Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Plot Patterns

Maybe you don't want to outline or write by the seat of your pants. There's another option, Plot Patterns. There are basic patterns in stories that become foundations for building new stories on. Some sources say there are 3 others say there are 36 such patterns.

So if you're looking for a pattern you might use to springboard your writing in a new direction browse these lists:

The Quest: Main Character is seeking some object or an abstract concept (knowledge...) Example: Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Pursuit: Main Character literally follow, chases or pursues an object or another person. Example: The Hunt for Red October

The Contest: Main Character has a rival in a struggle to see who will succeed or survive. Example: The Perfect Storm (right, the rival doesn't have to be human).

The Romance: Main Character has an obstacle to hooking up with a would-be lover. Example: Romeo  & Juliet

The Revenge: Main Character seeks revenge. Example: Hamlet

The Mystery: Main Character must solve a puzzle by collecting and interpreting clues. Example: Any Agatha Christie

The Surprise: Huge twist at the end surprises the reader.

Gozzi's list of Plot Patterns looks like this:

  1. Supplication (in which the Supplicant must beg something from Power in authority)
  2. Deliverance
  3. Crime Pursued by Vengeance
  4. Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred
  5. Pursuit
  6. Disaster
  7. Falling Prey to Cruelty of Misfortune
  8. Revolt
  9. Daring Enterprise
  10. Abduction
  11. The Enigma (temptation or a riddle)
  12. Obtaining
  13. Enmity of Kinsmen
  14. Rivalry of Kinsmen
  15. Murderous Adultery
  16. Madness
  17. Fatal Imprudence
  18. Involuntary Crimes of Love (example: discovery that one has married one’s mother, sister, etc.)
  19. Slaying of a Kinsman Unrecognized
  20. Self-Sacrificing for an Ideal
  21. Self-Sacrifice for Kindred
  22. All Sacrificed for Passion
  23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones
  24. Rivalry of Superior and Inferior
  25. Adultery
  26. Crimes of Love
  27. Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One
  28. Obstacles to Love
  29. An Enemy Loved
  30. Ambition
  31. Conflict with a God
  32. Mistaken Jealousy
  33. Erroneous Judgement
  34. Remorse
  35. Recovery of a Lost One
  36. Loss of Loved Ones

Anything sound like your next story?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Process of Publishing: Traditional vs. Indie

I think a lot of people are wondering what the difference in the process of publishing is for traditionally published authors and indie published authors. You might be surprised at how similar they really are.

One of my favorite authors, Veronica Roth, blogged about this very subject and I will use her post (click here to see the full post) to represent traditionally published authors and will write in red for the indie side.

1. Author writes rough draft. This can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on how fast the writer writes and what the publishing timeline is. For example, Insurgent is coming out a year after Divergent, but some authors have more time between books and some have less time.
2. Author gets editorial feedback on rough draft. This can take awhile, because it takes a long time to read and analyze a book carefully, and also, editors work on more than one book at a time. 
Author uses critique group to get feedback.3. Author writes second draft, gets more feedback, sometimes author writes next draft and gets more feedback...depends on the book.
Author uses either a second critique group and possibly a third for feedback on revised draft.(Some authors resubmit to their first critique group) 4. Author gets line edits. These are editorial notes that are on a line by line level, like "this sentence, as written, is confusing" and "doesn't this contradict what you said five pages ago?"
Author uses critique group for line edits or hires an editor then makes changes
5. Author turns in line-edited draft
Author  sends book out to 5-8 beta-readers (People who read for enjoyment)

Author makes necessary changes then sends to 8-12 beta-readers
Author hopes the only critique they are getting at this point are copy and line-edit problems-no plot problems
Author has 2 people who are excellent in English to do a copyedit.
Author creates cover or hires someone to do it.
6. Author gets copyedits. These are editorial notes that are super nitpicky, like "no comma here, per rule 238923598B in the Chicago Manual of Style" and "this should be in italics, not quotes." (I used to do this as a job. I really liked it, actually.)
Author gets copyedits and makes the changes
7. Author turns in copyedited draft
Author hires a copy editor and makes the changes

