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Old 5th June 2007, 11:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Message from the new boy

Hello fellow quill jockeys

I am extremely new to this writing experience.

My story has been incubating in my head for five years. I tried to convert it into a screenplay, but the collaboration gradually died out. After an inspirational trip with my lovely lady in January, I decided on my return to finally sit dawn and turn my story into a novel. I am surprised I have not lost enthusiasm yet, nor have I suffered any mental blocks. I have written 20,000 words, which I am very proud of as I work fulltime.

Does anyone sometimes find they cannot type as quickly as they think? I find I cannot get the words out quickly enough, and spend a high proportion of time rendezvousing with the Backspace key (we're well acquainted). Sometimes I think my keyboard can't spell nuffink!

As a new member to this great forum, which I think is a terrific resource; I would like to ask a few questions:

How much theory do I include when explaining theories and working principles to the multitude of inventions I have created for this story? Thus far I have included quite detailed explanations. This will hopefully ensure I do not baffle readers too much; as I could be in danger of losing readers if I am sparse with Plain English.

Is it too presumptuous of me to personify evil in my book without mentioning, or even eluding to religion? I am not religious at all. But I have heard that evil cannot exist without good. I don't think religion will be a counteracting force in my story. Human endurance and common sense, at this stage proves to be the main saving influence (as well as a few other goodies I will develop).

Should I be following a protocol as a first time writer, or may I be as brave and bold as I wish?

I have a suspicion I will exceed the 100,000 word limit. Is this acceptable?

Are any of you first time authors who may be able to offer advice? My aim is twofold; to get my story out on paper for everyone to read (I think its way excellent) and to get it published. I know nothing of this cut throat gladiatorial area.

Luckily I have skills which I can use during this journey , such as being a qualified commercial pilot. This helps with the aviation aspects of my story. I have studied physics (but not to degree level), which helps with some of the scientific principles. I marketed various customer products for one of the four large UK banks, which will allow me to start sending out subliminal messages near the time of publishing (being really optimistic) and with self marketing activities. I was a web developer for the same company, which will help in developing my website. Finally, I am a great cook, appearing in ITV (just once). I have taught pupils and catered for many people. This should help with the launch party!

Another asset, which I feel is important, but haven't seen mentioned by other authors, is a strong family infrastructure which surrounds me. I split up with my wife four years ago and although she is trying her best to make my life and absolute misery, I am now with the most amazing lady who supports this venture and totally believes my story will be a bestseller. Also, my two eldest children (teenagers) think my story is phenomenal and are quite disappointed when I can't produce narrative quicker than I do. My children and partner are my inspiration.

Comments on my questions will be welcome.

Thanks for your time everyone. No doubt you'll hear from me again.

Anthony Goolab
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Old 5th June 2007, 11:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

Hello Anthony, and welcome!

There are others who visit this forum who are far more experienced in this business than I am, but I'll throw in my views for what they're worth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
How much theory do I include when explaining theories and working principles to the multitude of inventions I have created for this story? Thus far I have included quite detailed explanations. This will hopefully ensure I do not baffle readers too much; as I could be in danger of losing readers if I am sparse with Plain English.
It's a judgement call, and readers will react differently according to their level of interest in, or knowledge of, the subject. If you want to keep the attention of the general readership then I advise putting in as much detail as is necessary to the plot, but no more.

Quote:
Is it too presumptuous of me to personify evil in my book without mentioning, or even eluding to religion? I am not religious at all. But I have heard that evil cannot exist without good. I don't think religion will be a counteracting force in my story. Human endurance and common sense, at this stage proves to be the main saving influence (as well as a few other goodies I will develop).
I see no reason why not - I've done much the same in one of my books. Religion does not have a monopoly on morality. It is a good idea, though, for your evil character to have some motive which is understandable to the reader.

Quote:
Should I be following a protocol as a first time writer, or may I be as brave and bold as I wish?
My advice - write it as you see it. It does depend to some extent on why you're writing, though. If you want to be a professional author, then it's sensible to look at the novels on the best-sellers list, try to analyse what it is about them which makes them successful, and bear that in mind when you're writing. But I couldn't do that - I can only write what grabs me.

Quote:
I have a suspicion I will exceed the 100,000 word limit. Is this acceptable?
As I understand it, 80-120,000 is the normal range for a first novel.

Quote:
Are any of you first time authors who may be able to offer advice? My aim is twofold; to get my story out on paper for everyone to read (I think its way excellent) and to get it published. I know nothing of this cut throat gladiatorial area.

You already know the most important thing - that it's cut-throat and gladitorial .

