Friday, May 31, 2013

A Little Note Regarding This Blog

Let's be honest in the first line, this post isn't about writing. It's more about the nature of this blog itself. If you're looking for writing tips, please click on another link to a post that's relevant to that.

But anyway, if you still want to read this, this is a bit of an odd post, a bit different from what's been normally up on here. Now, I know for one that my blog is getting next to zero traffic. I'm not here to complain about that, I know that I'll need to touch at least one hundred blog posts after posting day by day to get some attention.

But the thing is that I'm not doing one-twentieth of what I could do to promote my blog. Why? Because I don't want to work on Search Engine Optimisation at this point of time.

Actually, in a way, this blog is a sort of experiment. I want to see if, by simply posting day by day, I can get some notice around here. If we want to notice a plant, we see that it starts growing steadily day by day bigger and bigger, until we finally actually see it. Can a page be like that? Can a page eventually grow so large on its own that search engines and others just have to see it?

That's what I want to see. And that's why I'm not going around posting on teen writing sites about my blog. It might be partly because this blog hasn't even started out properly yet, but it's more of this experimental reason than not.

So anyway, thanks for reading this.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Wait

It has three legs, a thousand eyes, breathes fire, and has a poisonous tail.

Okay, maybe that's just how I see it, but the wait really is monstrous. The wait is that period of time after submitting a manuscript to a publisher/agent and waiting for a reply.


                                              Maybe you see 'The Wait' as more like this.

Now, granted, the wait is actually not as bad as it used to be. Think about the times when they used horse post and simultaneous submissions were not allowed. You could wait a decade before getting a contract in those days.

But still, the wait is extraordinarily agonizing. Within a week, doubts will start plaguing your mind. As a matter of fact, my first rejections came within a few weeks.

Maybe it just has to do with the fact that there are so many writers these days, and it is just so easy to write and send a book using MS Word and e-mail. That's why there are hundreds of submissions, which make the waiting period just that much longer, and subsequently much harder to notice.

Of course, people do get published from the slush pile and do get agents, provided their work really is good. But the thing is, your mind will continue asking questions 'Was it good enough?' to you while you're waiting. And if all you get are rejections at the end, though that's perfectly normal, it certainly doesn't make you feel any better. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

How Much Do the Minute Details Count?

While editing my book recently, I found that I needed a line translated into Latin. The thing is that I spent quite a lot of time trying to get a translation. But the thing is that even though it is a pretty small detail, I spent a whole lot of energy trying to get it right.

Just how much do the really small things count? I mean, the big things like plot, dialogue, and characters are definitely important, but what do you guys think about getting small things like a character's hair color right throughout the book? I'd like to hear.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Grow A Thick Skin

While you're a writer, you're going to be under flak a whole lot of time, either while you're sending out for a publisher/agent and getting rejected, or just having your work reviewed.

Rejection pretty much is guaranteed to all writers. And even if you do get published, your editor will probably have a lot to say regarding your manuscript. And even if it does get published, there's no guarantee that it will sell up to even one-tenth of your expectation.

And even if it becomes a hit, critics will still want to demean your book. Some of them will do it just because your book is popular. There hasn't been a single book published ever that hasn't had some criticism.

Which is why it is absolutely necessary to develop hippo-like bulletproof skin. Don't let other's comments get you down, because the only thing you can do is write more, try again, and try better, not sulk somewhere about what other people are saying.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

From First Draft to Second Draft

Finishing that first draft may seem like you've accomplished everything, but like I've said before, you'll be glad that you didn't let anyone read it.

As a matter of fact, during the revision of your first draft, most of your time should be spent in rewriting a good part of the book. Yes, don't glare at me like that, it's true. What depends is how much you might have to rewrite.

If you thought up of your plot as you went along, there will be many plot holes, and you generally need to rewrite most of the book so that the plot makes sense. For my first novel that was true, and I ended up rewriting more than half of the book. For my second novel though, I planned out most of the storyline in detail, so I'm not spending too much time on the plot, but I'm still rewriting a lot of the scenes.

It's normal if your first draft is very bad. Don't get discouraged by it. Instead, start editing. And when you're editing for the first time, concentrate on the important things like dialogue, plot, character development, etc. If you see a typo, fix it, but correcting the grammatical mistakes can come in later. What you want to do first of all is make sure that the story makes sense and is engaging and interesting.

