Assembling a Cyberpunk Heist Team by Jodi L. Milner

My buddy James and I did a super entertaining blog swap. He asked me to stretch out of my writing comfort zone and write a cyberpunk “how to” article. Here’s what I came up with. Be sure to like and follow James at his blog. 🙂

James Wymore

As part of a blog swap (see my last post), Jodi L. Milner wrote these fun instructions, which I think you’ll enjoy.

Assembling your Cyberpunk Heist Team

By Jodi L Milner

Listen, if you’re reading this you are already up to no good. Kudos. I like your moxi. Chances are you’ve got plans, big ones, the kind that needs cash. We’re not talking about rummaging up enough coins to sleep in a real bed, that’s nothing. If you take my advice, you’ll never have to sleep on a pile of cardboard again.

We’re talking credits. Those penthouse-dwelling corporate yes-men got ‘em. You need ‘em.  The cybernetic enhancements you want won’t pay for themselves, and without ‘em you might as well start selling your brain space to the highest bidder.

To pull off a successful heist, you need a team.

The Mastermind – That’s you, sweetheart. Someone must know what’s really…

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Writing Fresh

If your writing isn't as fresh as this orange, you better read this.

If your writing isn’t as fresh as this orange you better read this.

It’s writing Wednesday and today we are going to talk about writing fresh. Each writing conference I attend teaches me something new and sometimes these lessons profoundly change the way I think about writing. At this month’s LDStorymakers writing conference one of the most influential lessons I took to heart was also one of the simplest.

Write Fresh.

This idea was discussed by several presenters including the evening keynote Martine Leavitt. She spoke about her writing journey and how at times her life was so hectic that often her writing goal for the day was to write one perfect sentence that had never been written before.

Margie Lawson shared the same idea in her deep editing intensive workshops. She added ideas about how to use enhanced description and literary devices to keep the writing alive and also to make a greater emotional impact.

Both spoke at length about creating ideas and thoughts that hadn’t been seen before, about writing fresh.

The best way to learn about it is to try it. Let’s take a bland example and see if we can freshen it up a bit.

“Blake faced the gate and waited for the guard to let him through. He hated this place. It was ugly and smelled. If it wasn’t for the old crone, he wouldn’t bother coming. Somewhere in her addled head, she held the last clue to the resting place of his father.”

This example doesn’t let us feel what Blake is feeling, it simply tells us he hates the place. We know why he’s there, he is seeking his father’s body, but we don’t really care. Descriptions are minimal. We know he thinks the old crone is crazy, but that’s about it.

Let’s take the phrase “He hated the place” and let it sing. This seems like a perfect place to add a splash of backstory.

“Blake faced the gate and waited for the guard to let him through. The king’s dungeon brought back memories of dark nights in a cell not knowing whether he would live to see the sun. It was ugly and smelled. If it wasn’t for the old crone, he wouldn’t bother coming. Somewhere in her addled head, she held the last clue to the resting place of his father.”

Now the phrase “It was ugly and smelled” feels even more awkward and out of place. Not to mention that it gives the reader nothing to imagine. Let’s fix that. I think an alliteration would be nice here.

“Blake faced the gate and waited for the guard to let him through. The king’s dungeon brought back memories of dark nights in a cell not knowing whether he would live to see the sun. The smell of sweat and suffering oozed from the iron grates set in the ground. If it wasn’t for the old crone, he wouldn’t bother coming. Somewhere in her addled head, she held the last clue to the resting place of his father.”

I’m not crazy about the first sentence. If this was the opening page of a book I’d want it to have a stronger hook. It should instantly make the reader start asking questions.  I think the best way to handle this is to mix up some of the ideas of the first two sentences. Also, this would be a good place to add some sort of internal reaction.

“Blake faced the gate that led to the king’s dungeon and waited for the guard to let him through. The sight made him shiver and brought back memories of dark nights in a cell not knowing whether he would live to see the sun. The smell of sweat and suffering oozed from the iron grates set in the ground. If it wasn’t for the old crone, he wouldn’t bother coming. Somewhere in her addled head, she held the last clue to the resting place of his father.”

Only thirty-six words were added to change the somewhat dry original text to something far more interesting. Is it the most perfect example of adding fresh ideas? Nope. I’m not perfect and I pulled this example from the air. You could probably do much better.

In fact…

If you were to edit this text how would you have done it? What would you change first? What would you add? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Keep it fresh people, and as always,

Happy Writing!

The Introvert’s Survival Guide to the Holidays

Image courtesy of cescassawin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cescassawin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear introverts of the world (you know who you are),

This time of year with its festive atmosphere and required attendance to social events, brings its own set of challenges. Holiday events almost always include crowds, noise, late hours, and interacting with strangers.  For an introvert these extra demands are a source of anxiety and stress.  Even for those who consider themselves people people can find the demands placed on them this season exhausting.

Here’s a few tips and pointers to help introverts, and those who love them, survive the season.

  1. Don’t overbook – There are parties and events that you will be required to attend, such as work and family parties.   Then there are all of the other events – concerts, shopping, caroling, and you name it.  Make sure that for every night out on the town there are at least one or two quiet evenings at home to recharge.
  2. Plan “me” time into each day – It is important for you as an introvert to feel like you’ve had time to enjoy your favorite activities.  This doesn’t have to be long, even a half an hour a day where you know you won’t be interrupted can be enough to feel more centered.
  3. Make the best of situations – Chances are you will have to be somewhere that you might not want to go.  Before you begin, take a few moments to find three positive things about the event.  This will force your brain to find what you like about the event and then you will have a focus.  Your positives might be, free food, good music, and spending time with friends.  During the event then you need to make sure to enjoy those three things.
  4. Become a conversation guru – At social events you will be surrounded by people, many of which will not know how to hold a conversation. Don’t be one of them. One of the greatest myths about introverts is that we don’t like talking to strangers.  This isn’t true.  We just don’t like making inane small talk.  Get us talking about something we are interested in and we won’t shut up. On the same note, one of the easiest ways to get a good conversation going is to make someone else talk about something they are passionate about.  Ask questions.  Find things that you have in common.  
  5. Prioritize what’s really important – There are different events that hold special significance to everyone.  It is important that these things take precedence above other events. If it’s important to sing carols around the tree with cocoa and family, make sure it happens.  If you can’t feel the holiday spirit without making a drive out to Grandma’s, put it on the calendar.  
  6. Enlist backup – Whatever you do, if you are going to any social event, try not to go alone.  Having a significant other or dear friend along for the ride will ease some of the anxiety of being in uncomfortable places. If anything, they will give you someone to laugh with and talk to that understands.

While the holiday season can be full of uncomfortable moments for an introvert, there are also plenty of opportunities to make great memories and build traditions that will last for years to come.

Here’s wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a fabulous New Year!