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Introducing Unfamiliar Races to Readers

I’ve been working hard on the new series (Sizael). I’m happy to say I’ve got a beginning I like and a direction that works. However, one thing I did find myself having difficulty with was introducing a race that is unique (at least in name and culture) to this series’ world. That of the Jateri. Essentially, they are horned humans, and are considered relatives to humans.  I’ve been writing for Sizael since 2008, so the Jateri and the other race I have created for them is nothing new to me, yet writing the first book of a series is proving to be interesting because I’m having to approach these races and other unique elements with the idea of introducing them to the audience for the first time.

 

In the end, the first Jateri was referred to as a, “horned Jateri” until two paragraphs later when my assassin character (the main protagonist) could take a moment to absorb what the Jateri looked like. It’s then that the race is explained in the narrative. It’s interesting returning to a world you started to create years before and writing books for it with the intention of sharing them with others, just due to the challenges that comes with introducing elements specific to your series’ world.

Have you ever had this experience before? How did you deal with it? Share in the comments and you’ll be put into a draw for a special blog interview!

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The Tips to Maximize Conflict in Your Novel

Interesting article by Kristen Lamb which highlights that though conflict is a key component in any story, that even the smallest of conflicts (like a clash of personality) should not be overlooked for the potential it has.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Kirk

Whenever I blog about craft, I’m coming from the perspective of a long-time editor. I do understand that the creation process is vastly different from the editing process. I know this because I’ve been on both sides. But, if you want to minimize revisions and rewrites, it helps to have some basic editorial skills in your toolbox.

Since many of you might want to pursue self-publishing, you’re wise to hire an outside editor. The cleaner the text, the lower the bill. Even if you want an agent or to traditionally publish, the tighter the writing, the better the odds your work will earn positive attention.

Line-edit is important and no longer my area of expertise. I put commas everywhere and pay other editors the move them where they need to be. Typos happen even to the best of us. Right now, I’m editing my almost 100,000 word mystery-thriller and *head…

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Definitely a New Series

Back in 2008 (technically 2007), I created a roleplay forum called Sizael. The world was of my design, the game mechanics also. Last December, I closed it down due to various difficulties I had been battling for 14 months or so in regards to running it. I never intended to write books for it. It was created solely to be used in a gaming format.

It wants to be used though. I started writing today at work (I have honestly nothing to do today) about a character I created near the end of Sizael’s life called Dimitri, a master assassin and a subtle member of the Resistance. It’s helping me to feel the way – will there be books or won’t there be? I think there most definitely will be! My old characters are resurfacing, areas and lore I created are quickly adding depth and a need for action into the piece I’m writing, and I’m having loads of fun!

Some might say, “that’s dangerous – what if old members complain you’re using an idea or place they created?” It’s simple really – I’m only going to use the bits I created. Like for example, Dimitri, the Imperial Palace of Justice, Fraelin and the Fraedab War, Boxien, the Sizael-styled druids, amigari, Caften City and so on. Players’ contributions were that of asking questions to me about something, and/or creating areas within areas I had already fleshed out myself a little. So in that respect, there is nothing for anybody to worry about – I’m only using what I created (in other words, the official lore and my own characters).

Sure, I was even thinking yesterday, “I’d love to bring it back properly, as it was intended,” but it is the end of that phase of Sizael’s life. There is not the desired memberbase within the R.P. community anymore as there once was. Many have become lazy or rulebreakers. Not like a few years before when Sizael had it’s “golden years”.

I just felt like sharing this with you all. It was an old and cherished project of mine, and just because it encountered difficulties in achieving a the sort of memberbase it needed to function at the end, that doesn’t mean my project, this whole world I created, should just crumble into dust. My characters, and even a few new ones are revelling in the chance to be written for again, and I love the world I created.

A Visible Shift in Energy & a Potential Change

Hi guys!

Since my last article, in which I decided what my writing goals are, I’ve noticed a positive influence on my writing habits, including returning to writing daily. The goal in particular that is helping me is the daily goal of one thousand words a day (which I only count if they’re in something I’m writing for my books or one of the pieces I do set between them for fun and exploration). I think this is in part because I am a fairly competitive person, and I like beating myself too!

