It’s always great to get a look into how other writers manage this bizarre creative dance/job.
Lucas Bale analyses his own writing processes from First Draft/Research through to Covers and Marketing:
As I’ve said, I plan pretty assiduously. I am currently working on the outline for the second book in the Beyond the Wall series. However, because the themes are central to the whole series, as well as individual books, and there is quite a bit of world-building going on, I find it easier to have a solid outline which I can depart from if I like or change when I want.
It’s a great read if, like me, you suck at organising your writing or hope to get some insight into another writer’s approach.
Check the whole article out here (including some great photos): http://www.lucasbale.com/blog/2014/3/26/lucas-bale-analysing-a-writers-process
Hayley Campbell over on the NewStatesman ponders the notion that writers are slaves to star ratings:
Go find a book you love. Click the one-star reviews – there will always be some. Cancel your plans for this evening.
But one-star Amazon reviews are more than a space for performance art or green-ink rantings. Some authors believe that they amount to “bullying”.
I’m luckily not famous enough to be exposed to the world of being rated publicly. As most of my work is short fiction I’m luckily not on websites, either, so I don’t really have much experience of feeling bullied. And the reverse is true, too: well-known authors forgetting the ‘Do Not Engage’ rule and setting their social media followers on hapless critics:
[Anne Rice] took umbrage with a small potatoes blogger (who not only didn’t like her book but cut it up for some arts crafts project), posted a link to the offending review on her Facebook and invited comments. Essentially she just set her fanbase on someone who didn’t like her book, and opened the blogger up to a world of shit-slinging from the more slavish of the group (others called Rice out on it).
Read Hayley’s piece here, it’s an interesting consideration: http://www.newstatesman.com/voices/2014/03/your-book-sucks-are-authors-being-bullied-one-star-amazon-reviews
James Scott Bell talks about his new Nobel Peace prize winning strategy for writing a novel:
I’ve written maybe fifty novels (not all of them published!) and I’ve written them in all different ways. I’ve “pantsed’ my way to completed book (no outline or planning) and I’ve outlined others. I’ve done it in between, too. So I know full well the strengths and weaknesses of every approach.
I’ve also been amused by some of the vehement arguments by proponents of a particular method.
What is this mad strategy that will resolve all conflict between supporters of different writing methods (eg. pantsers and plotters)?
You actually start from the middle.
That’s what I said—the dead center of your novel. Because it is here, in what I call “the mirror moment,” that you discover, truly, what your novel is really all about.
As someone who constantly struggles with making nice narrative arcs, this kind of alternative look at a writing strategy always interests me, so read about it here: http://writershelpingwriters.net/2014/03/james-scott-bell-write-middle-method/
Bastion is publishing its inaugural issue on April 1, and is accepting submissions for its May issue. They’re looking for:
Great science fiction. How you choose to meet this requirement is up to you. Consider that science fiction is merely a backdrop from which outstanding stories are written. Horror, detective, thrillers, etc., are all acceptable as long as there’s some element of science fiction present (no romance or erotica). No serials, fan fiction, or anything unoriginal, please. Your story should stand on its own.
They’re after pieces from 1,000 to 5,000 words, and pay a token $20 and 1c per word after 2,000.
Guidelines here: http://www.bastionmag.com/submissions/
Myke Cole writes a great and heartfelt article about combat and killing, and how most fantasy novels, though steeped in violence, don’t convey the experience and the consequences:
One doesn’t have to be a veteran brawler to write a great fight scene.
But I do feel like the end result of fighting, namely, killing, isn’t often treated in a way that resonates with me. I can count on one hand the number of writers who get it right. Joe Abercrombie springs to mind as one of them, a tiny band of authors, and I do not count myself among them, who evoke the consequences of killing in a way that feels authentic.
[...T]here is one thing in particular that I think fantasy writers miss, and I want to dial in on that here.
Killing is a chain.
It’s good, so read it all here: http://mykecole.com/blog/2014/03/on-killing
Moral panic about our yoof reading the wrong stuff? Guaranteed eyeballs on the internet.
Fox Meadows delivers a lengthy smackdown of Michelle Dean’s piece:
I’m a bit late to the party on Michelle Dean’s Our Young-Adult Dystopia, which article appeared in the New York Times in mid-February; nonetheless, I can’t quite see my way to letting it pass without comment. Unlike the vast majority of people who end up wringing their hands in mainstream publications about how YA Novels Will Doom Us All, Dean appears to actually have read the books she’s talking about, rather than merely criticising them from afar. This has not, however, stopped her from writing one of the most pompous and irritating opening paragraphs of our times.
