Yesterday I clicked the publish button on my first book, Oranje. It’s been a long time coming, and the process has definitely been one that’s taught me a lot, and I wanted to share that information with everyone. Note: this is what worked for me and my writing process, so your mileage may vary, but some of the tips I think are good for everyone who writes or self-publishes.
Outlining helps make sense of the plot – This I think especially applies with series or longer works. Oranje is 112,000 words and the first in a four part series. Outlining the book in advance, a few bullet points per chapter, has helped me keep track of all the story threads and make sure they all progressed properly. It’s also meant I can dive straight into book 2 as I know where I need to go with the story.
First drafts allow you to suck – The important thing about a first draft is getting to the end. It’s very difficult to judge the story of a book without having the whole thing in front of you to look at. Quality should not be a concern for the first draft, get the words on the page, get to the end, and then see what needs to be changed or adjusted.
Second drafts are for story – This is where you can get everything sorted out. Sure your first draft might have story lines that go nowhere, or sections that circle and meander around. That’s fine. The second draft is where you sort it out and nail down the story. Improving the quality of the prose and writing is always good, but until you’ve got the story sorted you might end up editing stuff you end up removing anyway.
Have other people read your work – Art does not exist in a vacuum, and books are no exception. The story might be perfectly clear and understandable to you because it lives in your head, but to others it might be confusing or difficult to understand. Giving your story to people you trust to read can help give you the feedback to push the book a few more notches up the quality ladder.
Editors improve the quality of your writing and also the story – First, if you’re self-publishing, hire an editor, you should be aiming to put the highest quality work you can. They help by not only improving your prose and writing, but they will likely be the first person to really read your work with a thoroughly critical eye. Listen to what they say, but also remember what you were aiming for with your story as well.
Proofreaders are a must – The more eyes you get to go over your book once it’s finished, the fewer errors there will be in it when it’s released. It’s that simple. People will always miss some errors when reading, the best way to catch them is to have many eyeballs go over it.
Great covers help show the quality of your work and help advertise the book – Another bit of advice more for authors going the self-publishing route. If you want your work to look professional, you need a professional cover as well. It can be expensive at times, but the money you invest in a good cover will be seen in the quality of what you end up with. I used Jason Gurley, who’s also done covers for Hugh Howey.
The book description is vital – You can have the best book in the world, but if the description sucks very few people will buy it. This is the second hook to get people to read your work, after the cover. Spend enough time working on it, and seek feedback on others. You want something that shows what the story is without going into too much detail, you want to make someone want to read more.
As I said at the start of this post, this is what worked for me, and enabled me to write and finish my first ever book. This advice won’t work for everyone, but I hope it helps some people with your writing. Thank you for reading.
If anyone’s interested in checking out my book, you can find links to it on the various Amazon stores here.
1. If something would be boring and/or undramatic for a male character, it would probably be boring and/or undramatic for a female character. If you’re writing a female character (particularly in a major role), I’d recommend thinking about whether you’d want to read about a male character in that situation or with that trait. If not, then you’re probably boring your readers.
2. The character is useless. Have you made a main character more or less helpless for most of the story? Does she watch as the story happens around her? Does she get repeatedly saved by other characters when the going gets rough? Please think back to #1. You’d probably be bored reading about a more or less helpless guy, right? Your readers will be just as bored by a helpless female.
3. The character’s only defining trait is being hyper-smart or (more rarely) a total ditz. That’s fine for one character among several, but if she’s your only significant female character, it’ll raise questions about your ability to handle female characters at a more relatable level of intelligence. If you’re having trouble with more relatable female characters, I’d recommend checking out some Meg Cabot books, Mean Girls and/or Pride and Prejudice.
3.1. The character is totally pure. A character that always does the right thing and has no motivations besides being friendly/agreeable/nice is probably pretty boring. 100% pure characters strain the suspension of disbelief, are less relatable and usually less dramatic. For whatever reason, these types of boring characters are almost always women.
