Sunday, May 30, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
CRAFT: How to show the reader a character's skills/powers/whatever without being boring.
PROMOTION: What to do with extra galleys (ARCs) before you are published.
PROMOTION: The value of having short stories in anthologies.
BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Cost comparisons between paper and ebooks.
ONLINE IDEA GENERATORS: A list of plot, worldbuilding, name, etc., generators to get the ideas flowing.
TWITTER FOR WRITERS: For those who Twitter, here are some excellent resources for writers.
BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: That live appointment with an editor or agent at a convention. How to be "beautiful."
BUSINESS OF WRITING: Why you should keep copies of everything you write.
WORLDBUILDING: The world or the story? Which should come first?
CRAFT: Rearranging to make your book stronger.
CRAFT: The antagonist and the protagonist. A really nice piece on how each works with the other in a story.
PROMOTION: Using your email list for promotion.
Monday, May 24, 2010
The main plot of the novel drives the story forward through the whole work.
Some novels have only one plot. A simple romance's plot is boy and girl meet, one or both screws it up because of some inner flaw or weakness, but they manage to change enough to create a happily ever after.
Other novels have a major story line and minor story lines. Most often, these books mix genres like romantic suspense, or they are more complex in both subject matter and word count.
A minor story line is called a subplot. The two major types of subplot are the parallel and the independent subplot.
The parallel subplot is a smaller element of the overall plot that intersects the major plot with both its major character or characters and the events. The main plot affects the subplot, and the subplot affects the main plot.
In AVATAR, Sully's romance with Neytiri is one of the parallel subplots in the main story of Sully's learning about the planet Pandora and his decision to save it from the other humans.
His relationship with Neytiri is his personal introduction to the planet, its people, and their ways, and his emotional/romantic relationship with her teaches him the value of its people as well as giving him the original impetus to reconsider his decision to spy on the scientists and betray the locals to the corporation and its mercenaries.
In my STAR-CROSSED, Kellen's struggle against sexual slavery, his owner Cadaran, and his search for his freedom parallels Tristan and Mara's sweet relationship and their own fight for Tristan's freedom against Cadaran as representative of the corrupt government.
A complex novel may have numerous parallel subplots. Some may be almost as complex as the main plot, and others may be short and simple pieces of the puzzle that is the story.
A simple subplot in STAR-CROSSED involves Tristan's relationship with Floppy, the intelligent alien kitty.
When Tristan lives in Mara's house, Floppy sees him as a rival for Mara's time and attention, and the housekeeper has told Floppy that Tristan with his sneaky male ways is a danger to her.
Floppy works to prevent a physical relationship between Mara and Tristan, and he's more than willing to kill Tristan to protect Mara.
Floppy and Tristan gradually learn to like each other when Tristan teaches Floppy to read.
After Tristan saves Mara's life at the risk to his own freedom, Floppy is totally won over to Tristan's side.
This subplot not only drives the main story forward by interfering with the romantic relationship of the hero and heroine, it also is comic or scary in contrast to the main story line's tone at that moment to add variety.
An independent subplot doesn't impact the main story. A common use of this kind of subplot is in a mystery where the main character has a home life subplot as well as trying to catch the killer in the main plot.
At its least, an independent subplot gives a fuller picture of the main character or a more complete view of the world he inhabits.
At its best, it reflects the main plot thematically or emotionally. For example, the hero must face the death of his father and their issues of abuse at the same time as he is chasing a serial killer who targets elderly men which may indicate he was abused by an older man when he was little.
The TV show, HOUSE, often uses the independent subplot which involves the relationships of the hospital staff to reflect the main plot of discovering what is killing their patient.
In most episodes, House will gain a valuable clue to the illness through his interactions with another character during that subplot.
The very strongest subplot, even those that aren't parallel, brings a thematic, characterization, and worldbuilding depth to the novel.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: How enhanced ebook rights can derail a movie deal.
PROMOTION: Tips for online promotion courtesy of Kensington's Digital Content/Marketing Manager.
MARKETS/AGENTS: Listing of publishers and agents looking for YA and kid books.
MARKETS: Trends in Middle Grade SF
MARKETS: Trends in Teen SF.
