Tag Archives: writing

The Future of This Blog and More

Have you noticed how quiet I’ve been? I think I lost my way. But never fear, I am coming back and stronger than ever. There are going to be some changes around here, some streamlining, and a much stronger focus.

I started I Read Encyclopedias for Fun to review books and use as a means to launch my writing career. Somewhere along the way, I started talking about other things, stopped writing, and even stopped reviewing books. The only thing that really kept going was Authors Answer, which I haven’t updated in quite a while.

The last three months have been a trying period. So many things have happened that took priority. Surgery (not me), health issues (not me), employment issues (me!), a new puppy, and a complete reassessment of what I want for myself and my family in terms of business and creative endeavours. I haven’t been very active in the blogosphere, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. That will change.

This blog is very important to me, and important to my future in writing. But this goes back to early 2012, and the whole reason I started this blog. As a platform for me to showcase my writing, talk about the publishing industry, and, this is extremely important, make like-minded friends. I feel I did the friend thing, and I am happy for all the people who have helped out and contributed to this blog in Authors Answer.

But I should get to the point. What’s going to happen?

The Blog

The blog will be given a mild makeover. Actually, the theme will stay the same, I’ll just redo the banner. I want it to focus more on the book and writing aspect of things. The topics I write about will change. Actually, they’ll be more focused on the core of this blog: writing and books. I’m going to take the time and actually write fiction. I will talk about the writing process. I will talk about my writing progress. I will give little insights into what I’m doing in my writing. I will talk about world building once again. This is a very important and interesting topic to me.

Authors Answer is going to go on an indefinite hiatus. It’s become increasingly difficult to think of topics to talk about every month. It may come back in the future. Actually, I want it to come back in the future, as it’s been a staple on this blog for three years. I think it needs new and fresh ideas, though. There are three posts I still have to make, and I’ll be doing them on every Friday for the rest of this month. Unfortunately, due to all of the events that have happened since summer ended, I didn’t take the time to get my traditional “big authors” to contribute to the anniversary question. This time, it’s only focusing on the core contributors of Authors Answer, and to be honest, they deserve the spotlight. I can’t thank the contributors to Authors Answer enough. You don’t know how much I’ve appreciated you all.

Expect to see a bit of an integration between my main YouTube channel and this blog, as well. But it’s nothing new. I plan to post each of my book-related videos to this blog, but I will have a lot of things to say, as well. I won’t just post the videos. They’ll be a part of a blog post, not the purpose of the blog post.

YouTube

That takes me to my other creative outlet, YouTube. I’ve been focusing a lot on my channels, especially in the past couple weeks. I have three channels that I will be uploading to regularly. Only one of those channels will be talked about on this blog regularly, though. In case you don’t know about them, here’s your chance to discover them.

Jay Dee Archer is my self-named channel, and it is my book/writing/scifi/fantasy channel. I do talk a lot about Star Trek and things like that, but that’s my main non-bookish series (except the Japan videos). This is the channel that I will be posting videos of, but only the book-related videos (except Star Trek). That is actually my “official” author’s channel, so it is highly relevant to what I talk about on this blog. The reason I will continue posting my Star Trek videos here is because that series is a huge influence on my science fiction writing. It’s been an important part of my life since I was a kid, and I will not stop talking about it. Anyway, click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph to go to my channel and subscribe.

Science: Not Just a Theory is my second channel, and the one that requires the most resources and time to produce videos. As a result, I’ll only be doing one video a week for now. I don’t want to take too much time away from my writing, but this channel requires a lot of research and plenty of editing. The main focus is space, but I will talk about other sciences, as well. It’s also the channel that has the largest potential for growth on YouTube, and as a result, could be a major source of income for me. While the prospect of it becoming an actual business for me is quite possible, I do this channel because I love science and want to promote the importance of it to people, as well as show how it can be very interesting.

Tommy and Dad is my third channel, and this is a more relaxed family vlog featuring my daughter and I. I’ve started vlogging on it just this past week, and hope to maintain regular uploads at a pace of around videos per week. This channel requires the least amount of time to edit and produce videos, so I can do them more frequently. I don’t do anything fancy. Just record, edit the clips together, and post to YouTube. It’s more of a fun thing for my daughter and I, but it also has a lot of potential. If you’re interested in seeing a bit about my life with my daughter, then check it out!

