Archive | April, 2010

Dialogue Woes – Writing Tips and Tricks

19 Apr

Vanessa Di Gregorio
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Ah, dialogue. One of the most important aspects of any manuscript. It develops character, progresses the plot, shows conflict, sets the mood, and is a source of information. Dialogue is great. And necessary.

But it’s also tough.

Often, dialogue can be the most underwritten or overwritten part of your story. It can be underwritten when the words you choose aren’t strong enough; when your dialogue is weak. It needs the constant use of adverbs, such as quietly, excitedly, and angrily in order to convey what the dialogue itself should be conveying.

Adverse Adverbs

“I can’t believe that!” she said angrily.

There. An adverb. Angrily. Now, some might argue that the line by itself needs that angrily in order to understand how that line is being said. For all we know, she could be saying that excitedly. It might seem necessary standing on its own like that, but there will be context behind that line. Remember, you aren’t going to have floating lines of dialogue like that; it will be sandwiched between action and more dialogue. The dialogue that comes beforehand should set that line up, and should be strong enough to allow your readers to understand whether or not she says that line angrily, or excitedly.

“Okay Amber… Don’t freak out, okay?” Liz came up beside me, and I looked at her, totally confused.

“What? Oh Liz, you can’t say that, cause I’ll obviously start to kinda freak a bit!”

Liz stood there, silent.

“Oh God Liz, you are totally worrying me! What’s wrong?”

“Don’t get mad at me, ‘kay?” She paused. “I heard that Tracy is going out with Mark.”

“What? I can’t believe that!”

Okay. So perhaps not the best scene of dialogue, but you get my point. Amber obviously isn’t excited to hear that. It should be obvious that your character is saying things a certain way. If your dialogue isn’t strong enough, it won’t portray that. Try going back to the actual dialogue and see if you can make what’s inside the quotation marks stronger. You shouldn’t be trying to fix your dialogue by tacking on adverbs. Avoid adverbs as much as you can; if you can make your dialogue do all the talking, then throw away the adverb. It will just be redundant.

Now, dialogue that is overwritten will tend to include descriptions that aren’t really necessary. You need to trust your readers a bit more.

“Are you blaming me?” Jack got defensive.

You probably don’t need the Jack got defensive line. Just the line of dialogue itself is a clear indication that Jack is saying it defensively. If the meaning of your dialogue gets lost when you remove these types of descriptions, look at your dialogue, and not what is outside of it. You should be beefing up what your characters are actually saying; not describing things that should be obvious. The less stuff cluttering your dialogue like that, the better it will be. Your dialogue will be much easier to read, and the pacing will be much quicker as well.

Too Realistic

You need to sound realistic enough to have dialogue that isn’t jarring or overly awkward (unless, of course, you’re writing a scene of awkward dialogue!), but at the same time, you need to remember that you’re not trying to document everything by being TOO realistic. Alfred Hitchcock once said that a good story was “life, with the dull parts taken out.” Dialogue should follow the same rule. Don’t make it boring! You want your readers to want to keep reading. In real life, people will talk about mundane things; perhaps about the weather, or they’ll ask how the family is doing. In short, in real life we procrastinate when we talk; we avoid the good, juicy information until we’ve finished with the boring pleasantries. When writing, however, this isn’t the best thing to do. It can make for long, boring dialogue. It can also really slow down the pace of the scene. And pacing is always important in your manuscript. So remember: you aren’t trying to copy reality. You’re trying to write good dialogue that is plausible, engaging, and interesting.

The Problem of He Said, She Said

This is pretty self explanatory. It can be distracting when every line ends with the tags “he said” or “she said”. Overusing it takes away from what your characters are saying. Because, of course, you want your readers to notice the brilliant dialogue you’ve written! Don’t feel the need to constantly show that a character is feeling an emotion (ie. sad), and then use “he said sulkily” and “he said miserably” and etc etc. You aren’t trying to show off your skills at using different synonyms in your tags. Overusing tags like this can lead to overwriting your dialogue; it can also make it melodramatic. So, avoid using tags such as “he/she said” often. But, don’t leave it out completely during long bits of dialogue! It can get really confusing if you leave it out for too long.

And Action!

Don’t forget about description though! You should break up your dialogue with action; your characters are more than just lines of speech. The way they react during dialogue should be shown. If someone flinches away from the other person after something is said, you should show it.

Anyone Listening?

Ask yourself this question: are your characters listening to each other? Or are they both just speaking? You need to make sure that your characters are actually responding to one another – not just spewing out information in order to further the story. One person speaks, the other reacts. And so on and so forth. This might seem obvious, but when you actually start writing, sometimes this isn’t something that you think about. So… keep it in mind when writing your dialogue.

Read Out Loud

Reading your dialogue out loud is a great way to figure out if your dialogue is working or not. And just read the dialogue. Ignore everything else; ignore all the descriptions and tags. Does it make sense when you just read out the dialogue? Does it flow well? Or is it jarring and awkward?

