Jul 04 2012

Painting Yourself Out Of A Corner As A Writer

Posted by Mathias

Nearly every novel has them, that scene or chapter that just never feels right when being read in context with the story. Sometimes they are minor. Other times they are major. But the fact that they exist so often, sometimes multiple times in a single story, is a reality.

In a way, their very existence sort of gives us aspiring authors hope. We tend to fret about every bit of our story being so perfect. Not as good as it can be mind you, but one-hundred percent infallible. It seems that this is what holds us back more than anything else. So many people never submit the novel they have written because they are certain that it has faults. Even though every story every published has faults too.

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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.

Feb 09 2012

Reading Level For A Good Story

Posted by Mathias

A friend of mine, a published author, suggested that any story I write should have a Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level of between 3.5 and 5.5 or 6.0 at most. I thought that seemed low so I cut and pasted some segments of published novels I have around in digital format into Word and checked. All of those tests actually fell into that range.

So I took the new Chapter 1 I have just written for Under the Darkened Moon and ran it though the readability statistics analyzer in MSWord.

The results were:
Passive Sentences – 2%
Flesch Reading Ease – 86.9
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level – 3.8

So looks like I am in that range and if there is anything to this I have that, probably minor, hurdle hurdled.

Just to make sure though I ran my free writing exercise which I recently completed though the tool as well.

Passive Sentences – 5%
Flesch Reading Ease – 83.4
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level – 4.4

I also ran my short story Second Chances:

Passive Sentences – 5%
Flesch Reading Ease – 85.8
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level – 3.8

Yep. Looks like I am solidly in that range.