Wednesday, October 22, 2014
More things to consider when writing a series and there are many. This book is a trove of good information gathered together by Karen Wiesner.
Promises. When writing a series a writer should keep the promises to the reader. Leaving things dangling can draw a reader to select the next book in the series but leaving too many of these threads dangling can really upset readers. Proposing a single question that is the main one can carry over but all those little questions can be solved book by book and new ones created.
Killing Characters - Unless you have a good reason, don't kill one of the main characters in a series. The reader will become upset since they have invested a lot in said character. Sherlock Holmes was killed off in that series but he miraculously returned to be in other stories. If you're going to kill off a character during the course of a series establish this character and show the potential for death during one or more of the stories. Of course in the end, killing the villain or villainess is fine and can make a grand ending to a story.
Turning the Bad Guy into a Good Guy. - This can trouble a reader, especially if they really hated the bad guy. There are ways to do this if you really want to make this change. Showing a bit of what makes him the bad guy in the story and you have already given him or her a reason to change. In The Amber Chronicles, Emme starts out as the bad one and immediately you hear why she is being sent away for she has lessons to learn about love. In the end she is redeemed but her road to growth becomes a quest for her. I have a villain from a story I would like to redeem, if I ever find time to plot the story out.
Preparing For The next Book. A series needs more than one book and two doesn't do it. Three or more books are needed and when you're nearing the end of book one, two, or more you need to plant the seeds for the next book. This can be done in many ways but needs to be done. In one series, the chance for the trilogy is set up by mentioning the two gods and one goddess of the ancient Egypt I've created. This means there will be three possible stories. Bast's Warrior, Horu's Chosen and Toth's Priest. Some of the characters who will be in the other books are either present in some way in the other books. The preparation for the next book should be somehow made clear in the current one.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
When you sit down to write, you need to have a goal. I do remember those days when I began and my writing was sporadic. I sat with pen in hand or in front of the typewriter and stared at the blank page waiting for the inspiration. Needless to say very little words ever reached the page. I was waiting for the Muse, something other writers said they had. Reading books on writing, I searched for ways to find this muse. Never found her or him. What I found was the words were inside myself waiting for me to find a plot, a character, a need to tell a story. What I also learned was to do this I couldn't stare at the blank pages, I had to set goals.
Goals in my book seemed to be the number or words I wrote each day. I set my goal as one I thought I could accomplish. An organization I belong to has set this goal so low it's ridiculous. 18 words a day for 365 days and one has 6667 words at the end of the year. My goal was one I believed I could reach. One page a day. At the end of this time I would have 365 pages of a story. There are books this long but not that many these days. I wasn't writing War and Peace or some other time. I was looking in the 50,000 to 80,000 word book. In those days publishers looked at page count, not word count. Times have changed and so have my writing stints. I'm no longer satisfied with 250 words a day or one page.
My writing goals gradually increased and I learned something else. Those words you first put on paper had to be revised. No one writes the perfect story on the first draft. Maybe you could if you followed the 18 words a day but I know I would be bored with the story before I reached the three year goal of 20,000 words and had a novella. Now I have two goals and they alternate. Being a draft writer, when I begin a story I do a rough work that is little more than a plot outline with characters and all their quirks thrown in and scenes that may have one or ten words. When I reach the end I'll have a kind of outline and the words will be a mess with plot holes beyond plot holes. This is written at 1000 words a day. When I'll be away, I write ahead. I also don't stop when the 1000 words for the day end and I'm still going hot. The other goal is during re-writing that means 2000 words a day and when revising I do 3000 to 4000 words a day.