Another great way to improve your dialogue? Read plays and scripts. Seriously. It is pure dialogue after all, and you can get a sense of what people are feeling even with little to no direction on how the character reacts. You’ll know when someone is angry, or confused, or sad. What are they saying that makes their feelings so apparent? Figure that out, and you’ll be on your way to writing good dialogue.

So yes, dialogue is difficult. But hopefully, when you get back to you WIP, you’ll be able to tackle your dialogue with less worry!

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Vanessa is an intern at The Rights Factory, a literary agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program, and is trying to figure out where in the world of publishing she wants to end up in. Currently, she is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

Book Cover Contest!

16 Apr

In honor of our most recent post about our favorite book covers, we decided to launch a Book Cover Contest!

The Rules:

  1. You can make a book cover for your own book, an existing book, or one of our books!
  2. You can include whatever text you want (quotes, mini-reviews, etc.), but the only text that you MUST include is the title of the book and the author’s name.
  3. You must credit the source of any artwork you use.
  4. All entries must be received by May 1st. We will announce the winners on Tuesday, May 11th.
  5. Please format your entry as either a .jpeg or .png.
  6. All entries must be emailed to our gmail address: letthewordsflowblog@gmail.com
  7. We will judge based on composition, originality, and quality of artwork!

The Prizes!

We are offering either a critique of a Query Letter, a critique of the first 3 chapters of your story, or a critique of a short story.

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And that’s it! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

Our Comedy Contest is also still in effect, and the deadline for that is also May 1st!

QOTW Week: Book Covers

16 Apr

Hey all, just a quick reminder, we are still having a Comedy Contest, the deadline for which is May 1st. We’ve got a few entries already and they look pretty solid, so whip out your banana peels and make some funny!

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Right now we’re doing a Question of the Week Week to alleviate our backlog of Questions. Today’s question is from June:

90. Because I’m curious…and I’m not sure if this question has been asked yet… What are some of your favorite book covers?

Continue reading

QOTW Week: MFA Degrees

15 Apr

Hey all, just a quick reminder, we are still having a Comedy Contest, the deadline for which is May 1st. We’ve got a few entries already and they look pretty solid, so whip out your banana peels and make some funny!

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Right now we’re doing a Question of the Week Week to alleviate our backlog of Questions. Today’s question is from Anthony Panarelli

How important/beneficial is it to receive a higher education in writing, such as an M.A. or an M.F.A, or even PhD in say Creative Writing? Is it instrumental in your development or career? How many of you plan on pursuing a degree?

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It’s not required at all. I do know some agents that automatically give an MFA in writing a higher degree of attention, but in the end, the writing is all that matters. There are high school students who get published becuase they are just damn good writers.

Now, that’s not to say an MFA might be instrumental to YOU in making the a connection or improving your writing. But dont go spend a ton of time and money thinking you have to.

-The Literary Agent and Writer With a New Book Deal!

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I used to want to get an MFA in creative writing!  Then I learned that it only gives you a clear advantage if you want to teach.  Otherwise, you can learn most of what you need to be a writer by living life boldly, writing constantly, and reading widely.  Oh – and a good writing group definitely helps!  (That’s my opinion, of course, and I certainly don’t mean to diminish the value of anyone’s higher education!)

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Definitely not that important. I toyed around with the idea for a while during my senior of college, but after I visited a very prestigious MFA program and met with their director, I realized it was NOT for me, and that I didn’t need to get my MFA to get published (despite what they might tell you). It seemed to me that a lot of the people who were applying were doing it either to be able to teach, or that they needed someone to force them to write. That’s not to say that MFA programs aren’t useful–I think they can be immensely helpful for certain kinds of people, and are great for gaining connections. But that’s all stuff that you can do on your own, too–through becoming involved in great writing groups, and networking.

The Writer With Her First Book Deal

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It isn’t necessary at all! What really works is writing all the time, and being involved with a great writer’s group. I don’t think you need to spend all that money to improve your writing and get published. A lot of published authors don’t have degrees in creative writing! It is certainly useful, but I think it is more beneficial if you plan on teaching it. And a lot of what they teach you is readily available online and in books.

-The Intern Writing her First Book

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I’m not in a very good position to answer this question, but here’s how I made my decision to study what I will. A couple months ago I wanted to study Creative Writing in university, but I kept hearing things about how if you know how to write already and if you have the discipline, you don’t learn much. I’m also afraid of getting stuck in classes with people that are pretentious or look down upon the type of writing I do. If there’s anything I hate it’s snobs that read only classics so they can look smart (I know more than a few people determined enough to get through a book just so they can gloat about reading it.) Another thing I was afraid of is having the teachers or peers pressure me or try to conform me into a specific type of writing, and thereby take away my love for it. So I figured the next best thing would be history. I’ll be going to university next year for Medieval Studies and English (double major if all goes well).

My logic is that if I study history I’ll have a background not only in writing but in the world. The knowledge of how things were and how they came to be could help me immensely if I ever had to create alternate realities or (wouldn’t you know it) histories. I could use little-known events as inspiration. I chose Medieval Studies because it’s so mysterious; it’s the Dark Ages. There’s so much room for the imagination. And personally, I don’t think anything sounds more mystical than Medieval and Renaissance music.

