Tag Archives: vlog

A Vlog about World Building Using Maps!

7 Mar


by Julie Eshbaugh

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Hi Guys!  For today’s post I made a video about world building using maps and floor plans.  I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful!  Please leave comments letting me know your thoughts and suggestions.  Thanks!

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Julie Eshbaugh is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Bradford Literary Agency.  You can read her blog here and find her on Twitter here.

 

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Your Heroine Does Not Need Violet Eyes

16 Mar

Sorry this is late everyone; I forgot that Tuesdays were vlog day!

Anyway, this vlog is a personal one I did a few weeks ago, and it has a lot to do with the article I posted yesterday about Rules for Writing. This vlog is slightly comedic, and deals with ‘special’ characters.

Enjoy!

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Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.

Savannah’s Basic Rules for Writing

15 Mar

by Savannah J. Foley

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Over the years I’ve picked up some good tips for writing better from quotes, autobiographies, my friends, and magazine articles. The following is my list, from solid to heartfelt to quirky advice. I hope you can make use of something in here!

 1. Avoid ‘th’ words. The ‘th’ sound is harder for your mouth to make, and it interrupts the flow. Sentences with excessive ‘the’s and ‘they’s and ‘there’s and ‘this’s need to be cleaned up. Get rid of the ‘th’!

 Bad: The wind in the theater chilled the audience and made them clutch their coats tighter to their bodies. “This sucks!” whispered the Duke of Thisby to the attendant. “Make them turn the damn heat all the way up!”

 2. Don’t share every single detail. You’re writing a novel, not a play. When you describe every single action a character takes you leave nothing to the audience’s imagination. Your readers want to immerse themselves in your work, and your words should act like impressionism, leaving them free to fill in the blanks and make it their own.

 Bad: Sandra Dee sat down at her desk. She pulled her homework out of her bag and placed it on the table. She took out a pen, licked the tip, and frowned at the sets of problems before her. She scratched a little at the first problem, and sighed. She fumbled for her calculator as the phone rang. Sandra Dee let it tinkle twice before answering.

 Better: Sandra Dee was in the middle of procrastinating on her homework when the phone rang. “Sandra Dee? Oh thank God, you’re still alive!”

 Get to the action!

 3. Don’t make actions independent of each other. Simultaneous action is good. People are constantly multi-tasking: eating while talking, smiling while talking, twirling their hair while talking, and generally doing a lot of other things while talking. Your writing should incorporate these actions. Make your characters do things WHILE they’re talking, not in between talking. (Hint, make your verbs active, so that they end in –ing. That should take care of the problem).

 Bad:

 “Don’t tell me what to do, father!” Anabelle yelled. She slammed her cup down on the table.

 “I’m the head of this house!” her father roared. He overturned the table.

 “I hate you!” Anabelle screamed. She ran into the next room.

 Better:

 “Don’t tell me what to do, father!” Annabelle yelled, slamming her cup down on the table.

 “I’m the head of this house!” Her father roared as he overturned the table.

 Annabelle ran into the next room, screaming, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”

 4. Don’t be transparent. Don’t really be oblique either; a good, balanced translucency is the key. If you’re too transparent your writing seems amateurish, and then it’s very easy for the audience to guess what’s going to happen next. Surprise your audience!

 Bad: Bella Dove was an average girl in every single way, except for the fact that she had the most beautiful, glowing purple eyes, a birthmark on her right shoulder blade in the shape of a crescent moon with a sword stuck through it, and every now and then strangers in cloaks would whisper ‘The Chosen One’ when she passed by on the street on her way to the mall.

 By the way, if your way of ‘distinguishing’ your special character is to give them a blatantly identifying mark like gorgeous eyes then you need to come up with something more original. Sexy heroes don’t need to have piercing green or blue eyes to indicate their sexiness or desirability, and neither do heroines.

For more about this, see this vlog I did called Your Heroine Does Not Need Violet Eyes.

