Read Books By AWers!

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

editing for authors ad

A publisher or agency using Google ads to solicit your novel probably isn't anyone you want to write for.


Go Back   Absolute Write Water Cooler > General Writing Interest > Novels
Register FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-23-2006, 08:07 PM   #5226
James D. Macdonald
Your Genial Uncle
Absolute Sage
 
James D. Macdonald's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 22,920
James D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Off to go over the copyedit on Mist and Snow. The cover art is spectacular -- I hope to have permission to show it to y'all soon.
__________________
Madhouse Manor
James D. Macdonald is offline  
Old 05-23-2006, 09:00 PM   #5227
Duncan J Macdonald
And now, back to Plotting!
 
Duncan J Macdonald's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 1,717
Duncan J Macdonald has a double-platinum reputationDuncan J Macdonald has a double-platinum reputationDuncan J Macdonald has a double-platinum reputationDuncan J Macdonald has a double-platinum reputationDuncan J Macdonald has a double-platinum reputationDuncan J Macdonald has a double-platinum reputationDuncan J Macdonald has a double-platinum reputation
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Off to go over the copyedit on Mist and Snow. The cover art is spectacular -- I hope to have permission to show it to y'all soon.
STET
__________________
R/
Hamster #164
Duncan J Macdonald is offline  
Old 07-02-2006, 12:38 PM   #5228
alaskamatt17
practical experience, FTW
 
alaskamatt17's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Anchorage
Posts: 842
alaskamatt17 is a shiny, shiny jewelalaskamatt17 is a shiny, shiny jewel
Wow, it sounds like a lot of people are making great progress on their novels here. I haven't been doing much in that respect ... just working on the same chapter for over a week now. My mind keeps veering off course on short story ideas, and I've always been one to oblige my mind. The novel is still moving forward, albeit slowly.
__________________


Working on:

"Seance" - outlining/worldbuilding
alaskamatt17 is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 04:44 PM   #5229
James D. Macdonald
Your Genial Uncle
Absolute Sage
 
James D. Macdonald's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 22,920
James D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Guys, if anyone can find the Google caches for this thread from the last month, please help do so. 24MAY06 - 30JUN06
__________________
Madhouse Manor
James D. Macdonald is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 05:01 PM   #5230
Andrew Jameson
(not his real name)
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Detroit
Posts: 1,701
Andrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputation
Original page 210 of this thread:
(Dawno's post comes right after Duncan J Macdonald's post on 5/23, above, so nothing is missing, yet. Also I started doing this before I saw your request, UJ.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawno, 06-04-2006, 09:17 AM
I just wanted to bump this thread - the outpouring of concern about the possible loss of this thread alone, on dozens of blogs and in numerous comments over at Making Light, prove how valuable a resource this is. Thank you, Jim.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-04-2006, 11:57 AM
There wasn't that much stetted, Duncan -- even though the copy editor apparently was confused that a vessel could be described as both having twelve guns and having a broadside of six guns. (She's a sloop of war, special experimental construction, during the American Civil War.)

And Dawno -- thank you. I haven't yet been through this thread to be sure it's all here. The day will come, I'm sure. I've also heard from several people suggesting turning this thread into a book. I think I'll follow up on that.

(One place where I put up the tip jar, and mourned the loss of this thread, was here: http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/UncleJim.html Y'all can help support AW by buying a book from that page. The commisssions go to Jenna.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-04-2006, 05:18 PM
Oh -- Dawno has made some nice Learn Writing with Uncle Jim tee-shirts. (Available in a variety of colors and styles.)

Income from these shirts goes to support Absolute Write. Buy one! Better still, buy a dozen! They make excellent gifts....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricia 06-05-2006, 06:56 AM
Good to be back Jim, and that being said--writing question.

How to determine if you are keeping a handle on the word "had" in 3rd person fiction. If there is already a reference to it--just point me that way.

Thanks again for this thread Jim...invaluable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeshanu 06-05-2006, 07:46 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Oh -- Dawno has made some nice Learn Writing with Uncle Jim tee-shirts. (Available in a variety of colors and styles.)

Income from these shirts goes to support Absolute Write. Buy one! Better still, buy a dozen! They make excellent gifts....

I had a look last night, Dawno. Very cool stuff! (My birthday's coming...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald 06-05-2006, 08:14 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricia
How to determine if you are keeping a handle on the word "had" in 3rd person fiction. If there is already a reference to it--just point me that way.
The way I'd check on 'had' (or other words/word choices): Stand in your living room and read the book out loud. If something sounds funny to you, put a checkmark in the margin and move on. Smooth out those bits later.

Things that sound wrong -- probably are.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aruna 06-05-2006, 08:30 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
. I've also heard from several people suggesting turning this thread into a book. I think I'll follow up on that.
Definitely - Ive thought that many times myself. I look forward to it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patricia 06-05-2006, 08:38 AM
Thanks Jim...

And by the way, I too have thought this thread would make a good book. I thought it had been mentioned before. I look forward to it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saritams8 06-05-2006, 08:40 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDM
I've also heard from several people suggesting turning this thread into a book. I think I'll follow up on that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aruna
Definitely - Ive thought that many times myself. I look forward to it.
Ditto. I'm more of a lurker on this thread, but I've printed out several portions and would find the book version quite valuable.

I'm so happy we didn't lose it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aertep 06-05-2006, 10:42 AM
oh happy day!

I've been receiving a few posts in my e-mail, but unable to get on the board. Thank you all, mods, etc., for posting and letting us know you were out there.

Thanks, Dawno. I need a way to express my support, and a new tote bag wouldn't hurt.

It's good to be back.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribhneoir 06-05-2006, 01:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
I've also heard from several people suggesting turning this thread into a book. I think I'll follow up on that.
Oh, please do! I've got a hard copy of my enormous Word file of this thread, but even printed double-sided it's overflowing a 5" notebook and I can barely lift it. A real book would be so handy.

Now I'm off to choose a goody (or two or three) from Dawno's grab bag ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raiyah, 06-05-2006, 03:13 PM
Great to see everything back, up and running. I almost forgot to breathe when it was all gone! Missed you all!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Forbidden Snowflake, 06-05-2006, 05:02 PM
Oh, I missed this thread so much! It used to motivate me every day and I was lacking motivation the last week
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharon Mock, 06-05-2006, 05:54 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by aertep
Thanks, Dawno. I need a way to express my support, and a new tote bag wouldn't hurt.
Come to think of it, WorldCon is coming up...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-05-2006, 05:54 PM
Made my donation. Double posted about it on Jim's homepage-Oops.

Yes it is good to have this thread, and others back, and good to be back up.

A book about the information and questions in this thread? An outstanding idea. A best seller I'd bet. My ramblings are are all yours, Jim.

Ken
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkcbunny, 06-05-2006, 07:17 PM
I would LOVE a book version. I've read chunks of this, as needed, but I have to admit the task of finding certain things archived in the many pages can be daunting. A book would be wonderful.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayxwolf, 06-05-2006, 10:04 PM
I made it through the first 12 pages of this thread just tonight and I have to say that by page three I saw a book in this. (Or several, depending on which aspects of the craft you're planning to discuss.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-07-2006, 09:54 AM
A bit of a brag: Paul Melko (Viable Paradise VI), just sold a novel, Singularity's Rising, to Tor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf. 06-07-2006, 10:58 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
A bit of a brag: Paul Melko (Viable Paradise VI), just sold a novel, Singularity's Rising, to Tor.
Oh, Bravo! Congratulations to Paul!
Quote:
Originally Posted by HConn, 06-07-2006, 11:10 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
A bit of a brag: Paul Melko (Viable Paradise VI), just sold a novel, Singularity's Rising, to Tor.
I'm seething with envy.

Congrats to Paul Melko, and to his teachers, too!
Quote:
Originally Posted by aertep, 06-07-2006, 11:35 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
(One place where I put up the tip jar, and mourned the loss of this thread, was here: http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/UncleJim.html Y'all can help support AW by buying a book from that page. The commisssions go to Jenna.)
I'm curious--or maybe clueless. Did all the authors/copyright owners of these books have to give their permission to donate the proceeds? If so, how did you manage it? That's way cool.

If not, well, okay. Clueless.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-07-2006, 12:22 PM
Two things: first, elsewhere in AW I posted this, and I thought I'd share it here:

A writin' man walked out one day in a caffeine-powered funk
And by a postbox rested while he thought about his bunk
When all at once a mighty crowd of hopeful authors came
A-trailin' dreams of bylines and a bit of local fame.