You might find this article I posted on my website of interest (although probably also rather discouraging...): ON PUBLISHING FICTION
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Old 5th June 2007, 12:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

I'm quite new around here too, and am unpublished, although I have finished my first book and am trying to sell it. I'm also in the process of writing a second book. Here's my opinion...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
How much theory do I include when explaining theories and working principles to the multitude of inventions I have created for this story? Thus far I have included quite detailed explanations. This will hopefully ensure I do not baffle readers too much; as I could be in danger of losing readers if I am sparse with Plain English.
As Anthony W says, it's a matter of taste... my own opinion, though, is that you should include as little explanation as possible. Certainly you don't want to alienate your audience, but likewise you don't want to bombard them with facts. They'll be reading the story to see how characters behave and plots develop - I see the inventions as props. If there are things you need to explain, maybe you can do so through the story. I guess I'm trying to say, be wary of info-dumping as it slows down the narrative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
I have a suspicion I will exceed the 100,000 word limit. Is this acceptable?
I think that John Jarrold, an agent and book doctor, has said on this forum that most fantasy and science fiction is over 120,000, and it's very common to find books over 150,000 words. Obviously you don't want to go too far the other way, especially for your first book, but I don't think you should worry about it being over 100,000.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
I am now with the most amazing lady who supports this venture and totally believes my story will be a bestseller. Also, my two eldest children (teenagers) think my story is phenomenal and are quite disappointed when I can't produce narrative quicker than I do.
For me, the support and encouragement of my family are so important, so it's really good that you have this - it really does help. Um, but I'd suggest that you be wary of thinking too much about your book being a bestseller. It may be, but if it isn't, it's still an achievement, and is still worth writing. I also hear that the road to getting published is sometimes very long and you might experience knock-backs, so I guess I'm just saying to be cautious, and let your lady know that publishing, for the most part, does not automatically lead to fame and riches! (Though we all wish it would for us! ) I'm always having to remind my husband of this.
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Old 5th June 2007, 12:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony G Williams View Post

You already know the most important thing - that it's cut-throat and gladitorial
Now why would anyone who even halfway believes that ask other writers for advice? It would simply be baring one's throat for the (expected) knife.
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Old 5th June 2007, 01:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teresa Edgerton View Post
Now why would anyone who even halfway believes that ask other writers for advice? It would simply be baring one's throat for the (expected) knife.
I didn't mean that writers are fighting each other (quite the reverse - mutual assistance is a lot more common), I just took the saying metaphorically, in the sense that it is extremely tough to get published, and to keep being published.
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Old 5th June 2007, 01:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

Hi and welcome aboard.
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Old 5th June 2007, 01:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
How much theory do I include when explaining theories and working principles to the multitude of inventions I have created for this story? Thus far I have included quite detailed explanations.


From your comments, I'd guess you've already included too much. Info-dumps are bad. Unfortunately, they're also a necessary evil in sf and fantasy. The trick is to make them as unobtrusive as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
Is it too presumptuous of me to personify evil in my book without mentioning, or even eluding to religion?


I think you mean "alluding" :-) You can put as much or as little religion into your story as you like. It is, after all, your story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
Should I be following a protocol as a first time writer, or may I be as brave and bold as I wish?


I'm not sure what you mean by this. What is "protocol"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Goolab View Post
I have a suspicion I will exceed the 100,000 word limit. Is this acceptable?


Novels now are routinely over 150,000 words. Depending on genre, 100k may be near the lower limit.
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Old 5th June 2007, 03:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

Thanks everyone!

This forum is a goldmine. It's also very sobering to realise what an uphill struggle I have. I'm not deterred.

A big thanks to iansales for pointing out my typo . I proof read this message over and over. Isn't spellcheck great?

Your comments have been very helpful. I'll be logging in everyday. Off to get some midnight oil!

Bye bye

Anthony
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Old 6th June 2007, 09:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Message from the new boy

Welcome aboard, Anthony.

Publishers do shy away from first time writers who exceed the 100,000 word mark by too much, so be careful. As has already been said 80-120k is a decent guideline.

As has been said, your villain does need to have at least some motivations that the reader can understand - this helps to humanise him/her a little and thus makes his/her evil acts all the more horrifying. It's even better if you can add a little trait that the reader can actually like or relate to - really screw with the reader's mind.

I'm with the others on religion - have it or don't. There is plenty of good and evil in the world that has nothing to do with religion. A lot of it is just about money, power or sex.

Totally agree with Iansales re the infodumps - try to drip feed them to your reader - little snipbits of info at a time.

Good luck!

Rod
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