Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just finished writing a short story. Do you: A) Give it a rest, or B) Dive in and revise?

This was an interesting discussion thread on a forum, which got me thinking.

When I wrap up a short story, I like to take a short break from it. At least one to two days, giving me a chance to sleep on it and letting my neurons replenish. Inevitably, the next time I read it, I find issues. Often those issues crop up on passages or dialogs that I previously felt were toasted to golden brown perfection.

Why is that?

Why does your prose smell sweet in your current editing session only to have it emit a foul odor 2 days hence?

Even more interesting, since you know you're going to view your prose more critically in 2 days and uncover where improvements are needed, why can't you skip the 2 day cooling off period and ferret out those sore spots immediately?

I can certainly chalk it up to: creative juices ran low and must be restocked. Got that. 

Funny thing is, I haven't found a way to significantly increase the capacity of my creative juice battery or reliably shorten its recharge cycle. For editing and revising a just completed story, I'm at my best with a 24 - 48 hour break from it. Sure, I can be somewhat effective making edits sooner, just not AS effective.

I think I've bumped up against some kind of universal constant, at least for my writer brain.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A writer looks backward and forward

My quick writerly recap for 2011:

a) Had my first professional sale (thanks again, Dr. Henry Gee, at Nature: Futures)
b) Cracked the code on writing flash length fiction, something that has vexed me for years
c) Wrote about 3 new short stories and dangled them before various editors
d) Ground out some chapters on Vortex, the novel
e) Published Dark Doses, an anthology of 7 short, sci-fi stories, on Amazon
f) Promptly signed up Dark Doses for Amazon’s KDP Select program and started exploiting that program’s offerings
g) Joined SFWA

In addition I could also say that I continued expanding my writer network. All-in-all, not too shabby of a year, if I do say so myself.

New Year’s resolutions and I don’t mix well. I can’t say they’re my bag really. I just don’t see why there is anything particularly compelling about January 1 that you cannot also devote yourself to any of the other 364 days of the year.

Still, there are some writing focal areas I have in mind for 2012. Let’s call them my Writer’s Code of Conduct to live by. They are summarized as follows.

Todd’s Writing Code of Conduct:
1) Write more often. This is how a writer strengthens their DNA.
2) Don’t dwell on WIPs that are progressing slowly. A story takes as long as it’s going to take to reach THE END in a satisfactory way.
3) Write a variety of works. This is how a writer avoids getting stuck in a rut.
4) Market your finished products. Because marketing is a way to generate demand.
5) Network. Strength, enlightenment, inspiration and passion are contagious and are to be found in your connections to other writers.
6) Show love to all outstanding submissions. Sure they get rejected, but with a kiss and a quick touch-up, they can be aspiring beauty queen candidates again for other editors.
7) Learn more about the craft of writing. Once you stop learning, you start stagnating.
8) Seed the idea farm. Capture worldly inspirations and store them in a bank of ideas where they can mature and have sex, which ultimately gives rise to great new stories.
9) Take holidays from writing. This is how a writer avoids burn-out.
10) Pay it forward. Every chance you get, because others are doing it for you and we’ll all win in the end.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's good about giving away your book?

Easy answer: to make new friends and fans.

Which (hopefully) brings about more friends and fans.

To be followed by yet more. And more after that. Rinse. Repeat.

Giveaways are goodwill and good business. I tried one this past weekend. I offered Dark Doses for free on Amazon for 24 hours over New Year's Day.

I figured some folks would use the day to try out the nifty new Kindle they got for Christmas. Others would be taking it easy and browsing the Kindle store in a semi sleep-deprived state. Still others love jumping on freebies because it's a no-risk way to discover new escapes and diversions (not counting any time invested for the download and actual read through). Perhaps the severely hung over folks would be punching the download button in sync with the throb within their skull.

The result for my book: over 250 downloads spread across 4 countries. Not stupendous and colossal, but I like that outcome very much. Because I'm hoping 1% to 2% of those downloads turn into reviews and ratings.

Because reviews and ratings are what leads to new friends and fans. Which then provide more reviews and ratings. Which leads to more...

You get the idea.