Archive for the ‘Writing Fiction’ Category
There’s a distinct difference between writing headlines for advertising or marketing copy and writing titles for fiction. Here is that difference:
Writing headlines is an interesting, challenging process where I get to try different techniques
to craft an engaging line to elicit a specific response.
Writing titles sucks.
Oh, I know they’re both in my job description. As a freelance copywriter, I often write multiple headlines in a day. (Here’s an old post on what it is a copywriter really does, just in case you’ve forgotten.) And as a fiction writer, every piece I write needs a title.
So why the big difference? Read the rest of this entry »
I don’t generally attribute specific sources of inspiration to my writing, but occasionally, something grabs my attention and says, “Hey! You need me!”
That’s how I had a theme song for a novel before I even started writing.
Here’s what happened. Read the rest of this entry »
I felt a twinge, something along the lines of angry defiance the first time I noticed the link on a literary journal’s website:
Later, I figured out that this was the link I needed to click to get my fiction published. It had nothing to do with domination of any sort.
“How do you get a story published?”
I’ve been asked that a few times lately, and there are entire libraries written on craft and storytelling and selling your novel. So I’m going to skip all that for now. Instead, here’s a quick explanation the submission process and how writers’ creative brain-dribbling ends up on public display.
My most recent piece of fiction, “Pretty Don’t,” is available in print in the current issue of the very sleek Fractured West. I have a copy in my own little grubby gauntlets, and I’m flattered to be included among the writers chosen for this issue – there’s some great fiction in those pages.
If you pick this up (you can do so here), you may notice that it conforms to a British spelling style. That’s because Fractured West is based in Scotland. So that means I’m an internationally published author, right?
So, I wrote a novel.
OK … I’m writing a novel since I’m going through yet another round of edits. Still, through the first, second, and third drafts, there were a number of things that surprised me about the process. Here are four:
1. Imaginary people surprise you.
To a lot of non-writers, it sounds like mumbo-jumbo when authors talk about how their characters surprise them. How can your own fictional creations surprise you? You control them. They wonder.
For most people, this idea makes as much sense as my old roommate’s suggestion of “Just bend your knees when you least expect it. It’s fun!”
But he may have been on to something because yes, my characters did do things that I hadn’t expected; my brain tricked itself.
No, my hands don’t suddenly type away while I watched in horror. It was more like I was just working on a scene and suddenly, everything I planned just felt wrong. And it was. Because in a flash, I knew my characters wanted to do something different. Something I never thought of before. The revelation surprised me, and I usually let them do what they wanted.
2. Writing 4,000 words a day isn’t as scary as you think.
Friend and fellow Rosemont writer Shawn Proctor posted a blog entry about the reality of rejections almost all writers must endure. Check out his blog here.
That got me thinking: I don’t imagine that many non-writers think about the heaps of rejections (usually pre-printed and written to politely say “get lost”) that most writers accumulate before finally seeing their work in print.
Writers will toil over a story for weeks, months, or years until we decide to abandon it (for it’s never really finished), then package it up and send it to a publisher, hoping that they’ll put our words in print for all to see.
And more often than not (much more often), we don’t hear anything for months. Then in the mail appears our self-addressed, stamped envelope with a rejection letter: “Thanks, but no thanks.” Like Shawn says, the supposed average is one publication of a story for every hundred times it’s submitted.
This is the second half of my conversation with author Brian O’Rourke about his newly released novel, The Unearthed, which was released this week. If you missed the first half of the interview, check out Part I.
The action in The Unearthed moves quickly, and it rolls at such a good pace. How do you keep up the momentum?
By having someone like Nate Green as a critique partner. Seriously, your feedback was a tremendous help.
In terms of pacing, I’ve heard time and time again that your plot needs to turn every four or five pages. Something has to happen to hold the reader’s interest. That something doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, but it should intrigue or heighten the stakes a bit. Authors who are very good with words can spread their turns out more. For my part, I try to stick to the standard pacing, because Shakespeare I am not.
I’m flattered. Thanks. But you’ve been writing for a long time, right? How do you think your writing’s changed over the years?
Brian O’Rourke is a writer from the Philadelphia area and his debut novel, The Unearthed, is being released today by Lyrical Press.
Brian’s a good friend of mine and I was lucky enough to read his novel in the first draft. Now that it’s being officially released, I’m excited to talk with him about his success.
Below you’ll find a little chat we had about his book, his writing process, the promotional side of publishing and more.
Plus, we’ll talk about self-indulgence in writing, one very cool paranormal event, and Brian’ll make fun of my love of Franz Kafka.
Can we start off with you telling us a little bit about your novel?
Brian O’Rourke: The Unearthed is a fast-paced paranormal thriller. It’s got something for everybody: mystery, drama, twists, scares, and violence.
Was there any specific spark that ignited the idea for The Unearthed?
This ties in to writing, I promise, so bear with me through a quick story.
Carefree me and my Takamine
When I was first learning to play guitar, I practiced constantly. I had my Takamine acoustic on a stand in the corner of my room, always at-hand, ready to play any time I had ten minutes to noodle around.
I played a lot. And 97% of it was terrible. My fingers felt like frozen sausages. My pick fell out of my hand and into the sound hole. It was dreadful.
But it didn’t bother me because it was just practice. I wasn’t performing live, and no one in their right mind expected me to play like Eric Clapton.
And only a handful of times did I record myself. And then with the sole purpose of listening for my mistakes and altering my practice to focus on the trouble spots.
But most of the time, there were no microphones. And even after the most frustrating sessions, I could pick it up the next day, after all the squawks had faded into the ether, and play with relish.