Business

I am taking a business-like approach to a lot of things now, because I want to provide a secure future for my family. But it’s also important to enjoy doing what I do. I don’t write or make YouTube videos for money, but if I can focus and make it into a business, then I will. Over the past year, I’ve been doing a lot of research on SEO (search engine optimization), marketing, and promoting. I need to do a lot more to become good at it, though. The promotion of this blog, my writing, and my YouTube channels is important, and I will do my best to get them out there for people to discover. At least I won’t be spammy about it.

There are other avenues I’m looking at. For my science channel, I’m using Patreon, which I have yet to promote. I’m going into Patreon not as a way for me to ask people for money. No way. Wrong approach, and I definitely don’t like that way. It’s a business platform, as well as a community I want to develop. I’ll be offering value to it. There will be perks for Patrons, and depending on how much a Patron contributes, the perks increase. It will also allow me to improve the videos and devote more time to both making videos and writing. As the channel is educational, I believe it has a lot of value for people. There are exclusive benefits to being a Patron, such as behind-the-scenes videos, input into the production of the videos, private discussions about science, and opportunities for discounted merchandise.

And that brings us to merchandise! I’ll be opening a Cafe Press store to sell science, education, and literary themed merchandise. You might want a mug, or maybe you want a t-shirt. I’ll have those and more. I hope to launch the store in the next couple months.

What do you think?

So, what are your thoughts about this? What kind of merchandise are you interested in? Do you have any video ideas for any of my channels? And what kind of bookish/writingish (I made that up) blog posts would you like to see in 2018? Leave me a comment! All the feedback you have is greatly appreciated.

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Authors Answer 151 – Tough Criticism

Authors will never please everyone. They have their fans, but also their critics. Check out some of the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and you’ll see some pretty negative reviews, including for books that are widely loved. Authors need to develop a thick skin when dealing with criticism, whether it’s from readers or publishers.

Question 151 – What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

C E Aylett

Do you know what? I can’t think of anything I’d consider really tough. I mean, sure, I receive ‘harsh’ critiques on workshop pieces but in a constructively harsh way, so i don’t really see that as tough. More like helpful. When I was a Noob I got a bitchy critique from someone but I soon found out that they had some rather ugly and deep psychological issues. It was such a long time ago I don’t even remember what was said now.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

To be honest, I don’t take too many criticisms to heart. I learned a long time ago that most criticisms are based on personal tastes (which I can’t control, so why worry about it?) or peoples’ desire to be jerks for no particular reason (which I also can’t control, and those people aren’t worth my time anyway).

That said, there was one criticism that really bothered me, mainly because it was very public. I’d sent out a few free books to a service that passes those books on to reviewers with the stipulation that they rate and review the book on the platform of the author’s choice (in my case, Amazon), and I received entirely positive reviews except for one. That last reviewer completely demolished me, on Amazon, for the world to see, with a 2-star review and a major bashing of my writing style, wording choices, and claims of grammatical/formatting errors that not one other reader has brought up yet, so I’m not even sure what she was talking about. All in all, I felt it was an unnecessarily cruel slamming, and because of the wording of the review I felt like she was purposely being harsh simply because it’s a zombie story and she felt that zombies are “over”. I would have just brushed it off as someone who doesn’t like zombies and probably shouldn’t have even been reading the book in the first place, but it bothered me for a while because it kept showing up on the book’s Amazon page as the top review, and it frustrated me that that would be the first thing people saw if they scrolled down to see what people were saying about my book.

Jean Davis

To date, I would say the hardest thing to hear was confirmation on issues I suspected with one of my published books. You know, those nagging issues that you ponder in the night, but your publisher and critique partners assure you it’s all good. Then you begin reading reviews and realize you should have trusted your gut. Trust the gut, it’s there for a reason.

H. Anthe Davis

In the past, I’ve been told that I’ve tortured the English language. That’s part of the reason I’ve been going back over my early books to see where I can un-torture certain phrases and paragraphs — because honestly I can’t deny that sometimes my sentence structure and concepts get a bit over-complicated and knotty. I’ve had a lot of success recently in fixing those problems, and thus the flow of the stories.

