Storytelling 1: Progress & Indie Route

Today begins a little blog series of musing on writing and books in the modern, technology era. My analytical side and creative side face off pretty often. I get a sense that might come out in these posts. You’ll notice that I have (To Be Continued…) in some places. These are topics that will be further discussed in new posts, which will also be linked back to this first post.

Last month, I decided I couldn’t dump time into KOG much longer. I looked into the traditional publishing route again and came up short and discouraged. With where the market is, my place in it (out of it) and what I want to accomplish, self-publishing continues to make the most sense.

Regardless of which path I take, they’re both going to require a lot of time and effort and I don’t have what publishers are looking for right now. The story and content itself aside, I haven’t published any other works, I don’t have have a BA in creative writing and I don’t have the money to throw at writer’s conferences and workshops.

Traditional publishing ticks like any other business, perhaps more so with the increased competition for attention. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and what criteria you can display. As we all ought to know by now, the best way to get through the door is to get someone to open it.

I searched and read through dozens of sites and article and the two pieces of advise that stuck with me were these:

1. Agents/Editors want writers who can polish their own works.

I looked into finding a developmental editor to help polish up my work. To my surprise, most writing advice columns said “don’t do it!” Putting that work has been professionally edited can be a big turn off to agents and editors.

2. Before sending a Query the Manuscript has to be Finished

Almost every successful query letter I read said, “Partial or full manuscript available upon request.” I guess this should be obvious.

On the agent’s side, if these manuscripts are not available the window of opportunity is missed. Attitudes change, a similar finished book query comes in, agent forgets the book by time it’s done.

On the writer’s side it’s a massive investment that has a high chance rejection. It could be 2, 5, 10 years of a person’s dedication into a manuscript only for it to be turned down. That’s harsh. Sure, there are the people that can rally behind their book year after year, 60 rejections later they might get published and it might turn into something profitable. That’s a lot of maybes.

The slow churning, antiquated machine has many online alternatives for the writer. As a reader, I know I don’t trust them like I do traditional publishers. I’ve opened up to self-published works more and I see that the quality is raising slowly. Still, when I’m craving a really good book and not feeling merciful I go for what publishers put on the shelves. (To Be Continued…)

It seems possible to stick to the self-publishing route while leaving the traditional one open and potentially open doors while finding new internet driven ways to gain rep./presence.

My nerdy side likes the idea of using new technology, smart websites and ideas for publishing the manuscript or the story. Playing by my own rules, I could tell this story however I want to. I’m not sure how much “interactive reading” is taking off, but the concept is intriguing.

Interactive books and stories get awfully close to games. Vast video game worlds often have (mini) books in them. Players will sit down with their favorite video game world/series and read an in-game encyclopedia, indexes and histories. I’ve done this.

Who cares that it’s usually dry text? It adds value and connects pieces of the world. I’m a Kingdom Hearts fan and I read those Ansem reports. I’m a fan of a handful of other games with reports or logs or journals (often pages you have to collect.) I think there’s a lot of intriguing, meta imitation elements that go into this kind of story telling that isn’t as far out of reach for writers as it may seem. (To Be Continued… )

My creative side craves well written, clever, stylized writing. After the last couple of books I read, I dove into poetry. To me that borough to attention another distinction in writing I think deserves some attention. (To Be Continued…)

As I’ve searched for the “best” way to get stories out there, I’ve found a lot of helpful ideas, sites and advice; along with that a lot of conflicting ideas, innovation and advice.

Having some Style

One of my biggest hangups is style and tone. I really want to have a specific style and for it to be polished. After reading King of Ghosts for the nth time, my writing just seems bad.

This is my problem:

“Detrix spotted the white bird that was his sister front and center. “

Alright, there’s some missing context here. (His sister is in a costume.) But this sentence is meh at best and there’s plenty like it throughout the manuscript.

Multiple work overs have made the manuscript a mix of staccato point to points and a mix of language-learning structures. How do I even fix this sentence? I don’t know the tone and style I really want with the writing and I haven’t really infused it consciously. As a reader, I think it’s really obvious when a writer isn’t settled stylistically or isn’t solid in their voice.

So how do I fix this?

“Detrix spotted the white bird that was his sister front and center. “

“that was” What is it doing there? I hate it. It could be a comma.

“Detrix spotted the white bird, his sister front and center. “

Still hate it. It’s just not working. Re-write.

It’s earlier established that she is dressed as a snow owl.

“Detrix spotted the snow owl girl, front and center.”

or

“The snow owl stood front and center.”

I like these two better, but now I have another consideration on my hands. I have a stylistic choice. The original sentence was a stylistic choice… the style of translating words from imagination to English.

You know, I’ve heard of writer’s trying to find their voice. I’m aware that this problem isn’t new. I’ve seen people try to avoid style by going as simple, colloquial and action paced as possible. That can make for an entertaining read, but it leaves much to be desired. I’ve noticed that I’ve been drawn to poetry lately.

Poetry is sometimes about rhyming, word count and rhythm, but more than that it’s always about a careful crafting of tone and style. Words, the right words, are a large part of writing as an art form. There’ll be more about that next week as I muse about what I really love about writing, not primarily as a writer, but a reader.

As a writer and storyteller, I’m aware I have a long way to go. My work doesn’t have to be perfect, but I have to be pretty satisfied with it.

There goes March

I’ve been meaning to drop a line for a while and now it’s down to the wire. I’ve been planning on posting some musings about writing, the writing world and art beginning on Fridays (it just happened to be April 1 for this one.)

It pains me to say that this project is on hold until I really figure out what I want to do with it. As I mentioned before, I have medical and financial issues that take priority. At the very least, it looks like the medical side of it is getting solved.

As far as finances and working goals, I feel like they could help me in unexpected ways with this project in the long run.

The months feel like mystical animals I’ve been chasing around, trying to catch by the tail, but I can’t quite grab them. Probably a month or so ago I saw a post that mentioned the Pomodoro technique and decided I’d read up on it. It’s a focus and time management technique. So far I’m pretty impressed with it and it’s pretty simple in concept. It feels like it’s helping me catch up if not quite catch time by the tail.