One thing that has caught my attention though is the possible change to my main series. When I set the goals on the 27th of this month, I started writing a piece for fun and to give myself something to flex the skills on before committing to any of the books and series I’ve already worked on or have at least a basic idea for. This piece of miscellaneous as I call them, is set late in the main series around the same year as book twelve. It feels almost like it could be the beginning of the series, as crazy as it sounds. The potential change is interesting, but I do not want to just ignore the books that came before it. I know book two has always had a potential for being scrapped completely, but the others? I like them, and others like them. The downside to toying with this idea and continuing to write this piece of miscellaneous as if it were the start of the series and not just a piece I started for fun and practise, is that there is a lot of ‘telling’, explaining in the narrative of the back stories of each character. For my books before, this was utilised when acceptable in case somebody ever picked up a book without reading the others (thereby making it possible to start reading wherever you liked in the series). Now there seems to be too much.

As a result, I’ve been considering my writing goals. One of those was to looking into self-publishing as a viable option, and to ask self-published authors lots of questions on the subject, at the same time, I recently read an article on Kristen Lamb’s blog about the power of three and freebies. Admittedly it wasn’t the sole subject of the blog post – it is titled as, ‘Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors’ (link is below).  It struck a chord with me though. Perhaps, what I could do, was provide some of the books before it for free.

I was at my parents’ this Christmas, and I decided to try out Google’s Play Books  whilst there – it is available on my Android Phone and Samsung Tab 3 for free, and is actually one of those apps that you cannot uninstall that comes already installed on the Android devices. I downloaded a few of the free books and have enjoyed reading them on both devices. I am still a lover of paperbacks – they don’t need electricity to run and it’s more comfortable and fun to snuggle up to a corner of the sofa with a paperback, but it was nice having a decent few books for free on my phone. Due to my being intrigued by the idea of ebooks being available on my phone and tablet, I then downloaded the Kobo app onto both and have multiple samples to read through. Though I can’t seem to find the free books on Kobo that it is supposed to have (perhaps because I am only using apps to read their publications), the idea appeals to me to do the same; to offer the earlier books for free, but to make sure there are other books available for purchase or free download as well.

This has resulted in some changes to my plan. The first in the series is going to be re-read by myself, without being able to edit it (another of the goals) during that time like I normally do. If I still enjoy reading it, I then have to make the decision whether I want to edit it or to keep it as it is (as I am worried about one element of the series’ world that does not feature as strongly in the other books of the series). After that, I will prepare various copies of the manuscript as per various publishers that allow self-published writers to submit their works to them (like Kobo or Amazon’s Kindle for example). At that point though, I won’t be publishing yet. I’ll then jump over to book two and do the same with that as I did the first. Both will be free to download, with the third book I publish being sold.

As a result, in a round-about way, this miscellaneous piece that I did because of my goals has helped me prepare a rough plan of action. It’s nice having one! Before, when I was intent only on publishing through traditional means, there was no master plan, just this:

  1. Get an agent.
  2. Get a publisher hooked.
  3. Use all of royalty to promote the first book.
  4. Keep writing.

It is strange to think that through reading Kristen Lamb’s blog article and writing this piece because of one of my goals, that I now have a solid plan as a writer, but the goals haven’t just done that. I’m treating my writing more like a career path again, like I did when I was in college. Though I won’t be quitting my office job any time soon (and neither the web hosting and online services I provide), it feels good to be in this mindset again – to be taking my own writing seriously again. I suspect that the miscellaneous piece won’t be the first in the series with this new plan of mine, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep writing it!

Are you a writer? Have you had any experiences similar to this? Please share in the comments!

Liked my blog post? Why not connect with me via Twitter or Google Plus?

The link to Kristen Lamb’s blog post mentioned above.

Reinforcing my Writing

The past few years, slowly but surely, an online writing roleplaying forum I created started to take my hobby time. All of it – every day I was keeping an eye on it, and if I was offline it was just as likely my mind was thinking about it. Why? I loved the project, and I still do. It was an original fantasy world I created, with major NPCs (mostly the main antagonists) written for by me. For those unfamiliar with online writing roleplaying, it is a collaborative writing experience, where worlds can be created by individuals or by many, and each player write for their own or adopted characters. My game’s world was created almost completely by me, with minor areas created by others.

When I first created the world, I had no intention of writing books for it. I made the world for the sole purpose of writing-to-roleplay in it’s setting. Meanwhile I was working steadily but comfortably on my fantasy-crime main series (and occasionally dipping into my stand-alones and other series). In the time the writing roleplaying forum ran, I moved several times. Between the moves and my WRPG, and working a full-time job, the habit of writing for my offline characters slowly faded away.

