The Obvious Way To Edit Your Novel That Almost Everyone Ignores

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Put your novel into a free Createspace template, complete with chapters, page numbers, and margins. This will make it look like a “real” book. Think of the most detail-oriented but fair critical reader you’ve ever known personally, and go through your novel sentence by sentence with this critical reader present in your mind.

I Think Of My Editor, Who Is The Most Demanding Reader I’ve Ever Met

Think of how they would react to every word choice and punctuation mark. Do not change subjective elements of your novel; only alter things to satisfy the demands of your rigorous friend.

But Victor, If You Have An Editor, Why Are You Doing So Much Work?!

If this process sounds unbearable to you, you need to start looking for an editor who will do this work for you;  the good ones work for free for their friends, at greatly reduced prices for people they know and like, and will rightly charge you more than double your rent if they don’t know you at all.

Looking For An Editor Online Is Like Playing A Lottery Full Of Scamsters

If you’re a person who writes, and you have not yet obtained an agent, a book deal, or a respectable following of readers (don’t despair! These things take time!), you are probably looking at your finished products (stories, novels, essays) through the rose-tinted eyes of a loving and nurturing parent.

Henry Fielding Compares Novels To Children

Children of the brain, he calls them. Try an experiment with me for a moment. Imagine that your latest book is a five- or six-year-old child whom you are about to drop off for the first day of kindergarten (or private school, or neighborhood homeschool co-op).

Is Your Novel Prepared For The Gauntlet Of Public Opinion?

Look at your novel-child. Is it dressed appropriately? (This correlates to the cover design, interior formatting, and sales blurb.) Does it know how to use the bathroom, and have you taught it not to hit or steal? (This correlates to pacing, plot holes, and matters like grammatically-inconsistent style usage.) You may think I am stretching the metaphor too far, but if you examine the public presentation and manners of your writing, you will find a much keener awareness within yourself of what is there and what is lacking.

Victor, My Book Is Not A Kid!

I live next to a little girl who currently attends second grade. She has informed my little boy that she is really fifteen years old, and that she has a thriving rock-selling business that has garnered her gobs of money. These fibs are somewhat charming, but have not alarmed me as a parent. Another boy visits the neighborhood to see his grandparents, and he has proved so destructive and personally malicious that my children are no longer allowed out when he is around (he has a habit of luring younger children out of bounds, and teaching them to throw big rocks).

Where Ya Goin’ With This, Victor?

Let us imagine that our neighborhood boy and girl are novels, complete with their respective behaviors. Now, we will look at how these behaviors may correlate to writing, and how attentive editing, and a mind to the manners of your work, can result in perfectly appropriate prose.

Examples

Bad Writing (ill-mannered child):

Drav was the most heroic man in the whole world; in fact, even the monsters in the Wilkren hills feared him. Drav’s name was even a curse word for most of the elvish people, who had learned to hide in their tree homes whenever his shadow darkened the green grass of their province. Drav was taller than a horse, and his pet dragon, Blackwing, ate maidens whenever Drav wasn’t looking. The story of Drav’s greatest exploit starts in a wind-swept plain of the icy mountain, where he had gone to hunt baby ice-birds for their glorious wings. We join him now at the dead of sunset, crouching low over a hillock of snow and ice, glaring with steely nerves at a grouping of the creatures.

Meh Writing (harmless lies):

Drav hoisted his spear over his shoulder, and examined for the fifteenth time the tiny specks in the distance that he was sure were baby ice-birds. They never left their nest this late; he thought they may have been abandoned by their mother. Teeth flashed in his mind. He imagined a snow-tiger mawing hard on the graceful neck, blood staining both snow and feathers. Drav crept forward through the snow. He had promised to himself to obtain at least two fluffy corpses before the night was out, and they will scatter when he flings the weapon. His steps lay behind him, a mosaic pressed into the harsh ground of the unforgiving climate that threatened life here.

Good Writing (well-behaved child):

The ice-birds rolled in the loose snow; their glittering blue feathers sparkled like jeweled robes in the twilight. Drav hung behind a snowbank, his right arm steady and his eyes fixed on the bathing babies. The little ice-birds smashed their extravagant feathers into the powder before flaring their wings to each side, casting snow out in clouds around them.

Drav’s heart had slowed; his arm loosed the spear, which arced through the air and pierced straight through the heart of the largest bird.