Paragraph change! Paragraph STET! Ghost writers in the sky.

Their eyes were red, their hair uncombed, they all wore mismatched socks,
They fixed their hungry eyes upon that silent letter box.
Some had gone with Barb'ra Bauer, and others with ST,
And one of them had even signed with the Robins Agency.

Paragraph change! Paragraph STET! Ghost writers in the sky.

The authors most ignored him, but one tried to engage:
"If you want to save your soul from Hell a-scribblin' on a page,
Then writer change your ways today or someday you will be
Wond'ring why you never sold -- and why you paid a fee."

Paragraph change! Paragraph STET! Ghost writers in the sky.

-------------

Second, the question about cash from the Amazon book sales.

No, the authors didn't agree to anything. The way it works is this: if you have an Amazon Affilliate account, Amazon pays a percentage of any book sales they make that came to them through your link. Amazon gets a tiny bit less profit from the sale, but in return they get links to Amazon all over the Web. They figure it's a fair tradeoff.

Those books have Absolute Write's affiliate code on 'em -- so the commission paid by Amazon for the sales goes to AW.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duncan J Macdonald, 06-07-2006, 09:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
There wasn't that much stetted, Duncan -- even though the copy editor apparently was confused that a vessel could be described as both having twelve guns and having a broadside of six guns. (She's a sloop of war, special experimental construction, during the American Civil War.)
Good. I was worried about a repeat of a certain Copy Edit From the Lower Entropy Plain.

Last edited by Andrew Jameson; 07-04-2006 at 04:49 AM.
Andrew Jameson is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 05:17 PM   #5231
Andrew Jameson
(not his real name)
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Detroit
Posts: 1,701
Andrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputation
Original page 211 of this thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by BardSkye, 06-07-2006, 11:42 PM
If you do decide to turn this into an actual book, I want three copies. One for home, one for the backpack and one for a friend.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyBooBoo, 06-08-2006, 12:32 AM

I lurk in this thread a lot, but this is my first post. I think this thread would make an excellent book, I know I'd have a copy next to my computer at all times. Not to mention how nice it would be to have when internet access isn't always possible.

I do have a question regarding 400 pages=100,000 words. I wrote my first draft in Times New Roman, and before I decided to learn anything about writing I was curious about how many of my pages equal print pages. So I pulled out a random book on my shelf and found a page that had just as many line breaks as one of my pages, and proceeded to count every individual word from each (because I had that much time, thanks to writers block). My Times New Roman page only had 12 more words than the published book page. Since Courier New drastically reduces the amount of words per page, how does that work once the book is printed? If I turn in a 440 page manuscript, would the actual book only be around 300 pages (assuming it gets published)? I've been wondering about that for a while.

Thanks!
Quote:
Originally Posted by jules, 06-08-2006, 03:59 AM
Roughly, yes. A manuscript page is about 250 words, a printed book page is somewhere between 300 and 400 (on average, could be different in either direction if the publisher wanted, though). So your 440 pages of manuscript is about 275 - 300 pages printed.

For more detail, you could try working through this example: http://alg.livejournal.com/77731.html#cutid2

It's a more difficult process, and the result you get will probably be no more accurate, but you can reassure yourself that it is the process used by an actual publisher.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-08-2006, 09:03 AM
The answer to the question "How many words are on the page in a printed book?" is "How many do you want?" The book's designer controls it and balances printing costs against readability.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-08-2006, 10:24 AM
George Orwell's rules of writing:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

They come from "Politics and the English Language." The sixth and last is especially important.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nangleator, 06-08-2006, 10:29 AM

I'm having difficulty imagining a barbarous sentence as a result of the application of the first five, but nevertheless, I should tattoo these rules on my forearms.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Jameson, 06-09-2006, 04:39 PM
Uncle Jim:

A question in technique. I'm in the middle of my WIP (~40K), and I'm sensing that I have too many characters--or, at least, too many characters that are all in the same place at the same time. This seems to make scenes awkward, because the scenes wind up being an interplay between four or five characters, and often the POV character remains more passive than I'd like.

So. How do I fix this? Ignore it, slog ahead, and try to reduce/combine characters during editing? Drop a few characters now, keep writing, and fix the previous scenes (with dropped characters) later? Physically split up the characters so they're not all in the same place? Use more characters as POV characters? De-emphasize some characters so that they're clearly spear carriers?
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-09-2006, 08:16 PM
Andrew, do two or more of the characters serve the same purpose in the story? If so, combine them.

The viewpoint character does not have to be active, merely the best-suited to seeing the action in a given scene.

What are those scenes meant to accomplish? What's your overall story? Those things I can't answer. If you can see them clearly, then cut close and accomplish your purpose.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LloydBrown, 06-09-2006, 08:27 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Andrew, do two or more of the characters serve the same purpose in the story? If so, combine them.

The viewpoint character does not have to be active, merely the best-suited to seeing the action in a given scene.

What are those scenes meant to accomplish? What's your overall story? Those things I can't answer. If you can see them clearly, then cut close and accomplish your purpose.
Whenever Uncle Jim pontificates, I hear the Go Rin No Sho, the Book of Five Rings, by Musashi Miyamoto.

"You cannot master this ability quickly. Learn what is written here: use this in everyday life and do not vary it whatever happens. "
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskamatt17, 06-10-2006, 01:06 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by by Andrew Jameson
Uncle Jim:

A question in technique. I'm in the middle of my WIP (~40K), and I'm sensing that I have too many characters--or, at least, too many characters that are all in the same place at the same time. This seems to make scenes awkward, because the scenes wind up being an interplay between four or five characters, and often the POV character remains more passive than I'd like.

So. How do I fix this? Ignore it, slog ahead, and try to reduce/combine characters during editing? Drop a few characters now, keep writing, and fix the previous scenes (with dropped characters) later? Physically split up the characters so they're not all in the same place? Use more characters as POV characters? De-emphasize some characters so that they're clearly spear carriers?
First the disclaimer: I'm not published.

In the first draft of my first SF novel, I had two characters that ended up getting cut because they essentially served no purpose other than taking up space. Another one of my characters (the protagonist, in fact) became an entirely different person to accommodate the change. He had to have a background that let the whole cast keep on truckin' when it came to the scene where the no-longer-existent characters imparted their one or two lines of much-needed wisdom.

As for those rules above, I don't think Stephen King ever read them. Well, that's not exactly true; he may have read them but he ignores tham flat-out. Every single one them. Even the sixth.

No disrespect meant, Uncle Jim. Your thread here has been an amazing help to me, and probably every person who has read it. I'm just in an anti-authoritarian mood right now and I'm attacking every set of rules I see.

I'd apologize to George Orwell, too, but he's dead and I didn't really like his books anyway.



Wow, this may be the first time I've ever said anything worth catching flak over.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-10-2006, 09:43 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskamatt17
As for those rules above, I don't think Stephen King ever read them. Well, that's not exactly true; he may have read them but he ignores tham flat-out. Every single one them. Even the sixth.
Gee, he never breaks the rules? Who'd a thunk?

The thing about writing rules is this: They aren't rules. They're guidelines. You do have to know where the lines are, but if you need to color outside of them, please do so. The master rule is if it works, it's right. Yes, you can break that rule too, but don't expect anyone but mom to love your story if you do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskamatt17, 06-11-2006, 02:50 AM
I'm sorry, Uncle Jim, I was just being belligerent. It's a mood I sometimes get into and I start saying (or typing) things without thinking them through too well. But I have been noticing a lot of disregard for the rules in almost every book I've read lately, and the authors I've been reading aren't exactly pushovers in the writing world.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gp101, 06-11-2006, 03:17 AM
Uncle Jim,

I've often read you pontificating something along the lines of "if it works, do it" whether or not the writer in question was alledgedly breaking a rule. I hope you keep pontificating that particular nugget. I live by it... or write by it? Whichever.

But wouldn't you say that most newbie writers (and I include myself in this category) are all too willing to embrace that rule, while disregarding its reciprocal "if it doesn't work, don't use it"? What I mean is we're more than happy to break a rule when it makes sense, but when we create a line we absolutely love, or describe something at length that we regard as sheer poetic genius, or give a character a dialogue bit that makes us laugh out loud as we write it, we're less likely to have the cajones to cut it even though we know it doesn't work with respect to the entire piece, where we'll act the hero to break a rule when we think we can.

