Saturday, January 30, 2010

Epilogues

A few weeks ago I posted a question about prologues, about whether or not they should be included as part of a book, and readers of this blog had a lot of different opinions! Well, I because I recently finished a book with a good epilogue, I'd like to know if people out there generally take a kinder attitude toward epilogues than they do toward prologues.

As a reader, when I come to really care about the characters and feel invested in their stories, I like to find out by way of an epilogue what happened to them after the close of the book. How about you? Are you an epilogue person?

Friday, January 29, 2010

When is enough enough?

You've got yourself a first draft! W00T!!

You revise until you're happy. Or sick of it.

You give it to your beta readers - 1, 3, 9, however many. Get their comments back, pass out. Work up a way to address those things you like/do not like. Alcohol is optional.

You give it to your agent. Who reads and thinks and ponders and thinks and gets you notes back. You work up a way to address those things. Give it back, rinse/repeat until they are happy.

You go out on sub. Finally! Getting yesses, getting hms, getting no ways, getting a peculiar thing called a "no contract-exclusive revision" request. (Which is happening more and more nowadays, I hear). You think and talk with your agent: is this it? Should we revise for this publisher? Your agent should know the places they are subbing to and be able to give you a good indication of whether you should. But normally, most writers are gonna revise. 'Cause it's a step closer, man!

You revise. Hoo-ah! But whoops, not all of it is straight. (I've read some stories on the internet of writers doing 4-5 passes on a MS BEFORE acquisitions lately. Um, yikes!) So you go back to the board with those things they want changed and you change them.

Beta. Agent. Rinse and repeat.

You give it to the pub. Now you've got a 50/50 chance. Do they take it? It could all very well have been in vain - remember, they've got no contract, you've got no yes, so it's all on their side. You've done everything you can possibly do for this book.

But was it enough? Is that enough for you?

Now I want to ask you something: where would you have stopped? Where are you stopped right now? Would you go this far? Would you continuously edit your beloved MS for agent after agent, or would you say "eh, let's try with the next MS" and go from there?

Because if I know one thing, the thing I know is the writer that is published is the writer that didn't give up.

And I'd love to know where you're at with your determination.

Chin up! And report!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back to the Near-Future

One day I set out to write a science fiction book. I had several ideas running around in my head, and after a bit of chewing the fat and drinking the scotch, I settled on an idea for a near-future science fiction book. After a bit of brain molding, which, incidentally, consisted of more scotch, I set the novel only a few years away, with the possibility of a sequel stretching off into another decade.
The very first problem I ran into was world building. It is one thing to write come up with the strange and fantastic. It was quite different to write something close-to-home and familiar. It was both challenging and fun. And slow. Reeeeeaaaaaallllly slow.
Writing about the near-future required a lot of research. I used the interwebs. The library. I had to order my own books. My spreadsheet of writing expenses says I spent $253 in books for this project, half of that esoteric research material on Pacific Northwest Native Americans.
My research was not insular. I had to have my novel read by several experts. I needed someone to check my work on firearms. I had to have someone in law enforcement as a beta reader. I even had to seek out someone familiar with Washington State finances.
Once I was finished, I had a huge appreciation for writers placing their novels in a historical setting, those special authors who would spend days making sure they had a particular detail correct. I also had an appreciation for science fiction writers who can make a world come alive.
Mostly, however, I came to the conclusion that to write about the near future, you have to be crazy. If I would have known most of a month would go to researching the rich history of totem poles, and then hypothesize how their use could morph in the future due to cultural shifts, I might have said “pass.”
It’s an interesting sub-genre, I don’t know if it is for me or not. Anyone else here in Adventures in Writing land tackle the near future?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Writing Fresh

I think we've all read the book so chock full of old, weary metaphors that we couldn't even plow through it. In fact, just last week, I decided to pick up a "master of suspense" and read, "As the terrible pain invaded his upper arms and chest, Evan genuinely thought he had been bitten by a Tyrannosaurus rex." I made it about three more pages. When I got to "Aw, gee, he was such a weed!" I had to set the book aside.

