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Read, read, read…

It’s been a slow couple of weeks for me in terms of writing…as you may be able to tell from the fact that I didn’t post here last week. My last fortnight has been largely occupied by work, travel preparations, travel, jetlag…and Super Smash Bros Ultimate. I bought Nintendo’s latest Smash offering last week and have been loving it ever since – a mistake from a writing standpoint, perhaps, but certainly good fun.

That said, I have still done a bit of work towards my writing over the past couple of weeks, with much of it towards the new novel idea I mentioned last time around. And I must say it’s shaping up to be quite the idea, if I do say so myself, and I reckon it’s going to be a hoot to write…

…assuming I’m in the right mindset to write it by the time I start.

This book, you see, is going to be a Young Adult novel with a contemporary high-school setting, with some sci-fi concepts also included. I plan for it to include difficult family relationships and some good old fashioned teen drama…along with a troubled protagonist who regularly experiences jarring personality shifts. I’m planning to write the whole thing in first person, too, so I can’t imagine that aspect of the protagonist being easy to write, but I reckon it’ll make for a fun little challenge.

The issue here is that it’s been a while since I last actually read a contemporary YA novel. I’ve certainly read a fair number of them in my time, but in the last year or so…no. And if I’m not familiar with the conventions of the genre, then the chances that I’ll actually produce a good entry in the genre (even after much redrafting) is…not great.

As such, my plan for the next few months is to continue to flesh out and outline the novel, while also reading a considerable quantity of YA to get myself into the right mood for writing it.  Writers read, after all, and if I’m going to be writing YA then I see no reason not to spend my reading time on YA for the next little while.

…when I’m not playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate, anyway.

How often do you aim to read, as a writer? Got any recs concerning what YA books I should read? Feel free to comment down below!

 

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A good writing week

It’s been a pretty good week for me, writing-wise. For starters, I went ahead and submitted a story to dailysciencefiction.com a couple hours ago, thus fulfilling my wish to begin submitting stories again. I am practically certain the story will end up getting rejected, but I’m pleased with it nonetheless and I had a great time putting it together – which, as far as I’m concerned, is the most important thing.

Secondly, I already have a second short story in mind to write. And I already more-or-less know how it’ll go from beginning to end, which should help a lot once I start writing it.

Thirdly, I have finally – finally – started to plan out a brand new novel.

This is actually something I was planning to blog about a fair bit earlier: namely, the issue of actually picking a single novel-length writing project to commit to. After all, I did originally want to write novels, when I first got into writing – and I still do want to write novels, now. At the same time, though, I wanted to write in general – which is why I got started on writing short stories along with other bits and bobs, rather than waiting for ideas for a full novel to materialise.

Now, though, those ideas have materialised , and almost certainly as a result of the other writing I’ve been doing in the meantime. So now, I merely need to flesh those ideas out a whole lot. And then, y’know, actually write the thing.

Parasites are going to be involved in this new project, by the way. Because, well, of course they will.

Had any good writing-related times, lately? Feel free to share down below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes a story a success?

What makes a story a success?

That, paraphrased, is a question I stumbled across over on Twitter yesterday. It’s an interesting question, for sure – and very much a relevant one for any writers out there.

But what’s the answer? When a work makes money, perhaps? When it gets published? When a work gets published and makes money?

Certainly, getting published or making money both seem like good metrics for success…except there’s plenty of writing out there for which things just don’t apply. What about all the authors nowadays who self-publish, for whom traditional barriers to publication are no issue? What about all the writers who simply post their work online for free? And what about all the writing that, for whatever reason, never makes it to eyes beyond the author’s own?

J K Rowling is a highly successful writer; that goes without saying. She also wrote plenty of fiction before penning even the first word of Harry PotterNone of that fiction ever saw the light of day, due to being – in Rowling’s own words – “rubbish”. But would she have been ready write Harry Potter had she not written that other material first? And if the answer to that is “no”, could one not then argue that her earlier fiction was successful as well?

Let’s talk fan fiction for a moment. In particular, let’s talk Nightfall – a downright brilliant How to Train Your Dragon fic that I read several years ago. Naturally, the author never made a cent off of it, on the grounds that it was freaking fan fiction. And yet, plenty of people loved it, in part due to the author’s deft handling of non-human points of view. Furthermore, the author presumably gained a whole ton of experience that would aid them towards writing a truly original work…assuming, of course, that they actually wanted to. As far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty dang successful.