You'll probably end up spending a lot of time on that first revision. More than any other revision, but it will be worth it. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Your Publisher Can Make Your Book Look Thick

I bet you're thinking that I write way too many posts on book thickness. Well, the thing is that this seems to be a very important thing for a lot of writers, even if it shouldn't.

You see, I was, out of curiosity, comparing the thickness of Matilda with Lady Friday. It's not necessary to have read the books, because that's not what we're going to talk about here. The first book is filled with drawings, which would undoubtedly increase its length, while the latter is filled with only words. Still, if you were to measure their thickness with a ruler, they would come out almost the same, even though Matilda is around 240 pages in total while Lady Friday stretches to around 310.

Of course, I later found out that that shouldn't be surprising. After all, page thickness does contribute to how big your book will be. But the important point is: Both of the books looked equally thick. Yet one is actually larger.

The thing is that I know a lot of people with the mentality that they won't even open a very thin book, so they're scared if their book turns out to be too short. Well, that's the thing, don't worry about page count, and don't worry about thickness. You're publisher will decide that, and decide in the way they think is best for your book. Just focus on writing for now.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beta Readers

Now, one thing you might want to think about are the people who are going to be reading your draft. You definitely want someone else's opinion, because you're the writer, and that will distort how you read and judge your book. You need someone from the outside, even if it is just your parent or a close friend, you do want to get someone to read it, though you should probably get someone who will judge honestly.

If you're one of those people who have lots of friends eager to read and review your book, well, I'm jealous. None of my friends went beyond the first few chapters. That might seem like they didn't like it, but usually it is just because they have other things to do.

You probably don't want someone reading your first draft. Trust me, when you'll get to editing it, you'll thank yourself for not letting someone else take a look at it. Now, I'd say it's when you don't start changing major things during your later revisions that you should get someone else to read it.

And one last thing, don't mention that someone liked your book in a query letter. It means nothing to an agent/publisher, and of course if you asked someone they're not about to say your book is horrible if it actually is. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Being Honest About How You See Your Book

Remember when I said that around 95% of submissions get rejected for simple reasons like grammar and syntax? Well, to be honest, a whole lot of you might be wondering why those people send in their works in the first place. I bet publishers are thinking the same thing.

The truth is that most of them think their works are great. That they're amazing. And if they've shown them to people they know, out of courtesy, they probably agree. Which is why it's very necessary to be true to yourself about your work.

I've experienced it several times. While editing, even though I knew that a scene wasn't working, I decided to leave it thinking that I could work on it later. Don't do things like that. Look at your work like a reader, and I'm sure you'll see most of the errors in it yourself, even if you might not want to admit that they're mistakes at first. You'll just end up having to fix them later on, and even if you don't, if it gets published like that, you'll still regret that you didn't change it.

It might be hard at first, but the key to editing is never thinking 'it's good enough' and hoping an editor will fix it. Do everything to the best of your ability. And trust me, I'm sure you know exactly where you're messing up.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On Fanfiction and Fictionpress

If you are a teen writer, you've probably come across both Fictionpress and Fanfiction. But if you haven't had a first hand experience of either of them, well, this post is mainly about them.

First of all, the two sites are sisters. Fictionpress deals with original fiction while Fanfiction with, well, fan fiction. Both of the sites have pretty much the exact same layout and rules, and also an option for other users to review on your story.

What you've got to remember though is that there are no rules for posting anything. So, as a result, a lot of the stories posted are bad (more so on Fanfiction than not) and the sites are sort of dying right now. You don't get a whole lot of reviewers unless you post on the popular threads. For Fanfiction, almost all of the stories and traffic belong to the top, most popular franchises like Percy Jackson and the Olympians. If you write something else, you probably won't get that many readers.

And some of the stories are good, but a whole lot of them are too short, filled with cliches, and ridden with grammatical errors. Kind of like books from the self publishing industry where there's no one to regulate them.

You can also ask for Beta Readers, but do realize that many of them might simply not respond or be too busy to respond. You might want to try a short story or two, but do remember that most stories don't get too many reviews anyway.

Monday, May 20, 2013

On Writing Poetry

This was initially going to be a part of my scams to look out for series, but I decided that it sort of deserved its own post entirely.