D. T. Nova

Even the most negative criticism I’ve received has been given respectfully and constructively, at least.

The toughest was probably the (largely correct) observation that characters were spending too much time discussing important issues unrelated (or seemingly unrelated) to the plot.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Criticism vs vitriol… I suppose the toughest legitimate criticism is that I am a little sparse and dry in my writing style. Vitriol is another matter. I’ve been told that my characters are unbelievable because life is fair and someone can’t be tall, good-looking, and competent.

Gregory S. Close

The toughest criticism I’ve received as an author was probably the review of In Siege of Daylight on Creativity Hacker.

The reviewer didn’t find it engaging, was totally confused about what was happening (based on his description of what he’d gleaned of the plot) and he objected to the “proper noun salad” of people, places and things and thought the prologue was pointless .

It was tough to read, particularly because I made an effort not to fall into the bad prologue trap or the info-dump trap. Disappointing. But I actually like critical reviews. You can learn a lot from them.

Jay Dee Archer

For my serious writing, I haven’t received anything particularly tough, but the one that popped up often was my tendency to use infodumps. I told too much, and didn’t show enough. That’s fair criticism, because I completely agreed. But as for some less serious writing, I once published a parody online when I was in university that made fun of the writing style of younger people who don’t seem to know grammar or spelling very well. It was well-received by a lot of readers, but it was completely bashed by one who thought I actually wrote that way. He didn’t realise it was a parody until after I told him.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what was the toughest criticism you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 150 – Creative Evolution

Writing is a skill that changes over time. The more an author writes, the better they become at their craft. Reading our first stories remind us how far we’ve come. And quite often we cringe and hide that story so no one can see it. This time, we’re talking about how we’ve changed over the course of our writing careers.

Question 150 – How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

H. Anthe Davis

I think I’ve most evolved in my editing skill — my ability to detect bad material and fix it. I’ve also loosened up a bit in my textual diction and am slowly figuring out how to not torture the English language, as I was critiqued once. I used to use more complex constructions and more high-falutin’ words in places where they weren’t necessary, or were in fact counter-productive to the flow and tone of the narrative. I’m trying to relax that, and clean up some of my descriptions and metaphysical concepts so it doesn’t take ten re-reads to figure them out. Clarity and precision are key.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Creatively? I think I can definitely say that over time I’ve expanded a great deal concerning the type of fiction I’ll write. Growing up, and as a young adult (not that I’m particularly old now), I would pretty much only write fantasy-type stories. Even concerning fanfiction, I stuck to things like Harry Potter and that novelization of Final Fantasy 3 that I never did finish (*cough cough*). As time went on, though, I began delving into genres I never really thought I’d be any good at – such as horror – and I loved it. These days, while I do definitely still focus on fantasy, horror, and supernatural themes, I’m a lot more open with what I’ll try. I haven’t shared much of it, but I’ve written lots of different genres now, from alternate history, to sci-fi, to erotica, and I think being able to do that really exercises the mind creatively, even if you know that you might never publish those pieces.

Jean Davis

When I first started writing seriously, it took me much longer, like years, to finish a first draft. Now that I’ve been at this for twelve years, I’ve managed to wrap up a full first draft in a matter of months. I’d like to think my voice is stronger, that I’ve got a better grasp of what works and what doesn’t, and that I now know when to abandon a project and when to slog my way through it.

Eric Wood

My writing has evolved slowly and quietly over the years. Where I once wrote straight forward without inferences, I now include hidden, deeper meanings. Where once all my characters were the same (basically, me) now are diverse and unique. Also, my stories have developed a complexity they didn’t have before.

Gregory S. Close

Over the years I’ve increasingly recognized the importance of craft in writing, rather than relying purely on talent. A natural talent for writing/story-telling is important, but it’s equally vital to have the tools to hone that talent. You can only be as talented as you, that’s a set value – but you can always improve your craft with hard work.

