Reality Check Number 1

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reality check

We originally started this website to document our experiences in writing a book. It’s a way to share with anyone who wants to know, anyone who’s curious, and/or anyone who may be on the same journey. We also wanted to have a nice place to show off our talents, our personalities and a small part of our lives.

So it’s reality check time.We decided to send our – what turned out to be second-to-the-last – draft to some people that seemed genuinely interested in taking a look at our manuscript and giving us an outsider’s view of what we had created. We determined early on we wouldn’t bug these people with things like, “…so…what do you think…how far have you gotten…did you like the part where…what do you think about…”, etc. We delivered our book electronically to a few beta readers. After almost a month, we have heard not one word. From anyone. Not. One. Word.

Maybe it’s the book. Maybe it’s the story. We’ll keep looking for readers. A little better diligence and vetting next time around. We have to know what outsiders think about it.

In the meantime, editing continues.

 

 

Chapter Chat

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chapter chat

There came a time when we took a look at what we had named our chapters. The book-writing software we used made it easy to keep things organized. Looking back, it seems we may have taken for granted how easy it was to create new chapters, and create new scenes within the chapters. It was so easy in fact, we found our 89,000-word book had sixty-three chapters. What?! How’d that happen?

This became one of the editing phases of the book, just like finding problem words, or renaming our players. We had to ask ourselves if the story needed so many chapters. After trying to keep our thoughts organized, and trying so hard to keep the story itself organized, sixty-three chapters gave the book a feeling of disorganization. Wow, that’s the opposite of what we thought was happening.

We discussed the issue. We were split. Sixty-three chapters seemed high, but if it made sense, why not? As long as each chapter stood on its own and was relevant to the flow, okay. We also talked about how having fewer chapters might be less distracting to the reader. Ultimately, we trimmed the number to twenty-three chapters, with five additional no-name mini chapters that were phone calls between players. It actually tightened things up, and tight is good in this case.

In the end, we rolled Chapter Forty-one, “Drew and Sydney Go to Visit the Punks and Try to Convince Them to Help Find Out About the Disappearances”, into a scene within Chapter Fifteen, “Two Joeys”. Sounds about right.

 

 

I’m in the Mode

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Juke Box, 1965 Rockola Starlight

We never actually have to be in the mood for writing. Writing is creating, and at least one of us is always in a creative mood. Whether it’s writing or painting, pencil drawing or making creatures out of clay or tinfoil, someone’s in the mood. However, we really feel like the tone – or the mode – matters.

Setting the mode is different from setting the mood. We like to have specific things within reach when we create. Depending on the mood, munchies are optional. Chips, M&Ms, peanuts or popcorn. A drink is never more than arm’s length away. A drink is essential. Cold beer, hot coffee, diet soda or ice water. One of these is always present. Call it a security blanket if you want, but that’s the way it is.

The must-have-never-create-without-it is music. That’s where the real variety comes into play. The mood for “what’s-on-your-iPod” varies like the wind. For the record, this isn’t an iPod family. We have iPods, but nothing beats the freedom of Android, satellite radio and the ever-faithful turntable. Right, the one that actually plays vinyl records. More often than you’d think, we fire up the 1965 Rockola jukebox.

In our house, at any given moment you could walk into Rancid-Transplants-Tim Armstrong; Led Zeppelin-Deep Purple-Doobie Brothers; Coldplay-Dreamers-AM Taxi-Young The Giant; Tyrone Davis-Tavares-Harold Melvin-The Spinners; or The Archies-Monkees-Partridge Family. It could be Ska, Punk, Indie, Alt, Rock, Pop or Steely Dan.

There’s always something on, but it’s the audio that matters, not the video. Nothing beats a cold beer on the table and some Tim Armstrong on the stereo. That’s the good mode.

 

 

Novel Writing Software

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UPDATE, 9/2/17: We switched to using Scrivener. It has many more options and is better suited to our writing style. That said, we take nothing away from the good review we posted about yWriter below.

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It was kind of a pain in the butt trying to write a book using Microsoft Word. It took about 20 minutes of writing to figure out that wasn’t the way to go. We figured there must be some book-writing software out there somewhere.

So yeah, we looked around on the internet – how else? There are a few to choose from that we’re pretty sure must be badass. We found some that cost money to buy. We even found some that make you pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee to use. You can find them by surfing the web, or just do the usual google search. But this isn’t about reviewing, comparing or rating novel writing software. There are plenty of articles on the web that rate and rank that stuff. We’re just saying we found a book writing software program that we use and like.

yWriter5, by Spacejock (Simon Haynes) is cool. It’s what we use. One of the biggest benefits is it’s free to download and use. It gets updated regularly, so we know it’s not a piece of software someone wrote and abandoned.

The ‘pros’ include:

  • Awesome editing and structuring capabilities.
  • The ability to drag and drop scenes and chapters.
    • This helps when you’re putting your story in order.
  • Create as many chapters as you want.
    • Merge/combine chapters if you decide two chapters would be better as one.
  • Create scenes within the chapters.
    • This also includes the ability to merge/combine scenes.
  • Global search and replace.
    • This came in handy when we changed character names.
  • Daily word count.
    • You can even set daily goals for word count.
    • Word count reports.
    • Set up a work schedule.
    • Set goals for completion, outline, drafts and edits.
  • You can include images in your story/book.

yWriter5 allows you to export your project to html, RTF, text, LaTeX, ebook, Nanowrimo obfuscated text. You can also export chapters, scenes, characters, etc. There is so much more we could say about this software. But once you click on the link below, you’ll find out all you need to know.

The main ‘con’ we’ve found is the spellchecker isn’t really all that. It finds misspelled words, so it’s good for that. But if you click on your misspelled word to get the proper spelling, it opens your web browser to dictionary.com.