4. Your readers will probably be able to tell if you have not read many female main characters written by female authors. If you don’t have the firsthand experience of actually being a female, being well-read is probably the closest you’ll get to seeing the subtle distinctions between most women and most men in terms of perspective, dialogue and actions. Conversely, when I’m reading manuscripts, the easiest way for me to pick out male characters written by female authors is when 1) the character is hyper-introspective and collected (even in a crisis) and the author doesn’t realize that’s unusual, and/or 2) a male character notices far too many irrelevant details, such as eye color and hair color, and the author inadvertently makes it sound like the character’s ogling someone or writing a fashion review.
5. The character is a love interest that doesn’t have a role outside of romance. She’ll probably be a more interesting love interest if she has something else going on. For example, Lois Lane is (occasionally) a competent reporter whose investigations sometimes tie into Superman’s work. Pepper Potts figured out who kidnapped Tony Stark by breaking into Stane’s office. Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim had a penchant for awesomeness and a mallet. Also, she was a ninja courier for Amazon.
5.1. The character is defined by her physical attractiveness and/or sex appeal. If you consider physical attractiveness one of the three most interesting things about a major character, I would recommend rethinking the character’s development because most likely the character is a love interest that is interesting only to the author. (Think back to #1–you wouldn’t want to read about a guy whose main trait was his handsomeness, would you?) Also, please bear in mind that most of the professionals evaluating your submission will probably be ladies, so you won’t even have the titillation angle working in your favor.
6. The character has no substantial goals besides going along with other characters and/or getting in bed with somebody. If you’re going to bother writing in a character, I’d recommend giving him/her some sort of independent effect on the plot. If not, why bother having the character? Fortunately, you don’t need to give a character much space to give her/him a role to play. For example, Neville Longbottom had around a page of dialogue (~350 words) in the first Harry Potter book and he still managed to raise the stakes for the protagonists by growing a spine at absolutely the worst moment. (Dumbledore’s recognition of his badassery was probably the highlight of the first book for me).
7. The character is mute. In general, I think the mindset behind this decision is “I’m having a lot of trouble writing dialogue for females, so I’ll just make her mute.” In this case, muting a major female character will only draw attention to how bad you think your female dialogue is. I’d strongly recommend practicing your female dialogue instead–the practice will help, and at least you’ll get out of instant-rejection territory.
Thiswebsite is literally the guidebook to writers everywhere. I always have it open when i’m writing a paragraph or a reply. Its genuinely got everything you possibly need, and not only that, but it also explains the correct use of punctuation and grammar, and where to use it. Its also full to the brim with prompts and such. Its great, seriously.
Summary: A new hunter kidnaps and tortures Stiles, the boy who runs with a pack of werewolves, but isn’t one of them. After Derek’s pack comes to rescue him, Derek is forced to deal with the knowledge that his concern for Stiles isn’t just that of an Alpha for one of his Betas. The pack, Sheriff Stilinksi, and Chris Argent all wait at Deaton’s to see if Stiles will even survive, and what kind of shape he’ll be in if he does. Written with The Kin’s “Get on It” EP on repeat. Title from “On the Rise.” Fic is complete and will be posted twice a week.
Should I have surnames in my fantasy story? Does it seem realistic for only some people to have surnames?
You don’t need to have surnames and not everyone has a surname in some societies. Here are some reasons surnames might be needed:
Population growth: If there is a growth in the population in a given area, surnames might be needed to distinguish between two individuals who share the same name.
Written Language: The invention of written language comes along with law and record keeping. To record individuals, surnames based on appearance, descent, or location might be invented.
Tax & Other Records: Same as above, but this would be more specific. While general records might only record important people, things like tax records would record all workers in a given area.
Nobility: Family lineages in nobility can be extremely important. A noble family might adopt a surname or leader might take a name of a previous ruler as a title (like Caesar). Other times, only rich families might use surnames.
Clan Affiliation: If clan affiliation is important in your world, people might adopt a surname based on descent to claim relation to a family.
do you have any tips on writing parents, who aren't total jerks or dead?
Yeah, I’ll see what I can find. As with everything, there are millions of different styles of parenting. There are the four classic styles of parenting in psychology. Good parents can be broadly defined, but I think someone who cares for their children, helps nurture interests, is supportive, that sort of thing. Parents aren’t perfect, and even when a parent-child relationship is strained or unpleasant, emotions and feelings are complicated. There are lots of good examples of parents in fiction that you can draw ideas from.