The real thing here is to set yourself an obtainable goal and write every day or if this can't be done, write ahead. And remember the muse for writing in yourself and your own determination.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Meander 1 - I'm going to make some people angry with what I'm about to say but something in the new stuff from RWA (Romance Writers of America) really got to me. It's about what's considered a professional writer. When I heard 20,000 words, I thought every year this is a good place to start. But I was wrong. A writer to consider themself a professional writer it's 20,000 words in 3 (three Years) Excuse me. Being someone whose goal is 1000 words a day if the material is new and 3000 to 4000 thousand words a day when revising I had to look at what this means and how many words this will be written yearly, monthly, weekly and daily. Pulling out my trusty calculator I began.
20,000 words in 3 years comes down to 6667 words a year. How many people can meet this qualification. Probably most of them. Then we come down to the monthly quota. By dividing the 6667 by 12 the total becomes 556 every month. Again, if not paralyzed anyone can hit that quota unless they have no hands but then they could dictate the words to one of those voice programs. The total shrinks if one goes to the weekly amount. Taking the yearly total and dividing it by 52 and the writer only has to write 128 words every week. Hard to reach. I don't think so, Now we come to the daily total needed. Divide 6667 by 365, ignoring leap year since that will make the total less. The answer is 18. Eighteen words a day makes one a professional writer? I don't think so.
Even if a person wrote 100 words a day, all of them new they would come up with 36500 words and be at least half way to writing a 73000 word book. Add another and the book could be over a hundred thousand words/
I like the idea that qualifying as a writer is not based on money earned every year. I have books released in 1998 that are still earning a decent amount of money every year. So moving money from the decision to call a writer a writer is good but dumbing down the number of words written every day is ridiculous. To me 20,000 words a year is the way to determine who is and who isn't a writer determined to become published. Though there are other issues brought up about a tiered group and who can vote and hold offices. So I leave this wrod of advice. To be considered a professional in the world I'm speaking about just keep track of those 18 new words you write every day.
Meander 2 - The New Jersey Romance Writer's conference was really great. The speakers were inspirational and the workshops were fun. Meeting other writers and people who want to become writers was great.
Meander 3 - Came home from the conference. Arrived around 11 AM. After unfreezing my brain from being over stimulated by great conversation, I sat down and wrote my 1000 words for the day and also managed to revise about the same number of words along with making dinner, watching television from 9 PM to !! Pm and realizing if I was aiming for 18 words a day I wouldn't have to write for 56 days. Write on.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Horu's Chosen (An Alternate Egypt Book 2)
It's here today. The second book of the alternate ancient Egypt fantasy is here as of today
Seth, an undercover cop has been betrayed by his handler. To escape he calls a number on a flyer and is transported to an ancient Egypt he doesn’t understand. He must rescue the Daughter from the evil priests of Aken Re. Merin is the Daughter....
A low voice whispered in his ear. Seth struggled to makes sense of the words. At first the rhythm and pattern of the sounds seemed wrong. Finally as though a key clicked open a lock in his head the words made sense.
“You are Horu’s
Chosen. His temple has
been corrupted by worshippers of a god alien to the Two Lands.”
Seth struggled to sit up. What was going on?
“You are here to rescue the Daughter and find the jewelry given to the first queen by the goddess and two gods.”
What the hell? Was he trapped in a dream where a disembodied voice spoke?
“Failure can bring death or slavery. During the days spent together you must remain apart from the Daughter. A hawk will come. A hawk will help.”
Weird. Seth stretched his hand in an attempt to grab the speaker and demand an explanation. No one was there. His hand dropped. He winced when it rapped a hard surface. Cautiously he opened his eyes to study his surroundings. Nothing seemed familiar. He squeezed his eyelids tight. Where was he?
A second glance added to the confusion. Was he trapped in a drug-induced dream? How could that be? He didn’t do drugs. He ran his hands along his body. All the parts were there but he was naked. He frowned. Sleeping in clothes was a habit. Being prepared for a quick escape was essential.
Strange aromas increased his puzzlement. He turned on his side and saw a row of naked men. Seth pushed into a sitting position. Nothing changed. He tamped a gush of panic. There must be an explanation.
