Growing as a Writer: An Interesting Observation on First Drafts

Ron Writes Stuff

I believe with all my heart the most important thing about writing a novel is completing the first draft.

It’s just math. It doesn’t matter how great or original your idea is. A great, original idea != a book. It doesn’t matter how long your outline is. An outline != a book. You have to complete that first draft. A first draft is a book, albeit (for many of us) a bad book-but a book nonetheless. Or manuscript, if you prefer. Then you do a ton of editing to make it a good book, or even a great book. If you’d like to see it spelled out, here are some formulas (to keep the whole math theme going):

no first draft = no book

first draft = book

(first draft + editing) = second draft = better book

(second draft + A LOT of editing) = next draft = good…

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The Truth Behind #VeryRealisticYA

Nerdy and Wordy

So, last week, this hashtag, #VeryRealisticYA, was created by @ABoredAuthor (aka John Hansen), and it caught the online writing community by storm. The tweets people sent in were hilarious. (I’m too lazy to embed them, but if you want to see some of them you can go here, here or here.)

But although the hashtag was created largely for satirical purposes, it does hit home for a lot of YA readers and authors. A lot of YA novels aren’t that realistic. This is an even bigger issue for Contemporary YA novels, because the people who write them don’t get the kind of artistic freedoms that authors who create their own worlds do. They have to conform to the world we live in today—issues and all (especially with the issues). But think about it: how many popular YA novels feature a person-of-colour narrator or main character? How many…

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One Indie Author’s Debut Year Income

Jessi Gage...A Time to Love

The Numbers Are In!

About a year ago, I compared royalties for traditional versus indie publishing in a blog post. I had a unique perspective to offer since I did this comparison for the SAME book and close to the same month of different years, an opportunity afforded to me when the traditional small-press publisher I was with changed hands and gave authors the chance to ask for their rights back.

View the post here to see what I made in January 2013 as a traditionally published author versus what I made on the same book in February 2014 as an indie author (both were debut months). At the end of the post, I suggest I might do a similar comparison for a full year of traditional publishing versus indie publishing.

Well, here I am to do just that! Thanks for stopping by to peek! If you’re new to…

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One writer’s New Year’s promise – to herself

Happy New Year 2015And so that time of year upon us again.  You know the one – where news organizations begin publishing their greatest stories of the year lists, the weather networks offer us a list of the ten worst storms of the year gone by, and the rest of us tally up what we’ve done, and more precisely, what we are planning to do.  I have never been a person to make New Year’s resolutions.

First, as a professor for the bulk of my working life, New Year’s has always been the first Wednesday after Labor Day – the first day of classes on my particular campus.  Now that was the time for making a new start.  But January 1?  Not so much.

This year I’ve been thinking about what the word resolution really means.  Who knew that it had so many different nuances of meaning?

According to the Oxford English dictionary

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The Top Ten Self-Publishing, Fantasy, and eBook Stories of 2014

Jennifer Bresnick

Victorian clock face

Hey there, guys!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (or at least a brief break from work/commuter traffic/annoying office mates, for those who didn’t celebrate).  I don’t want to distract you from composing your reviews of Dark the Night Descending, which I know you’re all doing in the final two weeks of my contest, but I thought I’d share with you an end-of-the-year roundup of the top posts on Inkless.  2014 was a good year for my humble little blog, and I think it’s kind of fun to revisit the stories that attracted the most eyeballs over the past twelve months.

Ready to count down?  Here we go!

10. Short Story: He Belongs to the Sea

It was nightfall when the blood came.  William had been set to sitting and watching, so the surgeon could attend to others.  He had never seen so much before.  The…

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100 Notable Books of 2014 – NYT

Margaret Langstaff

[Just another tidbit of wit (?)]

pulsinanimous

The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

Worth reading (pardon the pun), the list, that is.

FICTION & POETRY

ALL OUR NAMES.By Dinaw Mengestu. (Knopf, $25.95.) With great sadness and much hard truth, Mengestu’s novel looks at a relationship of shared dependencies between a Midwestern social worker and a bereft African immigrant.

ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING.By Evie Wyld. (Pantheon, $24.95.) Wyld’s emotionally wrenching novel traces a solitary sheep farmer’s attempt to outrun her past on a remote British island.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.By Anthony Doerr. (Scribner, $27.) The paths of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy converge in this novel, set around the time of World War II.

