November 6, 2011 in Dag

R.B. Wood – Writing that Stands Out from the Crowd

Today is a special even here at Dag-Lit Central. I’m proud to be hosting my first visitor, Mr R.B. Wood. He’s dropping in here as part of his Magical Mystery Blog tour to talk about what he believes makes a story stand out from the crowd.

So without any further ado, over to Mr Wood. 

Writing that Stands Out from the Crowd 

When Jonathan agreed to host an article as a part of the Magical Mystery Blog tour celebrating the release of my book, The Prodigal’s Foole, he suggested that the subject for this essay be “Writing that Stands Out from the Crowd.”

I thought “Wow.  What a phenomenal subject.  Let me thing about that for a while.”

I spent a lot of time researching the subject, more so than I did when I first started the construction of my book.

What I realized is there are a lot of opinions on what constitutes exceptional writing.

So instead of citing writing methods like Snowflake or 1-3-1, Let me tell you what I find necessary for stand out storytelling.

Characters

Human beings are wonderfully flawed and complex creatures.  Characters should be rich in development, motivations, and history.  I spent nearly a year developing the main characters for The Prodigal’s Foole. I can tell you which character broke her arm when she was five (thus leading to the first instance of magic occurring in her life).  I know their fears and their triumphs.  I know how they each make love and I know their triggers.  They’ve become, in some sense, very real to me.

Make your characters three-dimensional.  It will be obvious to your eventual readers if you do.

Plot

I have to quote Stephen Covey here.  “Begin with the End in Mind.”  Where do you want to go?  What journey do you want to take your characters on?  What will they learn?  What kind of story do you want to tell?

That last question is key.  Be in love with the story you want to tell.  If for no other reason than you will write, edit and revise so many times before your book is finished, that if you don’t love your story, you’ll never finish.

I’ll give you a quick example.  Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes because, quite frankly, he was done with the character.  The Public was furious, so the author brought him back (being a good business man).  But if you read the Holmes stories post the great detective’s penultimate fight with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls, I think the stories are lesser in scope and impact.

My opinion, of course.  But I feel the same way about bringing Spock back after Wrath of Khan and the Star Wars prequels.  Fucking Jar-Jar Binks.

Anyway.  Map your story out,  How you do this doesn’t matter, whether you’re a pantser of a plotter—know where you want to go.

Research

Do your research.  If you are writing about Victorian England, read about the era.  And no, I don’t mean twenty minutes on Wikipedia.   A decade ago, I met a wonderful old gentleman.  In World War II, he had been gunner of a tank in the African campaigns.  I spoke with him for hours about many things, including his life in the war.

Read the prologue of my next book (included at the end of TPF)–I hope I captured our conversations and his experience.  Unfortunately he passed away some time ago so I’ll never be sure.

But my point is this.  The three things in my opinion that lead to a stand-out book are Character depth, a great story idea, and research.

Tie those things together, than you can worry about structure, grammar and those other things.

My two cents.

R.B. Wood 

R.B. Wood is a technology consultant and a writer of Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction and quite frankly anything else that strikes his fancy.  His first novel, The Prodigal’s Foole, is available now from Pfoxchase Publishing and other fine eRetailers.  Mr. Wood is currently working on the second book of his Arcana Chronicles series and is host of The Word Count podcast.

His Website/blog: http://www.rbwood.com

His Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/rbwoodwriter

His Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/rbwood

Links for The Prodigal’s Foole

Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/Prodigals-Foole-Novel-Arcana-Chronicles/dp/1936827336/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid;=1320359140&sr;=8-1

Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/Prodigals-Foole-Arcana-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B005WKF71U/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m;=AG56TWVU5XWC2

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/97139

Omnilit: http://www.omnilit.com/product-theprodigal039sfoole-615647-140.html

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12918243-the-prodigal-s-foole


Special Offer 

R.B. Wood has very generously offered to give away an e-copy of The Prodigal’s Foole to the most thoughtful response to his post.

Please leave your comments below – and make sure you include your email address so he can get in touch with you.

November 1, 2011 in Dag

The Free Economics of the Indie Author World

Today I’m going to say a few things on a subject which I really know next to nothing about. But then again, not knowing about things has never stopped me talking about them. So the subject of today’s post is economics.

I know, most people wouldn’t find economics to be the most interesting subject, but I’m fascinated by it. So much of our life is governed by it. Politicians, bankers, business-people are constantly spinning stuff about it and let’s face it, most of us don’t really have any idea whether what they’re saying is right or wrong. I even wrote a poem about it which I posted to this very blog, titled The Hunters.

Now I’m hoping that nobody who has actually studied economics reads this because they’ll probably tell me I’m totally wrong in every way. But I think there’s a few things about economics that can be learnt by the way the indie author community works.

My understanding of economics is it basically goes back to the ideas of Adam Smith back in the 18th century. His model of the free market was all about individuals pursuing their own self-interests. The baker only baked bread because he could make money, but thanks to him the village had bread to eat. The blacksmith only pursued his trade because it was profitable for him, but thanks to him horses were shod. And so on. Everybody was basically in it for themselves as an individual, but all of these individuals working together for their own benefit ultimately create a community.

Now I’m not going into the rights and wrongs of these ideas – I know it’s all hotly contested and I wouldn’t say I know anywhere near enough to offer an educated opinion. The one comment I will make is this seems to be a lot like the way the indie community works.

We writers are primarily involved because we want to sell books, but because we know we can sell better if we work with other writers, cross-promoting communities appear. And then there are all those bloggers. They’re not putting their blogs up for charity. Many of them are writers themselves, looking to increase their recognition. But even the ones who aren’t  have their own reasons for trying to generate traffic to their blogs. The result is that both writers and bloggers end up benefiting.