So really, from my position, (being the final year of high school,) I’d just say pursue something you love. If you think Creative Writing would be beneficial, go for it. If you’re iffy or scared about the chances of making it, (admittedly another reason for history; I could always become a teacher,) then find a second love. You could enjoy it just as much, and then write novels based on that knowledge.

Do YOU plan on getting an MFA?

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You can ask us a Question of the Week by clicking on QOTW in the upper part of our website and leaving us a comment. We try to answer Questions in the order they are received, unless something is really pressing.

QOTW: Writing Endings

14 Apr

Hey all, just a quick reminder, we are still having a Comedy Contest, the deadline for which is May 1st. We’ve got a few entries already and they look pretty solid, so whip out your banana peels and make some funny!

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Right now we’re doing a Question of the Week Week to alleviate our backlog of Questions. Today’s question is from Elizabeth:

Do you freak out when writing your climax? Do you try and avoid it? I’ve heard Libba Bray say that the times when she’s most running to the refrigerator or doing some other silly little task while writing, is when she’s about to tackle something important. Does this happen to you?

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I have to admit, this really doesn’t happen to me.  I do a lot of “back story” before I begin my manuscript, so I know my characters really well.  When it comes time to write the climax or any other big scene, I throw my characters into it and it gets written because I just let them act and react to the situation without much control on my part.  (Also, I don’t fret over the style and quality of the writing when I’m doing the first draft.  I just get it down on the page.)

Now description is a totally different thing for me!  All the back story in the world won’t make it any easier to write a paragraph of description!  THAT’S when I find myself making a zillion trips to the refrigerator!

-The Newest LTWF Contributor Who is Already Out on Submissions!

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I rush through the ending. I just want it done, done, done. Because my first drafts are crap.

Complete, utter crap. When I started writing YOU WISH, it kind of freaked me out– becuase I kept looking at Prada & Prejudice (the shiny, published version) and thinking, OMG I CANNOT DO THIS AGAIN.

But then I realized something: P&P started out as utter crap too. So if I can get this stupid ugly draft done, then maybe I can revise it.

So I kind of went off on a tangent here, but my point is– I rush straight through the end so that I can make it something other than total junk. But if I dont write the end– if I avoid it– I’ll never be able to do that.

-The Literary Agent and Writer With a New Book Deal!

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Congrats on finishing a project! Usually when I’m writing I have a very clear idea of the ending, and of course as a writer my ideas come with word descriptions. So typically I’m writing on the ending all throughout the book, and by the time I’m ready to connect the middle bits with the ending, the ending has already been edited a bunch of times as I’ve combed over it, and is actually the best part of the book. I’m always eager to record the grand and dramatic moments so I don’t forget how they feel in my head; those are my favorite part to write and I’ll pretty much abandon any other part of the story in order to get to them.

My ‘running to the refrigerator’ moments come when I have to give a scene a complete rewrite and it’s going to be painful, or when I have to write something I’m not exactly sure will turn out with the purpose I want (ie when I don’t have a clear idea of where I’m going).

-The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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Actually, the things I usually figure out when I first come up with a story idea are the beginning and climax/ending. I LOVE writing climaxes, because they’re often the part of the story that I look the most forward to (and thus become a reward for writing the entirety of the book). However, because they’re so emotionally draining, I will often set aside an entire day for them–and make sure my fridge is stocked with caffeinated drinks!

But don’t drive yourself crazy trying to nail the climax in the first draft–you will have plenty of time to revise and polish it up!

The Writer With Her First Book Deal

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The points where I slack off the most or do research or get distracted by the internet are normally the boring parts or slow parts of a project. I don’t like writing them as much but they’re necessary to connect the interesting parts or provide needed information. I tend to write my major scenes, or at least parts of them, earlier in the process. They’re the things that keep me awake at night, demanding that I get my computer back out and write them down. I think the most difficult part for me (which I just relearned as I was finishing my WIP) is the connecting section between the last event and the climax, the part that actually brings the characters to the tensest moments. I have trouble building up to that.

-The Writer Querying Agents

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I don’t worry about messing up the climax. As I always say: You can’t expect to write the scene perfectly in your first attempt. I just open the dam and allow for my excitement to flood out. I know the writing quality might not be top notch. But I’m usually too excited to stop and edit. I just write and write. I capture the scene that I’ve been longing to write since chapter one. And I write quickly because I’m afraid I might lose that excitement. Sometimes, however, the climax isn’t as fun to write as I imagined. In those cases it takes me several tedious attempts (writing, deleting, rewriting, deleting) before I finally write the climax as it should be.

-Writer Who Got A Full Request

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I…love writing the exciting stuff. Sometimes I’ll think of scenes months in advance that have to come later, and for my current novel I’ve had the ending in my head for literally more than a year before I finally wrote it down. Knowing about the climax actually motivates me to write faster and helps me connect scenes better.

That said though, I never actually sit down and say “And now I’m going to write the end!” So far, every single thing I’ve written that’s exciting or climactic has come out either in a totally unexpected place, or a fair amount of pages into my writing session. I always have a kind of lead-up to rile me up and get my adrenaline pumping, so that by the time I get to the exciting bits it’s all flowing out because I feel the same sense of urgency and need of the characters to throw a punch or RUN.