Would you say that this is the major difference between the published and the nearly-published-but-no-cigar? We--the downtrodden unpublished--embrace breaking rules when it is convenient, but fail to recognize them when we fall in love with our own words?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-11-2006, 05:44 AM
You have to know the rules, and how they work to break them in a way that works.

I think that's where new writers fail.

They haven't learned the skills needed to break those rules. I'm not just speaking of the ones above. There are many rules pertaining to the English language, sentence structure, POV, and on and on.

Not to mention showing a story instead of telling. Many new writers don't even know they are telling, but publishing editors do.

This is one profession that truly is OJT- on the job typewriting.

FWW. Ken
Quote:
Originally Posted by BardSkye, 06-11-2006, 01:35 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by gp101
What I mean is we're more than happy to break a rule when it makes sense, but when we create a line we absolutely love, or describe something at length that we regard as sheer poetic genius, or give a character a dialogue bit that makes us laugh out loud as we write it, we're less likely to have the cajones to cut it
Eek! I've been found out.

I think you've described me perfectly. Though in my defense, I've got a scene up in SYW that started purple and has been substantially improved by following the advice of those who know more than I do. (It does hurt to cut out all that pretty prose, though, doesn't it?)

Maybe one of the biggest steps towards eventual publication is admitting that there could be a much better way to tell the story.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HConn, 06-11-2006, 06:49 PM
Uncle Jim, I'm querying about my novel now, and I mention the handful of short stories I've sold.

Thing is, most of those sales have been to one magazine. I think it's a *good* magazine (publishing my stories notwithstanding) but I wonder if it would look better if I had sales to several different markets.

Many sales to one market or to several markets or doesn't it matter?
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-11-2006, 09:09 PM
My personal rule is, the three most recent/most prestigious sales. All to the same market, to different markets ... that doesn't matter to me. The idea is to show "I'm writing at a professional level; a professional sent me money."
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskamatt17, 06-12-2006, 12:04 AM
I would think it would be a good thing to have multiple sales to a good magazine. It must mean your stories were well-received by the magazine's readership. Just by looking at a sales record like that, you would have to think that the stories worked out well for that publication; the next logical step would be to think, Hey, maybe that writer could work for me, too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HConn, 06-13-2006, 12:11 PM
Thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-14-2006, 10:42 PM
Good Evening
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Like so many others, I have been reading this thread for some time and finally decided I should stop eavesdropping. I have been trying to catch up from the beginning but still have a couple of years to go. Over the past year I have looked in on several writer forums, but this is by far the best I've come across. The information disseminated by Uncle Jim is amazingly interesting and valuable.

I am 55 years old and am 50,000 words into a first novel that looks as if it will exceed the 100,000 word guideline. I have never had anything published, but have done some business writing. I don't have any writing experience or experise, so don't really have much to contribute. I'll be around, however, so if you ever want me for anything, just holler. I look forward to more of your insights and observations.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nangleator, 06-15-2006, 08:17 AM
Welcome to the group and the thread, Wrinkles!

I wouldn't worry about being over the 100k mark on your first pass. You ought to be able to tighten it up nicely in editing. It's certainly better to have more than less when editing starts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee, 6-15-2006, 08:42 AM
....That's a really lovely segue into my question. I wish all the threads worked so smoothly as that.

Right. My question: My current novel is going to come out around 150,000 words, when I'm done downloading everything I have to say onto the page, and I've reached where my story ends. This is terribly excessive, and I'm planning (all rough plans, of course) to have my novel tightened and humming at around 110, 120,000 words.

I guess I find myself curious how this will affect my chances of publishing. I hear a lot of people say that 80,000 (or in that vicinity) is a good range for a first time novel, and from what I generally see on shelves, this is broadly true.

I guess I'm just curious what you fine folk think. First novels, over-length, what happens?
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-15-2006, 08:06 PM
Are all 120,000 words going to be the exactly right words?

Make the book the best you can ... then write another one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by janetbellinger, 06-15-2006, 08:28 PM
I need some advice. When I originally wrote my novel, Rain I stretched it out over the course of the heroine's lifetime and had her telling the story as an old woman. Now that I am making it more active though, all this reminiscence doesn't seem appropriate and I'm thinking I should delete about twenty five pages as it deals with different stages of life and kind of takes away from the book having a climax and I also think I h ave too many events taking place and wonder if I should remove some of them and put them in another book. Somebody said somewhere it sounds like a soap opera and I have to admit I like things to happen when I am writing a book but is that a substitute for really developing the plot and characters?
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-15-2006, 08:40 PM
"Things happen" is pretty much the definition of plot. More stuff happening is better (usually) than less stuff happening (unless you're Marcel Proust).

But ... when you say something takes away from the climax, that's a hint that maybe it doesn't belong in your book. Anything that doesn't move the story forward holds it back.

Cut ruthlessly. You'll still have the original version in case you need to go back and reinsert some scenes.

Then let it sit for a bit, read it out loud, do a re-write ... then hand it over to your beta readers.

And start a new book, while it's sitting.
Andrew Jameson is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 05:32 PM   #5232
Andrew Jameson
(not his real name)
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Detroit
Posts: 1,701
Andrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputation
Original page 212 of this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by janetbellinger, 06-15-2006, 08:43 PM
Thanks Jim. It makes sense.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskamatt17 06-15-2006, 09:17 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee
....That's a really lovely segue into my question. I wish all the threads worked so smoothly as that.

Right. My question: My current novel is going to come out around 150,000 words, when I'm done downloading everything I have to say onto the page, and I've reached where my story ends. This is terribly excessive, and I'm planning (all rough plans, of course) to have my novel tightened and humming at around 110, 120,000 words.

I guess I find myself curious how this will affect my chances of publishing. I hear a lot of people say that 80,000 (or in that vicinity) is a good range for a first time novel, and from what I generally see on shelves, this is broadly true.

I guess I'm just curious what you fine folk think. First novels, over-length, what happens?
I guess it depends on your genre and which publisher you're aiming for. For science fiction and fantasy, it seems like 80,000 to 130,000 words is acceptable. Most publishers have suggested word count ranges in their guidelines. Baen, for instance, wants manuscripts between 100,000 and 130,000 words. DAW's guidelines suggest anything over 80,000 words. Tor, as far as I recall, doesn't list any specific word count suggestions, but most of their books are over 100,000 words as far as I can tell by looking at them on a bookshelf (some appear to exceed 200,000, but those aren't first novels).

I don't know much about other genres or markets. I would guess that most romances are right around 70,000 to 80,000 words; same with westerns. It looks like "mainstream" books are a little longer on average ... I would guess between 90,000 and 120,000 words.

It sounds to me like your book will be fine once you go through a few revisions.

But remember, word count isn't as important as having a good story. There have been some colossal first novels over the ages. There have been miniscule ones as well. Word count and quality are not dependent on one another. Usually, though, second drafts end up quite a bit shorter than rough drafts. My last manuscript came in at a hefty 180,000 words in rough draft. The second draft trimmed that down to 165,000 and I'm hoping to end up with 140,000 words by the final draft.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nangleator, 06-15-2006, 10:18 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by janetbellinger
... Now that I am making it more active though, all this reminiscence doesn't seem appropriate and I'm thinking I should delete about twenty five pages as it deals with different stages of life and kind of takes away from the book having a climax and I also think I h ave too many events taking place and wonder if I should remove some of them and put them in another book. ...
Janet, I just love this sentence. I nearly asphyxiated reading it, but I love it anyway!

I'm now picturing you as that girl in Real Genius.
Quote:
Originally Posted by janetbellinger, 06-15-2006, 10:32 PM
Thanks. I have to watch it when I'm writing or I'll run on sentences forever without taking a breath.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-15-2006, 10:42 PM
That's one of the reasons I recommend that you read your book out loud.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanDSchaffer, 06-15-2006, 10:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
That's one of the reasons I recommend that you read your book out loud.
I hadn't thought about that, but it does make good sense.

This actually makes me think about something you and I talked about on this thread about, oh, two or three months ago. It was about my 57,000 word WIP that I was working on back then. You said that I should expand it by adding another plot, but I think I won't be needing to. As I read the words to the work out loud, I noticed that the writing was too compressed, and could easily be expanded just by making a better edit. It really is sad that I had already submitted it in the 57,000 word fashion. I'm wondering, Uncle Jim, if I should even submit it again after I truly finish it, because of this problem.

