More about characters

Talking about characters the other day got me thinking about a discussion I had with a few other writers some time ago, where we were talking about character descriptions and how much a person should have when writing their newest manuscript. Though less of a discussion and more closely related to a particular writer’s personal tastes, I thought I’d weigh in on the situation, both to add another voice to the discussion and just in case some other writers out there worry they use too much or too little.

For me, I like to keep character descriptions a little more vague than the rest of my comrades. Just a quick gloss over some stand out features, and then I let the reader fill in the rest of the blanks. Most of that comes from the fact that I personally find long character descriptions a bit boring, and usually fill in the void after I skip the majority of a particular character’s description. This isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed a lengthy character description, where a writer lists a thin, tight-set jaw, or triangular noses seemingly carved from marble. But most of the time, I make up what the character looks like anyway, so I don’t pay it too much attention.

As for the amount a particular writer should use, I believe it’s not set in stone, and the writer should use just as much as he or she thinks she needs to use. Over the course of additional books, I feel readers will adapt to a writer’s particular way of describing characters, identifying his or her process as part of the writer’s style.

And, of course, some genres lend more to character descriptions than others. But for the most part, I think people should just do their thing, only noting stand out features of a character when they are relevant to the plot. Like lightning bolt shaped scars and that sort of thing.

So all in all, just do your thing. Character descriptions are just another part of an individual writer’s style, and similarly to page counts, I don’t think many writers should worry about the specifics, just as long as readers aren’t having trouble visualizing your characters. If that happens, maybe dial it up a little bit. But I don’t think most writers should bog down their narrative with obtuse character descriptions.

Now if only I could find that example I found years ago that went on for several pages. Like, it took this one writer between four and six pages to describe this woman to us. And in the end, the character looking at her stated simply “You’re very beautiful.”

Yea…Indie writers. Gotta love em, right?

🙂

I miss my characters…

So that’s it. November is almost done. And I totally forgot to make a NaNo post earlier this month?  Yea well, this whole thing is still new to me anyway, so I promise to try harder in the future.

But spending a whole month on another separate book, and not on the Godspeed series, has affected me a way I hadn’t foreseen. As much work and frustration goes into the making of each book, and how fed up I am in reading it for the millionth time, I’ve come to find that I sort of miss that universe.

I mean, yea. I love these new characters in a totally separate universe. (My NaNo book is a zombie survival with two young girls, and one has a crush on the other and the other doesn’t know) But I know Sharon and her friends a lot better than I do these other characters. I could tell you how they’d respond to just about anything at any given moment, and that’s a feeling I really miss. A feeling of familiarity. But I’m sure I’ll get there with my two other protags, as well as all of the dozens of others that are still vying for me to actually write their stories.

Anyway, it’s just a little bittersweet. Because the 4th book is done, and I still want to do something different before heading back into Sharon’s universe. And I feel a little sad that I have to leave her alone for what might be a long time, and that time is fast approaching.

But at least I have some more edits to do on both the third and final book, so that’s something to look forward to. I can’t wait to get started on those, even though a few weeks from now I’ll probably be banging my head on my desk, wondering what drove me to such madness as to continue the series.

Or maybe it’s just me.

🙂

Pixar shares its rules of storytelling.

So I was just relaxing a bit on the Internet, checking to see what the latest thing in writing was, when i stumbled across Pixar’s 22 rules for storytelling. Now, I wasn’t able to find out if this had been verified or not. The few places I checked suggested one of the storyboard artists made her own list. But regardless of how the list got here, it’s awesome to have the advice from, who I think, are some of the best storytellers out there. Well, save for maybe CARS 2. And The Good Dinosaur. I didn’t like either of those two movies, and in the case of The Good Dinosaur, I felt like they just let some random intern loose in the studio because they lost a bet or something. I mean, that movie’s plot had no idea where it was going, and characters appeared for no reason.

But I digress. Don’t worry if you’re writing a novel, short story, play, screenplay or something like that. This list, at least to me, seems broad enough to cover the gambit on just about all forms of fiction storytelling, so it isn’t specific to just the movie screen.

Anyway, just thought I’d share this with you guys. I’m actually gonna try Pixar’s method of plot generation, which is rule #4, and see where it takes me.

🙂

 

Let’s talk about pants

So there’s two types of writers out there. Ok, probably more, but for the sake of this post, there are two. Those that outline and those that don’t. More colloquially, the people that do not use outlines, such as myself, are known as “pantsers,” which comes from the expression “by the seat of our pants.” I haven’t come across a word that describes “outliners” save for “outliners” itself. But I don’t really like that, because it sounds like “outsiders.” Maybe “non-pantsers?” Or, how about writing with “Pants” and “No pants?” Hmm….

