WritersEra |OT| Publish before you die

It's the only real downside to big, commercial success, is that one you get somewhere with your work, editors tend to leave your stuff alone. I remember an interview with Neil Gaiman where he expressed his frustration over his newer novels receiving several orders of magnitude FEWER editorial comments than his older stuff, because now everyone was terrified of "spoiling the magic," but he really, REALLY wanted editors to come down hard on him and make his writing leaner. They just wouldn't, now that he was huge, versus when he was just some punk doing a Sandman comic, and everyone could see how he could improve it, and said so.
Makes sense. One of the big complaints with something like American Gods is that it meanders way too much. I like it for it, but I can see why others wouldn't.
 
I've been lurking in this thread for a while, and it's been a great source of inspiration for my writing. I've been working on a novel for a while now, and think it's finally ready to go out on submission. I was hoping I could get some thoughts and opinions on my pitch letter and synopsis. The synopsis in particular I'm not very happy with - it feels a bit sterile. Thank you!

Dear _______

Atticent is a land shaped and ruled by music, where the divine Composer, writer of the great Score from which all life derives, is venerated above all else.

Within the great symphony of life on Atticent, a young apprentice blacksmith, Elena, is nearing the end of her apprenticeship. She need only complete one work, a final challenge to prove herself worthy of the Mark of Mastery. When a world-wide event leaves the Conductors, quasi-divine beings who make up the majority of Elena’s business, stricken and reeling, Elena laments the dearth of work. Her spirits are lifted when Caxton, a Conductor who has shaken off the panic gripping his kind, commissions Elena and her father to craft a weapon capable of channeling magic.

Before long, Elena is travelling across the island of Albimus with Caxton in search of the materials they need to complete his weapon. As Elena gets to know Caxton through encounters with carnivorous trees, creatures straight out of legend and more, and when unanswered questions about her mother’s disappearance begin to resurface, she begins to realize that there is more to her world than she could ever have imagined. Elena will have to decide whether she’s content to remain as a piece in the game she finds herself in, or if she wants to become an agent of her own free will – a decision that will see her question the very nature of her reality.

And above all of this, a new threat is rising – The Soundless, mindless creatures who seem to desire nothing less than the destruction of everything on Atticent.

Preludes of Change is quest fantasy with a dash of Westworld, and is complete at approximately 120,000 words. It is the first novel of a planned four book sequence.
The land of Atticent is a land of music. The people of Atticent – the Instruments – are governed by the Symphonica, a religious organization represents their deity, the Composer. The Instruments share their world with Conductors, beings who have been chosen by the Composer. The Conductors are identical to the Instruments in appearance, but have powers and combat abilities that far exceed those of the Instruments, and can resurrect upon death.

ELENA, a blacksmith apprenticed to her father, is one task away from completing her training. Due to the Silencing, a continent-wide event which left the Conductors stricken and reeling, business has all but dried up, denying her the work necessary for graduation. When a new Conductor, CAXTON, shows up in town to enlist Elena and her father to make him a special weapon, Elena is tasked with travelling with Caxton to acquire the required materials.

En route to collect one of the rare materials required, Elena discovers a connection between her long-missing mother – a source of significant turmoil for Elena - and the Symphonica, and they learn that the SOUNDLESS – a race of mindless, violent creatures – are becoming increasingly organized. The group finds the carnivorous tree that bears the wood they need, battle the plant, and return to Tunsted.

After a brief delay, Caxton and Elena are tasked with finding an ore which can only be found with a mythological being. On the road, they stop at one of the major cities to resupply. The city is attacked by Soundless, and during the escape, Caxton is killed defending Elena. As a distraught Elena is escorted out of the city, another Soundless attacks, but is promptly killed by a Key – one of the Symphonica’s generals. Caxton resurrects, and the pair travel to a fortress occupied by the Key who saved Elena. Through conversation with him, Elena learns that her missing mother once made armour for the Keys.

Elena and Caxton finally find the Band, the mythological being they seek. The Band reveals that Elena’s mother was once a Key herself, and was killed after leaving the Symphonica. After mining the ore needed for the weapon, Elena demands further answers from the Band. The Band reveals that Atticent is the setting for a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The Instruments, Elena included, are all AI-controlled characters, and the Conductors are the avatars of the players. Caxton later adds that the Silencing has trapped the minds of the players inside of the Conductor avatars. It is also suggested that Elena bears some of her mother’s faulty code, which explains Elena’s divergence from normal Instrument behaviour.

Elena struggles to make sense of everything she has learned, questioning the nature of her reality, of her own free will, and her history. She confronts her father about the past he kept from her, and, beneath his watchful eye, forges the blade for Caxton’s weapon, using the time and mechanical repetition of the task to sort out her thoughts.

There is little time to celebrate, as Tunsted is attacked during the night by Soundless. The majority of the townspeople are being held captive, and the Conductors in town resolve to save them. The Conductors engage the Soundless while Elena frees the townspeople. Even with their combined might and Caxton’s new weapon, the Conductors realize they’re fighting a losing battle. Once the town is clear, they trigger a massive explosion, killing the Soundless, the Conductors, and destroying most of the town.