What do you think I should do when I get it all done?
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee, 06-15-2006, 11:59 PM
I'm not hugely worried about it (I'm just worrying about writing it and finishing it, everything else comes later) I was just rather curious. It occured to me that a lot of the "comfortable at eighty thousand words" talk I hear is generally for romance and mainstream fiction. So I was jus' poking.

(Real Genius. Geeze. That's a long time ago.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee, 06-16-2006, 12:14 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
That's one of the reasons I recommend that you read your book out loud.
I always do. I enjoy it. I usually take my pages and go for a walk, probably much to the dismay of the people in my neighborhood.

My rule of thumb is, none of the passages (be them prose, be them dialogue) should sound like the sort of thing that a kid would say while telling a horror story to other kids around a camp fire. You've all seen the movies, where the one kid is very dramatically telling the story. My prose shouldn't be able to be spoken like that.

"He could feel the icey cold branches....on his neck....and he turned....to look....and then.....he SAW IT.....the hand of death."

You see?
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-16-2006, 07:20 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanDSchaffer
What do you think I should do when I get it all done?
Submit it and start writing another book, silly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee
"He could feel the icey cold branches....on his neck....and he turned....to look....and then.....he SAW IT.....the hand of death."
Oh, gee ... when did you get a look at my current WIP?
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanDSchaffer, 06-16-2006, 07:25 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Submit it and start writing another book, silly.
Thanks, Uncle Jim. The reason I asked was that I thought it might be considered unprofessional to re-submit a work I've submitted before. But I admittedly don't know the business half as well as the average person here does.

Thanks again. I appreciate your help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-16-2006, 07:27 AM
If you're submitting it to one of the same places again, either use a new title, or put in the cover letter that this is a substantially revised and expanded version.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Berry, 06-16-2006, 03:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
That's one of the reasons I recommend that you read your book out loud.
That's so useful. Recently I read one of my stories at a con, and to my horror discovered that it dragged in the middle! At least I can fix it before it comes out.

Next time I'll do that BEFORE submitting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanDSchaffer, 06-16-2006, 06:57 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
If you're submitting it to one of the same places again, either use a new title, or put in the cover letter that this is a substantially revised and expanded version.
Cool! I'll be sure to do that. Probably I'll make up a new title for it; I need to change a few words, anyway.

Thanks for your help, Uncle Jim.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BardSkye, 06-17-2006, 10:38 PM
Disclaimers in manuscripts?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Even though this is a long way off, if I don't ask it now I'll forget to later.

My WIP is historical fiction and I will be deliberately combining several theories involving astrology that did not, in fact, happen at the same time. I plan to have a disclaimer to that effect telling the reader that this is a deliberate mistake.

Would I include that disclaimer as a preface in a manuscript being sent to an agent or publisher?
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-17-2006, 10:58 PM
I'm a bit unclear on what exactly you mean.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BardSkye06-18-2006, 12:01 AM
Sorry about that. Example:

"There are several theories about what the Star of Bethlehem really was. Some say a comet, a planet, a supernova or astrological observations that had no physical reality. This is a work of fiction that combines all of those theories into a time frame that is not historically accurate."

Would that paragraph be included in a manuscript that I am sending out to a publisher? Not in the query letter, in the actual manuscript either on page one before the words "Chapter One" or at the end.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-18-2006, 07:53 AM
It's a work of fiction, right? Are you 100% sure that some lone genius in the year 1214 didn't put 'em all together?

I wouldn't put in a notice about that. Novels aren't meant to be textbooks.

Now it's true that readers of, say, historical romances will snark at you if you have your characters waltzing two years before the dance was introduced in a particular area, and firearms enthusiasts will wax wroth if you give your Colt Commander .45 semi-automatic pistol right-hand rifling ... unless the point of your story was What If the Waltz Had Been Introduced Early or What If the .45 Had A Right-Hand Twist? "What If" is one of the great story-generating engines.

You might want to read a couple of alternate histories.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-18-2006, 10:14 AM
Okay.

I'm coming down to the end of my current work. I'm writing, or trying to write the final battle scene and climax. I know that the shorter the sentence, the faster the action will seem to move.

Are there any methods I can use to really spice up the battle scene. AKA, create mayhem, increase the volumn of the clash in the readers mind, sense of ergency, feelings of fear of losing the battle for the side I've allied the reader with?

Thanks in advance.

Ken
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-18-2006, 10:22 AM
Short scenes.

Dialog.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BardSkye, 06-18-2006, 11:42 AM
The parts that I'm fudging will cause any astronomers, astrologers and serious students of Roman/Jewish history in the audience to cry "Those were ten years apart, not at the same time!"

However, point taken. I'll argue timeline validity only if I have to and not worry about it beforehand.

As always, the help is appreciated. Thank you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nangleator, 06-18-2006, 12:22 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BardSkye
The parts that I'm fudging will cause any astronomers, astrologers and serious students of Roman/Jewish history in the audience to cry "Those were ten years apart, not at the same time!"
While the author probably shouldn't make too many research mistakes, it's perfectly fine if your characters get things wrong. And would it be surprising for one or more of them not to be aware of a scientific theory proposed ten years before?

It's the opposite of what UJ suggested, so take it with a grain.

I have my characters make mistakes all the time, sometimes for a smile, and sometimes because they're just human.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-18-2006, 05:58 PM
POV and tense

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Forgive me if this is a question that has been addressed before, but if so I don't remember seeing it. I am an inexperienced writer of fiction, approximately halfway in to the first draft of a first novel. I am using first person POV and, usually, past tense. But on occasion, it seems to me that the narrator would switch to present tense if the situation being described extends into the present. For example:

"I spoke to him frankly because he is my best friend, and I knew that he would want me to."

I also tend to use adverbs, sentence fragments, begin sentences with conjunctions and end them with prepositions, and sometimes put commas before conjunctions, and sometimes not, but those are issues for other posts. Does anyone else struggle with this tense thing? Again, forgive me if the answer is obvious and I have revealed myself as a simpleton for asking.
Quote:
Originally Posted by paritoshuttam, 06-19-2006, 12:07 AM
Re: POV and tense

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles
I am using first person POV and, usually, past tense. But on occasion, it seems to me that the narrator would switch to present tense if the situation being described extends into the present. For example:

"I spoke to him frankly because he is my best friend, and I knew that he would want me to."
I would say books in first person POV are usually in the past tense. The protagonist is narrating a story to someone else, or writing a diary/journal, about something in the past. I find narration in the present tense combined with first person POV odd. e.g. I speak to him frankly because he is my best friend, and I know that he would want me to.

Unless your story is really set in the past, that is, it has already happened, you could consider telling it in third person POV. Is there a reason why you cannot write "I spoke to him frankly because he was my best friend..."?

regards,
Paritosh.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-19-2006, 04:41 AM
Please, don't mix tenses.

Of course, you can do anything at all in dialog -- it reveals character.

If it's vital that the readers know that Fred is still the narrator's best friend, you could say something like:

"He was my best friend -- still is."

Or, you could fudge it:

"He's my best friend."

Ask yourself if it's important that the readers know that this person not only was but still is the narrator's friend. Ask yourself if the readers care. Be ruled accordingly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-19-2006, 09:03 PM
RE: POV and Tense

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To Paritoshuttam:

Because the fact that he is the narrator's best friend isn't an occurrence that happens only in the past. It extends into the present and hopefully into the future. That's the way it seems to me, anyway. Another example that puts the tense change in different sentences would be:

"Rick and I went to see our beloved Mugwumps play the Rammerjammers last Friday night. The Rammerjammers are (instead of were) our biggest rivals, dating back to the night twenty-five years ago when a possibly inebriated Mugwump fan, irate over a close loss, threw and hit the Rammerjammer coach with a dead opossum."

To Uncle Jim:

I agree with your advice and appreciate your input. I realize that changing the tenses could result in some awkward-sounding sentences. I intend to try to keep it to a minimum, but I think I am going to include a few and see if someone at some future time makes me change them.

Last edited by Andrew Jameson; 07-03-2006 at 08:12 PM. Reason: Found MSN cache
Andrew Jameson is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 05:42 PM   #5233
Andrew Jameson
(not his real name)
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Detroit
Posts: 1,701
Andrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputation
Oringinal page 213 of this thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-20-2006, 10:53 AM
I fear that those sentences do, indeed, sound awkward. Please think very carefully before mixing tenses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyBooBoo, 06-20-2006, 12:37 PM
How do you end a novel? Do you just write "The End" or do one of these, "<the end>"? And how far down should the end be from the last sentance on the page?
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-20-2006, 02:41 PM
I usually write "The End" after a linebreak.