 5. Don’t use narration as an obvious means to communicate your back story. This means that your characters should never say anything to each other that they should already know, purely for the audience’s benefit.

 Bad:

 Jessica ran up to Bethany. “Hey best friend since sixth grade! How’s your mom, who’s in the hospital for breast cancer for the second time?”

 Bethany giggled. “Good, what’s your progress on that mysterious new kid who’s never in school when the sun is shining and who moved here from Alaska two months ago?”

 Better:

 Jessica ran up to Bethany. “Hey girl! How’s your mom?”

 “Better,” Bethany sighed. “This is her last week on Chemo, thank God. What’s the latest on Chunk o’ Hunk?”

 “He held the door for me after class! I think we might have actually smiled at each other! I heard it’s going to be sunny later, though, so I guess we won’t be seeing him in his PE shorts this afternoon.”

 6. Don’t go too long without giving credit to your speakers. I will never forget the first time I read Anastasia Absolutely, and Anastasia and her father are having a conversation, but the writer stopped mentioning who said what, and after a lot of single-sentence quotes I was so confused! I had to stop, go back, and re-count to figure out who was saying what. From that point on I was so careful in my writing to make sure my speech could be easily followed.

 Bad:

 “Hey Annalisa.”

 “Hey Monique.”

 “What’s up?”

 “Nothing much, what’s up with you?”

 “My cat got hit by a car yesterday.”

 “Oh my god, that’s terrible!”

 “What about you?”

 “Dreading this math class.”

 “Me too! I hate Mr. Pravins.”

 “Me too! He’s like a big, old troll!”

 “You’re hilarious! Come on, let’s make it there before the bell rings.”

 Now, who said that last sentence, Annalisa or Monique? Credit your speakers every now and then!

 7. Don’t repeat words! Unless they’re very common words or it’s done artfully on purpose, you should never repeat words in a sentence (look, I just did it with ‘words’). Audiences will catch that and it makes them uncomfortable.

 Bad: Sherlita took out her knife and raised her arm, bringing it down onto the arm of her opponent, twisting the knife so that it dug in and hurt.

 Acceptable: The tree was a big tree, and it towered over Eliza the way a proper tree should.

 8. Don’t use clichés. I remember the first writer’s meeting I ever attended. I think I was 10 at the time. My grandmother escorted me to the local bookstore in Seattle and I sat in on a group of writers sharing what they were up to, and then I shared my bit. It was a terrible short story about a parrot and how colors got into the world, but hey, I was 10. I will never forget two things about that meeting: 1) how embarrassed I am that I shared that story, and 2) how nice and welcoming the other writers were, and this bit of advice they gave me: “Don’t use clichés like ‘all of a sudden.’ You’re too good for that.” Now, I’m passing that advice on to you. You are too good a writer to use clichés. Come up with something new.

 I feel this example could be best represented by the ending of this short quote/poem by William Safire:

 “Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.”
And this one by Jack Smith:

 I’d rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer.”

 9. Minimize adjectives. This one comes from Stephen King. In his book On Writing, he essentially said that adjectives are no good, and add nothing to your story, so you should minimize your use of them as much as possible. Personally I don’t believe in going quite to that extreme, but it is tedious and boring to read books that have too many adjectives. Plus, it makes your story read like fan fic.

 Bad: Lucinda shook her long, flowing, shining mane of vibrant, gold hair into the biting, swirling wind, and gazed into the deep, glowing, fiery sunset awash with vivid pinks and purples.

 Better: Lucinda shook her long, golden hair into the wind as she gazed at the fiery sunset.

 Keep it minimal. Communicate just enough about your setting to get by. Believe me, your audience will fill in the details to the level they prefer.

 10. Keep your names realistic. This is something I struggled/struggle with: realistic character names. I use common names now for my characters whenever possible. This rule can be sidestepped a little if you write Fantasy, but use caution! You never want to have people describe your characters as too fantasy-like, or too revealing of their personality. Also, heaven forbid your character has a Mary Sue name. I will personally come and shame you in front of your friends if you do this.