Cyrus Keith

If anything, I believe I’ve grown to be more careful in writing technique, using literary tools more easily. I pay attention to repetition, excessive speech tags, adverb usage, tension, characterization, and a host of other details that I always took for granted before. I think with every novel I complete, I become a better writer, more able to wield these tools with ease. I also think I’ve become more humble, through the many rejections that still come my way.

Paul B. Spence

I began as a sort protoplasmic ooze with single storylines but quickly became multi-linear. I suppose it might have been radiation, or that big black monolith thing in my back yard…

D. T. Nova

I’ve become more aware of my influences, and consequently become more likely to get a little meta.

I’d also like to think I’ve gotten better at writing things that work on multiple levels.

Jay Dee Archer

In the early days of my writing, I had fairly straightforward stories with a rather awkward way of narrating. I really don’t want to read what I wrote back then. My stories have added many layers. There are multiple storylines now. And I think I narrate far better. Word choice, avoiding repetition in speech tags, and a strong desire to avoid infodumps. But I also think that the eleven years that I spent teaching English have improved my grasp of the English language. I pay close attention to the grammar I’m using, though I think I may do that too much. I get hung up over a sentence, when I should just continue writing and worry about the structure later when I’m editing it. There’s always room for improvement!

How about you?

If you’re an author, how have you changed creatively over the years? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 149 – eBook Piracy

Pretty much everything that’s been copyrighted or patented has been copied. There are bootleg copies of Rolex watches, bootlegged and pirated movies, sharing of music with peer-to-peer sharing software, and eBook piracy. It’s the last one we’re concerned about. This week’s question was asked by Gregory S. Close.

Question 149 – What are your thoughts on ebook piracy – is it a terrible scourge, a necessary evil, or potentially great viral exposure?

C E Aylett

That’s a tricky one. I mean, before ebooks were around how many times did you lend or were lent a book? We didn’t recognise it back then as piracy, but it amounts to the same thing — sharing a work you didn’t have the right to distribute. Of course, that’s small scale compared to how things are shared nowadays.

I came across one of my Kindle stories on a reading site the other day, actually. I thought I’d investigate further and hit the ‘read online’ button to see what happened. It asked me to register and give my credit card details, even though they promised they wouldn’t take any money from the card. Obviously, alarm bells were clanging and I declined, but it did make me wonder how it worked. If I had given my card number, would I have been able to access the story for free, and if so, how can that be when it’s a story solely on Kindle and should be behind a paywall? If they had scammed me and taken money from my card, would I have had access to the story for free and who the hell is making money on the back of my work and not paying me? Because Amazon are the only ones who pay me for those stories. It’s one thing having stuff out there for free because you want to share your work or gain readership but it’s something else entirely if people have access to unlimited content for a small fee that isn’t being paid to the authors of the material the hosts are profiting from. That is noxious. But it seems the life of an author, sadly. Most short fiction publications want you to donate your work to them for nothing, too. It’s attack on the author from all sides!

D. T. Nova

A mildly annoying scourge, maybe? It’s bad and should be discouraged, but I think the scale of it isn’t sufficient to be as big a concern as some people make it to be.

Paul B. Spence

*Shrug* I don’t feel like it affects me. I could see it being a strategy for viral marketing, if anyone wanted the book. The way I see it, people who want to buy my book will buy my book. If they are pirating lots of books, they probably won’t ever read mine anyway.

Cyrus Keith

Any kind of intellectual piracy is the kind of arrogance I’d relegate to someone with the mentality and moral compass of a fly. The worst part is, they don’t respect anyone else’s privacy and property, and think nothing of stealing from others, justifying their theft through entitlement thinking. They don’t care how much blood, sweat and tears we have to pour out to create our work, they just want a free ride on our coattails. My blood pressure goes up even thinking about these cretins, these leeches, taking food from my table, stealing from my pocket, not caring that I struggle to meet my own bills. They may as well be coming through my window and making off with my wallet. There is no excuse, no good reason for what they do, and I wish I could implant something in every one of my books that could detect a piracy attempt and fry out their hard drive. I believe I’ve answered the question.

