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Boarders Writing a Novel, Part 9


Gabriele

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Ad, I've probably asked this before, but what's your book about?

Plus I read this straight after: 25 humpalicious steps to a first sex scene

It's a multi-POV story about feuding dynastic families in a post-(not-quite-zombie)apocalyptic Britain. The story focusses on the younger generation of the families (the sons and daughters of the founders), as they wrestle with their roles in the emerging post-survival world. There is betrayal, back-stabbing, hunger for vengeance and lots of compromised choices.

I've got 7 POVs, but I'm narrowing the focus for queries down to four - cousins Ryan and Robert Arton, Eleanor Powell and Maddox Talbot, who are all the immediate heirs to large estates and each deals differently with the impending responsibilities for their families' futures. Ryan is heir to the wealthy Arton estate, but he is idealistic and naive. Robert is expected to follow in his father's military footsteps, but his conscience is creaking under the pressure. Eleanor expects to lead the impoverished Powells and schemes on her vengeance over the Artons, all without looking behind her. Maddox is heir to a much smaller estate, which is conquered by an autocrat with a thirst for power and Maddox finds himself conscripted into the man's retinue, torn between collaboration and resistance.

All of this plays out against the back-drop of a newly formed council of great lords, deciding how to divide up the country and how to secure their control over it; and there is the ever-present threat of the Afflicted, devolved survivors of the great plague, animals who hide in the ruins of the Old World.

I'm still working on ways to make the description punchy and to the point. I've decided to start looking the descriptions of complex series with high concepts, to try and get a handle on it, but at it's most basic, it's a story about what happens when the survivors of a (not-quite zombie) apocalypse get past the business of simple survival.

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It sounds really exciting! I like your concept of "what happens once they get over the business of surviving". I am not a huge fan of the doom and gloom or simply action-packed apocalypse stories. This doesn't fall into that trap.

I would say you need to look at linking the POV stories together in a closer way and choose who is going to be the hero, and focus on them for shorter query letters. So for me, I am focusing wholly on Evelyn for my synopsis.

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I tried asking this on Writing: Reddit and it didn't get any responses. I'm just wondering if anyone has joined Suvudu Universe and what were their impressions. Here's their pitch:

The Suvudu Universe is a new community for passionate writers to weigh in on science fiction, fantasy and paranormal TV, movies and literature. Whether you’re a longtime Trekkie or a “Game of Thrones” newbie, a Jedi-in-training or an “Avengers” junkie, there’s a place for you in our Universe. Sign up now and join the conversation.

This is under the Random House banner, so we are dealing with a major pub house, not some flighty vanity press scam. It might be a way to get my writing noticed. On the other hand, I am submitting my blog's content to a Big Brother. I'd appreciate your thoughts and experience on this.

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AdXRoss, that sounds quite promising... Looking forward to hear more!

It sounds really exciting! I like your concept of "what happens once they get over the business of surviving". I am not a huge fan of the doom and gloom or simply action-packed apocalypse stories. This doesn't fall into that trap.

I would say you need to look at linking the POV stories together in a closer way and choose who is going to be the hero, and focus on them for shorter query letters. So for me, I am focusing wholly on Evelyn for my synopsis.

Thanks for the positive response guys!

I think I'll definitely go down the road of selecting a 'hero' for queries - a good and fearlessly critical friend from my student film days looked over some early chapters and had some good notes, which may hold the key! :)

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So, pretty random, but I thought this was the best place for my musings: I was looking at postgraduate courses at my university, as I'll finish my BSc next summer, and a masters in creative writing grabbed my attention. It's nothing like my BSc in criminology, but the postgrad options for that are very limited at my uni, and the creative writing one looks really interesting. Has anyone here got any form of qualification in writing? Would you recommend it?

