From the web: Reading Level of Writing

So I am cruising through entries in an FB group “Writing Fiction”, using my best procrastination techniques and I come across this blog entry from Shane Snow, “This Surprising Reading Level Analysis Will Change the Way You Write”. This article talks about how many of our great writers write at a middle school level for readability. This translates into higher comprehension and more enjoyment for the reader.

Basically don’t try to write to impress with big words that takes the average reader out of the story. If they have to try and understand the words then it is work and not fun.  The goal is to make it easy for the reader to comprehend the story and then visualize the action in their minds.  Make it easy for the reader to get into the story and stay there for as long as they are reading it.

Makes sense, right?

It is much more enjoyable to use your imagination to see “Chief Grog, swings his mighty club and with a booming thud smashes the knight backwards. The man flies back into the cavern’s wall and crumples to the ground.”

Than something like: “The leader of the orc tribe, Grog, uses a cudgel, in a round house swing, to impart a massively kinetic blow to the chest region of the hapless armored knight.  The forward momentum of the knight was viciously reversed, resulting in the man being thrown backwards, into the wall with bone crushing force.”

For many the second passage might be just as easy to understand. Some might even like the additional detail but it also takes more away from the imagination because it actually details more thoroughly what is happening. This additional detail, with the use of some words that might not be common enough, could stop the flow of the story for the reader and force them to confront the literary reality of reading a story, than living it.

I have read many blogs and articles talking about how the writer should just say enough to give the read the foundation to create the picture in their mind. I like this goal of striving for low detail scenes, for the reader to flesh out.

Well with so much energy going into a blog entry, I should be able to bust out the last few passages of book 1 of my trilogy.  Have a great weekend!

Log Lines for My Projects

So I have hit a writer’s block on my “When Atlantis Fell” novel. Instead of continuing to stare at the screen and hope the novel will write itself, I decided to try something else.

I have a few projects I am working on. Mostly at lunch, when I am bored of the Atlantis story or when I day-dream about the one of the stories and I just have to write something.

My exercise today will be around Log Lines. Why not try out a few log lines for each of the current works. A log line being a short 20-60 word description for the story. These are the first things that agents and producers would look at.  For many folks, consider it the elevator pitch.

While most of these are not ready for prime time, if any of them really strike you, please let me know.  Maybe the Atlantis stories are not the ones I should be primarily working on.

Title: When Atlantis Fell    (trilogy)

Book 1: A squadron commander becomes the unlikely leader of a break away colony from war ravaged Atlantis. The problem is Atlantis is not willing to let go and sends his rival to hunt him and the rebels down.

Book 2: The rebuilding of Atlantis brings about the death of many old ways. Some in the military believe that includes the emperor and the remnants of those who pushed for peace. The fiery commander who chased down rebels, will now lead the fight with the old guard.

Book 3: With the destruction of Atlantis and the new government installed at Luxa, the job of hunting down and retaking the rebel colonies is given to Jana. The rebels know Luxa will not let them go and decide to band together to attack Luxa before they are too strong.

Title: WormHole Earth Universe, no title yet.

She was just an astrophysicist working for the Explorer’s Guild, mapping out new star systems. Until she vaguely remembers discovering an alien race. Then her world becomes a desperate race to remember what happened and, hopefully, why someone wants to kill her.

Title: Empire Earth – working title.

Earth’s supposed friends are not so friendly, as found out by a young scientist on his way to a galactic academy for new space faring races. Unable to mind his own business, the scientist struggles to find a way to get a message back to warn Earth.

Title:  Saviors

They came and slapped Earth into order. They taught us many technologies and let us explore the nearby systems. Then the truth came out. They were running from a more powerful race and we were just cannon fodder to slow the enemy down. Until we decided not to be.

Title: The Last Artist

In the world of Kotor, artist can create masterpieces of magical power. Each one takes part of their soul and after the last one is made, they die. In time, unscrupulous nobles made artists create masterpieces for them with no concern for the artist’s life. So they went into hiding. One young swordmaker was discovered. He and his companions decided to stand and fight rather than run and hide.

