Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: writing tips

How Long Does It Take to Write A Novel?


I’d done a re-blog today from Roz Morris about “writing at speed”; so, I thought it would be proper to share a video of Roz talking (rather poetically…) about the Long and Short of novel writing…


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What Is a #Bestseller, Really? And, Should an Author Try to Write One?


I have 10 posts here tagged Bestsellers (including this one…)…

The one most folks would associate with the normally understood meaning for “bestseller” might be, Bestsellers . . ., which includes this quote:

“…the definition wasn’t just something like: books that sell a lot of copies.

Here’s my dictionary’s entry ~ “A book that has had a large and rapid sale”

Then, there’s that other post of mine called, Want To Be A Bestselling Author? ~ Don’t Read This Blog . . .

Here’s an excerpt from that one:

“Who made it seem success wasn’t merely the next stage, from which further action becomes possible, but rather a pinnacle of achievement that leaves all other contenders breathless on the sides of the conquered mountain? So, who did that? Businesspeople? Fundamentalist religious folk? Football coaches?”

Which, for me, raises the issue of whether having a bestseller is a rational goal for an author

Then, there’s that post of mine called, So Ya Think Your Book Will Be a Bestseller?

Excerpts:

“…I continue to attempt to market my first novel…

“…I shrivel at the kindly meant enquiry, ‘How are sales?’

“…my lovely novel, my first-born, has not sold as many copies as I thought it would.

“I am lucky to live in an era where I have access to the free marketing potential of social media. I realise that. Yet I have still to work out how social media sells or, indeed, whether it does at all.”

Those quotes all come from Kate Evans‘ article, The Measure of Success in Indie Publishingdefinitely worth a read

Finally, there’s that one I did called, Why Trying to Write a Bestseller Is Bad for Your Mental Hygiene.

And, excerpts:

“If you persistently scan the writing blogs and the publishing news, you’ll find an overabundance of articles telling you how to write and market a book so it will become a bestseller.”

“Nearly all those articles are bunk…”

“I hear a few readers saying, ‘Alex, how in the world can you write such generalizations?’.”

I go on to explain; then, later:

“I feel that beginning the process of writing a book with the dream of it becoming a bestseller is going to make the writer, consciously or subconsciously, write in an imitative fashion—trying to write to the folks who like bestsellers—killing any true originality and honest creativity…”

I’ll share some excerpts from Ursula K. Le Guin‘s article, Up the Amazon with the BS Machine:

“Best Seller lists have been around for quite a while. Best Seller lists are generated by obscure processes, which I consider (perhaps wrongly) to consist largely of smoke, mirrors, hokum, and the profit motive. How truly the lists of Best Sellers reflect popularity is questionable.”

“If you want to sell cheap and fast, as Amazon does, you have to sell big. Books written to be best sellers can be written fast, sold cheap, dumped fast: the perfect commodity for growth capitalism.

“The readability of many best sellers is much like the edibility of junk food. Agribusiness and the food packagers sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we come to think that’s what food is. Amazon uses the BS Machine to sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we begin to think that’s what literature is.

“I believe that reading only packaged microwavable fiction ruins the taste, destabilizes the moral blood pressure, and makes the mind obese. Fortunately, I also know that many human beings have an innate resistance to baloney and a taste for quality rooted deeper than even marketing can reach.”

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#WritersBlock ~ Is It Real or Just a Figment of Your Imagination?


If you’re a writer, you may feel you’ve experienced writer’s block—if you’re not a writer and know one, share this article with them… 

So, some writers are sure this blocking is real—some (like me) never have it

My Best Friend (an exceptional author) feels that any block for a writer isn’t really about their ability to write coming to a stop—more like another kind of hindrance—a holding of part of themselves away from themselves.

At least that’s what I’m interpreting my writer-friend meant

So, what if it is a figment of imagination?

What’s a “figment”?

My Oxford dictionary says: “An invented statement , story , doctrine , etc.”.

Hmmm

If we consider fiction writers, their whole purpose is to invent statements, fabricate stories, create doctrines, etc.

Hmmm

So, if writer’s block isn’t “real” but only a figment, a writer should be able to write their way out of it, right?

But, for those who still feel it as a reality, I’ll share some excerpts from an article on LifeHacker-AustraliaThe 10 Types Of Writers’ Block (And How To Overcome Them).

All I’ll share here are the 10 types (with my brief comments)—do go to the full article for their ways to overcome it

1. You can’t come up with an idea.

All I’ll say here is that you might want to consider rephrasing that—I can’t seem to come up with an idea

2. You have a ton of ideas but can’t commit to any of them, and they all peter out.

This one seems over-complicated in its expression—my advice: pick one, commitment or not, and start writing—if that peters out, pick another and continue

3. You have an outline but you can’t get through this one part of it.

I had a detailed outline for my short novel—it was bleeding to death from slashes and overwrites by the fourth chapter—I “rewrote” the outline

4. You’re stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next.

Well, make something up—use those figments that are always lying around; and, if you don’t see any figments, make some up :-)

5. You have a terrible feeling your story took a wrong turn a hundred pages back, and you only just hit a dead end.

Shame on you—back up 110 pages and reviseIf you still hit that “dead end”, back up further and start again

6. You’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything.

Well, they are Your characters—you’re responsible for what they do (usually). Perhaps you need to reconsider the plot—maybe the characters don’t like what you expect them to do and are just on strike.

