General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-05-20 03:09PM
So I received my first bad review from a reader. It was inevitable, you can't please all the people all the time.
How to handle this is the next question. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I'll tell you what I went through.
First, I was super disappointed. I want my book to be loved by everyone, everywhere. Not realistic, of course, but why not aim high. Okay, so my work is not beloved by all. Back to being disappointed. It is amazing what you can go through in a matter of minutes. I questioned whether or not I should even consider continuing writing. I questioned the competency of the reviewer. I felt miserable, angry, tired, exasperated... you get the point.
After a few minutes, I started to realize that this is normal. Even better than that, I realized that the reviewer had made some very helpful points. This is not always the case with criticism, but when it is specific, it can be used to your advantage.
Example: You stink! (not all that helpful)
Example: You stink at spelling (something specific, much more helpful)
The reviewer talked about certain word choices, mistakes, and so forth. Despite my wanting it to not be true, they were exactly right. Breathe.
I listened to the suggestions and was able to incorporate them in a revision of the book (this may not always be possible, but it was in my case). Because of this bad review, I think my book just got better!
Again, this is due to the specific, therefore helpful, feedback (still negative) that the reviewer gave.
I went from being kind of angry and disappointed to actually being thankful.
Will I always handle bad reviews like this? No idea. I certainly hope I can continue to see the help in what is provided.
General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-05-16 02:27PM
There are times when I really feel like writing. There are times when I feel like writing and feel particularly creative - those times are awesome!
There are many times, however, when i don't feel all that creative nor feel too inspired to write. This doesn't appear to be something unique to me, which is nice to know that at least I'm not alone.
But what should you do when you feel this way? I can't speak for everyone, but my answer is to keep writing. Maybe you don't write a lot. Maybe you don't write anything that is particularly good. But you keep the process going. Writing becomes a habit.
The thing to remember is that you are going to edit your work before it is released to anyone to read. So even if you end up writing some poor stuff, that is okay - you'll fix it later.
The important thing to do is keep going. One regret I have was when I stopped jogging. It took awhile to get into a groove, but once I was there, I actually enjoyed it. After a running event (which was the reason I started jogging) I took some days off. Then I took some more. Before long, running was a chore again. If only I didn't take those days off!
Writing is not exactly the same, but I firmly believe that consistency will help you to keep going. Creating a novel is not an easy thing and takes time. Don't make it even harder on yourself by taking long breaks from writing.
Remember, good or bad, taking time to write is an accomplishment!
General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-05-09 02:52PM
I attended my first writing workshop (at the Watch City Steampunk Festival) and found it to be very enjoyable.
I really didn't know what it would be like and wondered if there would be a way to leave if I didn't like it. A few minutes in and I was sure that I wouldn't be leaving early.
Why was it beneficial for me? A few reasons. First, it was very nice to hear other writers having the same experiences that I have had. Made me feel that I was not alone in my struggles.
Second, I enjoyed a little brainstorming session we held. Ideas were bounced around and it was great to see different perspectives on a single topic. Quite an interesting premise came out of that session...
Third, it was nice to make some more contacts. I did not go into this workshop with the notion to let anyone know that I had published a couple books - and certainly no intention to try and sell. Being that the group was small, we did introductions (including our writing history), so my 'secret' was out. When the session was over I talked with a few others and we exchanged emails. Also, if anyone was interested in reading what I had done, I offered to send them free digital copies.
All in all, if was fun and kept my interest in writing steampunk at a high level.
General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-04-29 09:51AM
One of the general requirements of writing is research. When talking about places, landscapes, buildings, and so forth, you want your reader to feel like they are there. the only way to do that is for you, the author, to have that same feeling.
If you are writing about a modern day house, that probably is not too hard to imagine. But what if you are writing about a place that you have never been? Perhaps your protagonist lives in a castle, or they are travelling to a country that you have never been to? How do you make these locations real?
The answer is research. My current story takes place in Egypt, just outside of Giza. In addition, it takes place over a hundred years ago. Being that I have never been to Egypt, and will never be there a hundred years ago, I needed to do a lot of research to get a feel for the area. Much of my digging revolved around old photographs and paintings. Paintings have an advantage as they are in color, whereas photos of the time were in black and white. I spent hours going through images, reading websites, and so forth. Interestingly, those hours have amounted to about two paragraphs in my current work. That might seem like a small payoff, but to set the scene is, to help transport the reader to that time and place is something I value greatly.
Another tool that is very helpful is Google maps. Maps in general show you where things are (obviously) but I got a new appreciation for the area by using Streetview. My first book was set in London (another place I haven't been) and I took a kind of virtual tour via using streetview. I 'walked' around London, the Thames, alleys, all the places that made up locations for my story. It is not a substitute for actually being there, but it was incredibly helpful.
There are many other reasons for research, but I thought I would take a few minutes and share what I have been doing currently and how it has helped me.
General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-03-25 07:09PM
I read somewhere that an author's friends should never have to buy one their books. I completely agree with this.
As a new author, you may think, "I need all the sales I can get." But that is quite short-sited. You are not going to get rich off of your friends. Your main concern is getting your book known.
So be generous with your book. I give mine away to anyone that asks (friend or stranger). Be happy that people are interested in your work.
General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-03-24 12:35PM
I know it is arrogant, but there cannot be many authors that don't feel that their book is the next best seller and ripe to be made into a movie. Why wouldn't they feel that way?
The likelihood of this is quite minimal. There are thousands of authors trying to make it among very talented established ones. To standout is difficult.
How does one standout? That is a question that I do not have the answer to. My thought on the question is this: Persistence.
It takes persistence to put a book out into the world and see it be largely ignored. Two or three sales every week or two. A rare review. You hope that it catches on and one person tells another and so forth, but that is something easier said than done.
The unnerving by-product of this is the thought - Is it just hard to get attention or is my writing not interesting enough?
You hope it is the former, but must allow for the latter. Not fun to think that the hours put into creating your work could end up resulting in an average or, even worse, sub-standard outcome.
For now, I choose persistence. I also choose to believe that my writing is good and that attention is just hard to get. If things continue as they currently are, perhaps I will change my view and realize that the writing game is not for me. I desperately hope that is not the case, but my practical side won't let me forget it.
Hang in there everyone!
General Writing ThoughtsPosted by Mark C. King 2016-03-23 11:48AM
I had a great experience when I wrote 'Whispers of Bedlam Asylum' - I reached out to some random book reviewers and asked if they wanted to give feedback as I worked on the book
Five or so accepted the offer and two gave assistance the entire way!
How did it work?
It was pretty simple. I would finish a chapter and send it out to each reviewer. At their convenience, they would respond with their thoughts. It was awesome!
Simply having a different viewpoint is incredibly helpful. The book would have been good (I think) without the help I received, but it is definitely better for the help!
I bring this up for two reasons.
1) If you are an author, I highly suggest giving this a try.
2) I'm working on a new book and am open to the same assistance. If you would like to participate, please let me know (email@example.com).