Monday, April 26, 2010

Reader question answered, #2

In response to yesterday's post, I was asked the following:

I'm curious - how do you decide which project to focus on at a time? Do you set yourself a plan, like, this week I'm going to work on Crown of Druthal, this week is going to be Thorn of Dentonhill? Or do you write whichever one is buzzing in your head the loudest each day? 

For me, it's pretty much a Little from Column A, and a Little from Column B.  Primarily, I set a plan-- usually based on months rather than weeks-- and that plan usually involves designating something as my Current Main Project, which right now is Maradaine Constabulary.  Then I usually have a Back-up Project, the thing to work on when I get stuck on the Main Project.  This usually take the form of something smaller, like right now it's a short story for an anthology, or something that's more open-ended, like worldbuilding work.

Now, external factors can influence what I make the current main project-- for example, when the opportunity arose for changing Thorn of Dentonhill from third draft to fourth draft (in other words, a requested rewrite to expand its length), I dropped everything to focus on that.  But mostly I make it what feels right in terms of what I want to get done.  I wanted to finish first drafts of Banshee, Maradaine Constabulary and Vanguard, for example, and first focused on Banshee.  But it didn't feel right, and I switched to MC.

And that's where the buzzing in my head comes in.  Sometimes it drags an old idea out of the stewing crockpots in the back of my head and forces that to be finished NOW.  Which is how, for example, the script for the graphic novel Triple Cross pulled itself into a completed first draft when I thought I'd be working on Banshee. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

State of the Writing

Back in September I listed where I was with each of the six first-in-a-potential series, and I think it's high time to take another look at it.
Here's what I wrote at the time, followed by updates on each project.

  • Crown of Druthal (Book 1 of Crown of Druthal series):Finished third draft, though aspects of it need rewriting. (APRIL UPDATE: Still on Third Draft, I haven't really made any changes on this book.  However, I am now more aware that the whole thing needs serious rewriting.  As of right now, it's a little too light on plot, and too much meandering. Also, I think there's a lot more going on in my head then ends up on the page, as it were.  Part of the problem is the plot is determined by the geography, making the whole thing far too much of a travelogue.  Stuff happens to the characters, instead of them taking action.  At least for a lot of it.  But I have to admit, reworking this one is not my priority right now.)
  • Thorn of Dentonhill (Book 1 of Veranix series): Finished third draft. Currently shopping to agents. (APRIL UPDATE: Now I have a fourth draft, which is currently in an specific agent's hands exclusively.  If that agent passes, then I'll start a blitz of querying with this draft, which has a significantly different word count from the third draft.)    
  • The Fire Gig (Book 1 of Holver Alley Crew series): Rough draft 95% done. Anticipate finishing by next week. (APRIL UPDATE: First draft done, working on second draft.  I've outlined points of expansion and plot-points that need cleaning up, most notably a big POV cheat that needs to be fixed.  I've figured out how to fix that and make the whole conclusion work smoother, I just haven't gotten it written yet.)
  • From Star to Star (Book 1 of USS Banshee series)Awful, unoutlined, half-finished draft tossed. New outline written. (APRIL UPDATE: Started a new draft, which I like a lot better, but aspects still aren't coming together.  Done more worldbuilding in an effort to figure things out, and it's coming clearer.  Plus I'm talking with someone about making this project into a more collaborative effort-- an idea I've always thought about for this "universe".)
  • Between Them and Harm (Book 1 of Vanguard series):Full outline written.  (APRIL UPDATE: I've hashed out a bit more of outline details, but no major change on this one.)
  • The Mage Murders (Book 1 of Maradaine Constabulary series)Full outline written. (APRIL UPDATE: Rough draft about 40-50% done.  I'm generally pleased with how it's going.  Hope to push the momentum and finish the rough draft by the end of May.)
So that's where I am right now. Plus I'm working on a short story for an anthology.  That and Mage Murders are the two things taking the brunt of my focus currently.  Once I get those out of my system (hopefully end of May), then I'll finish the 2nd Draft of Holver Alley Crew.  

Monday, April 19, 2010

Promotion and book trailers

I've been thinking about Book Trailers of late. I'm not sure why, exactly, beyond my usual bad habit of getting ahead of myself. I don't have a book ready for trailing, as it were, so I don't need to have one yet... if I need to have one at all.

I can see what the appeal of doing video trailer is-- it's a commercial for your book! That's exciting! Of course, most of the video trailers I've seen are made with all the dynamic hook and technical skill of your average public access program. They certainly don't entice me to read the book.

I heard one person say of book trailers that the best they can do is not hurt your sales. The more of these things I see, the more I can't help but agree.

I was at a panel once where the panelists were advocating making book trailers as a promotional tool. Now, like I said, I can see its value, if it's done well. But then it was suggested that, in order to make one's trailer, one should search through photo archives of stock images, finding stuff that's out there that's free to use.

I couldn't disagree more about that. I mean, why would you use images that only kind-of, sort-of match what your book is about? Let's say, for example, your book has vampire-like and angel-like creatures. Would ANY vampire or angel pictures be suitable? Probably not. I would argue that any images (or video) that aren't specifically made for your book would look generic and unconnected. You wouldn't copy-and-paste text from some other book because it's kind of like what you want your book to be, would you? (I hope not.)

I mean, if you're going to make a book trailer to promote YOUR book, then make that trailer equally your own, just as original.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The New Plan

About six months ago, I announced I would attempt something crazy. Namely, that I would write three rough drafts of three novels in six months. Those six months ended last Wednesday, and I did not meet that goal. It was an unreasonable goal, after all.

I did meet other goals, like doing another re-write of Thorn of Dentonhill, and finishing a rough draft of the script for Triple Cross.

So, what's next? For one, I want to finish the rough draft of Maradaine Constabulary. My goal for that is May 15th. To that end, I've come up with a new writing plan:

No Sleep Until 1000.

It's very simple. Every day, I write a thousand words. If I write more, great, but every day, it's got to be a thousand. That's for just MCI. Plus I need to work the second draft of Holver Alley Crew. And a short story for an anthology.

Now back to writing.