Monday, September 24, 2012

Let Your Baby Go

There comes a time in every story's life when it's been polished so often it's luminescent. When that time comes, we authors need to stop. There is such a thing as too much editing. I have a feeling no matter how many times we tweak our story, we will always find something wrong with it.

It's even worse if you've reread your novel a million times and have gotten so tired of it that it's getting boring. I'm having this problem with my first novel. Been working on it for years. I know every aspect of it backwards and forwards. There are no more surprises.

This reminds me of music. I love a song so much I listen to it over and over. After a while, I get so sick of it I never want to hear it again.

I feel kinda bad talking about my novel like this.

No one wants their story to be boring. I'm doubting myself, thinking I need to change this, tweak that, add this. This is why we need another person over our shoulders. Someone who's not as intimate with our story as we are. Hopefully, their comments will be that little voice in the back of your head reminding you your story is really good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Next Step

My beta readers gave me some great comments. Since I have a better understanding of where my series is going, I'm editing my first novel differently this time around.

If I come across a pivotal scene, I make a note of it as reference for the series. This book brought up a lot of questions. I'm writing them down to remind myself the next two in the series needs to answer them.

This will be the first book I self-publish. I said before I was going this route but I realized I haven't talked much about it.

We all know the publishing industry is on shaky ground. People keep saying it's going through a complete overhaul but no one really knows what it will look like 5, 10 or even 20 years from now. This is the main reason I decided to self-publish my book. I don't feel comfortable investing a great deal of my time and money into entering such an unstable structure. I also like the idea of being in complete control of the creation of my book.

That being said, this was not something I wanted to do. But, like my stories, the idea kept nagging at me. My instincts told me to go this route so, I shelved my own fears, rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I'm not doing everything myself. My mother is starting a small press publishing company- Aubey LLC, I did the website by the way- still tweaking it a bit. She's helping me through this process. I don't have to find a professional editor because she knows plenty.

Self-publishing is like starting your own business and I've been enjoying myself immensely.

Yeah, it is a lot of work especially since I have a full-time job and I'm working part-time for Aubey. Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning but, I'm glad I chose this route. I've been picturing my book cover for months now and I'm super excited to find a graphic designer who can bring it out of my head. I'm also excited about the book trailer I have in mind.

Traditional vs. Indie. One is not better than the other. Sometimes, I think it would be nice to have a team of people behind my book. I haven't entirely ruled out the possibility of going the traditional route but, for right now, this works for me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution 3D

It was about what I expected. That's a great way to start a review. I was hoping this one would be better than the forth one, Afterlife, but it was about the same. A fun ride.

If you really like the video game, though, I'd recommend skipping this one. I don't know the original story but was told the movie messed up all the characters. Like that's a shocker. The remake always rips the original a new one.

Here's a hilarious comic from Dog House Diaries about just that.
Resident Evil is a game not a book but I'm pretty sure the concept is the same.

Let's pause for a moment. Don't the people behind these remakes get tired of viewers saying "the book was better", or "that's not what that character would've done" or, "it wasn't as good as the original"? Seriously, what remake has been better than the original?

But, I digress. I don't usually have high expectation when I go to movies. This time wasn't different. Movies are entertainment. If I can make it through the hour and a half to two hours and not want to scream at the characters or say, "that makes absolutely no sense" or "that was dumb" than, the movie has done its job.

If you're looking for mind-numbing entertainment and awesome fight scenes then, Resident Evil: Retribution is for you. The whole making the movie look like a video game was pretty cool.

The people behind this movie put a little too much into making it look cool that they forgot about everything else. It had a plot but it was weak. The only reason I remember the characters is because I'm familiar with the video game.

I will give Retribution this, it knew how to use the 3D. Most movies aren't worth watching in 3D but this one was. Afterlife was too. That being said, do not pay the extra money unless you're like me- someone who can't resist watching a movie in 3D.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Write To Make Your Story Happy

I've said it before- I don't like the idea of writing for the market. You should write your story the way you want to. That being said, we can still get caught up in what people might think.

My novel has a few graphic scenes. I didn't think they were that intense but my beta readers were slightly shocked. I returned to those scenes to lessen their impact but I couldn't do it- not without ruining the story. Now, I have moments where I'm fretting over whether or not they're too intense.

There's this short story I wrote. I'm super proud of it but I'm reluctant to share it because it's really rough. I even removed some powerful words to lessen the impact.

This is a pointless battle. Everyone is not going to like your story. We need to make peace with this. We can't censor ourselves because we're afraid some may not like what we said.

Similarly, the main reason I'm not doing back flips about being closer to self-publishing my first novel is fear of negative reviews. The idea of someone not liking my story is heartbreaking but we can't focus on the negative.

Don't let your work suffer because of fear. We really don't know how our audience will react. What if you fret over a scene, publish the novel and find out a good percentage of your readers loved it? Fear is one vicious monster but we can't let it gut our story.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Liking the Bad Guy

I've said it before, I love morally questionable characters. You know, the antihero. I enjoy writing them. How do you make these little monsters sympathetic without filing down their claws?

My characters kill with no remorse. They're prone to violence and can be more than a little heartless. They treat humans like slightly useful ants. There's no deep reason they act this way. They were simply born violent and mean. To make it even more challenging, they're extraordinarily powerful.

First of all, there's no way to make sure all your readers aren't thoroughly disgusted by your antihero. The reviews of some of my favorite books are proof of that. Make peace with it and move on.

Actually, it would be entertaining reading a review of my book where someone abhorred my characters because of their despicable actions. Weird, I know.

Anyway, back to the initial question. How do you make readers care about these characters? You could go the whole "they have this darkness inside them but they're trying desperately to fight it." I never go that route. My characters know they're dark and they don't shy away from it.

Soft Spot
I don't mean give your characters something that turns them into cooing little ninnies. Well, okay, you can have them melt over a puppy or give them a secret rose garden. It would be kind of cute but slightly cliche. For my protagonists', their soft spot is a person and they never melt. They'd do almost anything for this person and will level an entire town without thought if even one resident hurts them.

Give them a noble cause. Channel all that aggression into a force for good. My characters use their powers to help humans- not for entirely selfless reasons but still, the end result is good. Both sides benefit. Or, you can give them some gorgeous dream they don't want to admit having.

What if your character's soft spot isn't that obvious? What if their motives are selfish and despicable? I'm thinking of a movie- The Dark Knight and a character- Joker. The man has no redeeming qualities yet, I really liked him. Then, there's Loki from Avengers. In this book I'm reading, King of Thorns, the main protagonist, Jorg, has a soft spot somewhere but I can't find it and his motives aren't that noble but, I love him anyway.

The word that comes to mind is "coolness." Don't think people use it. Anyway, Joker, Loki and Jorg may be despicable but, they're super cool. It's fun to watch and read about them.

The purely awesome character is harder to write on purpose, at least I think it is. Of all the books I've read with morally questionable characters, this type hasn't been featured a lot. Authors rely on the soft spot or the motive to make them likable. If you set out to create a "cool" badass, you run the risk of creating an extraordinarily lame character. You know, like that person trying so hard to be cool they come off as sad and pathetic.

Find books or movies with this type of character and examine why you like them. In Jorg's case, I love the way he talks. He goes way beyond blunt but forms his words beautifully enough that they don't sound as rude and vulgar as they really are. Doing this will give you ideas for your own antihero.

The best way to learn how to write the antihero is to read and study stories featuring them. Fortunately, Dark Fantasy is full of protagonists with skewed morals.

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