Anyway. More to the point. I’m a hardcore “panter” type of writer. Even when I was in school, I loathed the thought of organizing my stories in some semblance of order, instead just letting my muse do whatever he or she wanted. I thought the act of outlining was pretty pointless, honestly. I mean, I know what I’m gonna write, so why waste time writing it down? And if we stumble across something that doesn’t reflect the vision of our story, then we have one of those “Happy Accidents” Bob Ross would always talk about. Only in written form.

But as I grow older, I realize that outlining may have its uses. And nowhere is it more evident than in the collaboration work my wife and I are writing. She’s like, the total opposite of me when it comes to writing. She’s got mountains and mountains of background notes, character descriptions, interviews, story notes, and everything. But that’s just who she is. She’s an artist, and I guess details are like, important to those people or something 🙂

So, when we decided to write something together, it was easier for me to follow an outline than it was for her to “write by the seat of her pants.” In the end, we’ve come to meet sort of in the middle, but more closely towards the outlining part of the spectrum, and it isn’t too bad.

While forming outlines together, we can joke about funny or strange character interactions and stuff like that. More importantly, we can use these outlines as not a guide to our story, but as a springboard for our ideas, where I think the real power behind outlines lie.

Even if you do outline, it doesn’t have to be concrete. I personally enjoy writing all those “Happy Accidents” as I call them, as those help me get a better understanding of who my characters are. And if we use outlines as a springboard, or a jumping off place for our ideas, those little accidents can still happen. And my wife is is very tolerant with my personal style, in that we have maybe two pages outline for our full length novel, and we plan our individual scenes together, which leaves me enough wiggle room to write as I’m most comfortable while keeping my wife comfortable at the same time.

But it wasn’t easy getting to that point. We both spent the better part of a month tripping over each others muses, and it got frustrating at times. But then one day, everything just sort of fell into place. I think it took about 40 pages or so, including a few rewrites to reach that point. And I’m glad we did. She’s going write with me a lot more in the future, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a lot of fun and work out just fine.

So the moral of the story is this: Write the way you feel is best, but don’t necessarily discount the opposite side of the spectrum. In fact, I’d suggest all writers to give it a shot. If nothing else, you might end up with another cool story or a few ideas. And maybe you find that writing a couple of notes–or filling up less outline pages–is just what your muse needed to move into high gear and really get some things done.

🙂

 

Timeless? More like…too much time.

So yay! I finally finished my edits of my third book Timeless. Upon thinking about it, I don’t really like the title, but I’m gonna keep it. If you’ve been keeping up with my books, there’s a pattern in the book titles, and that pattern continues until the final book.

And this is the part where I reflect on what it took to get here. Honestly, it took a long time. Too much time. I wanted to have my third book out by the end of this month, and it looks like it’s gonna be June at the earliest. However, I’m done with the rewrites, and any further editing is just going to be the basic stuff. And the problems I solved in my third book directly relate to the fourth, so once I rewrite that one, it should be ready for my betas. Hopefully this will speed up editing on my last book and I can still get it out in a fairly reasonable amount of time.

I also learned that this is just how I write, and sometimes, especially for writing, you just have to take a little extra time to make sure it’s awesome. You can rush art. But at this stage, why not take a little extra time?

And with the completion of Timeless, I have the opportunity to finally work on my Urban Fantasy. Tentative title is No One’s Angel, and the series should have at least three books. Maybe four. We’ll see. And I’m really excited to work on it. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy working on the Godspeed series, but after spending the better part of a year with Sharon and her pals, a shift in tone serves me quite well. And yea, it does get tiring writing in such a heavy tone, even with the little beams of light Sharon experiences. The tone of this next series is a lot more…driven while being a little lighter. Ethan is already an awesome spellcaster. He just has to become Sage to unlock the secrets of a powerful magic that will let him look back in time and finally know how his parents died.

So yea. Guess that’s it for this round. It’s cool thinking I’m gonna have a third book out. And even more cool to think that, by the end of the year, I could be on my second series. I have a lot more stories to tell, so we should probably get started.

🙂

Just a quick update and some numbers on my promo

Hey everyone! I just wanted to drop by and give you guys a quick update on what’s going on over on my end. I apologize for the delay, but this Spring has been rough and I’m way behind on getting my third book ready.

