My Story Update

fantasy

This blog was specifically created to document my journey on getting my book published. So, I guess I need to actually document it.

My low fantasy story was started back in March 2011. It was an idea that came to me of creating a story that had all the things I liked in it: music, farming, sword fighting, adventure. The main character was originally to be a female, but after writing the first chapter, a female role just didn’t work.

Just to divulge a little–the main character, Blake Anderson, is a famous singer and decides to take a career break for a senior year in high school. His abusive stepfather violently protests, landing Blake in the hospital. He eventually makes it out to his grandparent’s farm so he can go to school. There he meets Baynye (pronounced Bay-nĪ) Rose. She ends up taking him to another world (somewhat like Narnia) called Beta Gaia (pronounced GĪə – or “guy-ia”). Blake is thrown into a civil war with the Shadow Foxes who are fighting against the tyrant leader of the Gein (pronounced jen) to free the suppressed and starved people. However, Blake’s world is twisted when he meets the leader of the Shadow Foxes and recognizes that he has the same face as Blake’s father who died long before he was born. The same man who his mother still grieved over. Blake goes into denial, but when his father is captured by the Gein, he’s faced with the choice to rescue his father from the heart of the Gein camp, or if he is to give into the self-doubt his stepfather left behind, causing him to ignore the other world altogether and risk losing the father he had just got. The story has glimpses of the music industry, high school, sword fighting, traveling between worlds, humor, a love interest, and more

Anyway, so that’s the story. It’s part of a series that I’ve been working on over the years. Book two’s rough draft is finished and book three has been started.

A little over two weeks ago, I went to the Kentucky Writing Workshop conference in Louisville, KY. (It was an amazing experience. I highly recommended attending a writer’s conference if you can afford it. It was an eye opener for me personally.) There I was able to pitch my story to an agent. They were pretty excited about it and a little over a week ago, I submitted the first 50s pages, author bio, and synopsis to the agency. There has been no word as of yesterday from them, but there is an average of 6 to 8 weeks for the industry standard in responding. In the meantime, I’ve been working hard at cleaning my book up from all that I learned at the conference. If this agency decides to pass, then I’ll have everything ready for the next ones. Being rejected is a badge of honor that most writers experience, but at the same time, I’m still hopeful.

L. R. Mauck

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Show vs. Tell

mark twainOne thing I’ve read and heard many times is “Show, don’t tell” when writing. There are many articles and suggestions online to help with this–and here is another.

What is the difference between showing and telling?

Showing is as it is defined: “to cause or permit to be seen” (Merriam-Webster.com)

You as a writer have been given the task and honor to create a story from your own imagination. Taking the world as a whole, there are not that many who have the means or ability to write a novel. That puts all the more pressure on authors shoulders to make it a good story to keep the readers engaged. To keep those readers engaged, you need to paint a picture with words. I’ve been told is to write as if it is a movie. As an example: you can offer some details about the character (features, clothes, traits, and possibly a flaw).

Telling is when you tell someone something. In a story context, it is very dry and boring to read. Telling is more for an essay or for documenting. You’re stating facts. Think of newspaper articles or science studies. This is not to be used in novels except for those (very) few books that can make it work.

Example:

Telling: Sarah went on a walk and saw a twenty-dollar bill on the ground. She gave it to the nearby store clerk in case the owner came back.

Showing: It was such a nice day out that Sarah decided to take a walk around her town for some fresh air. She spotted a twenty-dollar bill outside one of the local craft stores. She looked up and down the sidewalk for a possible owner, but saw none. The store was still open, so Sarah took the money to the clerk in case the owner came back to claim their money.

What not to do:

  • Don’t vomit descriptions. Example: “The leafy green trees swayed as the puffy white clouds drifted by in the soft warm blue skies.” Ugh. This is boarding on cliché. If it is important to the story, include it. If not, tighten your sentences or get very familiar with the delete button. Instead write: “The trees swayed on a warm clear day.” There. Done. You still get that mental image of a breeze moving the trees and it’s a nice day. It’s still better than telling: “Trees swayed and it was warm out.”
  • Don’t use run-on sentences. A “period” is an inserted breath for the reader to take. It helps pace the story. A comma is generally over looked, but a completed sentence breaks a thought.
  • Don’t repeat: “Tom put his hand into his hair in frustration. With anger evident in his voice, Tom says…” – it’s a repeat. Do one or the other.
  • Don’t “sigh”. It makes the character dreary. And make sure your character isn’t smug or conceded. It’s off putting. I’ve read stories that begin with the character being on top of the world and thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread – I normally don’t get far in the book and never finish reading it. It could be a great story of a character learning the path of humbleness, but I personally can’t get into those type of stories.
  • Don’t have characters talking to themselves or nodding to themselves. Insert a thought process instead. It helps move the story along.

L. R. Mauck

My Poetry Attempt

This was my own challenge acceptance. (I do not profess myself a poet by any means. This is actually the second poem I’ve attempted in good faith.)

