Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Prologue or not to Prologue

I have a three page prologue at the beginning of my current manuscript which covers approximately twenty years of family history for the lead character. It gives a bit of a world setting and sets up for some of the conflict to come.

Some beta readers love it, others hate it, so I have decided it should not stand as it is. I think the problem many readers have is that I kept it intentionally short because I didn't want to put readers off with an expansive prologue. Now I am finding that nearly all the spots in my manuscript where I breeze over things because I think the audience won't be interested in the finer details are the biggest stumbling blocks. When I go back and flesh them out into fully realized scenes the readers enjoy them much more. In my attempt to shorten things, to keep from boring my readers I have created parts that bore the readers...

So, back to the prologue. I need to figure out if it's having the same problem, perhaps instead of three pages it should be ten, or twelve. The only way to find out is to write it. Then I'll cross my fingers and hope people like it so I don't have to cut it entirely.

Anyhow, that's where I am. I hate this stage of writing, it's all second guessing myself, hoping that the changes I make are for the better. It's frustrating, because I feel sometimes like I am making less improvement to the manuscript each day that passes, but occasionally I will have a big breakthrough, or a beta reader will point to a problem I hadn't noticed before. Then I'm thankful I'm taking my time and going through it all thoroughly.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writing Versus Editing

I have been editing lately, which I suppose is why I haven't been on here as much.

To me writing is enervating, exciting and new. I get to create and worry about polishing at a later date. I can focus exclusively on what is good in my own writing and just enjoy, knowing that any bad parts can be excised later.

Well, now it is later. Editing is when I take a cold hard look at everything I've written and I have to focus on the bad parts. After a few days it is hard to keep confidence that the book is even worth an agent or a publisher's time. Harder still, to imagine that it will actually be published one day. Fortunately the feedback I've received so far has all been extremely positive. My readers all have points they would like me to fix but every one so far has said that, overlooking some blemishes which can easily be fixed, it is something they would expect to see on the shelf of a book store. I need to hear that from time to time, as I am sure you other writers out there know all too well, writing is a lonely business.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

That Which Was Dead Lives Again

Melodramatic title, I know. A friend I met online who has signed recently with a good literary agency offered to read my older novel Valkia's Gift. I had essentially trunked the thing, thinking it was something to re-visit later when I had a better understanding of my craft.

He got back to me today and said, essentially the first quarter is shaky, the second quarter is good and the second half is of a quality he would expect from a book in a major bookstore.

Which brings me to a dilemma. Do I focus my energy on Valkia, leaving Aetherstorm on the back burner for a while while I give it one last hurrah, or do I let the dead lie for a little longer, work on getting Aetherstorm published and use the experience and connections I develop through that process to sell Valkia?

It is problematic. Aetherstorm, like Valkia has a beginning I am not quite happy with, but I can't quite place my finger on what is wrong, but I think is otherwise a very good book. Editing has bogged down, and you can see my blogging has slowed, always a sign I'm less than 100% happy with my work at the moment.

I think for now I'll send Aetherstorm off to some beta readers and wait for their responses before continuing to beat my head against a wall with it. Meanwhile I can hopefully beat Valkia into shape and get it back out there. As I've said before it was this ][ close before.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Progress Bar 5

As I said earlier this week, I am finished the first draft. All the loose ends are mostly wrapped up, although there is certainly room for a sequel. The manuscript is 66,283 words long now. A little on the lighter side than I was hoping for. Recommended length for young adult titles is 45-80k, but I was aiming for around 75k. It seems to be expanding slightly as I progress through the second draft so I expect the final to be in the vicinity of 70k.

The second draft is going smoothly, occasionally I find places where I need to expand the descriptions or add a few details. One short section needed a complete re-write, but on the whole I am very happy, looking back on what I've written. I expect the second draft will be ready for beta readers by the end of next week, well ahead of schedule.

Hopefully it will be ready to query in another month or so. Time to gird myself for battle, prepare for the slings and arrows of the query process and let slip the queries of war!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekend Steampunk Videos

First up, a collection of projects in a steampunk workshop.

Internet memes translated into Victorian times.

Finally, the best corkscrew ever invented.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


The first draft is finished. Sort of. It has been written to the end, let's put it that way. The climax and the follow-up, even a short epilogue. All done.

Now I am editing and filling in. As an author I tend to be very direct and to the point. Nearly every scene I have written to this point is directly relevant to the plot. But I have created a world that I hope will entice readers to stop and smell the roses now and again, which means I need to go back and plant a few. Here is a sample, I hope it smells sweet.

Konrad helped Tinibu and Grover out while they worked on the fourth aircraft in their wing of fighters. Tinibu dangled over the side of the biplane's turbine access hatch, held up by a thin hemp rope and a mesh of canvas straps he wore like a vest. Beneath the aeroplane, flapping in the wind, was what the mechanics on Kharkov called a diaper, a large sheet of netting, designed to catch anything the mechanic might drop by accident. Grover and Konrad stood above, lowering tools and parts on long cords to Tinibu whenever he called for them. The sun had just passed over the horizon, so Tinibu was closing up for the day.
Konrad glanced up and saw a glittering jewel in the distance, set against the dusky sky. He pointed it out to Grover.
“What is that?”
Grover looked up and smiled. “Paname. The most beautiful sky-city. I have only visited her once and I fell in love. One day I will go back. I save a bit of my pay so I can live there when I retire, find a nice French girl, settle down and raise a family.”
“That is a worthy ambition.”
The city drifted closer, Konrad could make out individual lights glowing in the sky. It had towers and what looked like bridges on the upper surface. Whereas Himmelberg was lumpy and misshapen, every line of Paname seemed planned. Konrad had never considered before that something so large could appear graceful. The entire city sparkled, like a sky full of stars, compressed to the size of a city.
The little man sighed. “It is a pipe-dream Konrad. I would need to work a hundred years to save enough, but, a man has to have dreams. Mine is La Ville-Lumière.”
Tinibu cleared his throat below them. “If you two lovebirds are just about done admiring the view, I am ready to be hoisted up.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ætherstorm Query

I have decided my novel will be named Aetherstorm, at least until I find something I like more. While finishing the final chapters this week I have also been refining my query letter. For those who don't know a query is an essential part of the process to getting published, the body should look something like the back cover of a published novel. Here is the body of the query for Aetherstorm.

Eighteen-year-old Konrad Adler has never set foot on Earth. On most of the planet, aether-warped animals and a dangerous sub-species of human called synari reign. Ordinary men live in the skies, safe from the dangers below, destroying the aether-warped branches of humanity at every opportunity. Konrad appears to be an ordinary human, but in truth he is like the synari, aether-warped, faster and stronger than humans.

When Lord Dragomir discovers his secret, Konrad flees by stowing away on his father's salvage gyrocopter. But the salvage operation goes wrong. The gyro crashes, killing his father and leaving Konrad stranded, hunted by both Dragomir and the synari. He will need to survive on a planet no longer fit for human life, make his way back to his home in the skies and confront Dragomir before he can truly be free.

But Dragomir has bigger plans. The flow of aether on Earth is too weak for him. He would rip a hole in the fabric of space, threatening every life on or above Earth, to create an aetherstorm.

Let me know what you think!