Hey all! Welcome to yet another update day! It’s scary to think that next month we’ll be half-way through the year.
I guess I’m doomed to never enjoy simple projects.
Okay maybe “doomed” is a too strong word. I actually like challenges. I thrive on them. That’s why the first book I ever finished was Doorways, and why splitting it into The Vanished Knight and The Heir’s Choice wasn’t daunting.
It’s what compels me to buy the finest canvas for tapestry work, what makes me want to do bridgework on cakes and what makes me want to paint complex things in oils on canvas.
However, it’s the same thing that compels me to look at The Heir’s Choice, know that I need to change something big, and have no idea how to work it into what I’ve written.
And now, as I’m writing this, I’m sort of thinking that I really don’t need to change that thing. Maybe the real change should be something else entirely. Maybe I just wanted to change the impossible thing because it’s a mental exercise for me, and not really what needs to be done.
One the other hand…. this something else is promising… hmmm….
Anyone else editing? How’s it going?
Hey all! I stumbled across this blogfest a while ago and thought it’ll be a nice, inspiring activity to take part in. Except, well, here I am on Friday and I’m not quite sure what to say. So instead, I’m going to just start and let the dice fall as they may.
Carrie, you’re welcome to use my letter. 🙂
Name: Misha Gericke
Writing Blog: http://sylmion.blogspot.com
Right. Now it’s time for me to get into the letter… wish me luck!
I’ve been grappling with what to put in this letter and.. Honestly I still am.
See, this is a letter to tell you about stuff you could do better, should do better. Things you should jump for and things you should change.
And you’d think there’d be a lot. I mean, you’re thirteen and I’m twenty five.
Except there’s not.
The book you’re writing right now… It’s going to get lost when your parents rip out the mother board and insert your grandmother’s so she can write. And that’s okay. Because you’re going to write it again, and lose the rewrite when you’re twenty two. And that’s also okay because you’ll rewrite it again and realize you learned so much that you would have been embarrassed if that book had actually been published.
You’re going to write seven false starts before writing the book you’ll publish. And your publisher will turn out to be more than a little sociopathic. But that’s good, because you’ll learn that no amount of validation is worth the pain and fear that comes with the thought that you’ll lose the rights to a book you worked on for seven years. To any book, for that matter. And you’ll act accordingly.
You will learn that you never finish first drafts to books if you plan them. You’ll also learn to cling to writing because that’s what keeps you sane. You’ll learn to be (even if I say so myself) amazing at writing and editing, and you’re going to learn it all by going through all these bad things that happened.
You’re going to be strong. And we will succeed.
And all of this will be thanks to the lessons you learned. So do stupid things. Dare. Find what doesn’t work so you can work out what does. Keep striving. Keep going. And yes, do keep getting pissed off at negative people who act like they know about writing when all they’ve ever written was an e-mail.
Because you are better than what they say. And you knew the day you started writing the thing that I still know now:
You’re awesome, and awesome people write awesome books.
I’m still alive. Just… not really in a place where I’m finding something to blog about. I mean, I already discussed my goals at length, as well as the fact that I’m struggling to get myself back on track.
As you know, I’m a very goal orientated person. (And if you’re new to my blog, my blog title alone refers to my five year goal.)
I have short term and medium term goals, set out because they’re what I do want to see done. Because I know that I want to succeed at this writing thing, and so I put down goals that I believe will act as paving stones to possible success.
However, the thing with goals can be that I forget to be flexible. Sure, I think I’ll still see and jump for an opportunity when I see one, but right now, I’m being almost unforgiving toward myself about my goals.
I mean… I’ve excepted that most of what I planned to achieve will have to be shifted to next year. However, I still plan to publish three books before December. One’s done (Birds vs Bastards). One needs to be cleaned up for re-publishing (The Vanished Knight) and one needs to be revised and edited (The Heir’s Choice).
And… well… I still haven’t finished cleaning up TVK. It’s become this huge thing in my mind that it’s half way through May and I didn’t finish what I’d set out to do in April. But then I sat back and thought.
I spent the better part of four months out of the groove. Getting back into it isn’t just going to happen right now. It takes getting used to.
So as of now, I am still actively editing, but I’m giving myself permission to rest when I want to, at least until I’m officially back in the swing of things.
How are you doing?
So I had a rough day today and did a crit for Unicorn Bell, and this was the result. I’m posting it here too, since it dovetails nicely into a topic I’m currently enjoying a lot: Genre Trends I Wish Would Die.
However, I would love if you were epically awesome and here instead. And please feel free to look around while you’re at it. It really is a worthwhile blog to visit for info on both indie and trade publishing and writing.
