Thursday, April 12, 2012

Taking a Leave of Absence

I will be away for a couple of weeks. Please feel free to browse through the older posts. I beg your pardon for the interruption. Here's hoping all of you have a lot of inspiration in writing. Thanks for being a regular reader of Yesternight's Voyage.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fun Ideas and Tips #9: Using the Ending to Create the Beginning

A couple of people hit me with a new concept this past week. This first comes from James V. Smith Jr. in his Writer's Digest article on The Dos and Don'ts of Novel Endings. He has lots of great advice on creating a good ending for a novel but the one point that jumped out at me was this: "Do Mirror your final words to events in your opener. When you begin a journey of writing a novel, already having established a destination, it’s much easier to make calculated detours, twists and turns in your storytelling tactics. When you reach the ending, go back to ensure some element in each of your complications will point to it. It’s the tie-back tactic. You don’t have to telegraph the finish. Merely create a feeling that the final words hearken to an earlier moment in the story."

Creating those bookends, if you will, that hold in the rest of the story. If I can take a story I've written all the way through, and analyze the beginning not by itself but also based on how the book ends, can I make my beginning stronger, better, and more significant? I know it's important to make every detail you spend time on count. How much more powerful they might be if the ending echoes or expounds upon the beginning.

The other concept came from someone who is not a writer. He asked me: "Do writers ever try writing their stories backwards? You know, starting from the end and finishing with the beginning?" Of course, I couldn't answer for everyone. I knew I hadn't tried that before. I also knew that sounded like a fun challenge. To take cause and effect and work backwards with it? Crazy - yet strangely brilliant.

Not everyone knows their ending when they start out, of course. And sometimes the ending we conceive ends up disappearing along the way while writing everything else and evolves into a new creature. Sometimes it's best not to mess with that first draft or have any tightly held ideas about it, even if you outline. But on the first round of revisions? That would be a sweet spot to try these ideas out. We'd already have a pretty good idea of our ending and beginning, and now we could go back through and make sure cause and effect are working and that the beginning and ending tie-in someway.

Have you ever tried or applied either of these concepts? If so, what were the results?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blog Spotlight #20: The Book Publicity Blog

It's been awhile since I did one of these. I'd like to direct your attention to The Book Publicity Blog, a publishing insider's input on publicity and marketing.

To quote directly: "The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists — and hopefully others in media and publishing — do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency."

Some of the recent posts on the blog:
Working With Book Bloggers
How to make sending e-mail more efficient
DIY Book Promotion and Publicity
What authors (and venues) need to know about scheduling book talks/signings
When you're setting up a website, what booksellers do you list?
What you need to include in your email signature

Browse around and take some time out to read, especially if you are at the stage of publishing and marketing. There are good things on this blog for beginning and intermediate-staged writers as well.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Round, Round, and Round Again

I sometimes like to think of writing towards publication as a giant carousel. We determine we want to board the ride, do so, and before we get off again (if at all,) we try out different animals on it.

There is the cycle of initially writing down a story. The even longer beast of revising and editing the story. Rounds of beta reading and critiquing. Usually several turns with querying, both in writing the query letter and then in sending it off to agents and publishers. Then we get back on that revision beast again. We board the rounds of marketing and social networking also. It's a dizzying analogy.

It can be overwhelming and daunting at times. The carousel is bright and shiny on the outside and everyone already on it looks like they're having a great time. We see the people who have claimed the biggest and best animals on it and want to know what it feels like. What we don't see from the outside, is how long it can take to get to one of those prize animals, nor the grit, grease, and squeaks surrounding other parts of the carousel. The music being played is loud. The voices on board are also. There is an excitement in the air, so much so, that we don't see or regard the individuals who sag on their mounts or the ones who get off and trudge away alone. We tend to ignore the people on board who are standing between the animals, waiting for a turn to get on one, or who are perplexed as to which animal is right for them.

Once on board one of the brightly colored carousel beasts, we hang onto the pole, feel the lurch as the machine begins, and gaze around at our neighbors with tentative grins. We don't know if the person next to us is secretly wanting to knock us down or if we'll become fast friends. We don't know how long the beast we're now sitting on will be ours. We may be stuck on that gawky revision giraffe or that ugly querying rhinoceros for years! During the pauses, we see some of the people get up and switch mounts. Some move closer to the bright, newer, animals of the carousel. Some move back to the older, dingier ones. Many stay put where they are. Some of us choose the wrong animal to mount and then wonder what happened when we slip off, get in trouble from other riders and the carousel officials, or the painted beastie doesn't move properly.

It's easy to feel lost at times, stuck, and certainly dizzy. We might have to lean over the side, not visible to the public eye, and vomit.

There are only so many seats on that massive carousel. Even fewer of the coveted mounts. We may need to step down and wait in line again to ride it. We might even take off for other parts of the amusement park to try out another ride before we give the carousel another go.

For anyone feeling a bit dizzy or bewildered with the whole writing-publishing carousel, take heart. Don't do more than you can handle. Don't overtax yourself. Certainly never compare yourself to any of the other riders or people waiting in line. Take a break and try something else for awhile if you feel sick or burned out. Avoid the danger of staying on the same carousel animal because it's your favorite or you've gotten used to it or you're afraid to try something else. Don't resent other riders who have moved on to a position you covet. Be patient. Be courteous. And remember, there is more to life than that carousel. Make sure you're still living and experiencing, and growing in other ways.

That white-water rafting ride looks like fun too.

Think about where you are at right now on the writing-publishing carousel. What is your animal and what does it look like? Or do you feel you're standing and waiting in line?