July 12, 2020, 04:07:45 AM

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Plots without twists and payoffs other than surprise Somehow I got the impression that storytelling in recent years has maybe been putting too much emphasis on surprising twists. There are a couple of really good ones, both now and from earlier, but a lot of fantasy fiction seems to be build around the expectation of an amazing revelation at the end of the story. The Sixth Sense was great and I love "I am your father", but these are both cases in which the real surprise is that there's a revelation at all. It wasn't like the whole plot was set up to make the audience wonder about the answer to a central question and then blow them away with something more amazing than they expected. That's a path I think is really hard to follow and pull off successfully.

When you tell the audience to get ready for a big amazing reveal and leave them in anticipation for 10 years, it's probably impossible to deliver anything that satisfies those expectations. This is a struggle I rather want to not fight at all, even though these days it probably will be the default expectation of most readers when you first release something and they don't yet know that this is not the way you write.

But I also feel that a story has to have a grand finale and there needs to be some kind of payoff at the end. Which becomes a bit more difficult when everyone is already expecting that the hero will kill the villain and get the girl in the last chapter. "Can the hero succeed" doesn't seem like a viable alternative to make the readers anticipating an ending with a nice payoff.

How else could a plot be approached to give it an ending that is exciting and makes the reader feel that their building anticipation had been worth it. I am quite fascinated by the idea of stories that deal with failures, setbacks, and limitations and with making protagonists more interesting by not having everything fall nicely into their lap at the end. From that, one potential approach to tension and eventually payoff that comes to my mind is to make the readers wonder how much losses the heroes will suffer until the end and how much they will end up having to pay for their victory. Like when the heroes decide to assault a stronghold in chapter 16 and you're dreading which nine out of the ten characters will still be around in chapter 24 and how many hands and eyes they will have together. But you can't really sacrifice one or two relevant characters every significant confrontation, so this approach would still need some further refining.

February 17, 2018, 05:53:14 PM
Re: Are you a Trad or Indie? I'm clearly biased towards going with the trade/traditional publishers, but that's for a number of very good reasons:

1) You don't pay a single thing towards structural editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover artist, production or marketing. In fact, they pay you up front for your hard work writing and work with you on all of the above, because it is in their interest to push your book and have it do well. And you don't always have to sacrifice creative control to do it either (in my case anyway).

2) The doors they open...oh jeez, so, so many. They have an in-built market, fans, book bloggers, reviewers, press people... they do so much that most people will never see it all but people will see some of it.

3) Reviews, endorsements and interviews. They will arrange those for you prior to launch, so that your book starts off with a buzz and already has some good reviews (hopefully anyway). The publishers really do a lot behind the scenes.

4) Brick and mortar book shops and libraries will stock it. And that is just damn cool.

Of course your mileage will vary along with the publisher, with bigger publishers having much more reach, and getting your book noticed by more people. The quality and reach of smaller publishers may vary and you may be better off going indie rather than with a small publisher.

The problem going with the indie route - and it CAN go very well indeed - is that even if you produce an amazing book that has been professionally edited and has a cracking cover art, it will still be an uphill struggle to get noticed. Nobody will read it if they don't know about it, and it can be like screaming into the void trying to get it noticed in the first place. Things like SPFBO are excellent for highlighting the good ones from the dross that gets pumped out directly onto Amazon. The problem is that people don't tend to wade through and find the good ones, not when they have the quality control of trade/traditional publishers where they know a book will usually be of a certain quality - and likely one that they have heard of already.

Quite a few people are making a name for themselves in the trade/traditional publishers and then put out indie novels. Because people by then know who they are, and how they write and it bypasses the whole shouting into the void aspect of indie publishing.

May 12, 2018, 11:22:05 AM
Re: Adventures in Writing Good luck with the agent merrygoround @tebakutis I hope it gets snapped up.

@JRTroughton - 40k is nothing to be sniffed at! If you are wanting to write a 100k novel then that means you are ONLY 10k away from 50k, which is half a novel. Then you are ONLY 13k away from 66k which is 2/3 of a novel. Then you are ONLY a mere 9k away from 3/4 of a novel! Then you are on the home stretch and the finish line is in sight.

June 04, 2018, 08:54:57 AM
Re: Choosing between my main villains Start with a hero, a real one, and then add or take away one thing that turns that person into a villain - the inability to forgive, a wrong lesson learned, an inflexibility, or a resolute conviction.
June 17, 2018, 04:43:13 PM
Re: Hi! Hi Toby, welcome to FF!

Ooh, you wrote a Catachan novel. Excellent! I'm sure more than a few of us make model kits around here...and chain mail...and other geeky things...

July 06, 2018, 10:41:16 AM
Re: Hi! Hi Toby I’ve read one of your short stories in Sharkpunk anthology
July 06, 2018, 11:30:41 AM
Re: Are you a Trad or Indie? Toby, do you have a specific goal for your indie project? Is it number of sales? A certain amount of money? Newsletter subscribers?

July 17, 2018, 03:52:00 PM
Re: Are you a Trad or Indie?
I think this is a really interesting thread. Up till now, I've been trad published, but I've come to a natural break in things and I'm considering self-publishing a trilogy of older work, newly edited and, where necessary, re-written. I think the books are exciting, and that the genre has become more suited to them as time's moved on, thanks to the rise of grimdark.

However, publicity is daunting stuff. It's interesting how very different skills are required of an author: the introspective, almost scholarly ability to write a book, and then the very outgoing personality needed to sell it. I think this is going to be a strange experience and the learning curve will be steep, but hopefully the outcome will be good.

Today's book marketing has evolved past the need to be outgoing or even meet people. You can do it from the comfort of your living room with promotion sites (Bookbub), Amazon advertising, Facebook advertising, etc. That's one of the big differences between an indie author and traditionally published. Indies go direct to the customer with a pitch to buy the book. Publishers focus on distributors and PR to make the pitch to readers. So, being an indie you shouldn't focus on "publicity". Instead, build advertising campaigns that appeal to the readers of your genre.

July 17, 2018, 04:54:06 PM
Re: Are you a Trad or Indie? You can try to do traditional marketing, of course, but as Not Lu indicated, that's not the only path.

I look at it through a different lens. I'm here in Fantasy Faction. I frequent two other forums and three FB groups. I have a website where I post lots of stuff about Altearth that doesn't make it into my books. I have a (small) subscriber list.

That's my community. I very much enjoy visiting and participating. They sing the song of my people. I do tell folks when I've finished a new book; in fact, in a couple of places I even talk about how things are going with the current book. Other authors do the same. We're just talking about what we've done, what we're doing, what we're planning to do.

Now, I make almost no money at this, so the above is not the route to $uccess, but I left that illusion a long time ago. I'd like to make enough money to cover my costs, but even if I don't, this is a pretty cheap hobby. Costs less than a boat, and I'll leave behind something more than an oil slick.

Your ambition may vary. I offer this as a path, one of many.

July 17, 2018, 10:29:36 PM
Re: Archetypes - a more well-rounded discussion You had me at Altered Carbon :)
July 20, 2018, 02:41:36 PM