30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (4)

Outlining

Are you excited to get to the meat of the factor? We covered a little about outlining in our Research chapter, so now let us segway into a basic outline. I really do not care how you see fit to outline, you could write all your notes on scraps of paper and throw them into a hat for storage. If that is what works for you, who am I to judge? But why not lay down some basic principles and what outlining really looks like.

Characters
   Protagonist
   Antagonist
   Supporting characters
   Guides and/or guardians
World
   Terrain
   Geographical map
   Cities
   Roads and rivers
Plot
   General build up
   Climax
   Result
Timeline
   Beginning
   Middle
   End

We are going to assume you have a preset genre in your mind–whether it be scifi, fantasy, horror, or nonfiction. There is a fundamental asset to outlining which will help to ensure your cows do not turn out pink when they are clearly as green as grass on Pluto. Let inspiration drive your story forth, but allow outlining to be the guiding hand. As before mentioned, it does not have to be steps one, two, and three all in numerical order, and you do not have to have every detail planned down to the last comma. You make it what you need to keep track of your thoughts, so do not feel the need to idle over minute details if that will not help you. Gloss over a little and let inspiration fill in the blank spaces.

With outlining, what you are working on is building the basic concept of your story. You know Jane must meet John so that John discovers her family secret and together they unravel a thousand year old curse. That is the bones of the story. But now you need to lay down how they meet, when John discovers afore mentioned secret, how she spills her secret, why he agrees to aid her, what else they learn about the curse, when they set off on their journey, and what awaits and then how they deal with obsticals. At this point, you do not necessarily know the hows of conquering the obsticals, and ultimately the curse, but you should have a rough idea.

Outlining versus “Pantsing”

Did you know “Pantsing” was a word developed by writers for writers? In the oh-so popular Urban dictionary, it states…

What many high school students will do to fellow classmates if they decide to wear sweatpants. It is far to easy to catch the wearer of the sweatpants off-guard and pull their sweats down. Any other form of clothing on the bottom is not to be messed with…..only sweatpants.

…..Well. Yeah. Moving on.

Pantsing is for writers. We all know this.

I have done both in my time. Pantsing is raw inspiration. It is when you sit down to write and you simply cannot stop the flood of words off your fingertips. Everything is coming effortlessly and you feel on fire. You forget to eat and sleep, you somehow overcome your bladder in your single-minded, other-worldly focus. Well, guess what, inspiration drains out. Before you even realize it, the meter is tipping at empty and you are left with an empty belly, a full bladder, and sagging bags under your eyes. You couldn’t possibly convene to write a single word more. So get up, relieve yourself, and refuel, because you are about to get to work.

This is where outlining comes in.

Luckily, you don’t freak out or become woefully sorrowful at the burnout of your Muse–you have a backup. Dig out your outline and scroll through the plethora of scribbled notes and ideas. This will not make writing easier after the inspiration has left, but it will give you something to fall back on. You will have to grunge out a few paragraphs–maybe even pages–before catching your stride again, but those are paragraphs–and pages–worth editing. Now put to work determination, recommit to the cause. Everyone suffers exhaustion or momentary disinterest in their goals, but determination and perseverance will stay your butt to that seat. This is your dream, your goal, your brainchild. And the world needs your story.

***
Take some time to work on the outline of your story. Don’t be concerned with how clean, neat, and pretty it looks, and don’t worry if you’re missing details. We will be going through this together, and we’ll dive into deeper exploration of this basic outline. Post in the comments any questions or struggles you may be facing.
  

Advertisements
30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (3)

Research

Each project is dependant on some amount of research–even fiction, conceived from the bowels of your own imagination, requires research.

How are you doing? Are you groaning in frustration? Cursing the heavens–maybe even me? Good. Take that energy and direct it toward your task. Turn negativity into positive creativity.

From here on, I will be focusing on the fictional elements of writing, since that is what I know best. It would not be prudent to question me about the metaphysics of space flight, the gastrial anomalies of deep space, or even the gravitational pull of moons versus planets. I know not of such things. What I do know, I will share with you throughout this study. Which brings us back to the topic on hand:  research.