As the Instruments sort through the ruins of their old home, Elena looks forward to the future, and wonders what ramifications her knowledge, along with the permanent presence of the Conductors, will bring.
 
I've been lurking in this thread for a while, and it's been a great source of inspiration for my writing. I've been working on a novel for a while now, and think it's finally ready to go out on submission. I was hoping I could get some thoughts and opinions on my pitch letter and synopsis. The synopsis in particular I'm not very happy with - it feels a bit sterile. Thank you!
I would actually not get too worked up about the state of the synopsis and whether it reads as sterile. In a way, it's supposed to. It's not supposed to be an exciting, but condensed version of your book, it's just supposed to be a strict "road map" of plot points in your story, so an agent that's not yet willing to read a full can have a full grasp of the major plot elements to see whether anything really problematic comes up.

As far as your query goes, I like the basic premise that it sets up, I just think you can get to it faster. You can probably ditch/compress the opening exposition sentence, dropping your world-terminology like Composer and Great Score, since all that is really scene setting, and you don't need or want to do that in a query. You want to present the problem and hook an agent into how that problem/conflict is going to get solved. So maybe open with something more direct, less hung up getting terms right, like, "In a world that is held together by music, the musicians are going mad." I am definitely NOT saying to use this exact sentence, but it immediately imparts one of the rules of your world, and then immediately shows that rules and the world are in peril.

Then get into Elena, talk about how she is a crafter who's life and plans have been derailed by this disaster, until one of these demi-gods, the Conductor Caxton, comes to her with an urgent task that could complete her training and help restore the world.

I think also, that you should slightly reverse your order as you close up the query. Mentioned that there's the big menace of the Soundless as the rising threat, and THEN close with your nice line about Elena learning about the world and wondering whether to remain a piece in a game, since that clearly has big ties with the overall theme/plot of the book, so I feel it's more appropriate to close with that, than the Soundless, who are really secondary to that.
 
I'm curious has anyone in here tried building characters based on a bunch of questions such as
https://www.freelancewriting.com/creative-writing/questions-for-creating-character-development/
or
https://www.novel-software.com/theultimatecharacterquestionnaire

and if so, how did it go.

I'm tempted to go through that stuff myself to just help fill out my character backgrounds even though some of the questions don't apply and in general I have answers without having to think so I likely have my characters fairly well designed... well at least the main cast.

but I am curious how it has worked for some people and if it helped them. Like I am bad with character designs visually so
Physical / Appearance
  1. Height?
  2. Weight?
  3. Build?
  4. Hair colour?
  5. Hair style?
  6. Eye colour?
  7. Eye Shape?
  8. Glasses or contact lenses?
  9. Distinguishing facial features?
  10. Which facial feature is most prominent?
  11. Which bodily feature is most prominent?
  12. Other distinguishing features?
  13. Skin?
  14. Hands?
  15. Make up?
  16. Scars?
  17. Birthmarks?
  18. Tattoos?
  19. Physical handicaps?
  20. Type of clothes?
  21. How do they wear their clothes?
  22. What are their feet like? (type of shoes, state of shoes, socks, feet, pristine, dirty, worn, etc)
  23. Race / Ethnicity?
  24. Mannerisms?
  25. Are they in good health?
  26. Do they have any disabilities?
seems like it might be decent to go through. Though aside from the question about feet I think I have answers for most of those :P
 
I would actually not get too worked up about the state of the synopsis and whether it reads as sterile. In a way, it's supposed to. It's not supposed to be an exciting, but condensed version of your book, it's just supposed to be a strict "road map" of plot points in your story, so an agent that's not yet willing to read a full can have a full grasp of the major plot elements to see whether anything really problematic comes up.

As far as your query goes, I like the basic premise that it sets up, I just think you can get to it faster. You can probably ditch/compress the opening exposition sentence, dropping your world-terminology like Composer and Great Score, since all that is really scene setting, and you don't need or want to do that in a query. You want to present the problem and hook an agent into how that problem/conflict is going to get solved. So maybe open with something more direct, less hung up getting terms right, like, "In a world that is held together by music, the musicians are going mad." I am definitely NOT saying to use this exact sentence, but it immediately imparts one of the rules of your world, and then immediately shows that rules and the world are in peril.

Then get into Elena, talk about how she is a crafter who's life and plans have been derailed by this disaster, until one of these demi-gods, the Conductor Caxton, comes to her with an urgent task that could complete her training and help restore the world.

