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Thread: Learn Writing with Uncle Jim, Volume 1

  1. #551

    Re: Translate?

    okay, anjulis, translate your own. you seem to have a good comprehension of english. then send it to me or a million other editor types for an opinion. as for me, my email is then go from there. success is not guaranteed. your prior success in russia is at least encouraging. give it a shot if you want! and (not to advertise Somebody Else, which must be a capitalist sin) think about going to the same seminar i recommended to my sci-fi son . . . Viable Paradise . . . where real pros hang out. Q

    p.s. oh yes, i am a lawyer and actually know something about copyright issues. contact me if you wish about that, at least to get a grounding in our law. or check out the article by another lawyer recently pubbed by Jenna G. in the absolute newsletter.

  2. #552

    Re: Software

    no one who sells their work will profess to using it.
    Tracy Hickman. And a lot of screenwriters. No other novelists, though, that I can find.

  3. #553

    Re: Software

    i think screenwriters use a software. no novelist worth their salt would. mebbe Tracy's the exception. you might check my new essay in the "share your work" board here, under "outlines." i'd link to that but, um, don't know how.

  4. #554
    James D Macdonald

    Re: The Mid-Book


    The mid-book is "where the exciting action and the exciting combinations occur" (as I said way upstream and <a href="" target="_new">Boing-Boing</a> blogged).

    What I'm trying to say here is that the mid-book is (for me) the toughest part to write -- when the horizon recedes by one step for every step I take forward -- and seems to me to be the part of the book when most writers embarking on a first novel quit.

    I've tried very formalist outlines (based on visual designs), and I've tried winging it to get through the mid-book. (The mid-book is lots longer than one-third of the book. It's the part that isn't the opening and isn't the climax.)

    What I've found is that the stronger your opening, the better you've put interesting people in interesting places, the more easily you can answer the question "What the heck do I do now?"

    For this reason openings are hard.

    Mid-books allow you to do themes and counterthemes, and sudden shifts ... but that's because you're trying to set up the climax and illuminate it. Novels aren't just Very Long Short Stories. They are a knot where a short story is a string. They are a comedy routine where a short story is a joke.

    I'm going to have to do a picture of a plot. I just know it.

  5. #555
    James D Macdonald

    Re: How to publish

    1. What are the steps to get them published?

    Type them double-spaced on one side of the page ... and submit them with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Same guidelines for manuscript preparation and submission as for any story. (Getting US stamps might be a problem -- International Reply Coupons is the standard answer, but I'm not certain how to work 'em from Russia.)

    2. How much should I expect to get for a short story, say 15 pages? Do they pay for word/page/story?

    Most magazines pay by the word. 15 pages * 250 words/page * $0.04/word = $150.00. Therefore ... you should concentrate on the best-paying markets. But that's good advice for everyone. Generally speaking, the number of readers you'll have is directly proportional to the size of your advance.

    3. Who publishes SF short stories in the US? SF magazines?

    Many anthologies and magazines publish SF short stories. Fantasy & Science Fiction, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction and Analog are three of the best-known/highest paying magazines.

    4. Should I take some specific steps for copyright issues? I don't know how US law works in this respect.

    Generally speaking, copyright exists from the moment the work first is fixed in tangible form (that is, when it's reduced to writing from an idea in your mind). Copyright registration is generally done by the publisher who buys your works.

    Now some more general advice: If you're doing your own translations, makes sure a native speaker of American English is among your beta-readers.

    (Note: A beta-reader is one of your friends who is willing to read a draft of your story and make brutally frank, honest comments on it. When you find such a person, honor him.)

  6. #556
    James D Macdonald

    Re: How to publish

    check for a list of professional and semi-professional SF & Fantasy magazines

    Another useful index can be found at <a href="" target="_new"></a>

  7. #557
    James D Macdonald

    Re: Delurking. Also, Transitions.

    Hiya, TroutWaxer! Pull up a chair, have a beer. Everyone's welcome.

    For a really long gap of time, a chapter break is usually appropriate.