Another Idea for Writing

How to get my works seen by as many people as possible?

I think this is a question that many writers face. The more you try to market your book the less time you have writing the next one.  Of course, the more you write, the less chance others will see your work. There are just too many choices out there.

You need to write a good story, have an eye-catching cover and tons of good luck.  What else can help?

Well, a marketing plan helps. Getting your book in front of as many people as possible helps. The more that see your work the more chance of having someone purchase your book. It is getting people to see your book, that is the hard part.

I am not an internet marketing genius and kinda lazy to boot. I have tried to build followings on Twitter or Facebook but do not seem to have much success. So I wanted to try another way.

I have submitted my story (revised) to Hollywood to see if that works. So far that isn’t working either. It is still only a few weeks since I submitted my query letter, so not sure where that leaves me. I thought that if I can get someone to go for my story, I might be able to sell more books.  That still might work but maybe in the future.

One of the things I have read many times from many writers was to keep writing. Write more stories to get more chances for a reader to see your work. If a reader enjoys one book, there is a good chance they might buy another and another. I like this approach because I can keep writing. I still need readers to find my stuff among all the others but this is more what a lazy person like me would enjoy.

Taking a note from a youtube video from S. J. Scott about using Kindle Publishing, the goal is to produce a lot of books and share the news. What I plan on doing with this idea would be to keep writing my full length novels but also take time to create shorter novellas/novelletes about some of the background histories.

With Atlantis and the Wall of Destruction, I mention that Atlantis has been around for 30,000 years. That is plenty of events to write about in short stories or novellas. I will take some of these stories and turn them into 20-60 page booklets that I can put out via Kindle Publishing. They will have under one dollar pricing and will refer back to the major novels.

Hopefully, if people like these stories, then they will continue to buy other stories of mine.  These smaller booklets will be part of my marketing plan to get readers to read the larger novels. I believe this strategy is something that many writers could do. Many probably have additional stories or plot lines that they removed from the published novel because of one reason or another. If afterwards, they develop those stories, then they could create additional income streams and have multiple chances for readers to see their work.

To summarize. Do no just write a story. Create the world and build around the main story you want to tell.  Use these other stories to add to your marketing efforts. On the ocean of books to read, one book is but a small ripple to notice. Many books becomes a wave that gets noticed.

From the web: Make unbelievable stories feel real

Strolling through the LinkedIn’s  Writers Hangout group, I found a post by C.S. Laskin, on her blog Live Write Thrive.  How Novelists can make unbelievable stories feel real, is a guest post by Michael Hauge.

He discusses how it is best to create a story where characters act like real people, even if in a fantasy setting. This will increase the believability of the story, as people can relate to the characters or problems they face. Even if the bully is a 15 foot giant.

The major points I got are:

1) Ground the normal character actions in stuff we would do even if surrounded in fantastic elements.

2) Never have an all powerful hero/character because hard for anyone to get connected and of course, what does the story really tell, if there is nothing he/she can not do.

3) Try to keep the fantasy items to a minimum to allow the reader/viewer to follow and understand these things without becoming overwhelmed.  Too many fantasy items all going on at the same time tends to confuse the audience and this add to the disbelief in the story.

A very good read, please check it out and use for your own stuff.

A little short story: For Me?

Here is something I did up for someone dear to me.  Hope you like it. Please let me know if you like.

For Me?

Tanya, a beautiful white swan, swam casually on the calm lake. Not always in the company of the other swans, Tanya liked to go her own way. She loved to go to the burbling pond on the other side of the lake because it was peaceful and many animals came there to drink. She loved to watch the other animals, wondering what their life was like.

Gliding effortlessly into the burbling pond, Tanya saw a duck, fish diving in the pond. Smiling and curious she moved towards the duck.

Hello, friend duck, you are wasting your time, there are no fish here.” Merrily she said.

Starring at her. the duck stopped, mesmerized by her beauty. Then quickly recovering. “Hello beautiful lady, there are, if you know where to look.”

