Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Q is for Questions, Questions, Questions

For this post I thought I would answer any questions people have on writing, about their own wip or just in general. I can’t promise the answer will be useful, or interesting or correct, but I can guarantee every question will get an answer of some kind.

Leave questions in the comments section and I will repost it in the main body of the post along with a link to your blog, so a bit of promotion for you also.


If no one has any questions that’s okay, I’ll put my feet up (I deserve it — this challenge is brutal)... apparently no rest for Moody.

BTW I'll number questions. If you want to add your own answers in the comments just indicate which question you're talking about by number. 


Q1. Laoch of Chicago from Counterintuitivity asks:
Have you ever considered writing something from the 2nd person point of view (second-person narrative mode)?

Only if it was one of those Choose-your-own-adventure books (If you decide to fight the giant spider, go to page 32. If you choose to run away, go to page 48). Did they ever do sexually explicit versions of those? 

Actual novels written like that (of which there are a few) always makes me think "I would never do that" as I read. Too gimmicky for me.


Q2. McKenzie McCann from The Ubiquitous Perspective asks:
What do you think the next literary fad will be?

Pornographic choose-your-own-adventure books. 

Actually, I think serialised ebooks, released online one chapter at a time. With a large potential audience if you can charge them a small amount over a long period of time you can create a huge revenue stream. New chapters daily, with a strong hook/cliffhanger element, downloaded directly to your e-reader would have the advantage of being able to adjust storyline based on reader reaction. And with teams of writers could continue indefinitely.


Q3. Andrea Mack from That's Another Story asks:
What is the most surprising thing you've learned about the writing process so far?

Well, the most surprising thing by far was to discover that the online presence of aspiring writers was so overwhelmingly female. And it was also surprising that their genre of choice was fantasy.


I expected it to be more romantic fiction, which there is a lot of, but all the non-horror vampires and traditional elves and princes stuff was very unexpected.

Q4. Alex J. of the Alex J. Cavanaugh blog asks:
What genres do you like to read and write?


I prefer contemporary fiction, although the subject matter can vary greatly. It doesn't have to be realistic, but I want it to be relevant. I want to know what people think of the times we live in. It's much more daring to say 'This is what I think' about things that readers are just as well versed in as you. I find that much more rewarding both as reader and writer. If I read older books I prefer them to be written by authors exploring their own times also. So, books like 1984 and Animal Farm very much fit that bill for me.

Q5. Dawn Embers from the Dawn Embers blog asks: 
This challenge is tough. Posting is easy enough for me but going around and commenting on more blogs is the challenge.

Have you learned any tricks on getting through challenges like the AtoZ challenge as far as managing time is concerned?

I've only been blogging since February and this is my first blogfest, so my experience is limited, but I certainly know what you mean. I'd say using Google Reader has really helped. All the latest posts come to one place and you can separate different sites into categories, so ones of most interest can be selected all together etc. It tells you when new posts arrive and you can whizz through them all in the one window, and click to the site in a new browser tab if the post is of interest and you want to leave a comment.


Q6. Twisted asks:
Fascinating blog Moody, very good stuff.

So, my questions: Are you considering self-publishing and what is your favourite colour?

And are you also cconsidering publishing this blog as a How-to-write guide? Because you should.

The problems with self-publishing are marketing and editing. There is a network developing to promote a book and get the word out, but it's still growing and favours particular genres.  In terms of editing, there's no real alternative to a really good editor that you'd find in one of the traditional publishing houses (although they contain a lot of rubbish ones also). my own writing is steadily improving, but I would love the help of a guiding hand.


So I'd say I'm not really considering it yet, but it's not as unlikely as it once appeared. Delends how things develop (and how quickly). 


No favourite colour, but I am drawn to autumnal tones.


I do think it would be a shame for my posts to disappear as they recede into the archives and maybe I'll index them on a separate page. I've been quite surprised that so many people have read them as they're all quite long and rambling. My aim was to write about these fairly typical areas of the craft in atypical ways that emphasise that reducing concepts to universal aphorisms robs them of their sophistication. Everything gets simplified and aimed at the lowest common denominator (because it's easier to sell that way) but I think serious writers can take a deeper level of understanding.