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So, pretty random, but I thought this was the best place for my musings: I was looking at postgraduate courses at my university, as I'll finish my BSc next summer, and a masters in creative writing grabbed my attention. It's nothing like my BSc in criminology, but the postgrad options for that are very limited at my uni, and the creative writing one looks really interesting. Has anyone here got any form of qualification in writing? Would you recommend it?

I applied to Manchester's Creative Writing course about three years ago and was placed on their waiting list. There's some really good ones - such as the University of East Anglia - which have been seen as gatekeepers to the publishing industry. I wouldn't want to give a year of my time over to a course that wasn't one of the leading in the country now... but that's because I'm 25 and just invested in a year of teacher training. I may apply to UEA next year along with its scholarship.

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I tried asking this on Writing: Reddit and it didn't get any responses. I'm just wondering if anyone has joined Suvudu Universe and what were their impressions. Here's their pitch:

The Suvudu Universe is a new community for passionate writers to weigh in on science fiction, fantasy and paranormal TV, movies and literature. Whether you’re a longtime Trekkie or a “Game of Thrones” newbie, a Jedi-in-training or an “Avengers” junkie, there’s a place for you in our Universe. Sign up now and join the conversation.

This is under the Random House banner, so we are dealing with a major pub house, not some flighty vanity press scam. It might be a way to get my writing noticed. On the other hand, I am submitting my blog's content to a Big Brother. I'd appreciate your thoughts and experience on this.

I haven't seen anything about SU particularly, but I know some publishing houses have been doing weird things in the last few years with ebook only rights. I'll look around tomorrow for more info, but read their community sign-up stuff pretty carefully.

On the best side, you'll get noticed. On the worst, your rights can get tied up. Just be careful.

(It doesn't have to be a scam to still be a bad idea. Like Amazon's publishing wing.)

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My story is called The Emperor Must Die. It's about an empire marching eastwards across a relatively small tract of land that has nothing but ocean to heave against. Amidst this, a religious conflict is taking place. The orthodox are known as the Brishwän, a somewhat Taoistic sort of religion based upon Harmony (but not harmony in the way we usually think of it -- in this religion, harmony can be found in everything, even war and conflict...one must only live without inner conflict in order to find harmony). The invading religion is called Tsazhurism. It's like a merger of polytheistic paganism and the sheer ardour found in Abrahamic religions. The Tsazhurites are utterly devoid of mercy for the Brischwän, and kill without any reluctance. There are nine gods (earth and sky, moon and sun, and then five fictional celestial bodies), often represented by the Nine-Headed Dragon Ogutsamot.

At the head of the empire is Euräqeon the World-Seizer. He's using a "western" religion (in the sense that the religion literally comes from a Prophet named Elrai Ehnâd from the Deep West) to control his empire, in the effort of dominating the entirety of the East.

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I haven't seen anything about SU particularly, but I know some publishing houses have been doing weird things in the last few years with ebook only rights. I'll look around tomorrow for more info, but read their community sign-up stuff pretty carefully.

On the best side, you'll get noticed. On the worst, your rights can get tied up. Just be careful.

(It doesn't have to be a scam to still be a bad idea. Like Amazon's publishing wing.)

I'm a "member." They've posted 3 or 4 of my blog posts on their site and they've gotten pretty good traffic. They send you an email requesting to right to post it on their site. They haven't asked for all of mine, just a few. As far as I can tell, they aren't looking for any original fiction writing, they are looking for commentary type content about sff. I'm looking at it as a way to get my name out there. Maybe if they'll remember the name the next time we go out to DelRey.

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It doesn't have to be a scam to still be a bad idea. Like Amazon's publishing wing.

Definitely. You just have to be a bit wary sometimes.

Regarding the earlier comment about writing courses, I've not got any experience of the ones that are full-time like uni degrees, but I've attended and given workshops at a few weekend-long ones in the UK. They can be really good, but I'd say the following:

1) They can be extremely expensive (£400+ for a weekend) or quite cheap. The cost often doesn't seem to directly reflect the quality of the event.

