Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Olympics of Writing


It has been a while since I posted something on Ye Ole Blog. It isn't for lack of having things to write about, but rather my focus on fiction writing that I am trying to finish up. Lately I have been thinking about the Olympics (Who hasn't?). Specifically I have been thinking about how Godzilla would win nearly every event if he entered, but which country would he represent? Applying the Olympics to writing is another idea I had.

Obviously this isn't a sport like those we see at the Olympics, unless competitive sitting has become an event. There are also many different awards available to writers awarded annually. The physical nature of the Olympics limits the age of competitors, but with writing there is no age limit. It could be argued that with age comes experience and an established narrator voice that gives practiced writers an advantage.

For writing I would also like a return of amateur status as a requirement similar to what the Olympics once had. This could be a competition to help undiscovered amateur authors get discovered and perhaps launch a career. Of course that only comes with the competition gaining a measure of prestige. This could also be considered a team event with editors, beta readers, etc.

Difficulties

The Olympics has always been an international competition and there are many different languages that are spoken around the globe. This means that there would be a need for judges that speak every written language for the stories submitted for judging. How can we overcome this? If the competition is limited to one language then that gives an unfair advantage to native speakers of that language. How can you capture the true spirit of the Olympics without it being a just and fair worldwide competition?

Forming teams would be problematic in itself. Just starting out you can't expect nations to spend money to put together teams of writers for this kind of competition. Without national backing who would compete as an amateur writer? Who would organize the team then if given the opportunity? In Olympic competition they have national competitions to help decide who moves on to compete with the best in the world.

Events

In spite of these difficulties, I can't help but to think of how these events would go. If you look at Wattpad, they have many competitions going on all the time. I'm sure they probably have their own Olympics of writing going on that has probably concluded by now. Imagining a competition event based upon a writing prompt for each genre with a word count limit is relatively easy at this point. Word sprints are a regular occurrence on social media as well. Coming up with a plethora of events to compete in would be easy. This sort of thing makes me wonder What if?

Progress Updates


Virtual Wars Booting Up (currently in editing hell)
Final edits: On page 109 of 168
Putting edits into computer: On page 101 of 168
Custom Chapter Headers: 27 of 41

Virtual Wars Running (Book 2)
Outline: 20%

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Plagiarism

I'm sure you all have heard about the most recent episode of plagiarism that has taken place. I don't want to talk about that today, but rather what people's reaction to it has been. I was appalled to find that half of my friends seemed to think the whole thing was a big joke and the other half seemed to think it was fake or not a big deal. To an author the thought of plagiarism is a horrific experience similar to having a nightmare about a never ending vapid conversation with the Kardashians.

Let's start with the definition of Plagiarism - the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

At it's heart Plagiarism is theft. When you have developed an intellectual property, there are multiple revenue streams that you can collect from them. When someone steals your work and passes it off as their own, it dilutes the amount of revenue you could be collecting and gives it to someone else. This is money you will most likely never recover as an author unless you can somehow identify who it is that is doing this and they live in a country that will pursue such claims. Then there is the cost of court fees and lawyers and so on. For many it isn't even worth the effort to try to recover lost revenues.

Let's say you work construction and you build a house. It's a very nice house that you are expecting to get paid for. Now let's say John Doe picks up your tools, poses by the house for some pictures, and claims to be the one who built the house. Your boss says, "Wow! What a nice house! John Doe, you're getting a bonus!" I bet you would be pretty angry about it all when you find out, but John Doe has already skipped town with your bonus money and your chances of finding him are very low.

That is how it feels to be plagiarized as an author. This sort of thing happens all the time now that it is easier than ever to publish an ebook. People will make an exact copy of a book (even well known classic books), make minor changes to the cover, and then begin to sell it online as their own work of fiction.

It can be quite an ordeal to get Amazon to remove the offending novel that contains your stolen story. I have heard tales of an author's work being removed from Amazon because they found another similar book, which was published by someone who stole the work of fiction. If you search across the internet there are many tales of horror that rival that of Pikachu being melted down then frozen into a flavor of ice cream.

If you don't think plagiarism is a big deal then I want to be your friend, so I can take your ideas and eat them. I will be your personal idea zombie. I will craft and cultivate your best works by changing a word here and there and I will profit from your hard work while you enjoy diminished returns on your investment of time and energy. Thank you for your contribution to the Grand Idea Zombie Horde!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Write The Writing Writers

Yes I recycled a graphic I used previously. I like it... shutup! Anyway I have recently come up with a few new story ideas that I have no idea when I may have time to write them as I am still stuck in editing hell. I could make time to write other stories, but I am trying to get out of editing hell on this novel ASAP!

I also came across a few people who have set up a patreon to help get their writing in the works. In case you are wondering what the chickenbutt a patreon is... www.patreon.com. I am thinking about doing the same thing. If I decide to set up a patreon then I have to set up membership tiers that will outline rewards for each level of contribution. I don't expect much in the way of donations, but it would be nice to make a little money while working on these stories that are in my head. If anyone has any feedback please let me know.

