thinkinglazy

Aspiring author and random thinker

Tag Archives: Writers Resources

On Writing: The Equation

After writing, as most of you who often write have realized, you can never read a book as you did before. The fact is that whenever you struggle at resolving an issue while writing it becomes an overwhelming thought that constantly returns to you when you least expect it until it is solved. And, of course, reading makes your brain often tread into the direction of this issue. That is, most certainly, vague and requires a more elaborate explanation – for I beg your forgiveness in my inability to properly and simply explain myself.

I remember when I first decided to write, I struggled at a very simple and rather embarrassing grammatical issue, does punctuation come before or after speech quotations. This issue was resolved as soon as I looked at the first page of a book, which I do not recall, I decided to start reading. As your writing progresses and the basic elements are, more or less, subconsciously implemented, more issues arise.

To be more specific, it moves deeper into the ‘there’s no one right way’ section. In other words, you start focusing less on the obvious and more on the hidden, such as character development, plot development or writing style. You start trying to incorporate slight twists in the general rules and slowly begin to feel comfortable breaking them. This, however, is a very dangerous and strenuous task for new writers such as myself.

I am very well aware that I have a long way to go before I can produce a considerably decent piece of work. In fact, I intend to rewrite almost all of my stories once I feel comfortable enough to write at an acceptably decent level. This, however, might never come to be, but I keep my hopes up as should you.

After realizing my shortcomings, I started thinking more about plots and writing styles. I have decided that my language is far too weak for decent fantasy, the type of stories I enjoy writing the most, and will try my lick at science fiction once I am finished with my current project. While being preoccupied over writing style, after reading Tolkien and hopelessly trying to pick up a few tricks from him, I started reading and analyzing different authors. I have then realized that more than not, successful authors tend to stick with one specific equation for their stories which almost never changes. This is when I realized that all what I have been doing was but a simple step in a much longer process that was hidden to me. Every author is unique and every author has her/his own writing equation that, if not already so, is anxiously awaiting to be discovered.

So far my writing has been more influenced by the books I read than my inner voice. It is a grim, but necessary, reality that I must endure until I have written enough to discover my personal writing equation. And I believe that the only way to do so is by writing a great deal. I believe that reading, however, will speed this process.

On Writing: Outline Disadvantage Discovered

So I realized that outlines work perfectly when there is a short time-span between preparing them and writing the story. However, their disadvantages are truly revealed once a little time passes. Personally, one of the biggest challenges I have to face is to keep writing everyday. Writer’s block is not such a problematic issue for me as much as motivation is. Though it seems that outlining has a profound positive impact on my stories, they are somewhat opposed to my natural tendencies.

The modular outlining method was a great way of overcoming the motivation issue, yet it also take a lot of time and has the same advantages if the actual writing process is delayed, as has been the case lately with my busy schedule.

Anyway, I have just finished the second part of my current project titled and am about to start preparing the outline for the following part, with a little less detail this time to make more room for writing.

On Writing: Weakness Detected

It has been nine days since my book was released and I got no complete reviews yet. However, I got a few reviews so far which were conclusive about one thing, I need to learn how to write better, grammar and all. The writing is too formal for literature and unpolished, perhaps something which could be improved by a good editor. Conversations feel unnatural, something which I could get away with considering the genre I write.

Fortunately, my weaknesses can be improved, considering I am willing to dedicate time and effort to make it so. Having creativity makes the learning process bearable, if not enjoyable, because at least I get to do something I am excited about. So far I have been writing and reading a lot, but I have not yet come to study the craft. I will be conducting some research about books/tutorials/lectures to help improve my weak points and let you know about them.

On Writing: Book III

The second book is undergoing a final revision and should be ready to publish within two weeks, if not sooner. However, I can’t sit idle while this little process goes on. So I decided to prepare the third book – which I had planned in my head for a while now.

I’ve learnt a great deal from my first two stories, and from two dozen short stories which yet remain to be published, but I don’t expect any of my work to be of high-enough standard for traditional publishing (I read somewhere that once you reach your 1,000,000th word you start writing well enough for traditional publisher standards – I am at my 300,00oth word so far).

Anyway, this post is not about publishing, rather about the process I am using for this third book.

Anyone who has been reading my posts so far knows that I am currently focusing on epic fantasy, yet reading a wide spectrum of genres. Nevertheless, I believe that my process is not tailored to the genre, except for the map-making process which helps me keep track of the events.

I picked an approach very similar to that of the third part of the second book, a fairly detailed modular outline which includes most major elements of the story. The outline serves as a guideline for the story, but I often deviate from it should a better scenario or idea arise. The modular approach is great for keeping the writing process interesting and making it amiable enough for any future ideas that might develop. It also allows for a chance to alter the story to a more interesting direction than the intended one and keep it coherent in terms of events.

For example, I have already prepared the outline for the first part (5 chapters) of the book and started writing the story (4,000 words so far). However, while I was working on the writing process itself, after the initial and only intended outline was complete, I found that the sub-chapters would make more sense if juggled around.

The outline itself is split into two parts for each chapter. The first is a clear bullet-point format for the following (6) elements, the goal of the chapter, the idea I wish to convey (I try to conform to a short-story format during the chapters to always have a distinct idea to convey at the end of the chapter – usually political or philosophical), the requirements necessary for the accomplishment of the goal, the methods by which the goal is to be completed, the conditions required for the fulfillment of the goal, and any key explanations I intend to convey (these are usually elements occurring in the timeline which do not directly stem from the actions of the main character/s). The second part is a summary-like version of the sub-chapters (I usually number the events by their sequence). With the combination of these two outline elements, I get to breeze through the story writing a possible 1,000 or 2,000 words an hour, depending on the mood. However, the outline itself takes a day to finish for each part and an additional day or two to revise.