So, the main thing you should know is that no agent will ever represent poetry. If you see anyone offering to represent poems, it is a scam. Poetry hardly makes anything these days. No agent could possibly earn a living through selling poetry.

I'm serious regarding that. Some people do manage to make a living entirely by writing novels and such (their numbers are few, but at the very least it is possible). Poetry never sells as much. People who submit their work to poetry publishing houses generally don't do it for money, but rather for reputation.

Another thing, poetry doesn't need to rhyme. There are a whole lot of people who think that even today, and it's just not true. Open any recently published poetry book and look. Of course, children's poetry is often expected to rhyme, so that's another thing.

So anyway, even if you do want your poems read, you'll probably have to become super famous. Either by writing, or something else entirely. And as people now-a-days don't read poems, even then the sales probably aren't going to skyrocket.

I would also advise you to watch out for poetry contests that promise to publish your work for a small fee. You might want to see if anyone actually reads the publication before putting any money on the table, and even then, you might want to really think about it.

Some Normal Guidelines While Writing YA

Now, the title of this post might be a bit misleading, because I'm just pointing out some tropes that seem to rule/govern YA writing and also posting about some books that totally break the guidelines. Remember that most great books do break the guidelines, but they generally have some reason to do so.

1. The main character should be a boy. Unless you're writing specifically for girls, this is something that you may have come across/read about somewhere. Girls will read books that have boys as main characters, but not the other way around so much. Of course, The Hunger Games disproves that to some extent, but most people seem to say that if you want to reach a large general audience, you should go for a male main character.

2. People always read up. Remember how old you were when you read a specific book. Generally, you probably don't read about people younger than you. It's generally reading about characters a few years older. While it's true that most people read up, it's not that they won't read down. I read books where the characters are younger than me sometimes. Sure, it doesn't happen usually, but it's not an impossibility.

The main thing to consider while determining your main character's age is that an older age will result in a different tone for the book. Also, people at different ages behave differently.

3. YA books are always thin. Most people would suggest you to that YA books should be between 40-50k words in length, but this rule gets broken so many times that it isn't even necessary for me to put too many exceptions. You'll probably hear of a lot of people who managed to get their books sold to an agent at around 75k words even. Concentrate on your story more than your word count.

Just remember that these are considered rules for a reason. If you have a good reason to, feel free to break them. But if you're trying to change the world of publishing, I would say that you should probably try to get published first, and then write something truly revolutionary. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Things You Shouldn't Do in Your Beginning

The beginning is a pretty important part of a novel, because most agents/publishers will leave your book at the first page if it doesn't really catch them. Some of them might be a bit more patient if your query letter looks promising, but you certainly can't count on that. And none of your readers will be reading a query letter, at most they'll take on a paragraph or two. So, here are some things that agents tend to hate in the first page, and look boring anyway:

1. The first line is a rhetorical question. This looks bad, and most readers will actually answer it with something negative in mind.

2. You introduce too many people in the first paragraph. We don't need to know all of your character's family members right off the bat.

3. Starting in the middle of an action scene which makes no sense. You might think that this will help 'hook' your reader, but it won't. What you need to do is introduce the main conflict almost right away.

4. If you want to put in a prologue, (you should ask yourself if you really need one) keep it very short. And it should be entertaining, not something that could be removed. (If you've read Eragon, you'll know that the whole prologue could have been excluded. As a matter of fact, a good fifth of the book could have been excluded, but let's not talk about that right now.)

5. Starting off with something that's cliche. If you've heard of something once, agents/publishers will have heard of it fifty times.

6. Having grammar errors or showing that you can't link paragraphs properly.

7. Starting off on some boring scene.

8. Building useless suspense regarding an object/person which isn't even important.

9. Introducing the story through some character's point of view who doesn't even have a major role for the rest of the novel.

10. Beginning by describing a scene. No one is interested if the roses sparkled with dew in the first line. Leave that kind of stuff for later.

Now, like everything with regards to writing, all of this advice should be taken with a grain of salt. The beginning is the hardest part of a book (the ending's no piece of cake either) and you'll see a whole lot of books that have been published and are successful, but break the norms. If there's a good reason for you to break one of these above rules, do it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I Can't Write About Dragons

Okay, I know that I'm supposed to be working on The Codebreaker's Society, but I couldn't help but right about Tales of Ink Sorcery today. You see, one thing that I decided not to include in the book were dragons.

