jayene: (Default)
I passed 17,000 words... it's looking like a novel.

In honor of the milestone, and because I am feeling chatty right now, and (since all good things should come in threes) I've discovered there are people I have never met who are reading my journal. This boggles my mind but welcome to my corner of chaos! Pull up a squashy sort of armchair and imagine yourself a beverage of your choice. For those of you not so interested in writing processes of a Northern 'Nise feel free to page back in the archives, if you check June of 2004 there is a great rant about me flooding a VIOC. Still with me? Well then....

I have tried all sorts of different methods to writing. When I first started I was a pantser, meaning I didn't plan anything much. I had a character idea (usually a Mary Sue) and I'd set her down in a world (usually something with unicorns, I started writing when I was 10) and go. It didn't usually get very far. In high school I tried the novel idea of figuring out how I would end it when I started the story. I would still start with the beginning though and try to plough through to the end. I wrote longer pieces and actually finished a few short stories.

After more dry years in college I got back to seriously writing in 2004. And I tried pantsing my way to a novels end. It didn't work so well. I got out on the internet (which is wonderful for procrastination in the form of "research") and found outlining! Great! A new way. Flying blind wasn't working, I would stall out between 2-5k. I sat down and outlined... and found that didn't really work for me either because I was still doing it the same way, I was at the start and I tried to work methodically to the end. My brain had decided it did not like straight lines. But low and behold there was yet another way, some crafty writers had a technique that was between both styles. And that gentle readers is what I currently use.

I am outlining a story right now (Lily) and I have one completely outlined and am writing the first draft (Massie). I have found that I have to start with a scene or a phrase that speaks to me (for Massie it was the scene about spandex, Lily was a line that came to me back in Dec). I write that scene until I run out of ideas and then I save that work and open up a whole new file (or notebook page). This is where I free write. I start asking questions and delving to the core of what the story is about and who my characters are. I write little details down like favorite colors, family members, embarrassing moments, etc. I think about what would be the worst sort of thing to do to this person and plot from there.

An example would be Massie's story. Massie is a quiet sarcastic high-school girl who likes being rather invisible. The first thing I knew I needed to do is stick her in a spotlight of some sort. So in chapter one Massie gains a super power. Massie hates to lie and she's bad at it, but now she needs to maintain a secret identity, and that means lying a lot to people she loves. And so on. With that information I can start to come up with scenes, she gets grounded because she stays out to late and can't tell her parents where she is. She has to confront a super villain, etc etc. This is also the time where I decide who my target audience for the novel is and how long it is. YA novels are around 40-60,000 words. I decided I wanted a middle of the road word count and chose 50K for my target number. Then I decided chapter length. I decided that my chapters should probably be about 2,000 words give or take. This makes it an easier read for younger readers and with a little math I found I needed about 25 chapters to reach that word goal. I know this sounds awful and unartistic. Math involved with writing? We have this myth that writing should just flow from the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and that gold comes out. It might work that way for some people... but it doesn't for me.

Once I have a length and a general sense of what will happen I start outlining. I write out Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc etc each on a different line inside Word. Then I go back to the scenes I had already written and figure out where they go. Sometimes it is the first chapter, often times it isn't. Then I start filling in things from the free write. Sometimes I put in my ending first and work backwards (she wins the battle against X, how does she do that?). I write out paragraphs, scraps of dialogue, what mood I want to evoke, what needs to happen. I get it out on paper, and it's clumsy, the words might be misspelled and I might not have names for everyone yet. Sometimes I don't write out the details. A couple of the chapters in the current outline simply say "Fight scene, make it good, no pressure." If a scene flows, I write it out. If it doesn't I highlight what needs to happen and move on. What I have ended up with in the past is about 2,000 words of raw story with an end and all the main plot points. It reads like a bad cliff notes version but that's ok. Here is the other secret to writing... it's ok to write bad. It's a rough draft. Over use a word, misspell it, type it's instead of its, go for it! Let the dialogue be stilted, and action brief and under described. I give you permission. The key here is that this is a first draft, very very very few (I would say none but someone will find an example somewhere) first drafts are ready to publish. You need to apply butt to chair, fingers to keyboard and write down the story. Don't stop. Forget a name referenced in the first chapter? Write xx and what you need to add in and keep going. Realize you need to add a scene? Use red font or another xx and note what you need to add and keep going. (Yes I am aware that this is the point where I reach howling hypocrisy because I haven't passed the first draft stage.)

Now that you have a complete manuscript in front of you that is hopefully near your word count goal (or over) you can edit. Remember all those xx's? Hit control F and find them all again and add in the missing info. Add in the scenes you decided you needed later and fix any of the notes you left yourself in the manuscript. Then stick it in a file and go write something else, or read something. Give it some time and let it age. Then sharpen the machete and start killing your darlings. Fix the grammar and spelling, fix the dialogue and hack out the scenes that don't work. Heck some writers recommend ditching the entire manuscript and starting the story over from scratch. Writing well is like playing piano well, practice is what makes it happen. I will note that I have not scrapped my entire manuscript yet for a complete rewrite. I lack that courage... but mine would probably improve if I did. Well see when I get to this step.