And don’t worry about messing it up. Just write. Pour out all the excitement you feel for it. You can always go back later with a clearer mind and fix it.

~-The Writer Editing her First Novel (Who Also Just Got a Twitter Account!)

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I find that the times I procrastinate most while writing is when working on scenes that I’ve planned out in my head. For some reason, I have a hard time getting through those in one sitting without getting up to get a snack or a drink, or checking Twitter or Facebook. When I’m just writing and going with it without a clear idea of where I’m headed, I tend to find it much easier; I fly through when writing those as-I-go scenes, no matter how significant (or insignificant) they are. Even if it’s the climax of my story, I find that if I didn’t plan it out in advance, it just comes to me quite naturally when I write. Editing, however, is a different story; I find it more daunting to edit those pivotal scenes. But yes, I definitely understand what you mean about worrying whether or not you’ll mess it up. When I’ve planned it out, it is definitely a huge worry, which in turn leads me to put it off. Which is why I try to let my characters just take me on a ride when I write; that way, I don’t see what’s coming!

-The Intern Writing her First Book

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How do YOU feel about writing endings?

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You can ask us a Question of the Week by clicking on QOTW in the upper part of our website and leaving us a comment. We try to answer Questions in the order they are received, unless something is really pressing.

QOTW Week: Never Getting Published

13 Apr

Hey all, just a quick reminder, we are still having a Comedy Contest, the deadline for which is May 1st. We’ve got a few entries already and they look pretty solid, so whip out your banana peels and make some funny!

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Right now we’re doing a Question of the Week Week to alleviate our backlog of Questions. Today’s question is from Deianeira:

Would you still be a content writer if your work were never published – simply written?

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For me, it all depends on my relationship to the manuscript.  I have two manuscripts that may or may not ever see the light of day.  I feel good about both of these as part of my life-long body of work.  If no one ever reads them, they are still a part of what I have created as an artist.

That said, I have a very strong desire that my current manuscript, FIREFLY, should be read by other people.  I think this is because I feel very strongly about the characters — like they’re my children, or my close friends; there are even little pieces of my late mother tucked into my characters.  I want to give them as much “life” as possible.  To me, that love for my characters may be the only thing with the power to push me all the way to publication.  Bringing a book to publication is a lot like carrying a friend on your back to the top of Mount Everest!  Your love for that friend better be very strong, or you will never make it to the top.

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If I personally didn’t want to get the piece published, then I’d be fine. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be content. I want my stuff to get published so that I can share it with others. I’m not doing it for the money or the glory but, I’d like to think, for the pleasure I get in letting others read something I’m proud of. If I want to get something published, it means that I think what I’ve written is worthwhile for the ideas and thoughts that come into play in it that maybe the reader wouldn’t have thought of otherwise–or at least not in the context I mention it in. I have a strong desire in showing others how I feel on certain topics, and weaving them through plots just seems like a logical way of discussing them without having the reader get bored.

-The Writer Editing her First Novel (Who Also Just Got a Twitter Account!)

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Yes, I would be happy if I was never published. I’m writing for me and sure maybe a few of my friends, but mostly I’m writing to please myself. I’m a writer because I write, not because I’m published.

– The Writer Revising Her Second Novel

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Publishing has been my dream since 4th grade, and I’m so close to having that dream realized that I don’t think I could be happy if the Antebellum series were never published. I’m very lucky that people can connect with my stories, and perhaps it’s selfish, but I love to hear about those connections and much someone enjoyed something I’ve written. If I never found a place in the publishing world I would definitely be unhappy, but on the other hand I wouldn’t stop writing, ever. I love the process, and it makes me happy and keeps me entertained. There are some short stories and poems I don’t think will ever be published, but I’m glad I wrote them because they mean something to me personally, and it’s nice to read back over them and feel what I was feeling at that time. But for the bigger, greater stuff, I am definitely fighting to be published.

-The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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Would I still write? Yes.

Would I write as much? No.

Deadlines are pretty motivating. I always have one or two hanging around, and that means sometimes what I really want to do is sleep or watch TV, but I choose writing becuase otherwise I won’t make the
deadline. If I were never published I might make a different choice. Without publishing, I’d probably write one book a year. With it, I write two or three.

-The Literary Agent and Writer With a New Book Deal!

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I would still write if I was never published. I probably wouldn’t write complete stories. I’d have tons of beginnings and endings but few middles hanging around. I probably would/will have less time to write and I’d be less concerned about plot holes and continuity. I don’t think I could st op writing for fun though and there are still ways to share your work without being published, fictionpress being just one example.

-The Writer Querying Agents

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I would still write if my story was never to be published. I write not only because I want to, but because I need to. When inspired, if I don’t capture it with words, it’ll drive me nuts. But the quality of my writing will most likely not be that great as I won’t be under the pressuring thought of one day publishing it. However, I would most likely then turn to FictionPress again, and share my story through that site. Or share my work with my friends. Otherwise, the purpose behind why I write, which is to communicate my thoughts and imagination with others, would be defeated.

