As I'm revising the rough draft of my novel, I see that I need practice in narrative structure. I am thinking of practicing structure by writing some short stories. Rather than come up with a bunch of new ideas, I was going to rework scenes from the novel into short stories.If I wanted to submit any of these stories to magazines, would it be a problem if I eventually complete the novel and submit it for publication? Do I need to alter the stories enough to separate them from the novel? I thought it happened sometimes that characters or ideas first appear in short story format but I don't know if that's a bygone practice or part of a marketing scheme, or what.
Tuesday, March 02, 2021
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The three of them marched purposefully to a halt and peered over the black-and-silver waves.
“I can see it,” said the first one, nodding at some spot not too far out on the water. He pointed with four fingers, his hand held out like a cleaver. “There.”
“So half the ground is covered,” said the second one.
“Which means,” said the third one, “that nothing remains except that final, fickle, determinative one percent.”
The first one gave an ironic wince. “If it happens, it happens.” He cupped his hands around his mouth and blew a long, soft breath out at the ocean. The wind picked it up and carried it just beyond the breakers, where the water stilled and something compact and formless floated upward from the depths. A pale oval. As it neared the surface, its topology and colors were resolved by the moonlight: a human face, detached from whatever body might have carried it to warmth and firmness, staring up in pain and horror from beneath the cold salt sea.
"Well, that's not entirely true," another voice affirmed.
The first three turned rapidly at the unexpected voice. The fifth one just wore a contemptuous smile. (No, he was the fifth one. The fourth one was the one who floated up from the sea. Although it was just a face, so not really a whole fourth one. Maybe just ten percent or so. So the fifth one was probably just four and two tenths.)
"What is your meaning?" The second one asked in a questioning voice.
The fifth one, or more accurately 4.2, shrugged and replied, "Well, if half the ground was covered, that means a headmost, reasonable, stable forty percent remains."
"Forty?" the first one questioned. They all looked at each other. Except 0.2 (the head), who let out a wail and sank back to the depths, knowing these four fools could never make him whole because they're all shit at math.
Opening: Anonymous.....Continuation: ril
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1411 would like feedback on the following revision:
Dear Evil Editor,
The blood on her hands no longer troubles Leudora. What keeps her awake at night is the chilling suspicion that her crimes might have been in vain.
A decade ago, Leudora had her major enemies eliminated - the scientist known as the Dalmatian Serpent, and his followers, who sought her people’s blood. A ruthless guardian of her kin and an unscrupulous politician, Leudora lived with her guilty conscience for as long as the invisible barrier that shields civilization from madness remained intact. Only [But] it is no longer so. When the Veil starts to fade, slowly poisoning the air and endangering those, [no comma] whom she once sought to protect, Leudora wants answers.
She does not expect her answers to confirm the Dalmatian Serpent’s theories: those are Leudora’s own people, who conduct bloody experiments to protect themselves from their powerful neighbors, causing the Veil’s degradation. Once rumors about their affairs spread, not only the culprits, but all her people will become scapegoats. Trying to prevent a war and stop the Veil’s decay, Leudora turns to her enemy’s works and searches for the culprits. [I don't like "culprits" twice in two sentences. In fact I don't like it either time. I'd shorten this paragraph to:
She does not expect it when the answers confirm the Dalmatian Serpent’s theories: Leudora’s own people, conducting bloody experiments to protect themselves from their powerful neighbors, are causing the Veil’s degradation. If this gets out, not only the guilty, but all her people will be blamed. Trying to prevent a war and stop the Veil’s decay, Leudora turns to her enemy’s works.
Is it odd to refer to "her enemy" when talking about a guy she eliminated a decade ago? Maybe She turns to the Serpent's spellbook (or research or whatever it is, more specific than "works."]
The deeper she delves into the Dalmatian Serpent’s secrets, the more Leudora finds herself drawn to his fascinating mind and dark science. If she follows in his footsteps, her kin will turn against her. [All of them, or just the "culprits"?] If Leudora stays loyal to her people, she will have to side with those, [no comma] who may bring them all to the verge of extinction, betraying the legacy of a man,[no comma] whom she knows to be right.
Byzantine Purple is an adult fantasy set in an alternative version of Eastern Europe[comma] complete at 103,000 words. The novel stands alone but is envisioned as the first book in a trilogy. It combines the conflicted protagonist of The Masquerade Series and the political intrigue of A Memory called Empire.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Much better. I mostly nit-picked.
