December 16, 2012
January 20, 2010
I read some interesting comments on “The Other Side” blog and a couple of friends asked me related questions in the last few days. This looks like a good time to share some more of my creation process.
The Other Side link takes you to the blog of a Young Adult paranormal author by the name of Janice Hardy. In that particular entry, she discusses the backstory problems that arise when the author has to work on sequels. It can get very confusing, quickly.
A similar and related problem is how to keep track of a lot of characters and multiple plots and sub-plots in larger novels. I’ve run into this on several occasions.
I’ve found a system that seems to work for me and perhaps it will prove useful for others as well.
I usually know ahead of time if the idea that’s bubbling out of my head is worthy of a novel or a shorter treatment. If it’s just a short story or essay, then I get right to work and burn out the full, first draft as quickly as possible. This usually takes just one or two sittings. Where things get interesting, is when I realize it is going to evolve into a longer tale.
As soon as I realize that the story is going to have more than four characters and be more than a few thousand words, I create two documents and put them in a new folder. The new folder will have a name like, “MyNewStory”. From then on, all graphics, documents, audio files, trailers, reviews, etc. are saved in this folder. That way, a year later, I can find anything related to “MyNewStory”.
The two documents will get names like “AnthonyStevesn_MyNewStory_draft.doc” and “AnthonyStevens_MyNewStory_notes.doc”. Most of the publishers I deal with want the author’s name in the file as part of the submission process.
I start with the notes file and write a synopsis of the story I want to tell. It will have the major plot as well as sub-plots. Don’t worry. This is a dynamic document and will probably change as the full story is written.
Under the synopsis, I create a list of characters. Each name is followed by a physical description and general personality comments. Minor characters will get something like “Angel – buxom blonde with an attitude.” While major characters may have a dozen lines going into great detail.
Now, we all know that once an author sits down to actually write the story, the characters will take over and re-direct the tale in places we hadn’t planned. That is fine. When you finish writing a new chapter or section that surprises you, enjoy it and then make a one or two line addition to the synopsis in your note file.
The author will also find that as the tale progresses, they’ll need to add a character or two. Once more, go ahead and drop them in the tale, but be sure to add them to the character list in the note file as well.
Another thing to consider is that the character list need not be restricted to people. Objects can have major roles in your story. A sailing ship, an airship, a special building or a particular tree may play a pivotal role in the tale. If you have pictures of similar items or people that you find inspirational in the tale, then add them to the note file. Keep in mind that the note file will not be for publication. It is only for you and maybe your editor.
When the time comes to send the first draft to my editor, I usually send both files. The understanding is that the notes file may help answer some of their questions and they can point out where I need to fill plot gaps or correct logic errors in the plotline.
If the novel is going to be part of a series, I use the same note file and just add the new characters and another synopsis, below the first one. Over time, this will be the repository that helps me align my waterfowl.
This system may or may not work for others, but it works for me. The well-respected author, Charles Stross uses a totally different system and he goes into great detail on this blog entry on Writing Tools.
As usual, comments, kudos or thrown tomatoes are welcomed. How about sharing something about how you create larger tales?
January 19, 2010
Well, despite my misgivings, I’m finally on Twitter. You can tweet me here:
January 10, 2010
So far, we’ve gathered a handful of separate files consisting of audio, video and/or still images. Then, we edited each of them using the appropriate programs. Finally, we assembled them into our grand production and exported the collection as a single video clip. Congratulations!
The final step is to get your magnum opus out to the world. There are several ways of doing this.
December 26, 2009
Each book trailer I’ve seen so far has three components. There is the visual content, the audio content and some text.
The visual components can be either short video clips or still images. The audio can be the spoken word, music or a combination of both. We shall gather all three in this next segment. This is where we’re going to start using the tools described in the Part One.
December 6, 2009
This is a new layout (theme) for my blog. I’m experimenting with making things a bit more readable as well as easier to navigate.
Opinions welcome, of course.
January 1, 2009
I’ve just done a bit of New Year’s housekeeping here. It includes moving some pages around as well as adding a couple more.
There is a new contest with a whole buncha prizes. Check out the list of prizes and rules here.
Some friends asked me for a little more information about the series of stories I’ve been writing in the Common Ground corner of the multiverse. So, I created a whole page full on background including character profiles and a bibliography showing the proper sequence.
Well, I let some friends talk me into giving MySpace another try. Please drop by and let me know what you think of my initial efforts.
November 16, 2008
April 18, 2008
Those of us that love small bookstores have been griping about the way the big chains have been driving them out of business for awhile now. In a way, it is gratifying to see the big chains are now trying to kill off their competitors. From this MSN article:
“Barnes & Noble is really complicit in pushing the industry to emphasize blockbusters and best-sellers,” says indie author April Hamilton, who has successfully self-published two novels using tools provided by Amazon.com. Horowitz says Barnes & Noble has contributed to “homogenizing America’s tastes.”
After watching the super chains like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, etc. kill off many small town stores, I know that such market forces are inevitable… But ARE they? Perhaps, what we are seeing in epublishing is a change in the paradigm?
This is something that should be important to all of us genre writers and publishers. What have you found or where do you think we’re going?