Really, I think a piece of writing is successful so long as its author – or indeed, anyone – thinks it is successful. Getting published and making money are both signs of writing success, to be sure – but they aren’t the only signs. Far from it, in fact.

When would you say that a piece of writing was successful? Feel free to give your thoughts down below!

November Book Recs

Time for my first book recommendations post! These are something I plan to run around once a month from now one, and the grounds for getting included on these posts will be pretty straightforward:

1. I have to have read the book in question within the last month or so.

2. I have to have finished the book.

3. I have to have liked the book.

With that said, let’s begin…

Crystal Singer, by Anne McCaffrey (Crystal Singer #1)

cover_crystal_singer

Crystal Singer marks the first non-Pern book I’ve read from McCaffrey, and it proved to be quite the ride…at least, once it moved on from its relatively slow-paced beginning. The protagonist, Killashandra Ree, is a gifted vocalist who dreams of becoming a galaxy-trotting solo artist. When this dream comes crashing down, Killashandra promptly settles on a new one: to become one of the famed Crystal Singers, on whose work the wholeof civilisation now relies – and to become exceedingly wealthy as a result.

McCaffrey constructs a fascinating sci-fi world, along with an driven and ambitious female protagonist who I couldn’t help but to root for. This is very much worth reading, particularly if all you know of McCaffrey is her Dragonriders of Pern series.

cover_wizards_of_once

The Wizards of Once, by Cressida Cowell (The Wizards of Once #1)

I bought this due to enjoying Cowell’s How To Train Your Dragon series, and at no point was I disappointed with my purchase. Set in the British Isles, The Wizards of Once is tells the story a pair of enemy tribes, who continue to fight even as an unseen evil begins to lurk in the shadows. All of this is told through the eyes of two very engaging protagonists, certain traits of which will be familiar to those who followed the HTTYD books.

Great for kids…and great for adults, as well. Definitely recommended.

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis (Tales from the Chocolate Heart #1)

cover_chocolate_heart1

An incredibly sweet book – no pun intended – about finding one’s passion in the face of adversity. Aventurine’s passion is chocolate – both eating it, and also making it. She discovers this passion in the most unlikely of ways: by being tricked into drinking an enchanted pot of chocolate, only to then be turned from a powerful dragon into a lowly squishy human. But with no status to her name, can she really convince one of the famed Chocolate Houses to take her in as an apprentice?

Wonderfully written, with a brilliant protagonist along with a great cast of side characters, this is another book that I reckon would entertain readers of almost any age. Well worth a read…and the sequel is out now, too!

Got any book recommendations of your own? Feel free to comment down below!

Tweet, tweet…

As well as getting back into WordPress, I’ve been getting into Twitter over the past few weeks. I’ve actually had a Twitter account for years, but I rarely actually made any use of it. Really, I just didn’t see the point: I had a Facebook account already, as well as this WordPress blog, so why would I possibly need ANOTHER social media outlet?

Well, I certainly don’t need Twitter – but at this point, I can definitely see why Twitter could be helpful.

The rate at which information flows on Twitter is just unreal; it goes by way faster than on WordPress or even on Facebook. I’m not sure how Tumblr or Instagram compare – I’ve not spent much time on either of those – but I can’t imagine them being much faster.

And as a writer and reader, this flow of information is proving to be REALLY useful. In no particular order: I’ve found a few potential short story outlets, heard of an upcoming MasterClass by none other than Neil Gaiman, and discovered several great-sounding books to buy and read. I finished one of those books only a couple days ago; said book was The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis, which I utterly adored from start to finish. Another one of those books is 52 Stories in 52 Weeks, a short story collection, which I am reading right now.

Oh, and I’ve been reminded by a bot that there is in fact a capital “P” in “WordPress”. So there’s that.

Of course, the rapid movement of information has disadvantages in the larger scheme of things – mostly when that information stops being accurate. Browsing around certain hashtags was like entering some sort of twisted parallel reality, and I can readily imagine such hashtags producing some seriously warped world-views – a problem which, of course, has been being heavily discussed for some time now.