If she knows what's causing the veil problem, seems like she should know who's causing it. If it's just a few of Leudora's people who are causing it, and they refuse to stop, eliminating them seems like an easier solution for this ruthless unscrupulous character than hoping to find some magical way to save the veil.
Do the people causing the degradation of the veil know they're causing it? They can't want their air poisoned, so why don't they stop? Don't they care?
Friday, February 12, 2021
Guess the Plot
Monday, February 08, 2021
Samantha allowed the front runners to escape. Let them tell the tale. A straggler though; he would serve a different purpose.
She pulled an arrow from its quiver and nocked it against the bowstring. Drew. Relaxed into the rhythm of the horse beneath her. Aimed. Felt the wind. Gauged the distance. Adjusted. Loosed.
The arrow whizzed beside the ear of the soldier's horse, a mosquito’s buzz without the bite. The spooked horse whirled, throwing the rider.
Snowflake slowed and Samantha leapt down, landing in a crouch. She dropped her bow to the ground and gripped the hilt of Justiciana.
The soldier groaned. On seeing her striding toward him, he hauled himself to his feet. She smiled to see it, lips curling back from her teeth.
Samantha unsheathed her rapier, relishing the whisper of steel on leather. She flourished her blade at him as he fumbled for his own.
No need to bloody Justiciana on this bumbling oaf, she thought, tossing the sword aside. Feeling the wind again, she gauged the distance. Aimed. Adjusted. Loosed. With a loud rumbling the stench traveled to the soldier's nostrils and filled his lungs.
Samantha's foe dropped dead to the ground without a drop of blood shed. She thanked her spirit guardian for the offal stew she ate last night then turned for the long and tiring ride home.
But to her horror she found her adjustment had been poorly judged: such was the power of Fartistica's magic, Snowflake had melted clean away.
Opening: Amanda Barrett..... Continuation: ril
Saturday, February 06, 2021
Guess the Plot
The Rooster Sutra
1. A serial killer who kills only occultists is targeting Tanya, an aspiring occultist who resembles a rooster. Can Tanya's Buddhist mentor, the only pacifist in the occultism industry, set aside her beliefs long enough to rescue Tanya? Also, a beatnik.
2. An illustrated collection of proverbs for children, recited in anuṣṭubh meter by a rooster named Shakuntala and his barnyard pals.
3. Bo-Jo's family has been running a chicken farm for six generations. Rather than a sweeping family saga full of passion and drama, here are the rules they've lived by. And how to cover up a murder.
4. This is not your mother's Ugly Duckling or Chicken Little. Barnyard birds are getting into it, and the other inhabitants of Old MacDonald's Farm are braying, barking, and oinking in prurient glee.
5. Tarragon is a backyard chicken and reincarnation of -- well, Sanskrit isn't easy when you're a bird. Can he convey his wisdom to the world, or will the neighbors convince his owners that the path to his next incarnation should be coq au vin?
6. Ginger-haired Detective Gallus’s latest case is a fraternity student found dead in a rooster costume on campus. When a second student turns up dead under similar circumstances, Gallus goes undercover into the underground world of a new society known as “The Cockfighters.”
7. Studies show that 4 hours of sleeping upright yields the same benefits as lying prone for 8. Find techniques for "roosting" in this self-help sleep guide to self inducing a trance-like state and selecting a perch for you and your lovebird(s).
8. Sutras, suitors, sutures.... All Bantam knows is that when the chicken hits the fryer (i.e. his Bollywood-style wedding goes up in flames when his fiancée elopes with a Cornish hen), a rooster's gotta do what a rooster's gotta do.
9. Old Man MacDougall is fed up. His hens are hysterical, he's seeing twice the usual number of feathers around the coop, and his precious eggs have actually been hatching... The only clue: mysterious chicken scratches on the wall of the coop. The perpetrator: an ordinary-looking rooster who has discovered that attracting ladies isn't just about looks. This rooster Casanova will give his all to help his sexy hen babes escape the farm.
Dear Ruinous Reviser:
Only one of Keket Cheshire’s teammates has died on the job, and she is resolved that that number doesn’t go up. Still, only one death is an impressive record for the only pacifist in the occultism industry, with its 40% mortality rate and sociopathic competition. [Logging and commercial fishing, the two most dangerous professions (besides occultism), have a combined mortality rate of about 1%. The US Civil War had a mortality rate of 20%.] [Is that 40% annually? Because that would wipe out the industry in short order.]
