Friday Retweet Review

Posted by Alex on February 8, 2013

Here are a run down of the latest twitter retweets from the last week (or more considering I’m playing catch up this week).

 Get To Writing

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8Feb

A Proper Update: Site News

Posted by Alex on February 2, 2013

As I stated in my last post, I’ve been focusing a lot of writing recently. I have to be honest, it’s been an amazing experience. The novel idea I was working on that I had previously posted about on this site is on the back burner for now, though still on my mind at times. However, this new idea has started a fire in my brain that hasn’t been able to smothered. I’ve been writing as much as I can, while working full-time, but every day I find the time to sit down, I’m ineffably excited to continue.

Anyway, I didn’t want to write another long, convoluted entry like the one from yesterday, which took me all day. But I did want to put it out there that I’m going to be redesigning this blog soon. I’ve been completely disorganized, having the Hamface Publishing Facebook Page being one center of things, and then all my other project scattered about all hodge podge. The only consistent place I’ve been seen is Twitter.

So soon I’ll be consolidating everything onto this site. Facebook links, Twitter, Photography work, as well as my ill-fated, and under appreciated Lunchbox musical works.

 

Stay tuned folks, good things are coming.

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2Feb

Publishing vs. Self-Publishing Advice Overload: Everyone’s Got An Opinion

Posted by Alex on February 1, 2013

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post, I just wanted to say hello again. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything onto this blog, and my posts going forward will still be sporadic, but they will surely come in time.

I took a brief respite from writing for a while, and am now seriously working on another piece that has my motivation and excitement levels through the roof. At my current rate, I’ll be through my first draft in June, hopefully. But I’ve tried to stay away from blogging as it takes time away from getting work done on my book…more on that later.

Anyway, onwards!

 

While I haven’t been extremely productive posting blog entries here, I heavily lurk on my Twitter account (@hamfacepubl), reading articles people post, retweeting things I’ve found helpful, and responding to random tweets. Today, I read an article, posted by Victoria Strauss (@victoriastrauss), which lead us to have an interesting conversation regarding Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing.

Article: The Financial Realities of a Genre Novelist (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/the-financial-reality-of-a-genre-novelist_b64568)

While I understand the appeal of traditionally publishing, and it’s something I hope to eventually jump into, I plan on starting exclusively via the ebook medium, and transitioning into physically printed books later on on a more on-demand type format such as through Lulu. Personally, I find my business plan more in line with my personal goals as a writer, and what I think makes more logical sense.

Some authors/aspiring authors argue for the more traditional route as a primary means of publishing. That’s fine for their agenda. There are also those who would rather exclusively stay in the digital realm and forgo physical publication. To each his/her own.

However, what really irks me is the abundance of information out there for published and non-published authors, definitively stating that their way is the best way.

Each time I open up my twitter client and scan the posts my writing friends are tweeting about, I range from amazement to annoyance. Either I’ll read some insightful piece of advice that I’d hadn’t considered in this endeavor to write and publish, or I’ll read a slew of articles with conflicting information/advice/opinions, leaving me to wonder, how is someone suppose to process it all?

As I’ve stated, I already have my plan established which I’m going to enact at the end of a very long revision and editing process. From my experience, I have a relatively knowledgable background in business of many kinds, but especially in entertainment, being someone who had worked in the music business and studied it extensively.

But what about the random Joe who comes along with a passion for writing, wants to publish, but has no background in business what-so-ever? He might establish a network via a blog and/or Twitter and appeal for advice, as so many have before him. And in sifting through the massive amounts of blogs and articles on the subject, read a ton of contradictory information. He should only seek traditional publishing, he should only publish ebooks. He should blog, tweet, review, or just focus solely on writing. The combinations are endless. How should he choose a path, in the torrent of opinions out there?

Personally, I find the appeal of self-publishing ebooks fascinating and exciting. The similarities in the realm of publishing and the music business, in terms of its transition into the digital age, are strikingly eerie. Where you had Metallica initially refusing the change of times, denying their discography in a digital format for years, you also had people like JK Rowling who thought publishing should stay in the traditionally physical state, and only recently relented ,releasing the Harry Potter series electronically. The only difference is I noticed less resistance in the publishing world than in music, though it very well might’ve been there unbeknownst to me at the time.

