Pare Down, Write Up

When finishing the first draft some people have found that the rewrite means they have to pare down their story. Most first time writers are assumed to have this problem and I have heard suggestions of taking out up to 20% of the excess. This has to do with overwriting. There was a time when a writer could fill pages with description without the reader complaining. Now the story needs to move along at a good pace and not be slowed down by too much description.

The opposite end of things some writers need to rewrite things in such a way as they add to the story. The story is too concise and the writer needs to add more to it to help the reader be in the story. Sometimes this means adding things like description because the writer leaves much of it out.

Both these require the writer to know enough about their style to know which they have to do when they get that far in their piece. Sometimes this is evident and other times it helps to have a beta reader.

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Moving Day

I’m not big on change. I don’t like having to adapt to a different environment, even if it is a better situation to the one I was in. Unless I’ve had plenty of time to think about it and have decided that I really don’t like it. So, moving is something I really don’t want to do but there isn’t anything I can do about it. Especially since I collect books and those get heavy really quickly.

One of the things I am going to miss the most is the space. I am going to be rooming for the rest of the summer, which is a big step down from my two-bedroom apartment. One of things I appreciated most about moving into my apartment was not having to use my bedroom for my writing space. Now I will go back to sleeping in my writing space. I believe writers should have writing space that is different and away from other living space. But one has to have the money included in the quote to have “a room of her own”.

Write What You Know

Writers get this advice from everywhere. Books, writing teachers, facebook posts, twitter tips, and “helpful” friends. I don’t know who started or where or what thought was behind it. I was very surprised when a writing instructor I had announced writing what you know was necessary. The lesson of the day was that you needed to know the smell, taste, sounds, textures, and sights before you can start writing about something. The whole class went to an area with more sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and textures than our regular classroom and we were supposed to write using those to show that we needed to write what we know.

But if I only wrote what I knew I would never write a word. Sure, I collect weird facts but those aren’t really enough to write whole stories on. I don’t even know my characters before I start the story. I get to know them as I write. Unlike a piece of advice I read, I don’t know the name of their third grade teacher. If I knew that the characters wouldn’t be a fun for me to write.

 

Literariness

I came across the concept of literariness in the English course I took. The textbook (An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory by Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, 2016) brought it up when the authors were talking about creative fiction and how it connects to literature. They suggest that literature does not exist. Instead every work can be analysed for its literariness. This suggests that there is no specific genre for those people who are talked about in English courses. It also suggests that no work is beyond these types of discussion.

This makes sense to me as many readers do analysis all genres in similar ways to how is taught in English courses. However, attending those same classes the teachers push only one time of “genre”, or the belief that commercial fiction doesn’t deserve to be studied. Which is better than creative writing college teachers who pretend commercial fiction doesn’t exist. I think this is the wrong approach because anything that narrows focus is the wrong way to look at things. All genres bring some literariness and can provide insights to people.

 

Write for a Reader

The writing advice is to write with a reader in mind. The assumption is that the writer thinks up an audience before starting to write, so they are telling to story to someone specific. As the writer puts words on page, they are telling the story to this imaginary audience sitting across the desk from them. One author was using voice to text software and using it as part of his writing process to the point of not wanting to upgrade for fear the voice would change causing his audience to change.

When I write I don’t write to a specific audience, because I am just a channel for the character to tell me the story. I become the reader who I am writing for. The story is one I want to read, though at times the character goes off to places I am not sure about it. Usually by the time I reach the end of the story, I understand why they went where they did and it works for the story.

There are some of my stories where my only reason for writing it down was for my own entertainment. My western, Chenarcor, was me following the characters around and writing down what they did for my own enjoyment. Turns out that other people have enjoyed it as well, so it seems to be a good way for me to write. Other people do need that audience they are talking to when they write, which is okay as no one way works for everyone.

True Memoirs

In an attempt to recover from the school year, I watched a large amount of action movies. One of these movies is True Memoirs of an International Assassin. Many movies can teach things to writers about writing if the writer is willing to pay attention, but that movie teaches couple lessons to writers about being a writer and not just about writing.