As a result of all these individuals looking to achieve their own ends, an amazing community has sprung up. A community of people who are open, friendly, and willing to do what they can to help fellow-community members. A true free market of indie authors and their colleagues.

Of course, in any community there are always those people who go out of their way to make that extra effort on behalf of others. I want to finish off this post by paying tribute to one of those people – my friend Donna Brown. Her fabulous event, Adopt an Indie Writer, begins today. Please join in, make yourself at home, and become part of the wonderful world of indie authors.

October 23, 2011 in Dag

Welcome to the House of Fun

Welcome to Dag-Lit Central, AKA the House of Fun.

In all of the locations to visit during the Trick or Treat for Ebooks, this is undoubtedly the least frightening, most utterly un-scary place on the whole hop. I guess you could say that I’m the little kid in the clown suit among all those witches and ghosts and ghouls – although come to think of it, I personally find clowns to be far more frightening than any of those other things.

But un-scary or not, I hope you’ll have a bit of fun while you’re here.

Today I’m going to be talking about bugs. I know, bugs can sometimes be pretty frightening. The big hairy kinds that walk over you while you’re asleep. The horrid, nasty flying things that crowd around you in cold, clammy places. Not to mention the nasty bitey, stingy ones that attack you on hot summer days.

No, the bugs I’m talking about are not scary bugs at all. They’re called Flidderbugs and they’re most definitely the silliest sort of bugs you could ever meet. Rather than doing proper “buggy” things like biting, stinging and otherwise frightening and bothering people, they spend most of their time having endless arguments about really pointless things – a bit like us actually.

Flidderbugs, of course, is also the title of the ebook novella which I’ll be giving away during the course of this blog hop. A number of readers have compared it to Dr Seuss (even though it’s not illustrated and it doesn’t rhyme), while others have described it as “fun, thought-provoking, and well written“, “refreshing and attention-grabbing“, and “apparently light, but profound“.

So if you’ve had enough of the spooks and spirits, grab yourself a copy of Flidderbugs. How? Just leave a comment beneath this post. Scariest comment wins a free copy. Funniest comment wins a free copy. Buggiest comment wins a free copy. Hey, I’m feeling generous – all comments will win a free copy.

Then check out the list below for all the other fantastically frightening blogs to visit during this hop. But before you do, please take the time to explore Dag-Lit Central a bit – there’s lots more fun stuff here.

All the best, and a fun-filled Halloween to you.

Final note – if you’re leaving a comment, please, please include your email so I can respond with details for how to download your free copy.

October 16, 2011 in Dag

The True Superheroes of the Writing World

A couple of months ago I did a post about supermodels. The gist of this was that it was utterly ridiculous for a group of people to be given the status of “super” merely for walking up and down wearing expensive clothes on their bodies and vacant looks on their faces.

This got me thinking a little bit more about who else we give the prefix super to. Obviously, the major recipients of this title are heroes. And superheroes really are great aren’t they. For someone who writes humor, the idea of characters with a particular “power” that makes them extraordinary is fantastic writing fodder. I’ve had several goes at it myself. One of the favourites of all the comedy sketches I’ve written is about Procrasto-man, a superhero who never quite gets around to saving the day. I also had a go at creating a clutch of dysfunctional superheroes for a writing assignment in a short story class – which you can read on this very blog. And who can forget the wonderful Bicycle Repair Man sketch by Monty Python – an all time classic.

Silliness aside, what other sorts of people could we think of as super? In my supermodels post, I talked about superteachers and superdoctors. All very good and worthy. But what about us writers? We do extraordinary things all the time. We create whole worlds that never existed before. We control the fates of people in those worlds utterly. And, with the stroke of a pen or the click of a computer keyboard, we’re always able to save the day.

But if we’re going to call any sort of writers super, I reckon the most deserving candidates are all of the indie writers out there. We’re the ones who have to be faster than a speeding publishing industry. We have to leap the tall barriers of the cultural gatekeepers in a single bound. We need x-ray vision to see through all those typos and grammatical errors in our manuscripts. And we’re constantly battling against mega-villains, like The Agent, The New York Publisher, and the Mainstream Media Reviewer.
So to all you indie writers out there – grab a cape, stash on your utility belts, and put your underwear on top of your pants. And lets keep on fighting for truth, justice, and the indie way.

And, just to finish off, and because I want to, here for your enjoyment is that classic Monty Python sketch.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxfzm9dfqBw]


October 9, 2011 in Dag

Of friends, memories, and old English teachers

Today was a pretty special day for my family. My dad just celebrated his 80th birthday. 

It was quite a big deal. Just about all of his friends were there as well as a bunch of family. It was amazing to see all of these people in the one room. These were people I had grown up with, but whom I hadn’t seen for years upon years.


As I looked around the room, I couldn’t help thinking about all the memories that were brought back seeing all of those familiar faces, not to mention the ubiquitous slide-show of family photos that now seems to be a standard fixture at all events of this nature. Recollections of lazy summer evenings, dinners and long-gone holidays were all brought back.


But there were a few faces in particular that had special significance for me today. My mum used to teach at the school I went to so among the friends present were a bunch of teachers. And not just any kind of teachers – these were my former English teachers.


So, of course, this meant that I got to casually sidle up to them and calmly mention that, “as it happens, I’m now a published author.” I have to say that it felt kind of cool (in a daggy sort of way). As long as they don’t actually go and buy the books. That would be terrible. No doubt I’d get an email the next day with the text of the books and lots of red crosses all over it. And we just couldn’t have that.


Definitely best to mention it in passing, and then quickly move on before they can ask for more information, so I can bask in the pleasure of thinking that maybe I didn’t turn out too bad after all.