Fresh writing eschews the cliche and seeks the image that glows -- the image that lingers with us, makes us sit up and think, "Ah, yes, why didn't I ever see it that way before?" Comparing two unlike objects only works if it hasn't been done a million times before.

On the other hand, they can't entirely distract us from the plot at hand. Scribbling out, "the thin ribbon of water wound about the belly hairs of Mother Earth," will most likely cause your readers to spurt their morning coffee. Or throw your book across the room. Or abruptly stop reading your blog post... ;D

So give me your best OR worst metaphor/simile. It can be one you've created or one you've found. Only needs to illustrate the fresh or the cliched.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Unputdownable


Unputdownable |unputdownable|
adjective
1 To write a story so compelling, it's as if you're a part of it, and you can't let go.

That's the goal of every author isn't it? Write a book that readers don't want to put down, a book they want to read so much, that they will stay up half the night to finish it. It is for me.

So how exactly do you do that?

It's actually pretty easy, you leave out all of the boring parts.

Yeah right, how do you do that? Some of the boring parts are needed. They provide information that enhances the excitement for the interesting scenes, or provide the reader a breather between high action, or highly dramatic moments. You see that's the interesting thing about books, just like everything else in life, too much of a good thing, is too much.

Too much action becomes repetitive. Too much weepy love scenes becomes unbearable (actually for me most love scenes are unbearable, but that's a different topic). Too much of any type of scene one after the other, desensitizes the reader, they become bored, and the book likely gets put down.

As writers we've all been told to "show don't tell", but even that has its limits. Especially when trying to provide information, scenes crafted to show can seem forced, contrived, or simply too darn long.

What you need to do, is have as many of the action, dramatic, powerful show scenes as the book requires, but separate them with small tell scenes that provide the information in a quick non-boring way so that the reader doesn't close the book, and fall asleep.

Heresy you say? Tell the reader instead of show? Yes, but only in moderation. Only to move the scenes along so that you can quickly get to the next important show scene. Too much telling, just like too much showing, are both the kiss of death when it comes to writing stories that are unputdownable. Both types are needed in just the right mix, to create a compelling story that will keep your reader up all night.

What do you think? Do you mix show and tell? How do you determine which type of scene to use?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sidekicks

Heroes have 'em.
Villains have 'em.

But are they necessary, and do they add much to the story?
Do you write them into your fiction? And why?
Do you tend (as I do) to fall in love with the characters you invent, and are you able to kill them off, when necessary?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sweet, sweet accomplishment


Right before I wrote this post, I wrote

THE END

on my most recent manuscript.

I love this one. I truly do. I know I say that I love every one that I write and to a point that's absolutely correct, but this one is so much different in so many ways:

- it's a mystery
- it's like nothing I've ever tried before and it really stretched my skills
- it's got a boy protag, which I've not had an easy time of in the past *waves at as-yet completely unrevised singular ms that had boy protag*
- I plotted the entire thing when normally I allow the story to go where it will
- I used all my old dog show experience, which I've not ever used in a book up to now

As well as other things.

I absolutely, absolutely heart this book. And in a way, it's perfect timing. My agent has just finished reading my *other* most recent MS and has given me feedback that will require extensive thought. I've learned so much lately from revising from her and my editors, as well as my crit group friends, and I feel so much stronger on the revising front than ever before.

I always know the truly good books I write from the books that would be good second books or option books on a contract (I think, at least). The truly good books:

- have a great protag
- have interesting sidekicks
- have a question that goes deeper than just the plot, which is solid and packed
- roll out and off of my fingers to where I can hardly write fast enough.

The last few days, through no fault or will of my own, I was writing 5-8 thousand words. I couldn't get it out fast enough. I anticipated each action, I laughed at the right spots (smirking as I typed, half the time) and I got to the end with a real pang of regret. I was sad to see the end of this first draft.

THIS first draft, like my Possum Summer book, helped me remember that joy of writing and the thrill of discovery.