Gregory S. Close

I think piracy sucks, and there’s (generally) no excuse for it. I have no problem with friends sharing individual copies of paperback or ebooks, but actual piracy, where the book is taken and distributed to millions upon millions with one click – no. I don’t buy the “it gets you more exposure” or “there’s nothing you can do about it” arguments. It’s stealing. You are taking something that an author worked very hard to create and produce in a qualify way, and you’re not compensating the artist. That sucks. It’s also a bad way to ensure ever getting further creative content from that artist. If someone really wanted a free copy of my book, for example, they might try ASKING me for it vs. torrenting it.

Eric Wood

At first, my initial thought is that it’s a terrible scourge. I wouldn’t walk into a bookstore and walk out with a (or many) book without paying for it. Why I would I do that online? I might as well take the money right from the author’s pockets. However, with the internet being the internet, it’s going to happen. So perhaps it’s more a necessary evil? It will help word of your work spread when one reads it (for free or otherwise) and tells others that they read it and liked it and encourage others to read it who then go out and buy it.

Jean Davis

As much as it might potentially be great exposure, I work for months, sometimes years on a book. Giving that effort away for free doesn’t pay my bills. It’s not like I’m working for some giant book making company that pays me regardless and can absorb the losses piracy creates. When you don’t purchase the book in one way or another, that’s lunch money for my kid, my electric bill, etc, that falls short.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’d call it a “scourge” any more than I’d use the same word to describe the thousands of people who pirate each episode of Game of Thrones (hey, if HBO is going to make it effectively impossible to legally obtain episodes in Canada, I’m calling the piracy fair game!). A necessary evil? Perhaps, because it’s simply one of those things that’s nearly impossible to avoid, so why bother worrying too much about it? Potentially great viral exposure? I guess that depends on a number of factors. All in all, I can personally say that, as an indie author with little-to-no royalty income to her name, I do find the idea that people might be passing around pirated copies of my book to be very vexing. But then again, these pirates who are reading the book probably wouldn’t have ever read the book if they hadn’t been able to pirate it. So it’s one of those situations in which you almost have to just be happy with the less crappy option; either way I’m not getting paid, but at least someone is reading the book. Was my thought process bouncy enough for you on that one?

H. Anthe Davis

As someone who doesn’t write for the money, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. So long as people are reading it, I’m happy. Though I’d like it if they’d leave a review somewhere…

Jay Dee Archer

Necessary evil? No, it’s not necessary at all. Scourge? Probably not as bad as people may think, but it would be incredibly irritating for me to find that one of my (future) books is pirated. Potentially great viral exposure? Exactly how is it going to go viral? Thousands of people download the pirated copy, and I don’t see a single penny? No. Absolutely not. I’ve been working on this for years. I want my money. Am I greedy? No. Any artist who works on something for a long time, putting so much time and energy into something, would want a return in their investment. While I don’t expect to be a bestseller, I want to be able to pay bills. I have a family to support. Just like I’m not going to write for someone for free just for the exposure. I write for you, you pay me. Same thing if I was doing photography. You want me to take pictures for you, you pay me. You want me to paint a picture for you, you pay me. I write a book and spend a large amount of time and effort on it, I expect to be paid for it. So, eBook piracy is stealing. It’s that simple.

How about you?

Are you an author? How do you feel about eBook piracy? If you’re not an author, but you’re a reader, how do you feel about obtaining books through questionable means without giving compensation to the author? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 148 – Selling Your Book’s Film Rights

Popular books are most likely to be filmed. Lord of the Rings became arguably some of the best film adaptations. The Hobbit is another matter. Jurassic Park became a fun action and special effects movie, but lost the intelligence of the book. When authors sell the film rights to their books, they have to consider who’s going to make the movie and how closely they’ll adhere to the original story of the book. Do it for money, or do it for the integrity of the story? This week’s question was asked by C E Aylett.

Question 148 – Given the opportunity, would you sell film rights to your book without question or risk waiting for the right production team to come along later down the line, even if there were no other offers on the table?

