#IWSG for September – Surprising

 

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A short post and a late one for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

if you’ve never heard of them, the IWSG is a huge group of bloggers who talk about the neurotic dangers of writing. Be sure to look around the huge list of blogs – there are always insightful and useful posts and helpful people.

I surprised myself with my writing for the Busan Writing Group, my local writing club. I was always certain before I fond them that sci-fi and fantasy would be my writing mainstays. When we got an anthology together for the first time, however, my story had no fantasy at all. It was a touching tribute to the loneliness of an expat’s first time in Korea, and an odd, sad love story. Shortly after, I had my first story published outside the BWG, and it had no fantasy or sci-fi at all either – just a confrontation between nephew and aunt over a dark secret.

In following anthologies, deep personal themes made up the basis, with fantasy in small doses. I’ve had a taste of a style I didn’t even realize was in me – a more literary, realistic scenario with the fantasy working its way in gradually. I still write full sci-fi and fantasy (as a glance around this blog will confirm), but for short stories, I think I’ll further explore this ‘realistic’ style and see how the weirder ideas play into it.

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Help me kickstart my writing career and get a great sci-fi novel!

Cover with Title - ink

Far Flung, my sci-fi epic that’s in the Top 50 of the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition, is in funding now.

Be sure to read the preview chapters & tell me what you think! Consider supporting the campaign – your support will help me put this in the hands of readers everywhere!

Building a Short Story Part 1 – Results

You can see other writing exercises here.

As I said on Tuesday, I’m working with one of my old stories and improving it. Here are the details I had to set up my new take on the story:

Two word & single-sentence description:

Ambitious magician: Robert is an ambitious stage magician who learns a real magic spell, along with the terrible cost of using it.

Character desires:

Robert wants to be a rich and famous magician. He is also passionately in love with Carla, the seasoned performer who taught him real magic.

Story Conflicts:

Robert’s mom is alone for Thanksgiving, but his next show is right after – he needs to be with her.

Carla wants him to use his new magic to get to his mom and get back quickly, but Robert realizes he will have to sacrifice a special memory to power the teleportation spell.

Carla convinces Robert that he can control which memory he loses and he can give up an unpleasant memory. He doesn’t realize that she is conning him and has other plans.

The Beginning

This won’t be perfect, but it should be a good start. You can check your own beginning for grammar and consistency if you are sharing it publicly, but remember that you will revise it later. The beginning should be the first quarter or less – just enough to set up the premise and one conflict from your story. When I teach my short fiction class in September, I’ll have students share up to 250 words of a story that will be 1000 words or slightly longer.

Alright then, here’s the start of my own writing example, Memory Exchange:

Continue reading

Building a Short Story, Part 1 (Repost)

You can see other writing exercises here.

Note: This is a repost from June, but this time I absolutely need to finish this posting series!

Putting it all together.

This week, we’ll start putting together a short story. I will go over an example story of mine as we go – you can check mine to see how well I follow my own advice! As with anything I share, I love feedback and will keep working to make it better.

We’re going back to the first month of exercises.

I’ll draw on some exercises from this blog back in March. We need:

  • A one-sentence description of a character (March 9)
  • One or two very important desires your character has (March 16)
  • Conflicts that stand in the way of those goals (March 23)
  • A main problem in the story that makes things worse (March 30)

I’m going to work with one of my old stories here and try to improve it. The story is called “Memory Exchange” and it was in an early self-published book. Here are the details I get when I put the story through the March exercises:

Two word & single-sentence description:

Ambitious magician: Robert is an ambitious stage magician who learns a real magic spell, along with the terrible cost of using it.

Character desires:

Robert wants to be a rich and famous magician. He is also passionately in love with Carla, the seasoned performer who taught him real magic.

Story Conflicts:

Robert’s mom is alone for Thanksgiving, but his next show is right after – he needs to be with her.

