was feeling extra generous, and to thank all of you for showing me more support than I expected, I decided to extend the total number of prizes to three. (Apparently I think three is the golden number. That’s how many winners I did last time too.)

So….the second winner…is…

Rose B.

and, last but not least, the third winner of the Nightwolf’s Corner Birthday Giveaway is… (Kudos to anyone who figures out the reference I’m snarkily mimicking, by the way)

Raven P.

Both of whom also selected the editorial critique as their prize. Looks like I’m going to be doing a lot of reading soon. Thanks again to everyone that entered. It truly means a lot to me that you did. And thanks to Rafflecopter for providing the venue and random winner selection tool. Look for more chances to win something around the holidays! Until then, I return you to your regularly scheduled program of sarcastic commentary on the nuances of storytelling.