As in the article posted above states, authors with a publishing deal, in regards to digital sales, only get a minute percentage of royalties, after recouping an advance given by the Publisher. This, again, mirrors what happens when someone is “lucky” enough to land a record deal. As the article goes on, author Mark Lawrence is quoted:

“I get 25% on ebook sales. But it’s 25% of what the publisher get, and on books selling for less than $2.99 the publisher gets 35% of the sale price rather than 70%. So I got 25% of 35% of $1.99 … which is 17 cents. So, if the book sold a thousand copies that day (it probably didn’t do that well, but that would be awesome) I made $170. Once I’ve paid 15% to my agent and 20% tax I’ll pocket just under 12 cents a copy or make $120 on the thousand copies sold.”

Arguably, without an agent and publisher nipping at each dollar you make, you potentially earn more per unit sold self-publishing. However, you now don’t have a big name publisher backing your work, giving it its literary street cred, as it were. With that, you also don’t have a marketing team promoting the book for you, or doing all the administrative tasks such as bookkeeping.

But still, it is feasible to make it without the back of a publisher. Look at Amanda Hocking. While I personally am not a fan of her genre of work, she’s gone on to make a good chunk of change in the self-publishing world without the backing, or profit-leeching of initially going the traditional route. Similarly in the music field, though he had enough money at the point of doing things himself, Trent Reznor went on to defy the labels and release his albums himself digitally, and went on to change the way artists view the business.

Given, I understand a case like Hocking is a chance occurrence in the eyes of most. Almost as much as the chances of a Canadian boy who makes YouTube videos landing a record deal, having an internationally renowned music career, and even have a fever named after him.

But in my eyes, being successful in self-publishing boils down to three things, and three things alone. Content, Professionalism, and Marketing. Content in you need to have a story concept that will hook readers, keep them entertained, and hopefully snag them into buying other works. Professionalism in being business savvy, have a solid business model to follow, properly follow standards and practice of the industry such as getting an outside editor and making sure your content is mint before release, and apply traditional business trends adapted to a new and thriving untraditional medium of digital content. And of course Marketing, being able to make people aware of your work, exploit it as diversely and uniquely as you can, and network as much as you can throughout the industry.

When you boil it down, self-publishing is like starting your own business. The success rate against the giant corporate tycoons are small, but it’s not an impossible task. In this instance, it’s not Walmarts and Targets you’re competing against, but other writers. So the more perfectly polished your product is, how you get the word out there professionally and consistently, and how you act/react to the market’s reaction to your work, can make it break an author. This I think is the key point in the self-publishing business. I’ve heard numerous stories of indie publishing authors who release works that are full of grammatical and spelling errors, respond to bad reviews by defending themselves and/or insulting consumers, or just don’t put enough leg work in marketing and give up by the huge task of letting people know your book(s) exists in the infinite sea of new releases.

As I told Victoria, I would rather make more money per unit sold self-publishing and sell less units, giving my all into my book, than sell 1000 copies with a publisher/agent and only make $120…after recouping the advance. At least I know I would have fully owned up to that money earned myself.

But that’s just my opinion. Someone else might enjoy making less money in the short term, with a reputable publisher behind them, and having less of a predominant role in marketing, than myself. With their kind of exposure, you very well might be able to make it to rockstar
levels like a music artist signed to a label, pushing your work on radio, TV, movies, etc. or a JK Rowling or GRRM literary equivalent.

The point is, everyone has an opinion, and everyone has different goals and means to get to those goals. There isn’t one clear path in this business to follow which equate to you becoming world renown, making millions of dollars, and living like a rockstar. Lets face it, any creative field where someone tries to make a full time career out of it, takes a lot of work, patience, and talent. A lot of people aspire to reach that level, but only some do. Is it because those that do had a luckier break than others? Perhaps. But I think it’s more about those 3 points that anyone should follow in anything they pursue in life, not just publishing or music.