But ... if the agent or editor is still with you by then, you could put Anythnig At All there (to show that a page didn't get lost) and it'll work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleJLeBoeuf, 06-20-2006, 03:06 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles
"Rick and I went to see our beloved Mugwumps play the Rammerjammers last Friday night. The Rammerjammers are (instead of were) our biggest rivals, dating back to the night twenty-five years ago when a possibly inebriated Mugwump fan, irate over a close loss, threw and hit the Rammerjammer coach with a dead opossum."
That reads well to me, but only as a flashback/anecdote in a present-tense narrative, or serving the same purpose in dialogue.

That is, if you were to lead into that paragraph with something like this:

"So Rick and I are wandering around downtown, and suddenly he freezes and I'm like, 'What?' and he's like, 'No way!' and he's pointing at a newspaper headline that says the Mugwumps pitcher died last night. We're both in shock, just staring at that headline. I mean, Rick and I saw them beat the Rammerjammers in a total shut-out just last Friday night..."

But then, inserting a flashback into the narrative isn't tense-mixing in the same way that Uncle Jim's warning about.

Now, if that paragraph were in a past-tense narrative, with just that one sentence of present tense sticking out, I'd agree that it doesn't work. What it does is jars me out of my comfortable assumption that I've been reading a past-tense story and suddenly forces me to adjust to the expectation we're in present tense--the narrator's present, in which the Mugwumps still are his favorite team, is supposed to be part of the story, when up until now only his past, in which the Mugwumps were his favorite team, had been in the narration-window for me.

...does that make sense?
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdparadise, 06-20-2006, 03:10 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles
Because the fact that he is the narrator's best friend isn't an occurrence that happens only in the past. It extends into the present and hopefully into the future. That's the way it seems to me, anyway.
Non-genre, I've seen this used to good effect with a certain type of narrator, like:


Trenton, the capital city of New Jersey, has seen better days. That said, beautiful architecture abounds. Handsome brick townhouses, no more sinister than the oak trees that line the wide roads, make up the majority of the Mill Hill neighborhood's residences.

It was into one of these townhouses that Carmina Burona disappeared. She never made it out.


For me, that sort of treatment gives an "I've been there" sort of feel to the narrator--a story he's telling through acquired research or eyewitness interpretations, or direct participation. It works particularly well in oral storytelling.

I'm not sure it works with written specfic, because the reader knows it's impossible for the narrator to have been there; a first-person narrative is one thing, but there's cognitive dissonance if one reads something like:


Imeletz, the capital city of the Qhorth Continuum, has seen better days. That said, beautiful architecture abounds. Handsome steelstone townhouses, no more sinister than the fladger trees that line the wide roads, make up the majority of the Eyver District's residences.

It was into one of these townhouses that Carmina Burona disappeared. She never made it out.



I think the same would apply to continuing relationships in specfic; it's simply not possible for Aynish to be friends with Gruu, and the reader knows it, because they don't exist and can't. Which isn't to say it'll be fatal, but it might put a bump in the reader's perceptions.

There's probably an exception to this in alt-history, magical realism, and contemporary fantasy...

Just a thought, nothing I've pondered deeply, but it seems to resonate. I'm willing to hear why I'm wrong

-j
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyBooBoo, 06-20-2006, 09:22 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
I usually write "The End" after a linebreak.

But ... if the agent or editor is still with you by then, you could put Anythnig At All there (to show that a page didn't get lost) and it'll work.
Thanks! I can only hope that an agent will get that far.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee, 06-20-2006, 09:51 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyBooBoo
Thanks! I can only hope that an agent will get that far.
I always write "You're still reading, Praise Allah, and I will name my first-born son after you!"

They never write back.

So strange.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles, 06-21-2006, 05:02 PM
First Person POV and Tense

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you Uncle Jim, jdparadise, NicoleJLeBoeuf and Paritosh for your excellent advice that I should not mix past and present tense with first person POV. I appreciate the time you spent in trying to set me straight. You have made persuasive and erudite arguments and I have learned a lot from your posts. But, I'm afraid I can't help myself. In the last few days I've done it again, more than once I have to admit, even as you were urging me not to. It looks like I'm not going to be able to resist the temptation. I hope I'm not being self-destructive.

If you aren't too disgusted with my weakness, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts concerning the literary/commercial novel dichotomy, assuming there is such a dichotomy. Can a literary novel be a commercial success nowadays? Given my limited expectations, I define commercial success as getting published. And just what the heck makes a literary novel literary anyhow?
Quote:
Originally Posted by HConn, 06-21-2006, 05:12 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles
But, I'm afraid I can't help myself. In the last few days I've done it again, more than once I have to admit, even as you were urging me not to. It looks like I'm not going to be able to resist the temptation. I hope I'm not being self-destructive.
Wrinkles, if you're going to make mistakes, they should be your own. Make bold mistakes, if you have to make any at all, and make them willfully, not in ignorance.

If you are determined to mix tenses, go for it. I hope you can do it to great effect.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdparadise, 06-22-2006, 09:42 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrinkles
But, I'm afraid I can't help myself. In the last few days I've done it again, more than once I have to admit, even as you were urging me not to. It looks like I'm not going to be able to resist the temptation. I hope I'm not being self-destructive.
:: grin ::

As you will; it's no skin off my nose, and it might be a thing of wonder to behold.

I'll ask this, though. I tend to write with a rule in mind for my final drafts: I try never to leave anything in the text that I can't justify as having a specific intended effect on the reader.

To that point, what's the effect you're hoping to have on the reader by mixing the tenses? How will mixing tenses help you toward that goal? Is it the best tool for the job, or is there another way you could better achieve it?

If the answer is "I dunno, it just feels right," you might want to look at it again when you get to draft 2 and beyond. If you have a reasoned approach to it and can't think of a better way to do it, it may well belong there...

G'luck!

-j
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-26-2006, 07:04 PM
"I dunno, it just feels right" is the place where you should be when writing. Your subconscious will guide you; your characters come to life and surprise you; the right ending (as opposed to the one you planned) will appear.

Meanwhile:

Saturday I saw a Reader's Theatre (minimal sets and costumes, actors have the script in their hands and read it) performance of G. B. Shaw's How He Lied To Her Husband.

May I recommend it to everyone here as a wonderful example of Not A Word Wasted? This is a one-act farce, and carries itself marvelously a hundred years after it was first produced.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdparadise, 06-27-2006, 04:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
"I dunno, it just feels right" is the place where you should be when writing. Your subconscious will guide you; your characters come to life and surprise you; the right ending (as opposed to the one you planned) will appear.
I respectfully submit that there may be a difference between what you're talking about here and what I was talking about above; I've found (with my own stuff, and everyone varies) that my intuition is much more trustworthy with respect to characters and plot than it is with respect to technical decisions on things such as POV and similar mechanics. My suggestion was for analysis of the mechanics of the piece, rather than the plot or characters, fwiw.
Quote:
Originally Posted by allenparker, 06-27-2006, 04:37 PM
question

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
"I dunno, it just feels right" is the place where you should be when writing. Your subconscious will guide you; your characters come to life and surprise you; the right ending (as opposed to the one you planned) will appear.
Jim, do you think that the your past experiences have honed this skill to be able to rely confidently on your "it feels right" senses?

Is so, are there exercises that you do or did that helped this?

thanks so much for replying.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexusman, 06-27-2006, 04:38 PM
I write because I have to. Otherwise the desire to do so wouldn't let me do anything else.
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-28-2006, 03:38 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by allenparker
Is so, are there exercises that you do or did that helped this?
I retyped a heck of a lot of other writers' published material, to get the feel of it into my hands.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam Jackson, 06-28-2006, 04:23 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
I retyped a heck of a lot of other writers' published material, to get the feel of it into my hands.
What did you take away from the experience, Jim?
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee, 06-28-2006, 08:02 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
I retyped a heck of a lot of other writers' published material, to get the feel of it into my hands.
Before reading the earlier pages of this thread, where you suggested that, it never would have occured to me to do that. I've done it several times now, and it's a great deal of fun. I'll re-type American Gods' first chapter and find myself admiring how not a word goes to waste....or I'll read the first chapter over several times, and then try to write it only from what's in my head, and see how close I come out. Usually, I get the same meaning, but in my own words.

