Archive for May, 2011


“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
-E.L. Doctorow

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Since I started submitting short stories to markets, I found it’s always easier to write, edit, and rewrite the story in a Word document that’s formatted properly. So instead of having to work on the formatting after the story is complete, I can write the story in the correct parameters, hit “SAVE,” and then find a market to send it to.

But there’s a difference in novel formatting and short story formatting. Not a “night and day” difference but more like “night and early evening” difference… They’re related closely but the differences are slight enough to make an impact. For instance, in novel formatting it seems to be common practice for the first page to be the “title page” with absolutely none of the story on it. In a short story manuscript, the first page can hold parts of the actual story.

Here’s a few helpful links I found on how to format a novel manuscript. Not everything said in these links are law (A big “No, thanks” to the two spaces between every sentence suggestion) and there may be slight differences here and there, but I think they all lay a good standard to draw upon. Especially if a publisher offers no specific guidelines, these are sure to guide one wisely.

http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/01/05/format-your-novel-for-submission/

http://www.ehow.com/how_4841027_format-unpublished-novel-word.html

http://www.kleineedit.com/standard-manuscript-format.htm

http://www.charlottedillon.com/ManuscriptPreparation.html

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Novel Research

“The most important basis of any novel is wanting to be someone else, and this means creating a character.”
-Antonio Tabucchi

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I realized the novel I’ll be rewriting is going to lead me into unchartered territory, as far as my writing experience is concerned. The story focuses on an alien race of beings. Nowhere in the story do humans surface. And while later in the story the main characters come across humanoid-ish robots, the entire world development and even the main characters’ anatomy is completely created by me. Nothing outlandish. I mean, the main race is a race with three legs, but….

I can’t fall back on [too many] humanisms, or else it’ll make the world less credible. And I can’t make it too “out there” to the point it’s not engaging to the reader and/or difficult to understand. This could justifiably be my most challenging piece of work.

Whether I’ll immerse myself totally in this piece, I don’t know. I might have to escape to “human writing” at some point, just to remind myself what I am. 😉 All kidding aside, I think the key to making this a worthwhile piece of fiction is finding the humanity inside of the alien culture. The setting and backdrop will come. I just need to be sure that the characters are sympathetic; not because I wrote them too human but because you can see a living, breathing character beyond the alien exterior.

I’m researching to find other authors who have done this non-human thing before. Not only done it, but done it well. I’d like to see how they accomplished it. So far I was told about The Bug Wars by Robert Asprin. I’ve never heard of him before, but the reviews on Amazon.com give the book five stars based on 13 reviews. That’s not bad at all. I’ll probably purchase it. And although not alien-esque in the slightest, I may buy a couple of Jack London books (Call of the Wild in particular), as any narrative that’s told by a non-human would be helpful. Kurt Vonnegut was also suggested to me.

Any other helpful comments or book suggestions?

Outlining Done

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
-C.S. Lewis

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Today I completed the outline to the new draft of my novel I’m going to be rewriting! Now comes the hard part of actually sitting down and doing the real work. I haven’t devoted time to a novel in a few years, mainly because I conditioned myself to short stories. I have to exercise discipline so I can see this rewrite to the end of the novel.

Truth be told, the first few chapters are exceptionally polished. Why? Because in the past I would start to rewrite it and then lose interest. I will have to tweak a few things within the introductory chapters though, just because I’ve decided to change a few things plot- and character-wise.

This original draft was actually a NaNoWriMo novel, so towards the end I started to witness repetitions (for the sake of word count), a lot of typos (consequence of waking up early/staying up late) and useless dialogue (i.e. “What did you just say?” “I said….”). It’s beyond 50,000 words because the story wasn’t finished, so I pressed on. But there is a lot of good stuff to work with. A good plot, which I just have to focus a little more. And strong characters. There were a few needless characters too, so I’m making them disappear.

This may be a mountain, but I’m ready to scale it!

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
-E.L. Doctorow

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When writers send off submissions, one of the most trying times is waiting to hear back from the magazine. So many thoughts go through your mind: Will they like it? Will they hate it? When will they respond? And sometimes: Did they get it? (if there’s no confirmation)

But waiting is a natural part of life, especially in a writer’s life. Fortunately, a writer can sit around and wait for a response while still being productive. After all, the amount of material we output is only limited to our imagination and discipline. I currently have five stories out at markets, and I haven’t heard a word back from any of them in over two months. I do have a lot on the back burner I could be polishing up, but my focus right now is on rewriting one of my novels.

That’s right! After years of saying it and dreaming it, I’ve finally started rereading the novel and began changing some things around. Right now it’s only a new outline; I haven’t actually sat at the computer to rewrite the actual words, but the outline is a start. I’ve eliminated some characters while bringing other characters to the forefront (and some to the background actually). It’ll be good!

For those of you wondering about my applications to the workshops this year, I was rejected by both Clarion East and Clarion West. Odyssey, however, put me on their waiting list (second consecutive year). I’m not really expecting to get a call from Odyssey within the next two and a half weeks though. I already planned other things now anyway… There’s always next year! …If I choose to apply next year.

You may notice a new blog look. That’s because I wanted it to match somewhat in color to my website that I’m working on. The website is practically complete; I’m just working on implementing a short story critique service and how I should start that up. Basically I’m considering the rates. I don’t want to charge anything outlandish but I do want to make it fair for me too. This is just a hobby though. I’m not looking to grow rich with this; I just want to assist other writers. I know some people who don’t want to post their work online, so this critique service could benefit them.

To start out, I was actually leaning toward having any stories sent to me within the first week (/month, lol) or so getting a critique for free. To build my reputation. As of now my reputation mostly comes from my critique site. Then afterwards I may insert a cost (however-many-dollars per thousand words).

We shall see. It’ll all come together… Just gotta wait a little bit. 😉