-The Writer Who Got A Full Request

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Part of the reason why I love to write is because I love connecting with my readers, and hearing about how my writing has directly impacted their lives. Publishing gives me the opportunity to do that on a HUGE level, so I’d be pretty bummed if I were never published, and I don’t think I’d ever give up on my dream to see my book on shelves. That being said, I’d still write every day, and would die without it in my life.

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While I definitely dream of publication, I don’t think I’d stop writing if it never happened. I may find myself writing less and less, but writing is something that I love to do. I write to get down my stories and my characters, and to see how it will all work out – because often, my characters take a life of their own. So would I be content? I think so. But I would be ecstatic if other people were able to read my work; the desire to share my stories with others is the second reason I write, and the reason I want to get published! I will never stop writing, even if it is just sporadically. If I don’t get published the first, second, or third time, I still won’t regret writing. But I’ll be damned if I don’t try!

-The Intern Writing her First Book

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Would YOU be content to never be published?

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You can ask us a Question of the Week by clicking on QOTW in the upper part of our website and leaving us a comment. We try to answer Questions in the order they are received, unless something is really pressing.

QOTW Week: Fan Fiction

12 Apr

Hey guys! We have a build up of Questions of the Week, so we thought we’d give ourselves a break and do a Question of the Week Week (Lol, more like Question of the Day Week) to clear out some of them.

We’re starting off the week with a really fun one from Corona:

What would your reaction be if your book got published and people would write fanfic about it? I know that some published authors out there are in a few camps concerning fanfic. Some consider it pure ‘devils’ spawn’. Some ignore it or are ambivalent towards it. Would you consider it flattery? Would you be offended? Would you want to read this fanfic?

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I would be EXTREMELY flattered if someone wrote fanfic about my characters.  It would make me so happy to know that readers had connected with my characters to such a level that they would want to have adventures with them of their own.  I think I would definitely read some of it.  However, I imagine it would give me an odd feeling, along the lines of the feeling I get when I hear a recording of my own voice.  You know how you always think, “That isn’t how I sound when I talk!”?  I have a feeling reading another person’s writing about my characters would make me feel that same way.

The Newest LTWF Member Also out on Submissions!

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Like Julie, I would be really flattered if someone wrote fanfic about my books or characters or world they live in. I think I would probably read it, and then like how I get with Harry Potter fan fiction (yup, I am not denying I still read it!), I would get sucked in and read for hours. I’d probably miss a deadline or two. 😉
But in all seriousness, I would appreciate the fact that someone, other than me, fell in love with my characters and were willing to take them to alternate universes or on different journeys.

The Writer Revising her Second Novel

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I like fanfiction a lot, good fanfiction that is. It gives people the chance to explore characters and worlds they love in more detail and in situations beyond the scope of the original work. I’d be really flattered if someone wrote fanfiction based on my book and interested to see how they interpret my characters. So I’d end up reading it. However, if the characters were out of character I’d be bothered. I think if you’re going to use someone else’s characters you should at least try to keep them acting like themselves and not turn them into Draco in Leather Pants! I would also be freaked out when Rule 34 came into effect, because it always does.

The Writer Who Just Began Querying!

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If anyone ever felt compelled enough to want to write fanfiction based on my stories and my characters, I would be GREATLY flattered! I might even start bragging about it to all my friends and family! However, I may be a bit biased, having started writing fanfiction before moving to writing my own works; but I see no problem with someone wanting to write fanfiction, no matter how drastically they change the characters or the stories. In fact, I think it would be great! I see it as a homage to any writer out there when a person writes fanfiction based on someone else’s work. I have to admit, though, that I doubt I’d ever read any fanfiction based on my work; it would be strange, reading about my characters and my stories and seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I’ll never say never of course – I have a tendency to let my curiosity get the best of me – so who knows? Perhaps I would read it. But seeing as how I no longer read any fanfiction anymore, I find it unlikely that I would read fanfics based off my work.

The Writer Writing Her First Novel

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A person who writes fanfiction is most likely writing not for publication but because the world created by another author has them at its grip. Fanfiction writers write because they want to live a moment longer in another’s world. Even though their writing might be atrocious, still, I would be more than honored that my words inspired a person in such a way. I know many people who later branched out into original fiction later. What greater compliment is there to an author than to know they’ve helped someone find their dream?

The Writer Who Got A Full Request

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Flattered out of my mind. I’d be so intrigued to see what ideas and stories people could come up with based on the universe and characters I created. What I’m working on now is the type of story that has gaps for a reason, and has an ending that leaves a lot to the imagination, so I’d be so curious to see how people would interpret the gaps and what they would do to the ending.

I don’t know if I’d be able to read it, especially since I know my characters so well and anything out of character would seem like sacrilege, but I would still think it so amazingly cool if somebody were inspired enough by my work to try to continue it through fanfiction. I mean, I’d think it were cooler if they were inspired to write original fiction, but if fanfiction is there as a gateway to that, and it’s based on my work, then that would still be awesome.