Gosh golly, I love this book.

So next comes revisions, which shan't take long as I've got a list already ready, and then to my agent. And then to subbing. Because this baby is GOLDEN! The agent is already panting for it, which only serves to heighten my sense of rainbow and puppy-dog sparkles around this thing.

You? How do you know the mark of a truly good book from a good but not outstanding book that you've written? Have any guidelines?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Style vs. Substance

I’ll admit it, I’m the occasional poet.

My interest in poetry stems from being on the receiving end of some spectacularly romantic prose in high school by my girlfriend. To this day, I find her word smiting in a different category from us mere mortals, and consider myself lucky to be the recipient of such a talented (and pretty) young woman’s literary creativity.

While I was doing my stint in corporate America in the ‘90’s as a hack writer, I could write nothing but hack material and poetry. Today, however, I have a fondness for writing poetry because it is different than novel writing. When I finish a 100,000 word novel, my brain yearns to write something, anything, than speculative fiction. Sometimes, I write short stories set in a historical context. Sometimes, I’ll write something modern and romantic. Sometimes, I’ll even write a script.

Sometimes, I’ll even write a blog post. Ha, ha, ha.

How about you? Do you find yourself, in that occasional space between novel and editing, writing off the rails?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rules of the Writing Game

Before anyone shouts, "Off with her head," or snaps shots, clickety-snap, of me in furtive poses and mails them off to some alphabet soup agency, I'll admit it up front. Seriously. I'm choosing to break two cardinal rules of the real writing game. Yeah, I'm that honest with you. Here goes.

1. I'm typing, in black and white, that there are rules to writing.
2. Although there are undoubtedly a million or so rules, I'm only sharing one.

Read What You Write.

It's such a part of the writer, ingrained if you will, that it really should be an unwritten rule. And yet. I can't help but think of myself as a case in point: the last time that I finished a young adult fantasy novel I was perched twenty feet in a tree. In September. It's been four months!

Even more appalling is the fact that my current WIP is mainstream fantasy. Not YA at all. And the last time I read that genre was last Spring (Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing for the more vicarious of you).

I've read a million or so books since then: mostly serial killer or mystery or Amanda Quick (the only romance author allowed into the house...though Quality is sadly missing in her last twenty or so books).

Thus, it occurs to me that I'm sadly lacking in the whole "reading what you write" aspect of being a writer. In fact, I suck. Therefore, gentle reader, I am heading off to amazon.com to rectify that -- and before you castigate me for not heading to a local indie book-store, please note that I 1) live in a small town and 2) am on a severely limited budget. As in tiny.

But you -- you're different, right? You always read what you write. Right? Okay. Tell me the truth: what are you currently writing versus what are you currently reading? Be honest :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

We have a winner

Thanks to those of you who entered the Michael Palmer Book Contest. It was a very tough call, but I liked Cynthia's entry and therefore she is going to receive a book autographed by Michael himself.

As I mentioned last week I read "The Last Surgeon" in one day. It's a very creepy story, but in a good way. You're going to love it. Lot's of action, lots of twists, and very likable characters provide a great reading experience.

The book will be released to the public February 16th at a bookstore near you. Go pick one up, you won't be disappointed.

I'll be back next week with more tales of the writers experience.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts from last week

Thank you all for answering my little question last week. It mostly ended up as I suspected - we, a introverted writers, look for friends and acquaintances through blogging. And it seems that this crazy internet thing actually works. I have met many close friends by stumbling across their blog, commenting, getting a comment on mine, and starting a conversation.

I mean, isn't that the coolest thing ever?

Case in point: I went thru to those blogs you all mentioned were yours, and added you to my feed. I'll be reading yours, and commenting (Because I am quite bad about commenting on my comments here and on my personal blog. I'm bad that way).

