Monday, September 24, 2012


I have a guest post up over at Oh, The Things I've Learned (home of the super-nice, talented Angie Sandro) where I share a bit about what has inspired me. Angie has an entire series of guest posts where people share what inspire them. Come on over and share in the comments what inspires you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Which Type of Epic Are You?

Type 1: Episodic
Episodic fiction has a main base of characters and each book in the series acts as a standalone. New book, new big problem or antagonist. Usually not so epic in size compared to the other two types. Can have an overall arc tying all the books together.

Type 2: Generational
Generational fiction changes up characters as time passes. These can also easily work as standalones with a stronger overall arc. There is a big story behind the scenes that encompasses a long period of time.

Type 3: True Epic
True epics are large stories, very large stories. So large that they can't be condensed into a single volume or even two. They often fail as standalones because resolving the main conflict introduced at the beginning cuts the whole thing off at the toes. They can have mini-arcs to make each volume have a somewhat standalone feel. The driving force for readership is the main arc, which stays an active, in-the-front plot player through each volume and isn't resolved until the end of the last installment.

Type 1 and 2 are easier to sell if you're an unpublished writer. Less of a gamble for publishers.
Type 1 isn't locked into one main doom or conflict, giving the writer room to try out different plots and situations.
Type 1 doesn't have a definitive end until the writer gets tired of playing in that world. You can end up with a few books in the series, or several. Readers can also jump in or out of the series where ever they like.
Type 2 gives the writer a chance to change up the characters while keeping to a central plot line. The writer is less likely to tire of their characters.
Type 2 writers also get to change up their settings and time periods. Lots of great world-building opportunities.
Type 3 stories satisfy a certain demographic of devoted reader who will come back for more and who crave larger, meatier books.
Type 1 and 3 stories allow a writer to share a more complex, richly detailed world over the span of the series.

Type 1 stories can lose readers at any time, without a lure to keep them reading future books. Readers can get tired of the same characters if they aren't well done. Not an easy thing to keep up for several books.
Type 2 stories can fall into a rut if the same plot twists and consequences creep up. There is room for a lot of unnecessary bloat here, whether it's a lot of new characters to learn with each book, info dumping, or other fillers if the story isn't really that epic. Are you writing Type 2 for the sake of racking up the number of books and time periods, instead?
Type 3 stories are hard to sell for unpublished writers. Publishers don't want to take a gamble on someone untried in the marketplace. And if the first volume of an epic doesn't sell well, there won't be a number two, and that leads to dissatisfied readers...
Type 3 stories are hard to write well. A lot of unpolished manuscripts are bloated with info dumping, long passages with nothing going on, and a hoard of characters. In short, these manuscripts are trying to be true epics but they don't really have enough story to pass the test.
Type 3 writers, once published, get a lot of pressure from readers to churn out the next volume in record time. Some readers won't even pick up the novel until all of the volumes are published. Others, too impatient to wait, stop reading altogether. A good percentage of readers hate cliffhanger endings.

Which type are you? Which type(s) do you enjoy reading? How patient are you as a reader?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How Much World-Building Do You Need?

Someone asked and you can find my answers over on the Aliens, Dragons, and Wraiths - Oh My! blog. More knowledge gleaned from personal mistakes, reading other books, and beta reading. Jump on over and add to the conversation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wait, no--Give me a few more days! Okay, fine (deep breath) I'll send it.

I blitzed it last week as you might have noticed. That's all right, though, because then you all went and read other blogs or saved some time by not wading through one of mine.

I like to set goals for my writing, a little milestone list to check off and mark my progress. Last week, that changed. In a moment of quick decision I threw the unconfident perfectionist in me out the window and committed to three week's worth of deadlines. And I've been so busy since, I haven't missed that other side of my ego at all.

Deadlines differ from goals in that deadlines involve other people. You make a promise to them by a certain time frame. In my case, I stopped fussing and tweaking over my manuscript to send out the first part to beta readers. Do I think it's ready for other eyes. Definitely not! (And it never will meet my idea of perfect.) Should I have done it? Yes. There comes a time when you find all you are doing is combing through the same material over and over to tweak, and tweak, and tweak without knowing if the whole thing even works.

In a mad rush, I sent it. I spent every spare minute of last week splicing together my last round of major edits for Part 2, so it's ready to go when my reader's are. (I kind of blew it apart in order to move scenes around and create new chapter boundaries.) Can I say: what a rush! There was no time to sit back and brood. There was no time to leave something undone because I can always get to it down the road. There was no leeway for mental blocks. Anything I'd hesitated on whether to keep or not was cut.

To my surprise, I also ended up writing two new chapters in two hours. They were concise, tense, and for a scary period of time they almost upset the rest of the book. Almost, but didn't. I nearly panicked Friday night over a couple of plot holes I found. (Funny how chopping away a bunch of exposition uncovers things like that.) I worked furiously on Saturday to plug things up.

To tell the absolute truth, writing to deadline nearly made me ill. You see, it's impossible for me to set aside what I do all day. I still had to fulfill my duties and keep my personal priorities straight. I'm very grateful my family let me hoard the spare hours to work on writing. The end result: a breathless rush of days and little sleep.

I have another whirlwind week of editing to deadline ahead of me. I think I've acquired a taste for it. I've also surmised that when those deadlines are met, I need time off to recuperate.

Even though I haven't received feedback from my beta readers yet, can I just tell them publicly "thank you" right now, for pushing me to send the manuscript to them. I would have been comfortable sitting on it for another couple of months, tweaking away, otherwise. I'm not in a hurry to make a fool of myself to professional eyes. But - what I did learn this month - is that it's okay to be a fool to friendly eyes. Letting the manuscript go is mandatory for anyone serious about publication. Then the trick is to keep so busy you don't have time to fret over what your readers' reactions are.

Have any of you had a hard time letting go of a manuscript so other people could read it? What do you do to keep away anxiety once that's done? (I'll need some good suggestions for when Part 3 is sent off and there's nothing left to edit to deadline for.)