It’s been, shit I didn’t realise, it’s been ages since I have posted, but I’ve been thinking a lot about a consistent structure for sending these out. If I am going to send out a weekly mash up of a confessional, a look behind the scenes, and a pop culture roundup then at least I can be consistent and write about stuff people want to read. Or something.
The general wisdom among indie writers is that to make a living; you have to pick a market, find a formula, and write 4 to 10 books a year in a series using that method.
The advocates for this are selling tens or hundreds of books a day. They aren’t worried about the market collapsing from too much supply because as traditional publishers leave genres for more profitable markets, indies will either sell more books to an under served audience or start over in a new market.
Not just for Indies
There is nothing wrong with that. As long as the writer is enjoying what they do and they satisfy a paying audience, everyone wins. And it’s not just Indies. Some of the biggest names in traditional publishing made those names writing mainly or exclusively in a book series.
Readers love affair with Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh, the cult following of Iain M. Banks utopia in a fisted glove, and Terry Pratchett’s army/coven of Discworld fans prove there’s an appetite for high-quality storytelling in a multi-book series.
C’mon Barbie let’s go party
I’m still wandering around in a party of ideas in my head. I’m having a great time getting to know them all, and maybe, maybe, I’ll meet the idea that’s too big for one book, and I’ll spend my time telling all its stories. Or maybe not.
Maybe I don’t worry about writing to a market. Maybe I get excited about the standalone stories I have and tell them as well as I can. Maybe I get those stand alone books out of my system, and a series bubbles up from the smarter part of me.
Maybe I don’t, but I’ve realised that writing should be like touching yourself. You don’t think of anything else when you’re doing it.
I’m coming to the end of the first draft of the sci-fi novel, and I’m getting ready to edit. I tore through my entire English Lit degree without editing a single assignment, and it was the stupidest thing I ever did. The power is in the edits.
And so it begins
Next week I’ll print off the entire manuscript and go through it scene by scene making a note of every mistake, flaw, error or possible improvement. I won’t fix anything, not even spelling until I’ve finished the notes on the last scene.
Scene structure is the biggest item on my editing checklist, and I’ll read through these notes before every editing session.
- Does the scene have a consistent point of view? Who is telling the story? From which perspective?
- What is the main character’s goal in this scene? What is the antagonist’s goal in this scene
- What is the Inciting incident in this scene? When does the main character take action on the page towards their scene goal?
- What is the Progressive complication that takes your main character away from their goal in this scene? Your main character and the antagonist’s agendas must conflict.
- What is the Crisis in this scene? Faced with conflict, ALL the characters in the scene must ask ‘do I do this or do I do that?’ The scene has to force the main character to make a best bad choice (the lesser of two evils) or an irreconcilable goods choice (You can catch the killer or save the girl, but you can’t have both).
- How do ALL the characters in the scene put their choices into action on the page and are their actions believable?
- What are the REACTIONS to the characters actions? No cardboard cutouts.
- I, Claudius by Robert Graves. Theft, murder, treachery, blasphemy, incest, humiliation, degradation, violence, debauchery, madness, and not one single honourable figure in the whole book. It’s bloody brilliant. (UK) (US)
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (UK) (US).
- Mastering Amazon ads by Brian Meeks (UK) (US). The whiteboard in my head is filling up with the marketing plan for the first book. No single channel can be expected to sell books unless there’s freak break out of sales because of viral word of mouth. Reverse herpes? Hope for freak occurrences will not pay the mortgage. I’m figuring out my advertising spread across Social Media, PR, and Paid Traffic. Brian is a self-confessed data guy and stuffed his book with hard numbers taken from his extensive spend on Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). Brian’s book will save anyone (not just authors) looking to advertise on Amazon a lot of money and frustration.
- Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!: 2000AD & Judge Dredd: The Secret History by Pat Mills and Lisa Mills (UK) (US). Think of it as virtual work experience if you’re considering a writing career. Packed with writing advice including the best advice for titling a story.
- Niall McArdle’s winning short story for Hennessy New Irish Writing. Niall is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate writers I’ve met and still manages to be an emotionally beautiful human being. Read the story, follow his blog, weep with joy when he releases his novel.
- Rick and Morty Season 3 on Netflix. Proof that taking the time to tell a good story is more important than schedules.
- Fargo Season 3 on Channel 4. The opening sequence on Episode 8 is the only piece of TV I’ve watched over and over while taking notes. David Thewlis plays the devil in a rumpled suit.
- Nicholas Ely’s cover art. I love Nick’s covers for The Rift, and I’m hoping there’s a cover in there for me shortly.
- Fatman on Batman. Director Kevin Smith and writer Mark Bernardin live podcast from San Deigo Comic Con. Go back through the feed for the two interviews with writer Grant Morrison. Hands down the best discussion you’ll ever hear with an author.
- My new voicemail because arguing with strangers over social media instead of working is not paying my bills.
Hi, this is Stephen Gordon. I’ve given up carrying my mobile phone around with me until the end of August. If you need to get in touch with me, you can email Stephen at Stephen Gordon dot org. Please do not leave a voicemail because I won’t hear it until the end of August, but I will answer emails as soon as possible.
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Let the whole world know that you are destructive. – Inspirobot (an insight into AI)