Q7. KatieO from the Katie O'Sullivan blog asks:
This is an interesting way to tackle a tough letter ;-)

Do you think the proliferation of small e-book publishers is a good thing or a bad thing for writers?

Niche markets and boutique publishers provide a valuable outlet, but by and large the cheapness of ebook production and distribution will mean a lot of crappy ebooks. It's not necessarily a good or bad thing, just inevitable until the industry sorts itself out. Bit of a wild frontier at the moment. 

There will be more books about, and some good writers will get lost in the shuffle, but not any great ones. I think overall it will allow those who wouldn't get access to the market because they don't have the right connections or background (which is still a big part of traditional publishing, and every other area of the arts) to have a throw of the dice. Messier and harder, but fairer. 


Q8. Melissa Kline from Reflections on Writing asks:
What makes you passionate about writing?

Wonderful post! Thanks for answering our Q's. 

My passion initially came from reading. A lot. At school I found I could answer the teacher's questions on a set text anyway I wanted. I'd decide on an explanation and then create motivation for the characters to fit my version and unless they produced the author no one could say I was wrong. 

I was encouraged a lot by teachers, but writing as a career never seemed a viable option. I took sciences at university. I've always kept writing though, couldn't seem to turn it off. Now that I've decided to try and get published the improvement has been marked, although that still doesn't mean it's any good. I guess we'll see.

Q9. Ryan Sullivan from The Dark Corner of the Mind asks:
I'd like to know about your writing process.

How often do you write? Is it a certain number of words each time? Do you just sit down and write, or do you review the last page? Do you clunk out the words and edit afterwards, or do you edit as you go? Or do you leave all your editing until after the draft is finished?


First there's a lot of daydreaming. Then I outline with pen and pad, very rough. I know the kind of story and some key events. I can tell where stuff needs to happen but isn't. I put in whatever comes to mind to fill those gaps.


First draft I write as fast as I can, which is quite slow, with pen and paper. Lots of very bad scenes or literally 'work out how he escapes later' filler. This is very painful for me and I often feel like giving up. I write whenever I can make myself and for as long as I can. I know it won't be very good so quality doesn't matter yet. 

No stops to go back. If I come up with something good for a bit I've already done I jot it down on another part of the pad and leave myself a note where it's supposed to go (too often I've forgotten what my brilliant idea was or where it should have gone).


Workwise, so far very scattergun. No discipline, just bursts of activity. I end up with 30-40,000 words. Can take many weeks.


Then I transfer to PC one chapter at a time. The chapter thing helps give me structure to my work time. As I type I expand and change stuff. Still a lot of 'come up with reason why she left here' type inserts. Still forward only policy. Work in notes from before, make more notes if ideas occur and save them for next draft.


Once it is all on computer, feel much better. Now the fun begins. Will usually rework outline to add/delete scenes. The process will have given me a better idea of what the story is about and what parts don't work. Hopefully adjustments are minmal. May need to write additional scenes, do that now and type up, ignore quality.


Next go round is more focused. Will print out whole thing and mark up with pencil as I read in one session. Then go back and do it one chapter at a time. My policy is if it make me think 'Brilliant' it stays, everything else, including 'Quite good' will eventually get changed or dropped. Usually do one chapter a day. Allow myself to go back and forward between chapters as ideas occur to me now. Try to get from start of chapter to end in a session, time varies depending on my mood. Can vary from half an hour to five or six. I work mainly at night when it's quiet. 


Once I get to the end, having reworked every chapter to a readable sate with no 'come up with something here' inserts, I consider that a first draft. Do it all again.

Q10. Frankie from The Amazing Frankie asks:
I have a question! And I don't see that it's already asked!

I get this thing, I call it "idea overload", where as I'm writing, all these ideas for other projects tumble through my head, and they seem better and shinier, and make whatever I'm currently working on seem dull and stupid.