The first lesson is about the amount of research a writer puts into their story. Research is a great thing and can make the story feel realistic. However, too much is a bad thing. The story should not be easily confused with reality. There was one author who had to take a step back because his readers were using the methods his characters were using to do things they shouldn’t. It is good to do the research and it is good to have some realism in a story, but beware of the level put into a story.

The second lesson from the movie is to not let anyone bully you about your writing. We all dream of getting that phone call from a publisher demanding to let them publish our book. Many of us don’t know enough about the legal end of things to really understand many contracts. However, if the publisher is not willing to give you time to read over the contract and find someone who does know something about legal things to read it for you as well, you should back out of the deal. Otherwise it will not end well. And if the publisher puts out your fiction book and non-fiction, you should consider legal action.

Chapbook

One of the projects for this semester was to put together a chapbook with contributions from other people. Everyone in class was to start with request for submissions and write letter of acceptance and then create the actual book. This is the most fun I have had on a school project in years.

Back in January I was looking for something to read that involved dragons, so when this project came up I decided my theme would have something to do with dragons. My title became Dragons in Winter and that is what the stories needed to be about. Fortunately, I have people in my life who were willing to submit stories and a theme people were willing to submit to.

I really enjoyed getting and reading other people’s stories. Because I only had four submissions I didn’t have to send out any rejection letters, even if I had to write one for turning into the teacher. Then at the end I had another book put out through Lit-N-Laughter. It makes me want to make more.

 

Getting Back on the Horse

It seems forever since I wrote a blog post and it probably feels that way to anyone who follows this blog. It has been a long semester with five classes and the long commute between home and school. But I survived it so I should try to post again.

I have a joined the website Patreon(https://www.patreon.com/BHeatherMantler) and am hoping to put out a short piece on it weekly as a way to generate some money to pay bills. According to the e-mails, I should ask people already interested in my writing to support me on the site, so this is it. If you chose to help me, thank you. If you chose not to, that is okay.

The last thing I will mention in this post (and my next post will be back to discussion on writing) is a request. If you have read one of my books, I ask that you put up a review of it on Amazon or Goodreads. All reviews help authors, even if it is just a rating and one sentence. It takes only a moment of your time and costs nothing, but it helps me out a lot.

And I hope to have another post up next week about writing.

 

Word Count

When I start a story I am not worried about the word count because I am usually sucked into the story and letting the words flow. But usually about the middle of things I start to wonder whether I will have enough words to make a full novel. It feels like I could wrap up the whole story in only ten thousand words. Is there enough story to fill in the word count? Do I have to add more threads in to make it?

Except the story has already made that decision. If I continue to let the words flow, they will come out to a word count close to what I want. I try to remind myself of the matter every time my mind brings it up to worry over, but it will always come up at some point in writing the story. The best solution is to lose myself in the story so that nothing else matters until it is done. It is hard but so is blocking out any editing voice from my head.

 

First Snow Fall

The first snow fall of the season can be one of two things. It can be pretty and wonderful with the way it magically covers the bleakness of bare trees and grey skies. Even with the sun having to come through the clouds, it is bright out and that helps lift moods. A sense of happiness can be filling. And if it before Christmas, it can bring the feelings associated with Christmas.

The second thing the first snow fall can be is a horrible thing to endure. It is slippery, unpredictable, and sloppy. The coldness seeps into the body creating pain. Depending on the temperature, it can be very wet causing anyone who has to go outside to get soaked. Also drivers are the worst during and shortly after the first snow fall because they have forgotten how to drive in the snow, which means it is dangerous to go out on the roads.

Most years I feel the first about the first snow fall. I am excited to see it and can’t wait for it to come. This year I feel the second. My journey from home to school has caused anxiety about driving, so I was really hoping it wouldn’t snow until December. But it showed up the other day. But it has meant that I’ve been spending all weekend inside and getting some writing done. With a mug of hot chocolate and a good story, the snow fall is okay for today.