Plotting a Novel

Writing a story is hard, but it’s even more difficult when you don’t plot out your novel beforehand. Every writer goes through the plotting process differently, just like they go through the writing process differently. But should a writer plot their novel or story? Well, I’m here to help provide some answers to that question.

First and foremost, it is important to gather ideas. You cannot have a plot without first knowing what your book is going to be about, and by ideas, I mean the basic premise of your book and not the actual plot.

Once I have a basic idea of what my book is going to be about, I start thinking of subplots and character development type stuff, as well as events that I want to take place in the novel. Once I have this done, I do a bubble chart to figure out how these things relate to one another. Other writers use flashcards to do this instead, and that may be more effective, but I’ve never done it myself.

There is another option, and that is to just wing it entirely. Basically, you take the main idea and some outlines for several characters, and you see where it goes. I don’t suggest this, since it can get you into trouble, but if that’s how you do it go right ahead. There really is no limitation to how you should plot a novel.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

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The Art of Making Art

As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, I have chosen to self-publish my novel Kingslayer. But the truth is, the self-pub community didn’t always have it so easy. It used to be that if you self-published, you were treated as inferior by the elites in the publishing industry. Quite the stigma, if you ask me. But what they never told you is that a large portion of the books out there were writen merely to make money and nothing more. There wasn’t much of an art form with writing in that period.

However, that all changed when the eReader was invented. Now self-publishers can share their work with other writers, but in a lot of ways, the greed of corporate publishers still exist. The problem is, they’re not interested in telling a story that deserves to be read. In my opinion, they have destroyed the notion of creating art in their authors’ fiction. And, also in my opinion, that is why indie writers are in a lot of ways superior to their traditionally-published counterparts.

If you listen to indie music and compare it to mainstream music, the principle still applies. A lot of it is generic, and in some cases boring. So, is it a good idea to “sell out” in the interest of your career, or would it be better to focus on telling a good story, whether it sells a lot of copies or not? I think the second option is far better. Keep in mind that some genres of fiction (like fantasy) are, by their nature, generic. That’s not what I’m talking about.

The point is, write the kind of stories you want to write, and don’t worry about making a career out of it. If you just happen to be able to write what you want and make a career out of it, more power to you. But making money should never be the priority. Doing so would make you a part of the problem in the publishing industry. In other words, focus on making art, and let the rest take care of itself.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Active vs. Passive Voice

Have you ever read a book, a paragraph, or even a sentence that you thought was far too wordy for its own good? The truth is, there are a lot of culprits when it comes to poor writing, but one of the more common ones is their overuse of passive voice. Passive voice is far less engaging, after all, than active, and no amount of excuses is going to change that.

Below are two versions of a sentence:

  1. A cake should have been made.
  2. I should have made a cake.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the second one is more engaging, but in some cases, it also takes fewer words to write in active voice. Here’s a couple more sentences:

  1. The car was stolen by Robert, using a fake key.
  2. Robert stole the car with a fake key.

As you can see, the second sentence takes two less words and five less syllables. This can go a long way when it comes to making your fiction flow better in the eyes of your readers. Something I’ve noticed is that there are two major culprits when it comes to passive voice: helping verbs and prepositions. Neither of those are bad to use, but pay attention to what you’re doing when you do. If your prose sounds better without them, don’t use them. And remember, the best way to tell if it sounds good is to read your work aloud.

Also remember that passive voice takes your reader away from the action. You want the subject of your sentence doing the action itself. Saying “The arrow was shot at Dave” is not as effective as “Josh shot Dave with the arrow.”

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Should You Use a Pen Name?

Have you ever wanted to publish your work, but you didn’t want anyone to know you wrote it? The truth is, authors like this are more common than you think. If you thought Napoleon Lovecraft was my legal name, it isn’t. So I figured that for this post, I’d go into some reasons why you might want to consider using a pen name.

Hiding Your Identity

This is the most obvious one, since hiding your identity is going to naturally happen if you choose to use a pen name. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have both written novels under other names, and in Rowling’s case, it was because of the massive success of Harry Potter. Without fan expectation, her book was able to get a fair look by readers, which didn’t happen with her adult novel, The Casual Vacancy. But this is the story of a publishing elite. The truth is, there could be a hundred reasons why you want to hide who you are. Perhaps you’re a Mormon publishing erotica. Whatever the reason, if you want to hide who you are, pen names are an option you want to look into.

You Want to Switch Genres

This is a valid reason to use a pen name. If you’re a published author and you write (for example) in the romance genre, it will confuse your readers if you turn around and publish sci-fi. Therefore, using two different pen names is an option you can think about.

