jpskewedthrone: (Default)
A few year ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog has changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Plot Synopses:

Here are some thoughts on how to write plot synopses from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is not the first time I've done a plot synopsis project, so some of these posts are new and some are from the previous run-through. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Chaz Brenchley: http://desperance.livejournal.com/254192.html (Originally posted 3/17/2008)
S.C. Butler: http://scbutler.livejournal.com/23177.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
David B. Coe: http://davidbcoe.livejournal.com/29443.html (Originally popsted 3/18/2008)
Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/how-i-write-a-book-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jennifer Dunne: http://jennifer-dunne.livejournal.com/244403.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
S.L. Farrell/Stephen Leigh: http://sleigh.livejournal.com/187253.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Gregory Frost: http://frostokovich.livejournal.com/19384.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Jim C. Hines: http://jimhines.livejournal.com/355241.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Elaine Isaac/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/pitching-a-novel-nailing-your-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Kay Kenyon: http://www.kaykenyon.com/2017/09/21/writing-a-novel-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jackie Kessler: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/03/18/the-plot-synopsis-project/#more-178 (Originally posted 3/8/2008)
Mindy Klasky: http://mindyklasky.livejournal.com/135970.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Misty Massey: http://madkestrel.livejournal.com/64716.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/synopses-a-lengthy-discourse-on-a-pithy-topic/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/21/2017)
C.E. Murphy: http://mizkit.livejournal.com/339428.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Naomi Novik: http://naominovik.livejournal.com/34610.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493561.html (Added 9/21/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=104 (Added 9/23/2017)
Jennifer Stevenson: http://smokingpigeon.livejournal.com/15208.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Michelle Sagara West: http://msagara.livejournal.com/37498.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)


And check out the Elevator Pitch Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html, and the Query Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493069.html.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Plot Synopses

First off, there are two types of plot synopses: the one written AFTER the novel is finished, and the one written BEFORE the novel is finished, both used to send to the agent or editor in the hopes they’ll buy the novel. I’ll start with the one written AFTER the novel is finished, since this is typically what happens for a writer who has yet to be published.

Writing a Synopsis AFTER the Book is Finished )

In any case, here’s my sample plot synopsis, for the first book in my Throne of Amenkor series, published by DAW Books, called The Skewed Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Keep in mind that if you haven’t read the book, this synopsis will reveal all of the major plot twists and turning points in the novel, so spoilerage is possible. Well, not possible. Spoilerage is DEFINITE. I think you’d still find the book enjoyable even after reading this though. In fact, it might be an interesting exercise to read both the synopsis and the book itself so you can compare them and see what I put in the synopsis and, more importantly, what I left out. You certainly can't put everything in the book in the synopsis.

After the sample, I discuss writing a plot synopsis BEFORE the book has been written.

************************

Skewed Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilery if you haven’t read the book) )

***********************************

Ok, that’s what the beast looks like if the book has already been written. However, once you’ve been published, the agent or editor is more willing to work with a book that hasn’t been written yet. At this stage, they’ll likely demand a plot synopsis, and sometimes they’ll want a plot synopsis and the first few chapters (even if the rest hasn’t been written). I find this a much MUCH harder beast to tame, because of the way that I write.

Writing a Synopsis BEFORE the Book is Written )

So here’s my sample of a synopsis written BEFORE the novel was written. It's from the second book in the Throne of Amenkor series, called The Cracked Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Again, if you read this, it WILL spoiler the book. (But also again, it might be good to read the synopsis AND the book so you can see what was included and not included . . . and also what I thought would happen and what actually happened.) You’ll notice some differences. I didn’t capitalize the characters names when they first appeared in this one, for example. Some editors/agents like them to be capped, some not. You should always read and follow the guidelines for the publishing house or agency where you’re submitting in order to see what kinds of rules they like you to follow. You’ll also notice that the synopsis doesn’t read as smoothly as the previous one; that’s because the novel wasn’t written and I was flailing around in the dark while writing it. And for those that have read the book already, you’ll notice that the final version of the book had some serious changes (the part about Erick and Baill leaps to mind). The end product didn’t follow this synopsis exactly. Editors and agents know this might happen, and they generally accept it.

**********************

Cracked Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilerage ahoy!) )

******************

So that’s my take on writing plot synopses and a few examples to give you guys something to work from. Hopefully you found some helpful advice in there. But my way isn’t always the best, and doesn’t always work for everyone, so take the time to read some of the other authors’ posts about their process and see some of their examples. I think what you’ll find is that there isn’t one set way to do these things, and there’s not one set road to publication. Some include synopses and some don’t. Some synopses are 1 page long (if that) and some are 10 or more. It depends on the editor’s and/or agent’s preferences.

And keep in mind that you can have the perfect synopsis but if the STORY ITSELF SUCKS, it won’t help. You have to have a good story to tell. And if the story is good, most editors and agents will cut you some slack if your plot synopsis isn’t perfect.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
A few years ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog has changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Queries:

Here are some thoughts on how to write queries from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is not the first time I've done a query project, so some of these posts are new and some are from the previous run-through. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/i-should-have-done-this-a-while-ago/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Chris Dolley: http://chrisdolley.livejournal.com/97929.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Simon Haynes: http://halspacejock.blogspot.com/2008/09/query-project.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Elaine Isaac/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/the-query-quandary-pitching-your-novel/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Jackie Kessler: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/09/12/the-query-project/ (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Glenda Larke: http://glendalarke.blogspot.com/2008/09/on-writing-query-letter.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
John Levitt: http://johnlevitt.livejournal.com/9407.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/queriesor-i-may-be-talking-through-my-hat/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492803.html (Added 9/20/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=99 (Added 9/21/2017)
Janni Lee Simner: http://janni.livejournal.com/499198.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Jennifer Stevenson: http://smokingpigeon.livejournal.com/30055.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
David J. Williams: http://autumnrain2110.com/blog/2008/09/12/query-letter-time/ (Originally posted 9/12/2008)

And check out the Elevator Pitch Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html, and the Plot Synopsis Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493782.html.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Queries

The query is horribly important for writing purposes, especially for new writers, because it's the door to the editor's and/or agent's office. Basically, the query is a cover letter for your manuscript. In the query, you want to include information about yourself, your book, and what you have to offer. It's an attempt to get the editor and/or agent interested enough in you and your work so that they either request to see a partial of the manuscript if they requested a query only, or to get them to turn the page and start reading the partial that was included in the mailing. It's the first impression that the editor and/or agent will get of you, and because of that, it has to look sharp, speak clearly, and be perfect. Which is alot of pressure on you as the writer.

