A fun discussion on writing within or without your knowledge.
Ryan from ‘A Writer’s Path’ kindly did a critique of the first scene in my book. Have a read here:
Test the waters.
Write a couple of test stories. Ask your friends to come up with an idea and then write a little story or scene around it. One of the blogs I follow (http://ryanlanz.com/) did this, so I took the challenge. Spent maybe 15 or 20 minutes and came up with a scene based around the idea.
Look for those competitions that start something like ‘in 50 words or less…’ and enter them. Practice. Do you have kids? Are you an uncle or auntie? Take the opportunity to weave your tales to a (hopefully) captivated audience.
Look around for some of the short story competitions, even if you don’t actually enter them. There are a number of sites out there that run ‘wonderful competitions’ for short stories. After reading the terms & conditions I haven’t actually entered one (for many you’ve lucky to get $20 for a lot of effort & they get the rights to the story), but I’ve used the idea behind the competition to practice. In fact I’ve posted here the start to a short horror story. This convinced me of two things. Firstly that I’m not a good horror story writer and secondly that I suffer from verbal diarrhea too much to write good short stories (you can tell that by the absence of short posts here).
Also, once you decide the genre that you are going to write in, find some friends who like that genre and who you trust to be honest, then write a trial of the first few pages. Get an appraisal from them. Remember that the first few pages are vital to your book’s success, so if they aren’t coming back to you with threats about your physical well being if you don’t hurry up and finish the story, rethink.
Listen to their comments and decide if you can fix the issues or if you are happy with the issues.
The suggestions and critiques were things I could deal with, so I went the completely self publish route. I’m a fairly nasty editor myself and I have a number of friends who are even worse, so I decided that I wouldn’t use an editor. the $20 per page sort of helped me make that decision. But if you’re not in that boat, then you need to decide either to budget for an editor or be willing to find one that will do it for a cut in the royalties.
It’s important to listen to the comments. One of the early ones for me (that I had to listen to as it was my wife) is that the manuscript was confusing. I honestly looked at that and changed two things. Firstly I have a bad habit of phrasing sentences differently to many people. This comes from how I think and write. So I had to track down (as part of the revision process) all the occurrences of sentences like The quick brown fox, as it approached the lazy dog, jumped over it and replace them with The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
For me, I love commas. But I used them to the point where people got lost in the sentence, instead of using them to bring clarity.
Oops, I just did it again. I mean, ‘People get lost reading my sentences because I use commas too much, loosing clarity instead of gaining it’.
Some advise you will chose to ignore and that is fine. So long as you chose to ignore it for the right reasons. One of the complaints from one of my ‘early readers’ was that the later versions of the manuscript were a less like me sitting around a fire telling a story. The complaint wasn’t that it was bad, just different and their personal preference was for the other style. I agonised over that, looking at the differences and why they were there. In the end I decided for my sanity I needed to do it the way I did because the other style would have driven me crazy with a larger story. I didn’t have the skill to be able to write that long a story in that casual a method.
Take each comment and look at it rational and practically. What can you fix? What should you fix? But remember that in the end you are not writing their story, you are writing your story.
The comments about the inconsistent punctuation, the lack of dialogue tags, too big a size variation in the chapters. All of these I took on board and dealt with – happily. I’d much rather a friend tell me then go to all of the expense and trouble of publishing and then get told!
How do some of your favourite TV shows or books do it? I recently watched the whole of NCIS and was fascinated that after having written a book I was a lot less happy with the series! I kept picking all the holes and implausibilities in the scripts! But I learned a bit about using that first chapter or scene. Some of those intro suck you straight into the story, others have nothing to do with the story, they just grab the listener. What I had instinctively done in my manuscript I was able to now see and understand why it worked.
I’ll dig up a copy of the very first version and post it so people can see the changes.
Brett L. Bridger
Thanks for all of the hard work! Interesting that Facebook rated so well, twitter didn’t, but Facebook Spam was a negative too.
A little while back I asked a bunch of questions and I finally compiled everything. I really enjoyed learning more about what people want and how they want to be catered to. Rather insightful and interesting.
Just so you know who was asked?
– 50 people
– A mixture of authors/bloggers/readers.
I am not a professional researcher. I wish this was my day job. I did this out of the goodness of my heart to help people.
This has turned into a great discussion on skill vs tallent
Sorting out some old files and i came across an attempt at writing a horror story I did a year or so ago. What do people think? A friend of mine into horror said it was too ‘nice’.
Dying to Meet the In-Laws.
Toby didn’t really know what he was doing. Well, to be more specific, he didn’t know why he was doing what he was doing.
