Muse-Inspirationals: holographic rock star

After all the anime showing a holographic rock star, you knew they would eventually make it happen, right? Well, yes, it has happened now, including a #1 single and a sold out 2009 ‘live’ tour.

So, what’s next? A holographic politician? :shudder:

In any case, this is more fodder for fiction. Oh, so much fodder!

Of course, a lot of anime/manga has using this idea for years. ūüėČ

Quantity VS Quality: Is It Really One or the Other?

This is a post that might be better right before one of the big writing events, but it seems appropriate to place after the blog post about the finished first drafts of the novellas. After all, didn’t I finish 3 first drafts in only one month? Wasn’t that fast? Doesn’t that mean they are pure garbage?

Hehehehe

The debate of Quantity VS Quality has raged for years, even before the event known as “National Novel Writing Month” began (or any of the inspired spin-offs). It’s a debate that will continue forever.

Why?

Because each writer is different. There is no one true ‘truism’ when it comes to rules for writing. That’s a hard thing for newbie writers to realize. So much of life has ‘rules’ by which we must abide by if we want a glimmer of hope for success. Why not writing?

Here is a simple truth about rules when it comes to writing. What works for one writer may not work for the next. Anyone who tells you different is probably trying to sell you something.

Because of this, each writer has to spend time and personal education to find what works for them and what does not. Develop what I call “a personal writer’s toolkit”. Every single writer’s toolkit will be different from the next. Because we all think differently, organize differently, develop differently, and write differently.

Okay, I lied. There is one rule for writing (unless one is a hobbyist).

One very important simple rule:

Finish the project.

If a method of writing does not result in ‘finishing a project’ then a writer should seriously review it. And one place where a lot of writers get stopped is when their logical left side of the brain starts trying to edit the words just after, or even as, the creative right side of the brain is putting them down.

This is where the ‘quantity’ part of the equation can help. By drowning out the left side of the brain with shear number of words.

Writing events that push for a finished novel in a limited amount of time can help with the process even more. It gives the creative side of the mind, also sometimes called the Muse, the excuse to go hog-wild and tell the logical and nit-picky left side of the brain, sometimes called the Internal Editor, to shut up. There is a deadline that must be met. There is no time for editing.

That means the Muse has all the power while the Internal Editor has none.

For a lot of authors this is needed. They need to separate the two sides, allow one to work while the other sleeps. Otherwise they end up writing, then rewriting the same part, and then rewriting again, all because the left side of the brain won’t shut up and allow the story to be finished.

And the story remains unfinished because the internal editor is just sure that what has been written is utter garbage and there is no point in continuing the story until it’s fixed. The problem is that very few authors can write a good, much less perfect, first draft.

The thing is, the first draft isn’t about being perfect. It’s about finding the story in the first place. Even if you are someone like me who plots out the story in advance, you can’t truly know what the story is all about until that first draft is written and finished. Only then can you know what the story is really about. What direction it flows.

Much less how to revise it to make it a cohesive whole.

The first draft has to be written first.

As the old saying goes, “you can’t edit a blank page”.

So allow the quantity to come out. Find those words and get it down. Find the story. Find the characters. What comes out may surprise you. You may find yourself on roads you didn’t expect, but that is perfectly right. New plot developments might appear. Subplots involving the main characters. A nuance of the main plot or characters.

I love the surprises along the way. The nuggets and treasure that the creative side drops into the story. It is a road of discovery that can be exhilarating even while at the same time stressful.

And despite what the internal editor says at first, some of that first draft might be golden. You might find more right with it than wrong.

But those treasures can’t be found while the internal editor is blocking the words. For most writers, it is a good idea to put it to sleep until a writer gets to “The End” of the first draft.

Give your Muse the power.

Concerning “Night of the Aurora” and the two other sequels that I wrote during July, this is a perfect example of what I mean.