But before I go any further into discussing them, let me say that I'm not purporting to be an expert on queries. I'm only going to report what I did and/or learned in my process to getting published and what I think the query should be and do. I also want to say that, in general, I DO NOT think that agents and editors read the query and skip reading some of the partial (if it's included) "almost all of the time". I think they only skip reading a portion of the partial if it's obvious from the query that the book just does not fit what they represent or sell. If the editor publishes mysteries, and you sent them a romance, then yes, they'll read the query, determine it's a romance, and not even look at the partial. There's no point (unless there's a significantly good dose of mystery in the story, and if that wasn't mentioned in the query, then you screwed up the query). However, from what I've seen and heard by dealing with agents and editors as a writer, they almost always read a little bit of the partial. It may not be much, but it's enough for them to determine if they'll be interested in your story and whether you can write, regardless of what's in the query.

OK, I'm sure I'll get some flak from people over that last paragraph, but let's move on.

Queries. The main point is the query should be one page, short, and to the point. Don't waste time here, because you want them to move from the query to the partial (or the request for the partial) as soon as possible. There are three paragraphs to a query, maybe four. And in all three paragraphs you have to be completely and totally honest about yourself and your book, and you have to be completely and totally upfront about what you want and where the book currently is. Always. And lastly, you must be completely and totally professional at all times. Remember, this is your first impression and you only get one first impression. It's like a date. You DON'T want to screw it up or you'll never get laid.

I'm going to write this as if you were sending it to an editor, but the same advice applies to agents as well.

Incidentals: Before we hit the three paragraphs, you must make certain you have all of the incidental letter material absolutely correct. This means the address for yourself, the address for where you're sending it, and above all the name of the person you're sending it to! This person should be the actual editor at the publisher where you want to be published, it should be spelled correctly, and it must be current. Double check to see that the editor or agent is still working there. Editors and agents shift positions all the time. If the move was fairly recent and hasn't been circulated much yet, and you put the wrong editor on the query, it's not a problem. Don't stress about it, the query will find the right person. But if the editor you sent it to left their position six months ago and you send it to them instead of their replacement . . . that doesn't look good. It's not professional. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but take the time to do the research and find the appropriate editor. And for heaven's sake, if you don't know if it should be Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Dr., then leave the honorific off. Just say Jane Doe. You certainly don't want to say Mrs. Jane Doe and then find out later that it was really Mr.

First paragraph: Ok, so you've double checked the editor's name, triple checked their address, and made certain you put your own address on the envelope correctly. The incidentals are done. In the first paragraph you should tell them exactly what it is you have to offer and what you're looking for. Something along the lines of:

"I am seeking a publisher for my 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel entitled Fever."

You should take one sentence, maybe two, to tell them why you are sending this novel to THEM. Make it personal if you can. If you met them at a conference or convention and chatted with them briefly at the bar, mention that here. If they gave you their card and said send them something, mention that here. In fact, if you've had personal contact with them, mention that first, saying something like, "I had a great time chatting with you at the bar at Confluence last month. I hope your dog Sparky is doing better after his surgery." You can get a little personal depending on what you spoke about at the bar, but keep it short and move on to the main point as soon as possible, which is of course that you have a 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel to sell. Include what is enclosed with the query, if anything, such as a partial, or the plot sysnopsis, etc. This is important however: Only include what they request in their guidelines, or what they have requested from you in person. In the end, this paragraph shouldn't be more than 5 sentences long.

Second Paragraph: This is where you describe your entire novel in no more than 5 sentences. Which is hard. It's got to be punchy, pithy, and get across your main character, your basic plot, and whatever it is about your book that makes it unique and/or different from all of the other books out there. I suck at these kinds of paragraphs. Most writers do, because it took 100,000 words to get the story down on paper, not 5 sentences. If we could have done it in 5 sentences, we wouldn't have wasted the 100,000 words. What it takes is a huge butcher's knife and a little fortitude. You have to be willing to cut out almost everything about the novel except the character's transformation, how the plot forces that transformation, and what makes the book unique. Remember, you aren't trying to explain the entire plot or book here, that's what the plot synopsis is for. What you're trying to do here is pique the editor's interest so that they think, "This sounds cool," and they either request the partial, or turn to the partial immediately. Here’s the one I used for my novel Fever:

"Set mainly in north central Pennsylvania in 1965, Fever is the story of Dr. Avery Mills, a young doctor whose life takes a sudden wrong turn when he nearly kills a patient. Dumped by his girlfriend, he seeks to escape his life and takes a job in the small town of Coudersport. But Coudersport holds a secret: a fever that gives those infected the ability to channel fire with their minds. Mills must uncover the darkness beneath the town’s idyllic surface, and in the process face his own past and discover his own strengths."

That gives you the idea anyway. Short, but with as much information as you can pack into it. Keep it focused on the main character and his or her change or "problem". Don't stray from the main plot with subplots or anything like that, keep those for the plot synopsis. And bring into it what makes the story unique (the pyrokinesis here, I think).

Third Paragraph: The last paragraph is where you should include any information the editor needs to know about you, such as credentials, and where your novel currently stands. If your book is about biological fantasy creatures, you should include the fact that you're a biologist. If you've sold 3 books already, include that. Won a prize for writing, had short stories published, anything that would be a cred and give you more standing should be mentioned here. Also, and this applies more for a query to an agent, if your book is being looked at by a publisher already, you should mention that, something like, "Fever is currently being considered by an editor at DAW," or whatever. In essence, let them know where the book stands at the moment, if there's a solid lead or nibble in a certain direction. If you don't have any publishing creds yet, that's fine. Just mention something personal about yourself. For my first fantasy novel, I had no creds, so I just said I was a graduate student at Binghamton University, working on a PhD in mathematics. Nothing whatsoever to do with the book or publishing or even fantasy, but it was a little personal touch, so I seemed more real to the editor, not just a piece of paper in the mail.

Ending: After this, you should have a short, short paragraph thanking them for their time, that you look forward to hearing from them soon, that an SASE is included (if so), etc. Sign it off in some way, such as "sincerely" or whatever. I wouldn't use "love" unless you really know them that well, in which case you probably don't need a query at all.

And that's that. Sounds complicated, but the worst part is the novel summary paragraph, and you can get lots of help from friends and others in workshops and on LJ and whatnot in getting that written. So here's the sample of a cover letter I may have sent out based on what I've said here, if I were looking for a new publisher at this moment. Keep in mind that this still needs some spit and polish, and that pieces of it will vary depending on your situation and how well you know the editor/agent. I've faked the addresses and names and whatnot, but the description of the book is real, from a book I actually wrote, called Fever, that has not yet been published. Check the comments out as well, since others may chime in and bring up some good points that I forgot to mention or just didn't think about regarding queries. And of course you can ask any questions you might have as well.

******************

Sample:

Joshua Palmatier
213 Gigawatt St
Coudersport, PA 00000

August 17, 2007



Bigwig Publishing
317 Whatsit Ave
New York, NY 00000

Ira Greenwaltsonphindermacher:

It was great meeting you at BlipCon last month and I enjoyed the panel on nanotechnology in fantasy. As per your request after our discussion after the panel, I'm sending you the partial and a plot synopsis of my 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel entitled Fever.

