Thursday, April 19, 2007

Friday 20

Dracoola
Fangtacy
No Bark All Bite
Immortal Studmuffin
Your Coffin or Mine?


I've been doing a little market research for an article I'm writing about genre trends. And I don't know about you guys, but I am now, officially, sick to death of vampire romances with cute pun titles.

Before anyone blows a gasket, I'm not pointing fingers at any author in particular. Have you seen the number of pun titles out there? I don't own that many fingers. Neither does the National Guard.

I'm also know I'm being unreasonable. I admit it. I'm well aware that half the time authors don't even get to pick out the titles for our books. Remember whose novel got slapped with The Kissing Blades? Believe me, I feel your pain.

But for the love of Vlad, I simply CANNOT DEAL WITH IT ANY MORE.

I hate stereotyping anything, so I tried to figure out why I'm having such a strong negative reaction to vampire romance pun titles. I didn't mind it when the chicklit writers started the pun title trend. I thought they were cute and content-appropriate.

I guess the subject matter is the problem. Vampires were my personal bogeymen when I was very young (thanks to Bela Lugosi movies), and then I became entranced by their mythology as a preteen (watching Dark Shadows after school.) I didn't grow up with more humorous spins on the vampire mythology like Buffy or Love at First Bite. The first vampire novels I read were by Anne Rice and Stephen King, and you know what a laugh-a-minute those two are.

To me, vampires were always the ultimate in dark, mysterious, tragic, poetic, doomed characters. Puns just never entered into that equation, which is probably why I find them so jolting as titles.

A reader's personal history and preferences, just like mine with vampire mythology, tends to heavily influence their opinions of a novel. No doubt a lot of the Buffy generation of writers think serious vampire fiction is old, stodgy and boring because there are no cute little blondes running around kicking vampire ass all through the book. Just as plenty of the old, stodgy and boring vampire writers think that Buffy is silly and trite.

The thing that is so cool about genre is that there is more than enough room for any sort of title, any type of writer, and any kind of story. If your next vampire romance novel is titled The Story of O Positive, there are plenty of readers out there who will think it's a hoot.

Just don't tell me about it for a while. Please. I need a rest.

That's all from my corner of the writing world this week. What's up with you guys? Any questions out there for me?

49 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:44 AM

    Do we really have to wait till Wednesday for the StarDoc winner? :-D

    I agree with you. I'm young but I'm stodgy, and I've just never been into puns with some (few) exceptions. :)

    Okay, my question - how do you get back into a project you've set aside for a while, like a month or so? Even if the material is exciting and you're rarin' to go, got any tips on milking the break for all it's worth? (Heh... do you ever HAVE breaks like that?)
    Jess

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mine is less a question than a plea for...I dunno. Reassurance. Words of encouragement, maybe.

    Here's my deal: I was always told (by English professors and other writers) that short work - short stories, novellas, that kind of thing - were much harder to successfully pull off than full-length novels. So naturally, I decided I needed to conquer that form first. Make it my bitch, as it were.

    So I did that. I can whip out a polished short story or novella that gets good reviews and sells okay (for the electronic publishing market, at least) in a fairly short period of time, and I'm currently booked solid with deadlines for just such work.

    My problem? I'm never going to break into print at a larger house - or even sell as well I as could within epublishing - until I start writing novels. But I'm TERRIFIED. Somehow, in my attempt to master the shorter forms, I've...I dunno...subconsciously convinced myself that this is all I CAN do.

    I have an outline for a novel. I know the characters, I know the conflict, I've got the beginnings of world-building in place. I believe in this idea, but a lone, bitchy little voice in my head is telling me I should stick to what I know I can do and quit trying to be something I'm not.

    I hate this voice. But I fear it, too.

    I think what I need is a good, hard slap upside the head. I look to you, Sheila, to do the honors. You lucky girl, you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jess wrote: Do we really have to wait till Wednesday for the StarDoc winner?

    Afraid so. Unless you know a really talented psychic. ;)

    Okay, my question - how do you get back into a project you've set aside for a while, like a month or so? Even if the material is exciting and you're rarin' to go, got any tips on milking the break for all it's worth? (Heh... do you ever HAVE breaks like that?)