Would you happen to have any advice or resources for a budding science fiction writer struggling with thinking up names for the individual members of the alien race she's thought up? I have naming conventions for them, but I have no idea where to even begin when it comes to inventing the names themselves. Please, I need help! Or possibly a support group.
If you have naming conventions, then the best way would be to follow those…?
For example, I play an MMORPG called Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. In the game, there is a race of characters called Lalafell and they have specific naming conventions depending on a) their gender and b) their clan. Therefore…
A male Dunesfolk Lalafell conforms to the pattern: AAB - CCB. A is the first sound, B the second, C the third. A and C are one syllable, and B is two syllables. Additionally, the A and C sounds can rhyme, but don’t have to.
Knowing these rules, we can make up all kinds of male Dunesfolk Lalafell names:
I think making rules for names is the best way to start creating them and this is something I do for my own fantasy races, to make naming them much easier, ha ha!
Additionally, looking at a variety of names across our world is a good way to gain inspiration for creating your own naming conventions, and picking out names for your characters.
Followers (or Admins) if you wish to provide support, or know where to direct areeceylife to a group of writers who can help further, please feel free to say so with a reply/reblog…! Otherwise, see the resources below and good luck. :)
Hi! I'm interesting in Lawyer and Law firm for a while because I want to add it in my story, however, it's really hard to research and I really don't know where to start, do you have any suggestion? It doesn't have to be an online website, a book or anything is fine. I'd like an information about Law firm, how it work and such. Thank you and sorry if it's too much trouble!
It’s been weeks since NaNoWriMo and I think it’s time that we get to work on draft 2 of our manuscripts. Here are seven methods from seven different writers (myself included). A lot of the advice is the same, but you may find something new or the advice may be written in a way that is easier for you to understand. So, here are seven different methods for revising your manuscript!
1. Read your story. Print it out. Read. Just read it and reacquaint yourself with your story.
2. Plot out your entire story. This is where you figure out whether or not your story makes sense. I plot out my story by categories:
A. Main Storyline- Where is your character at the start, the middle and the end. B. Subplots- What else is going on? C. Dramatic Structure- Once your entire story is plotted out, figure out your climax, resolution, conflict, rising action, call to action, etc.
3. Reread Your Story. That’s right. If you have any illusions that once you write your story you never have to read it again…wrong. You will be reading and rereading until you can recite every line and things that were serious become inside jokes to yourself.
This read is different from that first read to reacquaint yourself. This read is for analysis. You should have a pen and perhaps even a book for notes. As you are reading cross out things that doesn’t make sense. Ask your self questions about character motivations and whether or not it’s possible for someone to actually jump from the sixth floor and land without injuries.
How many times does this character appear? Are they needed if it’s only once? Why does your main character speak exactly like your villain?
4. A loose outline.
After I have read my story twice, I usually have an idea of what’s wrong. This outline is where I try and figure out how to make it right. I often just write bullet points of scenes and what the purpose of the scenes are.
5. Write. Now it’s time to write again. I often like to have my original manuscript printed out, or on my nook HD tablet, or my back up laptop. So that the computer I use to write on is just a full screen of my new draft.
I like to do research on other screens as well.
TIP: Never edit your original document. You never know when you want to bring back that erased scene. I usually duplicate my original file, name it draft 2 and edit on that new document entirely. No reason to lose what you have already written.
Today, Haley Radford, president of the former NaNoWriMo sponsor and agent matchmaking service Litfactor, shares three things authors might not know literary agents want:
Communication is king in 21st century publishing, and yet, there so often exists a frustrating breakdown between those who work in the business of books and those who are producing the glorious stories that sustain it. The mismatch between what literary agents really want and what writers think they want is a perfect example of this peculiar industry disconnect.
So my historical costuming resources list from 2011 was less than a page long- I’m not saying that I’ve learned a lot in the past three years, but this list is now sitting pretty at a solid nine pages. Whew. And people wonder why I want to redo this damn series.