Set mainly in north central Pennsylvania in 1965, Fever is the story of Dr. Avery Mills, a young doctor whose life takes a sudden wrong turn when he nearly kills a patient. Dumped by his girlfriend, he seeks to escape his life and takes a job in the small town of Coudersport. But Coudersport holds a secret: a fever that gives those infected the ability to channel fire with their minds. Mills must uncover the darkness beneath the town’s idyllic surface, and in the process face his own past and discover his own strengths.

I have three fantasy novels currently being published by DAW Books, and was a finalist for the Compton Crook award for best first novel in 2006. I'm currently working as an assistant professor at SUNY College at Oneonta.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,



Joshua Palmatier

*****************


And now a word from our sponsor:


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
A few year ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog had changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for the next three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Elevator Pitches:

Here are some thoughts on how to write elevator pitches from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is the first time I've done a elevator pitch project, so all of these posts are new. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/for-gods-sake-dont-talk-in-the-elevator-the-social-media-pitch/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Elaine Isaak/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/crafting-your-pitch-elevator-style/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Kay Kenyon: http://www.kaykenyon.com/2017/09/19/pitching-a-novel/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/the-elevator-pitch-my-take/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/19/2017)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492441.html (Added 9/19/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=94 (Added 9/19/2017)

The Query Project is here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493069.html. The Plot Synopsis Project is here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493782.html.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
For other advice on elevator pitches, check out the Elevator Pitch Project: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html

An elevator pitch is something you need if you plan on attending conventions or writing conferences or if you go any place where you may potentially run into an editor or agent or even a fellow writer who might be interested in what it is you’re writing. If you happen to end up chatting with someone like this, they may ask you to describe your book. The elevator pitch is a short, quick statement—no more than a sentence or two—that is intended to hook the editor/agent/writer into asking you more. You need to snag their interest. Fast. It’s called an elevator pitch because, if you happen to run into this person in an elevator (which happens more often than you’d think), you need to be able to get it out before the elevator door opens and your prey escapes.

So, how do you summarize your whole book in just a few sentences? You don’t. That’s not the point here. The point is to give the editor/agent/writer a piece of your book that makes them want more. So you should focus your elevator pitch on whatever it is about your book that makes it cool, what makes it different from all of the other books out there on the shelf, what will make a reader pick it up and flip to that first page and start reading. That’s essentially what you want the editor/agent/writer to do: ask for more. If they do ask for more, then you can expand on what you’ve started and go into more details. How many details depends on the setting. (Are you chatting at the bar with drinks in hand? On a bus ride to the airport? In that elevator?) But if you can’t get them to be interested in enough in a few sentences to continue the conversation, then you’re dead in the water.

So, if you think the magic in your world is unique and interesting and never-been-done-before, then you should focus your pitch around the magic. Something like: “In the world of Evernon, the price for using magic is not pain or energy, it’s the loss of your senses—smell, touch, even sight. The mage Terell has nearly exhausted all of his senses when his arch-nemesis abducts his only daughter. Blind and deaf, does he have enough left to free Averie from Gondor’s clutches?”

If you think the world itself is cool, then focus on the world: “The luxury starship Excalibur has crash landed on an asteroid in the middle of a deadly nebula. The survivors’ only hope is to traverse the ionic storms, plasma geysers, and shifting rock of the asteroid’s surface and reach the abandoned relay station before the nebula tears the asteroid apart!”

I think you’re getting the idea. Focus the pitch on what stands out about your book, whether it’s the world, the magic, the characters, whatever. But as you can see, you can’t rely on just the “cool” aspect of the book. You should give at least a hint of the plot, the motivation of the characters. A glimpse of the overall conflict gives the editor/agent/writer the knowledge that there’s more going on here than just a cool concept. I’ve read many short stories as an editor where there was a cool concept but not story. You can’t sell a story or novel on concept alone. There has to be a conflict and human characters behind it to call it a story. The pitch needs to show that there is, even if no real details are given. Again, once you’ve snagged the editor/agent/writer’s attention, then you can go into the details.

So sit back and think about your characters, your world, your magic or science and ask yourself what it is about your novel that will make it stand out. The hone your pitch down to just that, with a hint of the conflict the novel is centered around.

But once you’ve done that, you aren’t done. Having a pitch is great; being able to deliver it is even better. You need to practice your pitch so that it rolls off your tongue smoothly, so that it fits into casual conversation. When the editor/agent/writer asks what your book is about, you don’t want to stop and stammer or say, “Hold on a second,” while you pull out a piece of paper with the pitch written on it. You should start right into it, “THE QUEEN’S WRATH is about …” A casual presentation will increase the chances that the editor/agent/writer will want to talk further, because it says that you’re so familiar with your work and world and characters that they’re like old friends.

This post makes it sound easy to come up with a good elevator pitch. It’s not. You don’t want to be doing this on the fly, so spend some time thinking about your work and practicing the pitch. It will pay off in the end. Good luck!


And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Benjamin Tate (*grin*) has posted on scene economy when writing over at his LJ ([livejournal.com profile] benjamintate). Check it out!
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
OK, now that all of the guinea pig drama seems to be over (Buddy is doing fine, so far), I can finally return to the writing posts I meant to do immediately after Albacon. This posts are based on the panels that I was on at the convention. I took notes at the time, but it's been long enough I don't know what some of the notes mean anymore, or remember what prompted the note in the first place, so this is just going to be me making comments about the topic, rather than an in depth report of what happened on the panel itself. I figured I'd start with the panel:

Exposition: I decided to start with this one because this is something that I struggle with myself. For every book that I've ever handed in, my editor has alway said for the revisions that I need to explain more about the world, that I need to show it. This more or less comes down to exposition. Part of the problem is that I, personally, don't feel that alot of what my editor wants in the way of explaining the world is unnecessary . . . BUT I've had enough people comment on my Throne novels that they wished I'd had more about the world in there that I've realized that my editor is right. (*gasp* Don't let her see this post!)

So, with the new work-in-progress, I've been trying to experiment more with adding in more world elements, and this means messing with exposition. You see, in the Throne books, the story was told through first person, so I introduced elements of the world exclusively through her by having her actually DO THINGS. I really don't like exposition. So everything came through as Varis, my main character, interacted with the world. When she went to the main street in the Dredge to steal food, you saw, through her eyes, the people of the city as they lived their lives. When she fled the Dredge, you were introduced to the "real" Amenkor as she experienced it herself. If there was something in the city that was interesting, but it never crossed paths with Varis, then you never learned about it.

The new books are all in the third person, so I can't use the excuse of POV to leave off the exposition. *sigh* So I've been working on getting in there somehow. Here are some of the other techniques I've been using; note I'm still getting the characters to interact with the world itself as the main method for getting this across.

