- Why we need to write more than one novel to improve as writers.
- Being brief in our prose while keeping the flow of the story interesting.
- The importance of setting goals for ourselves and doing what we say we’re going to do.
Writing a singular novel is not going to make you a good novelist. Writing many novels will though.
Welcome to the ninth episode of Interviews from the Void, where I interview writers about their writing process, discussing the mechanics and physicality of the craft.
In this episode, I chat with speculative fiction writer Bryan Aiello about finding more time to write and where he finds his inspiration.
Arthur: You’re an Army Veteran. I want to personally thank you for your service. You discuss on your blog that you’re working on a military science fiction novel for 2019. Will your military experience have any influence in the story?
Bryan: I enjoy writing about soldiers. If I was forced to boil it down, most of the work I have done is fictionalized military history. I use my experiences digging foxholes to imagine what life is like for people under the gun.
I do have a military fiction short story collection I would like to publish. I have not done so yet. Is there ever a right time? It’s got about nine stories in it at the moment. I am debating whether there might be a more concise way to construct a collection. Hopefully within the year I will have decided on a publishing schedule, or for that matter a solid hint of a direction to go in with the work I have “ready.”
Arthur: How did you start writing and how long have you been writing?
Bryan: I’ve been telling stories since I was very young. I wrote my first story in the fourth grade. So I guess almost 33 years.
Arthur: Your book, “Compounded Interest,” is this your first publication? Tell me more about what you learned in writing it – if it was your first book.
Bryan: Writing my first novel taught me that I can write novels. Doing the thing has made it possible. I have written a second novel since and have started on a third. My main lesson is singular dedication helps in finding an end.
My main advice is don’t get hung up on being the best first-time novelist in the world. Be the writer who hungers to finish and get going on the next project.
Arthur: What would you say to other writers who are still working on their first book?
Bryan: Finish it. Writing a singular novel is not going to make you a good novelist. Writing many novels will though. The more you write the easier it will get to notice the mistakes being made. My main advice is don’t get hung up on being the best first-time novelist in the world, be the writer who hungers to finish and to get going on the next project.
Arthur: Do you enjoy writing short fiction versus longer works?
Bryan: I think short pieces of fiction helps me write long. A flash fiction piece is just a piece of a story. More can always be added later. When trying to fit a whole story into 500 words though, brevity is your best friend and brevity makes for more interesting writing. Writing short not only tightens your work but also provides crumbs to develop into longer work later.
Arthur: You have great imagery on your site associate with your short stories and flash fiction. Are you also an artist? How do you create these images?
Bryan: I wish I was the artist of those images. I use images to help inspire my stories. I find them all over the internet. Anytime something piques my interest I will publish it either on my Twitter, Facebook or Reddit account and see where inspiration takes me. If I write a story based on one of those images and decide to publish the story to my website I always include the picture with credit given to the artist.
Brevity is your best friend and brevity makes for more interesting writing.
Arthur: What is your writing schedule like?
Bryan: I write best in the morning. I like to sleep and wake up and work. Having a family makes that hard so I have found that 1am is the best time to wake up and get stuff done. Get my family off to their day and take a four-hour nap and start again.
Arthur: Aren’t you tired? How do you maintain the energy?
Bryan: I have twin toddlers, tired is a way of life.
Arthur: Do you write by hand or on a computer?
Bryan: All my stories are written out 100% on the computer, but I do keep a journal of sorts. I stick a sketchpad under my keyboard and doodle on it and make notes and also I keep writing material on me wherever I go.
I’m also a firm believe that every sentence of written work can morph into something bigger.
Arthur: How do you keep track of all your ideas? Do you have a notebook or use Evernote or equivalent?
Bryan: It all comes out in the writing. I think because I worry over things in my writing, constantly bouncing around that each project kind of becomes organic. If there is a problem with the story it usually gets addressed doing the work.
As for new ideas, I guess I am lucky in that I am very image inspired. When I see something that works it’s no big deal to save it for later reference.
I also am a firm believer that every sentence of written work can morph into something bigger. I will sometimes write a title or a single sentence in a google doc to get me started at another time.
Arthur: Are you familiar with Wattpad or Patreon and do you use them?
Bryan: I have accounts on both websites. I found Wattpad to be good for serialized efforts. There are some talented storytellers writing fiction there.
Patreon support would be amazing. It’s hard to tell whether it’s better to do Paypal donations though. One and done with no sharing of proceeds.
The thing with Patreon I find interesting though is you can have donor level perks, like stories or video reserved just for patrons, I guess that might motivate donations. It has never motivated me to donate, but obviously it’s working for some people.
My current method is: give it all away for free and hope for the best.
Arthur: How do you market yourself and your books?
Bryan: I market my work by maintaining a web presence on my social media sites and look for opportunities to engage and tell stories.
The key to success would be to stay healthy.
Arthur: Is writing your full-time job?
Bryan: Writing and my podcasts are my full-time job right now.
I had a career counselor tell me after I mentioned I wanted to be a writer, the key to success would be to stay healthy. So I workout, jog, swim and try to eat right. Because good stuff in, equals good stuff out.
I also fully support scheduling your time. Put yourself in front of the monitor. Have deadlines. Do what you say you are going to do. Excuses be damned!
Arthur: What kind of experience are you trying to create for readers of your stories?
Bryan: I want to create a living scene. I want to have the story be a visceral experience, in the moment, with heightened tension. I like trying to find my own path and beat the bushes for a unique take on old ideas. I want to put my readers and listeners in unexpected places.
Bryan: For “Origin,” I do a bit of research on my guest, but honestly find it easier to pay attention and look for interesting topics to drop into the conversation naturally. This podcast is a project on creativity and discovering “the why” of creating art and the “how it’s done” followed up by the “now what?”
“Mirage” is my second show where I invite a guest on and chat about a favorite spec fiction author or topic. We basically geek out and do research on the fly. I love when conversations zig and zag all over the place.
I do the Interviews over Google Hangouts and edit using Adobe Audition.
Put yourself in front of the monitor. Have deadlines. Do what you say you are going to do.
Arthur: What have you learned about writing by developing your podcasts?
Bryan: So many things. The best part of both shows is it takes me from the loneliness of creating in a vacuum and helps broaden my sense of the professional world at large. Not only do I get to talk with artists who are trying to make it work, but I am also exploring the careers of people who have become legends or are potentially on their way to becoming one.
Arthur: How do you promote your work and your podcasts? Is there one vehicle or method which has a greater return than another?
Bryan: Self-promotion is a tricky mistress. I post all my content on my Reddit user page, Twitter and Facebook, but I really feel the best course of action is to just never stop developing content. You want readers? Give readers something to read. You want devourers of content? Then develop content. The name of the game is: share what you do. Share inspiration. Share thoughts. Share everything. You never know what that one thing will be that will grab the right eyeballs and turn them in your direction.
Arthur: Thank you so much, Bryan, for sharing your wisdom with us. Make sure to check out Bryan’s website to follow his podcasts and consistent short fiction.
Next week, I chat with Adam Inglis about his short stories and he gets into great detail about focusing during the writing session.
June 29, 2018 Update: Bryan interviewed me about my writing earlier this year. Check out the interview here.