I think also, that you should slightly reverse your order as you close up the query. Mentioned that there's the big menace of the Soundless as the rising threat, and THEN close with your nice line about Elena learning about the world and wondering whether to remain a piece in a game, since that clearly has big ties with the overall theme/plot of the book, so I feel it's more appropriate to close with that, than the Soundless, who are really secondary to that.
That's great, thank you for the suggestions. What are your thoughts on comparisons, like I have towards the end? I've spoken to some agents who like them as they show a knowledge of the genre, and others who aren't a huge fan. Most of the comparisons I've seen in other pitch letters are just books, not TV shows, movies or games, but I feel like Westworld gets to the AI topics I get to towards the end of the book.
 
That's great, thank you for the suggestions. What are your thoughts on comparisons, like I have towards the end? I've spoken to some agents who like them as they show a knowledge of the genre, and others who aren't a huge fan. Most of the comparisons I've seen in other pitch letters are just books, not TV shows, movies or games, but I feel like Westworld gets to the AI topics I get to towards the end of the book.
The comps thing can be a bit tricky, and depending on which agents you're querying, they can count for a LOT or just a little. The reason that agents prefer to see comp titles that are based on books is because it's a big vote of confidence for you that actually know what the market is currently like, rather than being one of those people that's never paid attention to any fantasy, and then suddenly comes in saying, "My fantasy book is going to revolutionize the genre, because it's not about dragons and killing off main characters all the time! Mine is totally original, and never before seen, about a magic ring that needs to be destroyed by an unlikely band of small people! I don't read any fantasy, and I hate the genre, but I can GUARANTEE, a story about a Lord, of the rings, as it were, has never been written before!"

Your book is a bit unique in that regard, because you do have that twist that up ends the genre expectations from on to another. I can see how the Westworld reference is relevant, but it would definitely work more in your favor if you can show a understanding of the current publishing industry climate by citing similar works of fiction, not just television.
 

weemadarthur

Community Resettler
Member
I'm curious has anyone in here tried building characters based on a bunch of questions such as
https://www.freelancewriting.com/creative-writing/questions-for-creating-character-development/
or
https://www.novel-software.com/theultimatecharacterquestionnaire

and if so, how did it go.

I'm tempted to go through that stuff myself to just help fill out my character backgrounds even though some of the questions don't apply and in general I have answers without having to think so I likely have my characters fairly well designed... well at least the main cast.

but I am curious how it has worked for some people and if it helped them. Like I am bad with character designs visually so

seems like it might be decent to go through. Though aside from the question about feet I think I have answers for most of those :P
Meh, most of those are about physical appearance, which both changes over time, and is impossible to truly convey through text. I would highly prefer questions that ask how a character would react to stimuli.
 
Meh, most of those are about physical appearance, which both changes over time, and is impossible to truly convey through text. I would highly prefer questions that ask how a character would react to stimuli.
the ones I quoted are... the actual links have a ton more.
Personality
  1. What words or phrases do they overuse?
  2. Do they have a catchphrase?
  3. Are they more optimistic or pessimistic?
  4. Are they introverted or extroverted?
  5. Do they ever put on airs?
  6. What bad habits do they have?
  7. What makes them laugh out loud?
  8. How do they display affection?
  9. Mental handicaps?
  10. How do they want to be seen by others?
  11. How do they see themselves?
  12. How are they seen by others?
  13. Strongest character trait?
  14. Weakest character trait?
  15. How competitive are they?
  16. Do they make snap judgements or take time to consider?
  17. How do they react to praise?
  18. How do they react to criticism?
  19. What is their greatest fear?
  20. What are their biggest secrets?
  21. What is their philosophy of life?
  22. When was the last time they cried?
  23. What haunts them?
  24. What are their political views?
  25. What will they stand up for?
  26. Who do they quote?
  27. Are they indoorsy or outdoorsy?
  28. What is their sinful little habit?
  29. What sense do they most rely on?
  30. How do they treat people better than them?
  31. How do they treat people worse than them?
  32. What quality do they most value in a friend?
  33. What do they consider an overrated virtue?
  34. If they could change one thing about themselves, what would it be?
  35. What is their obsession?
  36. What are their pet peeves?
  37. What are their idiosyncrasies?


Friends and Family
  1. Is their family big or small? Who does it consist of?
  2. What is their perception of family?
  3. Do they have siblings? Older or younger?
  4. Describe their best friend.
  5. Ideal best friend?
  6. Describe their other friends.
  7. Describe their acquaintances.
  8. Do they have any pets?
  9. Who are their natural allies?
  10. Who are their surprising allies?


Past and Future
  1. What was your character like as a baby? As a child?
  2. Did they grow up rich or poor?
  3. Did they grow up nurtured or neglected?
  4. What is the most offensive thing they ever said?
  5. What is their greatest achievement?
  6. What was their first kiss like?
  7. What is the worst thing they did to someone they loved?
  8. What are their ambitions?
  9. What advice would they give their younger self?
  10. What smells remind them of their childhood?
  11. What was their childhood ambition?
  12. What is their best childhood memory?
  13. What is their worst childhood memory?
  14. Did they have an imaginary childhood friend?
  15. When was the last time they were crushed with disappointment?
  16. What past act are they most ashamed of?
  17. What past act are they most proud of?
  18. Has anyone ever saved their life?
  19. Strongest childhood memory?


