Robinski

The Business of Writing and Publishing

52 posts in this topic

26 minutes ago, Mandamon said:

Yep. @Sarah B I've been through three cover artists and a cover layout company. It depends greatly on what you're willing to spend and what quality you want. That said, if you're going to self-pub, quality and content on book covers very much matters. 

Thank you. I've always imagined I would go traditional publishing but the closer I look into some of the realities and horror stories I'm wondering if that is the right call for me. On the other hand, the more I research self publishing the more tasks and details I realize fall to the author. It seems like self publishing requires a ton of organization, multi tasking, and outsourcing to skilled specialists (and therefore monetary investment). The degree of control and the potential rewards are very tempting though. 

I supose everyone struggles with this at one time or another. I'm wrapping up the first book I've written that feels like it may be 'something' so that has the gears turning wondering what to do with it once it's all shiney and finnished. 

I'm sorry I'm going to miss your pannels at world con! I work those nights but I was really interested to hear the pannel on self publishing you mentioned. 

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@Sarah B It is a lot of work, and especially for the first book, it ill be a challenge. That said, from what I can tell, trad publishing nowadays is really not doing all that much for the author, unless you're published through one of the big five and have a well-selling book. 

It also does require a monetary investment, probably $500 to $800 on the low side.

They might have recordings of the panels, not sure. But I'll be around here too!

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2 hours ago, Mandamon said:

 

They might have recordings of the panels, not sure. But I'll be around here too!

Awesome thank you!

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On 7/12/2020 at 11:27 AM, Sarah B said:

Thank you. I've always imagined I would go traditional publishing but the closer I look into some of the realities and horror stories I'm wondering if that is the right call for me. On the other hand, the more I research self publishing the more tasks and details I realize fall to the author. It seems like self publishing requires a ton of organization, multi tasking, and outsourcing to skilled specialists (and therefore monetary investment). The degree of control and the potential rewards are very tempting though. 

I'm getting ready for my 5th attempt at finding an agent. Getting traditionally published is still my goal even though the industry has a lot of flaws. 

I've published with small publishers (not the best experience ever), but since I have a tendency to get excited about things and then not follow through, I'm afraid to self publish. I worry I'll get the book partially ready and then never actually publish it. Or put a lot of effort into part of it and slack on the rest. 

 

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On 7/12/2020 at 8:27 AM, Sarah B said:

Thank you. I've always imagined I would go traditional publishing but the closer I look into some of the realities and horror stories I'm wondering if that is the right call for me. On the other hand, the more I research self publishing the more tasks and details I realize fall to the author. It seems like self publishing requires a ton of organization, multi tasking, and outsourcing to skilled specialists (and therefore monetary investment). The degree of control and the potential rewards are very tempting though. 

I'm agented and generally really enjoy it, though it does slow the whole process down. But eventually it should pay off with big advances and things (heck, even a small advance would be fine!) I also like knowing someone 'has my back' in the industry. Plus I get to meet all sorts of bigger name people through my agent, and through events like WorldCon and such because of the circles he's in.

Agents are definitely gatekeepers of Big Five, so if you have a dream of accessing places like Tor and such, an agent is your only option. But it is sloooooooow.

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Hello everyone! I'm new to this thread and excited for it! I just finished writing my first book and am looking to query agents now. Does anyone have advice or examples of a query letter they've written? I've been scouring youtube and it seems like a lot of people do it differently. 

Sanderson said in one lecture that in order to keep himself encouraged to keep writing and meeting his deadlines he pictured a "phantom cubicle" chasing him and I definitely related haha. I just wanted to share because I think it's great and it's now the way I'm going to explain why I write to people who ask me. 

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7 hours ago, SwordNimi said:

Does anyone have advice or examples of a query letter they've written? I've been scouring youtube and it seems like a lot of people do it differently

There's actually only really one or two 'right' ways to write a query, at least in SFF. Queryshark is a great place for query letter examples, and you can always sub one through here in a crit spot if you want our help, too!

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13 hours ago, SwordNimi said:

I just finished writing my first book and am looking to query agents now.

First of all, congratulations! 

6 hours ago, kais said:

There's actually only really one or two 'right' ways to write a query, at least in SFF. Queryshark is a great place for query letter examples, and you can always sub one through here in a crit spot if you want our help, too!