Carla wants him to use his new magic to get to his mom and get back quickly, but Robert realizes he will have to sacrifice a special memory to power the teleportation spell.

Carla convinces Robert that he can control which memory he loses and he can give up an unpleasant memory. He doesn’t realize that she is conning him and has other plans.


Now I want you to try.

Tell me about your main character, his or her desires, and some potential conflicts for your story idea. I’ll share the beginning of my work on Thursday, and we’ll see how well it sets up the story. See you then!

#IWSG for August – Dark Times

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Getting back into writing seems a lot harder for me now.

Last time I was putting up one of these IWSG posts, I had a crowdfunding effort relating to my writing. I ended that campaign and contest with all of 16 backers total. I simply didn’t have enough of the right kind of contacts and friends to see it through, or the knowhow to reach out to people who might have helped. I couldn’t go on with the promotion – it was taking away all my time to write.

I am thankful for those 16, and the many more who read the work I was displaying for the contest. I wish I could have done better for them. If I ever decide to crowdfund for writing again, it will be an even harder uphill battle, since everyone I know saw me fall flat on my face. But I will get the story done, along with the others I am working on.

Home life is not going well, and I don’t have a way out other than to keep working my main job I have to make a living. My wife and I are making progress on our debt, but at the cost of making any progress on our stalled relationship.

Yet here I am, still at the writing game. I’m still teaching a writing course in September – a course for ESL learners that I have adapted from my own influences and writing guidebooks. I must still have a set of materials to teach from, and that is exactly what I was preparing with my series of blog posts on writing short fiction.  I will return to the series of posts next Tuesday.

I must keep writing, even with feelings of darkness.

I don’t know how I will spread the word and get the support of friends, family, and more when I have a major project ready. All I know for now is that I must have a very good project well and truly ready. I must work out some way to get to my writing group regularly despite the hard work I must do with my family. While online critique groups are great, in-person meetings have by and far the strongest motivational power for me.

For other members of the Insecure Writers Support Group – what gets you writing through feelings of being overwhelmed, through feelings that even your best writing will not be enough?

iwsg

An #IWSG post for my Birthday – Crowdfunding for a Novel

It’s still June 7 for a big portion of this blog’s audience, my 41st birthday.

When your kids choose your birthday cake.

It’s been very encouraging to see my Facebook feed go crazy, and my family treated me to a cake and some other yummy goodness. A pretty good birthday all around!

This post will talk a little about fundraising for books

Some friends even pre-ordered my book from my campaign – a great birthday present!

For IWSG folks visiting today, I’ll put in a little advice about crowdfunding so that this isn’t a total hijack of the hashtag and group just to promote my campaign.

So I’ve been crowdfunding for a book…

I jumped into crowdfunding for Far Flung because of a contest at Inkshares (a crowdfunding site specifically for books). I wouldn’t have started otherwise – the book is in its third draft, and could really use beta readers and other revisions for the best shot. However, this contest will award a publishing deal for the top 3 books in terms of pre-orders. Normally, a book would need 250 preorders to get a basic publishing deal on Inkshares, and 750 preorders to get a fully, professionally edited and promoted book deal. This looked like a chance to get my foot in the door with a lower number of pre-orders.

What to expect if you crowdfund

Unless there’s a contest like this one, you’ll have to get a whole lot of pre-orders for your book if you decide to do it this way. Whether you use Inkshares, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or whatever, it takes a lot of funds and a lot of promotion. Tell everybody you know, everybody you’ve ever contacted about the campaign and why you are doing it. Tell people you don’t know too – use Twitter, Facebook, your blog (Hello!) and whatever else you can think of. Lose the shame.

At first you might feel like you lose self-respect – but actually, as you work to craft your pitch and look at ways you can engage your contacts personally, you gain self-respect. You realize you are just working on a big project and need help – that’s it. You’re not begging, your genuinely asking after your contacts and their projects, and then explaining how you can finish yours. No shame in that.