    I rarely take breaks; once I start something I try not to stop working on it in some fashion until I finish it (this is more to combat an old problem of mine of starting things and not finishing them.) I do write short stories that, years later, I develop into novels, so I do know how odd it feels to go back to something you've been away from for awhile.

    If you have notes, sketches, music or anything that helped to inspire you to create the idea that you're going back to work on now, I'd take a little time to review those. One reason I keep novel notebooks is for the notes I write that never make it into the book itself; I work out many details of a story element or character to explain them to myself and see if they work on the page before I try to write them for the reader.

    Read what you already have written from beginning to end, and make that your starting point rather than your focus. I wouldn't worry about heavily editing what you've done in the past, as I think it's more important to write new material and then edit it all together to make sure the voice, flow and plot lines are consistent.

    When you're not working on the project, think about what you've done but also what you'd like to do. Let your characters gradually move back into your head, but don't expect them to magically reappear.

    Your feelings about a back burner project may not be the same as they were when you started it. This is not necessarily a bad thing; having some time and distance between you and the project can give you a better perspective on it. You can always use that to write a better story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Would you read The Story of O Positive if Sasha White wrote it? Okay, kidding, but I have a real question. I'm working on a book that has a solid ending, but that could easily lend itself to more in the same world. How do you write a series so that it could end at any time and yet stays open to more books?

    ReplyDelete
  5. *G* my husband was talking about the huge amount of 'pun' titles. And believe me, if a nonreader like my husband notices this just from walking around a bookstore, it's gotta be bad.

    I don't read pun-titled books. Too many of them have the chic-lit ish kind of covers and nothing just jumps out... PICK ME UP

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous9:13 AM

    I recently submitted my first three chapters for critique. The feedback has been mostly positive but I seem to have a problem with not transporting the reader by using all of the character's senses, all except for sight. I tried to work on this but it doesn't feel natural to me.

    I work as a rehabilitation specialist and write all of the documentation based on observation.

    Do you have any suggestions or writing exercises to improve this? I need to stretch out of my comfort zone.

    Ann

    P.S. Thanks for all that you do. You are a daily inspiration to me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous9:25 AM

    Ann, people like you are an inspiration to me. My mother has suffered from multiple sclerosis nearly all my life and the work of people like yourself means that she can still walk (though slowly and with a cane) and is mostly independent. God bless!

    To answer your question, I would suggest you start becoming more sensory in your own life. Experiment with new lotions or perfumes to figure out what smells you really like. If you can, take up a craft that involves texture, even something like knitting can be different depending on the size of the needles and the type of yarn... etc. And I would keep a journal where you recall five things from the day that stood out to you, but no sights allowed. Hope that helps!

    Jess

    (And thanks for your answer, PBW.)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm jealous of people who manage clever word play. I don't know if I'd read those vamp books (other than Kathy Love's) but I do get a kick out of stupid puns. Actually, I'd p

    Seems like the trend never went away with hair salons. They still go for the cutesy names. Grateful Head, Hair Today, Sheer Elegance, Cutting Crew, umm...now I'm blanking out.

    Speaking of blanking, I need more techniques to block outside influences whilst writing. I mean big picture stuff, like not selling. (before it was selling that did me in) Got any meditations or exercises to stop the noise?

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Actually, I'd p"

    huh. wonder what I was going to write.

    ReplyDelete
  10. While I am waiting eagerly for The Call, I don't want to sound like an unprofessional loser if a publisher phones me. I have no agent. What questions/topics would you recommend I start to discuus, in the event of such a cool scenario? Have you done a post about how to fly unagented?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Selah wrote: Mine is less a question than a plea for...I dunno. Reassurance. Words of encouragement, maybe.

    Got those, too. :)

    Here's my deal: I was always told (by English professors and other writers) that short work - short stories, novellas, that kind of thing - were much harder to successfully pull off than full-length novels. So naturally, I decided I needed to conquer that form first. Make it my bitch, as it were.

    That's like me with SF. And dark fantasy. And historicals. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me I'd never be able to write them, get them published, earn any money from them, etc., let's just say I wouldn't have to write for a living.

    So I did that. I can whip out a polished short story or novella that gets good reviews and sells okay (for the electronic publishing market, at least) in a fairly short period of time, and I'm currently booked solid with deadlines for just such work.

    You own it. Yep.