Dialogue: Of course you can get some of the way the world works across using dialogue. This is tricky though, because an info dump in dialogue is still an info dump. What I usually try to do is incorporate the world information into a conversation that's really about something else. For example, today I wrote a scene where a young girl is recovering from an "illness" and is being taken care of by her father. While he feeds her soup, she asks him about a scene in the marketplace that she witnessed the day before that disturbed her. Her father then explains what the scene was about, thus revealing some of the politics of the world, but at a level that his daughter can understand and it's all disguised through the illness, which is the real focus on the conversation, since the father is trying to figure out what happened to his daughter.

Hearthfire Tale: This is another technique sort of related to dialogue. If you've got some heavy duty history to get across at some point, you can do it by having the characters sit around a campfire and share stories, or they can go into a bar or tavern and hear a hearthfire tale, etc. I was going to say that I haven't used this technique before but it was brought up on the panel . . . but I just realized that would be a lie. I did use it in the book that's "finished" and waiting to go through the rest of the publishing process. At one point my main character goes into a bar to get something to eat and hears the tale of something that happened while he was . . . well, let's just say "away." I needed to get this "history" across because it was the basis of a significant portion of the rest of the book, but the structure of the book didn't allow me to actually to do the story as narrative. So a hearth tale instead. The trick is to make the hearthfire tale sound natural and fit into the story.

Flashback: Ah, the tried and true flashback, where you mix exposition with narration. I probably don't need to say much about this, but the fact that it's so prevalent tells you that it's one of the easier and more effective ways to get in some exposition under the disguise of narration. The problem with this technique is that you REALLY have to be careful how often you use it. If there's another way to get across the information, then you should probably use that instead, even if the flashback would be "easier" to write. If you use them too much, they can get monotonous and the reader begins to wonder why you didn't just tell the story starting way back when, since you're flashing back to "way back when" so often. And they should be thinking that. If you're using flashbacks that often, it's probably a sign that you started your story too late and you need to go back and ask yourself whether you should start it earlier.

Prologue: And this is also a tried and true method for getting across some world story or back story that probably doesn't have anything do with the main characters of the book itself. (It's hard to have the character experience the world elements if they, say, weren't ALIVE during the actual event.) This is where the prologue comes into play. There's alot of discussion about whether prologues should be used at all in anything, and I say that yes, they can be effective. I intend to use one in my new work-in-progress, because those events are necessary to set up the main plot thread of the main novel . . . but then there's a significant time jump to where the main novel actually begins. It seems appropriate to offset these initial scenes as a prologue, even if it's a rather long prologue. It doesn't make sense to call it "chapter one" for example. So prologues are necessary in some books, in my opinion. Are the overused? Yes. I've read quite a few books where I felt the prologue was unnecessary OR that the prologue was actually chapter one and did not need to be offset with the "prologue" status.

And those are the things I've used (obviously) and been playing with for getting across exposition. I've been trying other things as well, but those are more at the line-by-line level and are harder to explain. And this post is long enough as it is. *grin* Hope there was something helpful in there!
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
First off, I'd like to remind everyone who speaks/reads German, wherever you are, that THE GERMAN EDITION HAS BEEN RELEASED! Die Assassine, the retitled German version of The Skewed Throne with the awesome cover, is now available. Please feel free to order a thousand copies. Or one, whichever you prefer. *grin* The awesome cover, in case you forgot:





Also, I've chosen a winner of the signed "To Josh" book from the mildly disasterous signing event. And that winner is . . . [livejournal.com profile] sheryl67! Congrats! Send me a message here on LJ with the address I should send it to, or send an email to jpalmatier@sff.net, and I'll get that in the mail, hopefully in time to get it to your friend from miles away named Josh.

OK, now the writing topic. This was a panel at Worldcon in Montreal which I was a part of, along with George R.R. Martin, Laura Anne Gilman, Fiona Patton, Mindy Klasky, and M.D. Benoit. I'm not doing a rehash of the entire panel because I didn't take notes and I can't remember that far back, especially when it's so freaking hot outside. All I'm doing is giving you my thoughts on the topic, with some potentially interesting highlights from the panel itself that stuck with me.

ARGH!! Pictures came out huge. Trying to shrink them now. )
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
So, what's been happening with the revisions? They're done, right?

Well, yes and no. The run-through of the revisions are done, yes. I've been through the entire book and changed everything that was on my list. But some of the things on that list weren't necessarily that specific of a change. Remember the multiple levels of changes. The bottom-level of changes were easy to fix, since they were things like "mention a knife in chapter 12, need to set the knife up in chapter 5." So you go back to chapter 5 and add in a sentence or two about the knife and walla! you're done. The mid-level revisions are less specific, but still easy to cross off the list. These were things like "add in a few scenes from Garius' POV after the meeting to get across the politics of his race." So you find a spot after the meeting where you can squeeze in a few scenes without interrupting the flow. But notice that "add in a few" part. There's some wiggle room there. How many scenes are necessary? How many do you need to get the point across? And Garius is a new POV character in this revisions as well, so you have to spend some time developing his character and backstory a little while you're explaining the politics of his race in those scenes. (Remember, every scene needs to do two or more things.) And then the top-level stuff, like "add in more about the Andovan culture!" Vague. How much do you add? How much is enough? Have you pushed the line and added too much? Did you info-dump? When can you safely cross this off the revision list?

As you can see, in the mid-level and top-level stuff, there's some leeway as to whether or not you're "done" and can cross things off the list. So what I've been doing the last few days is NOT actively working on the revisions, but actively THINKING about the revisions and asking myself, "Is what I did to fix this enough? Too much?" And overall, I think what I did was fine. You can drive yourself crazy thinking about this, so at some point you have to just say, done. There's only one thing that I think I need to "fix" before I do the official print out and send this back to DAW and my editor, and it has to do with Garius and his POV scenes that I added. Like I said, he's a new POV character in the book, so I can't just add the scene that tells of the political situation for his race. I need to develop his backstory a little bit, give him a life, give him motivation, basically make him a full-fledged character, even if I only have a few scene to do that. I did that during the revisions (he has a warrior son who's angry because of the death of his brothers, while Garius' wife just wants the fighting to end because she's already lost three sons to the war, and doesn't want to lose Garius or her other son, etc). I also added in alot more about the culture of Garius' race, to worldbuild, all in two scenes. BUT . . . I think I need to add one more scene, toward the end of the book, from Garius' POV. Basically, the role of this scene is to wrap up Garius' storyline a little bit. I made him a character, I gave him a storyline, and that storyline needs to have a conclusion of some sort.

Today, I will go back to the end of the novel and find a good spot to insert a scene from Garius' POV where I can finish off his story and that of his race. At least for this book.

In addition, I'm going to start revising (and hopefully finish revising) a short story called "Mastihooba" for that anthology I was invited to participate in. So revisions continue today!

