I love those conversations…

…apparently I keep cracking up the owner of my favorite used book store.

Today I’m calling in to find out if he’s got some books that I want available, he starts searching, says he’ll give me a call if he gets them in. Then asks if I wanted him to order a trilogy that I mentioned. I politely decline, hang up.

Two minutes later I call in again and he starts to laugh, asking me “So you want me to order those, right?”

Man, I’m predictable…and an addict, but yay I love my favorite bookstore for reading my thoughts and knowing my tastes in fantasy etc. rather well πŸ˜€ Little bookstores rock πŸ˜€

Words of wisdom

Here are some good bits from Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman’s – How Not To Write A Novel that I’ve been reading for the last couple of hours. First off, most of it is common-sense stuff, but they manage to point out an array of the most common mistakes made by unpublished authors in a hilarious way πŸ˜‰

Plot:

“We wouldn’t want to create any anxiety in the reader, now, would we? That might lead to suspense, which might lead to a book sale an – God forbid, royalties!”

Endings:

“This particular plunder is known as deus ex machina which is French for ‘Are you fucking kidding me?'”

-loved that one and second it very much so πŸ˜‰

How not to describe your character: The Kodak Moment – character is looking at a photo of themselves, detailed description ensues…oh please…

Also really loved the section about How not to name a cat – if there has to be one and the how to create an unintentional love interest part – Don’t let two friendly guys go to bed together, your average reader will assume they’re gay. Ares and Damian would probably agree on that, but hey at least my characters are very straight-forward at being gay – nothing to mislead anyone, it’s obvious πŸ˜‰

Villains:

“Now that I have you in my power, I shall tell you my whole life story!”

yeah, don’t do that 8)

The section on dialog is definitely helpful to anyone who’s trouble distinguishing their characters’ voices from their own narrative voice etc. There are also good points on structure and vocabulary (no, don’t use Shakespeare vocabulary in an urban fantasy setting πŸ˜‰ )

Oh and here’s most likely my favorite line of the entire book:

“How did I get to be the protagonist? Easy! I fucked the author!”

This one definitely cracked me up πŸ˜‰

For everyone who doesn’t read agents’ blogs, there’s also some advice in regards to query letters and no you should NOT try to sell an unfinished manuscript. But for details I’d definitely stick to the agent blogosphere, there’s some really good help there.

All in all I really enjoyed this book and it really made me laugh at times. There wasn’t all that much new stuff to be learned, but How Not To Write A Novel definitely sharpens your awareness of the most commonly made mistakes so it’s definitely helpful for writing/editing. My stamp of hilarious approval πŸ˜€

Do I really have to read books on writing?

Seriously, I’ve seen some good books that give helpful tips and tricks on writing (or how not to write), but looking at the reference section at my local bookstore last night I was really wondering: Do I really have to read any of those? I mean sure they might give me some help, but most of it is fairly clear to me and thus it’s redundant to spent $10 or $15 on a book that tells you things you already knew.

Maybe it’s just that I’m not a particular fan of this kind of books or the fact that as a fantasy writer I don’t always feel very represented in them. In the end I ended up buying Roget’s Thesaurus (because I still didn’t have it yet *gasp*) and will maybe pick up one or the other reference book later. Maybe πŸ˜‰

Anyway, what’s your opinion? Which books have you read and which of those were actually helpful to you?

What’s next?

So now I’ve finished the first draft of Light, book 1: Shadows (yes, this shall be the “official” title at least for now, just so you know what in the Seven Hells I’m rambling about). Now of course there’s the question, what’s next and how to plunge myself into the editing process?

Well, here are some thoughts about what I want to do:

First off, whoever thinks they don’t need more than one edit to actually ‘finish’ a novel is wrong πŸ˜‰ Just thought I’d get that straight.

Personally, I’m not sure how many edits it’ll take for me to be completely satisfied with my work (and given that I’m damn self-critical I don’t know if I ever will be), but here are some things I’m going to do:

Step 1: Analysis/Scene Cards – This is basically the spreadsheet idea I mentioned here . Basically it’ll help me to structure things better as I can see which scenes are linked to which character/event/subplot. It makes it easier to see which overall “motives” I’m using and where there are possible gaps that additional explanation or even scrapping are required. Same for repetitions.

Step 2: Second Draft – The second draft is less actual editing in a sense of grammar, spelling etc. but is supposed to make a “whole” of the fragments and gaps of the first draft. It’s basically a rewrite with the modern setting to replace the initially medieval one, but I need to introduce a bunch of characters that were simply “there” in the later chapters. Also need to work in the Ares&Damian relationship, which I’m especially looking forward to. All in all the purpose of the Second Draft is to make the story “work” and tie some loose ends that aren’t meant to be loose in the first place as well as clearing up some confusing parts. It’s basically a ‘story-based’ approach that I’m taking here.

Step 3: Editing: So now we’re at the stage of ‘actual’ sentence by sentence editing, including grammar, spelling and all that. Of course I’ll pay attention to those things while writing the Second Draft, but it won’t be a major objective then. The actual editing will probably take the longest time as it’ll be very detailed and I’ll have a printed version of the Second Draft that I’m using to make handwritten changes before then transferring those changes into my word-document. That basically gives me two edits in one, something I found rather helpful in the past whenever I did similar stuff.

So that’s my little 3-Step-Plan. Let’s see how many edits Shadows is going to take me in the end.

Also, Clairvoyance (Light, book 2) is planned forΒ  this year’s Nanowrimo, but I still have a good deal of brainstorming to do on that side. The good thing is that it continues right where the end of Shadows has left off so it might actually help me in the editing process as I’ll have to take everything that has consequences on later events into consideration.

Let’s just say this will be a lot of work, but I’m looking forward to it πŸ˜€

Finis!

…well “to be continued” would be more appropriate since the ending of Shadows leaves a lot of loose ends, but you get the idea πŸ˜€

103,619 words in total before editing.

Afterwards it’s probably going to be more rather than less, but it should be less than 120,000.

I’m happy and the ending turned out fairly creepy.

Last line is: “Why don’t you just let me die?”

This is my first book that’s actually novel-length. Really happy with myself now, but I’ll be even happier when I get it all tied up so it makes more sense and missing parts are added in the second draft πŸ˜‰

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