The Editing Process

I often find that the hardest process of anything I write is the editing process. I realize how extremely difficult it is to change a work of art, you feel that you have perfected. As authors we have to be willing to take advice, and to change our wording around to make things flow more smoothly, which is easier said than done. I’m not going to pretend that I can change that or make it easier. However, as I go through the process of editing my Novella, there is some advice I can offer to attempt to make this process quicker and less painful.

#1- Do a good job the first time. This advice may seem obvious, but it is something that many authors often overlook. There is a balance between being able to articulate ones thoughts before they escape their head and being able to correctly articulate ones thoughts. Take enough time on the first draft that you feel as if, it could almost be ready to publish the next day if all grammatical and spelling errors were fixed. As you write your book or screenplay or whatever it may be, take the time to think through word usage and sentence structures. This may seem strenuous, but it will make for a less painful editing process.

#2- Avoid some embarrassment, and do a couple self-edits before turning it over to someone for editing. when I was doing my self-edits i realized some unnatural dialogue, and one chapter so poorly structured that an editor would have torn it to pieces. Make your changes before an editor gets the opportunity to suggest what they would do. This ensures more originality in the writing, and more tonal consistency.

#3- Choose your editor’s wisely. This one almost goes without saying, yet it’s importance can be overlooked. Don’t have your mom or your grandma edit your new book. It is important to chose someone who can be objective and equally important to chose someone who sees your potential and understands not only the genre of your writing, but also the themes portrayed through your writing. Maybe even consider , having multiple people give their advice. Not only will you get faster results, you will also get more accurate results.

#4- Keep your integrity. Editing is an essential step in the process, but you must remember that no one understands your writing better than you. Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you that your story is to dark, or the ideas portrayed through your novel are well represented, but a little out there. Many great writers are progressive thinkers, whose work and ideas were not appreciated until they were dead. Keep your voice in your novels and set a mood of some sort. The job of a writer is not to gain fame or money, it is to write a message to the world; It is to leave a legacy, in print. Whether or not the universe listens, it doesn’t matter. Better is the one who shares his wisdom with the world, though he may have little, than the man with much wisdom, who does not allow the world to view his treasure.

The Importance of Literature

There are thousands of different ancient cultures and every single one of them had a language, most even came up with some form of a written language. If communication wasn’t important than man wouldn’t have come up with language nor would have God confused the people’s language at the tower of babel. Nor would the have almost every different religion made some sort of holy book.  Literature is communication and perhaps the most effective form of communication, due to the fact that it needs not be repeated, It can clearly summarize a point, and it can last forever without it’s nature changing. The importance of literature does not mean that nothing else is important. It only proves to be an effective legacy and for authors it is our gift to the world that will be left behind.

Written Communication needs not to be repeated or remembered. It is concrete and can be passed to multiple different recipients and multiple different times. When speaking, speech is not always as well thought out and it is reserved for the ears of the present. As many copies of written communication that are made are as many different locations that a message can be understood at one time.

When speaking a person can only be so precise with their words, however when writing a person can be as precise as they like. Making certain, that they get as close to the right message across as possible. Written word also brings enjoyment and elongates our thoughts. It is impossible for any human to recite a four hundred page story from memory, let alone even fifty pages. Written literature assures a clear message that is told in the same exact way every time.

Perhaps most importantly literature leaves a legacy. It can be enjoyed thousands of years after an author has passed away. Many times an author’s work is not respected until after he is dead, because an author does not have to be alive to speak for his work. Good literature with a powerful message speaks for itself.

By making a written message, a person can literally make a creation that will change the world for  the rest of it’s existence. For these reasons humans should never stop righting and never stop reading.  The messages that man leaves behind is important and the messages that our generation leave behind are important. If each generation can draw a pound of wisdom from the last, each generation should inherently be ten times greater.

Self Motivation

It is difficult not to be complacent in areas we deem unnecessary. If there is no valid reason to perform a certain task, there should never be any expectation for any man to perform that task. With that said this post is for all humans, even those who have no interest in writing. Outer motivation is necessary for many men, there are very few who have the self-motivation to finish large projects on a timeline without sufficient outside pressure. An outline of how any human finds this sort of self-motivation is abstract. This type of motivation can best be found through reason, clear goals, and an undistracted environment.