-The Writer Revising Her First Novel

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I got my start in fan fiction (Animorphs FTW!), so I would never, ever discourage someone from writing or or getting involved in it, but I think that when you get published a lot of legal restraints come into place. I asked author Rachel Hawkins (whose book Hex Hall just came out!) over Twitter about a status update she made where she said that fan fiction existed for her book, but she couldn’t read it. I asked why, and she said that for legal reasons she cannot read fan fiction about her work because if she were to later write a sequel which involved a concept or a plot point also present in a work of fan fiction, she could be legally liable. Even though it was fan fiction based off her concept! So she decided that in case that ever happened she wanted to be able to plead completely innocent, so she will never view fan fiction of her work. Ever.

Now, I don’t know if I personally could take that kind of stance because fan fiction is my background, and I love it too much. I would be beyond thrilled if fan fiction for the Antebellum series became popular on FanFiction.net, and I probably wouldn’t be able to stay away from it.

On the flip side of things, J.K. Rowling has dropped some strong hints that she reads Harry Potter fan fiction 😉

-The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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I would be thrilled if someone wanted to write Fanfic about my characters. Callie and Alex (Of Prada and Prejudice!) have so much more to do and say and live! And the ending is fairly open. The important thing is that you credit the author at all times…. so if you’ve got your own website, I would appreciate the cover for P&P, a link to my website, etc.

In my eyes it can only increase your book’s visibility. Most NYT bestsellers (especially for series!) have fansites devoted to their work, and fanfic is a natural part of that. But the important thing is it’s done IN SUPPORT of the book(s), not as a way for the writer to somehow profit from the original work.

And obviously, you should never, ever SELL fanfic based on a published novel.

The Literary Agent and Novelist with Another Book Deal!

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Audience, how do you feel about fan fiction of your work?

~~~

You can ask us a Question of the Week by clicking on QOTW in the upper part of our website and leaving us a comment. We try to answer Questions in the order they are received, unless something is really pressing.

Introducing Julie, the Newest LTWF Contributor

9 Apr

Hello!

I’m honored to introduce myself as the newest member of Let the Words Flow, and I hope my presence here will add to what is already an awesome community of writers.

My name is Julie Eshbaugh, and I’m forty (something) years old.  Having grown up outside of Philadelphia, I spent my first few years after high school traveling widely and living in places as varied as Provo, Utah; Paris, France; and New York City.  When I finally settled down back home in Philadelphia, I graduated summa cum laude from Rider University.

I’ve written two-and-a-half novels.  The first was written when I was thirty and is an unpublished legal thriller.  I came close to landing representation for that manuscript, but I just didn’t love it the way an author needs to love their work in order to take it all the way.  After that first novel, I focused my artistic energies on filmmaking and eventually online video.  I made two short films (the second of which showed at film festivals around the country) and then spent several years producing an online video series about a teenage boy.  That series, “Dylan’s Couch,” achieved a respectable amount of success and received several honors from the Webbie Awards.

A few chapters of my unfinished second novel RUNNING TO STAND STILL are posted on Fiction Press.  It’s an ‘edgy’ YA about a young woman’s descent into drug addiction in NYC’s East Village of the 1980s.  I began that novel in 2008 but found it too emotionally draining to finish at the time, although it’s close to complete.  I hope to return to that novel in the future.

My third novel is the one that got me my agent.  Currently untitled, the manuscript managed to get me two offers of representation, and I ultimately decided to sign with Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.  Natalie is fantastic; she has offered me tremendous support and advice in revising the manuscript.

I’m looking forward to getting to know all of the wonderful LTWF readers!

~~~

Julie is currently working on revisions with her agent and brainstorming ideas for future projects.

Publishing Abroad – An Interview With Gabriela Da Silva

8 Apr

Vanessa Di Gregorio
~

Ever been curious about what publishing is like in other countries? We sure have! So what better way to get a glimpse into the world of foreign publishing than with an interview with someone published in another country? It’s my pleasure to introduce to you Gabriela da Silva (or Gaby, as she often goes by); an author who resides in Mexico. She is also someone who encouraged me to keep writing when I was still on Fanfiction.net (oh, the good ol’ days), and I can’t thank her enough.  Amazingly, she’s agreed to be poked and prodded by us while we question her about her experience with publishing abroad. Her first novel, a fantasy titled “Los Doce Sellos” (The Twelfth Seal), was published by Itaca on December 17th, 2009 in Mexico.

Want to know more? Well, here’s a little synopsis of “Los Doce Sellos”:

In the Empire of Lavinia, a group of orphans were adopted by a sorcerer…

Life with him wasn’t easy. They traveled with no respite, assisting the old man in the magic shows he offered in every village they came across. Even if the Teacher had never been kind or loving to them, he gave them clothing, food and a home during the long winter. They lived as a family, and Umberto was happy like that.

But when the group is invited to a princely court nearby, the youth’s placid world starts to corrode, with nothing they can do to stop it. With one of his sisters in the threshold of death and all of his friends in danger, Umberto finds himself in a bizarre place between two worlds, trapped in a battle between forces he never could have imagined.

