Steve’s Update 7/17/2017

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)

It’s my weekly Scrum style standup for my audience, so where am I?

So what have I done the last week?

  • Way With Worlds Minibook #2: Edited and ready for publication.  Had a bit of a delay, did a screwy search-and-replace I had to fix.  ugh.
  • Way With Worlds Minibooks (General): Sent them to the editor!
  • “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet”: Chapters #3 is in beta and needs to be edited.  Debating if I do that or finish more scenes to be sure.
  • Blogging: I recorded my next two agile posts!
  • Other: Not 100% sure.  I’ve been running pretty hot and fast.

What am I going to do this week:

  • Way With Worlds Minibook #2: Plan my publicity activities for the book and prepare to publish.
  • “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet:” Probably get Chapter #3 ready for pre-readers, but might do some more writing.  As noted, not sure.
  • Blogging: Doing 1-2 more writing posts and probably putting them on the Sanctum.  I may try some more fun Tumblr posts on (of course) Overwatch.
  • General: I’d like to work on one of the two generators I have in mind, but want to see what my pacing is.


  • I feel less overloaded, think it was just the amount of things vying for my attention, but I still think I’m operating at just a bit above my preferred capacity.  It’s likely I won’t take on any big new projects for about 6 months – like new books, etc.  I want to find space for generators and fun stuff.  Then again working on a novel and putting out 6 minibooks is enough.

– Steve

A Writer’s View: Complexity And Convolution

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr – and hey, think this should go on the Sanctum too?)

Working on “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet” is interesting as in some ways it’s very complex, a tale of a world of science and sorcery that survived a world-shaking war, and the lives of those centuries after the trauma.  In other way’s its simple – it’s a heist/chase story that goes Cohen Brothers, just with a sarcastic sorceress and a disreputable used bookseller.

Complexity in stories is a challenging area of discussion, because it often seems what people say is complex is anything but to me..  As my friend Serdar notes in his blog:

Now, Steve did specifically say complex stories. That could mean one of a number of things, not all of them what you might think. Complexity in a story is too often assumed to be convolution, as in a plot that is very knotty and full of double-reverses and whatnot. I tend to stay away from such things if only because I am not nearly smart enough to pull them off, but also because I have a different idea of what kind of complexity is relevant in a story. For me a story is complex if the pieces in it have a lot of thematic richness, or if the characters are multidimensional and humane. It’s not if I need a map in the endpaper and a list of dramatis personae.

This pretty much hits the division on the head for me.  A story can be convoluted but not complex – a Wile E. Coyote mess of tricks and craziness can exist atop a simple set of characters and tales.  A story can be complex with deep richness and many facets, while being straightforward.

What I realized in my writing is that complexity and convolution are not the same thing, and separating them in your mind is valuable for a writer for several reasons.

First, to separate them is to ask what you’re wanting to write.  Do you want to challenge the audience with double-backs and twists or do you want them to experience richness?  Or both?  To separate complexity and convolution is to help you set goals.

Secondly, to separate them is to ask when is one or the other appropriate within a story.  One part may need complexity, one part may need convolution.  It is possible what seems to be appropriate may, at later examination, not be – a complicated murder plot may be more interesting from the viewpoint of a character who has it figured out, so you can explore their character.

So I’m writing a story that’s complex (in characters) but the overall plot isn’t overly convoluted (it’s straightforward) once you know what’s going on.  This is actually important because if I added convolution to the story, the book might be longer but also more confusing due to the setting’s many unusual elements.

Complexity isn’t convolution.  They may exist together, but can be happily apart – and keeping that in mind will enrich your writing either way.  Plus, it’s OK to write one, both, or none – just know what you want.

(Oh and if you need some other creative boosts, check out my book on Creative Paths!)

– Steve

Steve’s Update 5/21/2017

(This column is posted at,, and Steve’s Tumblr)

It’s my weekly Scrum style standup for the audience.

Well bluntly this week also was nuts, with assorted work events, a friend having health concerns (resolved) and of course occasional allergies.  It’s not been the greatest week – but Agile method are about adapting.  So where are we?

So what have I done the last week?

  • Way With Worlds Minibook #5: Still going good and on schedule – I might even get a bit ahead of the game.
  • Seventh Sanctum Spotlight: That’s on hold.  This is due to the interruptions I’ve been having from allergies to events, and now convention time might cut into the results for me and other people.  So I’ll do it in June if it seems viable.
  • Professional: Attended that professional event – they’re running out of space so I found my apartment complex can host them!  A great way to network and meet people.
  • Social: Girlfriend’s birthday and book club went well.
  • “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet:” The latest plot outlines and character arcs are plotted.  Looks good again, and I think the book is taking on a more personal tone; for instance, there’s two minor characters (one extremely minor as in he’s in one scene) that by exploring I really did a  lot with the story.  This is a good lesson from the late Sir Terry Pratchett – you tell a lot more by having it personal, even if that person is gone after a scene.
  • Newsletter: The newsletter is out.  Which you probably saw.

What am I going to do this week:

  • Way With Worlds Minibook #5:  More writing.  Let’s just assume that’s the norm (and book #6 is next).  I’m thinking these books are best written in one or two big lumps not spread out.
  • Social: Fanime is going to consume a lot of time this week, as will events there.  I’ll be preparing presentations.
  • Speaking: I’m speaking twice at Fanime.
  • Cosplay: I’ll be Doctor Oobleck from RWBY at least one day.
  • Her Eternal Moonlight: A sale is coming, so pay attention . . .
  • “A Bridge To The Quiet Planet:” Next step is fleshing out the plot so it’s ready to be scene-for-scene outlined, as well as some character details.e

Challenges and blockers:

  • The Allergies are better, but I’m keeping an eye on them.  These were bad and hit a lot of people hard.

– Steve