2) Most people will be writing "literary fiction" or something like that. A lot of people who don't read SFF still see it as flying saucers and unicorns. That said, general talks on characterisation etc can be really useful. I've seen crime writers do excellent talks on plotting and structure.

3) I suspect that it's easy to go to a lot of events, talk about writing a lot and not do much writing at all. I sometimes get the feeling that "being a writer" is different from actually "writing".

4) On the other hand, you do meet other writers and can learn a vast amount.

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I'm a "member." They've posted 3 or 4 of my blog posts on their site and they've gotten pretty good traffic. They send you an email requesting to right to post it on their site. They haven't asked for all of mine, just a few. As far as I can tell, they aren't looking for any original fiction writing, they are looking for commentary type content about sff. I'm looking at it as a way to get my name out there. Maybe if they'll remember the name the next time we go out to DelRey.

From the original question, I assumed it was one of those ebook "promotions" some publishers are doing, which are essentially pay to play.

It seems like a good way to get your name out there, and it allows you to pick which blog posts to broadcast. They do retain the right to republish your posts, though. And sell your shared content without compensating you. You're essentially giving them your content for free.

Thoughts from Staffer's Book Review.

The publicity probably outweighs that negatives, but keep the cons in mind when choosing which posts to broadcast.

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My mom is reading one of the three finished-but-unedited Ensekyrai story. She thought it was very well done, good characters, tension and action. But she's my mother, so, that was expected. Only the switching between two different scenes confused her sometimes.

Truth is, I'm just happy somebody's reading it, whether the feedback is useful or not.

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I haven't seen anything about SU particularly, but I know some publishing houses have been doing weird things in the last few years with ebook only rights. I'll look around tomorrow for more info, but read their community sign-up stuff pretty carefully.

On the best side, you'll get noticed. On the worst, your rights can get tied up. Just be careful.

(It doesn't have to be a scam to still be a bad idea. Like Amazon's publishing wing.)

There was a scathing blog by sff blogger Justin Landon about Suvudu Universe today has me rethinking it. I sent a quick email to my agent concerning it. The thing that worried me was a line about "creating derivative work" that bothered me. (Read: we can take your ideas.) I'll let you know if he has anything to say about it.

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I'm a "member." They've posted 3 or 4 of my blog posts on their site and they've gotten pretty good traffic. They send you an email requesting to right to post it on their site. They haven't asked for all of mine, just a few. As far as I can tell, they aren't looking for any original fiction writing, they are looking for commentary type content about sff. I'm looking at it as a way to get my name out there. Maybe if they'll remember the name the next time we go out to DelRey.

See, I was thinking they would just be accessing my blog, which is just as often about my pets or music as it is about SF/F. But if you make the post to their site I can take a few pieces that are specific and give it a whirl. Like you said, maybe they'll remember my name.

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There was a scathing blog by sff blogger Justin Landon about Suvudu Universe today has me rethinking it. I sent a quick email to my agent concerning it. The thing that worried me was a line about "creating derivative work" that bothered me. (Read: we can take your ideas.) I'll let you know if he has anything to say about it.

Do keep us posted - this would change everything.

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My agent got back to me. Short answer, use it for promotional purposes. Don't put original fiction on there. (Which isn't the purpose anyway.) They'll be able to then use your world and let other people use your world. But they can't walk off or use your ideas. They are yours.

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OK, I appreciate the quick answer. No, I wasn't going to post any samples of my book there. Just some pithy comments about the genre. I do not like the idea of anyone owning my content with no remuneration. I also see they don't want any vulgar language. That might be a fucking problem as well.

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Hey guys,

I am about to start sending out my query and first three chapters to agents (yes, I'm scared...) I wouldn't mind one or two more people taking a gander at them and just seeing if they can spot anything wrong (no more than that, to be fair, otherwise I'll just tie myself in knots again). If anyone is willing/interested, please let me know.

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