The Drafting Twilight Zone: Tips for getting it out and over

So you’ve unlocked your writing with your key of imagination and as you move through it you fall through to a dimension of sentence structures; a dimension of grammatical woes; a dimension of endless prose. You’ve moved into a novel with multiple character development and plot twists. You’ve just crossed over into the Drafting Twilight Zone.

Yep. The story of my life right now. Even though I feel like I’m so close to finishing the first draft of my next book, I can’t stop going back and wanting to add subplots and gradual detail. All stuff that I don’t even know you guys need but I feel is necessary.

In hopes of getting out to this whack ass drafting dimension of insanity, I took some time to see how the pros have handled this.

Try Stephen King’s technique that he shared in On Writing, which he learned back in high school. It’s a simple formula:

2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%

So he states that,

“Even today, I will aim for a second-draft length of thirty-six hundred words if the draft of a novel runs three hundred and fifty thousand words, I’ll try my damndest to produce a second draft of no more than three hundred and fifteen thousand … three hundred, if possible. Usually it is possible. What the Formula taught me is that every story and novel is collapsible to some degree.”

Great words. But this is for the second draft, which I’m kind of in but not totally. So then I found pretty nifty advice from Sarah Waters.

“Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.”

Good advice but a bit vague. Then I ran into Neil Gaiman’s words, who’s the author of American Gods—a novel and show that I just devoured. He gives me exactly what I needed, and wanted, to hear.

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

So guys, it seems that the only way out of the “Drafting Twilight Zone” is through. Full steam ahead bishes! My hope is that once I’ve finally finished this process, an ingeniously articulated masterpiece is created for yout reading delight. Here goes nothing.

As I glue myself to my writing chair, focused on finally knocking this out, be sure to check out my free short story series on this blog. Catch up. Don’t be lame. Friday is always a great day to read.

DNC’s Short Story Series Presents: “Complicated

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#Writerslife Proposals, Pitching, Queries…oh my!

This week, I stopped by one of my favorite podcasts, Writing Excuses, and caught this great one on all of the above.

They really tackle some of the old vs. new outlook on pitching, proposals and queries.

Even if you’re not at this place yet, it’s great to keep these thoughts, tips and tricks in your back pocket.

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Stay passionate!

-DNC

Reviews aren’t just for writer’s egos…we promise!

One of the hardest things to do as a writer, is to get honest feedback. A lot of times, we are dying to hear what a complete stranger would think about our plot, tone or structure of our story. Do people really get our words or are we just sounding or writing in a bunch of jumbled words like Boomhauer of King of the Hill.

Enter Reviews.

A fellow author, and muse from a far, CP Patrick drop some knowledge on how we really are looking to get honest feedback through reviews to help understand our writing styles, promote our book and hopefully attract new readers. We promise that reviews are not to stroke our egos–ok it may help our egos some if it’s amazing feedback we never thought we would ever hear from a stranger…but that’s not a bad thing right?

Check out an excerpt from her post, A Word on Reviews, which shines some much needed light on why your thoughts are vital for us newbies. And after you’ve read the “why”, help a sister out with a review on one of my books currently on #SpringReading sale on Amazon.

Authors often ask readers to leave reviews, especially new authors. But it’s not for the reasons some people might think. It has less to do with ego and more to do with receiving honest feedback, marketing opportunities and attracting new readers….

Honest Feedback
Publishing a book is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. There’s the joy of “I did it!” Which is quickly followed by “Oh my God! People are going to read my book!” And we all know how cruel the Internet can be. Certainly, every author receives negative reviews. Go look at some of your favorite books or current best-sellers. There are rave reviews and soul-crushing reviews. Because that’s reality – not everyone is going to like everything…

Marketing Opportunities
What many readers may not know is that reviews are often tied to marketing opportunities for authors. And not just favorable reviews – the number of reviews help too. This is particularly true for ebook subscription marketing opportunities as well as Amazon book pairings. One of the reasons The Truth About Awiti has done well is because of the number of reviews that the book has received…

Attracting New Readers
Another benefit of leaving a review for an author is that reviews help attract new readers. Don’t you enjoy reading book reviews before making a purchase? If you really enjoyed reading a book, one of the most helpful things you can do is leave a review on Goodreads and the site where you purchased the book, such as Amazon, B&N, or even your favorite indie bookstore. Your review just might be the one that influences readers to purchase the book…

Second shameless, but honest plug: I would love for you to review my two books! Untraditional: A Collection of Passion-Fy Short Stories and Like. Love. Lust. A Collection of Passion-Fy Prose and Poetry are both on sale on Kindle for only $0.99–this week only!

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Where do I begin: To-dos Before Self-Publishing

So you’re a thinker, and as a thinker you’ve been writing, journaling, doodling and/or drawing. Now, you’ve hit the point where you’ve got a draft together of all your creativeness; something that you’re proud of and wouldn’t mind sharing with the masses. And then it hits you like a brick wall to self-publish your piece.