 

As I was discussing the article with Victoria, she provided an article she had written regarding a study done on the financial success of those traditional writers compared to self-published authors. While I touched on some relevant topics above, I didn’t find a place that it would logically flow into mentioning in this article, so I’ll add it here as some additional reading.

Two Surveys by @victoriastrauss via Writer Beware (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2012/05/two-surveys.html?m=1)

 

EDIT: After posting this, I found yet another great interview related to this post. Check out the interview with Tucker Max regarding the future of publishing http://www.businessinsider.com/tucker-max-on-the-future-of-books-2013-1

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1Feb

June 4th Writing Links

Posted by Alex on June 4, 2011

Happy Saturday to all my friends and any new readers to this blog. We’ve made it through another week, but next week is right around the corner. Here are some interesting reads I’ve retweeted over the last week, all pertaining to writing and publishing. Enjoy!

 

eBook Publishing Tips by Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn): http://blog.liviablackburne.com/2011/05/ebook-publishing-tips-from-joanna-penn.html

Mundane: The Cure For Melodrama By Aimee Salter (@aimeelsalter): http://www.aimeelsalter.com/2011/05/mundane-melodrama.html

6 Minimal, Full Screen Writing Apps for Mac (@macappstorm): http://mac.appstorm.net/roundups/productivity-roundups/6-minimal-full-screen-writing-apps-for-mac/

6 Things To Consider When Creating Your Writing Environment (@novelpublicity): http://www.novelpublicity.com/2010/12/the-wordy-transition-creating-the-right-writing-environment/

A Few Good Quotes For Writers (@RachelleGardner): http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2011/05/few-good-quotes-for-writers.html

Archetype vs. Stereotype (@EnchantedInkpot): http://enchantedinkpot.livejournal.com/91935.html

10 Simple Ways to Double The Speed of Your Writing….Right Now (@WriteToDone): http://writetodone.com/2011/05/13/10-simple-ways-to-double-the-speed-of-your-writing-right-now/

Twitter For Writers: Powerful Tool or Evil Time Sucker? (@BiblioGeek): http://occupationwriter.wordpress.com/2011/05/28/twitter-for-writers-powerful-tool-or-evil-time-sucker/

Data Points For Predicting The Future of Publishing (@shaunfarrell): http://www.adventuresinscifipublishing.com/2011/05/data-points-for-predicting-the-future-of-publishing/

7 Ways To Turn Writer’s Envy Into Inspiration (@tglong): http://www.tglong.com/blog/2011/03/seven-ways-to-turn-writer%E2%80%99s-envy-into-inspiration/

Contract Red Flag: Net Profit Royalty Clause (@victoriastrauss): hTttp://accrispin.blogspot.com/2011/05/contract-red-flag-net-profit-royalties.html

7 Traffic Stats You Should Know About Your Blog Or Website (@tonyeldridge): http://blog.marketingtipsforauthors.com/2011/06/7-traffic-stats-you-should-know-about.html

‘The End’ is Nigh (@Lynn_Shepherd): http://www.tglong.com/blog/2011/05/%E2%80%98the-end%E2%80%99-is-nigh%E2%80%A6/

How To Become A More Self Disciplined Writer (@JodyHedlund): http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-to-become-more-self-disciplined.html

10 Ways To Write A Book Review and What To Do When The Book Sucks (@EmlynChand): http://www.novelpublicity.com/2011/06/10-ways-to-write-a-book-review-and-what-to-do-when-the-book-sucks/

Help, How Can I Write Authentic Dialogue (@novelpublicity): http://www.novelpublicity.com/2010/12/the-wordy-transition-crafting-authentic-dialogue/

Making The Most Of Criticism (@4KidLit): http://childrenspublishing.blogspot.com/2010/08/making-most-of-criticism.html

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4Jun

Challenge Accepted

Posted by Alex on June 3, 2011

Today I hit a milestone. Albeit, a small one, but as both a writer, and someone who has never completed a full book before, I have come to relish in the small victories as well as the big ones to come.

Today, I completed the outline to my novel.

It has been rough trying to flesh out enough of a story to really gauge if this novel would be worth pursuing. Sometimes my brain would be flying faster than I could write, other times my brain would sludge over and I’d have to fight for every inch of gained ground. Then of course there were times I had to reign myself in from throwing this project into the abyss of forgotten story ideas because I came up with the next best thing since sliced cheese.