As the others tumbled wildly into the air, their plumage throwing flashes of iridescent blue over the snow, Drav stepped over the ridge of snow and drew his throwing knife.

Editing Is Hard Work That You Can Do

Many people regard editing with a superstitious fervor, but it is a matter of manners and public discretion. If you have the sophistication and discernment required to guide a small child into behaving with appropriate decorum in a public place, you have the skills required to edit your novel. If you don’t know any persnickety, but fair, readers, find one and spend time talking over books with them until you can predict their complaints and their reactions. If all of this sounds impossibly difficult, resign yourself to spending a great deal of money. Remember, if you can spend the time and energy writing a wonderful novel, you can also expend the time and energy to learn to shape it into good form.

You’re reading Victor Poole. My editor loves this book. My imaginary dog, Fifu, wants you to buy and read this novel today.

 

The Best Way To Write A Fantasy Series

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I’ve been working on the Ajalia story for nineteen years. I just finished writing and editing the first part of the story a couple of months ago, and I’m working now on the second (and third) parts. What, you might ask, is the first part?

Graduated Levels Of Immersion

Well, the first part is Ajalia’s story. She is the heart of the beginning, and the core thread around whom everyone else revolves. She is, of necessity, the foundation, and had to be finished first.

A Genius Move

So Ajalia is written in a way that caused one of my beta readers to exclaim, “I don’t think this is a suitable story for fantasy!” Because, you see, there are none of those glorious frills, those diverting excursions into excessive detail, or fantastical costumes and inheritances, that are often a part of fantasy.

Why, you may ask, did I write such a plain story?

Toot Toot!

Ah, my dear stranger, the story is not plain. It is a work of genius, if I do say so myself. Ajalia, you see, is a unique person, and the narrative is written from so deep within her perspective that the story unfolds and mirrors her emotional experiences. It is a fine piece of work; you will be sucked so far into the experience she is going through that you forget it is happening. It is immersive performance at its finest.

The Next Part

There are other, very interesting, but necessarily tertiary characters in the world Ajalia inhabits. This is where the fun part comes in. Ajalia had to be written first, because she is the core of the story, and the heart of the world. Because Ajalia’s experiences are so immersive, and so particular to her perspective, many wonderful parts of the world and characters are necessarily left out.

Igag, Isacar, Mop, And Ocher

But now that she is written down, the whole of the universe around her is open, like a wondrous playground of cultures, individuals, and magical things. I have been developing the languages in and around Slavithe for many years, and the culture and traditions of the world as well. I am ready now to start playing.

What Do You Mean By Playing?

You know, all the fun parts of fantasy, the languages, and the poetry, and the arcane details of magical processes. Ajalia is an outsider to Slavithe, and was never privy to the magical secrets of her Eastern masters. She never believed in magic until her experiences forced her to admit that it was real. As the first stage is completely immersive, magic does not appear until the ending of the first novel, and does not become a major part of the story until the third book.

Gosh, Victor, No Magic? Pish!

Ah, but it pays off, my good stranger. Boy, does it ever pay off. By book six, the series is about as saturated in magic as can be. Now that I have finished the writing and editing work for stage one, I am entering the really fun part of working on the story of this world.

Writing From The Perspective Of Characters Who Already Know About Magic

Mmm. So satisfying. Granted, you can’t write like this unless you’re committed to the long haul. I, however, am. : )

You’re reading Victor Poole. Stage one begins here. Today is Thursday, and this is book six.

Are Denial And Cluelessness Blocking Your Fiction?

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Midway through my small-time directing career, I worked with a young woman named Sarah. She wanted to be a writer. I believe she was interested in becoming a novelist; she had a degree in English and wrote essays for her blog.

Sarah, A Blogger

Sarah was an oddly-blank young woman; her work was bland and noncommittal. She acted in that particular way that casual hobbyists act, without fear or pride. Her writing, which she was deadly serious about, lacked merit.

She Wanted To Write Important Novels

Sarah liked my way of working a great deal; she wanted to learn how to apply my performative principles to her writing, because she wanted to be a wealthy and famous novelist someday. She saw how my teaching transformed the serious actors into legitimate contenders in the art form, and she came to me several times asking how she could improve her approach to writing.

What Was Wrong?