I will try to do better about commenting here. I pinkie-swear.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Quick Link

Hello everyone. I realize I've had a long layoff, but with the mix of holidays and getting back into writing and submitting to markets and agents, I haven't allowed myself the chance to blog. I've also been flirting with the idea of writing a textbook, because I'm starting to realize how platform-driven publishing is.

In any event, I wanted to post this link. Perhaps you've seen it already, but it's the 100 Best Sellers of 2009, courtesy of USA Today.


It's an interesting list to study, and I usually stare at it for a good 5-10 minutes.

Hope all is well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Basic Interweb Thingie Branding Tricks

While I am not an advertising expert, nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn last night, I do work with some very talented people in the online business. On occasion, they teach me a few things.
One thing to be aware of is your personal brand. If you have a blog, you have one.
But did you know you may be sharing it with someone else?
How could that be, you ask?
Take a look at my website URL: http://anthony-pacheco.com.
Notice it isn’t anthony-pacheco.wordpress.com, or anthony-pacheco.blogspot.com. That’s because I don’t want to share my limited brand with WordPress or Blogger. My address is owned by me, exclusively. I could move anthony-pacheco.com off of WordPress, because I own that URL.
If you are not familiar with the particulars, for WordPress (because, I just love WordPress), to make this happen, here’s what I did:
1) Paid a fee to a domain registry company for the URL. This fee is variable; the cost per year decreases the more years you purchase.
2) Paid a small fee to WordPress for the domain name feature (I believe this is free with Blogger, but I don’t like Blogger).
3) Did some brief hookup of my domain name to my WordPress blog
If you have WordPress or a Blogger blog, these are easy things to do. If you don’t know how, a simple trip to their help files will reveal the steps necessary. You can also ask a resident internet geek. It’s not rocket science at all.
It doesn’t sound like much, but in the end, unless you are employed by WordPress or Google, there isn’t a reason to share your current and future popularity with someone else.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writer Stretch: Meet the Chapbook

"Intervals of dreaming help us to stand up under days of work." ---Pablo Neruda

Meet JoniB. Brave soul that she is, she took the plunge, wrote out her goal, and emailed me the picture. I am duly impressed.

Of course, anyone who quotes Pablo Neruda on her blog is tops in my book.

Though, Joni, I am curious: exactly what do you plan to write, genre-wise, content-wise, page-wise? I'm guessing a 40-ish page chapbook chock full of delicious poetry...but I'd hate to assume anything!

And thus, dear readers, your job for today is encouragement. Take a jaunt on over to Joni's blog and leave her a message that totally lights a fire...then scurry back here and craft a goal for yourself.

It's not too late to make a public writing commitment and send in your photo. In case you've forgotten the challenge already (or perhaps haven't read it yet), I've included it below for your review.

Alex Moore Challenge: Join me! Pick a new writing goal or achievement for the next year. It doesn't have to be fancy or stressful or inventive or creative. And don't select something just because it sounds classy or bookish or hip. It just has to be something that means something to you.
  1. Put new GOAL in writing. Use sticky note or parchment paper, whatever - just get it down.
  2. Find a picture that represents that goal. Rip it out of a magazine, doodle it, snap it with your iPhone.
  3. Tape them together & post in prominent place: mirror, bedside, locker, computer.
  4. Snap a picture of the duo -- and email to me. Let me post the pretty pics over the next 365 days on this blog. Well...er...at least on the Tuesdays of those 365 days... :)
  5. Include your goal in the comment section, too -- leave evidence of your hope in the blogosphere. We here at Adventures in Writing want to ridicule support you as you reach for the stars.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Michael Palmer Book Contest


OK dear blog readers, I hinted about it last week, but it's finally here. The chance to win your very own FREE PERSONALIZED copy of Michael Palmer's newest medical thriller "The Last Surgeon".

In case you have lived under a rock for the last 20 years, Michael Palmer is the NY Times Best Selling Author of 15 successful medical thrillers. He was educated in the medical field and he uses that knowledge to write stories that feel so real, they are downright creepy.