Slowly memories rose. Disjointed like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Betrayal. The center. A flyer. Amara. Tira. Father Joe. Ramos. Coffee shop. Brownstone. Bob Tolena. Horoscope. Leo. Pieces clicked together. Seth remembered who he was and what had happened until the moment the wheel turned. Had he really entered another time and place?
“Will you go?”
“You will be given a task.”
Failure could mean death."
His breath escaped in a rush. Whatever the women had done, he was here. Who was Horu? Who was the Daughter? Where was he?
He rose. There were no windows, only narrow openings high on the walls. A curtain of strings with beads, shells and stones hung in the doorway. No chance of sneaking out unnoticed. If he could leave here he had no idea where he’d landed. He had to draw on his undercover skills and play the situation cautiously.
The curtain jangled. Three men entered. One wore a red robe. A short obese man with a metal collar carried a flail. The third, a muscular man, had a knife sheathed on his belt. Must be a guard.
The guard and the fat man were bald. The other man’s straight dark hair was cut to shoulder length.
Seth touched his head and exhaled. Hair remained long but tangled.
Seth’s mouth gaped. He understood but the words were in no language he recognized. This meant he’d been displaced in time and place.
Seth looked for clothes and saw none. He followed the other men from the room into a stone-paved courtyard. The walls looked like unpainted adobe.
A woman pointed to some kind of paste in a pottery jar. Her appraisal of his body made him want to turn his back. When the other men smeared this over their bodies, Seth did the same.
Leather buckets of water were poured over his head and flowed over his body. Seth caught a cloth and scrubbed including his head. After a second dousing, towels of thin material unlike the terry ones he used at home were provided. With water dripping from his hair Seth lined with the other men to receive a long strip of cloth. He watched the way the other men wrapped the linen into a loin cloth. He imitated the process.
A chunk of bread spread with cheese and topped with a thick slice of onion and a mug of liquid constituted breakfast. He ate the bread and washed it down with warm beer. His nose wrinkled. Sure would have liked an iced cold brew but a steaming cup of coffee would have been better.
“Come,” the fat man said.
Seth glanced at his companions. “Where are we going?”
“To the market square where we’ll be sold. You’re new. When did you arrive?”
And a stranger, Seth thought. “During the night. Don’t remember much until I woke.” His hands curled into fists. He hadn’t been warned about slavery. How long must he continue to stay one? He had his orders. He had to find the Daughter.
A frown wrinkled his brow. At home he’d been a slave to duty. Was his predicament any different here? Until he had more information he would continue where he’d been dumped. Definitely an interesting introduction to this strange world.
He marched with the other men to the market square. Seth stared at the booths and the people. Heaps of onions and melons waited to be purchased. Tantalizing aromas of cooking meats made his gut rumble. The line of men reached a clear space. He was directed to stand on a low platform. The morning sun made him sweat.
He turned to the man he’d spoken to before. “Don’t they feed us more than that small bite?”
“If you aren’t purchased by midday, you’ll return to the compound for cooked lentils and barley bread.”
Seth made a face. What he wanted was two eggs over easy, sausage and pancakes with a carafe of coffee. Wistful thinking. Good thing hunger whetted the appetite. “To drink.”
“Sweet water or beer.”
Seth’s shoulders slumped. The guard rapped his back. “Stand straight.” He pointed to the obese man. “He can order a flailing.”
With a nod Seth came to attention. Across the square he saw a young man and another of those red robes approaching. The obese man bowed to them. After a conversation with the fat man the pair strode along the line. He pointed to Seth and three others. A dialogue with the slave seller began. Money exchanged hands.
“You a fighter?” the young man asked Seth.
He shrugged. What did he know about the weapons of this land? “Unarmed combat. Can use a knife and can learn others.” He figured being a fighter would be better than doing some kind of slave labor. He thought of the documentaries he’d seen showing men pulling large block of stone to build pyramids.