 Bad names:

 Mary Sues:

Bella Swann

Raven Shadows, Ravyn Ebony, Raevin Nite, etc.

Serissa Gold

Lilandra Phoenix

 Fantasy Female:

Araithia Le’Luna’Leka

Cylaria Aeioutisia

Silandra

Tre’lemar Mooncatcher

Tre’shawna Kirianthas

 Normal with a Twist

Janice Wempsork

Eckletemer Finklebottomz

Sulo von Katzinstan

Lih-lee Ehvins

Adrian Hilwinder

Roze McWallz

Raechael Foxworthy

 Medieval

Arthridious Galantius IV

Gwenevive Tudor

Britilaus Maximus

Sydra le Fay

 11. The Last Rule. And of course, what better advice could I leave you with today than this gem by Elmore Leonard: “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”

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 Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.

Writerly Responsibility

23 Feb

Hey Everyone!

Yesterday Sarah and I were lucky to have a few spare hours, and we decided to go ahead a film a dual vlog!

Our topic is Writerly Responsibility: Do writers –especially YA writers– have a responsibility to appear a certain way to their fans? Also, should they present themselves in a certain light on the internet for professional purposes?

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What do you guys think? Is it inappropriate for YA writers to talk about how drunk they get when they might have younger fans following them? Does there need to be a separation between personal life and professional life?

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Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Her agent currently has her novel on submissions to editors. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.

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Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.

 

Vlog: Failing Better

1 Feb

This week Savannah J. Foley discusses failure and rejection as a writer, and what to do about it:

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And for those who can’t watch the vlog at this moment, or just plain don’t like to watch vlogs, here’s a quick and dirty transcript of what I say:

Failing Better:

Failure is the constant companion of writers, whether it’s failure from agents, editors, publishers, reviewers, your friends, or the muse itself.

Rejection has a negative connotation, but today I’m going to challenge you to think about rejection in a new light. Rejection is like the game Battleship. You throw out your shots, and maybe you won’t hit anything. But that’s good. That shows you where your target isn’t.

It’s the same with submissions. Whether you’re submitting to a literary magazine, an agent, or a publisher, all a rejection means it that your target isn’t here. Now, the choices are narrowed and there’s one less possibility of where your success is residing.

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”
-Barbara Kingsolver

Also, just because you get a rejection doesn’t mean that the writing itself is bad. Perhaps it wasn’t to the editors taste, or perhaps your writing was good, but it wasn’t the right fit for the place you submitted it to.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to get published in a literary magazine because I had heard that you should build up your writing credits for when you start to query agents so that you’ll be taken more seriously. So, I had this short story that I thought was pretty awesome, so I sent it to the Paris Review. And I got a form rejection.

It wasn’t that my story was bad. My story was -and is- kind of kickass, but it wasn’t right for the Paris Review. It was a dark, coming-of-age horror story and I think the editors at the Paris Review decided it wasn’t a tone or topic that fit with their magazine.

Almost the same thing happened to me again last week. For those of you who didn’t know, my first novel, Antebellum, which was published at Fictionpress under the name of Woman’s World, has been out on submissions with editors for a few months now. And last Friday my agent emailed me to tell me that we had gotten a rejection letter. And the only reason she wrote to tell me this is that it was an awesome rejection letter.

The editor who read my book adored it and the characters, and said she couldn’t wait to come to work in the morning and read it, but she felt that perhaps the issues dealt with in that book were a bit mature for it’s targeted audience of Young Adults, and while she loved the book, ultimately it wasn’t right for her YA publishing house.

Now, my question to you is… did I fail? Yes, I failed. I got a rejection. But that rejection is the closest I’ve come to being published ever in my life! So, you might say that while I’m failing, I’m failing better than I ever have before.

