The Best Thing New Writers Can Do For Practice

A while back, I posted a survey on Twitter. In the poll, I asked the people on my timeline (maybe you are included among them) what they thought about fanfictions, fanfics, fics or whatever you want to call them.

Today I share the analysis of all the results, the conclusions, the reflections (both mine and those of the people who responded to the poll and the mentions that were made about it) and some real cases about the relationship between fanfics and the original authors of the stories.

Shall we begin?

The results of the survey

High school science class taught me that before getting some results you have to say what has been analyzed and how (what in a scientific article come to be the materials and methods).

In total, the opinion of 122 people who voted for or against the fanfics in the Twitter survey was analyzed. Of the 122, 90 voted for and 32 against.

Analysis of the results obtained

The first problem I’ve had is that I think some people didn’t understand the question (I say this because of the comments they left me). When I speak of “good” or “bad” I don’t mean the quality of the texts, but whether they should be able to be done. That is, whether they were for or against their writing regardless of the reason why they were written.

But the truth is that the comments making reference to this were the minority and therefore I believe that the results of the survey are still valid (although the population taken as reference -122- is not very large, so I do not know how significant it is, but given the huge difference in votes, I’d say it’s pretty conclusive).

Having clarified this detail, we take it for granted that 74% of people are in favor and, evidently, there is a relationship between being in favor and writing fanfics. Of those who commented, 66% of those in favor have ever written a fanfic (33% have not).

This is logical. It’s easier to find people who are in favor among fanfic writers and it’s more logical to have written some fanfic if you’re in favor of them, isn’t it?

However, that a third of the people who are in favor don’t write fanfic is also an important fact. It means that there are a lot of people who are in favor even if it doesn’t influence them at all.

Why are you in favor of writing fanfiction?

Here I am very grateful for some very long comments in which they were explaining why they were in favor of fanfiction being written (even if they didn’t write them). And since we’re on graphics today, I also put this with a cool image.

Fanfics are a fantastic tool to practice with, so that our writing ability doesn’t atrophy. If this is your goal, you should think carefully about prepping your story as you would a normal novel. Think about outlining your story and strategizing how you want to approach it. While it is a great exercise, you want to take it seriously if it’s being used as practice. You don’t need to create characters or a world or relationships between them if you want. Someone has already done it for you! All you have to do is put them in a situation and write. It’s much easier to write something when everything else has been created, it’s like writing a scene in the middle of a novel. What I find most difficult are the beginnings (and endings), but an intermediate scene is easy.

Why? Because we don’t have to stop to present anything, we don’t need to describe the appearance or the place. Worldbuilding is already done in the original story, so the fanfic focuses on action. Everybody reading already knows the characters and worlds giving the write a head start. Pair that with some writing prompts (maybe this list is helpful) and you have yourself a fun, great writing exercise.

On the other hand, fanfics are usually published on platforms like fanfiction.net, where you register and have a username, an alias. That alias is your shield against the world: you don’t have to give personal data if you don’t want to and therefore you can publish without fear of criticism. It is much easier to hide behind a pseudonym than to show your face directly.

Different sites are good for different fandoms and have different benefits from the community and more. There are great lists online for that so I won’t go into much detail, but I will point out a few fandoms that caught my eye and where I found them. There are many great site for Klance from Commaful.com to Wattpad, but for more specific fandoms, some live on very specific sites. Like Pixelfance on Fanfiction.Net or B Monkey on AO3.

Why are you against it?

There were very few people here who ventured against fanfiction publicly. I suppose it is easier to defend something than to criticize it. Basically, those who are against it think that writing fanfics is taking advantage of someone else’s work and that it’s much more productive to write your own original stories.

It’s something like Diana P. Morales’ final conclusion about writing stories based on real facts. Why write based on something when we can create something new and original?

It’s true that it’s more productive (and profitable) to write a short story or a novel if it’s original rather than a fanfic. In the case of stories, you can send them to contests; novels can be edited and corrected and try to publish/self-publish them. A fanfic, on the other hand, can only be published on platforms of this style, unless you modify it so much that you turn it into a totally original story.

However, I think that writing fanfics is a bit devalued. Last week I was talking about how the publishing world had begun to notice these fan focused websites. Following the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as a Twilight fanfic. Examples like these have caused people to think that fanfics are of worse quality than novels.

The problem with websites where fanfics are published is that there is no filter at all: everything is published, the good and the bad. And of course it’s easier to find bad texts than good ones. But today, with self-publishing, Amazon is also full of low quality texts that have not gone through a correction (let’s not say by a professional proofreader), so the fact that it is a novel does not ensure that its quality is higher.

