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...

Your story isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay

It’s important to write a story that reaches as broad an audience as possible. By the same token, you need to understand you not everyone will like what you write. It’s not just a matter of not liking the genre. Some people will just not like your particular voice or characters or how you handle your plot. You know what? That’s okay. Now that the Hugos are over (I did this post a week ahead of time, so I don’t know who won), I thought I would give you my impressions on the works that were in the “Novel” category. My ballot was as follows. 1. Skin Game by Jim Butcher 2. Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J Anderson 3. Three Body Problem by Lui Cixin 4. No Award If you follow the Hugos, you’ll notice that there are two books...

Writing: It’s a business

These days, publishing a book is easy. Pretty much anyone can do it. The problem is relatively few people can do it well. There are plenty of good indie books out there, but there are many more bad ones. I’m not even talking about the quality of writing. I’m talking about everything else. Recently, I decided I was going to go indie with one of my books, Shadowguard. There are a couple of reasons for this that I may go into that in a future post. This post isn’t about why so much as it’s about how. I decided I needed it done within two months, largely to give me time to finish it. The first draft is already done, and I expect the next couple of weeks to happen in a frenzy. There are still several other things that need to get done. There...

“Said” is not dead and never was

A common piece of terrible advice bandied about writing forums is “Said is dead”. Basically, the thought is that in your dialog tags, you should avoid using “said”. You should use “replied”, “exclaimed”, “shouted”, or one of any of a myriad of words. This kind of thing is often taught in English classes. The problem is that it’s completely wrong. Generally, you should avoid dialog tags whenever you can. Each of your characters should have a distinct voice so that dialog tags aren’t needed. The reader should know who is speaking because that’s the way a particular character speaks. This isn’t always possible. If a character says “Hi.”, it a generic enough phrase that...