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Author Topic: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread  (Read 6890 times)

Offline TOMunro

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2014, 11:02:02 PM »
Mine's up too.  I wasn't sure for a while, but since I'm currently writing "Master of the Planes" and gates or portals are an integral part of my novels, it seemed like a month I just couldn't pass up.  Another one for my prequel collection.   

Offline Ransonwrites

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2014, 12:19:59 AM »
Hi. Thought I'd have a go at this. That was around 5:30pm and now I've got 1900 words to edit, somehow, down to less than 1500! Oh, for another 500 words! Tomorrow the red pain will bring the pain.  :'(

Can someone tell me how the voting works?

Thanks
Urgo: I wanna live! I wanna experience the universe! And I wanna eat pie!

Jack O'Neill: Who doesn't?

Offline Wizardly-K9

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2014, 02:48:49 AM »
Yo.  :)

At the end of the month the submission thread will be locked and the discussion thread will gain a poll where you can vote for the two stories you liked best. The time to vote lasts about as long as the time to submit, so it won't be hard to miss.

Look forward to seeing your portal story.  ;D
To the lot of you progressives, revolutionaries, kind-hearted reformists, and forward thinkers out there: stop it. You're embarrassing yourselves.

Offline TOMunro

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2014, 10:13:30 AM »
you can vote for the two stories you liked best.



Of course, under our shiny new system if we have lots of entries we might even get three votes!  - all so exiting.  I wonder what next month's theme will be.

Nice story by the way Wizardly-K9, eat your heart out Pevensey children.

Offline Ransonwrites

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2014, 05:55:46 PM »
Well, I just submitted! And I had a margin of three whole words! I wonder what I could have used them for...  ???

It was fun, though. Don't know why everyone is so down on portal stories!

Urgo: I wanna live! I wanna experience the universe! And I wanna eat pie!

Jack O'Neill: Who doesn't?

Offline Elfy

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2014, 12:21:15 AM »
Well, I just submitted! And I had a margin of three whole words! I wonder what I could have used them for...  ???

It was fun, though. Don't know why everyone is so down on portal stories!
You and me both. There just seems to be this perception amongst people in the industry that they don't sell. I personally wish there more of them. I do tend to have a broader window of what qualifies something as a portal story, though.
As it stands at the moment I think my entry is the shortest and that for me is something amazing. My wife likes to tease me that 1,000 words is really just my opening paragraph.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline Ransonwrites

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2014, 12:41:00 PM »
As it stands at the moment I think my entry is the shortest and that for me is something amazing. My wife likes to tease me that 1,000 words is really just my opening paragraph.

I hear you. Got the same problem. I have happily written individual chapters of 30k words when all the received wisdom is that one should limit them to 5 or 7k at the most. Naturally, there is no set definition of a chapter. It can be one word or a 100 thousand, but there is an assumption that anything much greater than 5k words in a single chunk will over-face the reader.

My first reaction to publishers and readers who council against high word counts is that this is the literary equivalent of the estate agent who advises you to paint your house beige or pale grey. But then it was put to me that some people like to finish a chapter in one quick sitting because of their busy lives, or because they're reading whilst commuting, or even because they want regular toilet breaks and opportunities to graze in the kitchen in between climaxes!

I think it's all bunk. The only advise I would give is bugger the word count: it will be what it needs to be in order to achieve a worthwhile chunk of story-telling - an episode within the greater tale that moves the plot forward, that develops the characters, that is compelling and either ends in a satisfying way, or finishes on a cliffhanger in preparation for the next chapter.

To return to the original thought, you can no doubt tell that I have trouble expressing an idea in less than three paragraphs!  8)

Urgo: I wanna live! I wanna experience the universe! And I wanna eat pie!

Jack O'Neill: Who doesn't?