No no, friend?????” She queried.

Jaime, my lady, and you?”

My name is Tanya. It is a pleasure to meet you. And you are teasing me Jaime, no?”

Would I tease such a beautiful swan?” Jaime asked innocently.

I think you would.” she giggled. Tanya thought, he is cute in a duck sort of way.

Yes, you are right. But truthfully, there are fish here if you look the right way.” With that Jaime, dove and in seconds came up with a small fish in his bill. Tossing the fish in the air towards Tanya.

Tanya caught the fish and with wide eyes. “That was incredible. And such a delicious small fish. Thank you Jaime.” She plunged into the water.

She came up, but with no fish. “Where are they? Are you tricking me? I did not see anything.”

Jaime laughed, “It takes time, my dear. You have to learn how to look and where to look.” He looked down, then dove. Coming up a few seconds later to flip another small fish to Tanya.

After swallowing the second delicious prize, “Will you show me how to do?”

Of course, it would be my pleasure.” Jaime cheerfully responded. “First you need to learn to see like a duck.”

See like a duck? How do ducks see?” She asked, honestly perplexed by his statement. Of course we see the same thing, right?

Look at that tree over there. The one that fell down. What do you see?” he asked.

Tanya looked at the tree. Of course it was a tree but she figured he wanted a different answer. She studied it for a minute and then smiling, said. “I see a tree. A home to many animals and bugs. I see the smaller birds and rabbits making homes in the wood or under it. I see insects crawling over it, termites eating it and mushrooms growing on it.” She finished feeling proud of her insight.

Wow, that was wonderful. I never thought of it that way. You truly have a different insight to the world.” He looked at her with admiration. “I am so happy I met you Tanya. You have taught me something today. Thank you.”

She smiled and blushed with his praise. Then tilted her head and gave him a look, “Okay now your turn Jaime. What do you see.”

A tree.” He said. Then she started to flap her wings in protest. He laughed and said, “Okay Okay, I was just teasing.”

She smiled. She was starting to like Jaime. He was not like the other swans or ducks that she met. He was funny. She shook her head then looked at him. “I am waiting.”

Clearing his throat, flapping his wings and then concentrating on the tree. Making a big show of things, in a comical way.

I see…. A sapling, small and delicate, stretching to get to the light. Slowly growing taller and stretching further and further from the ground. I see that young tree delighting in the squirrels and birds that rest on his branches. Being irritated by the rabbits that burrow under his roots but not overly, enjoying the little rabbits bounding over and under his base. I see that young tree grow older. Standing tall among its fellow trees. Feeling the breeze run through his branches. The sensual rains brush his leaves like the kiss of a lover’s gentle lips. I see an older tree, standing tall among his younger neighbors, enduring the cold of winter as he has done so many times before. Now blocking the ice cold winds from the sweet young trees around him. I see, now the wise old tree, despairing of another winter. Knowing his time is short on this wondrous earth.” Then quietly, “I see that great old tree, losing his fight to stay upright. Falling to the ground and hitting hard. Slowly, having his life drain away as the leaves and twigs flutter to the ground.”

That was beautiful.” Tanya said. She leaned over and nuzzled him with her bill and they floated there together, saying nothing and looking that the tree. Both seeing the tree in the way the other saw the tree. They stayed there until the sun started to go down.

I must go.” Tanya said.

I know, but I wish you would not.” Jaime whispered.

I will come again tomorrow.” Tanya promised and with another nuzzle she glided away.

Watching her glide away across the pond in the failing light. He whispered, “Could a swan love a duck.”

From the Web: 4 Self Publishing Problems and their Solutions

An interesting article from Author’s Publish

This article, written by Chantelle Atkins, is pretty spot on. Self-publishing is easy but has a downside as well. It is hard to get in front of readers. Spending money on editing, cover art or marketing seem to be a wise choice, if you can afford it but none of that guarantees your book will sell.

From my research, it seems that having more than one book (preferably many) definitely can help your sales. I have seen quite a few authors say that they do not use social media for more than announcing their books. They prefer to keep writing and put out more books.