Author has 3-5 friends who are good in English read through the manuscript looking for anything she missed
Author sends the cover out to get opinions 
8. Author gets first pass pages. These are a copy of what the text looks like when it's in "book form," that is, in a PDF document, with the right font and chapter headings etc. This is the one of the last chances an author gets to make changes to the book.
Author formats book for print and ebook or hires a formatter to do it
9. Author turns in first pass pages, with notes.
Author creates all promotional materials and sends out Arc copies to reviewers. (eARCs and print)

Author goes through the formatted pages of her book with a fine-toothed comb.
Author finds a distributor or chooses a POD and may use a POD to create ARC copies for reviewers
Author goes through all eformats of her book with a fine-toothed comb and then sends out ARCs

10. Many more passes between Editorial, Copyediting, and Design occur, as they make sure every piece of punctuation is in the right place, and that there aren't lines where the text is too tight liketherearenospacesbetween words or too loose l i k e  t h e r e   a r e  t o o  m a n y, or pages with just one line of text (that's called a widow, by the way). Their job is basically to make the formatting, font, and overall look of the text invisible so that all you notice are the words.
Author sends out more copies for review

Author writes back copy and collects blurbs to put on the back of the cover.
Cover is finalized

11. Author and editor work on flap copy, tagline, etc., that will be used in marketing, advertising, and talking about the book.
Promotional material is checked and proof copy of book with final edits and back copy is approved with printer and you print a short run of books as arcs or use a POD again. Send out 
12. Somewhere in here, I get an author photo taken.
Author did this a long time ago
13. ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) are printed and distributed to book reviewers and bloggers and teachers and librarians and booksellers and the like.
More ARCs are sent out for review to all the above places

14. Time is allowed for ARCs to be read and reviewed, as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Sometimes there are no ARCs. There are many reasons that might be the case.

Author gives 2 1/2 months for this (before the launch)
15.  Sales Reps chat with bookstores all over the country once they've had a chance to read the ARC. Together, each bookstore and his or her Sales Rep determine exactly how many copies of every book being published that season they should order, based on past books written by the author, or other books of a similar nature. 
Author's distributor finds your book homes.

If you don't have a distributor, author finds it homes.

16.  Paper is ordered for that print run, several months or weeks in advance. That much paper is heavy, and takes up a lot of space to store, so the publisher has to put the order in with the printer in advance, since every book is printed on slightly different paper (or stock) and the printer has to have time to get shipped from the papermaking plant to the printing location.  
If Author is using a POD, she  uploads to the site she is using
If Author is printing own copies, she submits the cover art and interior file to the printer and he sends a finished proof copy for you to approve.

17. Other marketing things also happen in the midst of this. Sometimes a book trailer is outlined, worked on, and produced. Sometimes facebook pages with special fun things like faction quizzes are created. Sometimes articles are written, interviews are done, and guest blogs occur. Sometimes it's the author who does all this stuff, while working on the book at the same time and possibly raising three small children and working part time. It all depends on the book, and generally, all these things need to be spaced out.
18. Sometimes Publicity and Sales decide to send the author on tour. If so, they have to set up events that work with each bookstore's calendar. They also have to work out how to get author from City A to City B most effectively in a short span of time, and with as few crazy-early-morning flights as possible. If the author goes on a group tour with other authors, this becomes another one of those crazy word problems of juggling schedules, calendars, hometown cities, and flights schedules. 19. The final book is sent to the printer
If author is doing a paper book, they will set up signings/readings 2-3 months in advance.

Author creates or pays someone to create a blog tour.
Author creates buzz on all social media for 2 months prior to release.

