Monthly Archives: September 2015

3 Steps Fiction Writers Should Take

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Worker

Always take time to check these 3 steps before declaring a project ready for edit. They save so much time for the fiction writer.

  1. Whether you’re an outliner or not, create a list of all the major plot points which must be in place before the conclusion.
  2. Each time you finish a revision session, save the manuscript in at least two places.
  3. Always run your final copy through beta readers.

Let’s look at the logic behind each of these steps individually.

Plot Points

Outlines consist only of a story’s signposts; a series of events which must occur between the opening sentence and the last words of the story. It really is that simple. You don’t need details of how, where, why, etc. You need only those signposts in your outline. The list helps keep your story train on its timeline track.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OFor instance, the movie Ghostbusters was very simple from an outline perspective. Premise: scientists/researchers come together because of a flurry of apparition sightings in New York City.

Outline:

  • Researchers create special equipment for use at sightings if needed.
  • Scientists verify a sighting in a public library.
  • More sightings occur.
  • They hang out their shingle and go to work as independent contractors in ghostbusting
  • EPA steps in to control researchers’ activity
  • Situation with EPA devolves until the city’s government is involved
  • Researcher’s love interest is taken over by evil entity, along with another person
  • Researchers must discover identity of evil entity and devise way to dispel evil’s control
  • Researchers fight entity and entity’s minions in the Empire State Building, climaxing with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and win.
  • Possessed humans are released and rescued
  • Boy and girl declare their love
  • Everyone prospers

An outline can get even simpler, but doesn’t have to. You only need an intro, an middle with action development and a climax/conclusion. The twelve outline points above don’t take up much space on paper, but getting from the first point to the last gets filled with tiny details that take up two hours of viewing time.

Revising for Results

Once your rough draft is done, the fun begins. Mistakes photoRevising allows the writer to catch and fill in all of those amorphous details that color the story with rainbows and leave the scent of fresh-baked bread behind. And that’s what many readers look for. Unless, of course, you’re dealing in horror.

Before beginning your revision, make a copy of that rough draft, with a new title, to work from. Then, each time you finish a revision session, be it an hour’s worth or a day’s, save that baby in at least two places. Try on your hard drive and a flash drive, or the cloud and a flash drive. Whichever method you use, do it. Don’t forget.

It only takes one glitch to leave you with nothing but sunshine and a rough draft. It happens all the time to writers everywhere. You don’t want to have to begin a revision from scratch from the rough draft again. The frustration and lost hours aren’t worth the risk.

Use Beta Readers

Book and knowledge conceptUnless your story is flash fiction, send your baby to a solid list of beta readers for review. Try to get a mix of “strictly” readers and a few actual writers. You get something special from each side of the house.

The beta reader can find all those flaws that the writer misses during revision and edit. You can guess the ones; continuity errors, name changes, characters’ unexplained dialect shifts, timeline anomalies, word misuse, the dreaded word-of-the-day, and more. (Word-of-the-day refers to those common words we end to use unconsciously far more often than necessary.)

Once you get those copies back with comments, corrections, and suggestions, you’re ready to tackle the final edit and spell check. You editing task will take less time and be more accurate after having so many sets of eyes on it.

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The writer who takes these three steps to do each of these steps eliminates greater timewasters and frustration in the long run. A brief but pointed outline is your train’s engineer and keeps you on your time table. The revision conductor makes sure you always have a second secured, current revision copy to safeguard your work. Beta readers act as brakemen to keep you accountable for the quality of your work. Your manuscript is better for the steps taken throughout the process.

Launches, Dockets, and Lingering Projects

Happy little girl

Once upon a time there was a raw writer who dreamed of having a marvelously exciting and successful career. She took advantage of each lesson in the craft that passed her way (assuming she could afford it.) She toiled into the night writing stories, tales that would probably go nowhere.

In the daylight hours, she toiled at whichever job she happened to inhabit at the time. There was the ranch hand, the data entry specialist, receptionist, inventory controller and shipping supervisor, executive secretary and owner of a cleaning service. And all before the age of thirty.