    My problem? I'm never going to break into print at a larger house - or even sell as well I as could within epublishing - until I start writing novels. But I'm TERRIFIED. Somehow, in my attempt to master the shorter forms, I've...I dunno...subconsciously convinced myself that this is all I CAN do.

    Comfort zones are hard places to leave. You look beyond the borders and think, "I've never been out there, I don't know what's there, but I know it won't be like here." Scary stuff. But if you don't try to move outside your comfort zone, the borders become permanent, and you tag what's beyond as a "I can never go there" place.

    I have an outline for a novel. I know the characters, I know the conflict, I've got the beginnings of world-building in place. I believe in this idea, but a lone, bitchy little voice in my head is telling me I should stick to what I know I can do and quit trying to be something I'm not.

    I know that harpy. Her twin sister lives in my head.

    I hate this voice. But I fear it, too.

    It's not a bad voice, because its main motive is protecting you and the work. It loves success as much as it hates failure. Nothing wrecks a writer's momentum and self-confidence like taking a chance on something new and then not producing anything worth a damn.

    Once I had a brief conversation with a semi-successful fiction writer who told me she wanted desperately to do more with her work. When I suggested ways she could try, she instantly gave me a long, logical list of reasons why she can't write outside her rather narrow fiction comfort zone: spending all that time writing on spec when she could be making money, the agent didn't want her to, her usual thing sold okay, she couldn't nail down a new voice, etc. etc.

    I'm not knocking her. The reasons were valid and made perfect sense; I couldn't disagree or argue with them. I couldn't work like that, but it didn't mean she was wrong. She had very good points. And like thousands of other writers, she'll have a nice little career writing inside her box of fear, and will be miserable the entire time, but she''l never leave it and never take risks or get hurt. This one thing is all she can allow herself to do, so that's all she ever will be. End of story.

    I could be wrong, but I just don't see you boxing yourself in like that, Selah.

    I think what I need is a good, hard slap upside the head. I look to you, Sheila, to do the honors. You lucky girl, you.

    I'll beat the hell out of you if you want, but I think you're doing a pretty good job of that already. So, some more practical suggestions:

    1. Write a novel for yourself. Don't try to submit it, don't worry about having anyone read it. Think of it as a trainer novel, a means to stretch your fiction muscles and get a feel for length, plot, style, pacing, etc.

    2. Tell that bitch in your head that any novel writing you do is purely a writing exercise, and keep doing some writing in your comfort zone. She can't get as pissed off if you're only taking short walks beyond your borders before you come back home.

    3. Give yourself blanket permission to screw it up. We all screw up. I have an entire shelf of unpublished manuscripts so bad they'd make bikers whimpers.

    4. Consider putting aside your serious outline and write a novel for fun. Something you'd really enjoy. After ten straight years of getting my serious work rejected, the first two manuscripts I did sell were the pair I wrote for merely for fun.

    5. It's not like skydiving -- if at first you don't succeed, you can try again. You know the drill. Write a novel, learn from it, write a better novel, learn from it, and repeat until you've made book-length form your bitch.

    I am not ridiculing your fear, btw. What you want to do is scary, and time-consuming, and the process will rock your self-esteem all over the place. It's really no different than the first time you have sex. There are always risks involved. Probably some pain, too. You may not get a decent return for your efforts.

    But just imagine going through life without ever having sex. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. No question, but man, do I know what you're saying. I was just in the book store a few days ago and saw another one of the cute vampire titles and had the same reaction. I grew up with Stephen King and Anne Rice too. I like the dark, scary vamps.

    ReplyDelete
  13. But just imagine going through life without ever having sex. :)

    Aaaaagh! Damn, you can be straight-up scary when you wanna be, woman. :p

    Thank you. I'm printing out your response and adhering it to the wall next to my computer. I'm going to write that fun novel. It may not sell, but I'll enjoy it, dammit, and I'll undoubtedly learn something from it.

    You reminded me, yet again, why I'm really not in this for the money or the "fame." Thanks. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. 1. Write a novel for yourself. Don't try to submit it, don't worry about having anyone read it...

    THEE single most important piece of advice I ever received. It made all the difference.

    No question...just an observation. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. "It's not like skydiving -- if at first you don't succeed, you can try again."

    Lynn, you're my hero. :) And this is my new writing mantra.

