Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Slush Piling Experiences Thus Far

Since The Oddville Press is a small magazine, we are more lenient on what is acceptable. A lot of magazines will simply throw out a manuscript because of improper formatting. If The Oddville Press did this, we would only have four stories to choose from, which tells you just how many people have no clue about manuscript formatting. Some of these people use fonts that make you wonder what the crap they used in college--and some of these people include veteran and award-winning writers! Most professors want Times New Roman. But, alas, I read these stories anyway, because to reject them would mean throwing away 99.5% of stories, and we can't afford that. But your proper manuscript formatting should be this: one-inch margins, double spaced, either 12 point Times New Roman or Courier New, indent all paragraphs please (most of the manuscripts didn't do this), put a running header on each page (depends on guidelines), with your last name, manuscript title, and page number. It's that simple, and yet 99.5% of the people in Oddville's slush pile don't do this. But I digress. Despite some of the improper formatting, some of the stories turned out to be a good read.

The Oddville press also forgives a few mistakes with grammar, but I'm surprised any of these manuscripts have typos and obvious grammar errors at all! When I submitted Dead Poet's Pendulum for publication, I only had one typo (and it's a typo that most likely won't be noticed by readers: It was supposed to be phrase, but it was phase). Dead Poet's Pendulum did have a few flaws, but it seemed like they were flaws of subjectiveness, such as one editor may have thought it was a flaw, but another didn't. But some of the typos in these manuscripts were outright obvious, that you wonder if the writer proofread it at all after a re-write!

Other problems I've seen are sudden, abrupt endings, or, better yet, underdeveloped stories. They start out promising, but then all of a sudden, it's like the author scrambled to keep in his or her set word count and tacked down a sentence that seemed like it could be good closure. It's not. It makes me wonder if these writers got a second pair of eyes. More likely than not, a second pair of eyes WILL be able to tell you if your story is underdeveloped or not, that is if the second pair of eyes can be trusted. Not all beta readers are fabulous and will tell you what you need to hear. They'll tell you what you want to hear, and often times it doesn't help. I've had several beta readers that absolutely did not help at all, that praised my writing. But then again, these beta readers were young teenagers. Either they were too afraid to critique me, or they really saw nothing wrong with hit. Hmm...I'd like your opinions on this, followers.

One story I rejected couldn't suspend my disbelief at all. I'm not going to go into what story that was, but let's just say that although it was written for adults, it read a little too juvenile for anyone's tastes--except maybe for the few who don't mind unrealistic stories.

Other stories I rejected could be in the 10% range of the 90% garbage verses 10% not garbage. I rejected these ones simply because they didn't fit with Oddville. They'll fit somewhere else, but they won't fit with our e-zine.

On a final note, if you want to submit a manuscript anywhere, be it a novel or a short story, please get a beta reader(s). They are so invaluable and wonderful and amazing, that I'm so surprised that those who submit manuscripts have never heard of them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teaser Teusday Three

So I really teased most people with the last chapter by not even telling where Alice was going. Right now, she's at Gallows Hill, a safehouse for witches, as she was exiled from Belhame for being a witch. This chapter starts out with some introductory things, meeting the headmaster, Master Akilah, and now she's back in her room painting. Leave comments, criticism, what have you!

*gasp* What happened to it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Drafting Involves Will Power

I had my Night Writers meeting last night (with only two other people. I suppose the advertisement I sent out mixed up quite a few, since the time on it was wrong), and we discussed one of the most important things writers need to have: will power. We didn't discuss the word will power exactly, but one of the two writers I was talking with told us how she had problems trying to finish a novel. Her problem is not an uncommon problem. People who are not new to the writing world know that first drafts outright suck, that they're terrible, that if anyone saw our rough drafts we would be embarrassed for life. And because rough drafts suck, we have a hard time trying to plod through them because we don't like to write bad. We like to write good, and we can't do that with rough drafts. If we tried, we would never get our foundations laid.

Many writers start a rough draft and become OCD with going back to previous pages and fixing something. They find themselves so obsessed with trying to perfect their first drafts that they ultimately abandon the project altogether. I've had this problem on occasion, but it was never the reason why I never finished a draft. I never finished a draft because Witch Tourniquet is my first project, always has been, always will be (until it's published), and I've always found myself going back to it because of lack of beta readership. In any case, it's difficult to fix this problem. The woman who told me this during the Night Writers meeting knows it's a problem, knows that she just needs to get through it, but she can't.

How can one fix this problem? All I can tell you is that drafting takes will power. You have to suck it up, suck all that air in, and just write. Ignore all the words flowing out behind your fingers and concentrate on the words that have not yet flowed from your fingers. By doing this, you are essentially forgetting that what you're writing is total garbage. You've already accepted that it's total garbage, but it's unnecessary for you to acknowledge that while you're writing.