Offline xiagan

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2014, 09:34:59 PM »
Wow, ten entries so far! I should go on vacation more often if that's necessary to get you to submit. ;) Really curious about all your stories and glad you at least think portal fantasy has a future! ;D
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Elfy

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2014, 11:52:34 PM »
As it stands at the moment I think my entry is the shortest and that for me is something amazing. My wife likes to tease me that 1,000 words is really just my opening paragraph.

I hear you. Got the same problem. I have happily written individual chapters of 30k words when all the received wisdom is that one should limit them to 5 or 7k at the most. Naturally, there is no set definition of a chapter. It can be one word or a 100 thousand, but there is an assumption that anything much greater than 5k words in a single chunk will over-face the reader.

My first reaction to publishers and readers who council against high word counts is that this is the literary equivalent of the estate agent who advises you to paint your house beige or pale grey. But then it was put to me that some people like to finish a chapter in one quick sitting because of their busy lives, or because they're reading whilst commuting, or even because they want regular toilet breaks and opportunities to graze in the kitchen in between climaxes!

I think it's all bunk. The only advise I would give is bugger the word count: it will be what it needs to be in order to achieve a worthwhile chunk of story-telling - an episode within the greater tale that moves the plot forward, that develops the characters, that is compelling and either ends in a satisfying way, or finishes on a cliffhanger in preparation for the next chapter.

To return to the original thought, you can no doubt tell that I have trouble expressing an idea in less than three paragraphs!  8)
That's always been my view that the story takes as many words as it does to tell. To a certain extent though I think word processing (don't laugh) has made a lot of books longer than they ever used to be. There are examples that will make a liar out of me I know, but can you imagine writing War and Peace out longhand, or even writing then typing Lord of the Rings yourself? However now you can just write and erase words, sentences, paragraphs, etc..., move them around, change the font, etc.. all with a few clicks of the keyboard or mouse.
I actually have problems making my full length novels as long as many people think they should be. I just completed the first draft of an urban fantasy that I call The Foxwood Chronicles and that was just over 97,000 words. The longest Realmspace book (Shattered Chaos) is in the low 90's as well. The other 2 are 80,000 (although that will rise when I've finished the current edit) and in the high 70's.
I think you'll find on a good edit that you will either cull or add words. Long books tend to cull and shorter ones tend to add. I think it was Joe Abercrombie said that he might write a certain number of words a day and think that's pretty good, but when he edits, he cuts about half of them out, so it's not just a case of how many words, but how many words are actually going to be used.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline ACSmyth

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2014, 09:53:20 AM »
I always write a lean first draft, at least of novel-length stuff. Since I'm inclined more to pantsing than plotting, a first draft is me telling myself the story. While I find that mostly I hit the right beats, a few need shuffling around to get the structure and flow right, and there are generally a few scenes that need to be binned and a few more inserted. Description and characterisation are present in the first draft, but more gets put in during revisions. Novel drafts for me tend to hit about 80K and then the full novel is normally 110-115K.

By the way, my portal story has been showing "in progress" on Submittable for the past ten days or so, so unless I get a rejection today or tomorrow I'm out for this month. I'm hoping it's a sign that they are giving it serious consideration, but I suspect it probably just means that it has moved from one pile to another!

Offline TOMunro

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2014, 05:24:10 PM »
I find the discipline of 1500 words works quite well for me.  That's a fairly typical length for the "scenes" I put in my longer works.  However, given that the novels are made up of around 150 such scenes (grouped in 5 parts or chapters) you can see that the word count for the novels does spiral upwards.
Lady of the Helm came in at 130,000 words,  Wrath of the Medusa hit 160,000 words and Master of the Planes is already at 110,000 words and I'm only just half way (maybe)

still as Elfy says,


That's always been my view that the story takes as many words as it does to tell.

And the entire trilogy will still weigh in a lot shorter than ASOFAI (so far) WoT, or even the Kingkiller Chronicles' first two books. 

Maybe fantasy is just meant to be long!