In summary, Michelle Dean lamented the quality of reading today compared to ‘When I was Younger’ or the golden age of ‘Before I was born’. Humorously, I’m currently reading Orlando, in which a contemporary of Shakespeare complains about the terrible mess of pop art that is the Elizabethan Age, compared to the quality of literature produced by the Ancient World. So Virginia Woolf was making the same joke back in 1920 about ‘modern’ vs ‘good’ art. Nothing much changes when it comes to articles about ‘How Art is Destroying The Next Generation’, it seems.
Foz treats Michelle’s screed with the faux outrage it deserves:
How dare new authors be inspired to write successful books in popular genres! Never mind that, owing to the long lead times in publishing, Roth’s Divergent was picked up by Harper Collins in July 2010, a month before the final Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, was even on shelves – of course Roth is a latecomer! And how dare the third book of a successful trilogy be printed in huge numbers, apparently! Down with big print runs!
Read the lengthy smackdown here: http://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/michelle-dean-on-ya-a-response/
Another market from Emby Press. This time, they’re putting together an anthology of ghost stories:
It was a huge crash – or was it? You strain your ears to listen for anything in the silence, but there is nothing. Climbing out of bed you peer from your room down the hallway and out of the corner of your eye, you see something move. Your heart pounds as you jerk toward the movement…and find nothing.
Ghost stories have captured this moment for centuries and spirits have been well represented in literature for as long as there has been such. Tales of sprits range from spooky, vaporous apparitions walking an endless path to violent poltertgeists and demonic possession. From the earliest days of storytelling to the Victorian era to modern cinema, ghosts have haunted and thrilled us.
They are looking for short fiction from 2,000 to 8,000 words, paying $25 and an electronic contributor’s copy.
Guidelines here: http://horrortree.com/taking-submissions-ghost-papers/
Ah look, these horrors speak for themselves, really.
Some of the people who wrote these titles might have been oblivious and out of touch, but it could also have to do with changing word use in the English language. “Dick” wasn’t always a slang word the way we use it today, and neither was “boner.” Depending on what you’re writing about and who your target audience is, shock value can also sell books – we’re assuming that’s what the idea is behind books like “How To Succeed In Business Without A Penis” and “How To Shit In The Woods.”
Behold them in all their horror here: http://www.boredpanda.com/funny-book-titles-covers/
Over at d.i.y. MFA, Becca Jordan lists a few examples of how not to write or describe your characters:
Here is an actual character description from my very first novel attempt that will never see the light of day:
“. . .She finally looked in the mirror to inspect her work.
She was a fairly thin, tall girl for her age. She looked down at her skirt that didn’t quite reach to the floor – she had outgrown that too a few years ago – all the way up to her thin face which was framed in the uncontrollable locks. Her green-gray eyes and straight pointed nose gave her the look of a hawk…Now Keilli ran a finger over the large white scar that ran from her forehead on the right all the way down to her jaw on the same side. Lord Trellan had told her that it had been on her face when he’d found her, though then it had been a new wound. It was the most prominent feature on her face, something she’d always disliked. But there was no time to linger on personal appearance now.”
Seriously. No more lingering. Please.
She goes through a bunch of examples of showing vs telling to help you get your head around what works and what doesn’t. The old mirror trick really is the oldest one in the book. You can Picasso it and try to subvert the trope, but best to just smash them all up.
I don’t want you to tell me that Ingrid’s quirky. I want to figure it out for myself. Any old fool can say that someone’s quirky. It’s harder to show that she’s quirky.
Read it here: http://diymfa.com/writing/ask-becca-develop-characters-101
Azhar Lorgat contributes to the discussion about how to approach publishing:
In today’s world, the decision between embracing the ways of the digital age or going with the traditional route is a complex battle that each individual artist must face. Unfortunately finding the answer can be exceptionally tough because so many people will have different opinions about it, and you’ll probably go half-crazy like I did spending your hours reading through hundreds of opinions on the internet. There are just too many good reasons on both sides.
He goes through four basic categories to discuss how they might impact your decision (read on at the bottom for his discussion on each of these topics). And remember, this is not an either-or discussion. I suggest you go through this process for each project you want published.
- Your Personality
- Your Reasons For Writing
- What You’re Actually Writing
- Your Circumstances
Read on for his conclusion here: http://azharlorgat.com/2014/02/20/deciding-between-traditional-publishing-and-self-publishing/