“Gaby’s

Front and back cover of Gaby’s book

Gaby is currently translating her book into English, and so we thought we would ask her not only about her experiences with publishing abroad, but her plans for the future.

~

V. Thanks so much, Gaby, for being able to offer us your time! We’ll start with some questions from me! So, to start off: what was your first reaction when you signed your book deal?

G. Anxiety, perhaps? I didn’t exactly “sign a deal” – it was mostly talking with the editor one afternoon.

By that time I pretty much knew it was going to get published, and I was getting nervous – how long would it take? Would I get a lot of corrections? Would I be allowed to mess with the cover design? (I was!)

Also, most of my friends work in the area of literary criticism – I, too, specialized in that. So I was very nervous as to how they would receive it, since some of them can be downright mean when doing their job. Luckily, most of them liked it, and the mean ones didn’t comment too much…

V. That’s amazing that you were able to get a say in your book cover design! So, how did you get to that part when you realized you were getting published? Did you/do you have an agent?

G. One more figure that doesn’t exist in Mexico! Literary agents sound like a dream come true here. I don’t have one, though I’d love to. Both my parents worked a little as agents, introducing me to what friends they had in the publishing business (they turned me down anyway).

V. No agents?! That must’ve been daunting! So, with no agents around to help you out, how did you go about getting your book published?

G. At the end of the day, the same editorial who had published my mom’s book on women’s writing, and who I hadn’t considered because they published only academic essays, turned out to be looking for novels in order to widen their appeal. I turned the manuscript in and finally, someone was willing to take the risk of publishing a first time writer…

V. How long did it take?

G. From the moment I started writing to when it was published, it took a little over four years. The publishing in itself took around six or seven months, with the editor correcting, me correcting the corrections, him correcting again and me agreeing.

V. Ah, editors. Gotta love them. The next few questions are from Savannah and Sarah. They wanted to know: did you go on a book tour?

G. There’s really no such thing as a “book tour” in Mexico. Famous writers sometimes tour, but it’s not the most common thing. However, I formally presented my book to the public during the National Book Fair.

V. Does Mexico have a popular best sellers list, or any other distinctive honors like that, and were you on any of them?

G. There are several lists; mostly, each bookstore has their own. I figured in one of them for January (16th most sold) and February (17th), right along Orham Pamuk and Paul Auster!

V. What’s your plan for your novel in the future?

G. As soon as I can I’m moving to a bigger editorial. There are only four or five editorials that distribute to the entire country – most work only within the city they were born in, as my editorial right now distributes only in Mexico City. So yes, first I’ve got to reach the rest of my country.

Also, I’m translating it into English, and with a little luck (and much more hard work) I’ll try and get in published in that language too.

V. I definitely think you should get in published in the U.S. and Canada. You know I would be the first one to buy it! The next few questions come from Biljana. She wanted to know: Can you tell us briefly how somebody would go about translating a book into a different language?

G. Sorry, I can’t really say I know the usual process… if your work is famous most of the time a foreign editorial will pick up the rights by themselves and have it translated. For us, I believe we need to see to the translation by ourselves and find an agent who doesn’t mind working with someone outside of the country.

V. Do you feel any bitterness to the fact that English seems to be more read that other languages? How do you deal with knowing that if your book were translated, it might not have the same beauty or meaning as it does in its original language?

G. Not bitterness! I love the English language. It’s beautiful and flexible, and it has so many pretty verbs… I love Spanish just as well. It has more degrees of feelings, and allows latinisms.

If I feel bitter about anything it is about my own fate, of being born in a country were writing doesn’t pay (literally. I didn’t get one dime for my book) unless you’re OMG famous, and famous writing means “about social struggle”. For an aspiring fantasy author, the prospect is just bleak, you know?

As for the translation, I don’t worry about that because I’m translating it myself 😛

In all seriousness, I would hope that the one to translate the book would see it as more than just another chore, and would do his/her best to take some of the beauty I put in and imitate it in the new language. Something will be lost – but something will be gained as well, and that’s the beauty of translation.

V. Didn’t get paid?! Well, you definitely need to finish translating and get it published here too then! Now, I just have one more question (technically, two, I suppose). Would you say Fanfiction.net or FictionPress helped you in your goal of becoming a writer? How much of an impact did these sites have on you?

G. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for Fanfiction.net and FictionPress! First of all, writing for those sites helped me practice. I know there are plenty of people out there who look down on fanfiction as petty wish-fulfillment, and for some people that’s what it is.

But for me, it was always about practice: you have a set of characters in a set of circumstances, and you inject a second set of circumstances. You have to combine both without breaking any of them – as a writer, that’s one great challenge.

As for FictionPress, well, I didn’t publish much there precisely because it made me realize two very important things:

1) It was time I started writing in my own language. After years and years of writing in English, switching back to Spanish was so difficult, I couldn’t believe it. I felt humiliated when I needed to use a dictionary for my native language.
2) Most importantly, it was time I got myself a good critique partner, someone I had to see face to face. Internet reviews are good, of course, but most comments in both FictionPress and ff.net are of the “OMG this is so kewl!” kind, which are encouraging but don’t help with your writing.