But you probably don't care about that. You want to know about the contest!!! So here we go:

The winner for Sunday is [livejournal.com profile] shartyrant! Congrats! Get in touch with me here on LJ in a message or email me at jpalmatier@sff.net with the address I should mail the book to and a name if you want me to personalize it. Otherwise I'll just send a signed copy.

For everyone else, there's still 8 days left! I will be giving away a first edition signed hardcover of The Skewed Throne, one per day, for the next eight days. The drawing will be done at random based on the comments received on that day's LJ entry. So if you enter today, you're in the drawing for today only; you have to come back tomorrow and enter again for a chance to win in the drawing tomorrow; then come back again for the next day, etc. You have to comment on that day's LJ post to enter for that day, so if you stop on by and I haven't had a chance to put up the post for that day yet, you'll have to come back when it's up to enter. You can enter as many days out of the 10 as you wish, even if you win on one of the days (if you win multiple copies, or already have a copy of the book, I assume you have some friends you can give the book to, or perhaps you can donate it to your local library, etc).

This contest is to celebrate finishing the revisions of the new book Well of Sorrows, coming out in May 2010 in trade paperback, AND to celebrate the release of Die Assassine, the German version of The Skewed Throne, which will hit the shelves on August 11th in Germany. Here's the incredible cover:





So if you're in Germany or can read German, RUSH--I say again RUSH--out and buy Die Assassine! Once it's out of course. (It is available for preorder on the German Amazon.com, along with book 2, "Die Regentin," to be released in January 2010.) And please, please tell all of your friends about it, since it's going to be impossible for me to do many signings and other stuff to promote it in Germany. Especially since I can't speak or read German very well.

And there you go! Enter the contest (just comment!) every day for the next 8 days, and buy my German book!

That is all. Carry on.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
The editor-driven revisions of Well of Sorrows are done.

23 chapters
2 parts
No prologue
No epilogue
No fancy interludes in the middle
712 pages
114 pages of cut text (paragraphs and scenes I removed as useless)
197,680 words (according to Word's counter)
188,000 words (according to the standard 250 words per page approach)

Covering 70 years of one man's life. Sort of. *grin*

And I like it. The end gave me shivers. I like what I did with this. I like how it's a fantasy, but not the typical kind of fantasy (even though it has those trappings). I like my main characters and how they all turned out. I like this world.

So what's next? Well, for this book, I'll let it sit for a few days, fret over whether there's anything more I should change, and then I'll print out two copies--one for myself and one for my editor. Then I'll mail off the one copy to my editor and give the other to a beta-ready, someone who hasn't read any part of the book yet. Then I'll go to Worldcon. *grin*

I still need to write a dedication and an acknowledgments page. I'll do that while I wait for the page proofs to show up. Then I have to read the book again and can make minor changes during the page proofs phase. Minor changes meaning fixing typos and maybe rearranging a sentence or two, nothing that would screw up the pagination. No rewriting of any scenes, no inserting new scenes, not even inserting new paragraphs (unless my editor tells me to).

While this is going on, I'll also work on the "blurb" I'll use on the back of the postcards I'll have made to promote the book. I also intend to make bookmarks for this book, so I'll have to design those. Both of these project can't be completed until I get artwork for the book, so I'll probably be pestering DAW about that as well. They're probably already working on the artwork, to be honest. Or they will once they have the final version of the book from me.

And then comes the promo. I'll probably be asking some of you all to help with that when it gets closer.

But in the meantime, while I anticipate all of that fun stuff, I need to revise the short story I wrote called "Mastihooba" (thanks for all the crits all you OWWers out there!) and submit it to the anthology I was invited to . . . and then I can get to work on the next book. It will be either the new novel, new universe, Shattering the Ley (of which I'm already on the 6th chapter) OR, hopefully, the sequels to Well of Sorrows. Right now those sequels are called Leaves of Anguish and Flames of Sacrifice. I'm thinking of using the title Breath of Heaven for one of them instead, but we'll see what happens.

In the immediate future though, I see the gym. And then celebratory drinking at Delgado's with fellow writer Patricia Bray.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
But first, it's your last chance to win a free hardcover copy of Enigma, the sequel to Harmony, by C.F. Bentley over here. All you have to do is comment on the post and you're entered. Note: You'll also be entered into the monthly contest for a free DAW paperback. So enter two contests with one comment!

Also, don't forget the signing this coming Saturday (meaning TOMORROW) in Paramus, NJ! Here's the info for that:


MULTI-AUTHOR SIGNING!


AUGUST 1st, 2009
Noon-4pm @
Borders Express
Paramus Park Mall
600 Paramus Park
Paramus, NJ 07652
including:
S.C. Butler; Barbara Campbell
Laura Anne Gilman; Jackie Kessler
Joshua Palmatier; Anton Strout



Feel free to mention either the contest or the signing in your own blog if you have readers who might be interested.

So yesterday, when I sat down to work on the revisions, I had 90 pages left to go. I intended to get 45 pages done, because at this stage nearly all of the top-level material has been crossed off my list. ALL of the mid-level stuff is crossed off, and I only have 2 or 3 bottom-level things left. All of the major new scenes I needed to write and add in are done. All that's left is tweaking these last few chapters to reflect the changes I've already made, and to try to smooth out sentences and wordage and all that. Oh, and try to find things to cut. *eyeroll*

So I figured it would be easy to get those 45 page done during the day, before the gym. But NOOOOOO! When I sat down and went over my revision notes again (as usual) before writing . . . I had a panic attack. All of the little niggling doubts rushed in with a concerted attack and I succumbed to them. PANIC ATTACK!!! What if the stuff I've added sucks? What if it isn't working the way I think it's working? What if it isn't enough and I need to add more? What if it's TOO MUCH and I need to edit it down? What if this facade of being a good writer has been so slipshoddily produced in this book that it's transparent that I'm a hack and people will plow through my weak plot like it was tissue paper and they were the football team arriving onto the field with fans cheering them on?!?!?

*ahem*

What this meant was that I spent nearly all day going BACK to all of the brand new scenes that I'd added in and all of the scenes that I'd made significant changes to and reread them all on the theory that they sucked. What I found was that they did NOT suck, and all I did was change a few sentences here and there to make things smoother, maybe a word or two, and waste my entire morning and most of the afternoon rereading things that I didn't need to reread. I did finally convince myself that the revisions I'd already made were good and I was happy with them and they satisfied what my editor asked me to do . . . and so I did get back to new revisions eventually. But it meant that by the time the gym hit, I'd only gotten about 25 pages of new material covered. I was disappointed, because I wanted to get the revisions finished TODAY. So after the gym (and a meeting with my fellow SF&F writers at the Cyber Cafe), I got my ass back in the chair and did another 20+ pages late last night. So I'm starting today with only 45 pages or so of revisions to cover. Here's hoping I finish.