Sarah needed a top-to-bottom renovation in her approach to writing. Her energy was so stale, and so indifferent, and she was so out of touch with the reality of her position and circumstance in life, that it was as if her thought was never able to fully brush against the page.

Writing That Floats

Her words were hollow, or at the best, inflated with sentimentality, assumed clarity, and pretentious ignorance. I worked with Sarah several times on her writing, and she began, very slowly, to come up against the fact that her craft was going to take second place to her life choices unless she made some serious changes to the way she had arranged her life.

How Did She Float?

Let’s look at some of the main areas in which Sarah’s situation blocked her ability and stunted her innate capacity to create.

  1. Sarah came from a grossly-enmeshed culture of myopic religion with a family-before-all mindset. She was almost wholly absorbed in a large family of origin that vacationed together, overshared financial details together, and interfered freely in each other’s dating and married life.
  2. Sarah had been saturated, from birth, with an innate belief in her rightness and goodness as a female. She had been, as it were, brainwashed with the idea of womanly superiority and moral character. In a sense, Sarah worshipped herself. In this, she lacked any perspective whatsoever, and passed judgement on any and all persons who did not live up to her inflated and grossly-inaccurate ideas of morality and justice.
  3. Building upon the second point, Sarah had no conception of the inner life of man. She had no inner life herself, and had been taught that males exist solely to serve the whims of virginal females. Her ideas of sexual purity and gendered obligation were deep and entrenched.

There were issues beyond these, but these three points are the main areas in which Sarah attempted, and failed miserably, to translate her lived experience into functional fiction.

What Is Functional Fiction?

Fiction works when it connects to the inner life of the receiving party; Sarah could not connect to any other person’s inner life without taking into account the place from which she was beginning.

Sarah Didn’t Take Her Life Into Account

Reality is the starting point, the launching pad, from which actual fiction comes. If you are in ignorance or denial of your circumstances, your fiction, however labored-over, will not function, because your audience will find no live human energy to connect to within the work.

Where Are You Now?

Look at your life; look at your origins. If you are hiding from your circumstances, or inflating your importance, your fiction will suffer for it. If you have divorced yourself from reality, you will find yourself incapable of commenting productively upon reality.

You’re reading Victor Poole. My books are here. Today, Thursday, is the day upon which Vellum releases their hopefully-amazing print edition.

Upcoming New Release!

second queen small

Watch For My New Book, Coming Soon!

This is my novel that will be coming out in just a little while. I’ll price it at 99 cents for the first week when it comes out (and I’ll warn you before I raise the price).

Origins Of The Second Queen (By Me)

Several years ago, I had an idea, which was this:

My Idea:

What would happen if you had a collection of small, feudal countries near each other, and the king of one country died and left behind a widow with two children too young to inherit, and the widow, to protect herself, married with a neighboring king in a formal marriage (purely to protect her sons), but then fell in love with the man, and he with her.

What A Triangle!

I wanted to know what would happen to the original marriage between the bigamous king and his queen, and how the second wife, the second queen, would navigate the relationship and protect her children’s inheritance and character.

(Psst, There Are Dragons In This Book)

Claire is the second queen, and this book is the story of what happened.

You’ve been reading Victor Poole. I wrote a series of fantasy novels that integrate your energy field (you’ll feel bursts of rage while you read; that’s healthy, and means it’s working!). Friday is obviously the clearest choice for picking up My Name is Caleb; I am Dead, which contains a buxom young lady wearing a pink belt and a hammer thrust through the loops.

The Complaining McBitcherson’s Guide to Shifting Priorities

 

I was telling a coworker once about how my dad wanted to sleep with me (my father has secret and pathetic dreams of being a pimp), and the guy, who wanted to go into medicine but was working fast-food while he was in school, stared at me with the strangest expression on his face.

Victor, Where Is Your Personal Filter?!

I couldn’t tell if he was appreciating his not-so-dysfunctional life, or if he was trying to figure out why I looked so normal (look at me! I’m the poster child for resiliency!).

No Really, I Am

Then he got sort of sober, and put his knife down (because kitchen, you know), and said, “Victor, you’re a good person.”

Well, Thanks, Awesome Co-worker!