Serious learning erupted later, interrupted by daily reality and financial requirements. Writing dreams found a surface vent only when circumstances forced a severe re-examination of a life destination. The result was a monolithic story book in two volumes. The publishing knowledge, however, didn’t exist for her.

As for all people, circumstances and situations are fluid in life. The writer learned through trial, error and networking with all levels of other writers. She became a researcher of her own future.

Book Cover 03Now, this emerging writer has a few small volumes published. She has articles on different aspects of writing published in several arenas, both online and in print. She also has her first novel nearly ready to launch; and not just any novel but the first in a fantasy series.

This handful of paragraphs describes my journey toward becoming a “real” writer. Along the way, my experiences created characters for later use. Scenery, rich and varied, was laid into a mental photo album to create settings that were vibrant and alive. Not until I looked back, could I see the many lessons and tools I’d squirreled away for my current time at the keyboard.

I believe that each of us carries within us a collage scrapbook of images and characters, scenarios and plots that spring from out past like daisies adorning a fallow field. We each carry the buds of ideas. I believe we each have a tale to tell; one as unique as our fingerprints and just as valuable.

Launches

Wisher's World Vol. 1In the next month, I will have two launches.  Wisher’s World, Vol. 1: Composing an Apprentice will be the first. It’s been a long road. I first outlined the original plotline in 2008. I began serious work on it in 2014. In between, I’d fiddled with story line, characters and little things. I was working on the rough draft of Dreamie’s Box, at the time.

Last year, I began working through Holly Lisle’s How To Write A Series: Master the Art of Sequential Fiction. Suddenly, Wisher’s World had far more potential than I’d ever realized. Only then was the first volume born.

As a result of this course, the original story line and plot has expanded into at least ten volumes. Some are novel length, like Composing an Apprentice, while others are novelette/novella length. All will operate in a sequential world or on lateral timelines. The whole experience is exciting and a great deal of work.

Another chapbook of flash fiction is also slated for release before mid-October. The next Short Tales book is ready for revision now and waiting for a few hours of dedicated work.

The Docket

In the meantime, other work goes on. There are small chapbooks of flash fiction, poetry, and memoirs to go out on Kindle. There are articles and short stories to be published in magazines, journals, and online news feeds. So much to write and, seemingly, so little time.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OThe daily docket is constantly full of projects coming in, going out and being developed. There are writing courses, marketing courses, webinars to attend to keep up with trends and all manner of new tools to learn and try out.

Lingering Projects

Dreamie Memior Cover (1)As for lingering projects, Dreamie’s Box takes center stage as soon as Wisher’s World is launched. The short memoirs are already out. Now, Dreamie will finally get her complete rewrite and edit so that her tale can go out into the world, full blown and ready to read. Scarred Love is another novel in rough draft now and going through a critique group. Three books—three different genres.

Behind those projects are ten to fifteen more, most of them already written.

I intended to use 2015 to revamp and submit much of my work already on the hard drive. I’ve discovered that it will take at least another year to pull off that miracle. But, I believe in miracles. My docket got expanded indefinitely, until I can clear all the present material from my files.

The only exception is November’s NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Web-Banner (1)project. It’ll be a master stroke if I can pull it off, but I have to try—more on that later in October.

Until then, I’m winding up as much summer work as possible with Wisher’s World, and two chapbooks and scheduled articles for publication. October is already full. What is my plan of attack, you ask? Why, one bite and bit at a time, I say.

So tell me, what are you ready to launch? What remains on your docket for the rest of the year? And do you have lingering projects for which planning awaits? Tell us all about your work. I know I’m interested. Drop something in the comments and thrill us all with your coming fireworks.

A Quick Update for Freelance Writers

These last few days have been a bit hectic, but then, the month just began.

I thought some of you might be able to use some of the information contained in my latest article–this one for freelance writers from Working Writer’s Club.

It has some helpful tips for those looking to enter the non-fiction arena, as well as resources that some of the pros might not know about or haven’t explored.

Take a few minutes to see if any of it can help you to get a new perspective or a new market.

I’ll be back later in the week with something else from the cooker.

Enjoy.

WWW Article

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