Persistence won out, prologue, main story arc, and epilogue all complete.

This isn’t the first novel outline I’ve ever finished, but this is the first I’ve ever felt sure I could truly make into a novel.

And so I have but a few more details to hammer out, mainly in-depth primary and secondary character profiles before putting pen to paper, or rather, fingers to keyboard.

The failure of my previous attempt to finish writing a complete novel has been put aside. Unbridled enthusiasm and motivation have taken its place. I am ready for my next big adventure in starting my first draft.

As Barney Stinson from the hit show How I Met Your Mother is so fond of saying:

“Challenge Accepted!”

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3Jun

The Deep Seated Hunger For Brains

Posted by Alex on June 2, 2011

I’ve never been much of a chicken.

As a small kid my mom used to let me rent any horror flick I wanted from our local video rental store in the Bronx, and I would just laugh at them.

I’m still the same way, although I don’t bother watching horror films anymore.

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However, walking through this door always creeps me out.

This is the bathroom at my day job.

For some reason, whenever I walk in, and especially when no one else is in there, I’m always as jumpy as a little kid on a spook walk.

My reason? I’m constantly vigilant in preventing a zombie from shuffling out of a closed stall and jumping me while at the urinal, or while washing my hands.

20110602-042736.jpg

Of course, the stench of a rotting corpse would probably be the first indication of something amiss. For some reason, a 6’1″, solidly built grown man of almost 30 is afraid of his own shadow in the bathroom.

I know, pathetic.

But what if someone came in the office, infected with the first outbreak of a virus that reanimated the dead with the killer munchies? They sit down to take a dump, feeling increasingly worse, and then croaks on the toilet.

Enter the oblivious future author, and suddenly he’s gone from cubicle jockey to a gazelle in the sahara being stalked by a lion.

How freaked out would you be? Washing your hands and seeing that jackass who never refills the coffee after taking the last cup, all zombiefied, and coming to sample the delicacy hiding inside your skull?

I was similarly affected while reading World War Z by Max Brooks, and many other zombie books. I refuse to read any books involving hungry, hungry, zombies after the sun goes down. Having that idea lodged in your subconscious before going to bed never, ever ends well. Even walking outside at night or in your darkened house after indulging in this genre is nerve racking.

I think what freaks me out the most about said bathroom is the sterile whiteness. Every zombie movie from dawn of the genre’s popularity includes at least one scene with a sterile, white, closed in room with one entrance. It always looks safe, but then you turn a corner and see a streaked bloodied hand print, crimson and gleaming under florescent lighting, in stark contrast against the white wall. As you’re contemplating the horror of what you’re seeing, the greedy coffee guy stumbles out of a hidden nook, aiming to get at the candy center of your head.

Perhaps my imagination is just a tad untamed, but you always have to watch your corners. If you don’t, that one day of relaxed vigilance will cost you your head, and it’s delicious gray matter.

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2Jun

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Posted by Alex on June 2, 2011

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY

I have to agree completely with this quote.

Every single book that I call my favorite has immersed me so much that I felt part of the story. Immersed in that world. Made me elate with joy, even, dare I admit, cry during certain parts. Harry Potter’s last book takes me to tears every time I re-read it. The last couple of books, and really all, of the Eddings novels repeatedly keep me gasping back emotion while reading certain parts.

And these are the exact facts of why I love these books so much. My favorite books are the ones I connected with. Not some popular genre of the time, or some cheapened story. A plot line that was real enough to put me in the character’s shoes, to involve me in the drama of their story. To make me laugh and cry with them; to be astonished, and mesmerized by the same experiences they were having.

This is the blueprint for a great story. An epic. A fad. An epidemice.

The makings of a truly memorable piece of literature.

If people stopped worrying about creating the next masterpiece, and let their creativity and emotion lead them into greatness, we wouldn’t have so many imitation mediocre pieces of literature that exist and are selling at great quantities for lack of the better story.

