Tuesday, October 31, 2006

For those who love to create the thrill and chill of fear! For darklings, strangelings, the morbid and the imaginative --

Have a grand time on this most hallowed of holidays!

Perhaps take some time out and read a ghost story or better yet, read it to someone else too.


About the Author -

Raven Bower
is the author of the upcoming horror novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Do You Outline?

When people discover that I'm an author -- especially those with an interest in writing -- they usually ask if I use an outline or not and if so what it includes.

Currently the answer is yes…and no.

In my first horror novel, Apparitions, I created an outline for a straightforward suspense / thriller. If you visit the blog for Apparitions you'll see how that little adventure turned out. But to make the story short, it went through two different outlines and then ended with none.

In the next project I started with no outline at all and found that didn't work either. Without some idea of what the next goal was the story kept branching off into areas that it shouldn't or couldn't without bringing the plot to conclusion too quickly. It ended up with an outline and with a few shifts and adjustments went well.

Now I start writing a new project by first using 3" x 5" cards and markers. I then give each character with a Point of View (PoV) an assigned color. After that I write up a card for each major scene that I know must happen for the character(s) to reach their goal(s) and color in the upper left hand corner of the card with the PoV. This color system may seem like extra work at first but let me assure you…when you have a lot of characters and you're working with a novel length project not coding them becomes a major mess. Coding them allows you to see who you're supposed to be in at any given time and allows you to balance out scenes according to which character you want to focus on.

Then for each scene I think of logical 'what ifs' and list them, finally choosing the most appealing idea I came up with and make a card for those.

And so on.

Then I arrange these into piles that generally equate the chapters.

I've found when I set these cards out in front of me while working I can retain focus on the character I'm in and what the ultimate goal of each scene is.

Now…do I stick with this order? No. The order changes and scenes get their PoV re-assigned if I find a different character would have more interesting thoughts on the matter than the original character. Scenes get juggled in sequence, added or deleted. It's all a part of the growing novel and growing characters. As they say about life 'The only constant is change' so it goes with the lives of your characters and your novel.

In fact, if I found a novel went smoothly from my original lay out to end…I'd be concerned.

If you're a writer and wondering which technique will work best for you my advice is to try them all and see. Each writer is different and what works for one might not work for another. Read some books on plotting and making scenes and chose what appeals to you.


About the author -

Raven Bower is the author of the upcoming horror novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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Friday, October 27, 2006

To Co-Author or Not to Co-Author

That is the question…

And that question can be answered by asking yourself a few different questions --

Are you fanatical about being in control of the plot, characters and flow of the story?

Do you think your ideas and concepts surpass all others and you aren't open to changing them?

Do you have problems accepting criticism?

If you answered yes to any of the above save yourself and all those in ranting range the frustration and stick to writing solo.

If you answered no to the above questions and are interested in writing with another author then by all means give it a try. At best you'll have a saleable novel and a lot of fun. At worst you'll, hopefully, recognize early on that it just isn't working out and go back to writing solo. Assuming you haven't caused severe damage to your partner -- you're no worse off for trying.

Okay, so you've decided to try it. What next?

The most important part of making a co-authorship work is choosing the right partner. Just because you get along personally with another writer doesn't automatically mean you can work well with them. I know many brilliant, creative writers that I have fun with…but couldn't pull off a novel with. Nine times out of ten it's because they're the types to answer 'yes' to the questions above.

Once you find a writer that you get along with and passes the test of the first three questions don't consider you're choice made. Make certain you are both on the same page by asking him/her and yourself a few more questions, make sure you both agree.

Is this a project purely for fun or for eventual print?

Are you both equally reliable?

Do your voices match well enough?

Are you both able to write in the genre you are proposing?

Do you trust each other?

If you find a writer that you agree with on all points, then congratulations! You're off on a fun and memorable journey.

As for how you work your co-authorship…that's up to the two of you. The most common ways I know of are --

The one I call the 'back and forth' style -- first author writes the first draft then the second author takes it and does the re-write. After which they both sit down and do a final third…or fourth…or fifth draft.

Role-play style (my preferred choice) -- each author has their character(s) and the novel is first role-played out. Then a solid POV is chosen for each segment and the author in control of that character re-writes the drafts for their character's segments. Each edits the other's work.

Whether you choose solo, co-authorship or a mix writing is a grand and gratifying career. Enjoy it and good luck!


About the Author

Raven Bower is the author of Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Raven is currently working on several writing projects including a fantasy novel Depths of Sin, co-authored with Markus Niemi

Apparitions Blog

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Words of Thanks

No one gets where they are alone. Though writing is considered a solitary venture -- just the writer and their ghosts -- once you start that venture you quickly realize it is not solitary at all. True enough, if you want to write purely for your own pleasure and your own eyes (which is great too) it can be quite the solitary art. If however you write as a part of your life and for readers - to see them shiver, to watch them smile, to hear their hearts pounding out of their chests…then that is a career.

As in any career choice you need a support network. It is essential that your family and friends understand and back your choice. Those special people are rare and when you find them -- keep them and thank them often.

Although everyone in my life has contributed to who and what I've become I'll note a few special ones here. They aren't in any particular order…so just shush.

Greg - My husband, without him I don't think I'd be anywhere near where I am today. He's always there to work through plot kinks, character issues and editing. Without him quite a few of my computers and indeed perhaps the entire world wide web would have exploded from me attempting to use code or create pages…so so not good.

Mark - My brother, perhaps not by blood but of the spirit. He's always there to point out where a plot or character has gone wrong. He's my best editor and soundboard as well as my co-author for one completed work and another upcoming.

Bob (Robert) Gelinas - Publisher of ArcheBooks for having faith in me and new voices in the publishing world. Not to mention kindly tolerating my constant questions.

Jas - Even though he's a pessimist…he still prods me on and continues to be a great friend.

Jon - For not only his friendship but also his insistence that I could do this. (Might have something to do with the innate stubbornness of the Irish)

Chris, Eden, Curtis - for all the fun times, for joining in our world and working together to make grand plots and schemes.


About the author -

Raven Bower is the author of the upcoming novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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A Writing We Will Go!

Post upcoming

In the meantime, feel free to post, comment, question or hang and have fun!

~Raven Bower