I would say I tend to agree with them. I believe it takes a long time to build a large social media network. Yes, you can buy 10,000 followers for this or that but none of them are known to be interested in what you write about. If they are not interested then they might disappear, literally, overnight.

My plan is to use this blog and some social media to help get the word out. I will not blog all the time but try to get something out weekly, if I can. I am also trying to convert my book into a movie script. I think that the story is unique enough and hopefully developed enough to make into a movie.  Check out other posts on my blog to see how that is going.

As a newbie writer, I have no success to show if my plan works. Will this work for you? or will it even work for me? Nothing is ever guaranteed in life, except that nothing is guaranteed. If you are starting to write, then I would suggest you look at Chantelle’s article. Hopefully it will not crush your dream, just keep you from dropping everything and thinking you can make it easily.

Wall of Destruction Preview – Draft Version

Wall of Destruction Preview v1

Already well into writing the novel but thought I would include a preview. It is still a draft version but I would love to get some feedback.

To publish it will require professional artwork and editing. Even more if I try to have it translated. These costs add up, so I am considering crowdsourcing. I have investigated some of the crowdsourcing sites and it seems that Indiegogo is the best international service. So comments will be invaluable.

My goal for now will be to publish it electronically.

Why is Wall of Destruction my first book?

DSC02606A few years ago I picked up a book by Graham Hancock called “Fingerprints of the Gods” that changed the way I thought of history. I have been a history nut since my school days but in this book Mr. Hancock challenged the orthodox views of how civilization progressed. I was hooked.

Many of the arguments made sense to me and I started reading more from Mr. Hancock and others that wrote of similar views. One of the biggest challenges to these views was, “where is the evidence?” Many things mentioned by these writers had little corroborating information or not enough to stir the archaeological community to further investigate.

Where is the evidence? Maybe in the ocean. Since the last ice age, sea levels have risen over 150 feet globally. Large swaths of land that used to be shore side are now under tens or hundreds of feet of water. The Persian Gulf used to be a river valley, Florida used to be about twice its size, Sundaland was a landmass that included large swaths of Southeast Asia and the Gulf of Mexico was half its size and more a bay with small waterways connecting it to the Atlantic Ocean.

Then you look at human nature and you notice that we really love to build cities near the coast or along rivers. We always have. Almost all ancient cities were near bodies of water because we need water to survive. Especially nice places were river deltas, building a city as close as you can to a delta really gave you an advantage. The land is more fertile, you have access to the seas and trade. Just a sweet place to put down some roots.

Until the sea levels rise that is. Once the seas start flooding your crops or even your house, it tends to make the place uninhabitable and less desirous. Storms cause more damage and water gets caught in tidal pools that, due to stagnation, might cause disease and all that other fun stuff.

If you do have cities, you have specialization of skills. I myself am an IT engineer, not a farmer or hunter. I might have some of those skills or learn quickly but what if I am dropped into an area without more than I can carry? If I left in a hurry, did I bring an axe? food? water? clothes? If I did, did every one else? Will I have to fend off other starving people for the food and tools I did bring? If I am fending them off, can I continue to feed myself?

Leaving the environs of a city quickly might also cause the loss of industry and the devaluing of specialization. Can you make the tools you need or did the tooling systems you require sink with the city? Could you even stay in large, organized groups? Might you have to break up into smaller and smaller groups to have a chance to feed your group? Non-survival skills then become unused and eventually forgotten.

How could a civilization die? I think these could be causes of an advanced society reverting to hunter gatherers. Just need to find some evidence of city remains. The cool thing is they are starting to look in the oceans and are finding things that are questioning the current story of man.

This is one of the premises in Wall of Destruction, a “When Atlantis Fell” saga. Something happens to cause the cities to be abandoned and the survivors need to learn to “go native” to survive. As this is a book of fiction, I also took the liberty of using stories of Atlantis and other ancient  tales to build my civilizations.

I will add more about it in the coming posts.