The idea grows, but what is the first step? How can you self-publish your own book?

Answer: The first step is to weigh if you really want to self-publish or go to a publishing house.

Here are some thoughts to consider when thinking about the world of publishing. This is insight I’ve learned from my own self-publishing experience and what I’ve learned about going to a publishing house through other creatives. Let’s weigh the options in several different categories.

1) Control
Self-pub: Going Indie is a freedom ride. Indie is a cool word to use for creative freedom in the any arena, but we’ll focus solely on writing. It allows you to have the freedom to write what you want, how you want to and make direct decisions on how you will market your work.Which also means that you have to have your hands in everything…EVERYTHING! You find your own editors; you find your own cover designers or do it on your own; you put out any and all messages promoting your book; you choose a book publisher; proof all printing proofs and any other components that you need to launch you book. On the other hand…

Pub. House: Depending on the size of the publishing house, your contract, and the publishing house’s processes, you may only have limited freedom when it comes to your cover, and different aspects of your writing style/topic. Commercial attraction is key for many publishers. A lot of times, just like in any industry, a successful publishing house has a good handle on what audiences like and will more than likely drive you to look at writing in a different angle than where you might have started. Which isn’t a bad thing, just different. And rather than having you hands in any and everything, they will take a lot of that work off of your plate. There are some smaller publishing house that ask you to handle the marketing side (social media, book tours, printed/digital promotion, etc.) while they work on getting your book on larger platforms and om circles you probably wouldn’t have been able to get to on your own.

2) Timing
Self-pub: Your finger is on the launch button. You decided to put it out to the public today or wait until next year. Self-publishing seems to give immediate gratification, at least on the end of finally releasing your work to the world on your time. Maybe not so much on the sales side…but maybe so for both.

Pub. House: There are so many steps that can occur far before a publishing house even gets your work. For 10 years, J.K. Rowling submitted her work to publishers before getting picked up. Dr. Seuss was turned down 27 times before his first book was published. And the mighty James Patterson was turned down 31 times before his first book was picked up. But look at them now—staples in the writing community. Legends for their perseverance and dedication to their passion.

3) Dollars
Self-pub: You pay for it all, which will dictate a lot of what and how you do things. Will you do a paper back or just an e-book? If you do a paperback, will you have an in-person book launch event or virtual? How much money do you have for marketing, because you HAVE to do marketing for your book in-order to get visibility? What’s the budget for editors and cover designers? Oh don’t forget about the copyrighting fee. Don’t get it twisted, being an indie author is a business, and just like most start-ups you’re probably going to be in the red your first year. Be prepared and stay optimistic.

Pub. House: The insight I have on the financial aspect with a publishing house is very little, but I’ll share the little I do know. For some, usually smaller ones, you have to finance any marketing that you do (ads, book tours, printed materials, etc.). And some larger publishing houses you don’t have pay anything upfront, but you don’t see anything until you make a profit. Much like what you see in the music biz…but again don’t quote me on this one.

4) Preference
Self-pub: Sometimes making the choice to self-pub or shoot for a publishing house is just a simple preference. Some self-publishers are creative beasts and refuse to the let anyone take hold of their creative pieces. Much like Chance the Rapper, who just turned down 10 millions dollars to stay an independent artist. For some, the value of being your own boss is worth all the work, stress, hours, missteps and all the other obstacles that may come with self-publishing. I have to agree that by self-publishing my book, I woke my soul. I’ve learned a lot and now I’m able to share that with whoever wants to listen.

Pub. House: For some creatives, the reason to choose this route is simply because they don’t want to be all up in the weeds; they just want to write. They don’t mind bringing in experts to handle all the “logistics” behind publishing the book. The less distractions on how to publish the easier it is for them to focus on one thing only—their words. But this isn’t to say they don’t give input, they just don’t execute that portion.

The Grey Area
Times have changed and self-publishing is constantly changing the writing game. So much so that a lot of writers just release their work on platforms like Wattpad, Kindle, serial writing sites or blogs, and then are picked up by publishers. And then there are those who have been picked up by larger publishing houses and decide to switch to the indie route.

Everyone’s publishing journey is different, but one commonalty that I’ve learned from the stories of various iconic and historic writers in both camps, is that their dedication to their craft is endless; their work ethic is superior; and there’s no one who can take their words away from them. Those words keep them breathing every day and remind them to stay focused on the message that they must share with the world.

As I look back at this exciting past year of self-publishing, I’m so happy I ventured out in that avenue, but now after doing all the work, I wouldn’t mind someone taking the reins now.

I’m a true believe that God is in control of everything, and no matter which route you decide to go, go at it 110%. If you’re like me, you really don’t have any other choice because this journey is what is etched in our purpose and we refuse not to live it to its fullest.