CRAFT: A misunderstanding is not a major conflict.
MARKETS: Contemporary romance isn't dead.
RESOURCES: Ten of the best websites for authors, new and experienced.
CRAFT: Backstory. An excellent twelve part series on how to include backstory in your novel.
BUSINESS OF WRITING: The possibilities of using apps for the iPad to create an enhanced book.
CRAFT: Situation ideas versus character ideas to create a novel.
Monday, May 17, 2010
QUESTION: Writers are often told that editors and readers hate flashbacks, but I see them, some of them full scenes, used all the time. What gives?
The first thing you must consider is the kind of book you're talking about. Flashbacks are quite common in literary fiction, not very common in genre (popular fiction).
Literary fiction and some mainstream fiction aren't concerned with plot and linear time (one event followed by another event). In fact, plot suspense is often tossed away by having the end of the book revealed at the beginning of the book.
Popular fiction, however, depends on plot and linear time, and the reader wants to see what happens next.
Flashbacks are a major speed bump which slows or stops the reader's forward movement through the story. The reader must pause and readjust at the beginning of the flashback and then again at the resumption of the regular plot. That pause can be fatal to the reader's immersion into the story.
Most flashbacks are poorly done, even in published writing, and the inexperienced writer would be wise to avoid them entirely because they give too much information which can be deleted without a loss to the story. Instead, the important bits can be sprinkled judiciously through the story with dialogue and interiors.
ASK ME A QUESTION: I welcome questions on craft and publishing. Ask me via the comments section of this blog, or via my website marilynnbyerly.com. I've had to moderate the comments section of this blog because of spam so your comment will not appear immediately.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
CRAFT: Why cliffhangers can be bad.
WORLDBUILDING: Interesting article on how Monica Burns used her interests in Roman history to create a contemporary paranormal series.
CRAFT: Being risky and not in your writing.
CRAFT: The use of placeholders in an early draft.
BUSINESS OF WRITING: How to find an honest publisher or agent.
CRAFT: Creating a great voice.
THE NOVEL PITCH: What an agent or editor wants to hear when you give a live query at a conference.
CREATING A PROTAGONIST FROM THE GROUND UP:
Monday, May 10, 2010
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
THE BUSINESS OF WRITING: The false assumptions about being a pro writer and the painful realities.
PROMOTION: How to hit the NY Times bestseller list.
MARKET: "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" is now taking electronic submissions.
BUSINESS OF WRITING: Finding the courage to submit your works.
MARKET: SCARY KISSES anthology now open for submissions.
CRAFT: The three things a scene needs.
BUSINESS OF WRITING: Why you should behave yourself online if you want a writing career.
CRAFT: Starting your novel at the wrong place.
PROMOTION: Post your author events for free.
MARKET: Sf, fantasy, and horror short stories.
CRAFT: Listening to real live conversation to create great dialogue.
MARKET: Tor.com short story guidelines.
BUSINESS OF WRITING: Setting long term goals for your writing career.
Monday, May 3, 2010
QUESTION: In a recent interview, a famous author said that she has reinvented herself (changed what she wrote) three times. Why did she do this?
Almost everyone who writes long enough for the NY conglomerate publishers has to reinvent themselves or leave publishing.
Markets die. For example, the historical romance market has faded drastically over the last five years although it's trying to make a comeback. Many of its writers started writing contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense.
Publishers die or drop lines, and some authors are trapped in contracts that won't allow them to move their successful series to another publisher or write anything in direct competition to their series so they have to make a major change in direction with a new and very different series.
Selling numbers fall to a point that no publisher wants her books so the author has to start over with a new name.
Authors change. One successful paranormal romance author lost her young child, and she left PNR and started writing inspirationals.
Some authors get bored.
Other authors are trend whores (their term) who change with the shifting popularity of types of books.
The danger with the constant shift in types of books is that you lose fans every time you make a shift, and you have to work extra hard at marketing yourself to a new group of people.
The most successful way to reinvent yourself is to build a brand with a certain type of books, write at least six, then start a second series or type of book that shares many of the same readers. Then you publish one book of each type every year. A good example of this is Jim Butcher with his urban fantasy DRESDEN FILES and his traditional fantasy series.