H. Anthe Davis

I would certainly want to wait for the right production team. A big part of my series, its themes and its world is the multi-racial and especially the mixed-racial aspect, to the point that I’d want most of the cast to be of mixed heritage. Considering Hollywood’s long-standing whitewashing issues, I would need to trust the casting department of whatever production team I sold it to, or else the whole point of the story would be adulterated.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

It’s entirely possible that my answer would change down the road, based on my present situation, but right now, at this exact moment in time, if someone wanted to buy the film rights to one of my books I’d probably have the contract signed before they could finish forming the sentence. For one thing, I assume the money for selling film rights would be a fairly nice little paycheck, which I could definitely use at this junction in my life. For another thing, I jut think it would be amazing to have someone make a movie of one of my stories. Perhaps they’d butcher it beyond belief, but I guess just the idea that someone would even consider one of my stories worth adapting to film sounds incredible to me.

Jean Davis

That would be like accepting a publisher’s offer without question just so you can be published. No thanks. As awesome as an offer on film rights would be, I have questions and I need answers before signing anything.

Eric Wood

If it were my first book turned movie I would probably sell the rights to the first comer. I would just be so excited to see my work on the big screen that I wouldn’t want to wait for another team to come along. If later books were to become movies I would hold out for the right production team. After the novelty of the silver screen wore off after the first movie, I would want to see my next one done bigger and better and as professionally as possible with an A list cast.

Gregory S. Close

I’m not sure that I’d sell the film rights “without question” but I would probably make some sacrifice in creative control/oversight if the payout meant that I could choose to write full-time. I would rather wait for the right team/studio to make the most faithful adaptation possible for the chosen medium, but I’m too old and have too many bills and obligations to be too picky. I’m in more of a Han Solo frame of mind than Luke Skywalker on this point, I guess!

Cyrus Keith

I have a huge personal stake on my reputation as a person as well as a writer. Opening Hollywood to do the same to my work as what they did to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and so many other novels makes my skin crawl. I couldn’t bring myself to sign off carte-blanche creative control to someone who would make my work mean something totally different from what I wrote.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Tough question. I might sell an option without question, but not the rights altogether. I suppose the answer is no, unless they offered me some ridiculous sum of money, in which case they are probably right for the production anyway.

D. T. Nova

I’d definitely have some standards.

I particularly don’t like the thought of having to turn down a later offer because the rights are tied up with something that might not even be made and won’t be good even if it is.

C E Aylett

Ha-ha! My own question and I have no idea. I think maybe it would depend on which book. Some would probably have a higher emotion investment than others (on my part). Also, it might depend on how popular the book was. I mean, let’s say it turned into a cult classic or huge like 50 Shades, then maybe you could afford to wait it out. George R.R Martin says that by the time film options came to him he’d made so much money from the book series he could afford to say no to Hollywood, and did. And aren’t we all grateful for that!

Jay Dee Archer

Without question? No. I don’t think authors are likely to do that. There will be questions. Who wouldn’t ask questions? I’d want to make sure that they aren’t going to completely change the story. If it turns out totally different than the book, I probably wouldn’t want it connected to my book, especially if it flops. Ideally, I’d like to have some creative control with the script of the movie. I’d want to work with the scriptwriters. No, I’d probably want to wait, unless that first offer is actually pretty good.

How about you?

If you’re an author, would you sell the movie rights to your books to the first studio that gives you an offer without question, or would you wait for the right offer? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 147 – Considering Economic Factors When Writing

Creativity is probably the leading reason authors write. They want to create stories that people enjoy. But how much does economics factor into writing books? There are several factors that may figure into how a person writes, including book length and more. This week’s question comes from Gregory S. Close.

Question 147 – Do you write purely creatively, or do you consider economic factors, such as how long the book will be, and how that would effect production/distribution costs?

C E Aylett

Purely creatively. If you approach it from the other direction you are boxing in your muse. And there’s nothing worse than a story that feels contrived to fit size (think of TV series Game of Thrones — wouldn’t we have liked a little more time to develop the Jon/ Dany relationship? Now it feels inauthentic because it wasn’t afforded the proper amount of time to develop, unlike him and Ygritte.)

D. T. Nova

I’ve paid attention to the length, but with more focus on pacing and tension than on economics.