Offline Ransonwrites

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2014, 10:17:05 PM »
I think you'll find on a good edit that you will either cull or add words. Long books tend to cull and shorter ones tend to add. I think it was Joe Abercrombie said that he might write a certain number of words a day and think that's pretty good, but when he edits, he cuts about half of them out, so it's not just a case of how many words, but how many words are actually going to be used.

Douglas Adams said that he wrote four pages then edited it down to a single good paragraph. That seems to be pretty much par for the course, whoever you talk to... with the exception of J.K. Rowling, of course: I've tried to read her stuff and come to the conclusion that she simply doesn't know where the delete key is. But that's a whole new polemic, right there!  8)

Urgo: I wanna live! I wanna experience the universe! And I wanna eat pie!

Jack O'Neill: Who doesn't?

Offline Ransonwrites

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2014, 10:29:41 PM »
I always write a lean first draft, at least of novel-length stuff ... Novel drafts for me tend to hit about 80K and then the full novel is normally 110-115K.


This is an excellent and highly recommended strategy. David Baboulene recommends a 40k word first attempt, for instance, although preferred lengths will obviously vary. The chief advantage is twofold: you get a good solid rehearsal of your idea to shake the bugs out, and you also get a finished piece of work in the form of a novella or short story. The latter means you don't come away empty-handed in the event that you decide not to proceed with the full length novel.

This is probably a good way to get around the Douglas Adams syndrome I mentioned, above. Write the single good paragraph first, then write the four pages for the novel, later!

I've found I sometimes nearly almost use this technique by accident - I've yet to do it on purpose. I get halfway through a full length novel, then have a forehead-slapping epiphany about the plot that necessitates a complete rewrite of the first three chapters and multiple scene modifications and additions, throughout. If I'd done a 40k word first draft, instead, at least I'd have the satisfaction of finishing something!

But then, would I lose the motivation to write the full length book? Hmm...

Maybe fantasy is just meant to be long!

There are, in fact, unwritten conventions that a great many publishers still generally abide by with regard to the expected word count of different genres. Despite the rise of flash fiction, most commissioning editors will still regard anything less than 80k as a novella (and not accept a novella of less than 70k). Science Fiction and contemporary thrillers are expected to finish at around the 120k word mark, with an upper limit of 150k. Meanwhile, Fantasy epics are only just getting warmed up at 150, and can comfortably exceed 200k words without breaking a sweat.

We are, of course, talking traditional print media and to all rules there are exceptions. However, many of these conventions are so deeply engrained that they are unlikely to change quickly, and many have a firm basis in fact (I can't think of very many extremely long SciFi novels, for example. A quick glance across my shelves reveals that the vast majority are slim 120-150k paperbacks).
« Last Edit: May 30, 2014, 10:35:55 PM by Ransonwrites »
Urgo: I wanna live! I wanna experience the universe! And I wanna eat pie!

Jack O'Neill: Who doesn't?

Offline Elfy

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Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2014, 01:21:15 AM »
I had a friend who firmly believed that many current fantasy writers suffered from what he termed 'verbal diarrhoea' and that they could tell the story using a lot less words. In some cases I agreed, in others not. It does seem when you look back over the older works that they did on the whole tend to be shorter. A case in point is Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword, that's only about 200 pages, but it packs as much and more into those 200 pages as any more modern 500 or more page novel does.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline ACSmyth

Re: [May 2014] - Portal fantasy - Discussion Thread
« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2014, 12:02:46 PM »
On the other hand, when I was considering querying, what I was hearing everywhere was that for a new author, even in fantasy, 120K was the absolute upper limit anyone would consider. People with a track record of selling, like GRRM and Brandon Sanderson, can get away with it. Unknowns cannot.

It's interesting to note that the first 3 Harry Potters were a lot smaller than the later books. The first one is just 77K, I believe. I know they are kids' books, but it shows that when she proved her series had selling power the publishers were more prepared to let her loose with mega word counts. Whether the latter books in the series *needed* mega word counts is still up for debate. *coughs*notheydidn't*coughs*

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