We like yWriter5 a lot – enough to have sent a donation (that makes our version ‘registered’). We also recommend it. If you’re looking for a novel-writing software program that’s easy to use, up to date and free, yWriter5 is the way to go.

Here’s the link –> yWriter5 by Spacejock

In case you’re wondering, this is not a ‘paid for’ review. None of our reviews or recommendations are.

 

 

Editing the Manuscript

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manuscript layout issues

The manuscript – printing, reading and editing some more.

Printing the manuscript was a task, to say the least. At almost 300 8 1/2 x 11 pages, not double-spaced, we had to stand by and wait for what seemed like eternity.

When it was finally done, I thought I was holding gold in my hands. I was so proud… until I started turning the pages. Turns out, the spacing doesn’t transfer from the writing program we’re using to Microsoft Word as flawlessly as we had hoped.

The deeper I go, the more errors I find. Not grammatical, but spacing, indenting, italics… the list goes on, and on, and on. And on.

So now, in addition to editing grammar and punctuation (Les edits nonsense bullshit words), I’ll be editing layout. We’re both confident a professional editing service is in our future.

 

 

Problem Words?

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Bad word

As, ly, ing, turned, glanced, muttered, suddenly, looked, then.

Bad, bad, BAD!

It’s amazing how many problem words can creep into a super-awesome story.

I asked, “Do you want to tighten things up?”

“Of course,” they say.

“Then stop resisting. Resistance is futile.” (Did I just say ‘then’?)

It all depends on how a word is used, and how often. You don’t have to swear off certain words – except words like ‘turd’. I don’t like ‘turd’. But make every word count. And don’t overuse any word. It gets boring and sometimes seems lazy.

We did a word count and I won this one. Tone down the “looked”s, the “glanced”s, the “then”s. And the “as”s! Holy cow, enough “AS”s already!

We’re getting there! Tighten, tighten, tighten! And then tighten some more.

 

 

Time is on Our Side

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Time

“He heard the knock on his bedroom door on Sunday morning. His parents didn’t care that he stumbled into bed at four-twenty or so Saturday morning.” Uh what? I thought we were talking about Sunday…

We need a timeline. A physical, drawn out, organized timeline of the happenings in Changers. Too much happens in the two-and-a-half-ish months of this story to not have some kind of timeline.

When you have a story with as many elements as this one has, the days must be correct, the events must happen in the right order, and most of all, THE TIMELINE HAS TO MAKE SENSE. I’ve read too many books that don’t have a clear-cut timeline and it is so confusing.

Luckily, the writers have my help. There hasn’t been a lot to correct but so far, I think I’ve done a pretty dang good job of finding the mistakes in *continuity* (although minor, they’re extremely important).

I swear they roll their eyes a little bit every time I bring something up. They’ll thank me later.

What’s in a name?

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what's in a name

Hmm…we decided some of our names aren’t all that cool. Or they have been overused somewhere else, or they’re too old-school-sounding, or they were popular someplace else that we didn’t realize until now. Or something.

We also wanted to be sure we’re using names you can relate to, and pronounce. Regular names are good, because the Changers series is about regular people in supernatural situations. One of the pet peeves in a book is when you come across a name that you’re not sure how to pronounce. Like Aoulange, or Saint Maureiliape. In The Hunger Games, it’s pretty obvious how to pronounce Katnis. But not so with a name like Hialgney. You get the point.

Names that are out:

  • Hickey – what the heck were we thinking?
  • Maggie – old, overused.
  • Martha – old lady.
  • Georgia – old school.
  • Heliotrope – we hadn’t used this, but just sayin’.
  • Dewey – Someone reminded us that David Arquette’s name in the Scream movies is Dewey.

 

Stacks of Notes

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notes to posts

“Write that down.”
“It sucks.”
“Write it down anyway. We might use it.”
“I had this really bizarre dream last night.”
“Did you write it down?”
“Of course. I didn’t want to suffer the wrath.”
“What, like I’m a slave driver?”
“Did you write down that dream you told us about last month?”
“I pieced it together.”
“They say you should write down your dreams as soon as you wake from them. Even if it’s the middle of the night.”
“Why? I remembered it.”
“Because it’s fresher in your mind. You’d be more likely to get all the details.”
“Well, I filled in with some stuff I made up. It was still good.”
“I was thinking about the book today. I was thinking instead of having that scene at the school, maybe we should make it at a player’s house.”
“Or with the punks.”
“Punks with a capital ‘P’.”
“Of course, that’s what I meant.”
“I’m thinking the school thing should be out anyway.”
“Maybe, but the players, at least most of them, are school age.”
“It could be summer vacation. It doesn’t have to be during school.”
“Sure. That would free them up to do more stuff. We wouldn’t have to keep saying, ‘…after school the next day…’ or wait till the weekend for something to happen, or for someone to do something.”
“Write that down.”
“I’m way ahead of you.”

Who said what? It doesn’t matter.

We had a stack of notes. The notes were an archive of blood, sweat and cheers. We wrote so much down on paper – sticky note paper, spiral-bound notebooks, printer paper, colored construction paper. We never used napkins, they rip too easily. We tapped so many notes into our phones, our tablets, our laptops. We installed and uninstalled so many different note-taking apps, we lost count.

There were no tears shed over this book. We laughed, talked, argued and got pissed at each other. In the end, we have been our own best cheerleaders.

Now, the notes become posts. An archive of the badass adventure we took together – writing a story. An awesome story. Writing a book. It’s an adventure we’re still on. We choose to remain adventurers. If this book never goes anywhere, never gets published, we will always say it was fun. It IS fun. We’re still on the train, and there’s no reason to jump off now.