Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Work for Hire - What It Is, Why You (Might) Want It, and How to Get It


As you might have seen on Twitter last night, I finished the book I had to stop writing Heartstrikers to write! WOO!

This book was a new record for me: a complete 95k novel written and first sweep edited (ie, cleaned up enough to be decent for the initial editor/client review) in about 7 weeks. Pretty freaking awesome!!

So what is this book, you might ask? Well...I can't tell you. I'm not just being coy here, either. I mean I signed a contract that legally prevents me from telling anyone anything about this project. Why would I sign up such a thing? Well, friends, let's take an educational journey into the world of what we in the publishing business call Work for Hire!

Writing Wednesday: Work for Hire - What It Is, Why You (Might) Want It, and How to Get It

According to Google, this is writing for money looks like. (Holds out hands to receive cash...still holding...)
At the basic level, the publishing world definition of Work for Hire (sometimes known as Contract Work) means hiring a writer to write a specific book. This is backwards from the way publishing normally works (ie, the writer writes a book, makes it as awesome as possible, and then tries to sell that finished book to the publisher). In Work for Hire, a publishing house or individual will come up with an idea/world/series on their own and then go hire a professional author to actually write the thing.

Work for Hire contracts include writing novelizations for film and popular franchises (the Extended Universe Star Wars novels, the book version of every big movie/game, and so forth), Ghost Writing, writing for Book Packagers, etc. All of these have their up sides and down sides for both the client/publisher and the hired writer, but since this is a writing blog, I'm going to focus on the author half of the business agreement.

How Does it Work?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Deadlines, I have them

Welp guys, this week is crunch week, and so today's post is a cop out. Deadlines! They're real!

I wish I could say that I had a fool proof plan to always hit my goals in a non-panicked rush, but I'm still working on that one. Best laid plans of mice and authors, etc. etc. At least I can take comfort in the fact that I did this to myself. Self employment means being your own hell boss!

Anywho, I'm headed back down to the writing cave to knock this out like a boss (or haul my carcass over the finish line, whichever comes first). I hope you all have a much less stressful week ahead of you! Happy writing!

Yours in a panicked rush,

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Writing Wednesday: Flavor vs. Bake

First up, if you're at all interested in the self publishing business, go and check out the latest Author Earnings Report. It's one of their better ones and paints an amazing picture of the current Amazon book market (which is pretty much the #1 most important market for most indie authors currently). In addition to mapping out the market share of indie books as compared to small and large publishers, they also take a pretty comprehensive stab at figuring out just how much money Amazon itself makes per day from the indie marketplace, and damn. Let's just say I'm not worried about Amazon giving up the indie ghost anytime soon!

Okay, okay, enough business, let's talk craft! Delicious, delicious craft...

Writing Wednesday: Flavor vs. Bake

If you follow me on Twitter (and if no, why not? Come hang out!! Let's be cool kids!), you've probably picked up that I'm a pretty big fan of a certain reality cooking show from across the pond. That's right, I'm talking about my addiction du jour, The Great British Bake Off!!

Tell it like it is, Mary!
Before I begin...OMG WHY ISN'T ALL OF THIS SHOW AVAILABLE IN AMERICA? Do you not like money in England? Because I would pay--oh God, how I would pay--to own all six seasons of this amazing show in glorious HD. BUT NO. All I get is one measly season on Netflix and scraps of the others through, um, methods I'm not going to talk about on the blog >.> 

Moving on!

My love of reality television competition shows for creative endeavors is well documented on this blog. But while I loved the shit out of Project Runway, I think I love the Great British Bake Off even more for the following reasons:
  1. The hosts (but mostly Mary Berry).
  2. The food.
  3. The accents! (Particularly the excessive use of the word "chuffed")
  4. I learn a ton about baking every episode.
  5. EVERYONE IS SO GOD DAMN NICE! (No cast drama, everyone seems genuinely happy just to be there, just a super pleasant and positive watching experience all around!)
  6. Sue's terrible puns.
  7. Mary Berry, again.
All that said, I think what I love most about this show (and the part that actually pertains to writing, which we'll get to in just a second) is the focus on the perfect marriage of technical skill and creative brilliance required to win.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Writing Wednesday: WTF are Subplots and Do I Need One?

Warning! Today's post is going to be both technical and opinionated. If you disagree with how I treat subplots in my work, that is entirely your right. You do you! But if you're interested in seeing how I think about/manage/plan the subplots in my books, stick with me, 'cause shit's about to get specific!

Ready? Let's go!

Writing Wednesday: How to Write a Subplot

It doesn't have to be this complicated, but it can be if that's your jam...
(All credits to XKCD! See the original graph in all its high resolution glory here.)

“Subplot” is one of those writing vocab words that a lot of people toss around, but I’m not sure many writers actually know what it means.

Technically, a subplot is any storyline that happens in a book that is not the main plot. These can include romantic subplots, which are love stories in books that aren’t actually Romances (where the romance is the main plot). Character subplots, which happen when a secondary character is having their own plot line in addition to the novel’s main plot, (like Marci’s gangster problems in Nice Dragons Finish Last). Also popular are setting subplots, which are story lines that run simultaneous to the main plot in the wider setting of the novel, but are not (or, at least, not in the beginning) actually part of the main story. A good example of a setting subplot would be a Fantasy novel where where the protagonist is ostensibly doing his own thing, but the author keeps mentioning a brewing war or political struggle in the background. These mentions are often disguised as exposition or worldbuiling until, all of a sudden, the budding war/political conflict bursts into the main plot with a vengeance, forcing the main characters to deal with new problems.

These are just a few examples of common subplots you find in genre fiction, but really, any story thread that exists on its own merit outside of the book's main plot can be a subplot. Note that “outside” here doesn’t mean the subplot is isolated from the main plot, because a good subplot always comes back around to be an important factor in the main plot or the novel or the series.

Why is this? Well, I try never to set down hard rules in my writing, mostly because the moment I say “X is always true,” I’ll instantly find five books that fly in the face of whatever I just said. But speaking practically for the vast majority of successful novels, it’s pretty much impossible to have a subplot that exists purely its own sake and never ties into the main plot without the storyline in question feeling disconnected and superfluous. Because, you know, it is.

So if subplots must reconnect with the main plot as a general rule, why bother with them at all? Why not just wrap everything into the main plot from the start and call it a day? Well, you can definitely do that, and many authors do, but ignoring the subplot mechanic in writing cuts you off from an enormous world of complexity in your stories. This is because, while the purpose of the subplot isn’t to stand on its own, the introduction of plots outside of your main story opens up new avenues that you as a writer can use to show viewpoints and events your main story might otherwise never touch.

When you cut it down to the bare bones, a main plot standing by itself is often relatively simple. Even if you're dealing with a very complex plot or world, there’s only so much a main character can get their hands into before things just get too complicated and the plot turns to soup. Subplots are a way to get around this limitation. By introducing a new story thread that runs parallel with your main plot, you are free to introduce all kinds of new situations, events, threats, world building, and other extremely interesting story stuff that might otherwise be beyond the realistic limits of your central story.