But to be honest, there is no set way in which to fix what seems like an unsolvable problem. Perhaps you as the OCD writer need to set a word count for yourself that you plan to meet everyday, even if it's just a 100 words. Because of my light course load at college (probably won't be the case second semester), I'm able to do 2,000 words a day. I've been working on Kairos Angel for 13 days, and I've been able to meet my 2,000 word a day goal everyday, something I have not been able to do since Witch Tourniquet. Writing this draft makes me cringe because I hate writing rough drafts. I like to write well, and when I can't write well, I have the tendency to scrap my work--but I know that isn't going to do anything for me, as rough drafts are supposed to be bad. They're simply the foundations you lay, such as artists sketching out what they want to draw before they commence with a finished piece (it's not pretty, but you should see what these artists produce at the end. Hard to believe they started out with something so sketchy and unrecognizable).

For the OCD writer who can't finish a piece because he or she keeps going back and fixing things, just stop. Just keep writing. Take a day or two and remind yourself constantly that rough drafts suck. By pounding this in your brains, it might be easier to get through that rough draft. Realize that writing's a process, that there will be many re-writes following.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slush Pile Reader

After having Dead Poet's Pendulum published with The Oddville Press, I've decided to volunteer as a slush pile reader. I'm excited about the experience, and you think I'm naive for being excited about reading slush piles. I didn't say I was excited about reading slush piles. I said the experience. You can take this as the experience points you earn on an RPG in order to level up. I want to be an editor one day, so being a slush pile reader will be perfect experience for me, and won't look bad at all on a resume.

In my opinion, I think all writers need to volunteer for slush pile reading at one point or another in his or her writing lives. Tons of writers grumble about the process of submitting a piece and waiting on it, but they have no idea what goes on in that process. By being a slush pile reader, you pretty much get a firsthand account of what all happens and why it takes a bit. Sure, your eyes might bleed in the long run, but at least you'll learn to respect editors and garner a deeper appreciate for what they have to put up with.

I know I soon will.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dead Poet's Pendulum is Out!

So, after waiting for what seems like forever, Issue V of The Oddville Press is finally out! Here's the link to the e-zine, and I'm on pg. 63:

Send me any comments you have to I would love to hear from all of you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just a Brief Update

No, Dead Poet's Pendulum has not collapsed and disappeared from the face of the earth along with the e-zine, The Oddville Press, in which it is appearing in. I know I said September, but the editor had been experiencing computer problems, thus delaying its release. Now she assures me that the layout for the e-zine is being put together, so it'll hopefully be out by the end of this week or the next.

I will definitely post a link to Dead Poet's Pendulum once it's up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kairos Angel

Several years ago I played two games called Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross. Both of these video games made me fall in love with the concept of time travel and dimensions, of time distortion, and anything involved with messing around with time. Chrono Trigger involved time travel, while Chrono Cross involved dimension travel. I loved these games so much that I wanted to know if there was going to be a sequel to Chrono Cross. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon it, but I found the trademark for Chrono Break (a game still totally up in the air). Since I knew that Chrono Trigger had an object called the Chrono Trigger in it and Chrono Cross the same, I knew Chrono Break had to have some sort of object in it or deal with something involving time. So when I translated Chrono into time, I came up with time break, which automatically made me think of breaks in time. Of course, I do not have any idea what Chrono Break would be about if it ever got made. There have been speculations, but strangely none of them ever involved breaks in time. (And typing in breaks in time in Google yields no results.)

So, where am I going with this breaks in time idea? Basically, I'm creating the concept of breaks happening in time during the present day, where at any moment something from the past or future can come into the present and cause disturbances. It sounds like time travel, but time travel is often choice, and usually involves present day people traveling to the past and future. With these breaks in time, there is no choice, and it doesn't pull anybody from the present and puts him/her into the past or future. Rather, these breaks pull from the past and/or future. These breaks in time are erratic. Now how do I the author make these breaks in time happen? Well, that would be a spoiler right there, so I can't say anything.

As for the title Kairos Angel, this took a bit of research. I originally wanted to make the title Chrono Angel, but I wasn't sure if Chrono was a made up word strictly for the Square Enix series. After researching it for a bit, I found the word Chronos, which means time. So I fashioned the name into Chronos Angel. But after further research, I discovered Kairos. Now, rather than giving my unintelligent spill over what this means, I'll have wikipedia do it for me.

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative nature.

Why did I choose Kairos rather than Chronos? Well, as wikipedia states, chronos is in sequential order. Kairos Angel does take place in sequential order, but the novel puts less emphasis on the idea of chronological time and more emphasis on the time in between, a moment when something special happens at a random time. Since my novel deals with breaks in time and these breaks are random and don't occur at any particular time in any particular order, Kairos was only fitting for the title.

But why angel? That would be a spoiler as well, but I can tell you that one of my MCs, at no particular period in time, has to find a way to seal these breaks.