    .... "Here's to success!" Margrave said, raising his glass.

    "Sucess!" Wulfram echoed. The wine tasted bitter on his lips.


    What with this and that some five years had passed before Margrave saw Wulfram again....


    Something else to ask is, "Why the long gap in time or jump in location? Wasn't a minor character doing anything in that time? Wasn't a major character having an adventure that would shed illumination on an important point in the approaching climax?"

    Only show the important parts, yes. But ... have you explored every meaning of the word "important"?

  8. #558
    James D Macdonald

    Re: helpful and true eh?

    Hey to Envygreen, too!

    I don't mind free publicity one little bit. (One note: I'm James D. Macdonald. John D. McDonald is a) A better writer than me, and b) Dead.)

    I hope you enjoy <a href="" target="_new">The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars</a>.

    I didn't mention <a href="" target="_new">Writer's Market</a> (and Literary Marketplace)? O dear, I have been remiss! Both excellent sources for markets.

    Yes, as soon as your story is done, you send it. But "done" means "fully revised." Don't send out first drafts!

    Here's another rule: Never practice in public.
    (and yeah, Never let a manuscript sleep over).

  9. #559


    I think Tracy Hickman might object to the "no normal novelist" title.

    He and his wife Laura seem to be very normal novelists.


    BTW for Wild Child Publishing I did a live IM interview with the Hickmans to be published in April.

  10. #560


    You can buy American postage stamps by email. Sorry I'm not using my computer so cannot access the website. Someone else here is bound to know the address. You can actually buy most countries' stamps electronically.

    The Writer's Digest's 'Writers' Marketplace' is really for freelancers writing articles. The W'sD 'Novels and Short Story Markets' is great for fiction writers. Do you know Kathy does a great SF markets section in her ezine and there are several other market zines around for the USA.

  11. #561

    revision again

    Just thought I'd repeat my earlier question:

    When should revision of a MS begin?

    in On Writing Stephen King suggests a six week period between finishing the first draft and revision. Does anyone have thoughts on this. Jim, what works for you?

  12. #562

    Re: revision again

    Re stamps -- postal reply coupons can be used in any country and can be bought from any post office.

  13. #563

    Re: woops!

    did i mispell your name? if so, must have been typing while doing tech support again. :P i do know your name, (it's uncle jim! j/k)

    and thanks for the advice about not sending out unrevised work (or practicing in public as you put it).

    the story that i'm waiting to hear on is a rewrite of my first ever. and i wouldn't feel ashamed of putting against any short story that i've read in the mags recently. i wouldn't win many of the matchups, but i wouldn't be ashamed of my work.

    the reason i mention is because the first version of it, i tried to edit.

    and tried to edit

    and tried to edit.

    and then sent it to asimovs. (yeah, i know, kinda silly, first ever story, sent straight to the biggest name mag, but i was feeling cocky, and had two pretty decent stories to send)

    anyway, long story short, it was rejected, i got dejected, eventually moved on to other projects cause i saw no way to edit the story further to make it any better. i tried my best, but my pie was a pancake.

    after a while in the drawer, i pulled it out and worked on it while i was stumped on the story i'm back on now. i started it over from scratch, just looking at the printout beside me now and then for a reference, wrote a whole new story that captured what i wanted out of the first one.

    i haven't heard back yet, but i _know_ it's tons better than anything i've done before. i think i hit my stride on that story, and since i was instinctively following advice i hadn't read yet, i think you may be on to something with that 'rewrite a short story don't edit it' suggestion.


  14. #564

    Hello all.

    Hello! - New here, so I inadvertently added this as a new topic. My bad. So here it is, hopefully in the right place...

    Whew, thought I'd never catch up. Just wanted to say hi to everyone. This has been one of the most informative reads I've encountered since I started trying to figure out this writing gig.

    I'd like to relate an experience of mine regarding not knowing what's going to happen next while writing a novel. I have a scene in the book I'm shopping around right now where two cops are investigating a string of murders with the help of a third from another jurisdiction. For reasons known only to me at the time I was writing it, I didn't want these killings solved, but had no idea how to thwart the investigators.

