As we come to the final deadline for Nanowrimo, I thought I’d post a few links to writing articles to help inspire you. Keep up the good work and I wish you all success with your Nano projects! Good luck.
A Scifaiku Poem by Wendy Van Camp
in monotonous teal
methane hides soul of giant
wild winds storm beneath
The planet Uranus inspired this astropoem.
This haiku-style poem appears in “The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection” available on AMAZON.
Author Christian Warren Freed believes that life translates into our work, the good guys don’t always succeed, and some don’t survive. His goal is to provide an enjoyable ride readers will continue returning to throughout the years. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.
My name is Christian Warren Freed. After deciding farm life in rural Pennsylvania was not my best option, I raised my right hand and joined the US Army. Ten days after high school, I was on a plane heading for Oklahoma and basic training. The next twenty years seemed to fly by and left me in a weird place- I was a retiree and looking for a new career. I enjoy fine cigars, better whiskey, and love spending time down in the woods with my Bernese Mountain Dogs. Oh yeah, I have also decided to make a go of being as close to a professional writer as possible. Last year I started my own company: Warfighter Books, and continue building my little empire.
When and why did you begin writing?
I suppose we can go with the cliché of starting young. I made goofy comic books back in the 80s as a kid, won an award for a very poorly written horror novel in 10th grade, fiddled with a few books in the 90s. It wasn’t until I was deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 that I wrote my first real book. After that the train picked up steam and I kept writing. I retired from the Army in 2011 and knew what I wanted to do.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I would say after putting The End on the last page of my first book. It runs in my blood though. My uncle is a historian who does a lot of work with Ken Burns and my aunt has a few books under her name aw well.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My newest novel is a throwback to the classic film noir/ detective movies of the 40s and 50s combined with the action of James Bond and set on a galactic backdrop. One of my favorite themes is having characters who live unassuming lives that are suddenly upended by raw chaos. You never know what you’re going to get.
What inspired you to write this book?
Oh, the Lazarus Men had been stewing in my mind after a weekend of watching classic detective films and the whole noir theme. I added my style and a few scifi elements to ramp it up. The beauty of creating is I seldom know the direction my mind wanders.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I have been told to tell people I am direct to a fault. I prefer the in-your-face, straight down the throat approach. To life and writing. I enjoy writing epic battle scenes, whether it is with sword and horse or in a starship.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
I probably got the general idea from an old Batman graphic novel where his villain uses the Lazarus Pit to rejuvenate. I figured hey, what if my bad guy has that ability and builds a quiet empire of influence around it over the centuries?
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nope, not even a little. I read a lot of books with deep philosophical messaging or questing for answers, but this is meant to be a good time, an escape from reality, and a thrill from start to finish.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in
your own life?
I think we as authors always insert a little bit of ourselves in our characters. I haven’t been to space yet so there’s not much influence there, but I’m willing to try!
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
Steven Erikson wrote a very lengthy series filled with complexities beyond imagination, thousands of characters, and multiple storylines that seemingly don’t make sense through each book but are beautifully wrapped up in the final three. I wanted to do that with my opus series (the Forgotten Gods Tales). Aside from him, I use David Weber, Terry Brooks, of course Tolkien, and Dennis L. McKiernan for inspiration. They have a way with words and can draw my attention for books well over 800 pages.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
The tag team duo of Erikson and Ian Esslemont. While I haven’t spoken with either, I get so much fire from reading their books and through the world they created that I want to be like that, but in my own way. Aside from that, my mentor runs a publishing company and I bounce everything off of her before going for it. Kinda….
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I have a handful of artists on hand to execute different styles of cover work. For this particular design I used Warren Design. It conveys the message I am putting out and themes well with the story.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Study the business. There is so much bad advice circulating, from you should write what you want to ignoring what the major publishers do because it’s your journey. Well, yes and no. There is a reason for bestsellers and a reason why yours isn’t. Follow the trends, study the business, and don’t be afraid to take chances.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Since starting out a decade ago I have had the good fortune of discovering some really die hard superfans from around the world. They know how I feel, but for everyone else: thank you for being part of this ride with me. I can string the words together, but you are the ones who determine my failure or success. Here’s to you, and the far horizon we have yet to reach!
The Lazarus Men
Welcome to the top ten writing links from No Wasted Ink. This time the links are mainly writing craft. Just the thing for those of you braving Nanowrimo this month. I hope you like the links!
For the past ten years I’ve read and heard, “Don’t do any revising or editing until you have finished writing the whole story or book.”
What! That goes against common sense and everything I’ve learned in all the years I’ve studied, have written, have taught, and have read. The reasons I disagree are several, but a main one (and I’ve seen examples of this too many times) is if an author waits until after he finishes and then changes something toward the start, he often forgets a later part of the story affected by the change but not adjusted. A story develops from the beginning to end, and once written, any change at the beginning makes differences later in the piece, changes that are easy to miss. Thus cohesion and coherence become weak and faulty.
