Monday, January 27, 2014

Which came first? Plot or character?

This isn't really a chicken and egg kind of scenario. But the trick is to make it seem like one. It's to enmesh plot and character so tightly together that you can't conceive of one without the other. 

source


Some writers are plot-focused. The characters are vehicles they use to drive that plot. 

Some are character-focused. The plot drives the characters. 

But in both scenarios, both the characters and the plot are moving together. 

I come up with characters first, and build my plots around them. Mostly, at least. Lately I've been playing with plot and creating characters to suit it. It's a strange shift in thinking after all this time, but ultimately it's only one of those things that other writers care about, not readers. 

As long as both the plot and the characters are strong, and as long as you can't have one without the other, you're doing it right. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reading a Book

In the interests of brevity, since I'm away from the computer for a while again, has everyone seen this? 

Hilarious. 




Sunday, January 19, 2014

Focus

I think I have Writer ADD. Is that a thing? You know, when you start a project, then get distracted by a shiny new idea, and throw over your old one for that because it seems so much more fun, only to do exactly the same thing in a day or a week or a month? 

Yeah, whatever that's called, I've got that. 

If a story gets too hard, or I reach the point when it just isn't fun anymore, I stop. At least, I did stop. Now I'm supposed to keep going, however rough it gets because I have a deadline. 

Having a deadline for an unwritten story was no big deal at first. Pfft. That's like three months away, and it's only a novella. I'll totally get around to it as soon as I finish these shiny things. 



What? What do you mean it's Christmas? Let me just check my little planning chart here*. Ah. I see I should have had it plotted by now. Well, that's okay, that won't take long. Just because I'm not putting it down on paper doesn't mean I'm not thinking about the plot in my head. Sometimes. Oh, presents! 

It's January the what now? No, that can't be right. I will work on the novella for four hours a day until I've turned out a first draft. 

Maybe two hours a day. 

At least one.

Well today doesn't count, obviously. Today I had to take a nap. 

The nineteenth of January, you say? Wasn't Christmas only last week? Oh, I see. 

Okay, so that deadline is now looking a little deadlier. It's due on February the 15th, and I've scraped together 9000 words of the 30000 or so that I need. And I know I can do it if I just FOCUS. 

Sigh. 

You know what really drives me insane? Three days ago my co-author and I started this fun thing just for the hell of it, and it's already over 15000 words long. If I was writing this with her, I'd have it done by the middle of the week. 

Come on, Jen. 

Focus. 

*** 


*You guys, I made a planner and everything! It's not that I'm organised or anything, but I think I could pass for an organised person if someone saw my desk. This is actually a big step for me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Unexpected hiatus

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! I'm blogging on a borrowed computer because mine died. 

Right in the middle of that writing frenzy I totally would have been having if it hadn't died... 

No, really, I would have knocked those deadlines out of the park. 

If I could replace my dead computer with any computer in the world i would pick this one, but that's not going to happen. I sense just by looking at it that I can't afford it.  

Source: CNET
And it totally could have been worse. I actually had stuff backed up. 

You guys, back your stuff up! 

See you soon :) 



Monday, January 6, 2014

Editing vs Procrastinating


I discovered this file on my computer today. Looks like I wrote it a few months ago. Also looks like I forgot to post it. Procrastination FTW! 


Okay, I like editing. I promise, I do. Its that painful but necessary stage where a file on a computer turns into a real actual book. But I have no editing tips to share. Instead I have a list of things you can do to avoid editing. 

1. Work shifts. That way, when you finish on Friday morning at 6 a.m., and are expected to start work again on Monday morning, with only a few misplaced kindy naps and midnight episodes of 30 Rock, you can so completely destroy your sleeping patterns that you'll look back and realise you did nothing with your weekend. For example, as I write this, I'm still in the pyjamas I put on over 24 hours ago. 

2. Get hungry at 3 a.m. This may lead to a trip to the Night Owl, and a lengthy conversation with the guy on the counter about what movies he's seen lately. 

3. Sleep through your alarm. You know what, don't even bother set it. It's pointless. 

4. Get distracted by a shiny new project. Read through your notes of that shiny new project later, and realise it's crap. Save it anyway. You never know. 

5. Reply to message from old school friends on Facebook, secretly wondering why, all these years later, we're supposed to be all friendly and adult, and not remember the times they were total bitches to you just because you were the new kid. Plot elaborate revenge plans in your head. 

6. Nap. A lot. Stay up all night planning to edit, but mostly just downloading songs you think you liked once for a week back in the nineties, and then nap during the day. 

7. Read the editorial notes from your editor. Highlight what appear to be relevant passages. There, you opened the document and made some of it bright yellow. Let's call that a job well done, and have another nap. 

8. Rediscover alcohol. 

9. Spring cleaning. Only recommended for dire emergencies, when no other job is big enough to keep you away from what you're supposed to be doing. 

So what did you do this weekend? 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

To self publish, or not to self publish.

I don't know much about self publishing. It looks great on paper, for two main reasons: 

1. Control. 

2. Royalties. 

And yet, it's not something that I would be confident doing. Not yet, at least. Because there are advantages to traditional publication that I'm not ready to let go of yet. 



1. Editing. Rather than chasing down my own editor and worrying about paying him/her, this is something that the publisher takes care of for me. 

2. Cover art. It might not seem like a lot to those people out there who know how to make covers, but let's just say I've played around with this and... just no. You know that cover you see on Amazon that looks like it was made in thirty seconds in Word? Yeah, that one looks professional next to my efforts. 

3. Marketing. Marketing is weird and I hate it. Some authors complain that publishers don't put much effort into marketing. And they probably don't. But they put more effort into it than me. Look, I could go tweeting and blogging until I'm blue in the face, but you know what actually sells most books? That email from the publisher announcing this week's releases. 

I may self publish in the future. Most writers I speak to are considering a combination of both self publishing and traditional publishing. And that's cool. We're talking romance, where there's a massive market, but also a fast turnover in books. Got a bestseller on Amazon? Blink and you'll miss it. You're new at this game until you've got at least ten books behind you.

Yes, if you self publish you are in control. This means in control of everything, including all that pesky damn formatting that has to be exactly right. This means that you get to pick your own cover, or, rather, you get to track down a cover artist yourself, and sign your own contract with them. The same goes for your editor. And of course you have to pay these people before your book is even earning you any money at all. 

Which brings me to the royalties. Yes, it looks great when you realise that there's no publisher taking most of the money for this book. But from the people I've spoken to who have self-published, you earn every extra damn cent with blood, sweat and tears. And guess what? There are hundreds of self published books put on Amazon every day. Is yours going to stand out? It may be brilliant. It may be the best book ever written in the history of the universe. But will anyone find it? You need to make sure they will, because remember you've already spent money on an editor and a cover artist and that person who did the formatting. 

For every Overnight Millionaire story about a self published author, there are hundreds of others that don't make the headlines. They probably worked just as hard. Their stories are probably just as good. But somehow, things didn't turn out the same. 

I don't want to rain on any parade's here. Self publishing might be perfect for you. Just don't mistake it as an easier option to traditional publishing. 

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