Book 1 came out almost right, right from the start. The main changes once revision started was a slight shift in the starting point of the book as well as adding the first part of book 2 to the end of book 1 to create a more satisfying ending. Other than that it was the regular revision work of adding or tweaking descriptions, action scenes, grammar, playing up the “Muse Bombs” (as Holly Lisle calls them) that the Muse dropped while writing the first draft, and polishing up the prose. No main elements of the book needed changing.

Book 2 has a good plot. The first part will need to be worked on to make up for the original start getting snitched to end book 1. That’s okay. I want the first part of the book to better echo the ending, to create more foreshadowing. Nuggets and treasures appeared during the writing which means 5-8 (or more) new scenes will need to be added to expand on them. But the main plot, characters, and ending are all good. It will not take that long to revise and polish up.

Book 3 has a good main plot, but there is a sequence towards the end that is too passive that will need to be worked out. The other big issue is that this book features an alien that speaks differently. The biggest challenge will be creating a syntax and symbology for that speech that is consistent through the story. I haven’t worked out that syntax yet, but I went ahead and wrote the book so I would know what would be needed when the time comes to clarify the method of speech. This book will take the most work in revision of all three, but most of what is there (other than the passive sequence) is good.

At their core are good stories. Writing them fast did not mean they are a mess. Far from it. Writing them fast and one after the other without stopping meant I could keep the voice and style of all of them consistent. The themes from one book wove into the next. The characters were consistent.  The dialogue in places sparkled, coming out spontaneous and in the character voices.

All good things. And they all came out of writing them fast and ‘finishing the project’.

Quantity VS Quality: a writer really can have both.

Rah!

_______________________________
“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

Muse-Inspirationals: Ocean City

Inspiration for new fiction come from all over. This series explores possible ideas for science fiction.

I’ve seen variations of these before. Cities on the water, making use of all that watery space on planet Earth. For science fiction, this might also include other planets, water worlds, or maximizing Earth’s capacity as population goes out of control. Or, perhaps, the land is no longer habitable?

Lots of ideas, all starting out with a neat location.

Deadlines: A Writer’s Best Friend

  • Good Cover
  • Good Title
  • Good Blurb/Description
  • Good Price
  • Good Sample

Hmm, isn’t it interesting that the first 4 things listed above, constantly cited as the absolutely bare necessities for a successful Indie ebook, are the things that an author going through traditional channels typically has NO control over at all?

Yeah, I know. Don’t go on that rant again.

I have a confession to make. So far the posts concerning this experiment has focused on the development of the Salmon Run series, specifically the first book. The posts concerning development aren’t even close to completion, and yet, I need to move on.

Why?

Because not only is the first draft of the first novella completed, the first THREE are completed. And they were completed in July of 2010.

So, let’s skip forward a bit to the actual writing process. (I’ll see about completing the other posts in the series later)

Getting great ideas, worldbuilding (or universe building), and planning are all fine and good, but if an author can’t finish the actual writing then they are only fun diversions. A lot of writers have trouble with the actual writing and finishing projects. There are a variety of reasons why this happens, but I want to talk about one technique for getting past all the hang-ups and excuses:

A deadline.

I had a self-imposed deadline for launching the first book of this series. I also knew that the last half of 2010 was going to be insane. And wow, was I right about that.

Which meant I needed to get the first draft finished as soon as possible so I could fit in the revision process where and when I could. Stress can have a huge impact on creativity, and I needed a good way to move past it. To get the words down. To finish that important first draft.

Which brings up one of the “National Novel Writing Month“-inspired groups. This one is in the month of July called “July Novel Writing Month” or JulNoWriMo for short. It is the same type of challenge: 50,000 words in 31 days.

I already had a deadline for the completed and revised manuscript, and JulNoWriMo gave me a good deadline for one step in that direction: the first draft.

So, during the month of June I plotted and planned like crazy. When July 1st came along I had the first three outlines ready to go. Along with hundreds of other writers I hit the keys and hit them hard.

Having the deadline helped me put other worries and concerns out of my head, allowing me to focus only on the words using the support and creative energy of everyone else working on the same challenge at the same time.