And do you know why? Not only are dragons the most overused trope in fantasy, I've read and heard so many different things about dragons that I can no longer think of an original idea for a dragon. Seriously, Christopher Paolini's idea of a dragon is still the one that's the freshest in my mind, but there are a whole lot of others. Some say that dragons feed on moonlight, others say that their fangs are poisonous, and I've been a fan of American Dragon: Jake Long for quite some time.

Same way for elves, leprechauns, dwarves, etc., so I decided that I would just leave all of that stuff. Due to so much exposure to different ideas, I just can't think of something that would be original as a dragon. Or something else.

Have you ever faced the same problem? Because this is one thing that's been bugging me for a long time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


In addition to a query letter, agents/publishers will probably also ask you for a synopsis, so you might as well start on it after your first draft.

I won't bog you down with too many details on a good synopsis, because there's already so much info out there, and a lot of it conflicts with each other. I will only say this: A good synopsis should be short. (2-3 pages if it is double spaced and uses a twelve size font) Also, it should be entertaining. You shouldn't write it like a summary on Wikipedia.

If an agent likes your query letter enough to continue reading your synopsis or sample papers, then they probably won't leave your book due to the synopsis alone. But be careful, the synopsis is the only thing that tells your agent/publisher how the book will end, and please spoil the ending.

If your book is funny, enrich your manuscript with humour. Reading it should feel exciting, not like reading some sort of school report. But like I've said with a query letter, don't sweat too much over it. Yes, you should write several drafts, but don't just go bonkers on getting every single thing right.

Monday, May 13, 2013

After Your First Draft

I know how great it feels to finish a first draft, particularly if this is your first novel. Congratulations, but the truth is that there's a whole lot more of work to do. Now, you probably don't want to jump into editing right away. That's because it's in human nature to think 'It's all good,' if you try looking over your manuscript immediately.

Take at least two weeks before you start. But that doesn't mean that those two weeks should be unproductive. You can start by writing something else, your blog, jot down notes for a second book, or maybe work on some short story. You might then want to start on the summary and query letters, along with the character profiles. They don't need to be finished, I'm just saying that you should start on them, because it makes it all the more easier during editing. Trust me.

But do remember to do something and forget about your project for a while. Otherwise, you'll just end up bored by your own book. And that's never a good thing.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

When to Quit Working on Your Query Letter

I won't try to give advice on how to write a query letter. There's already much more than enough on that out there. But, the thing is that I see a lot of people who get far too much worked up over a query letter. Now, sure, a query letter is very important, but your project is way more important than that. If you find yourself spending more time on your query than on editing, then you know you've got a problem.

Nowadays, most agents also ask for the first three chapters or something along those lines in addition to a query, so they'll also be seeing that. Provided of course, your query letter isn't absolute trash.

I would say that once you finish your first draft, you should leave it aside for around two weeks. For a few days, do something and don't even think regarding the project. Then, start writing the synopsis. Write a one line synopsis, and then a full page one. Then move on to your query letter. You'll probably need to do a few drafts to get it right, usually around four, but the effort is well worth it. If you end up making ten drafts, then you're probably putting way too much thought into it. It's not necessary to have the query finished before you go to editing, but you should have a rough idea of how it is.

And, though what makes a good query varies from agent to agent, the following guidelines are things that you should definitely follow:

1. The query letter should tell you everything important about the book, genre, word count, title, etc. in the very first paragraph. Start with an interesting line (most people would advise against using a question in the first line) and explain your book in one or two lines, and then continue and give all the information above. Don't bury in in the last paragraph like it's some sort of secret.

2. Research your agent. I can't stress this fact enough. Remember, agents receive around one hundred queries a day, and for starters, get the salutation right. If your letter begins with 'Dear Agent' they might not even read it and go to the other 99 emails that they've received. And make sure that the font of the entire letter matches so it doesn't look like you've copied and pasted everything into it.
Also, make sure that you put at least one line (not more than two) about the agent. Mention a book that's similar to the one that you're pitching that the agent has represented, and how it is similar. If no books match your book, then that agent is not worth querying. If you've met the agent before, you might want to mention it, but don't go overboard with this. One or two lines and getting the salutation right are all that you need.

