Your Opinion on a New Beginning

Wow, it’s been awhile since I posted. Sorry about that. Life turned a bit more topsy turvy this past month.

The good news is, I’ve had agent interest that’s spurred me to pull one more beginning out of the hat. I didn’t believe there WAS one more opening I hadn’t already tried, but there ya go. Not only did I write it, it’s been voted best yet by those in the know.

The new beginning isn’t the only change. I’ve cut over 100 pages from the ms since Tuesday night. My critique group’s so awesome they were able to find the fat from looking at a synopsis. You guys are the best!!

So if you’re interested, the new beginning’s at blogging friend Adam Heine’s blog this week and he’s giving away freebies to lucky winners. ;D There have been some awesome suggestions so far and I’d love to know, what do you think?

 

Bradbury’s Memorial Anthology

“Science fiction is the art of the possible, not the art of the impossible. As soon as you deal with things that can’t happen, you are writing fantasy.” – Ray Bradbury

Yup, you knew someone would do this.

Many thanks to Lisha Cauthen, who sent me the following information:

STONETHREAD FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY CONTEST
http://stonethreadpublishing.com/contests/

NO ENTRY FEE
We’re seeking fantasy and sociological science fiction short
stories to create an anthology in Ray Bradbury’s honor.
Deadline July 31, 2012. Previously unpublished fantasy or
sociological SF only. 1,500 to 15,000 words. All winning
entries will be included in the StoneThread anthology.
Winners will receive a free copy of the anthology, plus

First Place: $50
Second through Sixth: $20
Honorable Mentions: $10

I did go to their website and ironically, I don’t think my story about Bradbury fits what they want.  They’re using the above quote by Bradbury  to define what they’re looking for and my story doesn’t fit either mold, but seems to be straight forward fiction for once.  That said, I do have a short I’ll send and it was inspired by Bradbury, so it’s still suitable on many fronts.

What about you? Got submission?

Rest In Peace, My Mentor

Before you ask, no, I never met Ray Bradbury.

How I wanted to. I dreamed I did once, years ago. I dreamed I met him and inadvertently caused his death. I woke up in tears, so upset I rewrote my dream as a short story and made sure there was some sort of survival for Ray. Knowing no one gets out alive. Yeah, I have a death obsession. Yeah, I’m also a Bradbury fan girl.

Always will be, Ray, but damn, I wish I could have told you that.

What’s Your Brand? – DFW Question For You

What are you passionate about? What gets you angry, excited or riled?

These are more my questions than what Kristen Lamb, the speaker at DFW asked, but they are pertinent to her talk on Understanding Your Brand. I have to confess, I wouldn’t have attended her talk if I’d understood better what it was about, but I’m glad I did. It will change how I blog from now on.

For this post, I wanted to share some quotes from Kristen: “Within five years, all authors will have to do some self-publishing.” That scares some of us, so get accustomed to the idea now.

On discussing how to reach people via social media: “The people you want to reach are those people who don’t believe they like to read. You convince them that you’re worth following, they’ll spread the word to 75% of the population that don’t read.

“Your name is your brand. Be you while your’e blogging. What is it you want people to feel?” Because of this comment/workshop, I’ll post more side topic posts that I’ve usually avoided. Know why? Because I thought those issues were things peculiar to my interest. Duh. They’re the things I’m passionate about. The things I feel about and can therefore get others passionate about. Or at least find those who are passionate about them. (One friend of mine who does this well is Janet Sumner Johnson and ironically enough, is posting on this topic today, too. She does a lot of posts about private license plates and their meanings.  They’re hysterically funny. Do they have anything to do with her books? Not that I can see, but they’re all her and she’s got tons of people reading.)

So yes, I’ll do writing posts because writing is something I’m passionate about – but I’ll do less of them because I’m preaching to the choir. Many of you all already write.

I’ll be posting more about fantasy and what makes a work of fiction fantasy. I’ll probably talk some about adoption. What about you? What are your passions? I’ll share my issues if you share yours. 😀

Understanding Your Style – From Leeanne Harris and DFW


There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” 
― W. Somerset Maugham


I promised you the low down on the various talks I attended, so here was the first one: “Understanding Your Style” by Leeanne Harris,

For those of us who struggle with how to put together a plot, this one can be a real eye-opener. You’ll notice my quote from Maugham at the top of this post. It’s there to underscore the truth of Leeanne’s talk. Her whole point was, there’s a range of plotting styles you can use that are perfectly legit. For those of you struggling with outlines that kill your story, don’t fret. For those of you accustomed to pantsing your way through a novel, this might help you, too.

