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Archive for April, 2012

I can’t over emphasize the value of critiques–both getting and giving them. They’re not only how we make a story better, they’re also how we grow as writers.

I’m starting to work through the critiques of MAGIC’S FOOL so the topic of how to make the best use of these critiques is very apropos.

Some critiques are like ringing a bell. They start an avalanche of ideas that makes the writer jump up and down shouting “Of course. Of course, why didn’t I see that.” Those critiques are precious. Sometimes you have to work a little harder for that same insight, but it’s just as valuable when you do see it.

Often a critique or a group of critiques will point out a problem that the writer isn’t aware of. After all, as the writer, you know all sorts of things about the story that didn’t make it onto the page and no matter how long you let it rest you can’t ever completely come to the story the way a reader would. If three or more people say the same thing, you probably ought to pay attention because there likely is a problem there. But, and here’s where things get interesting, it isn’t always the problem that the critiquer points out. It might be something deeper. Occasionally, it’s something much simpler that leaves me saying to myself something like, “Yes, but if I hadn’t been an idiot and cut this paragraph, that would have made much better sense and you wouldn’t have been confused.”

In this case, I’ve got an interesting mix of critiques. One reader says that I need an external antagonist. Another keeps asking me to show not tell and says the first half was slow, but the second half was great. Still another says that the story has potential, but lacks excitement. As a writer what am I to make of this? 

The first thing is to wonder if they’re all reacting to the same thing and just saying it in different ways. I think they are. I think what they’re trying to say is that they’re not feeling the protagonist’s problem, at least during some parts of the story. I haven’t done a good enough job of ratcheting up the conflict.

 And now I have at least some ideas of how to make my protagonist’s conflict much stronger. I’ll need more, but that’s what revision is all about. So, thanks to my great beta readers. It’s going to be a much stronger story when I’m through with this revision.

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Lucky 7

I’ve been tagged. The rules are:

Go to page 77 of current WIP

Go to line 7

Copy down next 7 lines/sentences/paragraphs & post them as they’re written

  • Tag 7 other authors
  • Let them know

Since I’ve barely started THE BARD’S GIFT and haven’t gotten to a page 77 yet (haven’t even gotten to page 2 yet) and I finished the revisions to FIRE AND EARTH and started querying it yesterday (fingers crossed), that leaves MAGIC’S FOOL. I’m starting the next round of revisions based on the critiques of my beta readers, so that counts as a WIP, too.

Going backward just a bit to start in a place that makes a little sense:

Vatar took a step back. As a Dardani, every instinct told him to keep that secret. Especially not to tell a stranger. “Why? I don’t want to.”

“Because Veleus understands these things better than any of us. He can help you, if you let him.”

“I’ll help you in any way I can, . . . son,” Veleus said.

Vatar scuffed one toe on the path. “It was just a dream.”

“We all thought that at the time. But not any more. Now I think you were actually talking to someone in your mind. Tell him.”

“What’s this?” Veleus asked, looking at Vatar again.

Seeing no way out of it, with everyone’s eyes on him, Vatar reluctantly recounted his three conversations with Thekila and how they had happened. And, at Mother’s prodding, he also told about the incident with the lions. Veleus listened with interest, asking pointed questions.

Hmm. Just looking at this makes me think I need a few more dialogue tags or beats. This bit comes at the point when Vatar first meets the person who may help him to understand the magic he’s been desperately trying to hide.

Now, if you’ve read this far and you haven’t already been tagged–you’re it.

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Marketing

Well, now that I’ve got a toe in the water on e-publishing, it’s time to think about marketing.

I haven’t done much of that, yet–and my sales show it. Frankly, with only “Heart of Oak” published so far, I think it’s a bit premature. “Heart of Oak” is a novelette (roughly one-tenth of a full novel). But more e-published stories are coming, so it’s not too soon to think about marketing.

Smashwords publishes a very good, free e-book on marketing, so I’ll just post the link to it, here. There are some really good ideas in there that I’ll want to consider when I e-publish BLOOD WILL TELL at the end of this month or the beginning of May. That’s when I plan to take marketing a lot more seriously. Even better, every idea in there is also free to implement. And a lot of them would be really easy, too.

One of the big tips is to have multiple titles out there. I have that underway. “Heart of Oak” is out. As soon as I hear back about “Becoming Lioness” (assuming the market that currently has it on submission rejects it), that’s going up. I have a romance novella “The Music Box” that will be e-published as soon as I’ve gotten a little feedback on it. Then the full-court press for BLOOD WILL TELL and get cracking on revisions to BLOOD IS THICKER and a draft of the third book in the series, BLOOD STAINS.

Hmm. One of the things I need to do is to come up with a title for that series as a whole, too.

 

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