Paul B. Spence

A little of both, of course. I write the book as creatively as you could wish. I do, however, keep in mind a certain size for the book. I try for ninety thousand to one hundred-fifty thousand words per book. So far so good…

Cyrus Keith

Word count is a factor. Many publishers today don’t want to even look at works less than 75,000 words for a novel. After that, I write what I want to write.

Gregory S. Close

Once upon a time I wrote purely creatively, and assumed that the merit of the work would drive how it was published, rather than things like page count, trim, how much shelf-space it would take up, etc. I thought that I was being economically responsible, but I really didn’t know how things worked until my first experience self-publishing. After surviving that, and realizing how much the size of a book effects the production cost, and thus the potential profit for the publisher and/or author (I only get pennies for every paperback of In Siege of Daylight that I sell, because of the print/production costs of a 600+ page, 240k word beast of a tome that it is), I changed my tune.

Now, I’m a lot more practical in how I consider my writing. I know that the sequel to Daylight will probably be equally huge. I can’t afford to invest the time in another epic and the money in the editing, cover art, trim etc. for another economically doomed novel. So, to be strategic, I have decided that if/when I write at all now, it is to be focused on the shorter, more contained, and potentially more profitable books (Greyspace, short stories and a couple of other ideas I’ve got kicking around). In theory, strategically marketing those more profitable works should allow for me to then pivot back to the GIANT TOTALLY EPIC SERIES. Back and forth I must go, if I ever want to make this work. It takes some of the fun out of it, but ultimately, planning ahead might make the difference between getting a chance to write full time or continuing to write part time, part of the time.

Eric Wood

Seeing as how I’m not published yet, I write solely creatively. I write for free right now, so if someone were to offer to pay me double I’d still make nothing. Perhaps one day I’ll have keep those factors in mind.

Jean Davis

When I set out to write a book, I just write the book. The story is how long it is. However, when it comes to editing that story, I then consider the overall length and what publishing goal would be the best for that particular project. I find it’s easier to focus on embellishing or streamlining after the initial creative process has had its way with the story. Too much pressure to meet a specific word goal makes it more difficult to get that first draft out. I get too hung up on specific word choices, efficient sentence structures or adding sufficient wordy depth to the plot, description, and characters.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For the overwhelming part, I write purely creatively. I consider small factors, such as ensuring that the book is at least a certain length, but in general I don’t really let that affect my writing. Some would probably say that I should, because it might make my books more attractive to readers/publishers/etc, but for the most part I write because I love it and because I have stories to tell, and I don’t feel like obsessing over those “economic factors” do anything toward writing a good story. Creating something that is enjoyed by the people who read it is more important to me than creating something that checks off all the proper boxes as far as “proper” creation of a book.

H. Anthe Davis

While I’m aware of length and production issues (being an Amazon CreateSpace self-publisher in the print version, and therefore able to see what it costs per unit at certain sizes), I believe a book has to be the length it deserves to be. Can’t shortchange the plot or the characters just for space considerations. That said, there are always tweaks that can be made and extraneous bits that can be trimmed to keep the page count more manageable. I do what I can.

Jay Dee Archer

At the moment, I’m writing purely creatively. I’m not at the point where I’m considering economic factors, such as length of the book. I believe it’s more important to write what I think is a great story. Of course, I have the length of the book in the back of my mind, but also things like cover art. But if I’m thinking about economic factors, it will interfere with my creative process. Write first, worry about the other things later. But once I am considering economic factors, then I will look at what’s best in terms of being published, both independently and traditionally.

How about you?

If you’re an author, do you consider economic aspects while writing, or do you focus on it entirely creatively? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 145 – Tropes and Cliches

What’s the difference between a trope and a cliche? In literature, a trope is the use of figures of speech, basically. But it can also refer to common themes to various genres (for example, dark lords and the chosen one type of hero in fantasy). But that sounds like a cliche, doesn’t it? However, a cliche is something that is overused so that it loses its original meaning. This week, we’re talking about that, and the question comes from Gregory S. Close.

Question 145 – Do you avoid tropes and/or cliche in your writing? Why or why not?

Cyrus Keith

Tropes and cliches are WAY too much fun to totally leave behind. Overuse can make a story boring and pat. But if your can combine tropes into something totally new, you can do magic with it. Just learn that fine line on which to balance.