When it comes to fictional writing, I caution you to use caution. Cautiously. Because you can fly by the seat of your pants only so long. Trust me. I know. I have many a novel penned with inspiration and ambition which I am now gutting and rebuilding. That’s all part of the process, of course, and you will be drafting and redrafting and proofreading to boot. But if this tool can aid in the process, take it and run with it.

When you sit down with your story, what do you start with? World-building? Let’s work with that.

World-Building: Set the tone of your book with a world. I’ve always found it helpful to scratch out a map, because it’s depressing to send your heroes north to the mountains of doom…when the mountains of doom are actually south of the border. It’s not a matter of changing “left” to “right” and “north” to “south”–think of all the terrain you just covered three chapters in, with bogs and monsters that aren’t digenous of the south.

Animal Life: If dragons are relevant to your story, make sure to incorporate them into the culture and habitat. Change that frozen, bulky northern dragon into a slender, serpent-like character more suited to the south.

Culture: Build up the cities and villages to reflect the story of world your heroes will be traveling. Are there nomadic tribes wandering the midwest, and are they peaceful or war like? Keep these in mind. It might be helpful to have a notebook or Doc file just for these notes.

Who are your heroes, by the way? What thought have you given to the main characters trudging through deserts and across swampy landscapes?

What is the Point of View (PoV) of your story? Will it be told from the main character’s view, or will it be a narrative, or maybe you will be writing to the audience in second person?

Do you have a plot for the story? Where is everyone going and where will they end up in the end?

What do you want the ultimate take away to be or is this simply an exciting adventure and you’d rather your readers not think too hard about life?

These are a few of the things we’ll be discussing in the coming month which I hope will give you the tools to creating beautiful and exciting fiction.

If you’re looking for something to do now, today, start giving thought to your own research. Then start writing out those thoughts. The best way to solidify an idea is to put it to concrete on paper (or a computer file. Just as good).

Feel free to write in the comments your noble plan and share some fears or trepidation you might have about all this spooky research.

Also, I encourage you to apprise me of errors in these lessons, as my 500 words a day for 31 days restricts the editing process to complete, unaltered writing. As we’ll talk about later, proofreading is not “editing” and thus there will be errors occasionally.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (2)

Determination

Today we are going to talk about a little thing called “determination”. Webster defines it as “the act of coming to a decision”, and I want you to keep this in the background of your mind–the act. Coming to a decision starts in the mind. What do you want? Are you journaling? Blogging? Noveling? Regardless of the genre, you will be able to use many of these tips.

First, let’s address your fear–what is keeping you from this writing project? Don’t try to deny it, something very well may be holding you back. And that is okay. Honest. I would like you to take five minutes–set your timer–and write down why you have been putting this project off.

Lack of inspiration?
Failure?
Publicity?
Money?
Peer opinions?

After your five minutes, I am going to tell you the words that changed my perspective:

You cannot fail for trying.

There. That knocked out one fear. Block those obsticals from your mind. Now take a deep breath and slowly let it out. Remember what brought you here. You wanted to write. You imagined this amazing article, conceived an epic novel, and it got you excited. Everyone has a story, and in the words of the NaNoWriMo staff, the world needs your story.

So let us set ourselves to the task. Commit yourself mentally. Get excited. You are about to start an adventure, and now comes the action. Go buy your books, set up your Word Document, open your blog, get out your super sleuth detective journalist recorder, and get to work. Rekindle your love for writing, or discover for the first time the joy of writing! In my 30 Days to Publishing, I will walk with you step by step through the process of writing your project, editing the manuscript, and navigating the labyrinth of editors, agents, and publishing houses. This blog will update daily to complete my own challenge 500 words in 31 days, so check back to see where we are at in the lesson.

Tomorrow I am excited, because we will start with the subject I honestly used to dislike, but through the years of writing I have grown to enjoy this process. Everything requires research–even fiction. Especially fiction. We will take a look at it through the eyes of beginning a fiction novel, but the steps will also be applicable to other areas of writing as well. If you are just joining us, introduce yourself in the comments and let us know what you are working on. We will have writing prompts to hone those skills and get you warmed up for the task. Are you committed? Are you exciting? Then get ready to work.