We, as authors, must strive and persevere uninhibitedly at becoming this beacon of light to all authors to create a story so moving and compelling, that it becomes a legend of literature all by itself, without any preconceived notions about being epic from the get-go.

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Categories: writing
2Jun

What’s In A Name…

Posted by Alex on May 30, 2011

Naming your book, or book series, is very important business. Not only do you need a great title that you’re going to be happy with, one that will be attached to your story perpetually, but it also needs to be catchy. After all, a title is what will make or break your book.

I’ve noticed that this is particularly difficult within the fantasy genre, as so many potential titles can come off as so cliche or just straight up stupid. So I can honestly say, this is going to be quite a hurdle to cross. You need to have a title that, as well as defining your book, is marketable to the industry and to the demographic you’re selling to.

So here’s my question for all of you fellow authors.

 

At what point do you come up with a title for your book? Do you make that the first thing on your artinerary? Do you let it flow natrually throughout the course of writing your story? Do you wait for the end?

And what about working titles? Working titles are important, but how much do you really rely on them in terms of the interim of finding the definite name which will become your book title?

 

I ask because I have been wanting to write a bit on my blog and share with my friends on Twitter a little about the book I’m developing. I know how important this issue is and do not want to use my current working title, as it’s generally pretty bland. Since the only person who knows my working title at this point is myself, I don’t see it being too much of a problem. However, introducing my work to the world, I want to make sure my friends and readers will remember my book when it comes out, and not remember it by some lame working title that will disappear into antiquity once finding an official name.

 

Feel free to join in on the discussion on the comment section. Thank you in advanced for your input.

 

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30May

May 29th Writing Links

Posted by Alex on May 29, 2011

This is a first in what I’m hoping will become a series of posts, sharing links I’ve come across on Twitter and the internet that I hope will be a useful resource to theaspiring writer. I’ve found these articles both useful and interesting reads, I hope you find them so as well.

On Authors and how to take both good and bad reviews. From the blog of Anne Scott: http://editorannescott.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/reviews-again/

Creating Your Writing Platform by Stacey ONeale (@YAFantasyGuide). From the Young Adults Fantasy Guide: http://www.yafantasyguide.com/for-writers/creating-your-writing-platform.htm

9 Tips For Finishing That Novel from the blog of Anna Staniszewski (@annastanisz): http://www.annastan.com/2011/05/9-tips-for-finishing-that-novel/

The Self-Publishing Teeter Totter by Angela Scott (@whimsywriting): http://whimsywritingandreading.weebly.com/2/post/2011/05/the-blog-post-that-might-get-me-into-trouble-the-self-publishing-teeter-totter.html

The Real Skinny About Indie Publishing, an interview with Tracy Marchini (@TracyMarchini) from the blog of Nathan Bransford (@NathanBransford): http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/05/real-skinny-about-indie-publishing.html

7 Weekly Book Marketing Goals You Can Adopt Today by Tony Eldridge (@TonyEldridge): http://blog.marketingtipsforauthors.com/2011/05/7-weekly-book-marketing-goals-you-can.html

Amazon Book Sales Page Tips with Carolyn McCray from the blog of Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn): http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/05/15/amazon-book-sales-page-tips-with-carolyn-mccray/

5 Reasons For Writers To Belong To A Supportive Group by Terry Giuliano Long (@tglong): http://www.tglong.com/blog/?p=397

Writing 101: Bigger Than Big Is (3 Tips For Creating A Huge Fantasy World) from Paper Hangover  (@mlmjr1): http://paperhangover.blogspot.com/2011/03/writing-101-bigger-than-big-is.html

What If You Think You Might Be A Mediocre Fictional Writer from Advanced Fiction Writing: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2011/05/27/what-if-you-think-you-might-be-a-mediocre-fiction-writer/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

 

 

All of these links were re-tweeted at one point on our twitter account (@hamfacepubl). Please follow us if you’d like to get these articles as I re-tweet them. I will be trying to post another blog post of a consolidated list of links every week or two.

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29May

The Makings of a Great Fantasy Novel

Posted by Alex on May 27, 2011

First off, let me apologize to the people who have actually clicked on my blog and found nothing but my introduction. As these things go, I have been busy with life, and busy with writing. Since the inception of this blog I’ve actually come up with ideas for several different books, some of which are complete garbage, some I would like to revisit later down the line. But one has really stuck and is the one I’m currently writing (more on that later).