You Want to Distance Yourself From a Failed Project

If anyone wants to know why I’m writing under a pen name, this is why. An earlier draft of Kingslayer was published by a small press and wasn’t treated very well by them. So I’m changing my writing name and I’ve changed the title to hide the failure from the masses. I’m not the only author who’d done this either.

Your Name Is the Same As a Famous Person

This is self-explanatory. Say your name is George Martin. Your books won’t sell because anyone looking for them will find George R.R. Martin’s books.

These are just a few reasons you may want to use a pen name. There are likely others, and if you choose to do this, you need to think hard about why you’re doing it.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Why I Write Fantasy

There are many famous authors–living and dead–who have published wonderful fiction in the fantasy genre. This list, of course, includes J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, George R.R. Martin, and even Pat Rothfuss. But what makes writers like this tick? Why do they write fantasy and genres similar to it? Well, the honest truth is I can’t speak for any of them; however, I can speak for myself as to why I write fantasy.

To me, fantasy represents a melting pot of ideas. You can literally write about anything outside the norms of reality and call it fantasy. For example, Star Wars is fantasy from my point of view. You have a princess, a hero, a wise mentor, and a Dark Lord. The limitless possibilities is just one aspect of fantasy that I love. Star Wars, of course, is just one example of how fantasy can be mixed with another genre to create something new. My novel Kingslayer has a lot of thriller elements to it (since the main plot involves a heist for a magic sword), which is why I tell people it’s a “religious political fantasy thriller.”

Of course, you can also let your imagination run wild by combining everyday aspects of life with the unique style of fantasy. What kinds of food do the characters eat? Do the recipes include dragon meat? How does the technology in the fantasy world interact with the magic of said fantasy?

I think you get the point. There are a lot of things that can be done in fantasy, which is exactly what makes the genre so appealing to me. There are zero limitations to what you can do, and with the advent of self-publishing, the limitations that once existed no longer do. You can write the fantasy you want, and you can find the readers who want to read that kind of tale. These are just a few things that make fantasy my favorite genre, which is why I only write fantasy to begin with.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Scams in the Publishing Industry

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve posted about various types of publishing. But what scams are out there, waiting for unsuspecting writers to fall victim to their schemes? The truth is, there are too many out there to name one by one, so the best thing I can do is give you certain things to look for. Basically, I’m giving you some tips on whether or not the company you’re submitting to is legit or a scam.

The most important thing you can look for is, which way is the money flowing? In other words, does a publisher want money from you? What about an agent? One thing I’ve heard the big names in the publishing industry say over and over is that if an agency or a publisher wants money from you, it’s a scam 100% of the time. If a publisher claims to be a traditional press but offers “author services,” that’s a scam. If an agency wants money for representation, that’s a scam too.

I should also point out that this doesn’t include companies like CreateSpace or LightningSource. Those are legit companies that exist to help you publish. But if a company wants money claiming to be traditional, they’re lying and they’re what you call a vanity press. Avoid those companies like the plague.

There’s one company out there that claims to be a traditional publisher but is only interested in their bottom line. This is very common among vanity presses, but PublishAmerica is something else entirely. There’s literally too much bad PR to list it all here with this specific company, but I bring it up because you need to understand how bad these scams can be, and how sneaky they can be as well. PA also gives an advance to make it look like they’re traditional ($1 to be exact, which is laughable), but they lock you into a contract for seven years.

The point is, there’re a lot of scams out there and they don’t care about making you money. So all of this is something to look for, but there’s also a couple of useful websites that are available if you want to see if a company is a scam. One is Writer Beware, while the other is a forum called Absolute Write, or the “water cooler.” The second one is particularly useful when finding out if a company is a scam, because almost every publisher has its own thread dedicated to it.

This information is by no means complete, but it’s a start for those of you wishing to avoid scams on your way to publishing.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017

Should You Write Every Day?

If there’s one thing I hear published writers say more than anything else, it’s the line “Write every day.” And to be honest, it seems like pretty good advice. But should we as writers write every single bleeping day? Well, I think you’ll get different opinions depending on who you ask, but personally I don’t write every day.

I think it’s more important to write consistently than anything else. Some days, you just can’t get the words in, and that’s okay. Maybe you have a wedding to go to and you’re the best man. Whatever the reason, it’s impossible to write every single day, but that’s not to say you can’t write consistently. I don’t write every day, but I try to do it consistently. That’s what really matters.

Now, I should conclude by saying that saying write consistently could turn into a slippery slope of non-productivity. Right now you say to just want to take one day off because you have a cold, but the next thing you know, you could be taking several days at a time off. So, it’s important not to fall into this trap. Write consistently, even if it’s a couple hours every other day.

If you like what you see, don’t forget to reblog and follow. See you guys next time.

–N.L., 2017