Monday, July 25, 2016

So You Want to Be a Writer

When I tell people I am a published novelist, a vast majority tell me they will write a novel when they have the time.  

Most firmly believe that anyone can write a novel since celebrity idiots write bestsellers.  (They are ghostwritten by someone else.)  All they need to do is sit down and write to the finish which should take a few weeks at most.  They believe that grammar, punctuation, and spelling will be taken care of by some editor so they won't need to learn those skills.  The novel will then be sold almost instantly to a big publisher for a huge amount of money and become a bestseller and a major motion picture.

Sadly, these people don't have a clue and are shocked when I explain how many years it takes to learn your craft to be publishable, how many hundreds of hours you will be sitting on your rear in front of the computer while everyone else is out having a life and fun, and the classes you will probably need to hone that craft.  

Once you have a well-crafted novel and you decide to go the traditional publisher route, you will spend a few years, if you are lucky—most aren’t, trying to get an agent or editor to actually read some of your work. You will discover that you are not only competing with other new writers for a slot in a publishing schedule, but with writers who have been published multiple times.  

If you finally make that sale, you will most likely be given a pittance as an advance, the book will be thrown into the market with no advertising, no book signings, and absolutely no glamor, and you will be lucky to sell any other book because your book will probably sink like a stone into oblivion and you won't see another penny from it.  That is the fate of most first books.

Only a very few are able to escape that dismal ending to their dreams by making money and creating a true career as a writer, and the money is rarely enough to make a living so they need a supportive spouse with a lucrative job or a trust fund so they can afford to write full time.  

To be successfully self-published, you must hone your craft to the point that the traditionally published must achieve, then you must also develop the skills and soul of a used car salesman to shamelessly slog your books, and you must learn business skills since you are now your own business.

When I tell these would-be authors the truth of the matter, as I have learned being in and around the publishing business for over thirty years, they decide that they should buy a few more lottery tickets because they have a better chance at making big money doing that, and it's a lot less work.  



QUESTIONS, I TAKE QUESTIONS!  Contact me via the comments section of this blog or through my yahoogroups list.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Links of Interest

WRITE BOOK 1, NOT 2:


AN OVERVIEW OF THE ROMANCE INDUSTRY INCLUDING NUMBERS:


A HOUSE BILL WOULD ALLOW AUTHORS TO USE SMALL CLAIMS COURT FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT:


HOW TO READ AS A WRITER, PART 3:


FIRST VERSUS THIRD POV:


KINDLE SCOUT CASE STUDY:


GRAMMAR, WHEN TO ABBREVIATE:


FIVE MUSTS FOR SELF-PUBBED BOOKS:


CONTRACTS, HOW BOOK DISCOUNT CLAUSES CAN BE ABUSED BY THE PUBLISHER:


ROMANCE NUMBERS BY TYPE OF PUBLISHER, FORMAT, ETC.:


WRITING SUBTEXT IN DIALOGUE:


THE BEST PLACES TO REVEAL STORY SECRETS:


CREATING AN AUTHOR WEBSITE THAT WORKS:


ADDING PLOT TWISTS:


IS YOUR STORY CONCEPT STRONG ENOUGH?


CHOOSING THE BEST OPENING:


SAVING THE SAGGING MIDDLE:


SMALL CLAIMS COPYRIGHT, POSSIBLE PROBLEMS:



Monday, July 18, 2016

Fantasy Creatures in the Real World

Werewolves, vampires, and other supernatural beings have become a staple in current genre fiction. One problem I've seen in many of the fight scenes involving these creatures is created by a flaw in worldbuilding.

Consider this scene from a contemporary novel.  The vampire protagonist is in a dangerous part of a major city, and he's attacked by a large pack of demon-possessed humans. He fights them off until some of his vampire friends arrive, and all the demon-possessed humans are murdered. Fortunately, no normal humans saw the fight so the vampires' existence remains a secret. They stalk away into the night.

What's the problem? Simple. How can a race remain a secret for long with widespread killings and the sheer number of combatants on both sides? Wouldn't the police become a tad suspicious if the murders kept building up? Wouldn't a medical examiner suggest that someone with superhuman strength ripped these guys apart? And what about that weird DNA found on the ripped throat of one of the victims?

The fight itself can be perfectly choreographed and written, but at its end, when all the bodies are lying there, and the vampires are leaving the scene, some readers will go, "Wait a minute. What about the police? What about...." If you leave that kind of question, the fight scene has failed.

In a recent urban fantasy novel, the human-shaped demons spent the novel taking human prey while the vampires were killing the demons and the vampire hunters were killing the vampires, yet the humans and the police were apparently totally clueless about the existence of any of these creatures and unconcerned at a body count that fit a war zone, not an American city.

For a race like vampires or werewolves to remain secret, they must have very small numbers because a large number of anything can't be kept secret, or the race rarely makes contact with humans.

If they take prey, they must dispose of the bodies so no evidence of the deaths will ever be found. Their prey must also be on the edges of human society so that their loss won't be obvious. In other words, vampires should attack a homeless person, not the beautiful young countess surrounded by friends, retainers, and family.

