Apr 12 2012

Never Say Never

Posted by Mathias

So many people say never do this and never do that when going about and giving advice to authors. But, except for extreme examples of stupidity (disjointed plots, rampant spelling errors, glaring contradictions, etc.), for every one of these “don’ts” which supposedly make stories unpublishable I can find examples of these “don’ts” being used in published works by both established and new authors all the time.

So how did these “don’ts” come to be “don’ts” then? Who knows. Maybe it is just another example of a lie being told often enough that it becomes truth.

Apr 11 2012

Writers Say Change But Most Readers Say Stand Pat

Posted by Mathias

It is funny. Or maybe it is sad. Several people are reviewing my recent draft of Under the Darkened Moon and it is easy to tell who is a writer and who is a reader based on their comments.

Everyone who is a “writer” has a plethora of suggestions. Not all of them are bad suggestions. But a lot of them I consider petty and nothing more than being along the lines of “I wouldn’t do [insert item here] that way”. Is it wrong I ask? Of course they say it is not but stress how they would change said item if it were their story. Ok, so I am basically chalking such things up as style conflicts between myself and them.

Now flip to the group who are “readers” of fantasy novels. Being my target audience I care more about their opinions. Those petty discussion points of not doing something a “certain way” almost never come up. The reader group has actually caught a few minor contradictions in the plot that I had missed but that the authors group completely missed while they were busy trying to make my writing more like their own. And the reviews have been more positive from those that are readers compared to authors. The group of readers of fiction are more apt to suggest not changing anything except the obvious errors.

Moving forward the story’s edits are coming along well. I hate to cut out the “authors” from the editing process but I am seriously finding that their comments are far less helpful than those who consume such stories for pleasure.

Mar 06 2012

Adding Heft And Garbage To Stories At Publisher’s Insistence

Posted by Mathias

Almost every novel I read seems to have segments where bulk has been added needlessly. Whether it is myriads of little details getting heaped on top of other, little details that will never be played out beyond their introduction, or sidetracks from the main story that seem to have little significance to what is going on an that painfully drag on, I used to think that these sorts of things were authors just babbling and trying to maintain a rigid, dictatorial grip over ever aspect of every leaf on every tree in “their story”.

But, in talking to authors it has lead me to realize that many times, not all however, these sorts of things are put in to appeal to publishers who demand a story be of a certain length or a certain concept within the book be further explored. One friend of mine, currently going through the process of getting his first book published, is adding nearly 30,000 words to his novel because the publisher demanded a longer book after accepting to publish said book. Last night he told me of the horror he was going through to stretch out his story. In some places he gripped about having to “over describe” scenes to the point where reading them nauseated him. He has also added an entire chapter early in the book to included some “action” where the publisher said the book was dragging. But now, with the addition of that chapter, he is finding all sorts of contradictions that need cleaned up elsewhere and changing other aspects of the story. He wants published so he is doing all this grudgingly.

To an extent, we all hope that anyone putting the time and effort in to publishing a book for us as authors knows what they are doing. Sometimes though, based on experience as a reader I do have to wonder. When it comes to a choice between publication or trash bin I think we all, with a few exceptions, choose publication. But in the back of my mind I do have to wonder how much of the things that I find distasteful about so many books I read were not by the author’s hand but rather from the publisher’s ardent insistence.