I am still buzzing from the adrenaline rush of finishing "The Last Surgeon" in one day. It was the best page turner I've read in a while, and I hate to say it, but as I've progressed in my own writing, I've become quite picky.

It takes more than explosions and knife wielding crazy people for me to keep the pages turning, and Palmer did a fantastic job of mixing in a great story, with believable characters, and great action.

I have a complete review of the book on my personal blog.

So back to the contest.

I liked the rules that agent Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown used for his contest so much, that I hijacked them and modified them to suit my needs. (I don't like reinventing the wheel)

So to win the FREE PERSONALIZED copy of "The Last Surgeon", (I did mention free right?), what you need to do is prove to me in 200 words or less how much of a Michael Palmer fan you are, and why you should win a FREE PERSONALIZED copy of "The Last Surgeon".

1. Please enter one Michael Palmer fan entry not to exceed 200 words in the comments section of this blog post.

2. You may enter once, and once you may enter.

3. Spreading the word about the contest is not only encouraged, it is strongly encouraged.

4. Snarky comments, anonymous or otherwise, about entries, the weather, the Na'vi tribe of blue people, and/or Mike Tyson will be deleted with relish. You will find the nearest free speech zone approximately 500 pixels away from this blog. (I absolutely loved that one Nathan)

5. Please please check and double-check your entry before posting. If you spot an error after posting: please do not re-post. I will go through the entries sequentially and the repeated deja vu repeated deja vu from reading the same entry only slightly different makes my head spin. I'm not worried about typos, nor should you be.

6. I will be the sole judge of the contest.

7. You must be at least 14 years old and less than 137 years old to enter. No exceptions.

8. I'm on Twitter! You can find me at @thenextwriter and I will be posting updates about the contest.

9. The deadline for this contest is 8:00 PM Pacific Time on Friday January 15th. I will be announcing the winner in my blog post on Jan 18th.

So there you have it. If you want a FREE PERSONALIZED copy of "The Last Surgeon" enter today.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Prologues

Occasionally writers are advised to avoid using prologues. I want to bring this up because, honestly, I do not understand why prologues are thought to be a bad idea!

In my opinion, a good prologue can provide valuable information that a reader might not find included in the main story - for instance, something which happened long before the events of the story begin, but which is a principal cause of the current story. A prologue might serve as in invitation into the story or a sampling of what is to come, or a frame story which adds another dimension to the novel. And as a reader, I actually enjoy reading an interesting prologue.

So tell me: what is you opinion of prologues? Do you ever include them? And as a reader, do you like them, or do they annoy you?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Your blog, your opinion.

I'd love to ask you all a question today. Or two.

Do you blog?
If yes, why do you do it?
What do you use your blog for?
Do you plan to (or presently) use it for a platform?

Enquiring minds want to know! (And results next week plus an explanation)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SUPER YARN MART and the DATE OF DOOM


Most of my young man experience with fiction writing consisted of dating a writer.

Once.

Hanna (named changed to protect the guilty) proudly introduced herself at the apartment pool as a writer, a writer of fiction. This intrigued me. Most of the writers I knew were like me: technical geeks posing as hack writers toiling away under the florescent glare of mediocrity.

Okay, so I had a nice office in a lovely building situated in a wooded glade, but still. There were florescent lights, of that I recall.

But I digress.

Anyway, both Hanna and I were dead-tired, each of us having worked odd hours. Our flirting was lame and circular, but, happily mutual, until, that is, in a young man flash of hormone fueled brilliance (BRILLIANCE, I SAY) I suggested we could hit an early dinner at the newly rebuilt I-HOP a couple of blocks away.

(The older I-HOP burnt down the day I arrived in town. This was a portent of things to come.)

"They re-opened the 'HOP?" she asked.

"Yesterday, I think."

Hanna gets this gleam in her eye. A gleam I would recognize years later as a signal to BACK AWAY SLOWLY from the dangerous and possibly rabid animal.

"Oh my God! We must go and I must have a waffle! With slices of banana!"

