Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A to Z Topic for 2015

Yep, it's time to announce the topic of the month for this year's exciting A to Z blog challenge.

It was a difficult decision.

While my first instinct was to go with something fun, like character or maybe even worldbuilding since I started working on my epic fantasy before nanowrimo and didn't get very far. I'm notorious for wanting to worldbuild but never actually doing much of it as I instead just write the first draft. However, after much consideration, I decided the topic I needed to cover on this blog is:

Edits and Other Technical Aspects of Fiction Writing

Yep, I'm buckling down with my edits  right now and this blog gets to be a part of that because I'm still very new to this whole final edit before submission process. I stalled since I was uncertain which steps to take and need to push myself in order to get things done. So, that's the topic for A to Z challenge. It will include grammar, point of view, description (and my insane lack thereof even after multiple rewrites) and many other similar topics related to the editing process.

Come back on April 1 to see which topic got picked for A.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Coming Soon: April Blog Challenge

That is right. It is time once again for the A theatrical Z blog challenge.

This year I am going between three different topics and plan to pick one in the next two weeks. It's not easy to pick what to spend an entire month talking about so I'm going to give it a little time even though I have a slight preference at this point.

Top choice right now is a month focused on character. Each letter would focus on an aspect of characters that can range from meta to miniscule. I do like characters so any chance to talk about the many different aspects involved in minor and main characters will nab at my attention. I have done some character posts in the past, so will need to make sure don't repeat myself too much in this one and really any topic chosen.

Another option is a whole month on world building. I would probably need to specify on that option as have done some in the past even though I don't world build much. There are so many topics available with building a world that one could probably use the topic per month for a number of years with the A to Z challenge and not run out of material.

Finally, I'm considering talking about the technical side of writing since I'm trying to learn how to get edits done. I've managed to find my groove with first draft writing and even rewriting, but this final edit has been on a major stall. I need to get that done so I can finally reach the submission process. Writing about different editing points and such for a month could be a good reminder of what I should be working on myself.

So the three topics: Character, World Building or Technical. 

Tough pick.

What will you work on in April?
Hope to see many bloggers out and about during the month and I can't wait for the challenge.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Abundance of Dialogue in Short Fiction


When it comes to this writing element in short and long fiction, in general: I'm a fan. Ever since practicing for specific dialogue only contest on a writing site, I've often put a fair amount of talking in my stories, in particular in first drafts and during NaNoWriMo cause it's now the easiest for me to do quick with little worry of end result. I struggle to get much description and at times with action, but boy can my characters talk.

There can be benefits to the chatter, however. Dialogue has definite uses and many stories would not be complete without some (though it is possible to write a short story without dialogue, for sure). It can allow characters to provide information to each other and the reader without coming off as too much of a tell from the writer.  There are times when the right bit of dialogue in a moment, the right phrase or saying can help set the tone, pacing or even conflict. The way the speech is done and word choice can also be useful in showing character.

It can also be used to help setup a scene/story. All one has to say is: "We need to talk" and a moment is created with much potential. There is the anticipation and internal thoughts that occur when the character is preparing for the talk, no matter which pov is being used at the time. Much potential exists when it comes to dialogue.

However, it can reach a certain point, where the talking might become too much. At times, in particular with short fiction, if much is taking place in dialogue only, there might be other things missed. Pacing is affected along with distraction and uncertainty as the reader tries to see the whole story. Depending on the story, this could mean that too much dialogue was used.

Yep. I said it. Too much dialogue.

Is that even possible? Honestly, even as a fan of characters who talk, there are times when there is too much dialogue in a story. It is possible.

Most of the time this experience is with unpublished work as I spend a fair amount of time on a writing web site. However, it's possible to see this in published work as well because opinions will vary. There are times when I'll read a story on here and while it has potential, I will struggle because much of the story will be done in dialogue. I'm not saying that can't work, however, it can also work against the story in some cases. While at times, characters talking can help with the show versus tell aspect, when taken too far it becomes the characters telling, and it's easy enough to notice. The reader might end up distracted by all the chatter or feel as if they missed something important because other aspects of story telling are lacking. And in short fiction, word count does limit what can be shown to the reader in the given time frame.

Balance is a difficult task to achieve because it will vary with every single story but it's something we should all work on as writers. Plus, the dramatic dialogue reveal can be made stronger by also having other aspects such as emotion and enough description to put the reader in the moment even more. Something to consider at least. One story will require more dialogue than another, but trying to determine what is needed is all part of the craft and challenge of writing.

This will be more noticeable in short fiction than novels because there is less space and words used to tell the entire story. All dialogue stories can be successful, but it will depend on the writing and the story being told. On the other hand, a story with half dialogue can feel like the talking takes over the story. Variables. Let the character's talk but in editing the task will be working on reigning things in with the hopes of making the story the best it can become.