AMERICAN INNOVATIONS.By Rivka Galchen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) Most of these…

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Two Recommended Posts For Aspiring Writers

Fluent Historian

If you’re an aspiring writer, I have found two excellent blog posts that you need to read, right now. Both are on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog (which every aspiring writer and writer ought to read regularly).

The first one I am going to talk about was written later (today) and concerns the issue of “sloppy first drafts.” There’s a myth in the writing world, Dean says, that the first draft you write of a work of fiction is bad, and then you go back later and fix it. What is the point of this, he asks.

But writing a sloppy first draft to just get something on the page has always puzzled me, right from the first time I heard that way of working in an English class.

Why not write it in the cleanest and best way you can the first time?

Why set up more work?

No need…

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Phraseology: a writing app that is a gift from the writing Gods

Spark My Mind

For those of you who don’t know there is this amazing app called Phraseology. You may be asking yourself what could this app possibly do to deserve such high praise. Well don’t worry because I will tell you. The most helpful and noteworthy feature of this app is the Inspect function within the app. This function reads through your document and spits out all kinds of crazy data about your document. 11948341693_da5ebbb52b_bAs you can see this goes far beyond what Microsoft word can tell you about your document. Maybe you’re not a statistics person, maybe you need visual representation of what something can do, well guess what, it can do that too.

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Overall this app is super helpful in identifying trends withing your document as well as pointing out any trouble spots you might end up facing. I know I intend to use this for all my future writing…

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One-hit Wonderer

Graffiti on the Walls of Time

Through the miracle of modern technology, I am in contact with/able to read the utterances of various writers across the globe, many of whom are in the same somewhat-pro-but-not-terribly-well-known boat that I inhabit. I’ve recently run across the writer’s version of the well-known “one-hit wonder” syndrome that we usually associate with music (i.e., a band produces one big hit and never charts again. The examples are legion.) In this case, a writer may produce one story which sells big, gets reprints, and generates award buzz, but after that he has trouble selling to Dog-Catcher’s Quarterly.

I hadn’t really known that this was a thing. I’d heard of the novelist’s plight: you write a series of books and the first or second or third doesn’t sell very well, and you’re dropped by your publisher, leaving you and your series (and readers) high and dry. I didn’t realize it applied to short…

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Completing the Climax

room of our own

I finished writing my climactic scene today, and it really was everything I hoped for.  I had to work within the limitations of my story’s situation, so the youngest ghost, who can leave the house, was popping in and out to tell people what was happening.  He was also instrumental in getting the husband, who actually is a police detective, to get to the scene faster than he was doing.  Of course, the fact that my young ghost was pushing every button he could find in the patrol car may have helped.  He had the heat fluctuating, the radio blaring, and eventually the sirens screaming and the lights flashing.  It’s handy to be a ghost, sometimes.  I’ll have to try it some time.

The thing is, using the ghost helped to build the tension in a way that I had not been able to do when I forgot about the…

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Words from the otherworld: Dirt healing.

catherinewinther

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I will be broadening my writing on this blog and adding some more personal elements. Reasons for this will be explained in another post.

I was speaking to a dear friend a while ago who I hadn’t spoken to in some time. As per usual we fell straight back into heart-talk and he expressed concerns about talking to me and feeling like a downer because he wasn’t in a happy place at present. My response was that this is the very time to reach out for support – to trust your friends will be there for you no matter your state.

However, more came through that I felt compelled to share, things that came from my workings as a writer, readings and life experience. We know as storytellers that all great stories/journeys have their black moments – that moment where everything feels hopeless and you think ‘well heck, how the…

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Catherine Brady’s Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction

Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Story LogicA couple years ago, Catherine Brady spoke at the California Writers Club, Tri-Valley Branch meeting. She impressed me and I bought her book, Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction. I highly recommend it as an indepth study for the craft of writing. Brady is the author of three story collections. Her Curled in the Bed of Love won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and The Mechanics of Falling was a winner of the Northern California Book Award for Fiction. She teaches on the MFA in the Writing Program at the University of San Francisco.

In the writing class I  teach, we finished Wired for Story by Lisa Cron as a class text. I recommended  we use Brady’s book next and the members agreed. I’m looking forward to reading it again. Each page is a jewel of wisdom.

For example on Page Five, Brady states, “Plot is…

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