For you, Silver-Midnight, I highly recommend Writing the Short Story: A Hands-On Writing Program, by Jack Bickham, one of Jim Butcher's mentors.
amergina recommended Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel. Jess Haines suggested The Fire in Fiction, also by Maass. Others have suggested the use of a beta reader, or posting in the SYW area (whose gates are closed to me, and, considering the infrequency of my posting, are likely to remain shut for some time).
Does anyone have other resources they'd recommend? Whether it's particular exercises, books, blogs, and so on.
Others may approach it differently, but to me, learning-by-doing seems like a serious waste of one's time and energies; why reinvent the wheel when you can reverse-engineer it? Why figure out the techniques of top chefs through trial and error when you can take classes, read articles, or watch video instruction? I don't mean to insult those who learn differently, I'm merely trying to express why I personally would prefer to hear advice rather than reassemble tidbits and smidgens from my reading and experimentation.
^Thank you. I'll try to check that book out. I'm really trying to stay in the "short fiction realm" if I can, meaning novellas, novelettes, and short stories. I am reading some Urban Fantasy novels, but I know they're a little bit more different to tackle than a novella and definitely a short story or novelette. The thing that's worrying me the most is probably plot development(including pacing) and worldbuilding. I don't think I'm doing a bunch of huge info dumps or anything, but still, I know the world is important in UF, even if it's a modern one.
As far as I know, yes. I don't know many UF authors who got their start writing short stories.
Originally Posted by Silver-Midnight
If writing short stories is your preferred method of writing, don't be discouraged. There are plenty of markets for shorts--but don't consider that it's something you need in order to make it as a published UF author.
Write what makes you happy. Otherwise, why are you doing it?
If you remind me, there is an author who has a blog with a number of excellent exercises and thoughtful posts about writing that are very helpful. I can't recall it off the top of my head, but it will probably come to me when I'm not in such a hurry.
Originally Posted by Yāoguài
I also suggest looking through the blog archives of Miss Snark, Nathan Bransford, Shimmer Magazine, and Query Shark for some tips. There are others, but I don't have enough time to hunt them all down for you just now.
I haven't really seen that many markets for UF shorts; I've seen a lot for PNR shorts and longer. I have been looking at Dutrope, but it's helped but not really I guess. Should I just try looking a little harder?
Originally Posted by Jess Haines
A lot of the UF I've run into are novellas or novels. Short fiction--especially short stories--are really my preferred method for writing, no matter what the genre is I think. I know that I have a lot of stuff with my writing that I have to work at honestly, plus given my schedule, and on top of everything else, I know--just based on who I am--I want to stay within short fiction mostly. I don't mind writing novelettes or novellas, but I honestly think I don't have the attention span to write a novel. That sounds wrong, but it's true.
My biggest worry with doing UF short stories--besides world-building--is pacing I guess would be the proper term. I want my MC to defeat their antagonist, if it's a person or what have you, but I don't want it to come off completely unbelievable, if that makes sense.
If you're writing urban fantasy shorts, try all the general fantasy markets. Unless they say they don't do urban or contemporary fantasy, send the story.
^Alright. Thanks. I'll try that when I'm looking for a market next time.
Originally Posted by Yāoguài
Yes, but the problem is that writing isn't like cooking. No one can tell you how to write a book in a way that will ensure your success at it, and the way they show you how to write a book successfully is by writing books successfully. Reading a book is your instruction. Writing takes practice; just like you can't watch a video on proper knife technique and instantly pick up a knife and dice an onion as perfectly and as fast as Mario Batali does, so you cannot just read a book on writing and instantly write a novel that sells. Every craft and skill in the world requires practice; there are no shortcuts.
Writing is at least in part intuitive, and in large part creative, and there are so many styles and ways to do it, and you must find the way that's best for you; the way to do that is by reading and experimenting. It's the only way to really learn.
Books can help, absolutely. I found SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS to be invaluable. But that's general writing theory; it's not helpful unless you're actually going to put words on a page. And especially in genre fiction you need to keep an eye on what's out there and what's being done, so you know what to do/what to avoid/etc. If you want to reverse-engineer--which is a good idea--the way to do it is by reading fiction and analyzing it, seeing what works and what doesn't and why, and how you can use that in your own work.