3. Make sure that your query is interesting. Sure, it is a business letter, but check to see if your mini-synopsis sounds interesting. It should sound like the blurb that you see at the back of a book. If your query is just average and very engaging, then some agents might pass it off and not bother with reading the sample that you've sent.

There are a whole lot more rules, but they're sometimes broken. But these three things are what your query letter should have, no matter what. And like I've said before, don't sweat over your query letter too much. Make it good, and take some time to let some other people proofread it, but don't go overboard with it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Is Nothing Original?

You might remember my post on copyrights (it's mainly regarding laws in the United States, but from what I've seen from digging up on other countries, most have similar laws).

But a rather interesting thing is the notion among some writers that nothing can be original. A lot of writers have found that some of their lines that they've written are strikingly similar to books that they've never read.

There are a lot of explanations for this. Some people say that while we're reading, we're subconsciously picking up on various things, and by accident we might be including them in our writing without even realizing it. An example is a rather famous book and you can read about it here on Wikipedia.

But at the same time, what about passages which are strikingly similar between books that you've never read, or even heard of before? Well, think about all of the millions of books, films, television shows, comics, etc. that are out there. Chances are that no matter how much you try to make an original idea, by pure chance, there will be several things out there that will have the similar idea, or an idea that you can relate to your book.

Well, the thing is that accidental plagiarism still counts as plagiarism, and all publishing houses make sure that you sign a contract which makes you state that the work is all yours. The book I mentioned earlier won a movie deal and a half million dollar advance, but it could never sell since the whole incident. And for some reason, ever since that book has been accused of plagiarism, even more authors have found similarities between their works.

But a whole lot of those things might just be tropes and archetypes that everyone uses, right? After all, almost all writers try to do something different, but also want to do something that sticks with the genre. No one can really be sure.

So, if it ever happens that you find a line in your book is similar to one in another's, don't overly panic. It happens sometimes, and your best bet is to to change it.

About Copyrights

I'm sure this must have happened to you at least once: You were scared that someone might take your work and sell it for profit.

First of all, regarding copyright laws in the United States, everything that you create is considered your intellectual property. The current law says that it is yours for your whole lifetime and seventy years after. You don't need to do anything except be the original owner, and you don't even need to include a copyright symbol anywhere in your manuscript. (Don't do it by the way, it looks amateurish.)

Also, your publishing company will apply for a formal copyright later on. There's no need for you to bother. Now, some of you may still be sceptical about this, so let's consider two scenarios.

The first is that you think that you sold your work to a con artist and then you think the guy's going to sell it somewhere as original work. Not going to happen. I mean, for the con to be successful, the person would have to invite a large number of writers for one to be good. (By the way, most con agents/publishers don't read your work anyway.) How is that person supposed to realize that your book is good among a thousand submissions, when not even real publishers get it right sometimes? That's right, he or she won't. A con artist makes a living off of scamming writers, not actually publishing something.

Furthermore, remember, if your work was so good that someone wanted to steal it, then it'll probably become super famous. And you'd find out eventually.

Now, suppose the other thing you're worried about is a real publisher taking off with your work. Also the craziest thing in the world.

For one, there's no way that anyone can guarantee that your work will sell enough to bother stealing it. Two, if they steal your work, they would be alienating you and any other future books that you might right, and so they would lose a lot of money. Three, the moment they'd be caught doing this, no one would ever submit to them again.

And also, do remember that there's no reason at all for someone to take your work. After all, they do have to include an author's name, and if they have a group of pet authors who they keep attributing stolen work to, then they'd be caught. If a publisher out there was infringing on countless copyrights, they would do it again and again, and they would be caught.

But I suppose that won't convince the more paranoid of you people. I can understand that because the above argument didn't totally convince me, as I kept thinking, "But what if it does happen, even if the odds are less than 0.001%?"

Well, don't bother applying for a formal copyright. (I have to note here that if you want to sue someone for copyright infringement, you'll need to formally register.) It will cost a small fee, but writers don't make much anyway, and it will also come out as amateurish if a publisher finds out. And they will find out eventually, since they will know when they try to apply for a copyright themselves.

What I would suggest would be keeping enough evidence so that, if need be, you can prove that your book is yours. Some examples are:

1. Get someone you trust to read it, and they can testify if need be that they saw your work before it hit shelves. You'll do this because you want someone to critique your work anyway.