She was SO not his type. Not Mod, not Emo, not semi-gothic, but full on, pale skin, jet black hair, black lipstick, long velvet (black, of course) dress with long sleeves type Goth. The only thing missing was the tats. Thinking about it (he seemed to think of nothing else the last week except her), she could have a complete body tat and he’d never know, so fully did she cover up. He’d heard the rumours from the girls, she was supposed to have some med cert to excuse her from all physical activity. Even the other girls had never seen her even partly undressed. “What was it about her?” he asked himself again. He just had to look around him and see his ‘normal’ type, big, buxom, barely clothed, cheerleader types.
But he was captivated. Whenever she walked by, his eyes automatically followed her. He found himself making excuses to be where he knew she would be.
Joel slapped him on the back of the head and said, “Dude, wake up! She’s trouble man, don’t do it. You remember Frank Roche? The big footballer dude? Well word’s out he’s in hospital, tried to crack on to her and she snuffed him. So he apparently tried to get a little rough. Marylou was there and she was shaking just remembering, apparently she grabbed Frank by the arm and threw him against a wall. Broken face – dude, it’s supposed to be a real mess – cracked ribs and an arm that was barely still attached when the parra’s arrived.”
Toby barely heard a word. Just as she turned the corner to go into the library complex she turned, saw him and winked. Didn’t smile, didn’t seem to change her expression at all, just winked.
Once she was gone, he seemed to snap out of it. It was as though his mind was on hold when she was around. As soon as she was gone, it started to fast-forward the last few minutes. A couple of minutes late, his mind finally caught up with what Joel had been saying. Putting his hands on his hips, he turned to his friend Joel and said, “Come on, don’t believe all that crap you’re told. How could someone so thin and willowy toss 200 pounds of brainless muscle around? He probably tripped over something then tried to beat the ground into submission for tripping him up.”
Tony shook his head to clear it and said, “Come on, let’s go get a burger.”
“It’s started again”, she thought to herself. “It won’t be long until I have to move on again. Maybe I will have just enough time to get to know that boy, what was his name? Oh, yes, Toby. Tasty little Toby.” No one was round to notice the second smile she had ever had on her face since she arrived in town.
Meanwhile, in the cafeteria, Toby was tucking in to his second burger.
“Hey, dude!” joked Joel, “you preggers or somethin’? Man, you’ve been stowing it away the last week.”
Toby thought about it for a moment, actually he HAD been eating a lot more than usual the last week. Mentally shrugging it off, he joked back, “Yeah, twins!”
Behind his funny exterior, Joel was really worried about his friend. Maybe because he didn’t have all that many friends that he worried a lot, but Toby had sure been acting strangely the last week or so. Ever since he started going calf-eyed at that new girl, what’s her name? Yeah, Catharine, he’d been changing. Not in the normal way, he’d seen dudes fall in love, this was different. Like maybe he was on drugs or something.
Joel may act like a spaced out guy on campus, but actually he hated drugs. He’s older brother had OD’d on ‘harmless’ Ecstasy, leaving a hole in his heart that he’d never been able to fill.
I LOVE creating a world with my words.
I HATE mowing the grass & pruning the trees.
This blogger has captured that frustration well…
Here we go again. I’ve had a second round of Betas and things have changed yet again. I’m not surprised and really, it’s expected, I mean who can be perfect? I am now waiting until September when I hand over my story to an editor and sit back and let it happen. I hope I can make a Christmas release, but who knows?
So much of writing is a wait and see game. Come on September!
I’ve been avoiding writing my second book because I want a break from the craziness of the whole process. I suppose I will start that again when I have time this weekend. I hope I can get my act together. The sooner the better. I know it’s better to have multiple books and that when I actually do have fans they’ll want books faster, especially after the ending I have, I think I might…
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Great post, I’m going to re-blog this one! Thanks!
I got a stack of SPAM in my inbox about the upcoming closing of the fifth annual eLit eBook awards. As a special offer, they’d dropped the entrance fee!
Ohh, I’ve just written a book. I’m convinced it’s got to be the best book around at the moment, so it’s a no-brainer!
It’s also fairly profitable for the organisers. There are over 60 categories, no prizes and, best of all, the winners have to buy the awards image from them to use on your book.
No judges are listed and promises are scarce.
Sigh, looks like I won’t be winning this award any time soon.
It took me a little while to figure out firstly that i could have one and secondly how the heck to set it up, but now I’m the proud owner of a Amazon Author’s Page:
So, the steps in case anyone else was struggling:
- Have a book for sale in Amazon (e-book, paper, audio)
- Go to the following link https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/books
- Create an account
- Link to your book
- Start filling in the gory details!
I’ll do a second post about linking this to all the different Amazon sites later.