Do you get idea overload, and how do you stay focused?
I do get this and at the most inopportune times. I take a moment to write the idea down in note form, making a list if I have lots of them, and then go back to what I was doing. Sometimes I use scraps of paper, but usually I have notebooks at hand. Once it's down on paper that usually takes the sting out of them. Later I transfer the ideas to the computer where I have files for each kind of idea (titles, jokes, story ideas and what have you).
I also approach any wip I'm currently writing with the attitude that it's going to be dull and stupid, it's never a revelation. I know that going in and have no illusions. First drafts are shit. Even if I switched projects I would have to start the new one from the shitty stage. A shiny idea in the head is a lifeless lump on the page. No writing gets good until you're well into the process. That's why I find the early drafts so hard, you have to suffer through their craptitude before you get anywhere near the good stuff.

Q11. Paula Martin from Paula Martin's Potpourri asks:
If you could go anywhere in the world to research a setting for a novel, where would you choose to go and why?


I've been to Zambia, India, Brazil, Bahamas, NY and a bunch of European cities, so I think I have a pretty good idea of the range of human existence. I tend to write about ordinary settings that reflect my own life, which never seem to appear in the books, films and tv shows I see.  There are still places I'd like to visit, but in terms of research for a book, just somewhere nearby and quiet so I can get the two I'm working on finished.


Q12. Arlee Bird from Tossing It Out asks:
I've been seeing previews for the movie Cowboys versus Aliens. If you were to mix genres for a novel, what sort of mash-up would you like to do?
That's quite a tough one, Hollywood has pretty much put every combination together already. I used to like a good Swords and Sorcery flick, and did think there might be a small renaissance after the LotR movies, but nothing. I think high fantasy with David Mamet style dialogue. 
"You Dwarf cocksuckers can kiss my ass."
"Tell the High King to go fuck himself."


Q13. N.R. Williams from N. R. Williams, Fantasy Author asks:
Good idea. For those that are just learning I will ask this. How important is character and plot development and which is more important? I know what I think so I'm looking forward to hearing what you think.

Plot and character are one and the same, since what a character does demontrates who he is, as I rather conveniently explain in depth in my previous post: Character is Plot

Q14. Nutschell from The Writing Nut asks:
This is a great Q post! My question would be "Do you have any writing quirks or habits?"
nutschell

I tend to concentrate on what's wrong with a piece of writing and how to fix it, and don't mention the things I liked or that I think worked well. This often makes the writer feel like I hated their story or it was a great chore for me to read, which isn't true at all. I just focus on the weak points since that's what needs to be worked on and I'm the same with my own writing, and assume it's obvious I must like the parts that I don't criticise. Apparently it's not.


Q15. Margo Berendsen from Writing at High Altitude asks:
The logline for my novel is high concept, but I don't actually implement the high concept until more than halfway through the novel. Do you think it should come sooner?

This is hard to answer without knowing the specifics. It sounds like it would not be a good idea to do it that way unless you had a very good reason that paid off in some way. Certainly you can write something like this that works, To Kill a Mockingbird is an example of a book that completely changes halway through, and then brings the two threads together in climactic fashion.


I would say it strongly depends on what you plan to do with the book. If you are have an agent already who will read it all and decide on the approach within the context of the book as a whole, that's fine. But if you send out query letters and an agent reads the logline and thinks that's great, I'll read the first few chapters and see if this girl can write, and the concept is nowhere to be found, I think you'll get short shrift.

So I'd say it can work, but not for a first novel you're trying to get representation for in the traditional way.




28 comments:

Patricia Lynne said...

I don't have a question but great idea for your Q post. I was worried I wouldn't figure one out then inspiration hit!

Laoch of Chicago said...

Have you ever considered writing something from the 2nd person point of view (second-person narrative mode)?

McKenzie McCann said...

What do you think the next literary fad will be?

Andrea Mack said...

What is the most surprising thing you've learned about the writing process so far?

Charmaine Clancy said...