And that’s the way to deal with rejection and failure. I was thrilled to receive that rejection letter. It made my weekend. It told me I was doing something right, even if I wasn’t going to be published right at that moment. And you know what? I was thrilled to even receive the form rejection letter from the Paris Review. It told me that I was doing something right. I was already writing, already submitting, and that rejection letter told me that I had come farther along in the publishing process than I ever had before at that time.

To all you young writers out there, keep your rejection letters. Cherish them! They show that you’re already doing something amazing! You are a young, talented writer who’s clued in and already beginning the process of getting published! Some people don’t start that process until after they’re thirty, and lots more start even later!

As Stephen King wrote in his autobiography/instruction book On Writing, when he began the submissions process he nailed a giant nail into his bedroom wall, and every time he got a rejection letter he pushed it through the nail so pretty soon he had this huge stack of rejection letters coming out of the side of his wall. And they inspired him. They showed him how much he’d already done, and gave him the inspiration to keep going until he finally got an acceptance letter.

And while I may not advocate hammering a hole into your wall, I do advocate using your rejections as inspiration. They show you how far you’ve come, and how far you have left to go. Remember, rejection is like the game battleship. It shows you where your success isn’t, and creates sort of an outline over where your success is and will be.

So, my challenge to you is to not think of failure as this one big, end all pit of despair. Failure isn’t always bad. Failure is like a ladder. You get a form rejection, form rejection, do a re-edit, form rejection, then a form rejection with a comment. Then a page of comments. Then an acceptance. It’s a process.

In conclusion, you can’t take rejection personally. Publishing is a business. It’s not like you asked the Publishing Industry out on a date and they looked you up and down and said no way. They’re trying to find the best fit for their publication. Remember, it may not be that your writing is bad, it could be that the editor was in a bad mood that day, or has bad taste, or just wasn’t feeling it, or they were full up on stories that month. There are a million reasons why your story could be rejection that are unrelelated to anything you’ve done.

Rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you are a bad writer, or you made a bad story. It simply means you got a rejection. And that’s it.

Rejection happens to the best of us. Not nearly enough to the worst of us (I could name some names), but definitely to the best of us. Consider the following  (List came from InkyGirl.com):

  • John Kennedy Toole was told that his novel “isn’t really about anything.” He won a Pulitzer
  • John Le Carre was told that “he hasn’t got any future.”
  • Yasmine Galenorn was rejected 600 times before her first sale!
  • James Patterson was rejected 26 times.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin was told that her novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, was ‘unreadable.’
  • William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, was rejected 20 times.
  • James Patterson was rejected 26 times.
  • Let’s not forget J. K. Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter and was rejected over 100 times before HP sold.
  • And finally, Ray Bradbury and C. S. Lewis were rejected 800 times before his first sale!

So you know what? Until you’ve been rejected 800 times, I don’t want to hear about it! After that 800th rejection we can talk, but until then you are on the hook to keep trying!

“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the worst failure.” -George E. Woodberry.

If you’re a young writer who’s already submitting, then you’re already a winner in my book. Maybe it’ll take you a couple of years more to get published. Maybe your book needs a couple more revisions, or maybe there’s not an agent out there who’s a good fit for you, or maybe there’s not a publisher revolutionary enough to take your work.

But, success will happen, IF you’re dedicated to being a writer. I don’t know how many times I can keep saying this: It will happen! It will happen!

Failing is okay. We all fail. But today I challenge you to fail better than you ever have before.

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Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.

Our Very First Vlog Post: Should You Mention FP in Your Query Letter?

6 Jan

By Sarah J. Maas

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Hey everyone!

So, thanks to our dear friend Anthony’s wonderful suggestion, we’re changing it up a bit today. Instead of writing an article, I decided to vlog about my topic: “Should You Mention FictionPress in Your Query Letter?”

Check it out!

I hope you all enjoyed it! Feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel: we’ll hopefully be posting vlog entries on a frequent basis. Make sure to return on Friday for our Question of the Week: “What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?” And don’t forget to enter our Book Trailer Contest!

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Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Her agent currently has her novel on submissions to editors. Sarah resides with her fiancé in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.