20. Books can take months to print and put into cartons-- and even stickered, if the book has won an award or something. Sometimes books are printed overseas, and after they're printed, they have to be put on boats (boats!) to ship back from the overseas printers to the warehouses in the US. This is because thousands of books are heavy and the publisher has to look for the most cost-effective method, so that book prices don't have to be raised. 
Books take 5-7 days to print and ship unless it is near Christmas-then good luck-send it early
21. Once the books arrive at the US port, they have to go through customs. And then they have to be shipped to warehouses in different parts of the country. At the warehouse, they go through quality checking to make sure pages aren't printed upside down or backwards, etc., before any books can be released. Meanwhile, bookstores and sales reps have to transmit their final orders. 
Author delivers books to distributor or stores them herself-Most printers offer delivery, too.
22. Each bookstore's shipment of books gets shipped (again, slowly, to minimize cost) out to the bookstore's own warehouse or processing area. 
Distributor or author delivers books to stores
23. Then bookstores put books on shelves!
If the author has a distributor, not a POD, her books will be on store shelves. Otherwise, it will be available through online retailers

This is not an exhaustive list, just one using the traditional model as a jump-off point.
What do you think? Does indie publishing look good to you, yet or are you salivating to be traditionally published?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why Go to Writing Conferences?

I imagine lots of you have heard about various writing conferences or seminars or workshops or symposiums. It's not small thing when you consider the expense of registration, travel, lodging, and food.

So why go?

I attended my very first writing anything in September of 2010. It was the UVU Book Academy, a  single day filled with classes about writing--and awesome keynote speakers. Brandon Mull (of Fablehaven fame) spoke to us the first year, and Dan Wells (of I Am Not a Serial Killer fame) addressed us this year. Dan walked us through the process of seeing ideas for stories all around us. It was fabulous and something useful I could take home.

LTUE 2008
In February of 2011 I attended Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) at BYU. It's going to be on the UVU campus this year, so closer to home (yay!). LTUE does a lot more panels, but it was very inexpensive and lasted three days.

Talk about feasting!

Authors Incognito - LDS Storymaker

Last May I attended the LDS Storymaker Conference. This was more in line with the UVU experience with fewer panels and a more classroom environment. Once again, the classes were awesome and just the kind of stuff I was dying to learn.

But you know what was as important to me as the actual information on the craft? It was the networking--the meeting of established authors, newly emerging ones, and other noobs like me who were just happy to be there. It's so fun to have someone recognize your name and realize it's someone whose blog you follow. That's happened to me several times now, and it reinforces the connection we make in the blogosphere.

I realize I live in a state that's rich in the publishing industry and, as a result, I have many opportunities to attend conferences. Not everyone is so fortunate. But it's all the more reason to grab the opportunities that come your way.

If you've been thinking of attending a conference or a workshop, I highly encourage you to go for it. In my experience, it's money well spent--and not only for the writing techniques.

iWriteNetwork's goal is to provide help to new and fledgling writers. We've got a Winter Workshop scheduled for this Saturday in Provo if you happen to live close enough to make it worth your while. Click here for details.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why Writers Conferences?

Here in Utah, we have more writers conferences per square inch than any other state, I'm pretty sure. Other states aren't so lucky - their residents have to travel for hours to find one, and when they get there, they may not find the answers they're looking for. All writers should move to Utah!

Okay, I'm just kidding, and that's not the point of this blog. My point is to explain some of the reasons why writers conferences can be very beneficial to you. Maybe it will inspire some of those other states to start holding some conferences of their own and even the score a little bit.

1. Conferences allow the participants to spend the weekend with like-minded people, talking about things they love, and getting support from other authors for their amazing, funky, crazy, wonderful obsession with words.

2. Conferences give participants the chance to network and meet the movers and shakers in the industry. So much of success is based on who you know, and when you attend a conference, you increase that list of who you know.

3. Conferences increase the experience of the participants. If you enter the contests associated with the conferences and receive feedback from judges, you have broadened your experience. If you meet with agents, if you talk with published authors, if you overhear motivating conversations in the hallway - all this things add up to your experience, and you really can't deny how important that is in this industry.

4. The education you receive is priceless. When you attend a good conference run by dedicated staff who are there to teach you what they know and to cheer you on every step of the way, you will come away with so much new knowledge and information and direction, your brain will be buzzing. You'll see your projects in an entirely new light. You'll have the tools you need to make your project really amazing. You will learn so much.