Link to QueryShark: https://queryshark.blogspot.com/?m=1

Link to Janet Reid's (aka QueryShark) blog: https://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/?m=1

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I'm currently virtually attending the World Fantasy Convention. I attended Tech for Writers, and two of the hosts (they are married) have posted their list of tech resources on their website as a free pdf, http://chewsjoy.com/. For ease, I also copy and pasted it below. 

 

Tech Tools for Writers [by Jonathan and Mandy Chew]

TW & IG: @JonathanGChew, @MandyDChew 

World Fantasy Convention 2020 

 

Brainstorm/Notetaking/Plotting: 

Bear (Mac) - Typing 

Flow (Mac) - Handwriting 

OneNote (All Platforms) – Both typing & handwriting allowed

WikidPad (Wiki Style Program)- http://wikidpad.sourceforge.net/

Intuiti Creative Cards - https://intuiti.it/ 

yEd Graph Editors (Mindmapping) [Online & Download] - https://www.yworks.com/yed-live/ 

Fantasy Name Generators - https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/

Emotion Thesaurus - https://onestopforwriters.com/emotions

Rory’s Story Cubes - https://www.storycubes.com/en/ 

 

Task Management/Project Tracking (FREE): 

Basecamp (Collaboration) 

Redbooth (Task Management) 

TeamGantt (Overview) 

Bullet Journaling 

 

Writing: 

Scrivener (Mac & PC) 

Ulysses (Mac App) 

Highland 2 (Mac App) 

Google Docs (Online, good for collaboration) 

4TheWords (Online Word Counter) - https://4thewords.com/

Write or Die (Online Timer) - https://writeordie.com/ 

Draft (Online Distraction Free) - https://draftin.com/ 

 

Writing Utensils: [$$$] 

Paperlike (for iPad) 

ReMarkable Tablet 

Rocketbook (erasable notebook) 

Fountain Pen Hospital (Neil Gaiman Recommendation- New York)

iPad iOS 14 Scribble Feature 

 

Backup Systems: 

Carbonite - https://www.carbonite.com/ 

Amazon Cloud Drive 

Google Drive 

Dropbox

 

Writing Environment/Focus: 

Pomodoro Technique - https://www.marinaratimer.com/ 

Pinterest Boards 

Spotify Playlists 

Nature Sounds 

Train Journeys - https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/bus-train/virtual-train-rides 

 

Grammar Help: 

Grammarly 

ProWritingAid 

 

BetaReaders: 

BetaReader.io - https://betareader.io/ 

Critters.org - http://critters.org/ 

InkedVoices – https://www.inkedvoices.com 

 

Reading: 

Libby (borrow digital books from local libraries) 

BookBub (cheap book deals!) 

Chirp (cheap audiobooks!) 

 

Contests: 

NaNoWriMo - https://nanowrimo.org/ 

PitchWars - https://pitchwars.org/ 

 

Podcasts/Classes/Resources: 

Amie Kaufman on Writing - http://amiekaufman.com/podcast/ 

Brandon Sanderson’s SciFi/Fantasy Class on YouTube -  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6HOdHEeosc 

Novel Academy’s Story Equation - https://novel.academy/p/theseq 

Manuscript Academy 

Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) 

Publisher’s Weekly 

Duotrope (list of journals taking submissions) - https://duotrope.com/ 

 

Promotion: 

Canva 

WordSwag 

TweetDeck - https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/

 

 

Edited by Snakenaps
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Hey everyone. Hope Nanowrimo's going well.

Two questions for you all:

1) How messy are your rough drafts?

2) How exactly do you plot out your novels. As much detail as you can, please!

Thanks.

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2 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

1) How messy are your rough drafts?

Like someone took a draft, shredded it, then pasted it back together with Elmer's glue while drunk

2 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

2) How exactly do you plot out your novels. As much detail as you can, please!

I don't! I'm a pantser. I just write and see where the characters go, then cut out the pointless parts after. Ends with overwriting but it's worked for me thus far.

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8 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

1) How messy are your rough drafts?

Depends on which one you are talking about. In high school/college, I tried to make the perfect book from the very beginning with no outline multiple times. I never finished any of the seven drafts. 

Last August I sat down and started writing the 8th written version of NotK with an outline, and I just wrote. I wrote with notes everywhere, often in all caps, like REALLY AMAZING SPEECH HERE. I wrote messily, I wrote pretty passages. If I didn't like something, I wrote my idea for what it would look like in the next draft in a couple of sentences and moved on. I didn't stop, and wrote a complete draft in five months. 

It was difficult at first learning to forgive myself for not making perfection, but I fell into a nice groove that has taught me not to take my writing so personally. 