During a mission gone sour, a high-school girl named Tanya Gallo is nearly killed by Keket’s slip-up. [Does this happen after Keket resolves that the number of her teammates she kills won't go up? Sure, almost killing your teammates is an improvement over killing them, but . . .] [Also, I need to look up "occultist" and find out why they get involved in so many missions that lead to death.] . . . [Okay, Wikipedia's List of Occultists is pretty long, but here's a sampling: Plato, Nostradamus, Sir Isaac Newton, Marquis de Sade, Arthur Conan Doyle, Adolf Hitler, Jim Morrison, David Bowie . . . Hmm, what do they all have in common? They're all dead! 100% mortality rate! Why hasn't anyone else looked into the connection between occultists and death?] Tanya is smitten, with Keket, and even moreso [more so. There seems to be some controversy over whether moreso is a word, but Blogger has underlined it in red, and that's good enough for me.] [Of course Blogger also underlines Keket in red, and my phone's auto-correct thinks Keket is kookoo.] with her profession. [Occultism is a profession? I wonder if it's hard for employment recruiters to convince people to go into a profession with a 40% mortality rate.] Occultism promises escape from a reality where Tanya is mired in poverty and powerlessness. [She has a 40% chance of escaping.] Wanting to impress Keket and become an occultist herself, Tanya seeks out tantric magic. An aging beatnik takes her on as a student and encourages her to use magic without hesitation… or concern for its consequences. [Use it to do what?] [Also, since when do high school students listen to any advice from an adult?]
Meanwhile, a moralizing serial killer is spring cleaning the occultism industry of anyone he deems unworthy, with Keket the only exception. [If he kills every occultist except Keket, the mortality rate of occultism will be approximately 100%.] [How do we know Keket is the only exception? Just because she hasn't been killed yet? Or has the killer informed her that she's not a target, and she believes him?] Tanya and the killer soon end up on a collision course and Keket is forced to decide: Is she willing to put her pacifism aside and her teammates at risk to clean up a mess she created, or [will she] turn a blind eye and preserve the life she worked so hard to cultivate? [Not clear how Keket created the mess. There seem to be two messes, one caused by the aging beatnik and the other by the serial killer.]
THE ROOSTER SUTRA is an upmarket urban fantasy marrying Buddhist doctrine with drugs, sex, and violence [I give that marriage three weeks, tops.] from the alternating viewpoints of Tanya and Keket. It is complete at 97,000 words and will appeal to fans of Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts and N. K. Jemisin’s The City We Became.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
[P.S. The title comes from roosters being a symbol of greed and desire in Buddhism, and also Tanya's hair is a red mohawk, so she looks kinda like a rooster. ]
First of all, a serial killer who's killing everyone in a certain profession should be the centerpiece of your query. Look how far it got Jack the Ripper.
Up until the serial killer arrives, I have more questions than answers. Like what kind of missions do teams of occultists go on? Why do so many die? What did Keket do that almost killed Tanya? What is the job description of an occultist?
We know who's in your book but we don't know much of what happens.
High school student Tanya Gallo wants to be an occultist, like her idol and mentor Keket Cheshire. Even when Kekel informs Tanya that a serial killer has been targeting occultists, Tanya still wants in. In fact she joins the team of occultists hunting the killer.
Something like that would be a way to start this off if it were what actually happens in your book, which it probably isn't, but you get the idea.
Are all the occultists in the occultism industry in one city or even country? If not, this serial killer seems to have taken on an impossible task. Maybe we should narrow it down geographically.
The decision Kekel must make doesn't strike me as difficult. Ignore a serial killer while he continues killing and could be coming after you next, or engage temporarily in activities designed to neutralize him. I know what the Buddha would do.
Wednesday, February 03, 2021
Guess the Plot
The Wearable Wolf
1. Old Man Farragut has long had the hots for Red Riding Hood's Grandma, but she's more interested in bad boy types than a wuss like Farragut. Will he win her over when he shows up at her house in his wolf costume?