It is extremely vital that people know the reason why they are doing certain things. If someone does not question the morality and purpose of things they do on a regular basis, they run the risk of becoming ignorant and lazy. It is perhaps more important for authors to question the purpose of what they are writing or doing than it is for the average man. The purpose for each different piece of writing varies slightly, but there are a few general intents in almost all writings which are similar. If a writer is able to keep in mind the end desire for their writing it is much easier to stay motivated. A chief function for a majority of literature, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, is to inform the reader. In fiction this may represent itself as informing the reader of an issue or idea; in non-fiction it would represent itself as informing the reader of an event or a way to do something. Another less prevalent purpose of most books is to make money. Last, it is important that a book or screenplay be created to be artistically successful and engaging. From a general perspective it is important to always know the reason for doing something so that one’s work might be more direct and purposeful, therefore increasing the quality.

After one has discovered the objective behind a certain task it is important that they set barely obtainable goals. These goals should be self made deadlines that are as flexible as a deadline for work or school would be. My personal goal has been to finish one big project by the end of each summer. For my forthcoming novel my goal is to finish the writing phase before May 2017.  My encouragement is to never let these self made deadlines sneak up. However, set aside time to work on these projects every week or maybe every day. As a fictional author it can be difficult to deal with these timelines. This is due to the fact that it can seem nearly impossible to speed up the creative process. This is a struggle I would personally not understand to it’s full extent. My advice towards those stuck with writers block is to avoid perfectionism. Force yourself to start typing, and get something down. By forcing themselves to continue on with the story a writer is awakening the creative juices and reminding their mind of the direction that a story needs to, or needs not to take.

Even with a perfect timeline, and self-drive, there are certain tasks that can only be done in a perfect environment. I have found that in order to work on an intellectual basis, I must completely free myself from the distractions of this world. An undistracted work environment looks different for all types of work, and all types of people. I personally have two environments that never fail to work for me. The first environment is for all work that is not creative writing. I close my door, put on music to overpower the sounds of the outside world, and sit down to work.The second method I use for all creative writing. I close my door, prop up some pillows on my bed, against the wall, and I lay upright on my bed typing on my laptop, completely oblivious to the world around me. When I write creatively I must be comfortable, and I must be so free from distraction, that I can almost put myself in the story. These are only methods I use, but neither of them would ever work if I didn’t turn off all social media, and throw my phone across the room.

In order to be completely self-motivated it is absolutely necessary to know the purpose behind all tasks, to set clear goals and to work completely undistracted. Doing these things looks different for every human. Figuring out how to do these things is a matter of experimentation. It is essential to learn how to work when no one is in your face telling you to do it.  It is also a lost art in modern day society.

 

Convincing Characters

It seems like an extremely daunting task to create convincing characters. However, creating convincing characters is essential to a powerful fiction, of any type. Satisfactory characters can be created through establishing convincing motives and a clear personality. These traits are as rewarding as they are difficult. Books and movies that create authentic characters entangle the mind in a fascinating way.

The initial step to establishing authentic characters, especially main characters, is to create plausible motives. There must be a central motive that drives every one of a story’s characters. This motive must be set up effectively or else it will not be psychologically convincing. In order to set up a characters motives, an author must dive into the human thought process, not forcing the character to reason like themselves, but instead pressing themselves to reason as their character would. These motives must be understandable to the common man, and also unique from the common man. I have never read a popular novel or watched a popular movie where I could not bring myself to understand why a character thought something. In order to create an understanding of the characters motives, an author must make all of his actions spring out of an understandable, not necessarily sensible, thought process.

Until a clear personality is created in the characters of a story, it is unable to flare to life. It is truly fascinating when an author creates characters that the reader literally feels like they know. To really understand how this works, It is essential to read classic novels that do this really well. It is difficult to explain exactly how a clear personality is created in a character, but there are a few results that will come from these great characters. First, a characters actions will always spring as directly from who they are. Second, a character with an established personality will leave the reader either wishing they were like that person, or wishing they will never become like that person. Most importantly, the readers should always hope that something bad happens to the character,  or that it all turns out good for the character. To me it is even more impressive when an author creates a truly despicable character, or a character that the reader knows is despicable, but they are still able to love that character. One of the best examples of a despicable character, driven by his cowardly personality is saving private Ryan’s corporal Timothy E. Upham, played by Jeremy Davies. This was a soldier who refused to shoot any of the opposing side, and ran from all war in the midst of the battle. There is a moment where he is cowering on the stairs and a German soldier slips up the stairs right past him because of his insignificance. The awesome sniper at the top of the stairs is brutally killed because Upham refuses to fight, and by the end of the movie every one hopes this coward will just die already. An amazing example of a lovable character that readers are able to feel like they truly suffer with when he is persecuted, is Winston from 1984. The best example of a lovable but despicable character, from any book I have read is the murderous Rodion Romanovich Rakolnikov, from Crime and Punishment.

