From blinking cursor to published novel... - Page 2

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Thread: From blinking cursor to published novel...

  1. #11
    Here is a little secret about how I write post-apocalyptic novels: Often the storyline comes to me during research.

    See, I have a general idea going into a book. But often after researching a region, and calculating what it would be like after a the EOW (based on resources and local infrastructure) I see a better way to write it.
    Sometimes while examining a region with Google Earth I find really cool stuff that completely changes the game.
    I find my fiction by reading non-fiction.

    The other reason I research so heavily is that I disdain technical errors.
    Actually, disdain would be a gross understatement.
    I hate nothing more than watching a movie and hearing the hero cock a Glock.
    Those kind of ugly oversights are what happens when you use other people's fiction as a basis for your research.

    Here is an example: I want my hero to make gas along the way using sugar beets (which are grown heavily in a region he will be travelling thru.)
    Sure, it can be done. In fact, here is an article that documents the process with scientific precision.
    However, it also points out the serious logistical hurdles to this it takes a whole lotta sugar beets!
    Like if he wants to fill up his plane with gas, he will need a couple truck-fulls of beets, and several pounds of yeast.
    This tells me that the hero would need to camp out in an area for weeks at a time while he refines his gas.
    So Bruce Banner wanders into town long enough to refuel...but someone has to go and poke the bear...I see a story forming.

    PS: I love the view of the scooter in the back.

  2. #12
    I have learned from writing a few books that I need to be organized in my research.
    This is where I begin to build the manuscript.
    Sure, I haven't written a single word of this story yet, but the manuscript...the actual MSWord document needs to be formatted and laid out properly to accommodate expansion.
    For me the first chapter is always the REFERENCE section, because as I study I begin posting links and references.
    I clean it up before publishing, but this is where I begin posting links and proof that the things that I wrote are actually possible.
    No Glocks will be cocked in any of my books.

    Keep in mind that this manuscript has already been formatted to a 6"x9" page, with 1.15 line spacing, TNR font, and top tier index font is set to TITLE.

  3. #13
    Over the years I've tried lots of different plotting and planning methods, ranging from organizing little slips of paper, to spreadsheets, to 5x8 cards...a couple times I even charted the story on a visual timeline. Some methods worked well, others were time-sucks.
    These days I simply write down the major scenes I have envisioned, use copy-paste to organize them.
    When I write I am really just connecting the dots.

    I avoid writing tools because they turn into time-sucks. I regularly see writers who spend all their time organizing copious notes in Scrivener, but never actually writing anything.
    I just want a simple, low-overhead, process. Nothing that will distract me from the creative process.
    The job is to write. No one pays you to organize files.

    So right now I have enough of the story coming together that I can see that it will have 3 major parts.
    1) Jet's story of how she came to be leader of the mountain men. Journal
    2) Alex's story of mentoring a fellow town leader via shortwave. Transcripts
    3) Alex actually going out and meeting the other leader (and discovering that he is a despot.) 3rd person omnipotent.

    But the question that remains: which story do I start with? Since each segment is told in a different format or voice, it matters which one I start with because that sets the opening tone.

    Meh. Gonna go to bed. Mebbe sleep in until 0500 tomorrow.

  4. #14
    I like what you do with the REFERENCES.
    Apart from my neverending editing my ebook, I am also writing a stage-play about ballet (I used to dance ballet).
    It is a partly voice-over story, partly poetry, and partly ballet. There are many storylines that have to come together, and many strands of research. I've never used Reference for it before, but I think I will start using it. Until now I had it written down on cards, but I am getting confused that way. If I keep it in the document, I can link it to all sorts of notes of course....

  5. #15
    You can always clean up the Reference section before publishing.
    But it helps to have the links handy in case you have to refer back to a detail.
    I mainly do it so people don't think I'm making stuff up.

  6. #16
    So I'd had enough of researching and planning and plotting...Arrrgggh! I've been researching for months now!

    So I decided to start writing. See, this novel is going to be told via 3 compartmentalized stories so I can actually write the sections in any order I want. Because I still have not settled on the voice for the beginning of the book (which story, what perspective, dark/funny...?) I started writing THE BALLAD OF JETT PLANE. It's a great little origin story about a character that goes from Daddy's girl to tribal leader.

    The other thing is that I still have not worked out the big finale. Sure, I could stall for another 6 months until I think of a kick-ass ending, but there is another way. I am going to let the story take me to a great ending. Because of the way I structure a story, based on actual regional resources, often the ending becomes obvious. Also, as the characters come alive under my pen, they will change the story. The best characters are the ones who are so real that they change the course of the story.

  7. #17
    New writers: Here is a tip that you should consider writing scripture. I bring this up because not only do I see this issue ruin a lotta promising work, but I myself have to be constantly mindful of it.

    Never rush to tell the story.

    See, as storytellers, it is natural for us to be focused on telling that tale. Unfortunately, we often get so caught up in progressing the story that our characters suffer. I can't tell you how many times I have had to go back and fill in huge portions of character development because I got into a rush to tell the story.

    In a story it is the characters that matter the most. The story is just the stage upon which the actors perform.

    So when you write, be as verbose as you want, segue as much as you want, and take your time painting your characters. Rush the story and you will end up with two-dimensional characters.
    Tell your story in 4k, not 640x480. Y'know what I mean, Vern?

  8. #18
    I'll that I never knew what all those different styles of the alphabet were for, now I know they help you format titles. Excellent thread RR.
    "Illegitimi non carborundum " Vinegar' Joe Stilwell

    "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King Jr.

    What you learn in life is important, those you help learn, are more important.

    "They can because they think they can."

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools will speak to say something." Plato

    "The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible."
    ​ Mark Twain

    "To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States." George W. Bush

  9. #19
    You can use up to 3 different custom fonts to set up your index/directory.
    I only use 1.
    But here is where you tell it to use that fancy title font that I chose.

    Which creates this basic Index.
    you can change the line-fill.
    Right-click to update it as new chapters are added.
    As long as the new chapters sport the proper font they will get picked up every time you update the index.

    NOTE: If you do not name your chapters then I recommend you NOT HAVE AN INDEX.
    It just looks wierd having a whole page of index that reads CHAPTER 1...CHAPTER 2...CHAPTER 3...
    Sure, you can still add one...but it looks really strange.
    Personally, I always name chapters because it is just one more element that I can use to help set the tone of a new chapter.
    I always considered numbering chapters to be kind of lazy, but then I'm a certified asshole.

  10. #20
    Here is something I do while I am writing as a way to create better characters

    See, you really don't know your characters until you have written those first 100 pages (or so).
    You can plot & plan all day long but once you start writing the characters come alive under your pen.
    Those first 30 pages are very critical (because that's what people can preview on Amazon.)
    But the beginning is where your characters are the thinnest...because you don't know 'em yet.

    So the solution is to write those first 100 pages, until you really know that character, then doubleback to the beginning and apply that knowledge where the characters are the weakest.

    Another factor about doublebacks is that they keep the story from getting too far off the rails. Stories wander, so when you doubleback every 100 pages you can make sure to fix stuff while it's still small. Writing a book is like building a skyscraper; you go one floor at a time, starting with the foundation. But if the foundation ain't right, then the whole thing falls down. Also, you ever try to fix a foundation when there's a @!#! building standing on top of it? It's the same for books. Literary Jenga!

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