Love
  1. Do they believe in love at first sight?
  2. Are they in a relationship?
  3. How do they behave in a relationship?
  4. When did you character last have sex?
  5. What sort of sex do they have?
  6. Has your character ever been in love?
  7. Have they ever had their heart broken?


Conflict
  1. How do they respond to a threat?
  2. Are they most likely to fight with their fists or their tongue?
  3. What is your character’s kryptonite?
  4. If your character could only save one thing from their burning house, what would it be?
  5. How do they perceive strangers?
  6. What do they love to hate?
  7. What are their phobias?
  8. What is their choice of weapon?
  9. What living person do they most despise?
  10. Have they ever been bullied or teased?
  11. Where do they go when they’re angry?
  12. Who are their enemies and why?


Work, Education and Hobbies
  1. What is their current job?
  2. What do they think about their current job?
  3. What are some of their past jobs?
  4. What are their hobbies?
  5. Educational background?
  6. Intelligence level?
  7. Do they have any specialist training?
  8. Do they have a natural talent for something?
  9. Do they play a sport? Are they any good?
  10. What is their socioeconomic status?


Favourites
  1. What is their favourite animal?
  2. Which animal to they dislike the most?
  3. What place would they most like to visit?
  4. What is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen?
  5. What is their favourite song?
  6. Music, art, reading preferred?
  7. What is their favourite colour?
  8. What is their password?
  9. Favourite food:
  10. What is their favourite work of art?
  11. Who is their favourite artist?
  12. What is their favourite day of the week?


Possessions
  1. What is in their fridge:
  2. What is on their bedside table?
  3. What is in their car?
  4. What is in their bin?
  5. What is in their purse or wallet?
  6. What is in their pockets?
  7. What is their most treasured possession?


Spirituality
  1. Who or what is your character’s guardian angel?
  2. Do they believe in the afterlife?
  3. What are their religious views?
  4. What do they think heaven is?
  5. What do they think hell is?
  6. Are they superstitious?
  7. What would they like to be reincarnated as?
  8. How would they like to die?
  9. What is your character’s spirit animal?
  10. What is their zodiac sign?


Values
  1. What do they think is the worst thing that can be done to a person?
  2. What is their view of ‘freedom’?
  3. When did they last lie?
  4. What’s their view of lying?
  5. When did they last make a promise?
  6. Did they keep or break their last promise?


Daily life
  1. What are their eating habits?
  2. Do they have any allergies?
  3. Describe their home.
  4. Are they minimalist or a clutter hoarder?
  5. What do they do first thing on a weekday morning?
  6. What do they do on a Sunday afternoon?
  7. What do they do on a Friday night?
  8. What is the soft drink of choice?
  9. What is their alcoholic drink of choice?


Miscellaneous
  1. What is their character archetype? (Innocent, Orphan, Hero, Caregiver, Explorer, Rebel, Lover, Creator, Jester, Sage, Magician, Ruler)
  2. Who is their hero?
  3. What or who would your character dress up as for Halloween?
  4. Are they comfortable with technology?
  5. If they could save one person, who would it be?
  6. If they could call one person for help, who would it be?
  7. What is their favourite proverb?
  8. What is their greatest extravagance?
  9. What is their greatest regret?
  10. What is their perception of redemption?
  11. What would they do if they won the lottery?
  12. What is their favourite fairytale?
  13. What fairytale do they hate?
  14. Do they believe in happy endings?
  15. What is their idea of perfect happiness?
  16. What would they ask a fortune teller?
  17. If your character could travel through time, where would they go?
  18. What sport do they excel at?
  19. What sport do they suck at?
  20. If they could have a superpower, what would they choose?
 
Silly question for fantasy writers in here. I was about to describe something in feet, then I realized...would these fantasy characters use feet as a measurement? But I don't want to make stuff up either and be like, "That's two griffin noses in length!"
 
Silly question for fantasy writers in here. I was about to describe something in feet, then I realized...would these fantasy characters use feet as a measurement? But I don't want to make stuff up either and be like, "That's two griffin noses in length!"
Using feet to measure things is the real weird thing here. ;)

Can't you compare the size of it with another thing? Like, It was almost as high as a grown tree.
 
Eh fuck it go with feet. I never got the hang up about using basic real world terminology in fantasy stuff. Like you're still calling them "noses" not "smell mountains" ya know what I mean?
 
Silly question for fantasy writers in here. I was about to describe something in feet, then I realized...would these fantasy characters use feet as a measurement? But I don't want to make stuff up either and be like, "That's two griffin noses in length!"
Depends on just how serious you are about world building, really. Some people will go all out and create new, specific units of measurement, a la original Battlestar Galactica with centons and metrons. But if it never comes up in your novel, and you don't feel like going down the wormhole of creating a whole new measurement system, then yeah, just compare it something else of similar size.
 