8 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

2) How exactly do you plot out your novels. As much detail as you can, please!

Oooof, okay, I was not very good at this and I'm paying the price now. 

First of all, not everyone outlines. I needed to outline. I tried for years to discovery write and it turns out that isn't me. Some people know approximately what direction they want to go and then just pants it. I am not that person, maybe you are. 

Second, there is no one right way to plot out a book, as it will depend on what kind of book you are writing. I did not know much about writing when I outlined this version of NotK. I wrote each approximate scene idea in summary with a few word title and put them in order in a Google Doc. 

During Draft Two, I had listened to enough Writing Excuses to know about the three act formula. So I took a look at my work and shoved in into the form. Thankfully, instinctually or by luck, it fit into three chunks well. However, working without a formula really hurt Draft One, as I added so many unnecessary scenes, that I'm still paying for today. 

I know some people write their outlines on Excel. I might be trying this next. 

There are many different plot formulas, but here are three common ones. I recommend Googling or listening to Writing Excuses, as others can explain better than I:

1) Three act formula (very traditional, often used in movies)

2) Seven point story structure (sometimes uped to more points, like twelve. This one appeals to me and I want to try it out). 

3) MICE quotient (I've never tried this one, admittedly. It seems very flexible). 

There are other types of story structures, these are just the ones I know off of the top of my head. Google and go bananas. You can play around and test out the ones that interest you. 

Edited by Snakenaps
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38 minutes ago, kais said:

Like someone took a draft, shredded it, then pasted it back together with Elmer's glue while drunk

This, this right here summarizes everything. Perfection. 

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9 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

1) How messy are your rough drafts?

Hmm, well, err, popular opinion--I think--is that they are quite good, terms of the prose (see 2) below for other aspects...). I just can't write messy. I hate it. I have trained myself over decades in the language that I love, and I believe it should be written well, tended and cared for in the process. What this does NOT mean, is going back over it again and again. I've also trained myself to stop doing that. What I do is go over the last page I wrote from the day before, editing and tidying, as a means to get going on today's writing. Other than that, I write with spell- and grammar checkers switched on, and I eliminate the squiggles as a I go. It makes a big difference to the poor sa---I mean lovely people who volunteer to read my drafts. They don't (I trust) need to wade through dumb typos repeated words, bad grammar, etc. Okay, the prose may still be bumpy, but it's easier to read without the careless mistakes, and I think you get more rounded and useful crits that way, when the line-level distraction are minimised.

9 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

2) How exactly do you plot out your novels.

This is an area I'm a bit loose with, but that's where alpha readers come into their own. I tend to plot the first 2/3rds or so of the book, write out fairly detailed characters sketches, world-building notes (only enough to get me stated, no more than that!), an order of events; maybe to the tune of about 3,000 to 5,000 words of notes in total beforehand then I start writing and the plot changes, often from a fairly early stage, as I write. There in lies the rub, because I'm not that good at keeping arcs tight, and really thinking through the implications of plot aspects to the fullest. I will typically get to the end and have a fair bit of work to do in the next draft to tidy up the stuff that evolves during writing and doesn't really make sense, or needs solid foreshadowing to work at all.

Hope that's useful :) 

Edited by Robinski
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9 hours ago, kais said:

Like someone took a draft, shredded it, then pasted it back together with Elmer's glue while drunk

Agh! Why are you watching me write?

Ahem. My prose tends to be reasonably clean in terms errors and line-by-line writing, though not due to any fastidiousness on my part (and my early drafts are generally more verbose than needed, so that's a place where I can trim - which I don't bother with until the final couple of drafts). Structurally, however, my drafts are a mess.

11 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

2) How exactly do you plot out your novels. As much detail as you can, please!

"Exactly" is not a word that gets anywhere near my plotting process; it varies depending on the needs of the individual project. I lean towards the pantsing end of the spectrum. A fair bit of my "plotting" is worldbuilding, which allows me to flush out major questions about how the world works and things that might act upon the characters. If my grasp of the protagonists or major supporting characters is shaky (which may or may not be the case, depends what sparked the initial idea for the project) I may spend some time figuring out what makes them tick - but this mostly happens during the drafting. I find rhetorical questions are a useful tool for me to help tease out whatever I'm working on. Ideally I'll start with an idea of the emotional beats that I want to hit, and I'll collect a few more as I'm, plotting, so I keep a living list of those and try to keep them loosely arranged in a chronology that makes sense.