7. You keep imagining all the reasons people are going to say your story sucks, and it paralyses you.

If this one doesn’t sound like something besides “writer’s block”—perhaps lack of self-confidence or an overactive imagination—you might want to consider throwing the whole thing away and writing, instead, your autobiography

8. You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey in this one paragraph.

Oh, my—set it aside for awhile? Back up 10 paragraphs and start over?

9. You had this incredibly cool story in your head, and now you’re turning it into words on a screen and it’s suddenly dumb.

Oh, my, again—grab a few figments and create another cool story!

10. You’re revising your work, and you can’t see your way past all those blocks of text you already wrote.

My response for this one is to quote part of what the full article says about it:

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you’re getting stuck during revisions, that’s not any type of Writer’s Block (as nebulous a concept as Writer’s Block is), but rather just the natural process of trying to diagnose what ails your novel.”

Check out the whole article—share it with other writers—let me know what you think in the comments :-)
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Bad Punctuation Rules


Bad Punctuation Rules

Image Courtesy of Svilen Milev ~ http://efffective.com

There’s been quite a bit written about what’s “right” or “wrong” on this blog

And, quite recently, I’ve used and defended a situation of punctuation that I feel strongly about.

Here are two takes on that situation (with my opinions):

John told me, “I will never end a sentence that way!”

That’s the way the “rules” say it should be punctuated

But, “John told me” isn’t the kind of beginning that demands an exclamation mark at the end

So the “rules” left out a period (“full stop” for some of you).

Here’s what I think is the logical way to punctuate that sentence:

John told me, “I will never end a sentence that way!”.

That may look “horribly wrong” to some of you; but, I believe that’s only because we’ve had the “rules” “forcing” us to accept the first example

Of course, it could be rewritten to avoid such a shockingly logical ending:

John nearly screamed at me when he told me he’d never end a sentence with a period outside the quotes.

Kind of loses something that way, in my humble opinion

Then there’s my dear friend Emily Dickinson.

She would write a bit —

With a breath taken —

And continue…

I used to think that all the dashes in her poetry were just her asserting her emotions—then, I found out lots of folks in the USA were doing the same thing, back in the late 1800s.

Now it’s time to reveal what got me on to talking about punctuation today.

The Guardian has an article called, Sats tests will harm next generation of writers, says Society of Authors.

A few excerpts:

“Children’s authors are warning that the ‘restrictive’ way children in England are being taught writing in school will affect the next generation of novelists, biographers and poets.”

“…members of the Society of Authors…condemn current government policy on the teaching of writing and grammar. They say the government has intervened too far and that ‘the resultant teaching no longer reflects what writing really does’.”

Some folks are probably choking over the way I punctuated that last excerpt’s end (check out the article to see the original sentence).

One more pertinent excerpt:

“As year 6 children [10 & 11 year-olds] sit their Sats tests this week – including spelling, punctuation and grammar – the authors say that when the Department for Education introduces new terminology for grammatical structure, such as ‘fronted adverbs’, and insists that exclamation marks can only end sentences starting with ‘what’ or ‘how’, it risks ‘alienating, confusing and demoralising children with restrictions on language just at the time when they need to be excited by the possibilities’.”

Just as an interesting point of international punctuation confusion—the article, in a UK newspaper, said, “including spelling, punctuation and grammar”; yet, most often, I believe, in the USA, it would “properly” be, “including spelling, punctuation, and grammar”—one extra little comma

Regular readers of this blog know I’ve been a maverick all my life—I really wasn’t so much confused or demoralized by punctuation or grammatical rules—I just changed them to suit my own logical priorities—though, there was enough other stuff that did confuse and demoralize me

And, concerning what the UK government’s Department of Education said about exclamation marks, do read this wonderfully authorly article.

Finally, for the link-clickers out there, here’s a somewhat related article—A Better Way to Read
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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#NaNoWriMo Tips from a NonNaNoWriMo Guy . . .


I am so NonNaNoWriMo I can’t even take the time to devise my own brand of tips for the Event/Effort/Enterprise (heck, I didn’t even think about putting anything on this blog until after the starting gun went off… :-)

So, here’s bookishpixie with her NaNoWriMo Tips:
{ And, some of her tips are good for NonNaNoWriMoers, too… }
Also, if you are doing NaNoWriMo, why are you reading this blog… :-)

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