I know some “writers” who think any major editing should be done by an editor. Let me share something I found in the August issue of The Writer. According to Sam McCarver, the author of six John Darnell mystery novels,
In the time-intensive world of publishing, you may have only one opportunity to intrigue an editor with your writing, your main character and your story. And you must often do than within pages – or the first few sentences – of your manuscript.
Editors are pressed for time and very perceptive in identifying good writing, interesting characters and gripping stories, so they move fast through your pages.
McCarver goes on to say that an author must write the best story or novel possible: edit it, polish it, enhance it. Then he should read and make final changes – all before ever allowing anyone else to read it. Yes, before allowing anyone else to read an manuscript, the author should have spent hours improving a rough draft.
Writing a story or novel is only half the job: Revising is the other half, a most important half, of writing. Ernest Hemingway, E.B. White, F. Scott Fitzgerald all admitted the need to revise and rewrite. Hemingway admitted he cut as he wrote, yet, he would take weeks to revise a book.
McCarver’s article “How to revise your FICTION” gives eight steps for editing a person’s work. I happen to agree with his points, especially the one which states that delaying all editing until the manuscript is finished is a mistake.
However, let’s examine this author’s ideas, as well as those expounded in many composition text books and believed by me:
1. Accept revising as the other half of writing. E.B. White stated that the best writing is rewriting.
2. Adopt good editing procedures. To produce a better first draft, one should begin revising with the first word written, making improvements as he goes. As a writer completes a day’s production, he should study what’s on the screen, if using a computer. If he sees a need for any changes, he should make them while they are fresh in his mind.. Then he should print what is finished.
According to Chang-rae Lee, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, he tries to polish as he goes because what leads him to the next sentence is the sentence before. “I find that it’s hard to move on unless I’ve really understood what’s happening, what comes before and where it’s heading.”
3. Review printed pages. Writers should print out the pages finished and set them aside to “cool.” Then they should read the printout with a pen in hand, noting corrections or revisions that will improve the writing. After making changes on the computer, writers should reprint the pages, adding to the pile of finished pages. Each day’s, or period’s, work should be the same: writing, rereading, editing, and making changes as one goes.
4. Identify errors and correct them. According to McCarver, three procedures are critical in the revision process: correcting mistakes, improving content, and enhancing the story.
The first attention needs to go to spelling and punctuation errors, typos, grammatical mistakes, and inconsistencies in tense or point of view. Although such mistakes may seem minor to the author, editors expect manuscripts to be virtually free of any errors.
5. Improve content. “What you say and how you say it also must be polished to the best of your ability,” states McCarver. “Improving content also includes considering the structure and sharpening your word choice,” as well as re-examining characters for consistency, making sure the plot hangs together, that scenes are compelling and dialogue natural, and that all loose ends are tied up.
Word choice is a topic for another editorial, but it is a vital part of good writing.
6. Concentrate on enhancement. Enhancement goes beyond making corrections and improving content and style: It means increasing the quality and impact of the writing. A techniques given by McCarver are as follows:
* Inserting foreshadowing for greater event impact later.
* Increasing the emotion in dialogue and thoughts in scenes.
* Adding or strengthening subplots.
* Intensifying the consequences of actions and events.
* Adding twists to the plot.
* Shortening flashbacks, if used, and including action in them.
* Making characters seem more real, depicting their actions, dialogue and thoughts more naturally and powerfully.
7. Do that final revision. After finishing the whole manuscript, revise again.
8. Take one last look. After revising the complete manuscript again, the author should reread the printed pages before mailing them or sending a query letter. All errors and last minute changes should be made.
All authors want to impress editors by providing a story that the editors cannot put down. Each author, through a manuscript, has only one chance to make a great first impression.
Note: “How to revise your FICTION” by Sam McCarver in The Writer, August, 2005, provided research material for this editorial as did several composition text books and notes from my files.
Vivian Zabel, former English and writing teacher, heads 4RV Publishing. She studied the art of writing for years and is now a professional editor and award-winning author of children’s, young adult, and fiction books.
Vivian often presents workshops and sessions at conferences around the nation, including the Alaska Writers Conference and the OWFI conference. She has been a member of OWFI since 2002 and the OWFI Grant Director since 2012. She was honored as the Lifetime Member in 2013.
At present, 4RV Publishing needs submissions in fantasy, science fiction, women’s fiction, mystery, suspense, and other genres for the following imprints: tweens and teens, young adult, and fiction, as well as for other well-written books for all ages, fiction and nonfiction. Details concerning genre and details of standards and guidelines can be found at the following website: http://4rvpublishing.com/manuscript-submissions.php .