When I Look Through the Looking Glass

By L. R. Mauck

 

When I look through the looking glass, I see the media mass

I scroll through the headlines and I read the stories

They idolize the hate and drama brings them glories

It’s all for money and it’s all for power

Tell me, how can you exploit someone’s final hour?

When I look through the looking glass, I see the idolized class

I scroll through the celebrity scandals and the best dresses

Their only goal is to stay relevant by leaving behind guesses

The more strife they cause, the greater their fame

Tell me, are they really all they claim?

When I look through the looking glass, I see the society sass

I scroll through the popular beliefs and social norms

They fight their own justices without seeing the greater storms

Everyone is against them if they do not utter the same speech

Tell me, can they honestly practice what they preach?

When I look through the looking glass, I see the window glass

I look upon my mirrored image and wonder what the world sees

Do they judge my appearances or only out for their guarantees

When looking in the glass, there is one thing important to me

And that is the faith to believe in me.

Weekend Challenge

challenge

My challenge is simple.

Activity: Write

Time: 15 Minutes

Topic: write something that is your polar opposite

Purpose: To challenge our creativity and broaden your skills as a writer.

Explanation: Polar opposite as in writing for support in issues that you oppose. Or if you write from a female’s perspective, write from a males perspective. And if you actually can’t think of anything to write about – paint a picture with words. Just sit in a comfortable location and write about what you see, feel, and hear.

Award: POTB (pat-on-the-back) points. Post your writings on your blog for extra POTB points.

L.R. Mauck

Quote of the day

write

“A writing streak is when I write so fast that I can barely make it into the trash can”

Unknown

I came across this quote or paraphrase years ago and never remembered who said it. But it’s been words of wisdom that I live by. Be willing to “kill your darling” when you write. You want to push to make it better and that sometimes takes sacrifices.

L.R. Mauck

The Beginning

So, you’re curious about writing fiction. Well, the biggest and hardest step is coming up with an idea for a story. There are a lot of ideas and books available to help you create an idea, but my suggestion is go with what interests you. If you choose something just because it’s there or something similar to someone else, then your heart won’t be in it and there’s a good possibility that you won’t even finish it.

If you like a hobby – write about a character who has a similar interest.

For an example: I’m a taught myself how to play the piano. So, I could have a character who decides to take up playing as well and ends up stumbling on to a teacher who has a questionable past – makes for a good thriller if the character comes in for an early appointment and there’s a blood stain on the rug. – Just a thought off the top of my head.

There are millions and millions of books out there. Themes and ideas have been uses over and over again. The trick is to set your book apart. What makes yours different? A character flaw? An evil villain that gives away his money – kind of like Robin Hood, but evil? Don’t worry about trying to think of what has never been done, because it probably has been. Just make the story yours.

You can make it yours by using your own voice. Everyone has their own writing style. Or the way you perceive the story. There may be some parts of the story that you want to outline or think is more important to the plot than other people would. You can enhance that element and create your own world with it.

Biggest thing to avoid: clichés and stereotypes – they’ve been done so many times before that they been named that for a reason. Avoid, avoid, avoid…

Once you have an idea, there are a few methods to mapping out the story. I personally like to just start writing and see where the story takes me. Some point when I’m four or so chapters in, I plan out the full story when I know my characters better and already have an ongoing conflict. I know of others who will not even type their first word until the whole story is planned out.

A couple of books to look into:

Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories Workbook Edition by Martha Alberson

Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke

Both of these books are extremely helpful if you allow them to be. The Plot Whisperer allows you to map out your novel and focus in on each of the conflicts and the climax of your book. I like the workbook edition because I can physically write in my thoughts (and yes, I photo copy the originals out of the book so I can reuse the clean book copies for other story ideas).

Write Your Novel in a Month is a great book to help you push your writing. This is useful after you have a story idea. I really like how Gerke broke out different steps prior to the sitting down and writing part. He pointed out the different personalities of characters, education levels of character, realistic traits as in jobs or where the character lives, etc.

Now, the next important step is writing. You need a place you can focus, a place with no distractions, and a place that offers the best time for you to write. I seem to do my best writing between the hours of 10 pm to 1 am. I don’t know why, but it never fails when I sit at my computer to write. I can be in front of my computer at any other time of the day but I never seem to have the same amount of success as I do in those late hours. However, I have knocked out several chapters in a three hour time span while sitting in a coffee shop. I had initially thought I would be more distracted, but everyone ignored me and all I had for company was my laptop.

I’ll end here for now. I’ve got some writing tips and other suggestions that I’ll post next week.

L.R. Mauck

Welcome

Hello! Welcome to my little corner of the spider web. This blog is created to document my personal experience on the road to get my novel published. I’ll also include tips I’ve learned about (writing skills, what agents look for, query details, synopsis), helpful links, and maybe will include different stories that I’m working on from time to time. Thank you for your time and feel free to comment or ask questions along the way.

L.R. Mauck