Monday, April 29, 2019

Novel Quest 7: Character deaths?





Okay, this is my own take. This will also be a short blog. We all have an opinion about character deaths. Sometimes a character death is needed. Sometimes they are a trope overused and tiresome.
I see it now in films and TV-let's kill this character and upset folks. Sometimes this is done in huge numbers. Isn't this great? Wow, look at all that violence and death. Sadly for me, it has become tiresome.

If death is the only way to drive your story or you are only interested in shock value, you are missing something. Stop and think. Death can have meaning for a story, but be careful how you do it and why. Give it meaning if you must, but do not rely on character death. It has become a cheap and easy tactic that has turned me off some shows and literature. Why should I invest in a story if everyone dies? 



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Novel Quest 6: To Outline or Not to Outline?







The Truth about Outlining Novels and the Pansters Revenge


Outlining a novel can be great, but if it is not your thing, don't sweat it. Some must outline each and every aspect of a novel. I am a little more fluid, though I am organized. A solid compendium and knowing where my characters are stories are going is my solid base.

I do a couple pages on what the story is and main characters. I work from there. There is no set rule. I generally have a firm grasp on word count and chapters. I tend to keep my novels between 95,000 and 100,000 words. I learned to hone the skill of writing 10 page chapters. This is just math, but it is crucial. You need a chapter to begin and end with interest. In the past, I used scene breaks, which works too. Often those scene changes can be set up in their own chapter, but it depends on length. A 10 page chapter framework helps you to figure out your characters challenges and threats to your hero/heroine. I have my character and world charts, with rich details on world and characters so fully developed, they write themselves. I have my tale...but I do not do a typical outline.

Keep in mind my process does not give me grief. My story is fully worked out on paper and in my head keeps it flowing. Some minor changes may occur, a shift in direction or character focus, but they always turn out to be for the better. Nothing is set in stone during the process.

I do know how each book I write will end. I know who survives, who doesn't. As an author, if you write regularly and work at it, will develop a process right for you. Go with that. And no, I do not write my the seat of my pants....I am not a panster (I read that in a blog on outlining).  It is a quaint term for authors who do not outline, but write by the seat of their pants. I know where I am going and what will happen. My process and creative flow are my own.

If you feel you need to officially outline your novel, do it! There are tons of guides online on how to do that. If not, develop a system for you that works.

Until then, write more fantasy!

Verna McKinnon


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Novel Quest #5: A Loss of Sanity & Cookie Madness





A Loss of Sanity & Cookie Madness

We need to review what it costs to write a book. Hence, my title for this entry to my novel quest series is A Loss of Sanity & Cookie Madness.

It has been a while since my last post, but as you must know, I'm often busy writing. Currently it is my new novel in progress, The Bastard Sorceress. I have also been promoting my new novel, The Bardess of Rhulon, on social media. Plus I have a day job, a patient husband, and two petulant cats. Needless to say, my time is spread thin. This is the life of a writer. Our current culture does not allow us to fall off the grid like Hemingway, live in a dump, drink coffee in a cafe, and type out a manuscript on an old typewriter. Life is not so simple. We are all poor of course, unless we are lucky enough to have an income from other sources which allows us a luxury to write whenever, wherever.
In reality, most of us do not.

So we must contend with the slings and arrows of everyday life as we work very hard in this complicated publishing industry, not only complete our novels, (which for me, is the easy part), but deal with the reality of submissions, rejections, agent hunting, tracking social media and promoting, and other frustrating aspects of this job.

So to appease my madness, I eat cookies and drink coffee. I push on and keep going. You must, because no one is going to do it for you. It is maddening. Being good, or even a great writer, is not enough in this business. There are so many other factors blockading success I cannot even list them. But you suck it up and deal. You keep going, because writing is what matters. My novels matter. And screw anyone who says anything different.

So be brave and write, and remember when you lose your mind, there are always chocolate chip cookies and lattes to ease the pain.

More to come. In the meantime, read more fantasy!

Best,

Verna McKinnon

Friday, January 18, 2019

Novel Quest #4 Plots! Oh, those nasty plots!







The Trouble With Plots

Hello fellow friends & writers. I have finally recovered from the holidays, so now back to work! My first post in 2019 is about plots.

Plots are a baseboard. A basic foundation to your story. The trouble with plots is there is a finite number of the plots in the universe. Maybe nine. Or less. Anyway, people twists themselves into a frenzy trying to come up with an original plot no one has heard of before.  I have one word of advice: RELAX.

Plots are simply a way to organize your story. It is the springboard from which your character's journey jumps off. It is how you can structure your novel. So relax. worry about creating exciting characters and dialogue. More to come in novel quest. So, keep writing and reading!

Cheers,

Verna McKinnon