Finally, I decided to skip the dramatis personae because, unlike the second book, there are a few new main characters. Nevertheless, I keep a short one prepared to record any necessary information about the characters as I write. For this book, I work on the dramatis personae preparation process in parallel to the writing process.

To make things clear, I have no idea how long this book will be, nor do I have any idea how it will end. All that I know now are the main idea I wish to convey, the theme of the book, and the events for the first part. These three ‘known’ variables you just read are all prone to change within limits, especially the main idea that I tend to downgrade and replace as soon as a better one comes up.

It is with great difficulty that I explain my process and record this journey, but perhaps it would be made easier once my book is available and these posts relate to something more than just a man behind a mysterious screen.

Good luck with whatever endeavor you seek to embark on.

On Writing: Nearly Finished & Ready to Publish

I have finished my story, as most of the ones who read my posts know, and am currently facing a whole new bunch of issues that require addressing. For starters, the reviewing process is becoming rather tedious, yet not to an extend that would allow me to consider procrastination. I have also started designing my book cover for the only intended publishing version of my book, electronic.

However, there are a few things that I have gotten out of my way. First of all, I have decided to publish via Amazon Kindle my electronic, and only, version of the book. I have also reached a conclusion regarding the pricing of my book. My original intention was to offer the book for free, as I do not seek to profit from writing considering that my skill has not reached the appropriate level for such action. As of this moment, I decided to price it 1.99-2.99$ – namely because several sources noted that free work tends to be associated with a low quality which directly effects exposure.

As I previously posted, attempts to officially publish my first book, not the one hogging the topic of this post, did not go as I expected – namely because there is no reason for a literally agent to trust an unpublished and unknown author. This, however, did not negatively affect my resolve, but boosted my will to find alternative means of getting my work out there.

This has been another post which had only the purpose of logging my journey so far, and I hope that it would not bore you. I would finally like to offer my sincere encouragements to whoever seeks to write and publish her or his work. Do not give up, for refusals in this field are far more than reason dictates, but I believe that the few who make it are either the ones gifted in the craft, or with iron-bound resolve.

Good luck in whatever you seek, be it writing or not.

On Writing: Difficulties

Before you dig into this post, I would like to inform you that the title is a bit misleading. I am not facing difficulties, per say, on the writing itself, but on the other daily tasks which I find myself in need of doing. Between my independent work, writing, and social obligations, I find little time to maintain my regular and usually strict exercise routine. I just wanted to say how much I admire people who can remain productive while they grow their physical and mental capabilities simultaneously.

On Writing: New Appreciation

As I held a book in my hands today and read from it, I realized that writing did more to me than provide an outlet for self-expression; it allowed me to appreciate reading far more than I used to. It is a strange feeling when you start seeing the world from a writer’s perspective. Suddenly, Everything I experience become observed in a different manner. Everything I read is a valuable source of knowledge and self-improvement. After writing over 160,000 words in a span of six months, I am starting to see the world from a different perspective. A pleasant perspective filled with emotion and admiration. Writing really makes you think.

I had a cousin visiting the past week and she told me that she knew some published writers in the US. After having a brief conversation about the topic, she offered to help get me in contact with a few literally agents (a huge step forward). Perhaps I would finally get to know how far I have gone in this writing endeavor.

On Writing: Dramatis Personae

Been having too many characters in my first two books that it was necessary for me to keep proper track of them via a dramatis personae (somewhat like a character appendix). In my third book, which I started preparing for, the new story revolves around a military unit composed of ten individuals. Because of the large number of main characters I decided to prepare their history and characters more thoroughly than I used to before.

The process which I thought would be tedious due to research was, actually, rather interesting. I spent the better part of yesterday researching and basing each of my characters’ personalities on historical or mythological individuals. I also used the big five theory of personality to help me plan their tendencies based on the roles they hold within this unit.

The process started with me just using one of the concepts I came up with in while writing my first book and expanding on it, the unit of ten. Then, I made a list of all the skills necessary for the survival of the group throughout their journey and divided them across the members. Once I was done with the skills, I looked up the names based on their roles; researching historical and mythological figures. Following the naming, I fine tuned the skills to match with the figures; if sufficient information was found by my research. The final step was to add some kinks and twists to each character to make them unique. For example, the leader has this thing with his hair where he stresses to keep it properly combed all the time.

When I was done, I found myself staring at a document of 5,000 words where my characters were described in some detail. Next step for me is to prepare the outline. However, instead of preparing the outline for the entire story, I will be writing a more detailed outline for each chapter or story section one at a time because of a phenomenon I observed while writing my second story. When I was working on my second story, where I decided to prepare an outline before writing it, I spent a day preparing the outline of the story to keep the flow of the events as smooth as possible. Although the events were far more thought out than the first book and the chapters flowed smoothly, I found myself unexcited about writing midway the book; I have simply lost the excitement of writing a new book due to my preparation. In order to prevent this issue, the new book will be prepared chapter by chapter prior to me writing it – hopefully the plot would still flow smoothly.

On Writing: Goal

Started working on the second volume of my book as you all know, I’m currently in the fifth chapter. My goal is to write 2,000 words per day, which is quite a bit. So far I am writing a chapter a day, from a total of fifteen planned ones. I have been successfully exceeding my allocated words per day by an additional 1,000 for the past three days, at least.

This time I plan on proof reading before I finish the book. So far I failed on this task, with the exception of the first chapter.