G. M. Baker - Author

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Posts on writing.

Grand Tour 9: Of Tacky Artwork and Enchanting Overpasses

This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Grand Tour

Sunday, May 7, 2018, Amarillo to Las Vegas, New Mexico

Today’s theme ranges from the tackiness of a deliberate art installation to the truly enchanting highway overpasses of New Mexico. In New Mexico, it seems, it matters what things look like. In Texas, not so much.

Newsletter vs. Blog

Ever since my publisher told me I should start a newsletter, I have been trying to figure out how it would be different from a blog. I know how to blog. I maintained a content strategy / technical communication blog for years. It did a lot for my content strategy career, it helped launch my two content strategy books, and it still attracts hundreds of views a week despite my not having posted anything there in a few years. It had a pretty decent roster of followers. When I switched to fiction, I thought I would just do the same thing for my fiction career with this blog. But my publisher says newsletters are what sells books, which is why there is a newsletter signup form right next to the blog subscription form in the sidebar and footer of this page. (Please do sign up to either or both!)

So now I have to figure out if what I learned about blogging applies to newsletters, or if they are really just the same thing in different guises.

On Words that “Sound Modern” in Historical Fiction

One of the trickier things about historical fiction is trying to make the language, particularly the dialogue, sound like it belongs to its period while still being easy enough to read for a modern reader. For fairly recent times, this is not much of a problem. The biggest difficulty in writing a story set in the 20th century is probably dealing with words that were perfectly ordinary then and are considered slurs or otherwise offensive now. But go further back and the problem becomes more complex. Go back to the Anglo-Saxons, as I do, and it becomes quite a head scratcher.

Avatar, Friend, and Shrink – Three Modes of Reader Intimacy

Which point of view produces the greatest intimacy between the reader and the character? Watching this debate between two writing friends led me to ask what they meant by intimacy. I propose (invoking the liberty of blogging) that there are at least three modes of intimacy between reader and character: avatar, friend, and shrink. There may be more, but these will do for now.

My First Novel to be Published in 2021

Really pleased to say that my first novel has been accepted for publication by Chrism Press and will see the light of day toward the end of 2021.

The Rules of Trade (The Peaceweaver, Book One), is an historical novel set in eighth-century Northumbria, just weeks after the great Viking raid on the rich monastery of Lindisfarne, which was the 9-11 of the Anglo Saxon world.

The Under-imagined Story

Writers sometimes worry about overthinking their writing. They should be more worried about under-imagining it.

Terms of the Trade: Active and Passive Voice

This entry is part 3 of 2 in the series Terms of the Trade

One should always prefer the active voice over the passive, they tell us. Baloney. Active and passive are technical grammatical terms that have nothing to do with how active or passive your writing is. The distinction between the two forms actually has to do with whether the focus of your statement is the actor or the recipient of the action, the doer or the done-to. Sometimes the doer is more important than the done-to. Sometimes it is the other way round.

Terms of the Trade: Past and Present Tense Narratives

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Terms of the Trade

I am puzzled by how imprecise writers sometimes are when they talk about their craft. If any craft should be precise and lucid in the description of what it does, it should be writing. But it’s not. A case in point: the distinction between “present tense” and “past tense” narratives.

Stories All the Way Down

The name of this blog, Stories All the Way Down, comes from a presentation I gave back in my days in corporate and technical communication. There is a tendency in those fields to debate if storytelling is a relevant or useful tool for business and technical communication. My contention was, and is, that all communication is stories, and that it is stories all the way down. Stories are made up of stories and references to stories. Language itself is made up of stories and references to stories.

The formulation “stories all the way down” is a reference to that well known story whose punchline is “It’s turtles all the way down.” — as in the world stands on the back of a turtle, which stands on the back of another turtle, and so on all the way down.

On the Presumption of Writer Blogs

Hi. I’m a novelist. You’ve never heard of me. Read my blog.

Because that’s the game here, isn’t it. Writers set up blogs because we are told we need a platform. We need followers We need to be someone. It’s the same Catch-22 as looking for your first job. You need experience to get a job. You need a job to get experience. A writer needs readers to get published, and they need to be published to get readers.

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