“Mace, bow, spear?”
Seth closed his eyes. “Probably a mace and a spear. I’ve never shot a bow.”
The young man touched Seth’s arm. “Head shaved or a braid.”
“A warrior’s choice.”
Before long Seth and the three others were bound in a line and ordered to follow the palanquin bearing the priest and the young man. They trudged along a narrow road of hard packed earth. In the distance, Seth saw a wall.
“The one wearing the red robe, who is he?” Seth asked one of his fellows.
“A priest of Aken Re.”
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
There are many tips in the book Writing The Fiction Series by Karen Wiesner. If you're contemplating writing a series, here are a few tips.
Set Your Own Ground Rules for the series. A very important thing to do. The series are yours and though there may be other series or stories that use some of the same elements, the series is yours. There may be many vampires in stories but your vampires may have traits and be able to do things other vampires may not. Your shape shifters may be different also. So set your rules and abide to them.
Think Big - If you envision a lengthy series make sure there's room for the short story or the novella or for a change in characters. The world you create can be large enough to show off many stories.
Twists - Both characters and stories can have twists that will carry the stories further. Without these twists, the stories could become clone stories and the reader will lose interest in reading more and more.
Up the Ante - As each story in the series continues. Give the Hero, heroine, villain a bigger reason to want to win. This will add to the tension. In my YA series, the first book shows the characters trying to fine a safe place where they can learn. When they are forced to flee again they have more concerns for the second book means they must find a way to rescue friends from evil. Moving to the third story they must find the necessary items so they can defeat the evil ones. The fourth book is the do or die story. They will either win or lose and the villains bring out the big guns.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
While looking for an inspirational quote I was re-reading some essays from a number of writers and came across this one by Isaac Asimov. He was always one of my favorite science fiction writers and read most of his stories. He wrote not only science fiction but books in other genres and also he wrote long and short.
"Being prolific means you have to write quickly, and without much concern as to what improvements you might introduce if you took enough time." What he's saying here is that writing quickly and becoming a prolific writer means you don't really care about what might improve your story. There are ways you could make this happen and perhaps write an interesting story, one readers may enjoy.
To do this you must have a master plan, one where the same things happen on the same pages of your story. You sort of cookie cut and yes, you can have many books out in a fairly short time. The trick here is to make each story seem fresh and new so the reader doesn't suddenly think all the stories are the same.
Another thing is to decide on the length. Writing shorter stories means it takes less time to write the story. This usually happens but for some writers writing short takes as long as writing long does.
I've been accused of being a prolific writer but there are some writers who have surpassed me in a much shorter time. Though there was ten years when I didn't write I've been published since 1968 and have produced about 45 to 50 books. I've lost count and I don't keep track. But some of these are short and some are long. So that's one a year. I've a friend who has written more than that and she's much longer.
Being prolific isn't the goal being a good writer is so choose your pace and write. You may not be prolific but you will be a author.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Meander 1 -Sleeping in certainly throws off a person's schedule. That's what happened to me today and makes thinking in the morning quite difficult. Am reading for a contest now and I do hope the entries are better than the first one I read. I also need to order some things and use the phone for that. Business cards, and other things are needed. Must get my act together soon.
Meander 2 - There will be no blog posts here on Friday or Saturday since I will be going to a conference and have yet to figure how to have things appear as scheduled. There are times when I'm not the greatest at doing computer things but I do persist.
Meander 3 - Finally figured out the title for the re-written novels into more of a novel length. Will be called Pursuing Michael West MD. The story is a funny one and hopefully I'll manage to do the four new scenes and seen if there are other small ones to work. Am doing the first re-write now up to the last chapter. It's funny to see how many of those beginner's mistakes I made during the first version of the story but they're being cleaned up. Passive voice, addressing the characters by name when there are only two people in the scene. Amazingly there is a fair amount of setting there which is one thing I've always had trouble fitting in.