And here's hoping there are no new panic attacks between now and then. *grin*
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
First off, there's a chance to win a free hardcover copy of Enigma, the sequel to Harmony, by C.F. Bentley over here. All you have to do is comment on the post and you're entered. Note: You'll also be entered into the monthly contest for a free DAW paperback. So enter two contests with one comment!

Also, don't forget the signing this coming Saturday in Paramus, NJ! Here's the info for that:


MULTI-AUTHOR SIGNING!


AUGUST 1st, 2009
Noon-4pm @
Borders Express
Paramus Park Mall
600 Paramus Park
Paramus, NJ 07652
including:
S.C. Butler; Barbara Campbell
Laura Anne Gilman; Jackie Kessler
Joshua Palmatier; Anton Strout



And now the writing post. Last Friday I was working on the revisions (because that's all I do on the weekdays now) and I hit a scene that my editor had suggested I add more to. That's not new. What was interesting about this addition that hasn't come up yet in this revisions batch is that THIS time, the scene she wanted me to add was one that I'd purposefully omitted. The reason? Violence. And dramatic tension.

As you all know, I don't generally shy away from violence in my books. The Skewed Throne wasn't exactly chipmunks dancing through the forest. However, for this one scene the main characters arrived after the violence for dramatic purposes. So they see the results but not the actual act. I explained the results so that you pretty much got the picture, but of course it wasn't as graphic because it had already happened.

My editor felt that I needed to add the actual scene. I'd left it out for dramatic reasons. If I go through the event as it happens and then have the main characters arrive, it wouldn't be as much of a punch in the gut to the reader. So . . . I figured out how to have the punch in the gut and still do the scene as my editor wanted, so everyone's happy. AND it highlighted some of the magic in the book and its limitations. I still tried to write the scene so that the violence isn't graphic, leaving the details up to the reader. The point of the scene is that they'd like to know who killed the man, not the violence itself, so I tried to highlight that aspect. I think it works well.

So, sometimes you're editor wants you to go there, even if you don't. And in my experience, most of the time the editor is right. I didn't go there originally because of the dramatics of the scene--I wanted that punch--and so in order to satisfy my editor I had to do some additional thinking and figure out a way to satisfy us both. I know I'm not the only writer out there who's had their editor say they couldn't "fade to black" at a particular moment. Patricia Bray's editor asked her to include a rather nasty torture scene that she'd shied away from; the scene needed to be there to emphasize the characterization and motivation.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Before I get to the little comments on Revisions: Subtle Changes, they released a trailer for the movie Alice in Wonderland, which I thought I'd share:



It certainly looks like a Tim Burton/Johnny Depp production. I will, of course, go see it. And buy the soundtrack, since it's by Danny Elfman. What do you guys think?

*********************

So we all know I'm working on the revisions to Well of Sorrows. I've talked about the phone call from the editor, adding in brand new scenes, finding places to add in brand new scenes, and assorted other issues that have come up so far. Now something new has begun to happen: the subtle changes.

I've mentioned that alot of the revisions are subtle changes, especially regarding adding in things of the worldbuilding sort. Throw in a sentence or two here telling about how the structure of the guards works. Adding in a more lengthy description of the town there. Contrasting the Alvritshai culture with that of the human culture. Etc, etc, etc. Those are subtle changes of course, but I'm running into a slightly different kind of subtle change right now.

Basically, I've reached the point in the revisions where I'm making changes to the actual "plot" so to speak. Well, the plot isn't really changing, but one of the things my editor wanted was for me to be more straightforward with some of the elements of the plot. (I have a tendency to try to keep things subtle, kind of like the idea of "show don't tell" but my show sometimes slips into "hey, if you could see behind this curtain and under this concealing box you might be able to see through the distorted glass enough to get the point" which isn't helpful at all. Sometimes my editor has to whack me upside the head and tell me to lose the curtain, box, and perhaps the distorted glass.) So, I've reached the part of the book where I need to put in some of the blunt plot. This part isn't actual hard in any way. I mean, you just come out and say it, usually in the dialogue between a few characters, and usually along the way you add in some worldbuilding flavor. That's not the issue.

The issue is that after that point, for the rest of the book, I have to read every single sentence and analyze every conversation and tweak it with the idea that nothing is hidden any longer. All of the characters who took part in the new blunt conversation are now privy to all of the information, so there's no dancing around the topic any more. It's known. But of course in the original version it WASN'T known, so you've got to make those changes that make it clear that now it is known. And these changes are usually pretty subtle. Sometimes it's just changing a word or two in the sentence. Sometimes you have to cut a little bit of a conversation (along with some of the resultant gestures and actions of the characters). Sometimes you have to rip entire conversations apart and rework them with a new point or a new idea brought to the forefront because the main idea has already been discussed bluntly elsewhere. (Most conversations in my books have multiple points that I want to get across, so I can't just delete the entire conversation unfortunately.)

What this does to the revisions is slow things down. Since I'm looking at each individual sentence and asking myself whether it needs to be tweaked or can stand on its own, I'm not moving as fast. And of course, if it need to be changed that slows me down even further. This is bad enough when you're being blunt about one particular plot point. But when, like me, you've started being blunt about, say, FIVE different plot points, things get a little hairy. Needless to say, the revisions aren't moving along as fast as they were before, when all I was doing was adding in a new scene here and there for clarification purposes.

For example: I spent all day yesterday working on Chapter 16. At this point, I've changed and made blunt about four things--what the Wraiths are up to (although there's still a surprise waiting on this front); what happened 30 years before during a critical battle; a significant revelation about Aeren's past; and which lords support Aeren, which don't, and which have unknown affiliations. With all of these changes to watch out for, I only managed to get through half of the chapter. And I still have one spot marked where I have to go back and add more to a scene once I figure out exactly what it is that I want to say there.

Part of the problem, of course, is that I'm nearing the end of the book and things are starting to happen. All of the setup has been done (mostly) and things are starting to unravel, leading to the climax of the book. I haven't pushed everyone up over that big drop on the rollercoaster yet--we're still climbing--but it's getting close. So all of the changes I've made throughout the book are coming together, hopefully in a good way.

How do I handle all of the changes? How do I keep track of them all? Well, aside from my list of "things to change" that I made after talking to my editor, I pretty much keep it all in my head. I have no special computer program or system or anything like that. I just read my notes before I begin work for the day, to refresh my memory on what I've already done and what still needs to be changed, and then I start in. I do have to page back to double check some changes on occasion (and sometimes this means going back 200 pages to find that one sentence that I changed so I can see how I changed it or phrased it or whatever), but overall it's just in my head. I think this is one place where the mathematical part of my brain comes in handy. Part of doing mathematics is keeping very careful track of all of the little minute details of the proof, so that nothing is left out or forgotten. Same thing with the minute details of the changes I've made in the novel. (And some mathematical proofs are as long as novels.)