In fact, today many publishers publish books even though they know their quality is low. And is that we must not forget that a publisher is a company and therefore looks for its economic benefit. So if a famous Youtuber signs a book that lacks quality (or even history and are only his phrases placed in a corner of the page wasting a whole page of paper), they publish it. Why? Because if you have 3 million followers, you will most likely sell quite a few copies.

But just as many of these things are published, good stories are also published. And they also write good fics that have a lot of planning behind them. On whether or not it is easy to write, I refer to the words of Dalila Cabrera

Is it easy to write fanfiction?

Important this last detail because it was something that was also mentioned to me in the comments. The fanfics (at least in which you don’t invent half a universe and completely change the personality of the characters) serve as training to know how to maintain the personality of someone when you write, that doesn’t fluctuate, that looks natural and coherent with the one that appeared in the book. And this is complicated.

So, are fanfiction good or bad?

Well, the answer, as always, depends. In my opinion, as long as the author agrees, fanfics can be a very good tool to start writing, create a habit and even as practice over time.

I also see as a positive point the fact that they increase and expand the world/universe on which a story is based. This for fantasy or science fiction novels is fantastic. Can you imagine J.K. Rowling sifting through stories based on the Harry Potter universe and expanding the story in the Star Wars Expanded Universe style? We would have stories from magic schools in other parts of the world, from before the appearance of Voldemort, the creation of Hogwarts… Of course, everything would pass through her first, so that she could approve or reject it.

I have nothing more to add. The truth is that creating a survey and seeing the results and comments has been very interesting. Would you like it to be repeated? Did you vote and comment on this one?

You can leave me your opinion in a comment or by means of a message in Twitter (that you see that I have them very much in account as much as others).

Now go and get a pencil and a piece of paper. Or a keyboard and a screen.

Write original things, write fanfics.

It doesn’t matter, but write and marvel us all.

5 Vital “Do’s” in a Query Letter

When it comes to writing a query letter, there are several things that you want to make sure that you do. These are all important steps that you should be taking whenever you ask “how to write a query letter” to anyone whether that be a potential agent or the publisher themselves. Let’s take a look at each of them one by one.

DO Personalize Your Letter

The first thing to make sure that you do is personalize your letter. That means that you track down the editor at the publishing house that handles the type of fiction or nonfiction that you are submitting. Most publishing houses have a dozen or so editors that handle specific genres or types of submissions. While your work will still probably be going to the slush pile, they will consider you much more professional when they see their name on if it gets to them. For agents, you make sure that you find agents that accept the type of work you are doing.

DO Include Past Writing Credits

You should include past writing credits as long as they are professional. For example, if you had a story published in your college newspaper, then you don’t want to mention it. But if you had a story accepted and published in the New Yorker; that is a much different proposition. Mention any other books that you have had published with traditional publishers and any major magazine publishing credits you have.

DO Include Several Methods of Contacting You

Make sure that you include several methods that allow them to contact you when they need to. For example, you should include your telephone numbers as well as your email address. This gives the agent or publisher the choice of how they want to contact you as well as several options that they need to get hold of you right away.

DO Summarize Your Book in an Exciting Way

You definitely want to include a summary of your book that is exciting and sells it to the agent or publisher. This should be no more than a paragraph or two and every word should be chosen to make it sound like a book that no one could pass up reading much less acquiring. You don’t want to get too creative though and try to write the query letter from a character’s point of view or something like that.

DO Include Your Social Media Reach

One thing that is a relatively new thing when it comes to writing query letters is making sure that you include your social media reach with each letter. This should be a very small note at the end of the query that lets the agent or publisher know that you are willing to do your own marketing and that you have X amount of Twitter followers and X amount of Facebook friends. Goodreads followers may be another useful statistic to include. However, unless you have a significant amount of followers in any of those, then you should leave this out altogether.

Some Nuances of Storytelling Every Writer Should Know

Storytelling is art in itself. No story can be beautiful if you do not tell it the way it should go. There is always flow in case of storytelling. You cannot say a certain part before another. The story should have a flow, or else it loses its essence. It is very important to maintain the sequence to tell your listener or reader understand the feelings and meaning behind your story. Your words should be expressive enough to make the audience imagine their world. Stories are the escape route from the real world. As a storyteller, you possess a great responsibility to create a whole new world for the audience. The timings, expressions and flow are the major ingredients in a perfect story.