2. Susan was walking in the woods when she discovered a discarded wolf skin. Not thinking much of it she brought it home. Now some guy is knocking on her door saying he is now her husband. Can she get rid of him before he eats her out of house and home?3. Being killed and skinned hasn't stopped Lyle from being a were or hitting on the ladies. Only now, instead of doing it in style, he's a fashion accessory.
Sunday, January 31, 2021
Guess the Plot
Byzantine Purple1. Turkish bare knuckle boxer Muhmat “The Byzantine” Balkan is easy on the eyes, but his new uppercut is not.
5. The Byzantine Empire was once the Roman Empire just as Istanbul was once Constantinople. So Byzantine Purple must be about the dye from snails, right? Wait, what? The modern color? Robin's history report is about to get a creative spin when her time traveling adventure was about the wrong thing.
6. Fortune hunters from all over the world have long sought "Byzantine Purple," a fabled gemstone believed to have been owned by Constantine the Great. John Niedenaker is the latest. Intrigue ensues when his team crosses paths with seekers of the Maltese Falcon and the Ark of the Covenant and they all have to sort out their quirky native interpreters, intrepid girl-reporters, arch-villains, and other stock characters. As for John, he swaps away his brunette femme fatale for a ginger and goes off to find the Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
7. Kelly Mercado, chemist for struggling paint company Adore, is sent to Istanbul by new corporate consultant Leo Ione to join an archaeological dig to find inspiration for a color that can beat rival Heritage’s “Lost Atlantis”. Corporate espionage, a game of cat and mouse in the Grand Bazaar, romance, a prince and more!
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
What are your thoughts on writer’s retreats, workshops, and bootcamps? Commercial gimmick preying on the hopeful? Or legitimate programs?
The language on some of the websites sound like these workshops are on par with ivy league schools. You have to pay just for the privilege of applying and then the programs run approx $4000-$5000 for 6 weeks.
Would an editor / agent be impressed that a writer was “accepted” to such a program? In your experience, do you see an elevation in quality from those who’ve attended? For example, can you always spot a ‘Clarion man’?
Do some programs carry more legitimacy than others?
Also, can I get Evil Editor’s (and minions) thoughts on the highlighted portion below, taken from one workshop’s website?
Commercial gimmick preying on the hopeful? Or legitimate programs? As with everything from book publishers to snake oil salesmen to literary agencies to politicians, there are some of each.
$4000 a week for 6 weeks? Including room and board? I'd pay that much, skip all the classwork, and enjoy a 6-week vacation at about $100 a day. Beats staying at a luxury resort at $500 a night including only one meal, a breakfast bar with eggs that have been sitting there three hours.
Would an editor / agent be impressed that a writer was “accepted” to such a program? Only if it's an editor / agent who taught at the retreat you attended and was paid well. In your experience, do you see an elevation in quality from those who’ve attended? For example, can you always spot a ‘Clarion man’? If we're talking specifically about Clarion, that is not a commercial gimmick. It's intense and useful; I have that first-hand from a few people who attended, and the names of authors who've been on the faculty is impressive: http://clarion.ucsd.edu/clarions-distinguished-alumni-faculty/ Also, while I can't always spot a Clarion man, I can always spot a Clarion woman.
Yes some are better than others, and it makes sense to do some research.
As for what an adverb is and why you shouldn't use one, I know you've read Evil Editor's Why You Don't Get Published, vol. 2, article #4, but for those who haven't, here's a link to the original article on the EE blog: https://www.blogger.com/blog/post/edit/26791026/3559145757560460699
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Warm sunbeams touched open fields and wood fences in the village of Lambahvras. The river Pehm, sleepy in this stretch of its journey, flowed west along the southern edge of the village, sparkling in the morning rays. Spring ice; thin, clear, and delicate hugged the edges of the riverbank. In a rapid sequence of cracks, one piece broke free from the mainland and floated with the current for a few yards before becoming one with the river again.
Opening: Amanda Barrett.....Continuation: JRMosher
Friday, January 08, 2021
Guess the Plot
Thursday, January 07, 2021
Are comparison titles really necessary? I understand the point of listing comparison titles in a query, but not how to identify a good one correctly. If I list a title that anyone's ever heard of the agent/ editor will roll their eyes at the audacity of comparing my work to something successful. Or they'll roll their eyes because the titles don't qualify as true comparisons -- out of date, different genre, wrong medium etc. Or their eyes will roll because the comparison title is so obscure as to be meaningless.