I adopted a couple of twenty-somethings (they were near my age at the time), and made sure they weren’t going to do anything supremely stupid while they were transitioning into I-don’t-live-with-my-abuser-anymore mode. I count the one kid as a win, because I got him through his suicidal phase (he’s got emotional tools now, so I think he’ll be fine–severely emotionally blocked, but not dead), and the other kid is at least aware now of the extent of the interpersonal abuse, which is sort of progress.

Silly Victor, You’re Too Young To Adopt People!

I don’t think I’m ever going to have friends (aside from my gold-star spouse), because the people who have been misused as extensively as I have are too screwed up to have friends. I stopped having a social life a few years ago, because I was spending so much time fixing other people’s dysfunctional patterns of relating to others that I never got around to looking at my own.

Bah! You Hypocrite!

I’m really good at fixing people. Ah, the sweet hubris of youth, right? But I am.

Whatever You Say, Victor

I have a closeted abusive uncle (he married a religious woman and pumped kids out like a pneumatic factory of squishable humans) who has a doctorate. I remember being at some large gathering (before I was old enough to cut the fuckers off) and hearing him talk about how professional graduate degrees are like a holding tank for age, because no one wants to listen to a squeaking eighteen-year-old prodigy diagnose their life ills.

What Do You Mean, Closeted?

I used to feel sorry for my siblings (because they’re all too dumb to realize they should get out); then I got older, and they turned out badly, and married equally-miserable abusers. They are, altogether, a miserably-enmeshed group of psychos.

You’re Really Judgmental, Victor Poole

I turned out well (and married a good person), but I’m tired. Fuckety McFuckerson, but I’m tired.

You Are Swearing A Lot Today, Aren’t You?

All of this to say, I may or may not be writing regularly on my blog while I sort out my own life ills. I am giving myself permission to miss blogging days. If you get a deep hankering for more of me, I wrote the series about Ajalia for just such a time. (Because I’m so damn tasty, I know.)

You’re reading a blog by Victor Poole. There are beautiful trees and interesting animals in these fantasy books. Tuesday is a remarkably-apt day to pick up Harder Than Rocks.

Should You Work Really Hard Or Coast When You Write?

A lot of people (okay, almost all of them) believe that writing is really, really difficult. When you go looking for inspiration, or encouragement, the ranks of writers, amateurs, and in-between professionals shout out a pretty unanimous chorus of “It’s SOOOO hard, you have no idea!” Then they add in, snidely, I am sorry to say, that you will probably not succeed, and that you better be writing because you love it, and not because you want to get anywhere as an author.

Ahem.

I shall now mount up on my soapbox (which is made out of wood, and painted with block red letters: Freshie’s Wholesome Soap: Gets Anything Clean!) and speak in a motivating manner to you, kindly internet stranger.

Isn’t Writing Really Hard?

Writing is easy. Performance is hard. Building a competent, grounded world-view, and a functional set of internalized morals, is time-consuming and usually painful. But writing, the actual act of sitting down and telling a story, or outlining and then following your plan, is remarkably easy. This, I think, is why there is so much angst and confusion among writers who try and fail to succeed.

Yeah, Well What Do You Know, Victor?

I actually know a lot. I’m probably the most competent energy analyzer you’ll ever encounter (I know, that sounds like a made-up title to make me sound interesting, doesn’t it?). But for the sake of (brief) argument, I’ll list out some of my qualifications. Eh, on second thought, I’ll just tell you what I was going to tell you. (If you care, trawl back through my blog history; you’ll get an accurate picture that way.)

You’re A Weasel, Victor Poole!

Squeak, squeak (or whatever noises weasels make). Oh, I went and saw the new King Arthur movie; it was really good. If you like epic fantasy, get thy backside to a theatre and see it on the big screen; the elephants are magnificent.

Tell Me About How Writing Is Easy

I know, I just love to hear myself talk. Back to writing! Most people don’t understand the transaction between a writer and a reader, and consequently, when the writer takes up the pen, metaphorically speaking, and composes a piece for sale, he or she often fails entirely to hit the mark. It is generally a failed effort precisely because of a larger issue, like a lack of consistent moral framing, or a blocked personal energy carriage (such as a capped pelvic cradle, or an infected energy mask behind the face). These problems are not acknowledged as real in mainstream society, and so the would-be author applies him or herself diligently, and repeatedly comes up against failure.