    So - I'm writing a scene where the pair of cops (Muir & Piper) are heading to a meeting with the third cop (Sutherland) to discuss their next move in the case. As I'm typing along, Sutherland starts arguing with the other two and begins trying to put them off the trail. I had not intended this when I sat down to write that day. Muir and Piper persist, and then:

    -- Sutherland knew it might come to this. He reached around to the small of his back, pulled out his backup weapon and shot Muir point-blank between the eyes, then did the same to Piper --

    I had NO IDEA he would do that. I jumped out of my chair and danced around the room, my spine tingling. In revision, I tidied this piece up and made connections between Sutherland and a hidden 'puppetmaster' type character, who incidentally was not performing such a role until this happened.

    This was one of those moments where your characters take over the story and I had never experienced it before. This out-of-the-blue surprise added an entirely new dimension to my story and was as exciting as any experience of my life. Seriously.

    Anywhoo, just wanted to share & say how much I'm learning from hanging around here.

  15. #565

    When to edit

    before you send it out the door--not funny I know.

    I edit right of way. But I do a series of edits. I do one for my pet words, I do one for passive voice, I do one for was, had, that, and just--extensions of my pet words. When I think the MS is as clean as it can get mechanics wise, I set it aside for at least a month--more like 6 to 8 weeks then go back to it.

    Start too soon on story edits and you are blind to them.


  16. #566

    Re: preditors and editors link

    hi again,

    So when we are posting chapters of our novels do we post them in the proper forum or continue to post them in short works?


  17. #567

    Quotes in books

    How do you go about using a quote from another book at the beginning of a chapter?

    If the quote is a single line quote, do you need permission to use it?

  18. #568

    Re: Quotes in books


    you should post your chapters in the "share your work" forum. You can mention on this board that you've posted something new, if you like, but people go there to offer critiques. it just keeps things clean up here.


  19. #569

    Re: story pictures

    Okay, I have a new little essay on outlines that adds to what we've already discussed, particularly in pictographing the novel. I'd like to leave a link to it here to further the dicussion, but I'll be subbing to an ezine or posting it, with any luck, somewhere else. Any suggestions?

    p.s. Oh yes, and yet another question for Jim--what's the difference between a mainstream novel and a literary novel? My tiger is confused.

  20. #570

    stamps v. IRCs

    If you can get stamps it will save you money. International reply coupons cost far more than a stamp. Oops! perhaps they don't in the USA. I also read in the 'Writer's News' UK that IRCs are on the way out.

  21. #571
    James D Macdonald

    Re: story pictures

    To me, Mainstream is a work of realistic fiction set in current times. A Literary work concentrates on prose style above realism.

    But that's just me.

    Really, what we're talking about are marketing categories. That's a mark on the spine that the publisher puts there to tell the bookstores where to shelve the books, so that people who are looking for a particular kind of book can find it easily.

    There are four genres: Prose, Rhetoric, Drama, and Poetry. Everything else is a quibble on how to sell the product for money.

  22. #572

    Re: Translate?

    Anjulis, a good translator can cost you as much as you'll earn on the story -- and you have to pay the translator whether or not the story subsequently sells.

    What language are your stories written in? Have you checked the markets for that language?

  23. #573
    James D Macdonald

    Re: revision again

    Six weeks between finishing a first draft and starting revisions is entirely reasonable. That gives you time for the book to go through the "How did I write this garbage? If anyone sees this they'll know I'm a fraud" stage without your having to look at it.

  24. #574

    Re: revision again

    (microphone crackle..) Paging Dr Jim...Doctor Jim could you please report to the "Hello",thread for just a moment,please...Thank You. Carybelle
    * Sorry for the interuption,guyz....(Gatzy,we could use you too...).....Carry on!!!!...

  25. #575

    Re: helpful and true eh?

    One correction. If true, John D. MacDonald was a better writer than you unless you believe in reincarnation and he is back at it again.:lol

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