5 May 2012, Development - Terrible Writing
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
I'm writing about sources of historical research and how to make historical research. These apply to any novel or any subject you might wish to study. Here is a list:
1. Primary source documents or artifacts
2. Secondary source documents or artifacts
3. Tertiary source documents of artifacts
I wrote about secondary source documents yesterday--I'll get more in depth about them later. Today, I wanted to define tertiary source documents, but I'm not--here is a free rant.
As a constructive help to the industry, I try to point out serious problems in writing when I see them. I wrote before that I keep tabs on indie and new artists' writing, and I check it out if the blurbs are good. I saw a novel on an Amazon historical writing discussion that sounded wonderful. I won't get into too much detail because I don't want anyone other than the author to know. The novel sounded interesting and fun. The subject sounded great. The blurb was well written and advertised the novel well--so I went to Amazon and "looked inside." How do you say, great concept, horrible execution. The author broke nearly every basic rule for writing good literature. I could get past the bad execution in the beginning. There was a list of characters--that's okay for a bestseller, but just too cutesy and wasted space for a regular novel. There was a preface that went on for pages telling us all about the history of the time--boring and worthless. There was a prologue--ignored it, worthless. Then I hit the novel. I thought that the writing in the prologue might have been an error or just a little license--the author wrote the prologue in the present tense--did you get that, the prologue was written in the present tense. That drove me crazy, but it didn't prepare me for chapter one. Chapter one was written in the present tense. I think the whole novel was written in the present tense. Don't write any novel in the present tense. Only conversation should be in the present tense. Perhaps this person has never read a work of fiction before. Don't write fiction in the present tense. Is that clear. Not even James Joyce was foolish enough to do that.
Listen, there is a reason why your novels are not picked up by publishers, and this is one of them. A good editor or publisher would tell you, a novel in the present tense will not sell. As far as all the other gunk at the front, people want to make their novels look like the cutesy best sellers they see in the trade press. Most of the time, this kind of stuff won't sell. I shouldn't have to say, but the novel I looked at was self published. There is no way it will ever get published as it is, and the sad part is the author implies that this is the beginning of a series. God help us. I've written before about the problem with people of limited writing experience self publishing bad novels. Remember this rule--don't even think about self publishing until you have about 1 million words of experience--period, dot. After a million words, you might have the skill to write a novel--until then, there is a great risk that you will just embarrass yourself.
I'll write about sources and the study of history, tomorrow.
I'll explain more about tension and first scene development. I'll talk about characteristics that make a bad first scene/chapter eventually.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.