Tag Archives: new writer

The #PubLaw Twitter Talks

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Twitter is a marvelous thing, and holds many opportunities for us writers. Whether it’s connection with fellow writers, support, or reaching a broader audience, it’s a great resource for writers of all walks of life.

I particularly like the ‘talks’ that are held to spread knowledge and general writer love all throughout the online writing community. One of my recent favorites happens to be the #PubLaw twitter talks. #PubLaw was started by Susan Spann, a mystery writer and publishing attorney — which means she specializes in that scary, scary contract thing. She tweets about everything from short-form contracts to information about small publishers to the law surrounding pseudonyms.

She says she started the #PubLaw hashtag to fill the void in Twitter’s writing community. Information about contracts and publishing law can be a little thin, and are questions best answered by an attorney — a role she fits well, or obvious reasons. And now she generously spends time hosting talks to educate the Twitter-writer sphere about publishing and contracts, one subject at a time.

She also writes about publishing law more in-depth on her blog, which has a wealth of additional information.

I’m sure you’ve heard about scams and writers getting hurt because they didn’t completely understand their contract. We all think this won’t happen to us, but educating yourself can go a long way to keeping you safe (second to getting an agent or lawyer, of course).

All of which means you should check out Susan Spann and #PubLaw. Don’t be the next cautionary tale.

What resources do you use to help navigate publishing? And what are your stories of dealing with publishing contracts? 

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The Things in My Head

First off, a huge thank you to NadyaToddMediciiMusefully MendaciloquentChaos, Cats and Chronic PainAmerican Writers ExposedA Cup of English TeaRickhitchTastehitchCholontics Writerly Musings, and KnightHearth for responding for my call for help about my query. I really appreciate the time and thoughts you guys offered, and my query is definitely better because of it. You all rock.

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Writing this week has all been in my head. The vivid transgressions of my characters are all seeking to come out, but between a weirdly busy week (and probably a bit of laziness) it hasn’t made itself to the digital form of paper yet.

And, of course, my brain is working 4 books ahead of where I should actually be writing. This story has been in my head so long that the details further down the line are being worked out instead of writing the “current events” of now. I have a serious case of time-jumping as I flip flop back and forth between getting out voices in my head currently and returning to writing linearly.

The story has changed and evolved so much the past few… well, years really. Since I don’t have deadlines pressuring me as a not-yet professional author, and since I had been in college until recently, it’s taken a long time to get my current novel actually solidified on paper. The difference between the story at inception and until now is pretty stark, and it’s very interesting. It makes me wonder about how different published novels could be. I would assume that veteran authors would know how to make the story it’s most “mature” (for lack of a better work) on the first try (this is including drafts and such), but this would seem to be a skill crafted over years of work. Looking at the evolution of just my story just over the past few years for reference, how many other authors have failed to publish their works as the best they can be?

After all, I can only assume that I will continue to improve as a writer as time goes on and I continue to write. It makes me wonder if I should continue to wait to publish my novel – it would be even better a few years down the road, right? What if my skills right now can’t make the story the best it can be? What if I should wait and give the story the author it deserves?

This is also a rabbit hole with no bottom, and gives to the temptation to just delay taking action forever. I know that I’ve improved as an writer – the difference between my first novel and second proves this (I think) – and what I write is the accumulation of skills and experiences up until now. As long as I work hard, that is my best, and I will be giving my stories their due justice. I’d like to think that each novel teaches it’s own lessons and skills on the path of any writer. And I’ll continue to improve, my skills leaving the last story behind.

So, in the long run, in ten years when we’re all famous published authors – are our stories a stepping stone for the next one? Or are they something else?

(Now, must go to work writing and stop procrastinating)


NaNoWriMo Update: Final Stretch

NaNoWriMo 2014-11-25

Alright, so this is more like an ending update vs. a week three update. But week three was good, anyway! There was a moment in the beginning where I was just skirting the line and I was afraid I was going to duck below it, but I managed to boost myself back up and keep going.

Now I’ve got 5k words left to write to hit the 50k mark.

Aaaaand I’m rather running out of plotline idea. But! It should be fine because I tend to make those dialogue sections pretty long, and you always find bits of new stuff to talk about when you actually sit down to write. Right? Right?

I’m thinking that this is about the middle mark of this book. There’s been a big new change, new conflict, some resolution, lots of fun exciting stuff yay. I think this is a great place where NaNoWriMo stops because I need to do some serious brain storming to figure out where the book is going to go from here.

Plus, I’ve been itching to get back to my other novel, finish it, and continue onto the second, which has been rattling around in my head. I hope that this whole challenge isn’t proving that I have an A.D.D. brain that can’t focus on one book for too long without hating it. Hmm.

I’m also realizing that while short sentences are punchy and fun, they can get boring when too many of them are strung together. But this character has really to the point thoughts about things. Not sure what to do about that.

Moving on! Must get back to things. And find something to fix this headache I’ve got brewing. Ohhhh computer screen how I love thee…


The Art of Less Telling More

dialogue

My particular skill in writing is dialogue. Or at least one of them is. If it can be expressed by two characters conversing, most likely I will be doing it in that way.

Maybe too much.

Actually most likely too much.

I’m not sure why dialogue became my thing. I’ve just always seen these vivid pictures of people and places combined with detailed inflections of voices and intonations. It probably has to do with a writing problem I had (the infamous ‘information dump’ at the beginning of the story) and how my first story was inevitably one character teaching another all she ever needed to know about anything for ten pages. Since the “information dump” was both to the reader and the main character, this was conveyed in dialogue form.

(This is a great article on making authentic dialogue, by the way!)