Silly question for fantasy writers in here. I was about to describe something in feet, then I realized...would these fantasy characters use feet as a measurement? But I don't want to make stuff up either and be like, "That's two griffin noses in length!"
I mean, they wouldn't be speaking English either...
 
I mean, they wouldn't be speaking English either...
Don't remind me! This always drives me crazy and I have to stick my fingers in my ears and go "lalalalallalalalala"

Depends on just how serious you are about world building, really. Some people will go all out and create new, specific units of measurement, a la original Battlestar Galactica with centons and metrons. But if it never comes up in your novel, and you don't feel like going down the wormhole of creating a whole new measurement system, then yeah, just compare it something else of similar size.
Oh wow. I love BSG and never realized they had their own units of measurement. Frak me.
 
Oh wow. I love BSG and never realized they had their own units of measurement. Frak me.
I'm pretty sure they only made a point of it in the original 70s BSG. They really played it down in the new version, although they did still try to make some distinctions, such as calling their radar "DRADIS" for example, or using "clicks" to refer to distance, though that could be argued to just be a carryover from current Earth military jargon.
 
Eh fuck it go with feet. I never got the hang up about using basic real world terminology in fantasy stuff. Like you're still calling them "noses" not "smell mountains" ya know what I mean?
Agreed.
I'd say making up your own names for things is fine if you have a specific reason for it (eg weekdays that link fo a specific in-world religion that's part of your story) but otherwise not to bother.
 
10 Tips to Help You Write Believable Dialogue

I'm always worried with nº 2. Good to know that that's not a problem, because I do that a lot. Nº 3 is worrying tho. I have two entire chapters that are basically some guys asking stuff to this scientist, and she goes really deep into the subject. That's 22 pages of explanations (of course, she's not the only one talking, but...) and I have no idea of how to change that, because the whole book revolves around these things. And it's complex stuff, so I can't just mention and leave no explanations. Then it falls on item nº 8, which (by the way he describes) sounds bad.
 
10 Tips to Help You Write Believable Dialogue

I'm always worried with nº 2. Good to know that that's not a problem, because I do that a lot. Nº 3 is worrying tho. I have two entire chapters that are basically some guys asking stuff to this scientist, and she goes really deep into the subject. That's 22 pages of explanations (of course, she's not the only one talking, but...) and I have no idea of how to change that, because the whole book revolves around these things. And it's complex stuff, so I can't just mention and leave no explanations. Then it falls on item nº 8, which (by the way he describes) sounds bad.
So I have a lot of counter-thoughts about this so I might as well go through them piece by piece, but also gotta put a disclaimer cause one thing I hear a lot from my usual go-to reading friends is that my dialogue is awkward (Not for these reasons though) Conversely, in the writing challenges I am often praised for my dialogue, so I never really know where to stand on my dialogue quality. Also he's a published author, not me, so a lot of my comments are probably hoggwash but I already spent the hour typing this up so I might as well.

1) Is a good lesson but I don't like the advice they give for it. What usually differs them from each other is their "voice" (that really vague writer thing for how a character sounds) and that can be done in a lot of subtle and not subtle ways. I dunno, I just don't like their examples tbh. I guess all I have to say is don't do phonetics. Never do phonetic accents. I know you think its a good idea and that you'll be the exception but chances are you won't so don't.

2) This is where my problems rise up. So they're not wrong and real people interrupt each other all the time, but there's a lot of real human things don't fit nice and neatly into stories. I feel like with this one, it primes people to overuse interruptions when they don't need it (I recently looked over someone's story on another site that overused --). Yeah, people interrupt each other all the time but by having your characters interrupt each other all the time, the reader has trouble following the dialogue. In general, all your dialogue (like everything I guess) should have a point to some extent. If your characters are interrupting each other because "that's what real people do" then you probably need to focus up your dialogue a lot. I originally got the "Interruption in dialogue" advice a lot better in the Art of Subtext by Charles Baxter and he didn't wrap it up in "real people do it." Baxter wraps it up in "Real people do it because real people don't like talking about what's really bothering them." People interrupt each other when they're agitated. When they want to quickly divert the conversation away to something else. The real advice he gave, which included using interruptions, was to have people not answer questions to show what's really bothering them.

Example: A mother, uncomfortable with her daughter's sexuality, is constantly interrupting to try and force the conversation to be about something other than the daughter's new GF like the weather, grocery stores, really anything else. That's how you should use interruptions, to try and convey some kind of deeper meaning about your characters or the surface level issue.

3) That's just not true. You can "Info dump." People talk about their lives and their pasts all the time. People are all kinda narcissist and love to monologue. I'm not saying you should exposition dump, but really the issue with exposition dumps has never been the exposition part but the dump part. As long as you set it up naturally, your characters can talk about expositiony things just fine. Your characters can talk about their pasts, they can talk about the world, they can talk about anything because people talk about anything and everything. It's only really bad if you put everything there and if you pull it out of nowhere (Or just do a bad job setting it up). Like I would never give a history lesson about the Berlin Wall but I did once mention how I thought it was such an important event because I felt like I personally had a disconnect from any real historical events of that kind (at the time obviously). And then that other person responded that we were young and the world would surely throw us a curve ball or something (and it did). I think a good way to avoid the "dump" part is to have your characters interact with the information: react, make light of, have related memories bubble up briefly. Conversations are almost always two-ways because everyone has something to add to it.