    Thank you!

    best,
    lisa

    ReplyDelete
  16. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) pun titles are a requirement for a certain type of fiction now, not a choice.

    I even wrote one down yesterday just in case I need it.... Wuthering Bites.

    Lord help us all.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have a full of a few questions today...among other things. *g* Say you've finished your book. You've sent it off to be critiqued. Got great feedback. Fixed the problems. Everything should be golden, but you still think something is missing. How can you identify what's missing? I've tried writing exercises using other people's books. I have been reading a ton of authors in the same genre, but nothing is helping and it's driving me batty.

    On a completely different track, do you think it's better mentally to try to fix an old novel that's completed and had promise or start something new?

    And finally, how do you go about setting goals?

    Told you I had a lot of questions. *ggg* Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  18. That should be 'I am full of a few questions today'. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I had another question, actually, but there was no Friday Twenty last week and now I cannot remember it.

    I put aside my current WIP for a few months, and now that I've come back to it, I can't seem to get past the first few chapters.

    Okay, so I always have this problem. But ever since I took a one month break from active writing in January (exams), my writing output has been less than 10k a month. Much less than 10k a month.

    Do you have any suggestions for getting me back on my feet? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Charlene wrote: Would you read The Story of O Positive if Sasha White wrote it?

    Hell, yes. Hey, Sasha, we need this book!

    I'm working on a book that has a solid ending, but that could easily lend itself to more in the same world. How do you write a series so that it could end at any time and yet stays open to more books?

    One thing that has helped me with navigating through the StarDoc series: outline the very last book first, and include the threads that connect to the end novel in every book. They don't have to be huge plot twists, more like a story element. For example, Cherijo's bioengineered physiology is one of the main connecting threads throughout StarDoc. While the readers don't know the significance that character element plays in the final novel I have planned, I do, and I can write toward it, if that makes any sense.

    Other things that may help: Don't kill off any major characters you'd like to have in the last book. Maim them, cripple them, clone them, give them amnesia or send them on a research expedition to a faraway galaxy, but always keep them viable.

    Plan ways to incorporate an ongoing (epic would be nice) series conflict as well as a standalone conflict for each novel. Solve the standalone conflict by the end of each novel, but leave the series conflict open to carry over to another book. The 600 year old war between the Kyn and the Brethren is an example of an epic series conflict.

    Always be prepared to write the last book in the series, and always write novels that can serve as the final book in the event you don't get a new contract. This is the hardest thing to do because you can't really wrap up a series that isn't over, but you can't write as if the series will last forever, either. These days I try to look at the ending of each of my series novels when I outline them and see if I feel okay with stopping right there forever. If I don't, I rewrite until I do.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Shiloh wrote: G* my husband was talking about the huge amount of 'pun' titles. And believe me, if a nonreader like my husband notices this just from walking around a bookstore, it's gotta be bad.

    Vindication! Thank heavens it's not just me. ;)

    I don't read pun-titled books. Too many of them have the chic-lit ish kind of covers and nothing just jumps out... PICK ME UP

    Dracula does not wear Prada, I guess. Lol.

    ReplyDelete
  22. How do you feel about conferences? Do you think they're worth the time and money? I've heard more and more agents especially are picking up new clients at conferences, and as I'm still trying to find a home for my manuscript, I'm wondering if I should be polishing my pitch. (I'm better with written words than spoke sales pitches, much as- I assume- most writers are.)

    And let's say I do one day manage to secure myself an agent and- dare I say it?- a publisher, do you think writing conferences are beneficial in general?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Actually considering the book covers lately, perhaps that book should be titled AB-Negative?
    I do have a question, or rather a plea for feedback. I'm rewriting my ebook, changing the whole tone, and thinking about killing off a couple of the main characters. So before I start channeling Kill Bill, is there anyone, or anything you particularly liked?
    Ann @ Fractured-Fiction
    P.S. Excuse me if I sound like I'm whining. I am, but that's because I'm at the Dayjob and put together to 5 foot tall media racks, and I'm very tired. (yawn)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Sorry, that should have said two 5 foot tall media racks.
    Ann

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dracula does not wear Prada, I guess. Lol.


    okay, now i'm picturing Vlad in pumps. thanks so much. :op

    ReplyDelete
  26. Ann wrote: I recently submitted my first three chapters for critique. The feedback has been mostly positive but I seem to have a problem with not transporting the reader by using all of the character's senses, all except for sight. I tried to work on this but it doesn't feel natural to me.

