Saturday, July 31, 2010

Open Thread

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Saturday morning open thread. This is your chance to toss out questions, comments, and all sorts of stuff. Just remember, no spoiled fish or other stinky things. It is so hard to get the smell out of Blogger when you guys do that. Any way, there's been a lot of news in the publishing world this week if you want to talk about that. Or if you have a specific question you want to ask, here's your chance. One other thing, if there's a specific topic you want us to cover in depth, let us know.

And now, before I crawl away to find more coffee, the floor is yours!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'd love to read more about how you all go about planning series, especially those with a unifying plot or ultimate goal (like Night Angel, Wheel of Time, etc). Do you come up with a synopsis or overall story arc when you begin the first book, or how does it evolve? Do you know the basic plot of books 2 and 3 before you start 1?

Anonymous said...

Oh, boy, an open thread. Thanks, Amanda.

I was just wondering what to do with this, and that maybe I should get some thoughts from another writer.

I just received a quasi-rejection from a well respected semi-pro mag. The associate editor had a couple of clarifications that she would like to see in the story. The below is the parting line in the rejection, and I wasn't sure whether or not to follow my general rule of "don't fix unless they say they'll buy it." I do however see value in her point, and it probably does need clarification, so I'll probably go ahead and fix it. My question is: Does this sound like real interest to you? I guess it sounds like another chance to me, but I don't know if it's more of a chance than straight slush chances. It falls into what I think is a gray area.

"If you clarify these details, please feel free to resubmit the story to me at *****. Otherwise, good luck with this piece elsewhere, and thanks for thinking of *****."


And, hey, Amanda, I know that I said I don't have a story to crit right now, but how about this one? It's app. 2K words, and if I send the whole rejection, would it be possible to get your opinion on how best to address her areas of concern? I have reread it with her concern in mind, and I see her point. I think it would be a stronger story anyway if I addressed it, and it's fairly fresh in the rounds of submissions. A fresh writerly set of eyes would be great.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Linda

4th guy said...

Hello, I'm a semi-new reader to this blog.
Currently I'm working on a serialized online novel which is to be published on Authonomy. The question is: how do I get the word out there? I mean, there are several ways like linking in signatures and organizing contests, but are there any others?

Kate said...

4th Guy,

Have you signed a contract? If not, it's not "published", it's "posted" - trust me, this is critical when it comes to the actual signing of contracts and receipt of money part.

Authonomy is basically an online slush pile in the form of an internet forum. This isn't to say that's a bad thing. The fact that Harper-Collins editors commit to read the most popular 5 books each month is more than you'd get elsewhere.

The way to get read on forums like this, is to read and critique others. Don't beg for readers, but have a signature that lists whatever you have up at the site and links to it - that makes it easy for someone to take a look at your work. Try not to get caught up in the whole "I'll rate you highly if you rate me up" thing that inevitably happens - it may not be stated as occurring, but there does tend to be an informal quid pro quo with these where if someone gives you a rave review they expect you to give them a rave in return.

If you'd like critique advice, feel free to ask here - we've all given and received our fair share and then some.

Good luck!

Amanda Green said...

Anonymous, I'll let the other chime in with more detail about planning series since they have much more experience at it than do I. I have a couple of projects that are planned to include 3 books each. One of them stemmed out of the first book and I didn't know there should be at least two more until I was mid-way through that first book. The second project started out in my mind as three books.

In neither situation do I have a detailed outline or synopsis for the second and third books. I have a general idea where they are going and what characters will be involved. Of course, I don't work from a detailed outline for my current works in progress. I have a general outline and I know where the book will end. But I have had too many projects take not one, not two but three left turns when trying to work with a detailed outline -- and none of the turns were planned.

Amanda Green said...

Linda, that rejection definitely sounds to me like the editor is interested. If the suggestions don't change the piece too much, I'd probably do what was asked and see what happens. Of course, that's just my opinion and I'd like to know what some of my fellow MGCers have to say.

Go ahead and send it, and the comments, to me. Let me know if you need my email addy. I'll take a look. Fair warning though, it will probably be mid-week before I can get to it.

Amanda Green said...

4th Guy, welcome! I guess I'd like a little clarification on what you're asking. If you want to know how best to promote your work on authonomy, sorry, I can't really help you. My guess is to be out there reviewing other people's work, eliciting a "I'll review yours if you review mine" sort of thing. You can also, unless I'm completely off-base here, get your friends to join and recommend your work. I haven't been to the site in awhile and, like Kate, am not a member, so take what I've said with a grain of salt and the knowledge I'm going off of what I've read/heard over the last couple of years.