As for writing what "feels right..." if you don't, in the first draft, then aren't you being dishonest? And isn't the biggest rule of writing honesty to yourself, your story, your reader?
Quote:
Originally Posted by JanDarby, 06-28-2006, 09:49 AM
Quote:
I retyped a heck of a lot of other writers' published material, to get the feel of it into my hands.
I've done this on occasions, too, and really benefited from it. There's something very different about TYPING out a page, as opposed to just reading it, for learning how the author did what he/she did. If nothing else, it slows you down, so you're concentrating on every single word, instead of skimming and getting caught up in the story and missing the craft.

It's an especially good exercise if there's a TYPE of scene (for me, it was the sex scenes in romance, but it could also be a first scene or last scene or climactic scene or action scene or -- you pick one) that's eluding you, and I usually recommend finding three examples from different authors that are widely considered masters of that type of scene, and then typing all three in a row. You may find that there are patterns or commonalities or even distinct differences among them that will be useful to your own writing.

JD
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, 06-28-2006, 12:19 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liam Jackson
What did you take away from the experience, Jim?
Where and how characters are introduced, paragraph rhythm, word-choice, punctuation ... if you try to write like your favorite author, you won't, exactly, because you're different people, but your own writing will be better.

When you're training for the race, it helps that your training partner is a bit faster than you, because that way you'll really stretch your legs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Schneider, 06-28-2006, 07:21 PM
It was great fun last Christmas doing the excercise U.J. offered.

Another excercise, Jim?

Or a line by line, of a page or two, from something current or not so,that I can learn from?

Ken.
Quote:
Originally Posted by allenparker, Yesterday, 04:38 PM
On paragraphs

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I noitced you mentioned paragraph rhythms. Can you give us an overview of how you use these effectively in your stories? I know there is much that can be accomplished by the way we construct our paragraphs and how we handle the timing and flow, but I feel somewhat behind in this area. If I missed the exercises and posts in this thread, let me know and I'll go back and look again.

awp
Quote:
Originally Posted by allynnegirl, Today, 08:42 AM
Thanks to Uncle Jim and others from a Newbie

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Currently I am on Page 110 of 210 pages of this thread. IOW, I still have a LONG way to go.

I cannot express to you how much this thread has really helped me. I am practicing BIC, doing Uncle Jim's Assignments as I can (only two completed so far, but have requested books, movies, magazines, searched for anthology submission requests, read guidelines, etc.), and read the breakdowns of Chapter 1s.

Because of you all, I have even worked up the courage to post Chapter 1 of my WIP (YA - Christian) at http://absolutewrite.com/forums/show...968#post678968

Now, I am off to read, write and do more homework. I will get this novel (novella?? - don't know yet) finished before the end of the year!
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald, Today, 12:55 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by allynnegirl
Now, I am off to read, write and do more homework. I will get this novel (novella?? - don't know yet) finished before the end of the year!
Go, you!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribhneoir, Today, 01:47 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JanDarby
There's something very different about TYPING out a page, as opposed to just reading it, for learning how the author did what he/she did.
It's a very enlightening experience to type out a chapter of your favorite book. I did it with a book I've read several times, so I was familiar with the words. I couldn't believe how different it became when I was typing it. The craft behind it leaped out. I think this is one of the best of Uncle Jim's assignments (of those I've finished, that is).

Jo
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeDee, Today, 04:19 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribhneoir
It's a very enlightening experience to type out a chapter of your favorite book. I did it with a book I've read several times, so I was familiar with the words. I couldn't believe how different it became when I was typing it. The craft behind it leaped out. I think this is one of the best of Uncle Jim's assignments (of those I've finished, that is).
Jo
Conversely, it's also really interesting to do it with a really, really bad book. I did it with this really horrible book about the adventures of young authors H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and their adventures to stop that great beast, Cthulu. Terrible, horrible book.

Typing out the first chapter taught me so much about why we avoid adversbs, bad commas, bad dialogue, and bad dialogue tags...
(MSN's cache, dated June 30, ends here.)

Last edited by Andrew Jameson; 07-03-2006 at 08:02 PM. Reason: Found MSN cache
Andrew Jameson is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 05:52 PM   #5234
James D. Macdonald
Your Genial Uncle
Absolute Sage
 
James D. Macdonald's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 22,920
James D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Thanks, Andrew

Thanks, Andrew.

The remaining three days, where I reveal the Next Big Thing, the Secret Handshake, and Five Things Editors Don't Want You To Know, must remain forever shrouded in silence.

Those who read them in time ... see you on the best seller list.
__________________
Madhouse Manor
James D. Macdonald is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 07:22 PM   #5235
Lilybiz
glad to be here
 
Lilybiz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 391
Lilybiz is a glorious beacon of lightLilybiz is a glorious beacon of lightLilybiz is a glorious beacon of light
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Thanks, Andrew.

The remaining three days, where I reveal the Next Big Thing, the Secret Handshake, and Five Things Editors Don't Want You To Know, must remain forever shrouded in silence.

Those who read them in time ... see you on the best seller list.

I didn't read them in time. I've been away because if I spend too much time here I don't write.

However, for the past week I lurked and caught up--Andrew, thanks for finding all this stuff. I had read it, but for the last three days I haven't been able to get onto AW or the forums, so I missed out on The Secret Handshake, etc. However, I can add to the missing info: a message came to my inbox from Pee Dee on June 30th. From the context, I'm guessing he was talking about typing first chapters from favorite books:

"Here is the message that has just been posted:
***************
Conversely, it's also really interesting to do it with a really, really bad book. I did it with this really horrible book about the adventures of young authors H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, and their adventures to stop that great beast, Cthulu. Terrible, horrible book.

Typing out the first chapter taught me so much about why we avoid adversbs, bad commas, bad dialogue, and bad dialogue tags..."

(I can attest to the horribleness of the book.)
--------------------------------------------------

This came in 7/2 from alaskamatt17:

"Here is the message that has just been posted:
***************
Wow, it sounds like a lot of people are making great progress on their novels here. I haven't been doing much in that respect ... just working on the same chapter for over a week now. My mind keeps veering off course on short story ideas, and I've always been one to oblige my mind. The novel is still moving forward, albeit slowly."

--------------------------------------------------

Not exactly a Google cache, but the best I can offer.

I've been trying to get onto the forums ever since PeeDee's message came in. I wanted to tell you that I finished draft 2 of my novel. I'm setting it aside for the summer so it can stew. It's WAY too long, which is fine, because I think I know where to cut. I hope Draft 3 will be the last, but I know better than to predict.

Thank you all. I had to trade my AW forum time for BIC time, but I did check in and read. Maybe I'll get to participate a little more now, at least until it's time to start Draft 3.
__________________
website
blog
Lilybiz is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 07:40 PM   #5236
HConn
Whore for genre
 
HConn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Inside a cursed painting
Posts: 814
HConn has earned our admirationHConn has earned our admirationHConn has earned our admirationHConn has earned our admiration
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Thanks, Andrew.

The remaining three days, where I reveal the Next Big Thing, the Secret Handshake, and Five Things Editors Don't Want You To Know, must remain forever shrouded in silence.

Those who read them in time ... see you on the best seller list.


Andrew, can you find my missing prestige points, too?

lol
__________________
Look for CHILD OF FIRE from Del Rey! Read a sample chapter. Hey! it's been named to Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2009 list!

Book 2 in the Twenty Palaces series: GAME OF CAGES. or check out these sample chapters.
HConn is offline  
Old 07-03-2006, 08:15 PM   #5237
Andrew Jameson
(not his real name)
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Detroit
Posts: 1,701
Andrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputationAndrew Jameson has a double-platinum reputation
There we go. I found an MSN cache that filled in the piece of page 212 that Google was missing, as well as extending p. 213 through June 30th. I pasted the new info in the appropriate places above. Unfortunately, the cache still ends just before UJ reveals the Next Big Thing, the Secret Handshake, and Five Things Editors Don't Want You To Know, but hey, something's better than nothing.
Andrew Jameson is offline  
Old 07-04-2006, 04:11 AM   #5238
NicoleJLeBoeuf
a work in progress
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 1,489
NicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthood
When writing karma smacks your face

Well, I just now got what I deserved.

After mouthing off as though I actually Knew What I Was Talking About or something on the issue of mixing tenses, I read some peer critiques of a short story of mine and found that I am absolutely not immune from the problem.

The story is in first person present tense. Sort of. Which is to say, it takes the form of a diary. (One critter referred to the main character as a blogger, which made me grin in a befuddled way.) So, it could all be read as one long first person present tense monologue. But of course she chronicles events in the past tense. So you get paragraphs that do this sort of thing:

"So event X was happening, and I was wishing I had object Y with me. I have a whole bunch of 'em--character B makes them for me everytime we meet up, he does L and M and N all the time--and having one of those along would have helped..."