4) Yeah that's good advice. If instead of having a character say what they feel, you can have them act in a certain way instead, that's usually for the better. Just be conscientious with what you're replacing it with because sometimes actions aren't always clear unless their obvious things. Like people who are nervous usually chew on their fingernails without noticing, and people who are impatient may tap on a table or something. But people fidget in their seats for tons of reasons: they're nervous, angry, uncomfortable emotionally and/or physically, in the middle of a sugar high. Think about what you or friends and family do when they get certain ways. What are their ticks and such.

5) He's not wrong about this but be the change you want to see in the world. I love it when some motherfucker drops a dumb line/big dumb speech before beating the shit out of everyone in the room. But never have them do it alone. His example of no one saying something like that while looking in the mirror is a good one. Never have your characters talk alone. People just don't do that unless you are purposefully writing a crazy person.

6) This is good advice. I'll add to it and note people's mannerisms and tone of voice. I usually try to either type or write out what I'm hearing and also describe what they're doing: Who's looking where, what are their hands doing, who's smiling? Also take the moment and practice describing their tone of voice/cadence/demeanor. Try out some words and sentences that differentiate them from one another. Don't worry about writing gold or even being coherent, just try and write something down. The more you think about these weird intangable things, the easier it'll be to articulate them in your own writing. Besides, it's your own personal notebook or whatever, no one's going to read through it and chastise you for forgetting to put a comma anywhere. Or for describing everyone's gums as a series of moist slaps....

7) Yeah. Reading is always good advice. Here's a kind of a philosophy I carried with me from when I wanted to be a game developer: try and get some bad/middling work in there too. Everyone wants to write like the greats but no one knows what Mediocre Mitch sounds like. I've gotten soooooo many good lessons and interesting ideas from reading two to three star books because I'm constantly thinking about what is and isn't working for me. They've helped inform me of my tastes, about what I like in fiction and what I don't. I love me some classic literature, but I also love going to the library and pulling out a random book that seems interesting. Oh also go to your local library. They're great. Run by great people. Go there.

8) Yeah, good advice though I think the situation he describes is kind of a weird one. I don't think I've ever seen anyone write seven paragraphs of dialogue at once ever? Unless they were giving a big dumb speech or telling a big dumb story. Actually, as I think about it, it's usually the later. Anyways, for whatever reason, don't have one person speak for a page straight though I have no idea why you thought it was a good idea in the first place? A bit more useful spin on this from me: skip the pleasantries. Your character's don't need to say "hey," to each other, go through the rigmarole of how their day was (unless it's legit important), stutter through with a bunch of mmm and ooooohs. Its always better to get to the point with dialogue.

9) Again, yeah, good advice. In theory, you don't really ever need dialogue tags. You can use actions instead and get more bang with your buck that way, but people like "said." There's something weirdly comforting in it. But yeah, once you've established the chain of dialogue, there's no need to keep using it. Maybe throw it in there every now and then to remind the reader. Oh also if you have three+ people speaking, dialogue tags are actually indispensable. Don't be afraid to rely on those if there's a lot of people in the room with opinions.

10) Yeah that too. Reading aloud is always a great way to feel out how your dialogue (and sentence structure) sounds. Even better, find someone you hate who owes you a favor and have them read it aloud to you or do a dialogue reading with them like its a play or something. Seeing someone awkwardly stumble through cryptic sentences, unsure of what tone to take, is a great way to figure out quickly if your dialogue is wonky.

Anyway, reiterating disclaimers, that guy's a published author, I'm just a smuchk on an internet forum. He probably has more credentials and street cred than I do and in all honesty, his advice is probably better than mine even though I'm whining about it. These are just my two cents.
 

B-Dubs

Oh well, what the hell
Administrator
So what are your opinions on submitting something the traditional route (the agent process), vs just going to one of the large self publishing houses like Amazon or something?
Depends on what your goal is.

Honestly, there's probably no harm in going to agent route then self-publishing if no one bites.
 
So what are your opinions on submitting something the traditional route (the agent process), vs just going to one of the large self publishing houses like Amazon or something?
If you're willing to do your own marketing, and you're not so concerned with easily getting physical books into chain bookstores, then self-publishing might be for you. If you can't stand doing marketing, and you'd like to see your actual, physical book in a bookstore someday, then go trade. We're at the point now where if a self-published book gets the traction, it can sell just fine on its own, especially with e-books making it possible for anyone on the planet to get a copy if they really want. But, unless you're in that 1% that's Amanda Hocking or Andy Weir, it's unlikely that you'll be a huge commercial hit. And even they went with trade publishing once they got big enough.