Since then I’ve worked away from having quite so much dialogue. Or, at least, changing up dialogue style to fit the particulars of the scene to make it a wee bit more interesting. There’s also breaking up the large blocks of dialogue, to drag out the information farther through the story and keep a bit more mystery.

Mystery. This may be a beginning author’s first challenge. At least it was one of mine – I think there is a tendency to be so excited about conveying ideas and characters that we get carried away and tell everything. It took me a bit to realize and understand that things actually didn’t need to be explained – it was quite alright to leave the reader dangling and slowly fill in the details.

(Okay, maybe this was just my problem.)

This is also connected with the show-don’t-tell problem, which for some reason is becoming a huge pet peeve of mine. Don’t tell me what it looks like, show me. Don’t tell me what s/he feels, show me. Don’t tell me what happened, show me. Someone can tell another person anything; making them feel it or believe it is true craft.

I can’t say that I, myself, am the best at this. But I do try hard.

Yet even this particular writing “problem” can have its useful moments. Characters can tell some things that they see/observe and it can seem flat; showing how the character feels (just like any other viewpoint) creates a much more realistic “feeling.” Yet the flatness of telling can get across it’s own point. Perhaps a character bias or prejudice. The unrealism of a dream. Maybe events inside a character’s intoxication.

I think my point in this whole thing is that at some point everything can become a tool to better your craft. But you have to know it can be a tool and know what you yourself are doing in order to use them effectively. And that means understanding yourself and seeing your craft for what it is. Which is one of the hardest things to do as a writer. When writing is likened to opening a vein and bleeding on a page, it is not an easy thing to just decide to dissect in the name of improvement. Yes, there are things you can learn, but seeing your craft for what it is…is not as simple as that.

And in that sense, improvement becomes as much a journey of self as it is of skill, requiring as many facets and complications as growing as a person does.


Writing Schedule, Activate! (?)

I’ve had a horrible writing week, which makes me cranky. I do have a few excuses, mostly revolving around finishing up my last week at my student job and the awful traffic that has sprung up due to the rain returning (seriously, it’s just rain people. Not all of you will melt).

I’ve also let myself be a little lax because I FINALLY finished up rewriting this section I’ve been working on for a while. There’s a sense of shit-eating-grin relief that always pops up afterwards, of finally being able to return to moving the story along. I’ve been riding on that for a while. I really cannot get over that fulfillment of taking the story the next step, or being carried along as something evolves in an unexpected way. It’s kinda of perfect for my lazy-OCD brain: I obsess over getting certain things written or done, but just let it happen when the story takes a sharp turn to the left.

Since I rewrote that section, there is some light rewriting to do to make sure that the tone and style moving forward with the story fits into the rewritten part. The character dynamic is a bit different now, so I’ve got to run through and do some shifting.

It’s time to get back to work.

I hear advice all the time about setting up a writing schedule. A specific time, like a job or appointment, that is just for writing that is free from distractions and obligations. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had much of an opportunity to do that, but I’ve never really written that way. Sometimes, with a particular schedule, I’ll know I have a free hour here or there and will sit down to write. But most often I write in spurts and starts, where I’ll spend a week writing for hours every day, blocking out everything, and then maybe an hour every two days.

(What do you think – if I paced myself better would the flow last longer?)

Even beyond that, a lot of times my best writing times will be the impromptu sit-downs in strange or new places. (My laptop is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me – I take that sucker with me EVERYWHERE) And often, a lot of noise or a corner in a crowded room is one of the easiest places for me to write. Maybe it’s the white noise. Listening to a song I know well over and over again also seems to work in this way.

It’s the change in place or time that seems to facilitate writing. But, I’ve never had much of a schedule that I could hammer out around being able to write.

That is about to change. We’re going to see how this schedule-writing goes.

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P.S. I just sent out another batch of query letters. Wish me luck!


Secondary Characters Stealing the Show

I used to write my secondary characters as place holders. They served a purpose and maybe had a name and then move on. I think they’re exerting revenge, because they’ve started coming out the woodwork and stealing my plot.

I didn’t notice at first. I was naive. It started with the innocent-seeming, doe-eyed character in one my series’ that dutifully played the best friend role. She was important, yes, and events surrounding her were sure to move the plot forward. One book is almost practically driven forward because of her.

Now my innocent little blonde friend is force-feeding me new interesting twists about herself that oh so conveniently set the stage up for her own story. Her own book, possibly even series, and I’m not even done talking about her best friend yet – who is supposed to be the star, hello. She’s whispering in my head when I should be working on different things. And just when I think she’s nice about it, she yanks me off my feet in a direction that she would like to go, thank you very much.

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(^Look! My first gif!)

So okay. Maybe she just really needs to tell her story.

But now it’s spreading.

Enter the second series, the first book of which I’m almost done with. This character was supposed to play a role, get a theme across, and provide a contrast to my main character and lay out some of that social commentary I have mentioned previously.

But oh no. Now she’s making herself really complicated and providing all this depth. The little vixen keeps hijacking what I’m trying to do with her character and pulling out these aching moments of vulnerable strength you can’t help but love. She’s not demanding her own book (yet) – thank god – but she’s seriously exacting her pound of flesh.

Arunninggoatsnd now she’s encouraging the other characters, too. Like a little circus master, her friends are starting to do and say things that I didn’t tell them to do.

It’s all going new and unforeseen places and I’m just stumbling along behind for the ride.

Okay, fine. Truth is, I can’t really complain. Writing for me takes on a life force of it’s own. I am not the master of my story; at some point I am just the tool of which these ideas enter this world. (Okay, well, obviously I control my craft, my art, my talent – but you understand, right? Right?) The story seizing it’s own destiny ends up creating something richer and better than what I had originally planned. It’s amazing to be along for the ride.

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