There are a spectrum of plotting styles. (I tried to input a diagram, but I’m still learning WordPress and it doesn’t like me right now.) There’s the Linear plotter who knows the inside and outside of each character and plot point before ever sitting down to write a word. This kind of writer will frequently write a synopsis and not vary from it at all.

Advantages to this kind of plotting include:

  1. It’s faster. Fiewer plot holes to fill in.
  2. In general, these people can churn out more books than pantsers.
  3. Having an accurate synopsis to hand into the editor/publisher means they can take that puppy to the marketing (read: bank) personnel and sell the book on synopsis spec.

Disadvantages: 1. The author knows what’s going to happen and can get bored. As a middle-of-the-road pantser, I can tell you my characters want to tell me who they are and what they believe. If I don’t let them, they’ll go out on strike and I have no book. This is why I say a linear writer might find this post helpful. If you’re bored or blocked on your book, change things up. *Gasp* Cut loose and do a scene in the middle of your book, or write what author Holly Lisle refers to as a candy bar scene: that battle or sex bit you’ve looked forward to writing since you came up with the idea. Then go on from there or write other scenes. Your linear style may have stymied you, so go around that block. The outline is there to help you. If it’s not helping, it’s time to move to a different point on the plotting continuum.

You can therefore guess the pros and cons of the Pantser or Big Picture life.

Pros:

  1. The characters can come out much more lifelike, original and unplanned because they were.
  2. These stories are driven by a whole lot of passion and that gets transferred.

Cons

  1. Filling in holes, adding chapters, characters, scenes and what have you.
  2. You will need an understanding editor, agent, publisher and marketing team. They will want to try and sell your story based on your synopsis, but they’ll do it knowing the pantser’s synopsis and story may bare no resemblance to one another.

Linear writers feel out characters and write a synopsis. Everything is written in order.

Big picture authors write scenes as they pop into the writer’s head and can be moved at the writer’s whim. These people sometimes don’t write any sort of outline until events are about half done or even until they’re on the second draft and they have a clear notion of what the book’s really about. Big picture authors will leave notes or brackets to themselves to delineate scenes that still need to be written. (I do all of that, but I also I like to number my chapters as individual files. I had saved my first book as a huge file on my computer and the file became corrupted. TRAGICALLY, that means that file is no longer accessible and the world will never know what an enormous piece of trash that book was. I can tell you, though, this taught me to save my next book in small pieces: 1.5, 2, 2.5. Then if I need to switch a chapter, I change the name to 1.2 so it still fits numerically.)

Now we’ve all heard of plot and character driven plots, right? Did you know there’s a third type?

In a plot driven story, the situation occurs and the characters required by that situation present themselves:

  1. What women want.
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean
  3. Die Hard
  4. Belgariad, LOTR (and a whole host of fantasy)

In character-driven plots, the character dominates and drives everything – so much so that the story is even sometimes named after them:

  1. Sherlock Holmes
  2. James Bond
  3. Castle (T.V. Series)
  4. MacGyver

And then there are Theme-driven stories (I’d never heard of this category, but it makes sense to me.) In Theme-driven stories, the author gives the character a challenge and gives them a chance to solve the problem.

  1. Pride and Prejudice (and most of Austin’s books are about Pursuit of Love)
  2. Rob Roy (Honor)
  3. Braveheart (Pursuit of Freedom)
  4. Princess Bride (Pursuit of True Love)

Lastly, Leeanne talked about how plots come to authors. Characters can occur first, then you come up with a plot for that person to face. It seems to me that method makes the most sense with Theme-driven and Character-driven stories. Then you can build the story around that character. You can also find a situation and fit it with appropriate characters. This is ideal for Plot-driven tales.

Most of all, I want to reiterate Mr. Maugham’s statement. There is no correct way to do our job, folks. The only thing I know of that you must do as an author is write, so return to your word processors or note pads and do it, but let me know if this helps. I’d love to know how you approach this part of story-telling.