On the other hand, going trade means being more commercial. So it comes down to what kind of stories you want to tell, balanced with just how much time, money and energy you want to invest--or not--in marketing and distribution.
 
So what are your opinions on submitting something the traditional route (the agent process), vs just going to one of the large self publishing houses like Amazon or something?
Going for an agent might net you some good feedback. I got a lot of form rejection letters, but also a few telling me what I needed to work on when I submitted my first novel. My current one is probably a lot better because of taking all of that criticism to heart.

You can self publish if you're really confident in your work. I would personally prefer an agent, because you usually get an extensive editing process to go along with that. It's also a lot smoother and feels more professional. But... it is a lot harder to land an agent, so there is that.
 
I feel this. Writer's block suuuucks.

Sometimes it flows like water. Other times it's like rolling a boulder up a hill. Oh well.
I mean it's my daily chore.
but yeah sometimes it comes easy, sometimes it's a ton of work.
but 1k words a day most day (I have to have off days from time to time due to life but overall I have averaged 1k words a day every month this year so far)

but yeah... I think the worst thing is when I don't have overall writers block, just a block on the scene I am working on :P
 
I now remember why I don't particularly like using Critique Circle. Once again, to show me how to write, someone decided to rewrite parts of my story in their style, to again, show me how to write. I wouldn't mind if they chopped up my sentences a bit to reorder them (Which they did do in some parts, to their credit). Thank god this time isn't nearly as egregious to me because they didn't rewrite nearly as much as the one person who rewrote entire paragraphs. Though him changing the name of all my characters was 10/10 pretty irritating.
 
I now remember why I don't particularly like using Critique Circle. Once again, to show me how to write, someone decided to rewrite parts of my story in their style, to again, show me how to write. I wouldn't mind if they chopped up my sentences a bit to reorder them (Which they did do in some parts, to their credit). Thank god this time isn't nearly as egregious to me because they didn't rewrite nearly as much as the one person who rewrote entire paragraphs. Though him changing the name of all my characters was 10/10 pretty irritating.
Had a beta reader do this once. Well, he did it for the first like six pages and then decided it wasn't worth finishing.

I don't use him as a beta reader anymore.
 
Had a beta reader do this once. Well, he did it for the first like six pages and then decided it wasn't worth finishing.

I don't use him as a beta reader anymore.
You have better sensibilities than I do since I went back to that assholish website. I swear to god I have to parse through the aggressive trying to "tear down the other to show who's the better writer" that always seemed to be laden in those critiques. But whatever, they're the publish to some extent and once you get past their smugness and dumb suggestions I got a good feel for where I need to clear/tighten things up.
 
You have better sensibilities than I do since I went back to that assholish website. I swear to god I have to parse through the aggressive trying to "tear down the other to show who's the better writer" that always seemed to be laden in those critiques. But whatever, they're the publish to some extent and once you get past their smugness and dumb suggestions I got a good feel for where I need to clear/tighten things up.
Damn. Okay, if someone is actually rewriting parts of your story, that should be a red flag right there, to back the hell off and find someone else. No one, EVER should be rewriting YOUR story. They can talk about how they feel, they can suggest alternatives, maybe even give a sentence or two as an example, but they should NOT be rewriting your story to show you how it's done. Even when your story gets accepted by an editor THEY DO NOT REWRITE YOUR STORY. Even when you get a freaking NOVEL accept by a publishing house, the editor DOES NOT REWRITE YOUR STORY. They tell you where they see the problem, and they give you some pointers on how to address it, but the last thing they want is for one continuous, persistent voice to be suddenly hijacked for a paragraph, or page or two, as if written by someone else, and then just as suddenly resume with the "normal" voice the book has established.

At best, whoever did that for you is horribly misguided. At worst, they like your idea and want to steal it.
 
Just a short little story for people in here.

Today I have felt blah.... like... I woke up but didn't rest at all.
No motivation, kind of ill feeling.

Couple this with while I finished a major conversation in my story last night and that is a good thing. But I had no idea what I wanted to write in the next chapter.
Thought about it for hours couldn't come up with anything.

Eventually I said screw it and Just started writing. Decided that I would just pick up the next day from where I left off, and that logically my characters slept and they were just getting up. Didn't have any idea of where I was going with that, but then as I started typing the gods of writing shined down upon me and the story just started flowing, and I wrote out what might be the best little scene I have written in weeks. (only 1k words but still)

The point of this little story is even if you feel blocked, even if you have no idea what you want to do, just force yourself to start. Sometimes starting is all you need to do.

In other thoughts... I still feel exhausted. I will likely go to bed early tonight and sleep in as thankfully I have a few days off from work. I was really hoping I would feel more motivated as I have a lot I could be doing.... but my usual lazy self is coming through.
 
Just a short little story for people in here.

Today I have felt blah.... like... I woke up but didn't rest at all.
No motivation, kind of ill feeling.