I believe those websites can be extremely valuable to any fledging writer, first of all because of the feedback, but also because they’ll give you the courage to actually go and show your work to others. This might come easier to some – but for me, it wasn’t. Showing my writing was like stripping down to my barest, most intimate me… I wouldn’t have had the courage to go through publishing if I didn’t start with the internet first.

~

So again, Gaby, we’d like to thank you so much for letting us interview you about publishing abroad. I know you’ll have a bright writing career ahead of you!

~~~

Vanessa is an intern at The Rights Factory, a literary agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program, and is trying to figure out where in the world of publishing she wants to end up in. Currently, she is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

Gaby is the author of “Los doce sellos” (The Twelfth Seal), a fantasy story which was published in Mexico on December of last year. She is currently translating it into English in hopes of finding an agent and is already hard at work on her follow-up novel. She tweets @huesodeliebre, both in English and Spanish

A Little Trick to Consider

7 Apr

by Biljana Likic

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REMINDER: The Comedy Contest is still going on! Get your admissions in before May 1st!

~~~

Here’s a little trick I use when I feel stuck or uninspired.

But first, some context!

Plays and scripts aren’t meant to be read; they are meant to be acted out. When a playwright or screenwriter begins composing their piece, their first thoughts probably aren’t, “Man this is gonna be a damn good script to read.” Instead, they most likely think something along the lines of, “I really hope this connects with the audience watching!”

But who says they can’t be read?

Why I love reading scripts, plays in particular, is because it’s such an exercise of the imagination. There are a lot of ways you can interpret a piece of text. Words can be very ambiguous, and dialogue can say so much about what’s happening, and yet so little. When you see a play, the director is generally the one that makes all the decisions about what kind of messages need to be sent out. That is one person interpreting a piece of dialogue in a way that is hopefully unique. And while I love watching plays, this is why I like reading them: I get my own interpretation, my own little production, right inside my head. I get to be the one to make those decisions, and apply what emotions I feel are appropriate.

So sometimes, when I feel completely uninspired, I’ll take out a script, pick a piece of dialogue, and write a narrative for it.

Here’s an example. Take this blurb of dialogue:

~

The Dialogue:

Man: “Where’d you go?”

Woman: “I went to the supermarket.”

Man: “What did you get?”

Woman: “Carrots.”

Man: “I hate carrots.”

Woman: “They help your eyesight.”

Man: “They taste like cardboard.”

Woman: “I’m just looking out for you.”

~

Now here it is interpreted into two narratives:

~

Interpretation 1:

The woman walked through the door, throwing her keys onto the coffee table and continuing on to the kitchen.

“Where’d you go?” the man asked, snaking his arms around her waist and leaning his chin against her shoulder.

She smiled and turned her head to kiss his cheek. “I went to the supermarket.”

“What did you get?”

She dumped out a mass of gnarled, vibrant orange sticks onto the granite countertop. “Carrots,” she declared, grinning triumphantly.

The man groaned and tried to pull her away from the counter. “I hate carrots.”

“They help your eyesight,” the woman said, giggling and grabbing onto the handles of the drawers to stop him from dragging her away.

“They taste like cardboard,” he muttered.

She turned in his arms and put a hand on his cheek. “I’m just trying to look out for you,” she said, giving him another quick kiss, and moving away to start peeling.

~

Interpretation 2:

The woman walked through the door, throwing her keys onto the coffee table and continuing on to the kitchen.

“Where’d you go?”

She froze. Grip tightening against her alibi, she flicked her gaze behind her. The man was watching her coldly.

She forced out a smile. “I went to the supermarket.”

“What did you get?”

A slightly trembling hand reached into the bag and dumped a mass of carrots onto the laminate countertop. There were too many. She’d panicked and grabbed more than she could ever need. “Carrots,” she said, staring at the now incriminating orange mound.

There was a tense pause.

“I hate carrots.”

The woman clenched her fists. “They help your eyesight.”

“They taste like cardboard.”

She bit her cheek. She could feel his eyes boring into her back, the short, empty distance between kitchen chair and kitchen counter threatening to drive her into a frenzy.

“I’m just trying to look out for you,” she said, barely keeping her voice level.

The man said nothing. She heard his shoes scuff against the tile of the floor and flinched, but nothing happened. He left the kitchen. The woman squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then took out a knife and started peeling.

~

So there you have it, folks: two completely different interpretations from one little blurb of dialogue. Obviously, when it’s a whole script, the words and stage directions will push you towards a certain mood the writer wants, but there are still so many possibilities. It’s the reason why you can watch a play done by two different groups of people and feel as if they weren’t even the same piece of work.

In my opinion, it’s fascinating.

So next time you feel you need a good stretch for your imagination, try picking up a play and writing out a narrative just like that. It just might get your creative juices flowing.

Feel free to put your own interpretation of the blurb in the comments!

~~~

Biljana Likic is an aspiring author, currently revising her first novel, TIME IS A FUNNY THING. She’s in her final year of high school, waiting and waiting to graduate, finish university, and finally have all the time in the world to write. You can visit her blog here, and check out her work on her FictionPress account.