I'll keep doing this until I feel I have enough start writing without going in circles. Once I start I just keep going until I inevitably get stuck, at which point, depending on the problem, I might do more worldbuilding, work on timelines, look at whether I need to add or remove subplots, etc. Depending on how well I understand the changes I'm planning, I may write the revised scenes before continuing. If there's nothing left for me to discover by writing the changed scenes, I'll just keep on with the draft and come back and rewrite the changed scenes in revision. My first revision or two generally consist of major rewrites.

I am experimenting with a tighter plotting process for shorter pieces, so uh, we'll see how that goes I guess.

Edited by Silk
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11 hours ago, Turin Turambar said:

2) How exactly do you plot out your novels. As much detail as you can, please!

So, I feel as if my approach to things is a little different than most people, but you might find it helpful. I am very visually-inclined, so a lot of my worldbuilding and character building happens through little thumbnail sketches or drawings. It also helps me when describing a character or place to have a little visual reminder as to what I'm describing. That being said, I also usually write up a sequence of bullet points of things that I want to accomplish in the book, and put sub-points under those as to how I'll need to do that. (It's a little trick I stole off of Brandon, actually. He has a post about it on his official website.) 

That being said, I usually tend to "go off script" for parts, and then adjust to that. 

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3 hours ago, ginger_reckoning said:

I am very visually-inclined, so a lot of my worldbuilding and character building happens through little thumbnail sketches or drawings

I'm going to ditto this and say I have sketchbooks worth of drawings and doodles as well as several thousand photos saved on Pinterest. I have nearly 800 for my unicorn character, the BK, alone. 

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2 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I have nearly 800 for my unicorn character, the BK, alone.

:blink: :o :wacko:

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@Turin Turambar

I'm far from one of the pros here, but in case it's useful, I'll take a shot at answering too.

How rough: I try to keep momentum once I start writting, so I'll use parentheses or 'TK' to fill in things I don't know yet or have forgotten. My first drafts end up looking pretty bare with mostly dialogue and only the broad strokes of the action (my weakest skill). If I know a location or a description I'll stop and write it in but if not I keep going and fill it in later. 

Now that I'm more focused on editing, I wish I wrote cleaner first drafts. 

Plotting: I write scifi, so most of my stuff focuses on a core question or concept that I want to explore. That's where I start. Then I add one or more characters that would be involved in that question. From there, I get ideas of things that I want to have happen, cool little moments. Those are my tent poles. If its complicated, I make an index card for each thing that I know has to happen and put them into a big deck. As I finish writing to that point, I will throw the card away. 

That's where my planning stops. Then I jump in and see where it takes me between index cards, sometimes nowhere near where I thought. Often the cards have to be changed or revised. 

Per writing excuses advice, I have been trying to apply Dan Wells' 7-point story structure when I get bogged down or lost (usually mid/late second act). This is also helpful for making me realize how many sub-plots I have started without noticing :-) 

I tried the "story genius" method a bit, but it is way too organized for me. I do like her method of writing three back story scenes first, the end second, and then everything else. I hope to use this going forward to write stronger character arcs. 

I'm still stumbling my way to a method, but that's what I've got so far :-)

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On 11/28/2020 at 7:37 AM, Sarah B said:

@Turin Turambar

I'm far from one of the pros here, but in case it's useful, I'll take a shot at answering too.

How rough: I try to keep momentum once I start writting, so I'll use parentheses or 'TK' to fill in things I don't know yet or have forgotten. My first drafts end up looking pretty bare with mostly dialogue and only the broad strokes of the action (my weakest skill). If I know a location or a description I'll stop and write it in but if not I keep going and fill it in later. 

Now that I'm more focused on editing, I wish I wrote cleaner first drafts. 

Plotting: I write scifi, so most of my stuff focuses on a core question or concept that I want to explore. That's where I start. Then I add one or more characters that would be involved in that question. From there, I get ideas of things that I want to have happen, cool little moments. Those are my tent poles. If its complicated, I make an index card for each thing that I know has to happen and put them into a big deck. As I finish writing to that point, I will throw the card away. 

That's where my planning stops. Then I jump in and see where it takes me between index cards, sometimes nowhere near where I thought. Often the cards have to be changed or revised. 

Per writing excuses advice, I have been trying to apply Dan Wells' 7-point story structure when I get bogged down or lost (usually mid/late second act). This is also helpful for making me realize how many sub-plots I have started without noticing :-) 

I tried the "story genius" method a bit, but it is way too organized for me. I do like her method of writing three back story scenes first, the end second, and then everything else. I hope to use this going forward to write stronger character arcs. 