That sort of tense mixing. Past tense anecdote mixed with present tense descriptions of characters and their habitual actions.

I swear I went back to the draft with an open mind about this sort of thing--if more than one critter said it was a problem, I understand it means there really is a problem, although its nature and solution may not be exactly what they say it is (thanks to this thread and Uncle Jim for the maxim "if they tell you how to solve it, they're probably wrong" running around in my head). But every time I reread the paragraph in question, it sounds right to me. It sounds exactly how a person would narrate an event and insert asides about the characters in her diary, or over a beer at the bar to her best friends.

Right now I'm mainly rewriting from the point of view of A) put in things that need to be in the story, and B) clean up clumsy bits of narration (too-long sentences and the like). I'm hoping that having swept those infelicites away will make it easier for the mixed-tense anecdotes to feel as right to a reader as they do to me. Or else the act of cleaning them up will push me into rewriting those bits in a way that work without mixed tenses.

I do share Wrinkle's worry that having a character talk about her best friend in the past tense makes it sound like the character is no longer her best friend, or the best friend no longer matches the description, or that the best friend has in fact shuffled off this mortal coil and is best described in the past tense for that reason.
__________________
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

Author, occasionally published. Watch this space for more, or visit the amazing actually writing blog. (It actually writes!)
NicoleJLeBoeuf is offline  
Old 07-04-2006, 09:56 PM   #5239
jules
Bored fanatic
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Coventry, UK
Posts: 309
jules is on a distinguished road
Quote:
if more than one critter said it was a problem, I understand it means there really is a problem, although its nature and solution may not be exactly what they say it is
I'm not so sure, particularly if your multiple critters are all writers and the problem is that you're straying outside of a set of rather narrow rules, which "don't mix tenses" is definitely a part of.

If writers are telling you that a technique you've used is wrong, but you're not sure you agree with them, ask some non-writing readers as well. If the readers don't spot a problem, then it's probably just writer pickiness.
jules is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 12:15 AM   #5240
jayxwolf
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I'd say I'm with jules on this one-- ultimately it sounds a little like nitpicking, which is pretty common between writers....

the ultimate aim of the writer is clarity of meaning, not how grammatically proper you can be (though it does factor in, as understanding of grammar improves your potential to write clearly, and so on).

I think I'd pass it by a few nonwriters as well and see what they think. ultimately the reading public has to be able to get your drift. Even the editor-- and I'd argue that an editor is a reader first and foremost, after all. ;-)

~j
 
Old 07-05-2006, 06:48 AM   #5241
wrinkles
practical experience, FTW
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 250
wrinkles has a spectacular aura
Hey NicoleJLeBoeuf

Well, I feel sort of bad for opening a proverbial can of worms about this tense thing. I do feel better, though, that I am not the only one struggling with it. So, did your Beta readers have a problem with it? I hate to hear that. The passage read just fine to me.

It sounds as if I am writing something similar to what you describe. In my case a novel narrated by a woman (even though I am a man) writing about recent events in her life. To give you an idea of the way it is going, I have posted the first chapter in the Share Your Work section, Literary subgroup. I have called it a Wrinkle in Time so you can find it, but it is not about time travel. The tense changes from present to past and back again and again.

I chose the literary subgroup because I really didn't know where to put it. The novel is not science fiction or fantasy, although it does have elements of the supernatural. Southern Gothic might describe it best.

I asked Uncle Jim earlier if he would talk about literary fiction: just what that term means and maybe give some examples of novels that are both literary and commercial. Would Dune be an example of a novel that is both? I hope he will still do that at some point.

Anyway, please take a look at Chapter 1 if you would. It is short and serves as an introduction to the book. I would especially appreciate it if Uncle Jim could find the time to read it, but I know he is very busy.
wrinkles is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 07:32 AM   #5242
James D. Macdonald
Your Genial Uncle
Absolute Sage
 
James D. Macdonald's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 22,920
James D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Dialog is privileged. That means that you can do anything at all in dialog.

Dune was science fiction. The difference between "literary" and "commercial" is the label that the publisher puts on the spine.

I've gotten burned every time I've commented on works over in Share Your Work, so, alas, I must decline.
__________________
Madhouse Manor
James D. Macdonald is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 09:33 AM   #5243
NicoleJLeBoeuf
a work in progress
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 1,489
NicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthoodNicoleJLeBoeuf is a candidate for sainthood
Thanks for the vote of confidence on that paraphrase--I'm beginning to think that the actual para that the critters were commenting on was clumsily put together, just on a sentence-structure level, and some of my critters were pinpointing the tense-change as the reason they had trouble reading it (what with "never mix tenses" possibly ingrained in their minds), when the real problem was just really long rambly sentences and parenthetical asides galore (much like this paragraph right here).

I also have to go with Uncle Jim's comment that "dialogue is privileged", and just hope that the way the story is written, it will all be understood as dialogue. Well, monologue. Diary entries.

I've been noticing this sort of thing in both narrative and dialogue in things I've read these past couple days. I sorta speed-burned through Pratchett's Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky, and he does present-tense asides all the time in his narration. It reads very cleanly and naturally to me when he does it. Not to compare my story to his novels, of course, but it's always reassuring to see an example of what I'm trying to do in a published and celebrated book.
__________________
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

Author, occasionally published. Watch this space for more, or visit the amazing actually writing blog. (It actually writes!)
NicoleJLeBoeuf is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 05:58 PM   #5244
James D. Macdonald
Your Genial Uncle
Absolute Sage
 
James D. Macdonald's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 22,920
James D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Reserve against returns

I'd remembered writing this post -- but couldn't find it. At last, this morning, it turned up on a search for something else. So here, moved from another AW thread, is: Reserve Against Returns!

===============

The question is probably going to come up, so I might as well explain it now.

When a normal publisher publishes a book, and it's offered for sale through bookstores, that book isn't really sold until it goes out the door under a customer's arm. The other books are returned, to make way for still newer releases.

So ... how does the publisher handle paying royalties when the publisher doesn't know how many will come back to the warehouse?

This is handled with a process called "reserve against returns." The reserve is the number that you don't get paid for, just in case they come back.

Publishers don't tell you exactly what their reserves are -- but as it happens I know at least one publisher uses this formula:

The first royalty period after the book is released, the reserve against returns is 100%. Maybe they printed 30,000 copies, and maybe bookstores ordered 20,000 of them -- but they aren't going to cut a check to you for royalties on 20,000 copies. They assume that ever single one of them will be returned.

Let's say that royalty months are April and November (which again is pretty standard). Let's say the book came out in July, that the cover price is $10, and the royalty rate is 10%. And let's say the author gets a $5,000 advance against 10%. (I'm choosing these numbers for ease of math, not because they're necessarily real.)

And let's say that 10,000 copies sold (actually went out the door with customers, 30% sell-through) of the 20,000 that shipped.

Right, then.

Comes November, and those 10,000 copies would be a $5,000 check for Joe Author ($10,000 in royalties minus the $5,000 advance) but he gets a royalty statement showing $0.00 due, because of the reserve against returns.

At this particular publisher the reserve against returns is 100% in the first royalty period, and 75% in the second. And let's say that another 5,000 copies of Joe's book sold in the six months from November through April. So ... Joe would have $15K coming, but .... reserve against returns is 75%, so only $3,750 is credited to him. Subtract that from the advance, and his royalty statement says that he still has $1,250 in unearned advance.

From May through October, books get returned by one bookstore, ordered by another, and an additional 5,000 that have gone out the bookstore door in a shopping bag.

Total actually sold, to date: 20,000 (66% sell-through). This time around the publisher's reserve against returns is 25%. 25% of 20,000 is 5,000 books. So the publisher only reports a total to date of 15,000 sold, for total royalties of $15,000, minus the $3,750 already credited to him, minus the $1,250 in unearned advance, so Joe gets a check for $10,000. Happy day! He's earned out!

Now in the fourth royalty period after the book came out, the reserve against returns is 0%. Books have gone out, been returned, been redistributed, sold, and another 5,000 have been bought and paid for by readers.

So far: 25,000 sold. Royalties due, $25,000. Finally, we've gotten out from under the dead horse. In April two years after his book came out, Joe Author gets paid $25,000 minus the $10,000 he was already paid, for a nice $15,000 royalty check.