For me personally I doubt the second draft will be publishable. I think the third or fourth draft is where I will finally have enough practice to know Massie's thought and words inside and out. When I dream about her I'll know I am ready I think. :-) But in the mean time I'm still plugging towards half way to the end. But I'm getting closer.
jayene: (Default)
Ok it's that time again... I need names for superheros.

I have Blazia (I don't love it but it works for the draft, please suggest something else!) for a female pyro hero, Freezerburn (minor ice villain), Lyra, Scorpion, Blastalot (the whole story is very tongue in cheek) Strongman, and I need more. Anyone got a bad pun, (good ones accepted too) or silly super hero name? If the story get's published you will get an acknowledgement.

The good news is that this means I am making some progress on the story. Woot!
jayene: (Default)
A friend recently pointed me towards a web site that detailed self publishing E books and wondered if I had thought about it. The link http://www.workathometruth.com/how-to-publish-a-book.php had a long list if why traditional publishing wasn't working in today's markets death of the book etc etc etc. Anyone who follows the industry has heard it before. When E books came out in the 90's it was going to be the end of the bookstore, it didn't happend. POD was supposed to revolutionize how publishers work.... it was a business breakthrough, no more unwanted stock. Except it didn't. A single POD book is always more expensive then a mass produced book.
Let's take a look at some of their "Myths of publishing":
Publishers don't want books: False. Publishers are cutting back, people aren't buying book but they are still putting out thousands of new titles a year. There are thousands of legitimate agents who make their money on the 15% they earn from selling books. The industry has a long way to go before it dies.
Publishers don't promote you: Somewhat accurate, publishers traditionally haven't launched huge ad campaigns, and won't unless you start selling thousands of copies... but when was the last time you bought a book because of a TV or newspaper ad. Most authors self promote, JA Konrath has some great ideas for that on his website.
Publishers don't make money if you sell through your books due to discounting: Remainders, discounting and returns are some of the most confusiong bits of publishing. It is true that if you buy a book at a used bookstore or an outlet that the writer is not getting royalties or very little royalites for the sale, (and royalties are extrememly tiny, as I recall 8% of cover is about typical). However books only go to outlets after they have had a stint in the regular bookstores. It is true that lots of books don't make money (and some of the answer to this is buy more books).
Self publishing is viewed as amutaur: There is a difference between Self publishing and vanity publishing. All vanity publishing is self publishing but not vice versa. Vanity publishing is amutur and with very few exceptions a vanity publish book will never get on a book store shelf let alone subrights.

The articals final damning point is the promo at the end http://www.7dayebook.com/?hop=dbpaulms which touts Publish a book in 7 days. The book claims “How to write and publish your own OUTRAGEOUSLY Profitable eBook in as little as 7 days – even if you can’t write, can’t type and failed high school English class!” I haven't read this book but considering the physical act of typing out 100,000 or so words... call me a skeptic.

Backing up a bit there are times when self publishing is not a terrible thing. If you are a public speaker and write a book about your topic of choice then self publishing is a great idea. Your book doesn't need to be in a store because you are going to be hand selling them when you speak. Some authors have been so sure that their novel will do great things that they create their own publishing company to publish it. It's an uphill battle but if they can get a printer and a distributing company and get book stores interested it can work.

There is a big myth that there is all this untapped genius out there that will never be found because publishers are too selective/ biased/ conservative etc. I call that a crock. Miss Snark held crapometer's on her blog and invited authors to submit their work. Her readership was aspiring authors and actual authors, nearly everyone who read her blog had found it because they had done at least some research about the industry. About 80% of what she got was unpublishable, plot errors, writing errors, cliches, cardboard characters etc etc. That is far better then most agents and editors who end up rejecting about 99% of the slush. The majority of those rejections are easy because it's unpublishable. Writing well isn't easy. Most authors don't sell their first manuscript. I am going to try with mine but I don't expect to sell it.

So now, go buy books. :-)

WTF????

Oct. 16th, 2007 12:15 pm
jayene: (Goofiness)
Some one created a Novel writing software. http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter.html
A quick google reveals that it's not the only one out there. This particular one boasts "Organise your novel using a 'project'. Re-order scenes within chapters. Move scenes from one chapter to another" Besides the lack of a spell check, there is a word for software like this... it's called word processing. He's giving this away for free but places like http://www.ravensheadservices.com/ aren't.
A word of advice.... all you need is a word processor. I love MS Word but if I need to focus on writing I use word pad so I can't spell check or word count or do any of the other features that can distract me from the story. Even in note pad I can move my words around, it's called copy and paste. Save your money on things like writers conferences, buying books in the genre you are looking to publish, etc. There isn't a formula to a good book and software that promises you that is laughing all the way to the bank. Writers have a lot of scams out there preying on the ignorant, remember the mantra, Money flows from the publisher to the author. In the words of the immortal Miss Snark, may her stilettos rest in gin, write well.
jayene: (Goofiness)
There are a bunch of writers on my friends list. If you aren't a writer, this might not interest you to much, feel free to skim over. Back Junish I posted a bit on Barbara Bauer and her scams and publishing scams in general ( http://jayene.livejournal.com/2006/05/27/ ). I am not a published writer. But I have spent years researching the industry. The reason I am not published is entirely my own fault. I don't finish things. I am trying to change that. But for those of you on my list that have actually finished things here are some of the answers, some of the questions and some of the places I get the answers. Read more... )

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