Couple this with while I finished a major conversation in my story last night and that is a good thing. But I had no idea what I wanted to write in the next chapter.
Thought about it for hours couldn't come up with anything.

Eventually I said screw it and Just started writing. Decided that I would just pick up the next day from where I left off, and that logically my characters slept and they were just getting up. Didn't have any idea of where I was going with that, but then as I started typing the gods of writing shined down upon me and the story just started flowing, and I wrote out what might be the best little scene I have written in weeks. (only 1k words but still)

The point of this little story is even if you feel blocked, even if you have no idea what you want to do, just force yourself to start. Sometimes starting is all you need to do.

In other thoughts... I still feel exhausted. I will likely go to bed early tonight and sleep in as thankfully I have a few days off from work. I was really hoping I would feel more motivated as I have a lot I could be doing.... but my usual lazy self is coming through.
This is probably what I need to do. Been in a funk for a few months and haven’t quite broken out yet.
 
I've got a new story out! It's called "Youngblood." I describe it as LOST meets Jurassic Park—it's about a girl and her velociraptor companion who live in a colony that was abandoned on a dinosaur-infested island. Things go awry when the corporation that left them behind returns, guns blazing.

I initially wrote it for Uncanny Magazine's dinosaur issue, and it made it to the final round of cuts, but when it didn't stick there (almost!), I decided to self-publish it. (Spoilers: selling an action-heavy dinosaur-themed short story to serious SFF short fiction markets is hard.)

Read it here: https://medium.com/@adribbleofink/youngblood-42b6d5d70ad8

Also got some art made:

 
I've got a new story out! It's called "Youngblood." I describe it as LOST meets Jurassic Park—it's about a girl and her velociraptor companion who live in a colony that was abandoned on a dinosaur-infested island. Things go awry when the corporation that left them behind returns, guns blazing.

I initially wrote it for Uncanny Magazine's dinosaur issue, and it made it to the final round of cuts, but when it didn't stick there (almost!), I decided to self-publish it. (Spoilers: selling an action-heavy dinosaur-themed short story to serious SFF short fiction markets is hard.)

Read it here: https://medium.com/@adribbleofink/youngblood-42b6d5d70ad8

Also got some art made:

Wow, congrats on this! I saw this on Twitter because that Orbit editor, Brit Elisabet Hvide Busse retweeted it.
 
Today's random thought.

If you want to have a character who does a lot of manipulating of people in the background make sure you keep good notes of what they are doing, what their motivations are, and how others view them.

My brain feels like


right now, and that's a much simpler version.

The worst part is while I have actually done a good job connecting the dots. Keeping the character mostly consistent, and in general have a great idea of how each person thinks of them and what they have done... the sheer amount of information is absolutely overwhelming right now.

Given the scope of my project, obviously a lot has happened (otherwise it should be a lot shorter lol) I'm basically having to go through every event and figure out if the character had a hand in the event, and if they did who knew and how they felt about it.

I mean I could wing it, but with a character like this I feel like they can only really be good characters if their actions track and make sense. Otherwise they would come off as just something that shows up whenever I need something to happen ect....

Just GAH! I needed to get thoughts out lol.
I also need to do her timeline which is just going to be....
@[email protected]

How bad is it I could likely turn in a 100 page report about this character's life, while I doubt I could cross 20 about myself >.<;
 
The seeming impossiblity of getting anyone to review my recent book is starting to wear me down. I'm still writing but it's turned into a bit of a grind.
You should try the daunting realization that after 3 serious years, and 600k+ words as you wrap up the book you are working on you are only around 25% done with your story and thus you have around 9 more years of writing just to finish your first* draft :P

The kicker? I'm not someone who world builds a lot, so this isn't because I have a vast an interesting world I want to explore. I just have that more story I want to tell arc wise (though the world is getting more vast and interesting in the process) >.<:

but yeah.... I can feel ya man. I would say I would read and review it... but that's a lie. I can't even get around to reading what I want to read let alone something that likely isn't a continuation of an anime I enjoyed >.>

Though I do see plenty of advice on reddit about how to get some people to read your story. We also have a thread on here somewhere with people who read stuff that like reading Era member things whom may be willing to give reviews on places like amazon?

though maybe you are talking about professional reviews to which all I can say is I don't know any professionals >.>


*first is only technically true. As technically this was effectively the 4th draft of book one, 3rd of book 2, 1st of book 3, 1st of book 4, 1st of book 5, 2nd of book 6, it will be the 2nd of book 7 and then 1st from there on out lol.
 
You should try the daunting realization that after 3 serious years, and 600k+ words as you wrap up the book you are working on you are only around 25% done with your story and thus you have around 9 more years of writing just to finish your first* draft :P
Can't fault you for ambition there, and it's pretty impressive you're sticking with it!
Have you ever thought about splitting it into sub-books/arcs in order to try releasing parts or get something out there?

I wouldn't mind taking a look. I'm between gigs for a bit so I've got the time.
Thanks, that'd be a huge help! Should I PM you a link?
 
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