I'm still stumbling my way to a method, but that's what I've got so far :-)

That's perfect - I wasn't asking the pros method. I'm asking your method.

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I wanted to share with yous some notes that I made at the Glasgow SF Writers Circle festive reunion in December, my idea being to provide a little bit of motivation, maybe a smidge of insight from some established SFF authors, writing 'coaches', a renowned games writer, and maybe a talking point or two, and possibly even to pitch out there the suggestion of doing something similar in 2021 for RE alumni (for discussion). All the folks quoted are either current, on-hiatus or lapsed members of the GSFWC. (Also, my quotes are not exact, but paraphrase the intent.)

 

Gary Gibson, established SF author of The Shoal Sequence and the Apocalypse Duology, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1442754.Gary_Gibson  >  The people who succeed (as authors) are the hardcore obsessives who just keep going and refuse to give up.

     For me, this is probably the more important take-away from the whole open forum discussion, which is as completely simple as it sounds: Always be writing. Always be critiquing and revising and submitting your work to markets. Never. Give. Up. I am not yet good enough a practicing this, but I have at least started subbing my work out, and work on writing everyday. Still don't write enough though. 

GG - The best way to become a better writer is to teach or explain it to other people.

     Gary is a book doctor, among his various writing activities, and therefore knows whereof he speaks. He also noted that a lot of the books he gets to doctor are first novels. Does this imply that people improve enough not to get their second novels doctored? Or maybe that a lot of people give up at that stage? Unknown, but I think it does feed back into this point about striving to improve our craft through learning, critiquing, discussing and supporting each other.

Bill King, spectacularly prolific author of over 100 novels, the majority tying-in to the likes of Warhammer; Warhammer 40k; World of Warcrafthttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/48348.William_King  >  Looking for things that don't work (in critiquing) is quite counterproductive, looking for things that do work--strengths and positives--is important.

     Others on RE are better at this than I am, I fear. I will try to do better at that, but, I think it has to be said that allowing shortcomings to go uncommented would not necessarily do the submitter any favours.

Hal Duncan, author of the Scruffians books, including Vellum and Inkhttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/143699.Hal_Duncan. Hal is also a book doctor  >  He noted often falling in love with works that he was doctoring when they come from a place of love and passion (for the subject).

     I'm sure we all would say this about our work, but I wonder sometimes if any of us ever have a feeling like we know we want to write, but maybe 'this novel' we're working on isn't the one we really, in our hearts, want to be writing. Do we always love it enough to come back to it and edit it, and then edit it again, and workshop it, alpha read it, edit it again, and again, then submit it, over and over? It's probably a question we all should ask ourself every so often.

HD - Felt that 'so many times' he found that a novel went wrong in some way in the early stages, and that problems rooted in an early misstep are carried all the way through, that avoiding a wrong turn near the start, or correcting one, can result in many things falling into place.

     Well, that's what RE is here to help with. More on that later...

GG - Tend to find that people who are successful (as writers) cluster together in support groups, i.e. writing groups.

     This is not perhaps yet one for RE (although we are fortunate to have @kais, @Mandamon and @shatteredsmooth in our ranks as published SFF authors). I think an important thing to take from this comment though, is that writing groups evolve, and less experienced authors do (over time and with commitment, I think) garner valuable industry experience from those who have gone before, and know whereof they speak in relation to the industry, and what works in certain markets. We must also hope that as we all continue to work, and through the efforts of those who stick around in the group medium to long-term, RE can grow like the GSFWC has over 34 years now, to feature some established SFF authors.

     I always think it's really interesting that the Writing Excuses crew (I refer to 'founders/shapers' Brandon, Mary, Dan and Howard) still talk about being in their respective writing groups (I think maybe Brandon and Dan are still in the same group), even after the success that they have had to varying degrees. This rolls nicely back into GG's original point here about successful people clustering together.

BK - talked about the role that luck plays, about meeting the boss of Games Workshop at a convention, getting a job and getting into tie-in fiction from there. He noted how he 'stuck at it till he succeeded.

     I think this is a message that rolls back (again) into the first point here; refusing to give up. He went on to say that 'if you are going to buy lottery tickets (extending the writing analogy), you might as well buy lots', i.e. keep writing; write a thing; then write another thing while you are critiquing, alpha reading and subbing your first thing; always be writing something new; thinking of the next project.

BK - also used the phrase 'put yourself about'.

