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.

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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.

Slow Turning

Here’s how it’s going: slow.

I half did what I set out to. I hope to hear back from a few people I’ve sent queries and samples to. Traditional publishing moves slower than I anticipated. I’m so used to how immediate everything is on the internet.

I’m not opposed to the pace. It’s kind of nice; it gives me time to contemplate on what I’ve done and gives me more time to polish and edit.

The time grows close though, the time to put this one aside. Previously, I mentioned the demands of reality that have determined the fate of this project. To add to that I’ll need time to consider how to approach this project and create a proper foundation for changes. I’m more drawn to a multi-media idea every day.

I want to expand upon this, because I’ve seen posts and articles concerned about Free stories/books. It’s interesting what this has brought up in terms of what can be done to give written work value.

Tweet

 

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Find me on Twitter @CRSilvers

I know that I need social media, especially if I want to self-pub, but I’ve been reluctant to jump into it. Finally, I’ve added a twitter account to the list of media outlets. I’ve had a twitter before and used it solely for following. I am using this one to follow as well, but I want to put it to good use too.

The more I research what the publishing world is looking for the more intimidating it is. Maybe I should’ve written a Sci-Fi.

I’m Working on It

The Look…

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Is taking a long time to get how I want it. I’m being particular about it. I become a perfectionist when trying to get images from my head to my hands. Dumb, dumb hands.

Visuals aside, because they are beside the point at the moment, I am still editing.

I’ve come to a decision about how I’m going to handle this story. The final say was my financial situation. Isn’t that so often the case with reality? It’s good and bad. It’s making me have to make decisions and take action in a timely manner. On the other hand, if this story doesn’t make the cut it’ll have to be shelved for the time being.

This is the deciding month. My resources are spread too thin to create and promote the quality of story I want to on my own. So I’m pursuing the traditional route. Maybe someday I could do it on my own, but ‘someday’ is not the type of thing to rely on.

I don’t want to get too pessimistic, but I’m kind of anticipating a negative outcome for KOG. Part of me is saddened by that, but in general I’m positive about the future. So far, I feel like this year has gone well. I also know I have skill sets I could hone and would be in demand. When looking at it like that: creative venture vs in-demand skills, it’s no contest financially.

It’s true what they say about writers. We’re compelled beyond reason.

 

 

Happy Days

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I hope your holidays went well or are still on a roll. I had a nice time with my family, extended family and some friends. I’m looking forward to New Year’s and seeing some friends I haven’t seen in a while.

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is just around the corner. Unless you celebrate the Chinese New Year then you have until February (Year of the Monkey.) With the New Year comes resolutions and I’ve been thinking about how I need to get focused.

I like checking in here, but it does take time away from writing and editing and research. With full time work and side gigs to pay bills, it’s hard to find time to do everything. I also feel like I haven’t been able to post the quality of content I wanted to.

My resolution is to get this blog cleaned up and post more information relevant to King of Ghosts. On the “Cons” list I won’t be posting often or consistently until things have come together a bit more.  On the “Pros” list I hope that means better content.

I know I’ve made such a resolution before and I’m an impatient person. When it comes to focus and resolve impatiences is your worst enemy and I know it’s definitely mine. I’m constantly reminding myself that putting plans into action is a brick by brick process, not a tidal wave.

Have a Fun New Year and I’ll be back in 2016!

Self Sabotage and Self Publishing (My face hurts…)

This afternoon I got a sample perfume with a picture of a flowering weed on the label. I thought, I’m probably allergic to this and dabbed some on anyway.

COMMENCE five hours of sneezing and hay fever symptoms.

I’m afraid I’m like this too often and that’s what makes me go back to the idea of seeking an agent again and again. I don’t know how I can go about self publishing if I can’t even make decisions that’ll spare me hours of hay fever. On the traditional publishing route there are other kinds of fears.

I think the fears I have are similar to those of any person who chooses some kind of self-employment (or side gig.) And my fears of searching for a publisher are somewhat similar to what I felt searching for employment.

It doesn’t help that I’ve always felt like self published works aren’t all that great. I’ve only sampled a few, but I’ve rarely been impressed by the quality. Sometimes a second pair of eyes, or third or fourth really helps a creative work.

I don’t like going into this with that kind of impression though and I’ve been to conventions around my state and town and crossed self-published, local authors. I’ve finally looked into a few and found that they had good reviews!

Reading about these books, I was surprised to find that the authors had been in other fields for over a decade. I know it’s pretty common for writers to have a day job, but they became fiction writers after spending 10 years plus in other work. I could see how their experiences had brought elements of intrigue to the table for their books. That kind of interested me more than their books did. ^_^;

I’m looking forward to reading them and hoping they dispel some of my prejudices against self-published authors.

Demographic Mistakes

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For a couple days, I saw a spike in views after linking this blog to a site where I was asking for feedback. As gratifying as getting those views were, the feedback I’ve received has made me seriously consider ‘demographic.’

It occurred to me that I’ve been linking this story to a site I feel comfortable with. I’m embarrassed to name it because it’s not writing focused and it doesn’t house my demographic at all.

As grateful as I am for any feedback, the feedback I’ve received has been kind of wonky. I’ve gotten some opposite feedback, some very general feedback and some correspondence that’s just trolling. Unfortunately, even the mildly helpful and nice feedback hasn’t really been as detailed or focused as I’m really looking for.

I’ve set my sights for writing sites. Even a brief search has turned up some really good resource and a lot of them right here on WordPress. As silly as this seems, I’m a little intimidated by the audience I think this story will appeal to and it’s a little intimidating to join or ask for feedback from a writing specific site.

Though the feedback I have right now isn’t going to waste. It’s made me think about the strengths and weaknesses in the first few pages. It also made me realize that I shouldn’t be posting story links just anywhere if I want real feedback.

In a way I think overthinking my target audience and demographic is actually making me lose touch. I thought about the events happening in the beginning and whether or not I’d want to read a book like this and thought, “Not so much.” I want to like what I create; I want to have a passion about it.

Of course, it’ll help to look in the right places for my audience. At this stage it seems like what it comes down to is that views don’t mean too much. It’s far better to get views from one person who will like it than 100 people who won’t simply because I didn’t get it to the right place or people.

With how the pieces have fallen into place, I’ve decided to re-write the beginning again. It’s just too important to leave like it is. The pain about re-writing a beginning is re-distributing the information somewhere else in the story, but the majority of it shouldn’t have to be changed. I never thought I’d be one of those writers who throw out one part of their story over and over again, but here I am. I guess I understand the madness now.

Cover WIP

I’ve been working on some better representation for the book here and experimenting with covers a bit.

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I got the overall concept with the background. Despite numerous font changes, it’s still not too great. I’m also not sure if I want “Prince” emphasized or not. I’ve been going through fonts looking for something better, but this is a first attempt and I think it’ll add the sort of visual appropriate for this project.

I’ve tried using Photoshop dozens of times, but it never really impressed me and certainly not over the flexibility of Paint Shop Pro’s text tool. I always find that it’s way more complicated to do something in PS that I’m used to doing in PSP. ^_^;;