Don’t take it personally

If friends and family don’t seem supportive, one thing I’ve figured out already – don’t take it personally. It doesn’t necessarily mean your project is bad or your campaign was a bad idea or poorly timed. It more likely means that your friends already have their attentions divided among work, personal life, and helping other people who are fundraising, volunteering, or whatever.  Ask politely, and make it clear that no is a perfectly acceptable answer.

 

And now the plug – Far Flung, an epic journey for sci-fi fans

I don’t need that many pre-orders to win this. At this time, 30 pre-orders would put Far Flung in the top 3 of the current contest. If I’m in the top 3 on June 25, Far Flung gets a full publishing contract. Hardcover, paperback, e-books, signings, the whole deal. Maybe you can see why I’m shameless about this!

Have a look at the details of Far Flung, and read some sample chapters. I think it’ll be a real treat for fans of episodic sci-fi who like some danger and character arcs, along with discovery and exploration of the unknown. Your support means this book gets done a lot faster!

Building a Short Story, Part 1

You can see other writing exercises here.

Putting it all together.

This week, we’ll start putting together a short story. I will go over an example story of mine as we go – you can check mine to see how well I follow my own advice! As with anything I share, I love feedback and will keep working to make it better.

We’re going back to the first month of exercises.

I’ll draw on some exercises from this blog back in March. We need:

  • A one-sentence description of a character (March 9)
  • One or two very important desires your character has (March 16)
  • Conflicts that stand in the way of those goals (March 23)
  • A main problem in the story that makes things worse (March 30)

I’m going to work with one of my old stories here and try to improve it. The story is called “Memory Exchange” and it was in an early self-published book. Here are the details I get when I put the story through the March exercises:

Two word & single-sentence description:

Ambitious magician: Robert is an ambitious stage magician who learns a real magic spell, along with the terrible cost of using it.

Character desires:

Robert wants to be a rich and famous magician. He is also passionately in love with Carla, the seasoned performer who taught him real magic.

Story Conflicts:

Robert’s mom is alone for Thanksgiving, but his next show is right after – he needs to be with her.

Carla wants him to use his new magic to get to his mom and get back quickly, but Robert realizes he will have to sacrifice a special memory to power the teleportation spell.

Carla convinces Robert that he can control which memory he loses and he can give up an unpleasant memory. He doesn’t realize that she is conning him and has other plans.


Now I want you to try.

Tell me about your main character, his or her desires, and some potential conflicts for your story idea. I’ll share the beginning of my work on Thursday, and we’ll see how well it sets up the story. See you then!


Support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!

campaign

 

Final Thoughts on Second-Person POV

You can see other writing exercises here.

On Tuesday I wrote about the Late Student prompt in the 2nd-Person. It was a rather awkward exercise!

For your own example, you want to check the character’s actions and feelings for consistency. You are projecting these aspects onto the reader, and asking the reader to play a role. That means the reader has to understand the role and the character motivations very well. In a successful 2nd-person story, the reader would have to understand all of the choices made by the focus character. The reader should think That’s what I’d do in that situation.

Maybe now it’s really clear why 2nd-person is used for role-playing and books with multiple endings – those offer the reader (or player) choices as if they were really experiencing the events. A book written in 2nd-person with no branching choices would likely be a frustrating read:

In the story: “You run across the street despite the heavy traffic.”

Reader: “No, I freaking don’t, come on!”


An Upcoming Second-Person Novel – Mutants: Uprising

Anyway, for the conclusion of this month centered on POV, I’ll point you to another entry in the same Nerdist contest that my story is currently in. It’s called Mutants: Uprising by Jane-Holly Meissner, and the whole thing is written in the 2nd-person. See the sample here and judge for yourself how well it works!


 

Please support my Inkshares campaign for Far Flung

I need your help to reach 250 pre-orders – click here for the full details about why and how I’m getting this sci-fi novel done through Inkshares.

Click the picture below to help this book become a reality. Let’s explore the universe together!