In essence, it is essential to create characters that have convincing motives and unique personalities. There is no precise formula to creating these characters, yet the characterization is what separates an okay story from a great story. It is important to always remember as a fiction author that the main goal is to get the reader engaged and send a specific message to the reader. There is no better way to do this than through the actions of characters, and the the thought process defining those actions.

Establishing Themes

It is very important to establish convincing themes in any story. It is also extremely difficult to establish satisfactory themes in a story. In my personal experience, I have had a tough time not ignoring themes when I jump into a story. I also find that when I don’t think about the question “What is the point I am trying to get across?”, stories can easily bore the reader. I have found that in order to build a successful story the writer must first settle on a primary purpose and also some secondary motifs.

When writing a fiction work of any size it is important to first ask the question, “What is my main point in writing this?” If the main point of writing your story is to write a thrilling story, than a question you may ask yourself is “How can I make this story as suspenseful as possible?” However, no fiction work ever has been artistically or commercially recognized without at least one strong theme that it drives at. A main theme can be as simple as you want or as profound as you prefer. Lots of outstanding fiction movies, and books simply drive at Good vs. Evil as a main theme. Others may allude to problems in society. Some even analyze the functioning of human psychology. All great themes have one thing in common. They all make their readers question something deeply. In a thrilling action viewers typically ask the question “Are they really going to make the good lose?” It always seems like the good is to fail until the very end. After reading a book that deals with the problems in society, a reader may question”What does equality look like?” Authors can chose whatever main theme they like. I would just encourage them to ask whether their theme is original and it makes readers ask many questions.

Equally important are secondary motifs. In order to successfully create a secondary motif the same questions must be asked. It actually may not be as easy to come up with secondary themes. They must make sense in the context of the story and also be recognizable enough that they are not seen as identical to the main theme.  It is preferable for secondary motifs to go along with the main theme at the same time. They should not be so out of nowhere that readers are confused. For example, a reader should never have to ask why a work of fiction has a secondary theme on the importance of exercise when all the other themes detail problems in communist society. If you have to change the direction of you’re story just to fit in a random motif, please do not do it. My main advice in creating secondary themes is to use common sense and also not be afraid to think outside the box.

Ultimately it is extremely important to establish definite themes in a story. My first screenplay turned out to have far lower quality, for the reason that I did not consider thematic elements beforehand. Thematic elements help to drive a story plot forward and engage readers. Just by figuring out what the main point in writing a fiction is, writers increase the clarity and message of their writing. A novel with a powerful message literally has the potential to change the world.

 

 

Short Stories

I decided to give you guys a little treat. Instead of explaining writing short stories I decided to give you guys a really short story I wrote a year and a half ago. This story inspired me to write, The International Genocide, the book I am working on right now. I hope you all enjoy, and buy The International Genocide when it is released.

Manic Miss Takes

The switch stared at me intently, wondering if I was going to flip it or not. All I would have to do now is flip the switch and it would all be over. Years of careful planning would come to an end. The world would no longer treat me unjustly as it had before. I started to wonder what it would be like to be treated fairly in a world of my own. The comfort of soft white sheets on my queen bed embraced me. I was slowly drifting away into the reality that might soon be to come. Just before I was enveloped by this reality I heard a panicked knocking on my door.

Soon the knocking had come to a standstill, and I was unlocking my latched bedroom door. I stepped into a pool of warm blood; the blood of a young man who had been one of the men working for me, not too long ago. I recalled the ginger molasses cookies he made me every Christmas and the generous presents he bought me on my birthday. He had been a hope to me that there were still decent people in the world. I could see the miniature hole in the back of his head. The sight was just too much, I was forced to look away. After reaching the end of the hollow hall I now faced a dilapidated wooden door. I slowly walked outside into the bright sun of Cancun, Mexico. It was not the sun that blinded me, it was the sight of completely still tourists who had died tanning in the sun.

In my mental insanity, I had taken this too far. The original plan was to build  a kingdom of my own larger than that of the one I had hated so very much. I felt like I was always looked down upon by the rest of humanity and I was becoming bored of the world. My decision was to a new world. Over the course of many years microscopic bombs had been secretly installed in the heads of everyone over the age of two. The bombs were run electronically on a highly encrypted frequency. I couldn’t bear having destroyed six billion human lives instantly. I bent to my knees in the burning sand and pulled out a long sharp dagger. The dagger reflected the sun straight into my eyes as I blindly stabbed myself in the heart.