Before you start telling the incidents in the story, it is essential that you give the context of the story. The first ten lines are the most important part of the story. That is where you capture reader’s attention. If you miss these ten lines, you lose the reader. It is very important that your introduction is powerful to hold the reader.

Always make sure to introduce your character well. It is nice to keep some mysterious aura around your characters. But make sure it is interesting enough for your readers. Do not casually use something that is unnecessary.

The structure of the story is very important. The structure is the spine of a story. Without that there is no story. Build up the story structure before anything else. Here is where the flow comes in the account. The story should be smooth. The transitions should be on point, or else it will seem like a chunk of paragraphs and words. The structure should be well thought.

Languages are one of the keys to a good story. The words used in the story should be well enough. The words should not be too complicated or too simple. It should be a balance. If it is not, readers might lose their interest. Grammar is main. Make sure what you wit reis grammatically perfect or else the grammar Nazis will definitely criticise.

Feedback is very important. Never go all out with your story without knowing the opinion of at least two or three people. It is very important to have a viewpoint other than yours because that will help you to analyses the points that you might have overlooked or must have thought ok while writing the story. Never hesitate to take extra help. But also remember the story is yours not anybody else’s so do not mould everything.

The conclusion is the most important part of any story. This is where your story is judged the most. It is very very important that you pay double attention to this aspect. Wrap your story well or else the whole thing does not make any sense. The conclusion should not be hurried or late. You can keep it ambiguous but make it understandable. Many awesome stories fail because they can’t convey until the end.

These are the few points that you should keep in mind while storytelling.

Why Writers need to be Reading Children’s Books Before Publishing a Book

Why Writers need to be Reading Children’s Books

Image result for reedsy children's books

One of the things that new children’s writers sometimes fail to do is read a lot of children’s books. Many consider themselves beyond such books, and instead plan to rely on their knowledge and experience reading them as a child. But this is actually a terrible idea. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy writing middle grade, YA or picture books; you should enjoy reading those books as well and be doing so as an adult. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and reasons why you should be reading children’s books as a writer.

Children’s Books Are Fun

The first reason to read children’s books within your category, for example middle grade if that’s what you enjoy writing, is because children’s books are fun. If you are planning to write for children and you do not enjoy reading within your genre or category, you are not going to be very successful. Pick up a book and read it to remember how much joy you got from reading them as a kid.

You’ll Be Able to Learn from Other Writers

Another advantage that writers who read a lot of children’s books get is the ability to learn from some of the best writers in the business. Contrary to popular belief, writing for children in any category is not easier than writing for adults. In fact, many adult writers find it more difficult to write for children. But you can learn from some of the best if you read children’s books yourself.

You’ll Know What Stories Have Been Told

Telling the same story that someone else is already told – possibly better than you – means that you are going to get your book rejected by editors and kids are not going to want to read it because they have already read a similar story. Make sure you know what is already out there so that you do not repeat a story that someone else is already told.

You’ll Learn How Kids Today Talk

Kids today may not talk the way that they did when you were a kid. Listening to kids talk today is the best way to learn, but reading fiction that is written for today’s children will also give you some great lessons on how kids think and talk. This is especially important for writers who do not have kids themselves or do not interact with kids on regular basis.

You’ll be More Motivated to Write Your Own Books

Reading great children’s books can motivate you to write your own books. If you are planning to write in the middle grade category, and in the fantasy genre, then you absolutely have to read the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter is probably one of the most inspiring book series ever written and many people have become writers simply because they read that series. Reading good books inspires you to create good books. That’s a simple fact of writer physics that you should take to heart before you publish your own books.

 

How Long Should My Novel Be?

How Long Should My Novel Be?

While you’ve always loved writing and you’ve penned tons of stories for your own enjoyment, you’ve finally decided to take the big leap and turn your passion for writing into a career – or at least to try sell a book.

You know exactly what you want to write and you’re pretty certain that it’s going to be entertaining and make some pretty big waves in the literary world. However, before you start writing, there’s something that you want to make sure you focus on: How long it’s going to be.

The length of a novel can vary significantly, with some best sellers being only about 70,000 words and others being as long as “War and Peace”. With that said, you may be wondering why the length of your novel is so important.

Why Length is Important

The length of your book is important for two major reasons:

  • It ensures that your readers are captivated
  • It prevents your readers from feeling cheated

If your novel is too long, there’s a pretty good chance that you are going to lose the attention of your audience. While they may have started out being captivated, if it’s taking too long to get to your point, then they might lose their stamina and could end up putting down the book. However, if it’s too short, they may feel like they have been cheated, that their questions weren’t answered, and that they wasted their valuable time and money on your short book.

