Blathering: Final Edits

I’m doing the last read-through of the novel before I send it off to the editor.

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This is a little nerve-wracking. I’m at the stage where I’ve read it so many times it’s starting to sound like crap. I’m forcing myself to keep going and look for the continuity errors I’m supposed to be checking for, but it’s hard to keep from trying to rewrite – or even to start the whole damn thing over again!

How do you keep from tossing the manuscript into the trash when you get to this point?

Tips and Tricks: Getting a Start

NaNoWriMo approaches, so here are some quick tips to get you started on those 50,000 words.

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  • Stretch your writing muscles: if you’re short of ideas, find one of those writing prompt websites (or my Twitter account) and start with some short bursts and flash fiction
  • Write down your observations: carry a notebook with you everywhere, and write down everything you observe. You’ll soon find an idea!
  • Find a time: figure out when you’re most creative, and try to write during that time.
  • Write every day: that works out to 1,667 words per day. Not even a short story. You can do it!
  • Don’t agonize over “getting it right”: just get the words down. Edit later.
  • Remember that writing is fun: just play around with words, without worrying so much about writing the “Great American Novel.”

How many of you are going to participate this year?

Blathering: Rejections

Just learned that the (small) publishing house I’ve had the anthology with is not picking up the rights for another year, due to poor sales.

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That smarts, I’ll admit. Even though I was secretly looking forward to the day I could cancel our contract and regain the rights to sell the book, I was thinking I’d be the one doing the canceling. This feels more like rejection.

On the plus side, this publisher is quite small, so they don’t have a good publicity budget (read: none!) and didn’t push the book like a bigger company was. Now, I can try to shop the thing around along with my novel, as in “If you like this, I’ve got an anthology with the same characters that I can regain the rights to….”

So … overall, probably a good thing, even though it’s going to mean the book won’t be in print after April, 2015 unless I can find a new publisher.

Any of you experience anything similar to this? How’d you handle it?

 

 

 

Finding Your Voice

Voice has been defined as a collection of devices used consistently to create the illusioin of a person speaking through the text. But how do you find your unique writer’s voice?

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Here are some of those devices you can utilize:

  • Level of diction – probably the first thing a reader notices. This is basically the educational level of the piece. You can write in high, medium, or low diction. Medium is normal speech, conversational language. Diction level helps the reader figure out if they’re going to understand the piece or not.
  • Formality of grammar and word usage – more formal can give you a sense of sophistication, but also of distance, which might not be what you’re after.
  • Sentence clarity and length - varying the length of your sentences can create spaces in the text. Readers are generally intimidated by a page full of long, complicated sentences. Clarity is also key, as your writing should be simple to understand (unless you’re going for that academic abstract or literary piece).
  • Verb usage – active verbs are graphic and specific, while passive verbs can dilute your voice. One oddity in American conversational speech, however, is that we use a lot of linking verbs (“to be”), which normally weaken the voice, but can create a conversational feel.
  • Repitition of words, phrases, or images - this can create meaning by tying things together for the reader, making them stick out in their memory. Don’t use repetition too much, however, or it becomes obvious.
  • Rhythm and flow – this is the beat of your language, how the words lead from one to another. Smooth rhythms create a sense of order and unity, while jerky rhythms make you sound disorganized and a little out of control.
  • References and imagery – referencing things outside of your story can create a sense of depth. You can also use certain groupings of images to create a “signature” in your voice.
  • Slang, dialect, and archaic language – slang can make your piece sound conversational, but jargon can create distance between you and your reader. Dialect can also distance you, as it is sometimes seen as a sign that you can’t speak the language properly.
  • Wit, humor, and enthusiasm - the sophistication of your humor can elevate or deflate your writing, but don’t make humor part of your voice unless it’s natural . Enthusiasm for your subject engages your readers.

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Blathering: Writing in the Middle of Nowhere

I feel a bit like I’m on Gilligan’s Island — we drove for 30 minutes once we left the main road before we even got to the beach part of the island, and the beach house has a TV that plays only sports, no internet at all except on your 4G devices, and only a minuscule grocery store stocked with staples.

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Of course, this means that I should be able to get the rest of the damn book finished, right? This is assuming I can avoid the rest of this crazy lot who want to spend their vacation driving around looking for Walmart and WiFi signals! I shall persevere, however, despite the slight discomfort of typing on an open deck in the dewy pre-dawn, with only the gnats for company.

I’ve seen a grand total of 4 people who are not in our party so far … I think we might just come back here next year.

Blathering: Gamers and Writers

So we’re off to the beach this weekend, the whole crazy lot of us. Of course, we’re taking our role playing game with us — which reminds me of the link between gamers and writers.

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Many writers find that they enjoy role-playing games. The concept is quite similar: invent an imaginary world, people it with characters, and run them into trouble. The only difference is that you’re using dice instead of just your mind (that’s the “game” part of the thing: the random factor).

I’ve actually used role-playing techniques to come up with ideas for stories or conflicts before. After all, if you’ve got the dice, why not use them, right? You can find almost anything online, too. Random town name generators, random map generators, random treasure generators … there are even random “monster” encounter generators. I’ve used all of the above when I need a good fight scene, or a McGuffin for the readers to worry about.

So, as I said, we’re going to be spending a good part of our vacation off in our own little world, making up stories. The only difference is that we’re not writing them down and trying to publish them.

Oh, and there’s no internet at the beach house, so I may or may not be able to keep up the daily short-shorts. There’s wifi at the local bookstore, though, so I’ll plan at least a couple of big posts on writing and what-have-you.

Do any of you play games? Which ones?