I recently befriended someone on Twitter who seemed to be interested in the same sort of creative ideas as myself, someone who was interested in writing epic fictional pieces. Immediately I asked him if he had ever read David and Leigh Eddings, which unsurprisingly he had not. After furiously spamming his twitter telling him why he should remedy this, I came up with the idea of writing this blog post.

Lucky you.

For those who are unfamiliar, I will give a brief summary before getting into the meat and potatoes of the post. The Belgariad (Part 1 and Part 2) and Malloreon (Part 1 and Part 2) series is a 10 book series, with two prequel books, and an additional book of all the extra background information which went into the development of the series. The last book is called The Rivan Codex.

In it is a treasure trove of information Eddings came up with in the 20 years he took to develop the entire series and world. Yes, 20 years.

I obviously don’t plan on waiting until I’m in my 50′s to finish my first book, however the principles are all great to keep in mind if you’re trying to emulate creating a world and piece of work as incredible as this series. What follows is a series of quotes from The Rivan Codex from David Eddings explaining his processes. I’ve found them quite useful in developing my own ideas.

“…The first decision the aspiring fantasist must make is theological. King Arthur and Charlemagne were Christians. Siegfried and Sigurd the Volsung were pagans. My personal view is that pagans write better stories.

… All right, then, for item number one, I chose paganism. (Note that Papa Tolkien, a devout Anglo-Catholic, took the same route.)

Item number two on our interim list is ‘The Quest’. If you don’t have a quest, you don’t have a story. The quest gives you an excuse to dash around and meet new people. Otherwise, you stay home and grow turnips or something.

Item number three is ‘The Magic Thingamajig’—The Holy Grail, the Ring of Power, the Magic Sword, the Sacred Book, or (surprise, surprise) THE JEWEL. Everybody knows where I came down on that one. The Magic Thingamajig is usually, though not always, the object of the quest.

Item four is ‘Our Hero’—Sir Galahad, Sir Gawaine, Sir Launcelot, or Sir Perceval. Galahad is saintly; Gawaine is loyal; Launcelot is the heavyweight champion of the world; and Perceval is dumb—at least right at first…

Item number five is the resident ‘Wizard’—Merlin, usually, or Gandalf—mighty, powerful, and mysterious….

Item six is our heroine—usually a wispy blonde girl who spends most of her time mooning around in a tower. I chose not to go that route, obviously…

Item seven is a villain with diabolical connections…

Item eight is the obligatory group of ‘companions’, that supporting cast of assorted muscular types from various cultures who handle most of the killing and mayhem until the hero grows up to the point where he can do his own violence on the bad guys.

Item nine is the group of ladies who are attached to the bully-boys in item eight. Each of these ladies also needs to be well-defined, with idiosyncrasies and passions of her own.

And finally we come to item ten. Those are the kings, queens, emperors, courtiers, bureaucrats, et al who are the governments of the kingdoms of the world. OK. End of list. If you’ve got those ten items, you’re on your way toward a contemporary fantasy. (You’re also on your way to a cast of thousands.) …”

Obviously this isn’t a universal outline for every fantasy book out there. Off the top of my head, my current project excludes points 1, 3, and 5. However, it is a good example of what to map out, how to flesh out your ideas, and how thoroughly to invest into your world. You are creating not just for yourself, but for your audience to become immersed in as well.

He goes on:

“I realized that since I’d created this world, I was going to have to populate it, and that meant that I’d have to create the assorted ‘ologies’ as well before I could even begin to put together an outline. The Rivan Codex was the result. I reasoned that each culture had to have a different class-structure, a different mythology, a different theology, different costumes, different forms of address, different national character, and even different coinage and slightly different weights and measures. I might never come right out and use them in the books, but they had to be there.”

I’ve found this extremely fun, though a bit time consuming. It is well worth the effort. Your world feels created in a less hodge podge fashion, and more like it has been established and running for ages before the reader cracks open page 1.