Vampires definitely shouldn't attack tourists in a town which supports itself with tourism. Considering the incredible national coverage and outrage caused by just a few tourist deaths in places like Miami and New Orleans in recent years, it's highly unlikely that dozens of tourists becoming monster chow wouldn't cause a similar outcry and intense scrutiny.

Real world logic applies even to supernatural characters. Make the fight and its outcome logical, or you've failed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Links of Interest

THE READER RETENTION PLAN, PART 5:


YOUR CHARACTER’S IDEAS ABOUT SETTING:


CREATING A STYLE SHEET:


HOW TO CREATE AN EFFECTIVE WEBSITE:


WRITING A FOOD SCENE IN A MYSTERY:


BOOSTING YOUR AUTHOR BLOG:


USING PINTEREST TO BOOST YOUR WEBSITE:


WHEN YOUR BOOK LAUNCH FAILS:


USING HASHTAGS SUCCESSFULLY:


FORESHADOWING:


USING INSTAGRAM FOR PROMO:


ISBNs 101:


DILEMMA TYPES:


BUILDING A BETTER PLOT:


FOUR WAYS DIALOGUE CAN GO WRONG:


MAKING MULTIPLE ANTAGONISTS WORK:


BARNES & NOBLE TO SELL SELF-PUB EBOOKS:


THE ESSENTIALS FOR FANTASY:


ADVICE ON SHORT FICTION:


USEFUL ONLINE TOOLS AND SITES FOR AUTHORS:



Monday, July 11, 2016

Reality vs. Fiction

"The way things happen in romance novels don't truly reflect the way things happen in our subjectively real universe. " -- Comment during blog discussion on romance.


The truth of the matter is nothing reflects the "real world" of experience. Not fiction, not nonfiction, not bland news reports, not even media like film and TV. Reality is simply too complex.

A writer uses her own vision of the universe to create her fiction. That vision is ordered so that the complex chaos of reality makes sense and has a pattern. 

If readers find her vision of reality to be truthful for them, (they buy into her vision and understand it), the writer has been successful. Part of that buying in while reading romance is seeing the complexity of the human personality and the male/female romantic relationship reflected in that writing.

Since so many women read romance, romance must reflect emotional, if not physical, reality for women. 


In the same sense, most of us don't believe in vampires, but that doesn't prevent us from enjoying a good vampire romance. Those of us who analyze our responses to books see that the vampire romance reflects certain emotional needs and power issues for us so it is emotionally real although not "reality" real.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Links of Interest

EDITING TO CREATE BETTER EMOTIONAL DESCRIPTIONS:


THE DIFFERENCES AND USES OF A COLLECTION, AN ANTHOLOGY, AND A BOXED SET:


EIGHT UNUSUAL WAYS TO MARKET YOUR BOOK:


BUILDING YOUR READERSHIP, THINK LONG TERM:


HOW KNOWING THE GENRE HELPS CREATE THE BOOK:


HOW A NOVEL SHOULDN’T BE LIKE A MOVIE OR TV SHOW:


WORLDBUILDING, DON’T FORGET THE LANDSCAPE:


USING GOODREADS TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE:


BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST:


HOW TO STORYBOARD A BOOK WHICH WILL HAVE A SEQUEL:


STRATEGY IN FANTASY BATTLES:


WRITING GRIEF:


WRITING AN AMAZING FLASHBACK:


THE CONTRACT TERMINATION CLAUSE:


GRAMMAR SOURCES:


THE ACTIVE VERSUS PASSIVE SENTENCE:


SUBPLOTS:


STORY CONFLICT:


PLANNING OUT YOUR NOVEL:


CHOOSING YOUR ANTAGONIST:


LOOKING FOR A CRITIQUE PARTNER OR PARTNERS?


AVOIDING EXPECTATIONS IN PLOT:


COMBINING GENRES:


PROBLEMS WITH USING DICTATION SOFTWARE:


PROMOTING PROPERLY AND WHAT NOT TO DO:



Monday, July 4, 2016

The Semicolon in Fiction

QUESTION: Someone told me I shouldn't use semicolons in my stories. Why?


First, a grammar reminder about semicolons (;). The three most common uses of a semicolon are

*Compound sentences when a conjunction (and, or, but) isn't used.

The wind blew through the trees; the chimes sang like angels.

*Compound sentences when a conjunctive adverb (however, therefore, nevertheless) is used.

The wind blew through the trees; however, the chimes remained silent.

*Sentences with long, joined clauses which may have commas.

The wind blew through the trees, I was told; but because the chimes had become tangled, their sounds did not echo through the forest.

As you can see from the examples, most semicolon sentence structures have a formal quality to them that is uncommon in fiction but is often found in nonfiction. In other words, it belongs in nonfiction, not fiction, particularly genre fiction with its more vernacular style.

Use the semicolon as rarely as you would an exclamation point in narrative, and only when nothing else will do for clarity.


If you find yourself using semicolons quite often, your narrative voice is probably too heavy or didactic for popular fiction.