I thought I didn't, but I actually have one! It's more media related - When I post on people's blogs, I often get an email response. Do you know how to do that, is there a quick way from the comment or is it a matter of opening the profile, clicking email and referring to the comment...?

Sorry, not very writing related :)

Also, yes you do deserve to put your feet up - I see you've been very busy commenting on people's queries. Much thanks for that. This query business is torture.

Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

Alleged Author said...

Ohhh, I so want to see the answer to Laoch's question!

Ann said...

The brain has turned to jelly, so I can't articulate a question at the moment. This A-Z has left me in a state of the wobbly.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What genres do you like to read and write?

Dawn Embers said...

This challenge is tough. Posting is easy enough for me but going around and commenting on more blogs is the challenge.

Have you learned any tricks on getting through challenges like the AtoZ challenge as far as managing time is concerned?

Twisted said...

Fascinating blog Moody, very good stuff.

So, my questions: Are you considering self-publishing and what is your favourite colour?

And are you also cconsidering publishing this blog as a How-to-write guide? Because you should.

KatieO said...

This is an interesting way to tackle a tough letter ;-)

Do you think the proliferation of small e-book publishers is a good thing or a bad thing for writers?

Melissa Kline said...

What makes you passionate about writing?

Wonderful post! Thanks for answering our Q's.

~Melissa
Reflections on Writing

Ryan Sullivan said...

I'd like to know about your writing process.

How often do you write? Is it a certain number of words each time? Do you just sit down and write, or do you review the last page? Do you clunk out the words and edit afterwards, or do you edit as you go? Or do you leave all your editing until after the draft is finished?

Frankie said...

I have a question! And I don't see that it's already asked!

I get this thing, I call it "idea overload", where as I'm writing, all these ideas for other projects tumble through my head, and they seem better and shinier, and make whatever I'm currently working on seem dull and stupid.

Do you get idea overload, and how do you stay focused?

KatieO said...

Thanks for all your thoughtful answers - what a great idea!

Paula Martin said...

If you could go anywhere in the world to research a setting for a novel, where would you choose to go and why?

Nofretiri said...

What a clever idea for the letter Q! :-)

Maybe you'd like to answer my little Quiz-Question, too: Which Crazy Writer Are You?
And post your answer then here and on my post Q for Quiz?!?

Karin

mooderino said...

@nofretiri - unfortunately you need to have a twitter acct to take the quiz, and I don't, so can't.

Sylvia Ney said...

Thank you for the comment about the query I posted on my blog. I also felt the "hook" was weak, but I've been told by others not to give much info. in a query because that is the purpose of the synopsis. Do you have a recommendation to let me know how long or how much of my story to put in the query? Thanks again.

Sylvia

Halli Gomez said...

I don't think I can come up with any better questions at the moment but thanks for this. Your blog always helps me!

Arlee Bird said...

I've been seeing previews for the movie Cowboys versus Aliens. If you were to mix genres for a novel, what sort of mash-up would you like to do?

Lee
Tossing It Out

N. R. Williams said...

Good idea. For those that are just learning I will ask this. How important is character and plot development and which is more important? I know what I think so I'm looking forward to hearing what you think.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

nutschell said...

This is a great Q post! My question would be "Do you have any writing quirks or habits?"
nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Margo Berendsen said...

The logline for my novel is high concept, but I don't actually implement the high concept until more than halfway through the novel. Do you think it should come sooner?

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Fun post! The only 2nd POV books I've ever come across were the "Pick your own adventure" kinds. Not too populare, I guess....

Great interview!

♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

mooderino said...

@Elizabeth - Jay McInnery's Bright Lights, Big City is probably the most famous novel written in 2nd Person pov.

Margo Berendsen said...

Thanks for the insight on my high concept-not-until-halfway problem. You confirmed my gut feeling. I think I'd better re-work the plot; but that's oky because I'm sure it will strengthen the book over all.

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh, and your question on my blog: Maass does provide some examples of micro-tension and some exercises, but they are all basically the same: build in conflict where ever possible. In dialogue, in exposition (character conflicted with himself, arguing with himself, uncertain), in setting (ominous weather) etc.

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