So that's where I am at the moment. I plan on finishing chapter 16 today and starting 17. I better start chapter 17 today or my schedule for getting these revisions done before Worldcon are screwed.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Revisions, revisions, revisions. I've made it through Part I of the book (called "Colin" for those who are interested in teases), which gets me to page 275 out of 650 approximately.

And the doubt has set in.

This is something that always happens during the revision process, at least for me. At some point, I start questioning what I'm doing. In particular, I start questioning whether I'm doing enough. I mean, I'm trying to make changes that someone else has suggested, and some of those suggestions aren't necessarily changes that I feel are absolutely necessary. I don't disagree with them, but . . . What this does though is make me doubt what I've done. Am I adding enough of the worldbuilding that my editor wants? Obviously, I didn't feel it was crucial to the story or it would be in there already, but my editor feels differently. So I add a little bit there, a sentence here, a touch of world color there . . . and now I'm far enough into the book to begin to wonder if perhaps I should have done a little more. Maybe I should go back to this scene and put in some more, or that scene, or the scene over there.

I hate the doubt. Because I want the book to be the best that it can be, but I don't want it to contain gobs and gobs of fluff. I've seen and read quite a few books out there where I think there's a lot of fluff (bloat is what I call it, really) and I don't want my books to have that. Ever.

But I also know that one of the criticisms of my previous books, in particular The Vacant Throne, was that readers wanted to know more about the cities, more about the world.

So, at this natural stopping point in the book, I'm sitting back and asking myself what more I can add and where, and if at some point I'm going to go overboard and bring in the bloat.

And also, I need to make significant changes in the first chapter of Part II (called "Shavaeran") so perhaps *cough cough* I'm procrastinating just a bit.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Revisions continue of course. I've run through all of chapter 9 and added a new scene to chapter 8. This is a brand new scene for the novel, something that wasn't in any previous version so couldn't be "resurrected." In fact, this scene couldn't even be "kneaded" into a current scene like the one I resurrected earlier, because this is a total POV shift from any of the characters I've used in the book so far. My editor wanted me to have a few POV scenes from this one character much earlier on in the book, to signify how important this character becomes in the second half of the book as early as possible.

So, while reading chapter 8, when the character first appears, I was looking for where I could either break a current scene and jump to the new POV character OR where the already written scenes broke naturally and fit the new POV scene in there. The problem is . . . I'm a fairly tight writer. Meaning that if you look at any of my previous books, my scenes aren't short (meaning I try to write them in such a way that there's a transition from one new action to another if possible, not a break) and even the breaks are designed so that the final sentence of one scene before a break often leads into the first sentence of the new scene after the break. So inserting a new scene in anywhere interrupts the flow no matter where I try to put it, at an existing break or not. Inserting a brand new scene from a new POV isn't that easy.

But in chapter 8 I found an existing break that would work. It kind of interrupts the flow, but the new scene needed to be short because it's the first time we see these two characters from their POV. So a brief introduction to them. The idea was to essentially say "Hi!" and to point out that these are two different cultures meeting for the first time, so you should get the idea that their cultures are different and get a sense of the new culture (since the one we've seen is analagous to ours in most respects).

So, I wrote the scene, plopped it into place, revised the new scene, went on to more revisions of existing scenes in chapter 9, went back to the new scene and reread it, made more changes, added in a few new things, went back to chapter 9 and looked for places to add in additional scenes from this new POV, went back to the new scene and added in a few new thing, decided those new things were overload (trying to do too much in a short scene) and took them back out, then declared the new scene finished.

So here it is, the new scene.

******************

“Why are you helping them? They obviously don’t want to listen, like the last group.”

Aeren didn’t turn to his Protector, kept his eyes on the strange group of brown-skinned people as they made their way back to their wagons and cookfires. The one called Walter was already speaking to the group’s leader, Tom, arguing with him. He found their language harsh, their names strange . . . but intriguing. Their beasts called horses--so large, so powerful--frightened him, their clothes coarsely woven and cut, and their customs savage, without proper form and structure, but still. . . .

“I’m helping them because they do not understand.”

“You are helping them because you are curious. They are primitives, wandering into a land they know nothing about. We should leave them to the dwarren.”

Aeren turned to his Protector then, frowning at Eraeth’s scowl. “This is not your Trial,” he said defensively, even though he knew the Protector was partially correct: he was curious. He’d approached Colin because they’d appeared the same age. And because Colin did not carry a weapon.

“No, it is not. But I am your Protector. I--and the Phalanx--are here to protect you. From the dangers of the plains, from the risks of the Trial . . . from yourself.”

Aeren stiffened, his shoulders straightening in indignation. “I am not the child my father assigned you to protect twenty years ago!” The words came out harsher than he intended, petulant and not fitting for the son of a House Lord, even a second son. He saw the instant disapproval in Eraeth’s eyes, in the lips pressed tight together.

He turned away from that look, caught his breath and held it to calm himself, then said, “This is my Trial, Eraeth. Are you now an acolyte, part of the mystical Order? Who are you to say that they,” he nodded toward where the strangers were preparing their wagons for travel, “are not part of the Trial? Do you know Aielan’s will?”

Eraeth stepped forward, so that Aeren could see him out of the corner of his eye. “No, I do not know Aielan’s will, but I fail to see how they could be part of your Trial. You have, in essence, already passed. You’ve faced the dangers of the plains and the dwarren. You have seen the Confluence, have drunk the rose-tinged waters, have gathered your proof.”

“But I have not yet returned home.”

“All the more reason to leave these strangers to the dwarren. This is not our land. This has nothing to do with the Alvritshai.”

“Not now,” Aeren agreed, “but they continue to appear on the plains. Eventually, they will head northward. We should learn as much about them as we can.”

Eraeth merely grunted, although it was tainted with grudging agreement.

They remained silent for a long moment, the air between them tense, shouts from the strange group rising from the hollow where they’d taken refuge for the night. Eraeth had been his Protector for twenty years, had taught him the nuances of being a member of a House, had trained him in the art of the sword, the bow--all of the arts of the Phalanx guard.

But everything would change now, with his passage through the Trial. He would no longer be Eraeth’s student; he would be a full member of the House, the Protector’s master.

And neither of them had figured out exactly what that meant yet.

*********************

And even on the reread during this post I changed a few things. So obviously the revision process is still ongoing even for the new scenes.

In any case, I need to add a few more scenes today from Aeren's POV. I've already marked two potential spots in chapter 9 and will look at those first. I'd also like to get chapter 10 finished, although it will likely only get a read-through of the existing scenes with appropriate changes made to those, and marks for where new scenes could be added.

However, my partner has the day off. I may not even get to that.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
So, more revisions today. Yesterday, I spent the morning finishing up the rest of chapter 5 and then worked on chapter 6 and 7 in the afternoon. Neither of those chapters required much in the way of work, just a few adjustments. For example, since it was suggested that I work in a little bit more of the religion of the human race in the book, I decided to add in a head priest in an earlier chapter. It also became obvious that if I placed this head priest into the picture, that he'd notice that the wagon train group didn't have a priest and would want someone to go with them. So I added in a priest traveling with the group. Wherever appropriate, I inserted references to this new priest in the group. I'm not doing much to make this priest a character of huge significance, but I might need to go back and put in a little more character references.