There are piles of other reasons too - like, conferences are so much fun, and you'll be motivated like nothing else, and you'll make friendships that will continue long after the conference ends, and you might get your toes in the door with publishers and editors ... all very good and compelling reasons to go ... but we'll just suffice it to say, if you want to strengthen your writing, if you want to broaden your experience, if you want to motivate yourself to finish your project, if you want to be on the forefront of this industry, you need to attend writers conferences.

There are several we recommend, some coming up fairly soon. The first is Life, the Universe, and Everything, a science fiction/fantasy conference where you will actually learn things helpful for every genre. You can get more information by clicking here. I'll be there Thursday and Friday of the conference off and on, and I would love to meet you, so hunt me down and say hi.

The LDStorymakers Writers Conference holds a special place in my heart, as I was honored to organize the first two, and I'm on the committee every year. It's for authors of every genre and every skill level, and there are contests and promotions and visiting agents and classes taught by Tristi - all kinds of cool things, and you don't have to be LDS to attend. Click here to check it out.

We will keep you apprised of the quality writers conferences as they come up, and perhaps those of you who live in other states could let us know as conferences are organized in your area so we can help spread the word about those as well.

And now ...

Some of you may have heard ...

iWriteNetwork is going to get in the game.

Saturday, January 21st, we are holding our first-ever Winter Workshop. The classes are:

Killer Hooks by Greg Park
Head Hunting for POV by Canda Mortensen
I Have a Feeling - Writing Emotion and Making It Stick by Tristi Pinkston
Taxes and You - Figuring it Out by Rebecca Shelley
Savvy about Story Structure by Cindy Hogan

The conference will begin at 9:00 and go until 2:00, with a break for lunch (provided). The cost for the day is $30. You can sign up by clicking here.

Now here's something fun ... if you are one of the first 25 to register, you will be entered in a drawing for a free manuscript evaluation* by Tristi Pinkston Author Services. 250 pages maximum. We only have a few slots left for this contest, so hurry on over and register - you'll have a great time, eat a good lunch, associate with awesome people ... does it get any better than that? I think not!

We'd love to see you there, and we'd love it too if you spread the word to all your writing friends.

Have a great week!

*Evaluation, not edit.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

YA Fairies & Fantasy Giveaway

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

*I love this book! It has taken up residence on my "favorites" shelf in my bedroom and on Goodreads!

If you'd like to win your own copy of  Shattered Souls (Mary Lindsey)
     Be or become a follower (by clicking on the "join this site" button on my right-sidebar)
     •Leave a comment about your favorite faerie or fantasy (any kind of fantasy, high fantasy or paranormal fantasy) book
     Leave your email address (so I can contact you in case you win. (ship to US)

If you're a WRITER, click over to the 

and join with other writers in an online community of learning and support for writers and authors.

You can see the other blogs participating by clicking on this icon
 or the button on my right side-bar.

Congratulations, Tiffani you won!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Your best foot forward

The first five pages of your story are going to make or brake you. Ever heard that before? When you are submitting to an agent or editor it's true. Here are a few tips to look over your own manuscript and beef it up before sending it out.

At the very least:
1- NO typos---get a bunch people to look it over with a red pen and listen to their feed back.
2- Good writing

The reader is who you ultimately want to impress so find a few people who read what you write and have them read and give their opinion. This is generally not your mom/sister/best friend. You need someone who can give you completely unbiased feedback. Not a "I love it! You are the best writer ever. There was nothing wrong at all. It was perfection." To make it better you need to hear about those weak spots. And every writer has them, they just fix it and move on. :) Remember that the creative process is revision.

Hook in your reader. Make them HAVE to read the next paragraph, have to turn the page, next chapter etc...

Find your voice as the narrator and stick to it. Do not let it trickle into your character's voice. People sound and speak differently and so should your characters. That lets your reader know who is talking even before they are told.

In every conference that I've been to the agents/editors said that they are just people who Really like to read and they are just searching for a new story that they love. So write for your reader and you'll do fine.