As I woke up I felt a searing pain in my chest. It couldn’t happen. Immediately I disconnected the bombs and turned off the server. I knew that I would most likely suffer the death penalty for my actions when I turned myself in. That didn’t happen. When I opened the door, I was immediately struck by a taser and dropped to the ground. Now I sit in a room with no doors, windows or lights; never to see human life again and never to see the light of day. I’ve gotten used to the dark though and that is why I write this account today: To make sure nobody goes down the same path that I have gone down.

Breaking Into Screenplay and Book Markets

It is no question to anybody that the screenplay and book writing markets are both extremely saturated. The only way to successfully break into either of these markets is mainly through quality writing or great marketing. This post will explain my opinion on a few effective ways to make a name for yourself in each of these two markets.

Especially in the screenwriting industry it is important to have writing that is not only quality, But also is formatted to industry standards. To figure out how to format a screenplay to industry standards, I would recommend downloading the open office screenwrite format which is free. If there are any additional questions after this, google them. After you have familiarized yourself with the art of writing screenplays, and you write your first screenplay, it is important to make sure it is perfect. There are tons of great screenwriters in hollywood already. Hollywood could keep pumping out movie after movie forever. The only problem is that the majority of these movies are remakes, knock offs, or sequels of other movies. The screenwriters already in the industry seem to come up with very few original ideas. This is the reason why it is important for some to step with some well developed original screenplays. Script readers at film studios like universal studios and lucas films literally are requested to read a hundred plus screenplays in a day. If you do end up getting an agent to read your screenplay it needs to capture them in the first ten pages or else they will throw it in the trash. There are certain arts that must be learned in order to market a screenplay. Michael Hauge explains the arts of writing query letters and marketing yourself as a screenwriter great in the book Writing Screenplays That Sell.

In my opinion the book industry is a much more saturated industry, but also a much larger industry. There are thousands of books out there and only a select few authors will ever become extremely famous. That being said people do continue to buy books and it is an art, that I don’t believe will ever die. I believe that people will buy books for two reasons. First, people are willing to pay for quality writing. A lot of books don’t make it because, quite frankly they suck. If quality writing is discovered people will buy the book. This leads me to the second reason books become commercially and artistically successful.  In general, books will never be discovered unless they are well marketed. There are plenty of ways to go about this, but as a consumer I find the most successful marketing tool to be the cover of the book. If I find a book that looks interesting in Barnes and Noble or on Amazon the first thing I do is look for professional reviews. I typically don’t read a book unless there a few specific reviews about the books great quality. Even then there is one more check for me, and it is the summary on the back of the book. If there is an amazing summary on the back of the book I believe it may even cause the author to double their sales. I believe it is worth it to pay a few professionals to write a good review on your book. Also do not forget about having an intriguing name and a great grabber on the back.

If one were to search for all the information there is in the world about successfully writing and marketing books and screenplays, they would find hours of useful information. I have detailed the most important information in this post. As important as marketing is, it will never work unless there is something great to market. Quality writing will always win over poor writing.

Screenplay Editing

As an author the hardest part about writing any project is turning it over to other people. After writing Reaching The Start, almost two years ago I have only had two people read the screenplay completely, and only myself has edited it. I’ve found that it does not work to wait on family members to edit book length documents, unless you plan on waiting a few years. This is because most people don’t frequently read  in the first place, and they have a busy life. It would be a great thing to find an acquaintance or friend that understands how to read screenplays. This I find to be nearly impossible unless you happen to live right in the heart of the film industry, simply because very few people actually read screenplays. I have received a few helpful suggestions from those who have read the screenplay, but I find those hard to take into account. I find it is important to just suck up my pride and make some amendments. I took into account my brother’s suggestion of reading the whole screenplay aloud to change some things. After this, my screenplay was improved significantly. I find that after a great self-edit my screenplay is almost ready. The only aspect that needs serious work is the beginning, so I am sending my script in for a 20 dollar first ten page analysis. I hope that I will not have to spend 200 dollars on a full on edit, but that may be an unavoidable case.

Perfectly Describing Locations and Situations

As great as many authors imaginations can be there is never as great a location as one that an author has experienced themselves. This location can be experienced through complete imagination or through having actually been there.  As an author, it is preferable to have actually been to every place or been in every situation you write about. However, that is not preferable for readers. So in order to create a successful story, an author must write about situations and locations as if they have personally been in them. This is a difficult task to accomplish and there are three main tips that I have to offer when it comes to this daunting task. The points I have to offer support how a location must be visited by an author in life, imagination, or in technicality.