This list is by no means an exhaustive one- it’s a list of (primarily western) historical fashion resources, both online and offline, that is limited to what I know, own, or use! It’s a work in progress, and I’m definitely hoping to expand on it as my knowledge base grows. First things first, how about a little:
ADVICE FOR RESEARCHING HISTORICAL FASHION
Read, and read about more than just costuming. Allowing yourself to understand the cultural and historical context surrounding the clothing of a particular region/period can be invaluable in sussing out good costume design. Looking at pictures is all well and good, but reading about societal pressures, about construction techniques, daily routines, local symbolism, whatever else will really help you understand the rhyme and reason behind costuming from any given context.
Expand your costume vocabulary. When you’re delving into a new topic, costuming or otherwise, picking up new terminology is essential to proper understanding and furthering your research. Write down or take note of terms as you come across them- google them, look up synonyms, and use those words as a jumping off point for more research. What’s a wire rebato? How does it differ from a supportasse? Inquiring minds want to know.
Double-check your sources. Especially on the internet, and double especially on tumblr. I love it, but it’s ground zero for rapidly spreading misinformation. Books are usually your safest bet, but also take into account their date of publication, who’s writing them- an author’s biases can severely mangle their original source material.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do everything you can to find out information on your own, but feel free to reach out to people with more specialized areas of knowledge for help! Be considerate about it- the people you’re asking are busy as well- but a specific line of questioning that proves you’re passionate and that you respect their subject matter expertise can work wonders.
Okay, onto the links!
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of getting off the internet and looking into books! God bless the internet, but books are (generally, this isn’t a rule) better-researched and better-sourced. Bibliographies also mean each individual books can be a jumping off point for further research, which is always a fantastic thing.
Remember- owning books is awesome and you should absolutely assemble your own library of resources, but LIBRARIES. Libraries. You’ll be surprised to find what books are available to you at your local library.
A History of Costume A lot of good text and info, to be taken with a grain of salt. Be wary of any reconstructions and or “supposed” patterns that aren’t directly based on extant garments or firsthand accounts.
Fashion in Detail books Not what you want if you’re looking for photos of entire costumes- note the “in detail” bit up there. Just a beautiful series, and great reference for all the little things you might miss otherwise. The V&A has an amazing fashion collection, and it’s great to see them share it with the world.
beowulf-is-cooler-than-you asked: I want to include LGBTQIA* characters in my current story, but I don’t want my story doesn’t really include romances. I want to write an LGBTQIA* character like any other character, but if my characters were straight, I wouldn’t mention sexuality at all because it would unfortunately be assumed, but not mentioning sexuality and pulling an “oh yeah, she was asexual” out of no where with no contextual proof is queer baiting. But without a romance, I feel like announcing “I’m gay” is gimicky. Help!
I’m still learning about all of this, so please bear with me. :)
My understanding is that asexual does not mean aromantic. So, even if you don’t want your character to be in a romance, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have or express romantic feelings for someone. Having said that, though, I’m not really sure what would be the best way to hint that a character is asexual. It’s tricky because asexuality isn’t uniform, so it really depends on the specific needs and desire of your character.
My best suggestion would be to read as much as you can about asexuality and writing an asexual character, and then decide on the specifics of your character. Then you can sit down and brain storm some situations wherein your character might be likely to drop hints about how they feel toward other characters or sexuality in general. You could also read up on what it’s like for asexuals to come out as asexual, and then maybe have your character come out to another character.
Step 1: If you want to dance with a girl, that’s fine. Caveat: If she moves away, shakes her head, does the wavy-hand under the chin “no” gesture, or otherwise implies this is not welcome, go away. Bonus: Introduce yourself first! If she’s dancing with a friend, pay attention to the friend, too. Evidence: Today, at the bar, a guy came up behind me, said, “You’re a good dancer! My name’s Vincent.” Excellent. All points passed. Super bonus points, as he also danced with my friend, stopped dancing when we stopped, and didn’t stalk us around the floor.
Step 2: If the girl says no, do not continue to pursue her. Caveat: FUCKING NONE. Bonus: If the girl says no, do not continue to pursue her. Evidence: Today at the bar two awesome things happened. On my way to the bathroom, a man grabbed my wrist. I shook my head. He wouldn’t let go. I yanked my wrist away and kept walking. Second thing, guy started dancing with me, I said no, he kept dancing with me. I told him to back off, he ruffles my hair. I round on him, tell him not to fucking touch me, and, fortunately, my friend comes to my rescue and decides we leave.