2. Keep a sort of development diary on your manuscript. This is great for editing and ideas anyway, but as it shows the process of how the book was developed, no one can say that it wasn't yours.

3. Keep the e-mails and other devices in which you save some earlier copies of your work. You can send e-mails to yourself, and the dates on them are more than enough. You'll do this because you want backup copies of your manuscript.

Most of this is stuff you probably do anyway for various reasons. But, I'd just say to forget about the idea of someone stealing your work and get writing.

On a final note, some may point out that there have been lawsuits filed against some major publishing houses. Well, the thing is, once your book gets famous, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to have eyes on all the money and fame that you've earned. I haven't seen all the cases, but I'd say that most of them are just from jealous writers who see a few points of similarities in their work and the stuff that gets published. Go figure.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Thick Will My Book Be?

Another thing that I often see on forums, and is generally misunderstood is just how thick people expect their books to be. A lot of people have the idea that a thick book is generally better and they won't even open up a book unless it is at least half an inch thick, while a smaller minority prefer the opposite.

But like I've been saying on my posts on word count, you really shouldn't bother with this. Get the story done first, and then you can cut out anything you think might be unnecessary.

But to give you a really rough idea, well, if your book has x number of pages in standard manuscript format, then that's a good approximation of how big your book will be.

So, a book of 50,000 words should have around 200 pages. But for YA it's usually much longer. For one, a book's page is much smaller than that of a standard MS word page, but double spacing is also removed. The size of the text is also kept larger in YA books so the average words per page is a bit shorter, usually in the 200-240 range. This can make a 50k book around 250 pages.

But the thing is that you shouldn't dismiss your book because you think it's short, and don't worry about how thick it is. Your publisher will decide all that. And, another thing, books are generally much longer than you think they would be. A 40k book might seem short, but it can actually take a lot of time even for a fast reader (I consider myself a fast reader, so I think I know what I'm talking about) and you shouldn't burden yourself with unnecessary worries about length.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Standard Manuscript Format

Today we're going to talk about something that almost all writers despise: formatting your manuscript. Yes, that's right, it's not just enough to write out a whole book, when you send it to an editor, you have to format it as well.

Now, what really drives me crazy is that all kinds of different publishers have all kinds of different formatting rules. For that, you'll just have to check their guidelines. But, a lot of them still ask for 'standard format', so that's what we'll be covering here. To convert a manuscript to standard format, the following should be noted.

1. Make all of the margins one inch.

2. Make the font 'Courier' or 'Courier New' and make the size 12. Also, select all of your text, right click, go to paragraph, and make line spacing double.

3. Indent the paragraphs half an inch using the indent tool on top of the page.

4. Make sure new chapters start on a new page.

5. Remove any special text except for italics.

6. What you should put on your first page varies from publisher to publisher. Most will agree that you should put the title at the top ( all of the things in this sentence should be centered), below it the genre and the expected word count. Then, change the alignment to left and type in your name, pseudonym if any, and any relevant contact details. If your publisher demands a summary or query letter as part of the manuscript, make sure that they start on different pages and you should be fine.

Most of this is with reference to Microsoft Word, the most commonly asked for format by publishers. If they ask for a pdf, you can just follow the above procedures and convert it later on.

Monday, May 6, 2013

About Passion

Right now, I'm waiting for my second novel to cool down a little since I only just finished the first draft. Once it's simmered, I'll get back to editing it. Until then though, I have several ideas that I wanted to share with you guys.

Defining passions is so difficult that I won't even get into it. But I remember this line from one of Roald Dahl's stories that seemed to sum it up pretty good: No one knows exactly what passion is, but one thing is clear. It can turn even the most boring novel into a bestseller, and can also do the exact opposite. (One, I'm not sure that that's the exact line, more of how I remember it. Two, I enjoy quoting Roald Dahl when talking about becoming a writer. You should really see what he has to say about it.)

But coming to the point, even though that definition seems to help very little in giving any new writer information regarding what passion is and how it should be used in a novel.

I won't go on this for very long, because I have very little to say. What I really wanted were your opinions on this. What is passion to you? Is it just liking your story or believing it's the best? Or is it about completely losing yourself to your story, to think about it as if it really happened?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Some Scams to Look Out For- Part 2

This is a continuation from part one.