Still: purely as a writer, Twitter seems useful, and I look forward to exploring Twitter further. I also plan to hook up my Twitter and WordPress accounts in the near future, since there seems little point now in keeping them separate.

Do you like using Twitter? Or else loath Twitter, for whatever reason? Feel free to comment down below!

 

To Rejection, And Beyond!

This week, I’ve been spending the bulk of my writing time on planning out and writing short stories – to little success, truth be told. As it turns out, writing short stories is hard – particularly when you’ve been out of this whole game for a while. I ended up spending a lot of time simply trying and failing to come up with good ideas, as opposed to actually writing prose. And the prose I did write this week was…not great.

Still, I’ve got to start somewhere, and I have indeed now started. And I expect my short story sessions will get more successful, so long as I just keep them – which I plan to do. Because the thing about short stories is that they are, well, short – which means a given short story takes far less time to write and revise than a full novel would take.

And once the writing and revising (and re-revising) is done. I’ll be ready to do the thing I really want to try doing again: to actually go ahead and submit something.

And after that, I want to receive the inevitable rejection notice, however many weeks later.

Following this, I want to try writing and revising and submitting some more things. And then, assuming I get that far, I shall look forward to experiencing what pretty much every serious writer ends up experiencing: a rejection letter, followed by another rejection letter, followed by…well, you get the idea.

I do have one rejection letter to hand already, as a matter of fact. That was for a story I submitted to dailysciencefiction.com several years ago, which at the time I viewed as a pretty major milestone. With hindsight, I really should have should have revised the story more before I tried sending it anywhere; I also reckon I should have sought out feedback on the story from readers, whereas in actual fact I only did that after I’d already sent the story off. Still, I learned a good number of lessons from that story – and I could always try sending it somewhere else at some point in the future.

At this point,  it would be daft of me to expect something I’ve written to actually be accepted: as far as I’m concerned, I’m simply too inexperienced, and having barely written any fiction in three years has certainly not helped matters there. The obvious solution, in my mind, is to become more experienced – which means writing…and revising…and submitting…and a whole lotta rejection notices into my inbox.

Any writers here received rejections lately? Or better yet, received acceptances? Feel free to comment down below!

On NaNoWriMo

So, it is now November. And that means, National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo, is officially underway. Even as I write this, plenty of writers will be busily working towards their target of 50,000 words; many, I’m sure, will use up large chunks of their free time to do so.

I’ve tried NaNoWriMo exactly once before now. I was quite a bit younger at that point, and I hadn’t been in the habit of writing regularly beforehand; as such, it is probably not surprising that my NaNoWriMo attempt crashed and burned horribly. As I recall, I stayed on pace for a grand total of three days before falling irreparably behind; within a week, I had given up totally.

At this point, I think I probably could pull off NaNoWriMo if I put my mind to it. Certainly, I write fast enough at this point: 3 of the “sprint” sessions I mentioned last week would be all I needed to stay on pace each day, given how many words they typically produce. I also have multiple ideas for novels sitting on my computer, so I reckon I could easily pick one and run with it if I really wanted to. The result would likely be barely readable, sure – but the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to fix that sort of thing after the month is over.

With all that said, I’ve decided I will not be attempting NaNoWriMo this year.

The way I see it, writing for me at this point should be fun. I’ve only just gotten back into it, and I’m enjoying having gotten back into it…but I doubt I would stay “into it” if I did not keep enjoying it. After all, if I didn’t enjoy it, then what would be the point in doing it at all?

Trying for 50k words in one month, however, strikes me as…less than enjoyable – particularly so soon after having started up again. Trying for that amount of words almost sounds like work, in fact – which, for something that is NOT in fact meant to be my job, is probably not a good thing.

And so, I’m going to approach November in a little more relaxed way. I’m going to make sure I write every day, certainly, and I’m going to make sure I read every day (since reading, of course, is an important part of being a writer). What I am not going to do, though, is work towards any specific target word-count.  If I do end up producing a large amount of words this month, then that’s just great – but I’m not going to specifically aim for such.

And perhaps next year, once I’ve been back in this game for far longer, I’ll decide to try going all the way.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Or have you specifically chosen to not do it, like I have? Feel free to comment down below!