Okay. To the post….
Well that didn’t work out to plan. See the point here is for someone to send me something to critique, and if there was an interesting thing to point out, I focus on that, especially if I had to crit a chapter, since chapters plus my crit would probably run too long.
However, I just finished reading a short story someone sent me to critique and… well… there wasn’t much wrong. I had one suggestion to improve the big reveal (it’s a locked-room mystery), but then, even as it is now, the reveal has a surprising (although it makes perfect sense) twist that makes the reveal worth-while, even if it could have been a bit more of a surprise.
Would you like to read the chapter? Sure you do. Here’s the link.
Ooh. I actually do have an interesting point to raise coming from this crit. Plot twists and how they work. (Sorry if this is rambly. I had a 13 hour day thanks to a wedding where I have to arrange flowers. But I’ll try to remain lucid enough to get the point across.)
Right. So everyone loves plot twists. They make readers scream, squee, cry, laugh with glee…. They take readers from one emotional extreme to another, making the reading experience feel like a roller coaster the reader wants to take again.
The thing is, plot twists have been exploited so many times that they do lose some of their effect. Especially the “It’s a twist because you didn’t get to see the main character doing something incredibly important to the plot. Get it?”
No… No I don’t.
Mmm… I’m probably saying this because exhaustion lowers my inhibitions, but hey, it’s my opinion, so here it is:
Those aren’t plot twists. They’re cop-outs.
And they kept being used again and again. Oh sure, they do take the reader’s from extreme to extreme. But instead of: “OMG. OMG! OMG!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ah AWESOME!!!!!” or even better: “OMG. OMG! OMG!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH SHIT!!!!!”
These “twists” are more of an: “OMG!!!………………. Oh.”
Horrid, horrid use of exclamations, I know. Guess they’re all escaping while my inner editor sleeps. Point is, taking readers to high stakes and massive tension and then dropping them on their asses is just lame. Really.
Sadly a lot of your run-of-the-mill bestselling thriller writers employ this tactic. I think people get dazed and dazzled by the adrenaline high followed by the crash after. Maybe it’s like eating candy. After a sugar crash you crave more sugar, don’t you?
Plot twists done correctly elevate stories to other realms entirely. It’s like 80% dark chocolate compared to a cheapy milk chocolate (I.E. fake twists).
Sadder than the fact that these fake twists get abused is the fact that with a tiny bit more effort, a much more effective twist could be achieved.
All it takes is leaving breadcrumbs of information, leading readers right where they think they’re headed, except you as the writer would be leading them somewhere else entirely.
Simply put, people are used to all sorts of information creeping into a story. So if you put all the building blocks to your big twist out for them to see, in a way that makes them seem unrelated or unimportant, the reader will only see the whole picture when you reveal the twist, which basically acts as a way to put all the pieces together. And if that twist has mind-blowing effects on the characters/story/stakes… even better.
And truly brilliant writers can do this without hiding anything from the reader. A plot twist should be a moment of clarity when the reader sees everything they missed before, and is shocked because 1) s/he missed the clues and 2) at the MASSIVE repercussions those clues actually have.
So yes, PJ, if you’re reading this: I called you a brilliant writer.
Hey all! Isn’t is amazing how one has less time on a public holiday than on a normal day? No idea how it works, but somehow I got home at 10 pm, too exhausted to think, so I crashed and woke up twelve minutes ago remembering that it was IWSG.
So what is IWSG? Basically it’s a bloghop where writers can share their insecurities or encouragements for other writers. So if you need something like that, click here.
Maybe that’s why I forgot to post. I’m just not that insecure at the moment. Right now, I see the publishing path I’m set to follow, forged out in front of me. It makes me happy, and it means I don’t really have issues.
Now all I have to do is hope it stays that way at least for a month. 😀
How are you doing?
I’m not quite where I want to be with my editing, but that’s fine. I’m finally getting back to working office hours at the day-job.
This isn’t really troublesome, since often my job has plenty of waiting periods where I can get some writing/editing/blogging/whatever else I need to do in. (I work for my family firm, working from our house, in case you were wondering how I got this lucky.)
Today, though, is a bit of a tough one because of the cake decorating course I’m taking. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun and really interesting. But the classes are long and often require more intense concentration than you’d think.
So tonight… I’m going to kick back and not feel guilty.
I don’t need to, because tomorrow’s South Africa’s presidential elections, which means the whole country shuts down (again). Good for me because it’ll probably take me a few minutes to vote, and I’ll have the whole day to edit. So I can still finish The Vanished Knight‘s edits by tomorrow.