That is one of the great things about this type of challenge. You aren’t alone in writing like crazy. Others are doing it with you and at the same time as you.

The above paragraph is important for a lot of writer. Writing is an isolating activity. That isolation can become overwhelming at times. Doing something with a group can give a person the strength and focus to do things they might not otherwise be able to do.

With all that creative energy and informal support from so many other authors during that month, I knew I would win.

And I did.

At the seven day mark book 1 was finished. Book 2 finished ten days later. Before the month was out, book 3 was finished.

There is something exhilarating about reading “The End” of a first draft. While first drafts are not usually very pretty, at least the bare bones of the story are down. As long as there are words, there can be a revision to polish things up. There are no more blank pages. Words have conquered the white spaces.

Long live the words!

This illustrates something important for goal making and goal keeping. Having the final goal is all well and good, but it doesn’t do much good unless there are smaller goals along the way that help you get to the final goal. Having smaller goals along the way can help a person feel like they are making real headway, that they are succeeding. Writing a book can be a long process. Reaching a mid-point milestone can help keep an author from getting disheartened at the slow progress.

Deadlines and mini-deadlines can be a writer’s best friend. A way to motivate an author to take the smaller steps needed to finish a project and reach the ultimate goal.

First draft word counts:

Night of the Aurora (Book 1): 26560
Alien Winter (Book 2): 26399
The Singing Lakes (Book 3): 25533

_______________________________
“The E-Book Experiment” chronicles the business and creative side of an experiment with the business opportunities new technology and creative outlets now afford content producers. Will it fail? Will it succeed? The only way to know is to approach it with a solid plan and try. No regrets!

I hope the details of this journey will be a help to other authors. As the process proceeds to selling the final products I will also share hard data that might be useful in the decision making process of other authors who recognize that only they can take charge of their careers. For a listing of all the posts in this series, please click here.

If you find this information useful or interesting, please encourage others to come on by and visit.

New Distribution Channel: BookBaby

There is a new entry in the ebook conversion and distribution game. The company behind CD Baby has now introduced a service called BookBaby. http://www.bookbaby.com/

Their announcement:

There’s a new addition to the CD Baby family: BookBaby! Just as CD Baby has
helped to level the playing field for DIY musicians over the past decade,
BookBaby now throws open the doors to the electronic publishing and
distribution world for independent authors. And we’re celebrating the birth
of BookBaby in a big way.

And the fine print:

$99 (regularly $149) (plus $19 annual fee after first year) PER EBOOK sign-up. Conversion will list only up to 30 chapter headings. This price is if you supply the final ebook file or use their conversion service.

$75 to add more chapter headings above the 30 included in the sign-up fee.

$99 to add up to 15 images to your book.

There are other possible fees that might apply, but the ones above caught my eye.

The fee per ebook and then the annual fee to keep the ebooks in the program bothers me, although they do offer custom quotes for 5 books or more. The only upside to the service is that they claim not to take any royalty on the back-end. It appears that all the costs are on the front-end.

I think it would depend on if the author wanted to put up the big money up front, or list for free into the same markets with Smashwords and have the royalty taken on the back end. I can see the right decision would be different between listing novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories. For shorter work the price would be too high.

Does¬†Bookbaby have limitations on description length and category placement in the online retailers like Smashwords has? This would depend on their distribution feed system, I’m sure.

Has Bookbaby negotiated with the retailers to allow the authors to set their price so that the Amazon robot doesn’t destroy income if it finds a lower price elsewhere?

Do they have real-time sales reports? Or is it only quarterly? Or some other length of time?

Right now they have Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iPad and Sony Reader store as the only distribution channels. I really don’t see the benefit of using them for Amazon or Barnes & Noble, as you can get into both of them for free (no ebook listing fee) and still have full royalties. Plus, you have a lot of control with catalog placement, description, pricing, tagging, and other perks¬†by going direct.

So, is their distribution to the iPad and Sony Reader store worth the sign-up fee per book? I’m not sure. That would depend on the questions up above (and a lot more).