“The first thing a fantasist needs to do is to invent a world and draw a map. Do the map first. If you don’t, you’ll get lost, and picky readers with nothing better to do will gleefully point out your blunders. Then do your preliminary studies and character sketches in great detail…”

This is not usually the first thing I tend to do, albeit one of the first few things. In my current notebook for my story, the map was created on page 5, precisely.

“If something doesn’t work, dump it—even if it means that you have to rip up several hundred pages and a half-year’s work. More stories are ruined by the writer’s stubborn attachment to his own overwrought prose than by almost anything else. Let your stuff cool off for a month and then read it critically. Forget that you wrote it, and read it as if  you didn’t really like the guy who put it down in the first place. Then take a meat-axe to it. Let it cool down some more, and then read it again. If it still doesn’t work, get rid of it. Revision is the soul of good writing. It’s the story that counts, not your fondness for your own gushy prose. Accept your losses and move on. “

Some of the wisest words I’ve yet to hear about writing.

“One of the dangers of epic fantasy lies in its proclivity to wander off into the bushes. We have what appears to be the gabbiest of all possible fiction forms, but it requires iron discipline. The writer absolutely must stick to the story-line and deviate only when an idea or character will improve the overall product.

The above seems difficult to hold to, especially if you’re creating such an extensive world and history. However it is a must, otherwise your book will be chopped to pieces during editing.

“One of the items ticked off by Horace in his Ars Poetica was that an epic (or a drama) should begin in medias res, (in the middle of the story). Translation: ‘Start with a big bang to grab attention.’ Fantasists tend to ignore grandfather Horace’s advice and take the Bildungsroman approach instead. This German term can be translated as ‘Building (or growing up) romance’. (Note that most European languages don’t use the word ‘Novel’; they still call these things ‘romances’.) The ‘growing up’ approach is extremely practical for a fantasist, since all of our inventions have to be explained to our ‘dumb kid’ hero, and this is the easiest approach to exposition. ”

“Next, learn how to compress time gracefully. You can’t record your hero’s every breath. ‘Several days later it started to snow’ is good. It skips time and gives a weather report simultaneously. ‘The following spring’ isn’t bad. ‘Ten years later’ is OK if you’re not right in the middle of something important. ‘After several generations’ or ‘About the middle of the next century’ skip over big chunks of time. I’ve devised a personal approach which I call ‘authorial distance’. I use it to describe just how close I am to what’s happening. ‘Long distance’ is when I’m standing back quite a ways. ‘After Charlie got out of prison, he moved to Chicago and joined the Mafia’, suggests that I’m not standing in Charlie’s hip pocket. ‘Middle distance’, obviously, is closer. ‘The doors of Sing-Sing prison clanged shut behind Charlie, and a great wave of exultation ran through him. He was free!’ That’s sort of ‘middle’, wouldn’t you say? I refer to the last distance as ‘in your face’. ‘Charlie spit on the closing gate. “All right, you dirty rats, you’d better watch out now,” he muttered under his breath. “

Good advice for pieces that take the reader through extensive periods of time.

“I try, not always successfully, to keep chapters within certain parameters as to length—no less than fourteen pages, or more than twenty-two—in typescript. I try to maintain this particular length largely because I think that’s about the right length for a chapter. It feels right. Trust your gut-feel. Your guts know what they’re doing even if you don’t. “

And lastly:

But egomania is a requirement for any writer. You have to believe that you’re good and that people will want to read your stuff. Otherwise, you’ll give it up after your first rejection slip.

I hope you found this as entertaining as it was for me to read and reproduce for all you aspiring authors. These are words I am consistently challenging myself to live by while developing and writing, even if applying relevant parts to my work.

I also encourage any fans of fantasy epics to pick up this series by David and Leigh Eddings. Although the series is 10 books long in both parts (not including the prequels), I find myself re-reading them at least twice a year. I have yet to get to a point where I find myself tired of reading them. They truly are a masterpiece, and these quotes are a keen insight into the artist who molded it.

 

 

 

Please note I own none of the quoted materials. They are all property of David and Leigh Eddings (2007). The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of THE BELGARIAD and THE MALLOREON. Del Rey.

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Categories: writing
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27May