    We humans are a very sight-oriented species, so I think bringing out the other senses in a story is always a challenge for any writer.

    One method I've used to get more in touch with the depiction of story via other senses was to write a couple of stories from the perspective of a blind character. When you deliberately take away all the visual imagery, you force your imagination to go in directions it normally wouldn't take.

    Another way to flex your fictional sensory perceptions is to write short pieces that describe a specific sense-intensive experience: describe things like eating a gourmet meal, listening to a classical music concert, walking through a florist's shop or sorting through a trunk of antique garments. You'll still be using your visual imagery, but you'll pair it with descriptions of the taste of the food, the sound of the music, the smells of the flowers, the feel of the old fabrics. That kind of integration can make writing with the other senses feel more natural.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Jess wrote: To answer your question, I would suggest you start becoming more sensory in your own life. Experiment with new lotions or perfumes to figure out what smells you really like. If you can, take up a craft that involves texture, even something like knitting can be different depending on the size of the needles and the type of yarn... etc. And I would keep a journal where you recall five things from the day that stood out to you, but no sights allowed. Hope that helps!

    Ann, what Jess said. Excellent exercises, especially the journal.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous5:11 PM

    Selah: You could try to treat each chapter like a short story. Get that serials vibe going. Good enough for Dickens, good enough for me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. I know you advise a writer to visualize the scene, but what if you don't visualize well? When I do, I can crank out 1k an hour. I'm just riding the wave. When I don't? I could take three hours for 1k. More often than not, I struggle to do it.

    Is visualizing something you get better at? Did you learn any ways to encourage it? Is this because I don't watch enough TV? :)

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Anonymous9:07 PM

    Wow. Thanks to both Jess and PBW. I'm so excited for the munchkins' bedtime so I can use those excellent strategies. I especially liked the journaling exercise and taking a way the sight of a character. Both will definitely push me, which is what I need.

    Jess,
    thanks for the kind words and good luck to your mom. The cool thing about what I do for a living is it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the individual I am working with. I'm just the tool to help them bridge the gap to their goals. The true inspiration is hearing someone who has seemingly lost so much to illness or injury tell me how lucky they are. It gives me perspective.

    Ann

    ReplyDelete
  31. Miss Kate wrote: Speaking of blanking, I need more techniques to block outside influences whilst writing. I mean big picture stuff, like not selling. (before it was selling that did me in) Got any meditations or exercises to stop the noise?

    I swear by my morning meditation. Clears the deck for the day. When my knee is stable, I have this Tai-Chi tape for seniors (no laughing, I'm about as spry as an eighty-year-old) that I pop into the VHS player and follow. Other writers I know who are more flexible do yoga. I think it's fun to try various techniques or exercises until you find one that helps you.

    Designate a time and a place away from your writing time and space for worrying about the big picture stuff. I have a worry chair on my porch near my favorite tree where I go and sit and brood for an hour when I need to. It's the prettiest spot in the yard.

    I believe that work space has to become sacred. As in, I am not allowed to do anything but write in my writing space. If I start doing anything else, I leave until I'm finished, then I come back and write.

    I also keep a journal in which I write down things that upset me. Whenever I fill it up, I burn it and start a new one. I love the burning part. It feels like I'm shedding a thousand pounds as I watch all that whiny stuff go up in smoke.

    ReplyDelete
  32. thanks, PBW, good and helpful advice!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Carrie wrote: While I am waiting eagerly for The Call, I don't want to sound like an unprofessional loser if a publisher phones me. I have no agent. What questions/topics would you recommend I start to discuus, in the event of such a cool scenario?

    I didn't have an agent when I received my first offer, and I knew absolutely nothing about publishing beyond what I'd read in Writers Digest. I didn't discuss anything with the editor making the offer, but politely asked if I could get back to her. Then I went and got an agent, and had the agent do all the talking and take it from there. If you don't have a lot of industry knowledge, I'd recommend getting an agent before you talk to any editor or publisher about an offer.

