From Writing to Publishing

Study, Study, Study

Writers are desperate people. When they stop being desperate, they stop being writers.

In this day and age, one can have a college major in Creative Writing. What a novel concept! To think, you can go to college studying and learning more about what you love doing. I’ll be the first to admit that I originally scoffed at the notion. Nobody consciously wants to join the “starving artist elite”, so why spend so much time and valuable money in a boring classroom?

I’m what you call a self-learner. I become intrigued with something and dig up a bunch of resources to learn about it. I taught myself the majority of my art skills, the Continental knitting technique, and much of what I know about writing and self-publishing. My teachers have been books and the good, new Interweb. When I heard about people going to college for Creative Writing, I thought, What’s creative about college?

Let’s talk about studying.

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The thing is, not everyone learns the same way or at the same pace. While I can pick up what I need through reading and scavenging, another writer might struggle with that harried approach. So why not learn everything you can in college? You’ll get a fancy degree which looks great on a resume, and you have a wealth of structured information at your fingertips. You’ll discover opinions from a professor’s point of view, or from your classmates. You’re mind will be broadened. You may discover something I would never be able to find no matter how long I stumbled about. This is the Twenty-First century. Take advantage of every resource available.

* * *

There are some writers, writers I have met, who have become stagnant in their stream. They’ve allowed the current to push them into a little pool where they float around and around creating the same circle of foam and sediment. They’ve stopped learning. They’ve stopped caring. In fact, if you were to show them exactly what they were lacking in their writing, they would become defensive, up-tight, and bitter. My advice is to leave them alone. Don’t waste your breath on someone who doesn’t want to learn.

Now a writer who can see and admit their flaws is a diamond in the rough. I don’t care if you write a thousand books, there is always something to be learned, or even re-learned. You will always need to edit, always need to study, always need to brush up on your craft. Read books you would never read otherwise. Follow blogs giving out free tips and advice (this is not a plug for my blog. Okay, it’s a small plug). Go to the library, or buy books about the English language, grammar, and writing. You don’t even need to read these cover to cover; learn one new trick every time you pick one up and you’ll be better for it.

* * *

Be desperate in your desire for better. There is an old saying that good is the enemy of better. You don’t want to be good. You don’t even want to be best, because best assumes you’ve learned all there is to know, and that assumption usually precedes an ugly ego. Stephen King said it well when he said writers need to stay humble. Be humble and strive to become better.

I’ll compile some books and blogs that I find useful. In the meantime, if you know of any as well, post them in the comments. Some desperate soul will thank you for it.

Until next time, this has been,

Fanny T. Crispin

Compilation of Information

Writing on the Right Side of the Brain by Daniel Mega

The Writing Nut ~ Blog

Goins Writer ~ Blog, Jeff Goins (He also has a plethora of free ebook downloads)

The Write Practice ~ Blog, Joe Bunting (Includes writing prompts and invaluable information)

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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.