4. Sites that are geared towards writers, not readers

The most important person in the publishing industry is the reader. Everything the publisher does is to satisfy the reader.

However, if you find a site that is geared towards writers, then there is a problem. What I mean by this is that real publishers' sites will list the books they've published on the front page, and they'll actively distribute information about their authors. The submission information is usually in a tiny corner somewhere.

But if you see a site that showcases submission information and seems to encourage writers to submit, then you've got a problem. That means that the publisher is probably making money off of its writers, not its readers. And that is very bad for your book.

5. Publishers with way too many books published

If you see a publisher which is just one year old, and yet its gotten 120 books out, that means it is what we sometimes call an 'author mill'. Such publishers don't make money by selling thousands of copies of one book, they make money by selling one hundred copies of hundreds of books. Needless to say, as an author, you don't want to go with these kinds of guys.

Remember to always check what people are saying about the books a publisher publishes. Check out the prices, sales records, check out a preview (if there's no preview available then this is another red signal), etc.

6. People who ask you to buy copies of your own book

A lot of publishers, the ones who are scams, make money by asking their writers to buy their own book copies. No real publisher will ask you to do this, or pay any upfront fee.

As a matter of fact, a real publisher will give you a small number of author copies of your book for free. Aside from that, you don't need to get any copies of your own book. And you shouldn't have to, because a publisher who asks authors to buy their own books will not bother selling out your work to actual readers.

Finally Finished My Second Book

Sorry for the very small number of updates lately, but I was busy writing The Codebreaker's Society, my second novel. Amazingly, I managed to finish it in under three weeks, though my first one took around a year and a half. I'd attribute that to the following:

1. Length: This book is around 48k words as a first draft. It might go up a little, but not beyond 55k. My first novel was around 110k in length. Shorter book obviously means less time to write it. But the thing is that I thought that both of my books stood good at those lengths. My longer book needed more length to tell the story, the shorter one had a story of just that length.

2. Planning: I didn't really plan Tales of Ink Sorcery. But I had spent a whole three weeks planning this book, writing down stuff about the characters, plotting scenes, etc. I knew the entire book before I wrote it. I made a few small additions, but the overall plot remained the same. For my first book I actually had to stop and think for hours regarding the plot as I had made it up as I went along. And I also had to rewrite almost half of it as well, because it wasn't too good. Not that my first draft of this is fantastic, but I think it's solid plot wise. There are still several changes and additions I think I need to work on, but on that later.

3. I've Gotten Better: Maybe this isn't as important as the first two. But this is the second time I'm writing a novel. Maybe I just got better.

For now though, I'll keep updating. I'm taking a break from my novel for a while, but I'll start editing it in around fifteen days. I hope the editing process will be shorter and simpler than that for my first novel, which had taken around five months in total. But I did get to learn a lot about revision from it, and hopefully this one will sell.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Inserting Humour Into Your Story

Roald Dahl once said "You can write about anything for children as long as you've got humour."

This might be bit off the point, but I never found his books to be especially funny. Sure, they were all great, but there wasn't even a single moment in them in which I even giggled a little. Still, they were the best.

But coming to the point though, you're probably going to find a touch of humor in all YA books, and in some adult books as well. Unless what you're writing is a very serious story, (even in very serious stories humour can find its place once in a while) you'll probably want to insert some jokes or funny moments to engage your readers.

Now, there's one thing though: How to make your book funny? While there are no set rules, you can learn a lot by reading books that are funny (like Artemis Fowl for example). Some ideas are:

1. Use a comic relief character. While it's probably going to look overly cliche if you have someone who just exists to make things look funny, you can insert that as a trait in one of your characters.

2. Have one of your characters, maybe even the main one, have some sort of interesting quirk. Even the most serious of people have their own oddities.

3. Maybe you don't want to make any of your characters funny. Then you can turn some of the situations they get into downright bizarre.

4. Another thing you might want to try is describing people in an odd way. (The Artemis Fowl books are a good example of this. If you've read them, you probably know how Eoin Colfer describes a whole lot of things.)

But do remember one thing: Humour is a very subjective thing. It varies from person to person. What you may think is laugh-out-loud funny may just get an odd look from someone else. This is true about writing in general too, what one reader might find interesting, would be annoying to another. (But there are some things that in general, all readers will enjoy. Experiment. That's the only way you'll find out.)