    If you feel confident enough to fly on your own, the best thing to do is to prepare in advance a list of questions for the offering editor. Listen to everything the editor has to say first and then ask whatever he/she didn't cover on your list. Some of the important things you need to know include things like: 1) how much advance are they offering, 2) what are the payout terms, 3) what is your percentage of royalties, 4) what rights do they want, 5) when does the editor need the completed manuscript turned in, and 6) when will the book be published.

    Have you done a post about how to fly unagented?

    I don't think so, other than some discussions during some previous Friday 20s (I'll check the archives and post an addendum here if I can find the exact comments I'm remembering.) I know some writers prefer not to work with agents, but I recommend getting one, mainly as protection for you and the work. Agents really do look out for us because our money is in part their money, too. They also provide access to editors that you might not otherwise be able to pitch.

    If you'd still rather not use an agent, then I recommend having an attorney familiar with publishing look over any contract you receive before you sign it. Publishing contracts can be very long, complicated documents, and a lawyer can spot things we ordinary folks might not catch.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Trace wrote: No question, but man, do I know what you're saying. I was just in the book store a few days ago and saw another one of the cute vampire titles and had the same reaction. I grew up with Stephen King and Anne Rice too. I like the dark, scary vamps.

    Interesting. I wonder if we should call it King-Rice syndrome. :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Selah wrote: You reminded me, yet again, why I'm really not in this for the money or the "fame."

    That's the attitude that will make you unboxable. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Nancy wrote: THEE single most important piece of advice I ever received. It made all the difference.

    It's definitely kept me going when nothing else would -- holding back, keeping some stuff for myself. We need that play space.

    ReplyDelete
  37. LJ wrote: "It's not like skydiving -- if at first you don't succeed, you can try again." . . . this is my new writing mantra.

    Very cool. Now we just have to convince those Book of Your Heart writers to chant along with us, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Michelle wrote: Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) pun titles are a requirement for a certain type of fiction now, not a choice.

    Looking at what's on the shelves, I'm getting the same feeling.

    I even wrote one down yesterday just in case I need it.... Wuthering Bites.

    Oh, God, stop, please.....

    ReplyDelete
  39. Jordan wrote: I have a full of a few questions today...among other things.

    A full...?

    That should be 'I am full of a few questions today'. Sigh.

    Welcame to Planit Typo, Jordon. I yam Queene hear. You may adored me at your liesure. Hee hee.

    Say you've finished your book. You've sent it off to be critiqued. Got great feedback. Fixed the problems. Everything should be golden, but you still think something is missing. How can you identify what's missing?

    Oh, good question. I got some advice on this one with a novel that was bugging the hell out of me but I didn't know why. Take the manuscript and read it through chapter by chapter, and make two piles of what you read: 1) chapter works, and 2) chapter doesn't work. Once you're done sorting the manuscript, read through the "chapter doesn't work" pile and see if you can spot any common elements, i.e. characters not fleshed out, plot holes, lag time, weak descriptions, etc.

    On a completely different track, do you think it's better mentally to try to fix an old novel that's completed and had promise or start something new?

    If it had great promise, and only needs a little retuning, I'd go back to the old novel. If it's going to require a massive overhaul, might as well write it over from scratch or start something new.

    And finally, how do you go about setting goals?

    Start with one goal at a time, and keep them reasonable. I think the most reasonable goal (and one of the most valuable) is simply a committment to write every day (or every day you have time for writing.) Once you've reached that goal, and turned it into part of your writing routine and work ethic, set another goal, master that one, set another, and so on.

    ReplyDelete
  40. May wrote: I had another question, actually, but there was no Friday Twenty last week and now I cannot remember it.

    There's always next Friday. :) I shouldn't be on the road again for a while yet.

    I put aside my current WIP for a few months, and now that I've come back to it, I can't seem to get past the first few chapters.

    The only way I know how to get past chapters like that is to not back read or edit them anymore. Take them off the computer and put them away in a drawer, if it's too tempting.

    Okay, so I always have this problem. But ever since I took a one month break from active writing in January (exams), my writing output has been less than 10k a month. Much less than 10k a month.

    Do you have any suggestions for getting me back on my feet?


    It's really tough to jump back into writing after a long break, I know. I'd say don't try to shoot for the productivty you had before exams, rather, work back up to it. Set a reasonable goal for your writing time now, like maybe one page. Then after you've done that for a week, increase it to two pages, give it a week, then double it to four, give it a week, and so on. Writing can be like a physical workout; if you haven't done it in a while you probably need to warm up gradually.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Sorry I wasn't able to answer everyone's questions tonight -- domestic crises ran interference on my end. I'm going to hit the hay and I'll get back to answer the rest in the morning.