So, with that said, what is the ideal length for a novel? Below, we share what many consider to be the ideal word length for novels in different genres.

Recommended Word Length Based on Genre

Here’s a look at what literary agents, publishers, and well-written authors recommend for word lengths for novels in some of the most popular genres:

  • Middle grade novels. Books in this genre are written for children between the ages of 9 and 12. Their attention spans are anything but long, yet they want to read something that they feel is fulfilling and entertaining. You can achieve that – and hold their attention – by writing a novel that’s between 25,000 and 40,000 words.
  • Young adult novels. Young adults are older teenagers and people in their young to mid-20s (though many older adults read this genre, too). With that said, the attention span of this audience is longer, but they aren’t looking for long, drawn out books. Instead, they want something entertaining but that they can easily digest. A novel that’s between 45,000 and 80,000 words is ideal for this genre.
  • Sci-fi and fantasy. With books that fit into this genre, you can get away with a lot more words. In fact, a higher word count is expected. Generally, sci-fi and fantasy novels are between 90,000 and 100,000 words; however, you may be able to get away with more than that, as long as you stay on top and don’t get overly wordy, otherwise, you’ll lose your readers’ attention.

Tips for Revising a Book

The most important part of writing a part is the revision. It is very critical to the completion of the book. Once you have finished the book, it is important to revise yourself first before giving it to others for their feedback. This ensures that your book is free of errors and came out the way you wanted it to come out. Book editing is not only challenging but also frustrating. It is also crucial to bridge the gap between getting your book published and getting it rejected.

Here are some simple revision techniques which will help you in editing your book, improvising the manuscript and making it perfect for catching the eye of an agent or publisher.

  1. Always start from page one.

It’s always best to start from the page and work your way through. It not only helps you to ensure that the plot is in the correct flow but also helps to study the characters well. You can go through it and try to understand if the order makes sense or have the characters changed in the novel from beginning to end. Editing becomes easy when you go stepwise, in order. Read your story as if you are reading it for the first time. And don’t ever do it in bits or pieces, you’ll definitely miss something.

  1. Avoid the usage of Passive Voice

You may highlight the areas where passive terms have been used while revising. The terms slow down the stories and make it less exciting and thus must be avoided as much as possible. So, while you are revising don’t stop every time you find a passive term to change the sentence. Instead, you should just highlight the area and get back to making the corrections later, once you are done with the revision. It will help you observe the flow of the plot and not confuse you in the middle.

After you are done with the revision, you may get back to the highlighted areas and recast the sentences to frame them in the active voice, only the ones which fit. The change from passive to active voice should never be forced.

  1. Add Page Of Chapters

If a chapter has ended in the middle of the page, then make sure you start the next chapter on the next clean page. You make also add a blank page in between. This ensures that you can easily locate where the chapter ends and begins and if makes it easier to scroll through a few chapters. If you choose not to do this, the whole book may appear to be on a paragraph which will make the process of revision a more frustrating one.

  1. Keep a Checklist

The notes made between two drafts can be very confusing, and you may miss some important points. To make sure you remember every detail of what needs to be updated, make sure you maintain a checklist while revising. This not only makes your work much easier, but it also ensures that all the wanted updates are incorporated. Keep yourself well-fed too – a nice Food Processor can go a long way.

  1. Take a break

Breaks at regular intervals are significant to ensure that one doesn’t burn out. If you do, it definitely will not be helpful for your book. Take a break of some hours, and you are ready to go back to making your book all perfect. When in doubt, smoking some legalized bud such as sativa can help you retain focus, while indicas will keep you calm.

Hope this helps you figure out the process of revising your book. The efforts may be huge, but the results are worth it. Happy Writing!

How to Get Your Book Published

Getting a book published can appear complex, but it becomes much easier once you have the whole process broken down into smaller steps.

The process can also get lengthy sometimes, it isn’t easy or quick, but you just have to be patient enough to get that done. And once you get it done, all the hard work will be worth it.

Here are some of the steps that one needs to follow to get their book published.

  1. Complete the book

The book should be ready in such a way that if it hits the shelves today, it doesn’t seem out of place. Make sure you have edited out any grammatical or spelling mistakes, and the plot errors are checked.

You may want to get it reviewed by someone else and incorporate the changes which feel right to make the book perfect from your end. Or, you can use Grammarly for a cheap and somewhat effective alternative. If you need help with using Grammarly, hit up IT Services NYC.

