Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Questions about writing/publishing industry

(Reposted from my deviantArt blog)

Legend 2 progress: Finally had some decent writing yesterday and today after about a week of false starts and crappy chapters. I'm officially at 27,759 words. Hoping to get in at least 1,000 today, without having to go back and delete all of it like I've been doing. :) Day just got whacked in the face by someone. Poor boy.


A commenter on my last entry suggested I should post some of the questions and my answers about writing/publishing in a new journal entry to make it easier to follow, so here I go!

Q: How did you go about deciding on what you wanted your story to accomplish, and figure out your basic plotline? Do you have any kind of suggestions about how to actually get through a first draft?

A: Plotting is extremely hard, much harder than I thought it would be before I started writing. I still have trouble coming up with good "what happens next?" plot points as I'm working on Legend 2. I think it helps to start with a catalyst event. What happens to set off a chain reaction of events in your story? That's the beginning. For example, in Legend, I came up with the characters first and I knew that I wanted it to be Day-the-boy-criminal vs. June-the-girl-detective. Then I thought about how I would get the two of them to cross paths. And from there, I created an event where Day would commit a crime that would force June into investigating it and hunting him down. What does one character want that another character doesn't want them to have? It helps to look into the relationships (and especially conflicts) between your main characters, and use that conflict between them to think of physical events that have to set off your story in motion.

Q: Do you think marketability is something that aspiring authors should keep in mind for their first novels; whether or not it will be easy to get onto the market?

A: It does help to keep a story's marketability in mind, to a certain extent. You still need to love the story you're writing. For example, I don't read a lot of vampire/paranormal novels (although I occasionally dabble). Even though they're really hot right now, I don't think I could write a good vampire novel because I'm just not as interested in it. And that will show.

The manuscript I wrote before Legend was a quieter historical novel about Mozart and his sister when they were children. I loved the story, but I also knew that it just wasn't a topic/genre that would spark heavy interest in the industry, and that even if it did sell, it probably wouldn't sell for a lot. It was purely a labor of love. With Legend, which was also a labor of love starring characters I'd had for years (any story of mine starring my character Day is a labor of love :) ), I remember thinking to myself, "Ok, this should also be considered commercial. If THIS one doesn't get published, then it's never going to happen for me. This is as good of a story as I can write, and I don't think I can make anything else better."

Q: How would you recommend going through the drafting process? For example, do you pause to proof-read as you go or just keep going to the end then look back?

A: Ah, I do actually have a very set opinion on this! I always pause to proof-read before I continue, even in a novel's first draft. I know a lot of writers who don't do this and can continue on just fine, but it never works for me. I have to proof-read. I tried not proofreading once, and by the time I finished the first draft there were so many problems with the story that I just got discouraged and gave up on it. I think it helps to jump backward and edit so that the next chapters can go smoothly, because details you change early on can have a big effect on later plot points. I think it's best to get that down when the things you want to change are fresh in your mind.

If I'm having a really hard time with one particular chapter, though, sometimes I do just skip ahead to the next chapter. (I just did this last week, actually) I'll make a note to myself of what's supposed to be happening in the chapter that I skip, so that I don't forget. Then I go back later when I'm not so brain dead, and fill it in.

Q: How does the process of getting an agent work? Do you send your manuscript to them and then they decide whether or not they want to represent you? Does this part come before or after contacting publishers or does the agent like, help you with that? And maybe the most importantly, how much does it cost to do all this?

A: FIRST AND FOREMOST. None of this should cost you anything except your time (and occasionally stamps, if you have to snail mail query letters/manuscripts). If an agent wants you to pay them for representing you, RUN. That is a scam agent. Legit agents only take a 15% commission from the actual sale of your book to a publisher, and never before. Also, real publishers pay YOU, not the other way around. Any publisher that says you need to pay to have your book published is a vanity publisher, not a real publisher. (And in this day and age of e-books, you really shouldn't need to go to them....just head over to Amazon if you want to self-publish. :) )

Remember, you are selling your work to a company. Not buying. So they pay you.


Hope this is helpful!

1 comment:

Emy Shin said...

THank you for answering the questions and sharing your writing process! I always find it fascinating how other writers work, and I love the advice of creating physical events out of existing conflicts between characters. :)