Determination starts in the mind and ends up on paper.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (1)

Introduction

The road of a writer is fraught with peril–writing blocks, plot bunnies, deadlines, caffeine addiction, insomnia, antisocialism, the list goes on. There are many stages–or shall we say mile markers–along this road, and you have the choice to turn back at every stop. This is true, but this also goes against what Jeff Goins claims in his new book The Art of Work which is now on sale at Amazon.

This is the second blog post in my 500 in 31 writing challenge. To kick it off, I decide to write through the journey of writing, to editing, to publishing and beyond. Each day I will walk through chronological steps, as comprehensive as I can, going back to my roots and the books that aided me. Imaginary sidekick, to the library!

Today, I am going to delve into my past and open the pages of my own adventure. Writing did not become cool until my older brother started writing science fiction stories for school projects. I always loved reading, but never considered writing. But I always go back to my brother’s quote,

I write because I’ve exhausted the books that interest me.

He’s a little high and might, but nevertheless! The point remains. I started writing because too often young adult books were not to my standards, or simply not within my preferred genre. So there I was, dabbling with genres trying to find The One. I wrote Star Wars fan fiction, I wrote sci fi, I wrote fantasy–ah ha! It was a silly fairy book, but it was the only book I was able to finish. I had discovered something, something big. I let our six acres of childhood fuel this fantasy element and began a hobby that would become the essence of who I am.

I never considered publishing my stories (I hadn’t considered myself a writer, back then. I was just “scribbling”). Oh, sure, I dreamed of being the next JKRowling, but I told myself I only wrote for fun, for my siblings. Well, one day, I allowed a client at the salon read one of my books. If ever there was a proverbial genie-in-a-bottle, it was she. In between appointments, she ate up that silly story and came back to give me the inspiration of a life time. This was the moment of awareness; it wouldn’t be until two years later that I published my first book. After the genie, came the Guardian. Because in every adventure story, there is a guardian who comes and goes during pivotal moments in the hero’s journey (e.g. Gandalf, Brom, Ben Kenobi, Albus Dumbledore, etc). My Guardian gave me the boost of confidence, the speech of positivety, and the vision I would carry with me forever.

“Who knows, you could be the next JKRowling, but you’ll never know unless you try.”

I spent that year researching. I tried querying traditional publishing houses. I tried querying agents. I read blogs, and websites, and emailed people I didn’t know and who intimidated this home schooled country bumpkin. But I never even received a rejection letter. I got absolutely nothing. Well, I may have a slight stubborn streak. After all this work, and telling my supportive fans that I wasn’t getting anywhere, I finally put my foot down. “I’ll do this on my own. Who says I need a publisher? Who says I need an agent? I’ll do it all myself!”

–Now, I’m not condoning this type of mindset. There is something rich and desirable about having a community of support and a team to come alongside you. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Philippians 4:8–

Needless to say, though, I Lone Rangered it. I turned my sights to self-publishing. At this time, it was 2013 and I had just finished NaNoWriMo for the first time. I was on fire. Here I had this inspired story and a drive to be published. So I went to work. I drafted and re-drafted that story, setting my previous book aside. If I was going to flop, I was going to flop with a smaller story that wasn’t as near and dear to my heart. But time flew! Winter turned into summer, summer came with stress and deadline drama. And when November came…and the first print arrived…I breathed in the wonderful aroma of my book. My first book. That, my friends, that moment, is why I write. I didn’t make any money on that first book, it was just an author copy. I didn’t receive fan mail from that book, it hadn’t yet hit the market. I was alone in my car sitting outside the FedEx store breathing in the fresh paper and ink of my book.

As we delve into this journey together, there are key questions you should ask yourself:

Why do you write?
What do you write?
For whom do you write?
Have you a vision, a goal for writing?
What is your plan?

I’m very excited to walk alongside you, friend. Your story, my story, it’s still growing. If you can take away one thing from this study that helps you, then that alone makes it worthwhile. See you tomorrow.