    Night everyone. :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. My Flyaway Moment wrote: How do you feel about conferences?

    I think this post covers my personal feelings pretty much. ;)

    Conferences are money makers. A very few authors make money going to them. The rest of the attendees add to the coffers of whatever writer organization is running them.

    Do you think they're worth the time and money?

    Professionally speaking, unless you can obtain an appointment at the con to directly pitch an editor, no. But there are reasons other than professional ones to go to a con. If you'd like to hang out with writer friends, get some books signed by Big Names and eat bad chicken, and you don't mind paying a thousand bucks for the privilege, ignore me.

    I've heard more and more agents especially are picking up new clients at conferences, and as I'm still trying to find a home for my manuscript, I'm wondering if I should be polishing my pitch.

    I can't verify whether those rumors are true or not. In my con-going days (which, admittedly, was six years ago) it was considered bad form to pitch anyone at a conference without an appointment or invitation to do so.

    (I'm better with written words than spoke sales pitches, much as- I assume- most writers are.)

    Me, too.

    And let's say I do one day manage to secure myself an agent and- dare I say it?- a publisher, do you think writing conferences are beneficial in general?

    Honestly, no. They never did anything for me, and I don't think the benefits for the average writer -- none of which are guaranteed -- justify the enormous expense that is often involved in going to cons. Better to spend that thousand bucks on a new computer, research materials, a personal writing retreat trip, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Ann wrote: I'm rewriting my ebook, changing the whole tone, and thinking about killing off a couple of the main characters. So before I start channeling Kill Bill, is there anyone, or anything you particularly liked?

    Let me e-mail you on that, Ann. One of my projects this weekend is to get these critiques out of here (and I apologize to everyone who has been waiting so patiently.)

    ReplyDelete
  44. Eva wrote: I know you advise a writer to visualize the scene, but what if you don't visualize well? When I do, I can crank out 1k an hour. I'm just riding the wave. When I don't? I could take three hours for 1k. More often than not, I struggle to do it.

    Putting together some visual aids may help kickstart things. In my novel notebook, I collect sketches, photoshop images and/or magazine pictures of people I select as body models to get a clear visual on my characters. When my setting is based in reality, and I've never been there, I try to make a trip to it to get the feel of the place, or when I can't I read books and watch movies made at the location. When my setting is an imaginary place, I map it out, create the flora and fauna, etc.

    I also choregraph action in hard-to-visualize scenes by walking through them and/or acting them out myself. You can take this as far as you want, too -- when I was writing Blade Dancer, I took fencing lessons and got my instructor to work out some of the fight scenes in the book with me. You can get your family members involved, too. My guy is always more than willing to work on a love scene with me. :)

    Is visualizing something you get better at? Did you learn any ways to encourage it? Is this because I don't watch enough TV?

    I don't watch TV, so I don't think that matters. Everyone is different, too. Music helps me visualize anything; most of my ideas start while I'm listening to music. I don't know what the connection my brain makes between music and writing is (I am the least musical person I know) but it always works for me.

    Relaxation may also be important. When we do things that relax us, our minds give us permission to daydream. You might try doing your visualization while you're working on a relaxing activity. Some of my most productive times are when I do things like take a long hot bubble bath, drive in the country, sit and watch the sunrise, walk the pup, gardening, sewing, quilting, and cooking.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thanks so much for the information. You are wonderfully patient and helpful with the lot of us. I think have some research to do. :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Wow, that is an amazingly helpful answer. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thank you--that's a great answer. I need more ritual.

    It's funny how obvious it was as I read your answer. One of those duh moments.

    A lot of parenting is like that--I can spend hours puzzling over a problem and someone will say something like "use a stopwatch!" or "just don't bring the damn chocolate into the house" and it's yet another oh YEAH, of course!

    Makes me wonder if I have blinders on or if everyone misses obvious solutions.

    ReplyDelete
  48. The Story of O Positive. Hmmm. Autobiography from the POV of my blood. I never thought of that before. What an angle!

    Anthropomorphic blood? Polar bears are easier, but what an interesting challenge.

    ReplyDelete