     I think that leads on to a whole other discussion about having a profile; experiencing different things like cons; and writing groups (maybe!); and forums; submitting to different markets in different forms (I guess), like short and novels, novellas, maybe flash. His point being you never know where you will find your break or your route into what you want to do.

    I also like Bill's closing remarks in summation of the message from this open discussion on 'advice to new and developing (unpublished) authors'.

BK - reckoned that, in heading out to a frontier, trying to do something different (in our work), there is pressure to say and do certain things (and I took the context to mean in terms of how to develop a career), and he cited social-media. He said 'don't always listen to received wisdom'.

     What I took from that is that this is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and routes to publication that work for some will not work for others. Taking Bill's point about social-media at face value, I can totally appreciate what he's saying. Some authors are very active on Farcebook and T'wetter, and seem to be able to make it work for them, but there also are instances of spectacular self-destruction. I find so much of TW to be utter nonsense, and FB and SM generally can be come quite self-obsessive for some authors. handle with care, I guess. But I think Bill's point was much wider in terms of don't just follow all the advice you get if it doesn't feel right. At the end of the day it's our work, and our career, and it has to work for us. No point in 'succeeding' (whatever that might look like at a given time), but being unhappy with the outcome. 

 

I hope that some might find something in here useful in some way. I really only put this up because I wanted to share what I thought were some sage and useful thoughts from some people who have succeeded in a genre that we are all striving in. Please excuse my prattling commentary, which thoughts are my own, and of obviously lesser weight than the original comments, but largely just provided for context, or to promote discussion.

Edited by Robinski
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@Robinski

Thank you for sharing that! 

It reminded me of something Mary Robinette said at SiWC this year durring the writing group pannel. (Paraphrasing from memory) on the topic of accepting critiques and advice:

Your story is a perfect thing that lives in your mind. It's yours and no one can take that from you. The novel is the tool that lets you share that story with the world, but the novel won't be perfect. That's how writing groups can help. They can't see the perfect story in your head, but they can help you refine the tool that let's you share it.

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Ooh, yes, @Sarah B. I think MRK has touched on that in the We podcasts once of twice. Good point.

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6077cac8c0898_TheBeachDialogueTagStatistics.thumb.jpg.effe6429d244a9c461d0fbbd37b7acb3.jpg

Soooooo, I did something I found interesting. 

This spring, I'm taking classes from Dave Farland. He recently lectured about dialogue tags and I decided to see what kind of tags I use the most. I also labeled two of Dave's writing group members' work for comparison. Such kind volunteers. 

What I did was that I went through and highlighted all tags a corresponding color to their location. For example:

  • Fore (green): Katie whispered, "Look! These numbers are crazy!" 
  • Mid (yellow): "Look!" Katie said. "These numbers are crazy!"
  • Back (red): "Look! These numbers are crazy!" Katie shouted.
  • Description (fore): Katie waved her arms. "Look! These numbers are crazy!"
  • Description (mid): "Look!" Katie slapped her hands on her desk. "These numbers are crazy!"
  • Description (back): "Look! These numbers are crazy!" Katie slumped onto her desk, exhausted. 

Then I added them all up and calculated the percentages (rounding up). 

I'd love to be able to do this with some of my favorite works and see how styles compare. Like, one of Dave's members had 68% of all of her tags as front description tags. 

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I find this very interesting. Another thing worth considering is how many said-bookisms one uses, like 'whispered' and 'shouted' instead of just saying 'said Katie'. That's one of Brandon's considerations, I seem to remember, the theory being that the word 'said' is invisible to the reader, so is often (usually?) better to use than an extravagant said-bookism.

Stephen King, being old school, espouses the prescriptions of Strunk's Element of Style, and would say exterminate all adverbs. I'm trying this in my writing at the moment, and it really does work, I think. I'm finding that few of the adverbs in dialogue attribution are really necessary. King's theory is that they are a clear sign of the author's lack of confidence that their writing is communicating what they are trying to. Are any of your sentence improved by adding an adverb?

  • Urgently, Katie whispered, "Look! These numbers are crazy!" 
  • "Look!" Katie said, suddenly. "These numbers are crazy!"
  • "Look! These numbers are crazy!" Katie shouted, angrily.

If Brandon's approach is taken:

  • Katie said, "Look! These numbers are crazy!" 
  • "Look!" said Katie. "These numbers are crazy!"
  • "Look! These numbers are crazy!" said Katie.

 

 

(p.s. I think your description total percentage is 44%.)

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