  1. Find an agent

Agents usually are open to the type of work they specialise in and might not accept any other kind because of factors like personal interest or contact with publishers in the areas of their specialisation.

Thus, one must do a lot of research on agents before approaching them with their work. List of agents can be found by scouring the web for other writers’ experiences.

Shortlist some who you feel might be interested in your book.

  1. Writing the query letter

The query is the initial point of contact with the agent and must provide some information about the writer, the expected audience for the book and about the book.

A well-written synopsis helps gain the interest of the agent. It should not be more than a paragraph or two and must give an idea of the theme and plot of the book.

Crisp and to the point, it must not give away too much about the plot. It must be free of errors, professional, and succinct.

  1. Approach multiple agents

Submitting to one agent at a time might just take years to publish your book.

So, though you must contact more than one agent at a time making sure they get an impression that you contact them specifically.

It is suggested that one shortlists at least five to ten agents they might want to approach.

  1. Be Patient

Grabbing the attention of an agent might take a long time.

So, make sure you are patient.

After many rejections, you might want to give up but don’t.

See if you want to make some amendments to the query letter or synopsis or have a professional give you feedback on the same.

  1. Choose your agent

Accept the offer when it comes. If it is more than one, then pick whichever seems best.

You must avoid trying to reduce the offered rate actively.

Being difficult from the start might simply make them move to the next.

  1. Discuss and Edit

Agents are experienced, and thus one must take their constructive feedback on their work.

It is also important to create a balance between the change requests by your agent and the degree to which you are prepared to alter your work.

  1. Be Patient

Agents too might submit to multiple publishers at once. And sooner or later they will find a publisher for your book. So, just be patient.

    9. Choose your publisher

Take the offer if you like it. In case of an online self-publishing platform, if you have two or more offers, use it to negotiate for upfront payments or percentage of sales.

Actual negotiating will be done by the agent since he is a professional. So, trust your agent. But make sure you understand the terms of signing.

  1. Discuss and edit

Publishers will have their ideas just like the agent. Be grateful for the feedback but ensure to maintain the balance between the change requests and the degree to which you are prepared to alter your work.

And you’re done. Getting a book published may be difficult, but it is worth it.

10 Tips When Writing a Memoir

There is a lot of information out there about writing, and there is also some information about writing memoirs. But much of the information about writing a memoir is pretty basic. If you are planning on writing one, then you definitely need to learn as much as you can about how the process is accomplished. That’s why we have come up with these 10 tips for writing a memoir that you may not find anywhere else. Crack open a hot meal in a microwave, and let’s talk writing.

  1. Make sure that you know what a memoir actually is. Remember that it is not an autobiography but is instead a slice of life or a series of them.
  2. Make the characters in your memoir larger-than-life. You can exaggerate certain qualities or behaviors that will make these characters live in your readers mind.
  3. Focus on telling the truth when writing a memoir. Be brutally honest with your readers. Don’t gloss over things that you are embarrassed about because they might be the very things that make your memoir great.
  4. Make your memoir about truth. The best memoirs are the ones that allow people to learn things about themselves that they wouldn’t have seen if they hadn’t read the memoir.
  5. While you want people to take life lessons from your memoir, you don’t want to be preachy or try to put specific lessons in. Make sure that there is no in-your-face morality or preaching in your book.
  6. Write a memoir that you think you would like to read even if it was not about you. If it is compelling and interesting to you when you look at it objectively, then it is something that other people will want to read as well.
  7. Concentrate on a single seminal event in your life. Pick something that changed your life forever. Sometimes, this is a series of events, but there is always one event that is more prominent than the rest.
  8. Make sure that you are recalling details from your life correctly and check out things like diaries or the memories of other people that were there with you for accuracy.
  9. Sometimes you have to fictionalize your memoir to protect people. But sometimes, embellishing facts a little bit can actually tell a better story. Think about Jean Shepherd’s memoir In God we Trust, All Others Pay Cash which the holiday film A Christmas Story was based upon. Some of those details were very likely embellished.
  10. Getting a memoir published can be pretty difficult. That’s why you need the writing to be absolutely amazing. Consider hiring a ghostwriter to write your memoir if you are not able to write well enough to ensure that it gets published. Even if your story is amazing, no publisher will want it if the writing isn’t good enough.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that writing a memoir is hard, but with these tips you may have an easier time with it. You should visit Reedsy.com if you want more information on publishing a memoir.