At the beginning of December, I finally closed the WRPG due to external influences affecting it in a negative manner. As a result, this opened up that time that would normally be spent working on it. I’ve promised myself that I will write a minimum of one thousand words every day, which though it was once an easy goal, nowadays it will be harder to reach. I’ll also be using the extra time to improve my drawing techniques.

That isn’t all I’ve decided though. I’ve been thinking a lot the past dozen months about all sorts of things. In 2014 I will be turning 25, and I have always been pretty hard on myself in regards to achievement and goals. My online services such as web hosting saw me decide on fifteen goals for the year just for that, so I thought I would make more than just the one thousand minimum rule – for my love of writing and my characters, I would make a few goals for my writing too.

1)      Write at least 1000 words a day.

2)      Write one and a half books in 2014 (this was my old average).

3)      Look more seriously into self-publishing – ask other self-publishers lots of questions as part of that.

4)      Read the first book in my main series as it is, completely, without listening to the editing trigger finger and then decide what to do with it (and for the moment pausing the editing I started doing – more about this soon).

5)      Work on both the assassin series as well as the main series and the Andreni series – finish planning for at least one book in each series.

Continuing to Write!

It’s been ages since I posted! My apologies for that!

This year has proven to be a little hectic – in April I went self-employed, which comes with various additional tasks you have to do on a daily basis (not to mention a lot of maths), and with that, I also found time to put into my writing and reading.

I’ve been continuing to work on the new version of the first book of my fantasy-crime series, and though it is slow going (I finally decided the talking cat secondary protagonist would stay in with only two small parts to play), I am slowly progressing. I have a new opener that I like for the main female protagonist, and am currently in the process of writing the scene where she meets the main male protagonist in the series and her future husband (and then ex-husband).

I’ve noticed that some days my writing lacks description, seemingly slipping into the newer style of almost no description to help the reader visualise the scene. This trend has appeared not just in my writing, and has appeared because of social media. As it’s not vanishing any time soon, it begs the question: is less description better for my writing?

I think, personally, that it might not be. I enjoy reading my writing better if there is just enough description that it helps to paint the scene around. There’s nothing wrong with the other way, but I now have two new authors I like that have never once described their main protagonist, other than one having a moustache. It’s a bit off-putting for me not to know what the characters of these other writers look like, so I will ensure my writing keeps some description in.

Hope for the Beginning of the Series

Firstly, I’d love to thank: oneanna65, The Commonzense of Saint James and weaklyshortstories for the likes for my last entry, and to Angela’s World of Writing for following me.

It’s been nearly a month since I found myself concerned for if my main series has the audience it would seek if I were to get it published (mostly the first manuscript). During that time, I have made some edits to the manuscript, but haven’t progressed as far as I would have liked since then due to the regular work hours and the other bits and pieces on the side I do for clients (website and forum design, along with custom artwork).

However, two nights ago, I spoke with a friend over email about my series. I spoke at length about the books as a whole and the two main characters. He believed it sounded good and was positive about it all (though of course there is always the possibility he is just saying that because he is a friend). He was also asking a lot about the characters and the storylines in the series which displayed the possibility that he was genuinely interested.

As I continued to speak with him about them, I brought up my concerns of the audience and then went on to talk about how it comes a lot from my worries about the first book in the series. His argument against my worries was, “Fifty Shades of Grey got published and that’s utter crap that needs spellchecker too.” He also commented that on a writing RPG forum I run, members openly say without prompts that they love my writing and the original world I have given my WRPG.

During that conversation though, though there was a moment when I was worried for the audience of the first four books in the series (including the first), I gained something positive out of it – it has been a while since I spoke to another about my stories other than one person who just didn’t care too much and preferred fanfiction (this the Negative Nancy frenemy I have finally unshackled myself from, but that is another story). As I was able to discuss freely about my writing, with another whom showed interest and discussed it, without saying down-putting comments but rather optimistic hopeful ones, I had this fantastic surge of positivity towards my own writing.

So I now have a more hopeful outlook for my main series despite my concerns, thanks in large part to my friend. Though there is a chance I’ll revisit the manuscripts for the other stories in the series near the beginning, I would have done that anyway! With hard work, I can find my series’ audience when I need to if I manage to get them published (and we all know with that, persistence is key).

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