What do you think? Can there be too much dialogue?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

End to Beginning Editing

One option to attempt when editing a novel is to start at the end of the novel and work backwords. You don't have to do it one word at a time, that might be a tad tedious, but to catch some of the small, easy to miss errors, it helps to do it one sentence at a time from the very end of the novel to the beginning.

I did this in my last edit. It took a fair amount of time, since it's monotonous and difficult but it had many benefits.

Benefits of the end-beginning edit:
Easier to focus on the individual sentences.
Not as easy to get caught up reading.
Focuses more on the technical side and not the overall story.
See the words and not what you think is there.

Time consuming.
Not for general story fixes, character development, and such.
Focuses on the very small errors.

This isn't a method for many, but it's a nice option. This and maybe using a speech program to hear the sentences instead of just reading them off the page.  There are many different edit options to help writers get a clean as possible draft ready for submission or publication.

Have you tried this?
Would you?
How do you edit?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Forming Habits

While this is often a topic that pops up more in January, I thought it would be a good time to discuss forming habits (both writing and others). Part of my goals for right now are to form healthier habits along with trying to write, edit and read on a regular basis. I posted about some of it a couple of months ago: http://dawnembers.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-balance-act.html and I'm still trying to find the right balance (which will go out the window for November but other than that, balance is helpful).

Often times, the hardest part of habit forming is to keep going. It's like New Year's resolutions because the first couple of weeks there is the excitement, but eventually it wears off and one then must find other forces to help persevere until it becomes second nature. Most habits take time to change, whether it's quitting bad ones or starting new ones, it's a challenge. And not everyone is the same. Some can quit cold turkey and others need more gradual, assisted approaches for quitting. Others need lots of encouragement to start up and keep going while some can switch at a faster pace while still feeling in tune despite changes made. Like writing methods, habit forming will vary too.

Here is an interesting article on  the time it takes to form a new habit:

One thing I've found that helps make habit forming fun is a gaming orientated web site called HabitRPG. Check it out at https://www.habitrpg.com and see if it's something that might work for you. It's kind of fun with the different levels, the little animals and other incentive/punishments to keep one on track.

I have 2 daily goals right now. Read and write. The rest of my habits and goals are divided between the habits option and to-do checklists. My habits vary from submitting stories and posting blog entries to eating veggies and drinking water. My to-do lists have things like read a book, write chapter 23, submit 5 short stories and research. Soon they will have world building ones too in order to get ready for NaNoWriMo.

It's fun for me, so far. I like getting points and such for doing things like having a glass of water. And the to-do lists gets you lots of points and such if you took a while to do it, there is a checklist and such. I'm also in a group so we can fight little monsters and win prizes. Seems like a really fun way to get things done.

Are there any habits you are trying to form?
What habits do you have right now?

Check out habitrpg and let me know what you think if you do. :-)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Social Networks and Platforms

While I have been working on my writing for several years, one thing I’ve also had to consider in that time is developing a platform as a writer, even though I don’t have anything published at this time. There are a few options available nowadays and more pop up every now and then. I have tried a few of them but not all because it’s good to not stretch beyond what one is capable of updating on a regular basis.

One of my blogging buddies, sparked this topic when she posted on her blog about how some were leaving the long blog sites behind for other web sites with shorter content requirements. However, most of the ones who responded to the blog about the topic were all people who still loved and continued to keep up their blogs. Social media does represent its own challenges and while having a presence online is useful, in the end it’s up to you which method maintainable over years in order to truly put a platform building use to the technology.

There are different options to consider, and these are just a few of them:
 Blogging (Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr, etc)

There are a few others and some more may come up in the near future, but let's focus on these four. I put several in one category because blogging itself is a big option, one that many have picked up in the last two years or so. What used to be "you must get your own web site as an author" has in part switched to some people just recommending a blog because it can work much like a personal site. They can either be free, which means they still have the website name attached like blogspot or wordpress before the dot com, or for a small fee, it can just be the blog name you pick out and dot com (among other options).

Most of the sites also allow page creations, which can be whatever you want. I have a couple of blogs and each have an about me type section, the book review one in particular to discuss reading preferences since it's more than just me blogging, and I even have on my writing ones a page that shows my current works in progress and word count widgets. I started blogging several years ago and continue though I am sporadic at times with my posting. My advice for any blog is not to get too ambitious. It's okay to on occasion do special times where you post every day, but realistically that is a very hard schedule to follow. Like writing, you can get burned out and struggle to post then guilt sets in. Consider a schedule and topic that works best for you, then be a little flexible. Also, take part in blogfests and blog hops because they are fun and help gain an audience. Remember not to expect comments if you never post on anyone else's blog. Networking, no matter the system, takes time and effort.

