Brian Niemeier

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About Brian Niemeier

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    Theology, Philosophy, Writing novels, Writing short stories, History, Reading fiction and non-fiction, Film, Cooking
  1. Congratulations, Brandon!
  2. Yes! That's it. Thank you.
  3. I attended Gen Con over the weekend. Joined the live audience for a marathon Writing Excuses recording session. Special guests included Tom Doherty, Wesley Chu, and Scott Lynch. They should start posting the episodes in eight weeks. (When Mary improvs her reading to mention a guy sneaking into the room, that's me.) The only other event I went to featuring Brandon was the outlining panel with John Helfers, Erik Scott de Brie, Jerry Gordon, and Saladin Ahmed. Brandon likened outline writers to architects and organic writers to gardeners (he was quoting another author, but I forget who. Sorry). I wanted to attend a signing with Brandon and John on Saturday at noon, but none of the staff knew where it was. I met up with John Helfers later and hung out at his table for a bit. Later, Erik chatted with me about his motivations for writing (he challenges aspiring authors to try not writing for a month. If you cannot do it, that means you are in fact a writer). On the whole, I learned a lot and was surprised by how accessible these folks are (special thanks to Erik de Brie, Scott Lynch, and Mary Robinette Kowal). They go to great lengths to meet readers and support aspiring authors. If you plan to attend a con, I advise you to remember that these authors are quite generous to spend their extremely limited time with fans. I twice saw Brandon mobbed by autograph seekers while he was trying to leave the venue on pressing business. To his credit, he stopped and signed their books. Just be aware of how busy con presenters are.
  4. Hello! Glad to have you here.
  5. Welcome. I'm sorry to hear about your difficulties. If it helps to combat others' snobbery, illustrated literature predates the novel by several thousands of years. Feel free to bounce your ideas off me.
  6. What is a friend but a person with whom one can share appreciation for a common good? Welcome, Mr. Mandel.
  7. Thank you. I find such linguistic trivia fascinating.
  8. Trivia is the gift that keeps on giving.
  9. Hello. I also found my way here via Writing Excuses. The work + college grind can be tough. The years spent earning my theology degree were some of the best (and hardest) of my life. Once you get back to school, the time will fly by and you'll wonder where it went. Be sure to cherish it.
  10. Welcome. You've reminded me that I need to read more Asimov.
  11. Thank you for reading it. Your own story ideas sound complex and engaging. Thanks also for sharing the background on your short story. The insensitive way in which death is often treated in the news is a subject I didn't often think about, but I realize you're right.
  12. You have made my day. I'm tempted to invoke Providence, but I agree that Mr. Sanderson's work holds a natural appeal for folks with our sensibilities. My experience with his writings is limited to Elantris, and even there I found reason to cheer (the argument that non-existence is worse than a life with suffering, Hrathen and Sarene's theological debates, etc.). I must read the books you recommended soon. You've pointed out the glaring omission of St. Anselm from my list of influences. Not only is the Proslogion a work of towering genius, his Chronicles led Drs. Henry Jones and Henry Jones Jr. through the challenges that stood between them and the holy grail. Never mind what a "J" was doing in an early Medieval trap. I wish you success in your seminary career and will pray for your growth in wisdom and grace.
  13. You've probably read more philosophy than most people, which in my opinion is good. Kant is fascinating. He's largely responsible for much of the prevailing worldview today, which is kind of tragic since he ended up achieving the exact opposite of what he set out to do (undermining the traditional bases of objective morality instead of finding a new justification for it). But I digress. Thanks for your interest in my stories. The one you mentioned is available here for free: Your fantasy world ideas intrigue me. They sound well disposed to a healthy blend of high concept storytelling and social commentary. I encourage you to see what fruits come of them. In terms of your other bleak topic choices, there's a time and place for everything. I recall someone saying that happy songs are the hardest to write. Should I ask about the suicide-themed piece? Please ignore the question if I'm speaking out of turn. I'm encouraged by your enthusiasm for writing. Continue and you will succeed. Best of luck with your plans to become a literary critic. Perhaps I can solicit a quote from you some day.
  14. I'll second what's been said so far and add a few tips from my own experience writing novels and screenplays (I haven't published either yet, only short stories, so weigh my advice accordingly). Everybody starts somewhere. The trick is not giving up before reaching your goal. A lot of people will tell you to use an established plot formula like three act or seven point structure. I'm not one of those people. The key to writing well-paced, coherent narratives is to focus on economy and flow. That means saying what you need to say as efficiently as possible (the "in late, out early" rule works splendidly here) and making sure that each scene follows logically from the last. Trey Parker and Matt Stone test the flow of their plots by asking a simple question: "Is saying 'and then' the only way to describe the transition between scenes?" If the answer is yes, rewrite the scene until the transition can be described with "therefore" or "but". This is one screenwriting technique that also works with novels. Don't waste time describing day-to-day actions for their own sake. Drama is based on conflict. If a single page of your manuscript lacks conflict (internal or external), rewrite it or cut it. Screenplay vs. book: Screenplays usually top out at 20,000 words. Minimum novel length is twice that. I advise against describing a novel world in extreme detail (see Mr. Sanderson's warnings against world builder's disease). However, you can get away with much more description in a book than in a screenplay (which is really all about the dialogue). You don't need word trees/diagrams/pictures tacked to the wall connected with lengths of red twine. Just write the major beats. Don't worry too much about writing downtime/aftermath scenes. Stories should be structured so that each scene follows inevitably from the last and leads inevitably to the next. You want to maintain a sense of immediacy. If you're already writing out plots, outlining your projects is likely the way to go. But first you must start reading books. As a new writer your workload should be a 50/50 split between reading and writing. There are many sound reasons why you should do this. The most important is that books and films are distinct art forms that tell stories differently. Trying to write a novel with no reading experience is like trying to direct a film without watching movies. Reading is also good for you and is fun. Go start now.
  15. Welcome, fellow Sandersonian!