First, it is important to actually experience as much life as possible. If the primary goal of a story is to illicit emotion in the mind of the reader it is important to relate the story in at least a slight way to your audience. One way to do this is by setting the audience up with familiar settings, feelings, and interactions between characters. Imagine an author that stays inside all day, every day, and writes, rarely speaking to other humans, and never taking vacations. This authors interaction would be relatable to a select few, but for the most part, the world this author wrote about would have nothing to do with the world we live in.  In order to write about life on this earth, an author must first live life on this earth. That’s why it is important to understand not only human nature but also nature in general as an author. The more locations that a human has been in, the more locations that same human can describe with ninety percent accuracy. It is important when visiting a location to completely soak it in. Take mental pictures and even memorize certain details.

Secondly, it is vital to practice imagination. It is obvious that no one human can travel the whole earth or even remotely experience any of the situations that they dream up. That is why an author must live a story out in their head before they can ever write it down on paper. It is important to make up fictional locations through the use of perfect description. It is important to either visit a place in life, imagination or in technicality. It is a different level of struggle for each person to do different types of these. I find the imagination the easiest because it comes straight from my mind. I feel that if others would live the adventure they have in their imagination it would pay off for them as well.

The last tip I have to offer for describing a location perfectly is to literally research and learn the location. This is the one that I find to be the most strenuous and difficult, but it is a needed skill. I had to describe the White House, Capitol Building, and DCA airport in Reaching The Start. Well, what happened when I described three well-known locations I had never visited? It turned out to be a ginormous success. That was only after printing out detailed blueprints, pictures and descriptions of all three. I had to pour over pictures of the three locations until it was if I had been there. This is a rough strategy, but in the end, it will pay off.

It is only after appearing within a scene in some way that an author can write a compelling description of it. It took me a long while for me to discover this myself. However, since I have begun to familiarize myself with the world I write about, the quality of my writing has continued to increase exponentially.

The Importance of Understanding the Storyline

As a writer the primary goal is to illicit emotion in the mind of the reader. The screenwriter has the same goal.  It is vital to writing a successful screenplay to not forget that the main goal is the same is any other piece of writing. The question to ask yourself is whether you are focusing to much on the formatting and on the painting the picture for the movie element that you have forgotten to develop a successful story plot. As a screenwriter it is very important to  paint a picture in the mind of the reader, because the intended medium is the screen. It is no good for a producer to enjoy a screenplay if they can’t envision it as a successful movie. However, it is important to not just jump into the story plot without a well structured story. It easier said than done to layout a good structure for ninety plus pages worth of writing. I believe I can layout a few useful tips.

First I find it important to at least have a beginning middle and end structure. If you are writing a ninety page screenplay the first twenty to thirty pages should favorably set up the basis for a good story. Start the screenplay out with a bang or an interesting situation or conversation. Maybe try having your main character even propose an interesting question. There is a lot of room for creativity here. The only standard for the beginning is that there is a situation that grabs the attention of the readers. The middle section in this should be sixty to seventy pages and the end section should be around thirty pages. During the middle section it is crucial to build upon the beginning, and to take your readers on an emotional journey with the main character or characters. The middle section should leave the readers emphasizing with the main character and should culminate in one final event at the start of the end section. This event will not be your resolution it should be the climax of the story and it should result in a series of events and actions that sum up the story. It is important that the sum of the story leaves the readers thinking, well answering the majority of the main questions. The reader should be able to be satisfied with the ending, but I find that in most great literature the reader is sort of frustrated with the ending. What I mean by this is that in most great works of literature, the authors answer the majority of questions, well not leaving complete closure. The lack of closure ends in a lasting impact on our lives and minds. These great authors  also tend to end things in a way that reader does not wish it to end. This typically adds an extra sense of reality to the story.

Next it is important to spread the action out in such a way that there is no boring section in the screenplay. Especially if you are writing an action screenplay; well it is important to spread the action, it is also important to not just have there be constant action. There should be sufficient explanation of the action, and just enough so that the reader can sort of settle into there chair and think the story over a little before another action scene is thrown there way.

Finally, it is extremely essential to be real and relatable as an author.  I found as I was editing Reaching The Start that there were some quirky things that I didn’t realize to be quirky at first. I found it necessary to cut some scenes that were to corny or unrealistic and didn’t help the story.  I also found it necessary to keep some scenes, because they were needed to keep things real and also keep a bit of comic relief. When telling a story always keep your personal voice. Practice making sure you can get readers involved by authoring short stories. If you write amazing short stories,  how marvelous could it be if one of those stories were expanded?