Here are a few of the rewards I was thinking of offering to my patrons for monthly donations:
  • A new weekly chapter for a revival of my serial stories that are up on Wattpad. I plan to revive these stories for several more seasons, but have yet to make the time for them. I also have ideas for at least 3 more serial stories that I have yet to begin writing. I find that I am more likely to work on them when I am writing a new story rather than when I am editing and rewriting. Which doesn't make sense because I am going crazy with the urge to create new stories. I know I could keep up with writing these weekly chapters for my patrons.
  • Access to portions of whatever new project I am working on. Sort of a sneak preview that goes beyond the usual chapter at the end of my last work kind of thing.
  • Copies of all of my novels in ebook format once I have removed them from KDP Select or perhaps before I enroll them in KDP Select. It seems only fair to give these out if my patrons are paying more than enough to purchase one of these on their own.
  • Signed print copies of each novel as it comes out. Possibly for a higher level donation than the previous reward depending on shipping costs. I may use a flat rate shipping box for this to make it easier to calculate what my cost will be.
  • Other swag as it becomes available. I plan to put together different kinds of promotional materials including trading cards, figurines, flash drives with ebook copies on them, etc..
  • Name a character or become a character in my writing. They are probably going to die. Perhaps they will have extra lives like in a video game?
Anyway those are my ideas for now. I would love some feedback if anyone has any. Now it's time for an update on progress (YAY!)

Virtual Wars Booting Up (currently in editing hell)
Final edits: On page 105 of 168
Putting edits into computer: On page 70 of 168
Custom Chapter Headers: 20 of 41

Virtual Wars Running (Book 2)
Outline: 10%

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Big Picture

In case you haven't noticed, I have been very sporadic with my updates lately after being a model of consistency with my weekly blog posts. Today I am here writing that this will be ending. It's not the end of my blog, but rather a new beginning as I have experimented with in the past. I was happy with the results of my current version of the blog with the amount of traffic and the steady increases in readership that I have enjoyed over the past year or two.

My main reason for stopping the weekly blogs posts and movie reviews is that it is distracting me from my real goals. I am spending too much time on keeping this blog updated and it is taking a lot of time from what I really want to do. Writing fiction is what I really want to do.

The blog also isn't helping me the way I thought it would with building an email list or following. Yes I have had some limited success with this on Twitter and Google+, but ultimately will this help me sell books when I do finally push my word baby out into the world? From everything I have researched, no it won't.

The best way to promote a book, as I have heard over and over, is to write another one. That means I need to focus more time on writing and less on the everything else that I have been doing. Sorry Godzilla, but I will no longer run from you.  OK I lie, but still...

With that said, I am not going to quit blogging altogether. Now I will only be updating when I have something important to say or to post updates on what I am working on.

Virtual Wars Update

Final edits for Virtual Wars: Initialization (Book 1).
Pages finished: 71 out of 168



Outline for Virtual Wars: Running.
10% done.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Win Button

After a brief hiatus I have returned! Last week I took some much needed sanity time to myself. I spent that time doing some of the things I enjoy other than writing. I played poker, video games, and started watching Game of Thrones. I began to think of how video games and other forms of competition can be so addicting to us all. A friend of mine is hopelessly addicted to a game that is very simple in design, but it does have something that keeps you going and striving for more within it. It has multiple win buttons.

So what is the win button? More importantly, how can we apply it to our writing? We are wired to want to win. We always want the rewards that come with victory. In gambling that reward comes in the form of money. In a video game that comes with a cut scene, your scoreboard scrolling up more numbers, or a small pixel firework. That ding sound signifying victory also gives us comfort with the expectation of being given something more. A level up, something becomes unlocked, and now some more of the story is revealed.

Level Up

I like to think of each chapter as being a level in a game. I make each scene a new chapter rather than having multiple scenes in a long chapter. The short chapters can give a reader a sense of accomplishment as if they are making progress. The problem is making those chapters count. Sometimes you have background information that needs to be part of a scene to set up something later, but there isn't anything else in that scene to make it memorable. It also makes it easier to cut the fat from your work which can also cause plot holes. As you can see there are many advantages and disadvantages to the method (or madness) I use.

Side Quests

These little tasty morsels give your characters a vehicle to develop while giving background information out without boring readers with a ton of exposition. Exposition is like driving spikes into your reader's eyes. I think putting together side quests is a much better vehicle to send the necessary information through. While the main story and plot points are the reason you write the story to begin with, it is the side quests and stories that fill the dreaded middle of the novel and make it more interesting. Side quests can be as short as one scene, or expand themselves over the course of several novels as a major plot thread.

Revelations And Conclusions

These are the prizes you can give to readers as they read a novel. The end of each chapter or "level" deserves the reward of new information or some sort of conclusion. I like to end a chapter with a revelation that creates a cliffhanger ending. I try not to do that with every chapter. Without conclusions readers don't have any good stopping points. I am a notoriously slow reader, and understand the need for a good stopping point! Also if you never wrap up a side quest or plot point then you end up having a lot of loose ends that will drive you and readers both nuts. Don't cross the streams, unless you like have to stop Zuul.

These new food pellets of word crack will have readers turning the pages to see what is next in the same way they continue to hit the win button in their video games. It is important to leave a reader with a positive or juicy bit to leave them wanting to read on. Only the best wizards of words can wield this power to defeat the evil cannibal bunnies of Middle Scareyplace.