After this, the reserve against returns continues at 0% -- if 5,000 books ship during those six months, the publisher pays royalties for 5,000. (And by this point they have a pretty fair idea of how many will sell, because they have a history, and at this point, with 25,000 sold out of an initial press run of 30,000 (83% sell-through) they'll probably have gone back to press. Do you know what a 100% sell-through means? It means the publisher didn't print enough copies.)

So, reserve against returns at this one publisher: 100%, 75%, 25%, 0%. It takes you two solid years to get to the place where you're getting royalties as they happen. Normally, since you got an advance, this isn't that major a problem. You're living off the advance while the reserve against returns is catching up. It protects the publisher, and you do want to protect the publisher: If they stay in business that means they'll buy more of your books.

(Among other unrealistic things in this story: I set the advance low for a book that was going to be printed in those numbers. I wanted to show a book earning out because I'm a sucker for happy endings.)
__________________
Madhouse Manor
James D. Macdonald is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 06:11 PM   #5245
LloydBrown
practical experience, FTW
 
LloydBrown's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Posts: 1,745
LloydBrown is a splendid one to beholdLloydBrown is a splendid one to beholdLloydBrown is a splendid one to behold
Thanks, Uncle Jim. You saved me from making an ASSumption.
__________________
Lloyd Brown
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/281899/x/522497

LloydBrown is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 06:27 PM   #5246
allenparker
Naked Futon Guy
 
allenparker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,258
allenparker leaves trails of profuse coolnessallenparker leaves trails of profuse coolnessallenparker leaves trails of profuse coolnessallenparker leaves trails of profuse coolnessallenparker leaves trails of profuse coolness
Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
Thanks, Andrew.

The remaining three days, where I reveal the Next Big Thing, the Secret Handshake, and Five Things Editors Don't Want You To Know, must remain forever shrouded in silence.

Those who read them in time ... see you on the best seller list.
I'm going to feel real silly sitting on the best seller's list without knowing the Secret Hand Shake.



Maybe I can trade Jim the Ancient Chinese Secret for cleaner laundry in exchange for a secret hand shake, although I usually prefer chocolate. The fingernails get caught in my throat.
__________________
Save the Tatas: This is important. Please forward the link to everyone you know!
link Breast cancer sucks!
My Web Space



allenparker is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 06:28 PM   #5247
Nangleator
Rep Point Whore
 
Nangleator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Dracut, Massachusetts
Posts: 407
Nangleator has a spectacular auraNangleator has a spectacular aura
I remember reading that post, UJ, and I appreciate you finding it again.

I have some questions, though I'm not sure how easy it is to answer them.

What percentage of books earn back their advance?
For an average professional writer (yeah, there probably isn't an average...) what percentage earns out?
Is the first incidence of not earning out the last time the publisher will work with the author?
Do the big names ever have books that don't earn out?
Nangleator is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 06:38 PM   #5248
James D. Macdonald
Your Genial Uncle
Absolute Sage
 
James D. Macdonald's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 22,920
James D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate complimentsJames D. Macdonald is so great that we've run out of appropriate compliments
Quote:
What percentage of books earn back their advance?
Don't know exactly, but my guess would be around a quarter of them.

Quote:
For an average professional writer (yeah, there probably isn't an average...) what percentage earns out?
Probabaly about a quarter of them.

Quote:
Is the first incidence of not earning out the last time the publisher will work with the author?
Gracious no! Publishers start showing a profit long before earn-out. The usual thing is for the publisher to try to guess how many will sell, and try to set the advance equal to the total expected royalties. That way they don't have to run around cutting checks every six months. The payments to the author are the smallest part of the book's expenses.

The system is designed so that most books won't earn out. That 25% represents when the publisher guessed wrong.

(And what does not earning out mean to you, as an author? Just that you were paid for your sales at a higher-than-contracted-for royalty rate.)

Quote:
Do the big names ever have books that don't earn out?
Sure. All the time. Unless the advance is negotiated low (usually for tax purposes, to spread the income out into multiple years).
__________________
Madhouse Manor
James D. Macdonald is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 10:22 PM   #5249
Nangleator
Rep Point Whore
 
Nangleator's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Dracut, Massachusetts
Posts: 407
Nangleator has a spectacular auraNangleator has a spectacular aura
Thanks for the reply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
...my guess would be around a quarter of them.
I was under the impression that only a small fraction of books showed a profit for the publisher. It's encouraging to hear it might be that percentage or higher.
Nangleator is offline  
Old 07-05-2006, 11:13 PM   #5250
Allynegirl
Wax the Cat
 
Allynegirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Ohio
Posts: 143
Allynegirl is on a distinguished road
I posted my greetings before the board went down, so hello again. I am still only at Page 132 out of 180.

Thanks to Uncle Jim and the other writers for their wonderful insight.

I would like to post my assignments as they are completed, if no one has an objection. Let me know and I will edit them out.

This is the first.

Assignment Eighteen
Bake a lime pie.


What are the definitions of:

“A soft peak”
“Lemon-colored” – my yolks were orange, never got to what I think of “lemon” yellow
“Very thick”

It turned out okay – edible, but too sweet for me, too limey for husband.

Inspired, I have written a short, short story (approx. 680 words), dark humor. What do you think?

Here I am. Not so unattractive a guy as to have to keep a girl like her by my side. She is beautiful, but needful and subservient. She is an unintelligent bore and so clingy. She will suffocate me to death, of that I am sure. Breaking our relationship is out of the question, though I have tried to imply it was time to move on. Her brothers’ body language conveys that it would be bad for my health to continue in that vain. Which would be worse though? Which condition would be less painful– to be stifled and suffocated or to be broken and bleeding? I have to think of a way out without incurring either.

As I move through my days, I ponder the question. Could I run away? No, my career is a good one. It pays the bills and allows me to play. Unfortunately, because of her brothers’ watchful eyes, I can only play with her. Most people couldn’t understand; they only look on the outside – at her beauty. Inside, she is a murderer waiting to happen. She kills the life inside me. I must be free before my spirit is quashed. What is it that I must do? I must get away. I must stay alive. I must avoid detection by the brothers. My head hurts with trying to figure it out.

After weeks of telling her the things she wants to hear, of taking boring walks along the train tracks, of listening to her talk about our future, of pretending our relationship works for me, the fog cleared and this image took its place – a headstone with her name on it. My chest tightened in fear, but also excitement. How could this be accomplished?

It’s not as if I wasn’t provided with an arsenal of ideas. All that needs to be done is to turn on the television and pick a scenario. The problem was the brothers. Murders must have no witnesses, no evidence, and no motive to truly be gotten away with. I didn’t want to be the prime suspect and go through a trial. No, that wouldn’t work in this small, one bus-stop town. It would get me fired, drag my name through the mud and make any future prospects wary.

After multitudes of weapons and various uses of said items have been thought of and rejected, I have come to the conclusion it would be better to make it look like an accident. Drowning? I daydream: row out into a mist enshrouded lake, sing to her, overturn the boat, she drowns. Unfortunately, no mist enshrouded lakes are around; I can’t sing; why would the boat overturn; also, she is good swimmer. I would probably drown instead. I shake my head dismissing the idea and go back to the drawing board hampered by my limited creativity.

A week later with many ideas thought of and rejected, I have an epiphany. A fall would be the best way; oh yes, it would. Opportunities abound around this town. She is into outdoor sports, but not I. I fear the heights, though to be free of her I will conquer this phobia. Should I express an interest in rock climbing? I shudder at the thought. The train trestles above the gorge could be what I need. She loves a walk along the tracks. Add to that the thrill of possible danger, my suggestion would surprise her and keep her innocent of my intentions.

After running the scenario through my head numerous times, I realized it was time. The plan was set. Perfect, it was. All I need now was to find her. Three o’clock, time for her mid-day coffee. No sooner did I see the cafe then she appeared exiting the door. What luck, the brothers are absent! I whistled to her from the opposite curb. She smiled at me and waved with excitement, then hurried into the street. My freedom would soon be a reality.

She didn’t see the bus that ran her over. At first, I looked upon the scene in dismay, then with a smile and the thought: Yeah, that works.

I have figured out Uncle Jim is right. The story wrote itself. To add anything to it would be to change the story itself. It is what it is. Did it turn out good? Bad? Edible?

Thank goodness, it is okay to write crap.
__________________
Diane

What was it I was writing about?
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Allynegirl is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Custom Search

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)


All times are GMT +4.5. The time now is 03:13 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.