I will add another caveat to what Kate told you. Publishers these days have some strange definitions for the word "published". Some do stick with the traditional meaning of the word. Others view a work as published if 1/4 or 1/3 of it has been posted online in a blog, etc. Others view putting a work up for critique in online sites such as Baen's Bar or Authonomy as publishing it because, even though these are "closed" sites, the work is visible to potentially thousands of readers.

Now, if you are wanting to know how to get the word out about a work as in generally promoting it, that's easy. Work at. Blog about it. Tweet about it. Comment about it on facebook. Go to cons and do workshops. Query agents and publishers. In other words, while it is hard work to write something, it is equally as hard to promote it.

Good luck.

Stephen Simmons said...

Anonymous - This depends on what type of series you're talking about. A genuinely cumulative series, like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, absolutely requires that you know more-or-less everything that's going to happen in the later volumes before you get serious about turning your Volume One ideas into fully-developed text. It doesn't have to be a precisely-detailed outline all the way to the end, but you do have to know exactly how the big climax works, so you can start building up to it.

On the other hand, consider a series more like David Drake's "Hammer's Slammers" or Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events", where the characters do have some degree of continuity from one story to another but there isn't that single continuously-growing central plot carrying you from the introduction of Book One to the climax of the final volume. This type of series doesn't demand that you have all of the downstream work mapped out before you begin, although having some idea of where you'd like to go later might help you do some preparatory spadework along the way ...

Hope that helps ...

Kate said...

Actually, Stephen, I tend to work a different way with series. I know where the end is - even for the more episodic ones - and I know what has to happen to get there, and more or less what order it needs to happen in. But only for the big parts.

In Impaler, for instance, I know there are at least two more books in that sequence. Book 2 ends with the death of Sultan Mehmed and the collapse of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Book 3 ends with the conquest (or reconquest, depending on just how you look at it) of Jerusalem.

I knew the basic "stopping points" for each book, when I started Impaler, but that was pretty much it.

The short version, Anonymous, is that there's as many ways of plotting series as there are writers, and the best option is to mix and match until you find the ones that work for you.

It does help if you don't destroy the world in book one, unless you plan to put the entire universe up for grabs in book three, through. Readers feel kind of cheated if the super-epic-battle happens too soon.

Kind of like premature climax... (runs away)

Stephen Simmons said...

Kate, that was evil ... and entirely in-character ... :)

I really can only guess, to be honest, since I'm still on my first trip around the roller-coaster. But the fantasy-epic really is plotting itself more end-to-start rather than the other way around, and I have to step back and do a LOT of rethinking every time the characters do anything unexpected as I move through the actual writing. On the other hand, I have another series-idea that's rattling the waiting-room-doors (loudly) and demanding attention, and that one really will be almost purely episodic. The principals (including the gods) will develop and grow as the series progresses, but each installment will be very nearly a free-standing entity. Then there's the SF story, that's really one book, just broken into two parts because nobody would buy a 300K-word monstrosity ...

C Kelsey said...

I note that Kate just said that Impaler is a series... I'm now entering ranting mode that the idiots that be in publishing haven't freakin' bought it yet! ::instert numerous curse words here::

Mike said...

Odd question -- over here at Writing Excuses http://www.writingexcuses.com/2010/07/25/writing-excuses-4-29-line-editing/, they seem to emphasize separating "story edit" and "line edit." Holly Lisle, over here http://hollylisle.com/fm/Articles/wc2-4.html (and elsewhere) has talked about one-pass editing. Just wondering, how do the various Mad Genii tackle editing? I seem to recollect that there was a Monkey doing one recently, for example?

(Isn't Genii the proper plural in this case? One Mad Genius, several Mad Genii?)

Amanda Green said...

Chris K, see today's -- Sunday -- post. Bwahahahahahaha!

Amanda Green said...

'nother Mike, I think it is different for every author and, possibly, every project. My "edit for content" usually happens pretty much immediately after I finish a book. I'll give myself a couple of days to step away and then do a complete read-through, looking only at whether or not the story flows. This is when I'll delete or rearrange scenes, add them when necessary, etc. Then it goes to beta readers and that will often lead to another "edit for content" go-round. Line edits for me are the very last thing. But that could just be because I hate doing them.

I've seen Holly Lisle's advice to do a one pass edit. That may work for her, but it doesn't for me. If I focus on the the technical aspect of editing, I don't always see the content issues that need to be dealt with, and vice-versa. But, as I said earlier, I think we each have our own "rules" for editing and that they often change from work to work.

Mike said...

Sounds right. I was intrigued with the apparent attempt to avoid mixing modes that the Writing Excuses folks showed -- if I happen to notice something in the wrong pass, I either fix it (to get it off my mind) or make a note to fix it. I have to admit, I do it partly based on how I feel -- line editing is less "creative" I can do it anytime. Taking a hard look at structure/characters/scenes -- I have to be wide awake for that?

Thanks!