Choosing a title

You will occasionally hear authors struggle with picking a title. Newer writers in particular agonize over it. Kevin J. Anderson once told me that he was working with a Chinese game company. They were looking to name a big Game of Thrones type dynastic game. He wanted to call it END OF EMPIRES, but they said it was unlucky to start a title with a negative word (like End or Fall). Now, there are countless possible cultural implications in various phrasings. If you ever get to the point where that becomes a serious concern, well, let’s just say that’s a good problem to have. Still, there are a lot of factors to take into account. The first is how common a title is. In this area, I made a huge mistake with my first boo, Delphi. Delphi is a historical...

Talking about your story

Talking about your story

Anyone who has written a book or a series can go on and on about it, but you don’t always have a lot of time if you’re trying to get someone interested. Once you caught someone’s attention, you can go into more detail, but how do you do that? My trilogy, The Oracles of Kurnugi, was about a boy named Henry who falls into the land of human imagination known as Kurnugi. He’s able to do this because, before he was born, his parents thought they were sterile. Because of that, they dreamed of him and imagined him long before he was real. This gave him an imaginary component that enabled him to enter the place where all the stories are real. After he discovers that he can’t get home, he seeks out the three fates of Greek mythology. They tell...

Writing a series

I recently did a post about my outlining process for novels, but I decided to do a write up of how the whole thing works on a series. The short version is that it works the same way. I’ve only really worked with the three act structure and don’t know how well other methods of plotting can be expanded, but the three act structure handles longer stories nicely. From a high level, the three act structure divides a story into three parts (obviously). The first part, comprising of about the first quarter, is the preparation. Something has changed, and the protagonist truly begins their journey. The second part, comprising of the middle half of the story, is about the protagonist becoming who they need to be. They learn. Perhaps they gather allies. They...

How many drafts?

One of the things that really gets new writers is when they look at what they’ve just written, they think it’s bad. You know what? It probably is. It’s a first draft, and almost everyone’s first draft is bad. Among other things, the first draft has appropriately been called “word vomit”. Get the story down on paper, and then fix all the problems.  Then, go through it again and fix everything you’ve missed. Then do it again. The big question is how many times do you do this? Well, that’s different for everyone. In general, an outliner will go through less drafts than a pantser simply because some of the poblems are fixed in the outlining stage. I can only tell you how many I use. I outline. I have approximately one...

We all know who wins

Let me start off by saying this advice doesn’t work for horror or for fantasy like George R R Martin or Joe Abercrombie where there are no real good guys and anyone can die at any time. On the other hand, Pat Rothfuss does this brilliantly. I’ll come back to that later. In a heroic fantasy, we all know who is going to win. The hero is going to slay the dragon and win the war. No one doubts that, but that’s not what makes a story great. I heard a question from author and former Pyr editor Lou Anders. What does James Bond have in common with the Harlem Globe Trotters? The always win, in spite of that, they are enormously popular. It’s not about who is going to win. It’s about what they going to have to go through to win. It’s how...