Actually, I’ve Seen That Happen, Too

It is a fairly ubiquitous experience, the seeing of the would-be artist flailing forever in apparent mediocrity. Talent cannot compensate for dysfunctional performance, and passion and hard work will never replace the value of a coherent value system. All the writers, save a very few, are looking in the wrong direction, and they feed within each other the belief in “the death of art,” or the “decline of the modern reader,” or even of “the way e-books have jaded all readers forever because there are too many books!”

But All Of Those Things Are Happening

No, they aren’t, but it would take me months of delving through your particular energy-carriage to convince you of this fact, or to change your flow.

Now I’m Offended! I’ll Leave Your Blog!

Cool beans, fellow internet-being, cool beans. But remember that soon, soon I will be validated, because my own flow structure will be completed, and I will conquer, as it were, the English-speaking world. (You know, until I start working with translators.)

You’re So Cocky! I Can’t Stand It!

Go to a writing advice forum, or a critique site. Or go to any internet space, or any physical book on publishing or writing from a library, and read for a bit. If you look very carefully, you will find one percent of successful writers (as in, writers who make a living from making words) who openly admit that they work very little on their writing. You will find these same one percent writers openly admitting to lying about working harder, and you will hear a seemingly-endless barrage of advice from successful writers all saying the same types of things:

  • It’s really hard
  • Almost no one “makes it”
  • You’ll never make money
  • Do it for love
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Are They All Lying?

It’s okay, they have to lie. Actors do this, too. When they’re young and naive, successful actors tell the truth, but they swiftly learn that to be honest in a performing career is very foolish. Telling the truth generally gets you yelled at, harassed, and shunned by other workers in the art world.

Aren’t You Telling The Truth, Victor?

When you approach your writing, think carefully. Are you focusing on the areas of your work that are weak, or are you running in circles around low-impact craft-improving zones? Because if it’s the latter, you’re not going to see as much progress as you’re hoping for.

You’ve been reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. My books will be live and beautified in the next few days, so wait to buy them. Scientists say that reading Intimate Death on Wednesday is good for your psychological health.

Should You Click On This Blog Post?

Intimate blood v.2

I wrote this book. It’s a novella, really.

I was having a crisis about my fantasy novel (I know, I get emotional when I’m being creative), so I took a short break and wrote this very fluffy piece of murder and revenge.

It’s completely different to anything I’ve written before, so I’m, ah, nervous about releasing it. If I psych myself up enough in the next few days, I’ll put it up for sale on the Kindle store.

But I think the cover looks pretty decent.

And here’s a fiction example, because I like you.

Bad Writing (Don’t Read This! It’s Really, Really Bad!):

My head ached, and the fancy light was so hard for me to bear without complaining. I wished I could have stayed unconscious for this part, because it was really uncomfortable, and I didn’t like it at all. My knees shook, and I observed what there was to see before everything went shadowed.

Her light never was there for long enough of a time for me to really enjoy the glow or see where it was coming from. The air was dusty, like I was breathing in the burst bag of a vacuum.

I was in a really big space, like a box, except it was a building, or it had been before everything had gotten explody and shardy. There were a lot of dead bodies around me, and their arms and legs stuck out from the carnage. Another bomb soared in a big arc over my head.

Then I felt sad, because I realized I was dying again, and I didn’t want to do this right now.

Good Writing:

I was not dead for long this time. The reanimating power surged from my kneecaps. Stupid place to keep her magic, I know, but I didn’t bring myself back to life. The lights around me flickered and spun through the heavy shards of glass and dust that fell, like crashing snowflakes, through the air.

I was in an industrial plant, and the workers, like me, had all died in the attack. I didn’t see what it was this time. The bombs were coming thicker these days, and it wasn’t as interesting to me to classify them as it had been in the beginning. I walked through the carnage of bodies, and the limbs that protruded from the ash and sand were like vicious thorns fallen from grotesque plants.

The whistle of a second missile arced through the air towards my face. I barely had time to grimace in annoyance before my body was blasted in the explosion.

As I died, the throbbing light in my mind blew away the shadows of the night; I knew I was going into the presence of my mistress.

The above is a bit from a story about Paul, who is a very interesting man. I’m working on the piece for a Scribophile contest.

You’ve been reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. My books, which are about to be updated, so don’t buy them yet, are here. Today is Tuesday, and I just purchased Vellum.