I wrote my first novel in 2002/2003. It sucked. I was getting ready to write another one when I discovered I was pregnant with my second, and for some reason during that pregnancy I had a very hard time writing. So instead of writing I used that time to study writing and the publishing industry. I read some how-to books, yes, and some of them were very helpful. I read the boards here (long before I actually got up the courage to join). But mostly I read fiction. I analyzed it; I made lists in my head of what worked and what didn't; I paid careful attention to how characters were introduced, to what information we gained about the characters and how/when; I paid careful attention to pacing and worldbuilding and how that information was presented.
And when I started writing again? My work was a hundred times better. It still wasn't quite publishable (although my second novel did sell, and then after some revisions sold again to Cerridwen Press when the first house went under), but it was enormously more competent, and it was that way because I had really applied myself to learning how to write by studying what other writers did.
Every good novel is a textbook on how to write.
You'll notice that every fiction how-to book uses examples from published books. There's a reason for that.
Like I said, I'm not saying how-to books are a bad idea. You can learn a lot from them. But you still have to read fiction, and you still have to actually write. Good writing takes practice. The how-to books I read helped me not so much because they told me what to do, but because they taught me what to look for.
ETA: I also found THE FIRST FIVE PAGES by Noah Lukeman helpful.
Does anyone have advice about defeating the antagonist while not making your character come "too aweome" or it being completely unrealistic? Keep in mind, I tend to write short fiction. I know that my characters, especially the protagonist, has to fail at least once before the ending is achieved. I also know that not everyone UF short fiction piece, no matter what it is, requires some bad person that needs to be defeated. Or it doesn't require the whole UF short to defeat that person.
However, I kind of worry about my pacing. I know that pacing varies from story and story. But like I said, I want my ending and villain's/antagonist's defeat, whatever it maybe, person, creature, whatever, defeat believable.
How widely have you read UF, Silver-Midnight, or fantasy in general?
You have all sorts of options other than the protagonist confronting her villain and smiting him handily. Is the personal sacrifice greater than the victory (which is for the greater good or the good of many)? Is the protagonist the only one who knows that what she accomplished was for the greater good, while she is reviled by those around her? Did she lose herself and compromise her principles or beliefs in order to achieve the victory?
You can utilize myriad hooks, twists and fallacies on the road to victory. The complexity may be hindered by length, depending on how short you wish to write. Maybe don't tell yourself "I'm writing a short piece" and just write until the story is told.
Well, I'm still in the process of reading the genre. I've a read a small amount though.
Originally Posted by hillaryjacques
The main reason why I'm trying to start off with short pieces is because that's what I'm really used to. I know that with this genre that can be kind of harder to do, at least that's the way it kind of seems. Simply because of all of the complexities you listed. I truthfully haven't seen all of those in the UF I've been reading, but that could be just because I didn't recognize it like I should've, not that it necessarily wasn't there.
I honestly consider myself a "new writer" because there are still a lot of things that I need to work on. So, on one hand, I don't doubt myself enough that I can't pull off some of the complexities you listed, but given that I'm not only still kind of new to writing, and new to this genre as well, the chances aren't that high in my opinion.
I just wanted to add on to what I said previously that I kind just feel a bit more comfortable writing shorter pieces than longer ones. I mean just as of right now anyway. I have nothing against writing novels(or writers who write them). However, I don't really think writing a novel is what's right for me personally. And when I mean short fiction I'm including novellas, novelettes, and short stories.
And I know it's not necessary for me to start off in short stories, but I would like to get more comfortable in the genre. I mean, granted, the piece I'm working on now will either be a novelette or a novella, but I know that I'll still will want to write short stories at some point.
Also I'm not trying to entirely limit myself. However, I want to write short fiction for a little while. Just to see if I really like the genre; I'm still in the testing process honestly. However, if my WIPs do go over, then they just go over. Knowing myself though, I write more(or at least write toward my goal) a lot easier when I have a set word count in mind, especially one that isn't entirely daunting or almost impossible for me to achieve.
I wasn't trying to offend you or anything. Just merely stating my opinion. Truthfully, I haven't written that many longer pieces, novellas and novelettes included. So, as I said, this is all kind of new to me still.
I know that not everyone uses magic in their writing, but I did find this and I thought it related: http://writing-world.com/sf/martin.shtml
And I know this is for Contemporary Fantasy, not Urban Fantasy, but I think some of things listed still kind of apply. : http://writing-world.com/sf/contemporary.shtml