Facebook is another well known site for networking. There are different writing groups, ways to create author pages and personal uses. It is far more of a social site and allows different types of posting that can range from how your day is going (like twitter) to random images that are shared over the Internet. It can be good for updating though you will want to be aware of who you have added on the page and what you write because almost anyone can have a facebook page and they can be monitored by employers and such. Honestly, I do have a page but I only use it for family and old high school/college acquaintances. If I want to know what my grandma is up to, then I check facebook (cause yes, my grandmother uses facebook and way more than I do). However, I keep it private from my other internet networking options because for me, it's a personal option and one I don't want intermixed, but that is a personal choice. Though I do have my posts from this site show up on my facebook feed.

Twitter is a bit different because it's basically a lot of people writing random updates at a limited character count. I have used twitter for several years, but nowadays I almost never post. While their are a lot of jokes about posting daily life things that no one cares about on the site, there are some good uses for social networking as a writer on Twitter. It's good to keep up with certain industry companies and members. Many agents and editors have an account on the site, along with some publishers. Some will even host twitter chats where they will answer questions on a certain hashtag conversation, like #askagent is a good example of one. It is also a good place to on occasion advertise or do an update so people are aware how things are moving along, like if you made it through an edit or what not. That or you can talk about cats, always good topic on one of these sites.

Finally, there are places like pinterest. Now, this isn't necessarily a writing focused one but it's a good source to consider. However, pinterest is also one that is good at connecting to different networks. Most of the ones I have pinned so far are craft, cleaning or cooking ideas and often the image won't have the information but it will link to a blog entry that explains the item in question. The image sites can be useful in that way, plus they can serve as a way to find inspiration for stories because of the visual creations available.

Each one has merits and down sides. And many of them have ways to interconnect. Facebook can post an automatic update when you have a blog post go up on your personal blog. Pinterest can link to a blog page or site. There are a number of options available. However, it's easy to go overboard, then become so overwhelmed that it's hard to keep them going. You don't need them all, so check them out and find the ones that are going to work best for your needs and what you want to accomplish. Don't be afraid to set schedules and know that posts don't have to be several times a week all the time. Keeping up a social page does take time, but it doesn't have to take up all the time because while we want to have an available presence online, we also can't forget to save time for the actual writing.

Friday, June 20, 2014

How Many Edits

How many edits does it take to get to the chewy center… oh wait, that’s candy. Really though, when you start editing and rewriting, a similar question is going to come up. How many drafts does it take to get a send-able product? And like many aspects of writing, the answer will be: it varies. For each writer and even each project, the number will vary. It’s your job to find out the combination that works best for you and for the individual story.

I’m still figuring out mine. I’ve got 10 chapters left for the minor edit I’ve been doing. I call it a minor edit because even though I’m doing it from the very end of the novel towards the beginning to look at it sentence by sentence (tedious work indeed), the changes are all minor. I’m catching the typing errors, tense slip ups and such. I have another edit planned for after the nit-picky one, which sounds weird to a degree since I would have thought the fix the minor errors would be the last stage. Not this time. I have to go through and fix the description, senses and emotion that ended up lacking after I took out a bunch of telling bits (like my overuse of the words “felt” and “feels”). I wasn’t sure how to go about it, so I did the minor edit first. However, I think that will be the last edit and I’ll have something I can submit to agents.

But enough about me, back to the discussion on draft numbers, which is more just about my writing… so yeah. Since I started this novel, it might seem like I’ve done tons of drafts for it. That is not quite the case since it took me 2 years to finish the first draft, and I didn’t work on it for most of those 2 years. The second draft also took about 2 years due to distractions and working on other novel projects.

The other question to consider in talking about draft numbers is what to qualify as a draft. First draft is easy cause you go from a blank piece of paper, or that white screen in whatever writing program of your choice, to a whole and very rough novel. Beyond that it gets tricky. Sure, the rewrite from first person to third person, where it gained over 25,000 words, that was a more obvious other draft. However, do I consider the minor edit a whole new draft? Not much has changed, just little rewordings here and there. In fact, I didn’t even make a new folder in Scrivener for this edit. Before the minor, I did an edit where I worked on fixing issues like passive voice, telling and switched things to past tense. That was one I could easily consider a new draft (also increased word count by almost 15,000 with that edit). The minor edit, however, I just fixed up the already existing draft section. According to scrivener, I have 3 drafts and a whole file of edit notes which involved highlighting every chapter with things to fix before draft 3 was created. Three sounds short, yet it feels like so much more.

If I count the minor edits and such, the draft total will end up at 5 (so far). Granted, if picked up for publication there will be more drafts. Not picked up could mean later, if continuing with the novel & series, then another draft or two would be needed. Even with self-publishing, which I have no intention to do at this given time, would require another edit/draft. So 5 is the midpoint for this particular project. Not all will be the same.  I have one NaNoWriMo project that I know needs a complete rewrite. However, I have another novel that is at 90k right now and I will be skipping the major rewrite stage for that one and editing instead. So, for me, like most, the answer so far to the question of how many drafts it takes to get a send-able story is: it varies.

Roughly how many drafts do you do before submitting?
What do you consider a draft?