Now, I may have been a naïve young man, but still, I knew the Universal Waffle Rule of Dating, which was feed a woman waffles and you were pretty much half-way into her pants. Yes, my day at the pool was looking up.

Especially since Hanna the Writer was at the pool for the same reason I was: to take a nap in the sun while people who worked normal hours labored the afternoon away.

So essentially, I was napping with Hanna and feeding her waffles. It didn’t matter that my brain was shutting down with lack of sleep; the Fates conspired to deliver me a boon. Plus, there was a bookstore and a movie theater by the waffles. Plenty of opportunity to extend the date into something fun.

A boon, that is, until we walked to I-HOP.

I guess Hanna was new to the neighborhood, because, when we woke up from our mutual napping-by-the-pool and embarked on our pleasant stroll for aphrodisiac waffles of young love, she stopped right in her tracks and stared at a store tucked away in the strip mall surrounded by old trees like some fairy glade. Lo, this store was SUPER YARN MART.

"Oh my God, that sign says SUPER YARN MART."

I did not know what to say. I suddenly had a bad feeling about the rest of the evening.

She turned to me. "Can we go in? That's like the biggest yarn store, um, ever."

"Sure!" I said.

Kill me now, I thought. Then I thought that wasn't very nice. Then we were in the store.

There was yarn all right. And, by some yarn store measuring stick, this wasn't just any yarn mart but a yarn mart that sold wool yarn. Lots and lots of wool yarn. There was so much freak'n yarn in this store, it was like, I don't know, SUPER.

Hanna, young, articulate, pretty thing that she was, went crazy. We're talking not one but two bags of yarn. Not small bags either. Two! Two bags of yarn, ah-ah-ah!

Hanna the Writer unloaded. She spent more on fancy string than I got paid that week.

We went to I-HOP. She talked of nothing except yarn and knitting, the two bags sitting next to her like some disembodied dyed sheep chaperone. I did drag out she was a fan of serious literature, so much so she actually wrinkled her nose at my professed love of reading science fiction and fantasy.

She practically jogged back to her apartment with the two bags of yarn.

I got a thank you, but no smooch. Hanna, it seemed, wanted to knit that evening.

Several months later, I ran into Hanna and a young, handsome preppy man, one who looked like he read everything but science fiction and fantasy.

He was wearing a nice scarf and mittens.

A year later, SUPER YARN MART went out of business, slowly followed by the movie theater and the bookstore.

I never dated a writer again.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writer Stretch: Send Your Photo!

We write.

It's what we do. If we didn't, we wouldn't be here. Right?

But how do you envision stretching yourself as a writer over the next twelve months?

Where do you want to be a year from now?

How many words?

How many chapters? books? characters? queries? agents? book deals?

Without goal setting, without action plans, without envisioning success, we're little more than dreamers. I don't want to wake up on January 1st, 2011, and realize that I'm the same person I was the year before. I want to be different, stretched, challenged, changed. I want to be the person who rose to the challenge.

Alex Moore Challenge: Join me! Pick a new writing goal or achievement for the next year. It doesn't have to be fancy or stressful or inventive or creative. And don't select something just because it sounds classy or bookish or hip. It just has to be something that means something to you.
  1. Put new GOAL in writing. Use sticky note or parchment paper, whatever - just get it down.

  2. Find a picture that represents that goal. Rip it out of a magazine, doodle it, snap it with your iPhone.

  3. Tape them together & post in prominent place: mirror, bedside, locker, computer.

  4. Snap a picture of the duo -- and email to me. Let me post the pretty pics over the next 365 days on this blog. Well...er...at least on the Tuesdays of those 365 days... :)

  5. Include your goal in the comment section, too -- leave evidence of your hope in the blogosphere. We here at Adventures in Writing want to ridicule support you as you reach for the stars.
And remember, borrowing from Henry Ford, Whether you think that you can or that you can't, you're usually right. You are the only one directing your destiny: go out there and forge your own trail.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Contest Coming


I am going to help a NYT best selling author market his latest book. Isn't amazing how the book industry is changing? It used to be that an author would crank out the manuscript, go on a book tour, show up on a few talk shows, or other appearances, then fall off the radar to go work on the next one.

