Monthly Archives: September 2013

Where the Characters Come From: Iriphos

As promised, here’s the first in the series of five explorations of the ideas behind my characters. The first one up is, of course, the main character, Iriphos the mage.

To keep people from inadvertently seeing what might be spoilers, I’ll put the rest below the “fold.”

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Morning Quote 9/30/13

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.

  • Henry David Thoreau

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September 30, 2013 · 7:13 am

Where It Comes From: The Idea

I’m gonna start with a series of posts going into more of my thought processes in writing Librarian, how I came up with the characters, and whatever else I think might be interesting. I’ll start with the characters next week, there’s five I want to introduce, so that works well. Today I’m going to explain where the idea came from.

Fair warning. These posts may contain spoilers… it sort of depends on how much you want to know about the book beforehand. I won’t be revealing any major plot points or anything like that, but reading these may diminish your pleasure at learning about a new world. To avoid that, I’ll be using hiding the possible spoilers from the main page. Just click on the “Continue reading” link below to read the whole thing.

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Morning Quote 9/27/13

If you don’t allow yourself the possibility of writing something very, very bad, it would be hard to write something very good.

  • Steven Galloway

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September 27, 2013 · 8:45 am

Speaking of Needing a Second Pair of Eyes…

I just saw a JCPenney (or JCP as they want to be known now) ad on TV. Here’s an image from it (sorry for the poor quality, I took it with my cell phone camera right off the TV), see if you can see the problem.

20130926_154116

Spot it yet? If not, here’s a hint.

merriam-webster seperates

I think the word they wanted was “separates.”

Now, if this multi-billion dollar company and the no doubt huge advertising firm they hired to do this ad can make a simple mistake like that, do you really think that you don’t need a second pair of eyes looking at your manuscript? I’m sure the ad firm has spell-checkers on all their computers, and yet that misspelling got on the air.

You really need as many pairs of eyes on your work as you can get, to catch things like that. Mind you, they should be eyes you can trust, and trust to give you honest feedback, but the more the better.

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A Second Pair of Eyes

Today, on Mythic Scribes (a forum I’ve started frequenting), a debate got started about whether or not an author should have someone else look over their manuscript.

My answer is an unequivocal YES.

Let me explain with another thing that happened today. This morning, one of my readers pointed out a place in the manuscript where I hadn’t completely connected the dots between event A and later event B. He thought it might confuse readers.

Now, when I wrote that, I thought I’d had the dots connected sufficiently. However, I have the advantage of knowing what I meant to say, and he didn’t, so I accepted his word that I hadn’t made the connection obvious enough. So I went in and made it more obvious, and we’ll see if it passes muster this time.

If I hadn’t had a second (actually, fourth) pair of eyes looking at the manuscript, I might have left that connection too vague for the reader to pick up on. What’s interesting is that neither of the other readers picked up on that, but he did. In fact, each of my three readers so far has picked up on different things that could be improved, which I think is strong evidence that not just one person, but several, should look at your manuscript.

A writer really can’t look at his own manuscript the way a reader will, because the writer knows what the story is supposed to be. The reader only knows what it is. Sometimes the differences can be large, so it’s well worth it to have others read it.

Now, some of you are likely screaming at your screen, “what about editors?” I have nothing against editors, professional or amateur, but they’re not always reading it from the perspective of a reader, a lot of the time they’re scrutinizing it for things like missed commas or extra periods. When you do that, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. Certainly you should get your manuscript looked at by an editor of some sort, but just as certainly you should have other people read it just to see if they find any plot holes or things that don’t make sense.

Your manuscript will be much better for it, and a better manuscript will probably sell better.

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Morning Quote 9/26/13

I think the first duty of all art, including fiction of any kind, is to entertain. That is to say, to hold interest. No matter how worthy the message of something, if it’s dull, you’re just not communicating.

  • Poul Anderson

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September 26, 2013 · 9:43 am