Just not by forcing myself to try and edit tonight, and then not concentrating which means I have to redo it all again tomorrow.
Sometimes, it really is more efficient to not work at something.
Anyone else editing? How’s it going?
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t put books down.
Really, I don’t.
But I did last Friday. It was a romance, and I had almost reached 50% when I gave up on it. The last straw isn’t something I’m going to discuss, since I think it’s specific enough that people might recognize the book, and I just don’t do that.
I will, however share what had me laboring through a few hundred pages for eight freaking hours on a public holiday.
Conflict. See conflict to a writer is supposed to be something that keeps a main character from achieving his/her goal. When it comes to pure romance, it’s about what’s keeping the characters apart. Sometimes, it’s something like either the hero (MMC) or heroine (FMC) being engaged, or them wanting opposite things in life, or one just not possibly imagining that the other could be a suitable spouse/partner/whatever.
With the latter, it’s usually about one or both of the characters being magnificent assholes/bitches. (Think Jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give or Sandra Bullock in The Proposal. Or my personal favorite: Harrison Ford in Sabrina.)
Now rule of thumb is that the more hard-assed and untameable the character, the sweeter the happy ending. And time and time again I have seen people simply taking this rule at face value and abusing it. Which often takes the form of the “Happy Ending” being with someone who’s either almost or fully abusive. This is particularly prevalent in the falling for the alpha male trope.
The argument could be made of “what message is this sending to the reader”, but as is very well documented on my blog, I don’t believe in moral preaching in my writing. As such I won’t expect it from others.
I do, however have a major issue with writers abusing that rule for one season and one reason alone:
Suspension of disbelief.
Any fictional story, no matter how realistically written, requires for a reader to suspend disbelief. With romance, this is incredibly important because the reader must want to believe that two characters will be together. Because unlike most other genres, this goal is usually not decided on by the characters. (The opposite, in fact.) It’s all in the reader’s mind.
So if one of the characters in the prospective couple is an asshole (since I mentioned the alpha male, the character will be male. This is the same for female characters too, though), the writer has an additional problem. She/he will have to engage people in the asshole enough for the readers to want him to end up with the FMC. And then, the readers must believe that the FMC would be happy with him.
This can be done in a variety of ways. First, by showing the reader that there are other sides to him. That there’s more to him than the hard-assed exterior. (And even if there is, nothing excuses him from remaining an ass towards the FMC in the end. I repeat: NOTHING.)
The second (and I admit a preferable way) is for the character to go through a growth arc before the get-together in the end. Note the three movies I mentioned above all have this happening.
But in no shape or form is half-way the place to start with this. If it’s half-way into a romance and I as the reader would reverse over a character if I hypothetically hit him/her with a car, there’s something seriously wrong. And if I get to the end and the character has nothing redeeming him (hot sex doesn’t count), the writer of that book has essentially betrayed the trust required for suspension of disbelief. Because 1) I don’t want the FMC to spend the rest of her life with and asshole because 2) I can’t imagine her life being happy for long because of it.
So please please please, romance authors. Throw us readers a bone. Let us actually like the characters as much as you do?
Heads-up: I’ll be critting queries, first chapters and or synopses next week at Unicorn Bell. If you’ve been struggling to get your submission stuff just right, feel free to send all three in and I’ll see if I can root out any issues. Please send submissions to unicornbellsubmissions(at)gmail(dot)com. Put my name in the subject line.
I guess that goes to show that no matter how you try, you’ll never be done editing.
I guess I could do all this later, but there are some benefits to going through The Vanished Knight before getting into the sequel.
Firstly, it lets me pick up all the strings I left loose for the rest of the series. There are lots of them, and many are very fine and subtle. The other big thing it does is let me get a feel for the narrative voices again. There are five, all are different. And the thing is, I’ve been working on other stuff in between so it’s not just a matter of launching back into things.
That’s the thing that I’m worried about most, making sure that the voices keep feeling like they’re progressing naturally as the characters develop. Plot and character arcs are easy to keep track of, but voice… voice develops as the stories go on, and it has to feel natural or it won’t come across right. Especially when the reader will potentially read the two books sequentially. (Likely when they’ll be coming out at the same time.)
And when the sequel requires more revisions and edits, having the voice right is just plain helpful.
So that’s what I’m doing at the moment, but I’m hoping that by Wednesday next week I can start revising the sequel. I want to take about two months to finish those revisions before getting into edits.
I have to say, though, it’s just too damn good to be actively working on something again. What are you busy with at the moment?