So, a ton of stuff happened to me health wise that kept me out of this chair. The first thing was some sort of strange back injury I got when I stood up to get out of the sofa. No idea what happened, but after that, I just couldn’t move. Went to the Dr. and she said my muscle tissues became inflamed. Got some cool medicine, but I couldn’t sit down for two weeks. Standing was fine, and so was laying down. I just couldn’t sit.

Then allergy season hit. To spare you guys a long story, after about five trips to the Dr.’s office since February, I’m going to have sinus surgery. My sinuses are so inflamed that they can’t drain and they can’t really take in the medicine I’m using, which is causing my vertigo to get worse.But the Dr. is confident that surgery could start me on the road to recovery, which is gonna be long and includes me going back on allergy shots for a few years.

I was also diagnosed with migraine headaches. Long story sort, most “sinus headaches” that are self diagnosed turn out to be migraines. I had been keeping a journal of them, and when I took it to the Dr. she agreed with me. This month alone, I’ve had 17 migraine headaches. But the last five or so I’ve actually had medicine to handle them. It’s not working too well right now, but I’m on a low dose and the next time I see the Dr. she’s probably gonna up them.

So, the few weeks after I released my second book haven’t been the easiest for me. However, I did make some progress and I’m on the last edit of the third book before I pass it off to my betas, so hopefully it’ll be worth your wait.

But I did promise you guys some numbers from my last promo.  Godspeed hit #11 in the Y/A action/adventure category. However, Action/Adventure doesn’t seem to be too big and Dystopian is calming down. But the promo also netted me several thousand page reads on KU. I got four times as much money from page reads versus the sales from the second book. And I actually messed up a little bit and scheduled my promo too soon after my second book’s release. I was on the way to almost three whole books read a day (about 1500 KNEP)  when the promo hit. Most of those page reads were of Godspeed and I guess when it went free, the page reads also became free. This is as a result of the second book’s appearance in the “new releases” part of Amazon. A week later, page reads started coming in for Paradise Lost and I saw a fairly decent sized tail of sales and page reads for two weeks after before everything calmed down. The tail I experienced was a little longer than average for first time authors with two books, so that was awesome.

If I could do it all over again, I would release the second book, wait a week or two, and then do the free promo on the first. I’m gonna try something similar with when the third book comes out and see if that makes a difference. All of the expert authors say to work on generating sales instead of page reads, because Amazon can change how we’re paid for pages reads pretty much whenever they want. But I’ll take them when I get them.

So, that’s it. I’ve been feeling better as time goes on and I’m going to work doubly hard to give you guys an awesome book to enjoy.

🙂

 

Book two and what I’ve learned

So, I released book two of “The Godspeed Saga,” “Paradise Lost,” a few days ago. The whole process has taught me a great deal about publishing in general, and I’d thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

However, let me first begin with the little promo I’m doing, because why not? My first book is free until Tuesday, so if you’re curious you can click here and try it out.

Now, on to the point of this post, and probably the reason I’ve been putting it off for a few days. It’s never really easy to admit making mistakes, and I made a pretty big one with my first book.

Thing is, I was updating the back matter of my book with links to my Facebook page. But instead of formatting the book and getting the .mobi to upload, I accidentally uploaded my raw Word document. This was weeks ago, by the way. So, that meant my book was just that. A Word document. No chapter headings. No interface of any kind. No copyright page, dedication or any of that professional stuff. All for who knows how long.

I felt horrible once I realized that. It was a dumb mistake, but one I’ll only make once. I’m only fortunate someone didn’t buy it and leave a bad review.

Anyway, that’s one lesson learned. The second is about just writing faster and all that stuff. I think I touched up on that a few days ago. Basically, I’m getting my final drafts finalized faster, which is nice.

I’ve also learned a lot about marketing. With the promo I’m doing, Godspeed, at its highest, reached #11 of the free teen action/adventure books. Not too shabby, though I couldn’t quite break into the top ten. Now, with that came a whole ton of page reads, since I’m enrolled in KU. However, when I set the book to free, the number of page reads I got was cut significantly. So, it appears to me that once a book is free, subsequent page reads aren’t counted.

Or maybe people stopped reading. Who knows? I may come back with some real numbers, just to let everyone know what happened, just in case any of you guys are about to release books. By the way, these statements come with no outside marketing, save for a post on Facebook, a small artist’s circle, and this blog post. When the series is done is when I’ll try the Facebook ad stuff. Maybe I can get it done by the summer. We’ll see.

So, that’s it for now. Gotta finish this last draft of my third book.

🙂