D. T. Nova

I avoid specific tropes that I don’t like.

But there are others that I consciously use, and almost certainly some that slipped in unnoticed.

It’s not possible to avoid all popular tropes, and not productive to try.

I avoid cliches like the plague. Wait a minute.

Paul B. Spence

I’m glad you make a distinction here. A trope is part of what defines a genre. A cliché is a tired, over-used idea that probably needs to go away, at least most of the time. I write science fiction. Tropes of this genre that I use include starships, intelligent machines, aliens, and ancient technologies. The trick to keeping a trope from becoming a cliché is to try to think of new and interesting ways to describe your tropes and don’t get lazy. I try to avoid clichés, although I should point out that I said “probably should go away.” Using a good cliché in a new way makes it interesting.

Jean Davis

It really depends on the story. There are times when relying on tropes can make introducing ideas, characters, or world elements easier for both the reader and writer, allowing them to put more focus on making the original parts of the story shine. Relying too much on clichés and tropes may be seen as lazy writing. However, if you’re writing satire or humor, there is certainly a time and place for both of those things.

Gregory S. Close

A trope is a shortcut. Anytime you use a shortcut, it lets you get where you need to go quickly, but often at the expense of admiring the scenery along the way. Using the shortcut isn’t bad in and of itself, sometimes we really don’t have time to tell every bit of every journey for every character, and a little bit of shorthand can go a long way to keep the story moving. I try to be careful about tropes and cliches, using them to paint broad strokes while taking the time to surprise a little with the fine, detailed, brushes.

Eric Wood

I try to avoid cliches like the plague. I don’t think they add any sustenance to the meat of the story. I lose interest when I read other writers using it. However, a good metaphor will last longer than the leftovers growing in the back of the fridge.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I think I probably avoid a fair number of tropes and cliches, just because I want my stories to be different, you know? For instance, with my zombie novel, Nowhere to Hide, I avoided a lot of the common explanations for the apocalypse, like military testing, nuclear waste, and so on, because I wanted people to get something a bit unusual out of my story instead. That said, I also embraced several common zombie cliches in the writing of the story because sometimes the cliches are what make something fun. I think the key is to look at the tropes and try to decide which are ones that people will be disappointed to not see, and which will make them roll their eyes and groan. It’s not always easy, because peoples’ moods can change like the wind, but if you’re a great lover of the genre you’re writing in, it shouldn’t be too difficult to put yourself in the place of the reader and figure out which cliches they’d like or not like.

H. Anthe Davis

This is a tricky question. First off, not all tropes are bad; they’re just noticeable patterns in the character arcs and stories of several thousand years’ worth of human literature. The idea of a Hero’s Journey isn’t devalued because it’s a recognizable pattern; what may devalue it is in how the trope-y aspects of said Journey are handled. Do you play it straight, in an obvious and hackneyed way? Do you change things up, or start something that seems like a Hero’s Journey but turns into a very different kind of tale? Humans are pattern-makers, and we often enjoy recognizing the bones of a story — no matter if the meat grown on those bones is familiar or strange. I personally can identify certain tropes in my writing and characters, but I make damn sure that the tropes aren’t ALL that defines them — that the characters are people in their own right, breaking out of their constraints wherever they can, and that the story goes in an organic direction defined by those characters. Whether this follows, or twists, or averts other tropes doesn’t matter to me, as long as it feels right.

C E Aylett

Depends on the trope or cliché’s purpose. If it has no purpose and is used out of casual habit, then I would look to eliminate it in edits, but if it has deliberate intention, then yes, I would use it.

Jay Dee Archer

It really depends. I mostly avoid using cliches. If it has a place in something I’m writing, I’ll use it. But mostly, no. As for tropes, I do use them, but I don’t want to use them in the typical way. In some genres, especially fantasy, tropes are extremely common. Quite often, they’re expected. A lot of readers want to see some tropes. I’d rather give them a twist on the tropes, something fresh. But I wouldn’t abandon them. Used correctly, they can work very well.

How about you?

Do you like to see cliches or tropes in the novels you read? If you’re an author, do you use them or avoid them? Let us know in the comments section below.