I'm now up to a point where I need to add in more significant scenes from a main character's POV, so the revisions will likely slow down a little bit.

I figured I'd show you guys what I did with that "resurrected" scene the other day, sort of a "before" and "after" picture. This was the scene that I deleted in my zest to cut words from the manuscript:

A long scene )

Now, as I said a few days ago, I couldn't just plop this scene back into the story because things had changed significantly enough that I had to put it into a different location. So the setting had changed, and the characters present, and . . . well, you get the idea. So, after plopping this scene as is into the appropriate new location, I had to knead it and meld it into place so that it fit and didn't feel out of place and when you're reading didn't feel like it had been inserted at a later time. Here's the new version:

The new (perhaps final) version. )

So there, you can see the revision process in action. Sort of. *grin* That little bit of revision took about 2 hours of my time. All the kneading to make it smooth is hard! But worth it in the end.

Today will be different though. Today, I'll be adding brand new material. Kneading won't be necessary, but new material always takes me longer to write. I think part of this is because my brain is in editor/revision mode and new material requires the "creative" side of my brain, which has been turned off at this point. I have to kick that creative side awake, and it's grumpy and bitchy when it first wakes up. (And I don't drink coffee.)
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
At the end of last week, I opted to not post about the revisions because if I did it every day it would get boring very fast, since they're likely to last a good month. But here's another revision post which addresses something that comes up with revisions on occasion: RESURRECTION.

Yes, yes, I'm going to talk about bringing things back from the dead.

First, you have to understand my process of writing: I sit down and write the book. By the end of this draft, I realize what the book is REALLY about, and so I go back and do a revision of the book based on that. Part of this first revision process is typically to cut out as much of the garbage in the book as possible, but some of it is also to cut the word count down, especially on Well of Sorrows, because it ended up being one HUGE book. So I cut alot of scenes due to length that weren't garbage but that I thought wouldn't affect the outcome of the book in the end.

This is the version of the book that I sent in to my editor.

Well, while rereading chapter 5 with an eye toward what my editor suggested I fix on Friday, I realized that a scene that I had cut for length before I sent it to her is actually important enough that I need to resurrect it from the "cuttext" file I have (because I've learned to keep a file of everything of significance that I cut just in case) and try to insert it back into the chapter in some way. I can't put it in wholesale, since the changes I've made already make it out of place, but I need the characters and the intent behind those characters back in the novel, to make it more realistic. And while discussing the rewrites with my editor on the phone, there were actually a few other locations in the book where she suggested I add in something and I said that I had a scene like that in the original version but I'd taken it out. So I'm going to do some serious resurrection later on in the book as well.

The scene I need to resurrect for chapter 5 isn't a big scene at all. It sets up a potential massacre (that comes to be but off scene, so to speak) and pushes the envelope a little on the emotional part of this chapter. I'll add in the scene to fit (smoothing the edges around it of course) and then I'll refer back to the scene again much later in the book to drive the point home, but that's all that will happen in the revision process regarding this particular piece. Some of the later pieces will have a much more serious impact on the plot and characters. It all comes back to the layering in the book. I've got all of the top layers down already, I just need to put in some of the deeper layers to make the book richer, and this resurrection of this scene is one of those deep layers. Most people probably won't even remember or notice this one scene in the overall context of the book itself.

But, the lessons to learn from this are: always save your cut text because you never know when you'll need it and, of course, zombie scenes rule.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
So yesterday I did just what I said I did in the post about my editor conversation: I sat down and opened a file and rewrote all of the notes I took during the talk with my editor about the revisions she was looking for on Well of Sorrows.

For those curious, I divided it up into the three levels that I talked about yesterday--top level, mid level, and bottom level--and used bullet points on each level, writing down what the revision suggestion was in different words and in more completeness than in my notes (because of course I didn't write everything down while on the phone), followed by any thoughts I had on how to fix it, such as inserting a scene in a specific spot, or adding in that priest character I mentioned, stuff like that. As I go through the novel and make the fixes, I'll strike out each bullet point (not delete it, just strike through it). And as I sit down to work each day, I'll reread most of the bullet points (even some that are crossed out) to refresh my memory about what I'm looking to fix. Obviously some of them won't be applicable until later on in the book, but if I keep reminding myself about it because it makes my brain think about it and my brain might come up with some interesting solution along the way, and if it does I'll want to jot it down in this file. I like to do this kind of approach because as the revisions proceed I can see the strikeouts in the file and it helps make it seem that I'm making actual progress.

So I created that file and it took alot longer than I thought it would, so that's pretty much all that happened on the revision front. I also did a few other things related to writing online, but that was more along the lines of promoting the book and some other business-related emails and such. Today will be the first day of actual revisions: Chapter One.
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Before the writing topic, some updatery. First off, the winner of Maria V. Snyder's SIGNED copy of Storm Glass is none other than [livejournal.com profile] wolfsilveroak!! Congrats!! Just send me your address either as a message here on LJ or send an email to jpalmatier@sff.net and I'll get that mailed out to you ASAP.

Second, Balticon rocked. It was great to see everyone there, hang out, catch up, and spread rumors. *grin* Attendance seemed light on Friday and Sunday, but Saturday was busy as usual. I returned home on Sunday, so don't know what Monday was like. I know the dealers room sold out of The Vacant Throne by Saturday morning, so I restocked Larry until I left. The most heart-stopping moment I had was on the trip down when stopping for lunch. I reached for my wallet to pay . . . and I didn't have my wallet! After a few moments of panic, the wallet was found in the seat of the car. Since I was 3 hours away from home already, I didn't want to have to go back. And I wouldn't have had to, since [livejournal.com profile] pbray offered to make me her paid man for the weekend. *grin* Weirdest phrase overheard during the weekend: "emopants". Weirdest phrase I uttered over the weekend: "Ooo, I haven't shaved my nipples recently."

Third, gardening. I spent all of yesterday planting all of the rest of the vegetables that we'd bought. I will strangle my partner if he buys any more. We still have a few seeds we might plant, but hopefully everything is in the ground now. List of things planted (either a second batch or for the first time): corn, peas, carrots (3 kinds), peppers (3 kinds, including a purple/white variety and pimento), tomatoes (4 kinds, including a white cherry tomato), cucumber, okra (an experiment), and I think that's it. I lost track. In any case, we should have an interesting growing year. The artichokes are looking really good.

OK, now on to writing and the ever interesting topic of COVER ART:

Behind the cut for those who care. )

So what about you guys? What do you think causes some covers to be good and others bad? What covers do you think worked particularly well and which ones sucked?

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Joshua Palmatier

March 2019

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