That was then, this is now.

The internet has changed all that. In the past readers would actually go to a brick and mortar bookstore to shop for books, now books are a few clicks away on a website. How do today's authors stand out from the firehose of promotion coming at them from every corner of internet? It's tough.

How many of you still go to a bookstore to buy hardcover books? I'm sure there are a few of you, but I think the numbers are dwindling. Witness the bookstores failing all over the country.

Other than the ones that happen to fall into my cart at Costco when my wife isn't looking, nearly all my book purchases are now of the audio kind, or the Kindle kind. This doesn't bode well for bookstores, and as an author myself, it's worrisome, but to me its a matter of convenience.

How do authors stand out? In order for authors to get noticed, they have to become much more web savvy in their marketing. Thus, the book contest I am doing with Michael Palmer for his upcoming book. It's a way to maximize his online presence for selling his book, but it will also be great for me personally, and this blog to be associated with his efforts. I see it as a win-win deal, which everyone knows, is the best kind.

I will post the contest rules Monday of next week, but I would also welcome your ideas. The winner of the contest will get a personalized copy of Michael Palmer's upcoming release "The Last Surgeon". I would like it to go to someone who is a big fan, because I think they would appreciate it the most. Send me your ideas, and I hope one of you wins.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Writing chapters

I suppose most writers prefer to divide their novels into chapters in the most logical places, along the story's natural "seams." As a reader, though, I am less concerned with that than I am with the length of the chapters. I prefer to read a book with fifty short chapters than with ten longish ones.

I'd like to hear from writers. How do you create chapters? Is it something you give much conscious thought to, or do you just "know" how it should be done?

Do you plan out the chapters first, or write the novel and divide it into chapters after the fact? Do you tend to group several scenes together in a single chapter if they involve the same character or group of characters? Would you ever break a single, very long scene into two chapters?

And do you take the number of words into account when deciding where to divide a chapter, or do you go strictly by the story's narrative elements?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year...

to you all!

Two years. Two years since I started blogging, and since then I've moved, gotten pregnant, finished five books, queried two, gotten representation and then found the PERFECT AGENT, thought and ruminated and pondered and travelled and above all else, written.

Every day. Even if it was a small amount by some's standards, I've done it.

What have I learned over just the last year?
  • It takes more than an idea to finish a book. It takes picky beta readers and your best game. All the time.
  • My husband is possibly the most supportive, cool guy in the world.
  • I can finish multiple books, edit them and get them "done."
  • Some books take *so* much longer than others to get right.
  • There is no set rule of thumb for when a book is finished. But I can sure tell you, it's not after you finish that first draft.
  • Finding an agent is hard, but so worth it. Don't take the first one that offers unless you *really* feel like they are the one.
  • You are never ever finished. Got the book done? Great. Go find an agent. Did that? Wonderful. Now try and sub in a sub-zero book buying environment. Get a deal? CONGRATS! Now panic yourself into a breakdown worrying about your sales numbers and if that second deal will happen based off your results. It never ends, man.
  • You will stop believing in yourself, and you'll have to find that belief again. But only those that don't stop will become published. Don't give up!
Last year I did goals, which was funny because I'd never really tried the whole "goal thing at the beginning of the year thing". And you know what? I accomplished every one of them, but it wasn't because I had a resolution to do it. I just wanted them for myself, so I went step by step, day by day, and by the end I'd done it. I don't think I really agree with the resolution thought process.

So for this year I'm simply continuing on the path I'm on. It's gonna be a big year; I'm deep in Panic, have next book on ice waiting, I have two to revise, and oh yeah, soon we'll have a little baby that will take massive amounts of time. So no, this path I'm on is fine. I won't stop, and I won't give up. I'll get it done, and I'll have some fine, fine news this year. And I'll stand by you all's journeys cheering every step of the way.

You? Do you do resolutions?