Archive for the 'Writerly Wednesday' Category

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
Intermittent Bouts of Suckitis!

Writerly Wednesday

Yet another of the myths I believed before I began to write was that authors just KNEW when their writing was good or bad. They would delete the drek and save all the great parts (if they were even having so off a day that they produced drek) and would merrily get on with their fantastic story.

Yah – not so much.

When I wrote my first story, I reached a point where I was sure that I could not be a writer, this whole story sucked from start to finish and I should do the world a favor and burn it. I’m stubborn, though, and several friends I trusted read it and reassured me that it was actually pretty damned good. With some hand-holding, some kicks in the ass and some stubborn determination, I finished that story.

And, you know, when I read it over – it was pretty good!

My poor naive self thought this was it. Now that I knew I could write, I would just write merrily along and my confidence would let me know when something was good or not.

I was wrong, it happened with the next story too.

I learned, after talking to numerous other authors, that I was not alone. Most other authors go through a time that they think the current project may just be the worst thing they’ve ever written. They’ve fought the urge to delete the file, start over, even not write for a while. But, like me, they kept going anyway.

Now I call these “Intermittent Bouts of Suckitis” – a phrase I was told by the marvelous Morgan Hawke (cue fan girl moment). I can be certain that, in the process of writing every single story, I will experience at least one bout of suck-itis. It happens when I’m about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the story, like clockwork, and I still fall into doubt. Every single story.

At least now I’ve learned to stop and send it to my trusted friends and test readers and ask them what they think. So far I have never had to give up on a story though I have made revisions and changes to allow me to continue in a better vein.

These “Bouts of Suckitis” seem to be almost universal. I wish I’d known that when I started writing.

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
Formatting Manuscripts for E-Publishing

Writerly Wednesday

When writers learn how to format manuscripts, they typically learn the standards for traditional print publishing and those are not always the accepted or preferred standards for e-publishing. This is due, in part, to the fact that the actual production processes are different for traditional print publishing and e-publishing.

Traditional print publishing often involved editors writing on the paper manuscript page, a typesetting stage where the manuscript was typeset into book format, etc. Some of this is now more computerized but e-publishing is a very streamlined and automated process. Anything that throws off that process can tend to be problematic so it’s best to start out with as consistent a manuscript as possible and know some of the pitfalls, as well as how to avoid them.

The formatting guidelines I’m giving you are generic and relatively standard but, before you submit to any particular publisher, be sure to read that publisher’s own submissions guidelines. Any specific instructions they give should trump these generic rules and should be followed instead.

Remember that these are only formatting instructions, NOT writing or grammar instructions.
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Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
Love an Editor Day!

Writerly Wednesday

Today, in lieu of an actual topic from me, I’d like to point you all at Ciar Cullen’s blog and today’s post.

Come on – join in the fun, here or on Ciar’s blog. Tell us what your editor does for you and spread the love!

Editors need love too!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
Series vs. Serial

Writerly Wednesday

I was speaking to someone at Epicon and, in the course of conversation, we touched on the difference between writing a series and writing a serial. Note that these are the definitions that I tend to use and may vary slightly from the definitions of others.

A series is a set of two or more full stories that share one or more commonalities. That commonality may be a world, one or more characters, a key concept, specific plot devices, etc.

Del Fantasma books (from Aspen Mountain Press) are a series – they share the following:

  • a basic world, a continuity character (Cody)
  • a location (the Del Fantasma Bar)
  • a plot device (they all have drinks that relate somehow to the story)
  • a genre (they are all paranormals)

A serial, on the other hand, is a story that is told in discrete sections over a period of time, often without a pre-determined ending. Think “soap opera” – those are serials. Some authors publish serials on their websites or mailing lists as well as in magazines or other venues.

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
Test Reading

Writerly Wednesday

Most authors are familiar with the idea of a critique partner or critique groups. Some authors have one (or more) but some are quite happy writing alone.

Another source of valuable input and feedback is a test reader. While critique partners or groups tend to give you feedback as you go and often help plot the book along the way, a test or beta reader takes your finished or mostly finished material and reads it as a savvy reader without advanced knowledge. The test reader, in essence, is your first check of what your regular readers will think.

The job of the test reader is to read the story and make notes of anything that pulls them out of the story, any time they are bored and want to just skip ahead, and times where things don’t make sense. In general, they don’t worry about spelling or grammar unless it’s so bad it really impacts their ability to read and enjoy the story.

Not all test readers are created the same, however. An effective and thorough test reader is one that gives you value back for the chance to read the story ahead of time. You may have to try multiple people before you find just one really GOOD test reader.

A test reading gives you some assurance that you story, when picked up off a shelf, makes sense, reads well and will most likely please your readers (and editor).