songscloset: Me with the sun flare on my face. (Default)
[personal profile] songscloset
So, I'm working on writing original stuff. I still love fanfiction, both writing and reading it, but I want to write things and get paid for them.



Original writing is different from fanfic in a few important ways, most obviously the fact that it's NOT based (obviously) on other people's canons. This means I have to do a lot more work in the beginning of the story to get readers to invest in the characters. It also means I have to pay attention to things like structure and pacing and stuff. I haven't bothered paying close attention to that for most of my fanfics, because they sort of come pre-loaded with some structure.

There's a lot going on with this. Some of it is trying to find time to write – my new job is getting in the way of my personal life, who'd have thought. When I change to the swing/evening shift, I'll have mornings for things like writing, cleaning, cooking… general life things.

Another thing is that I have Scrivener. I used to do all my writing in Word, just blorping all my writing down in one place. I got Scrivener a few years ago and found it not particularly intuitive to use. I've downloaded some fancy templates and they're nice, but I still find the writing environment (and how poncy does that sound?) irritating. I don't like that the default font is Courier New (which I absolutely hate, both for reading and writing), it bugs me that we're supposed to write our story bits on the little 'index cards', but then when we're in the writing pane, it's impossible to make those cards big enough to read everything on them without scrolling.

One of the Big Things about Scrivener is that you can 'move your chapters and scenes around'. That's always confused me. I've never had scenes which were moveable inside a story. They all sort of … build on each other and you can't change their order. Clearly it's common, because everyone else who uses it says they love that feature.

I've just now found the planning part that looks like an excel sheet, which looks like it could be useful, to see the story laid out in scene outlines.

Anyway, I strongly prefer to write in Word, with every part of the story accessible to me. Often, if I want to look something up in a story, I can remember a bit of it, so I just search for that bit. In Scrivener, since each scene is a separate 'piece', I have to look in all of them to find the thing I'm looking for.

Also, I find tracking total wordcount difficult in Scrivener. There must be a way to do it, but I can't find it.

What this means is that I've been trying really hard to use this cool tool and I think I just can't. If I look at a page in Word, I can just start typing and hey-presto, there's my story. That never happens in Scrivener.

Other Writing Things going on are online groups and websites. (And short story submissions – I had no idea there were so many places to submit short fiction. Wow.)

A while ago, I found a writing group on Facebook. I think I found it through the website of the woman who runs it. I'd been looking for something or another about writing and found her website, which led me to her Facebook group. When I joined it, there were about 5000 people in the group and it was nice. My years of fanfic writing experience put me well past many of the new writers in skill level and experience, but that's how skill level and experience work.

I found that many of the posts were similar: there were posts from people asking for people to do their research for them, posts from people asking for people to decide all the small things in their work (character names, place names, etc), and, more and more, there were people asking for everyone else to do the writing for them.

That sounds ridiculous, but it's true. There's one person who exemplifies this. Every single one of his posts is him explaining some bit of his vague idea and asking what he should do next. Every. Single. Post. People keep responding, as well, with suggestions and thoughts. He's posted art of improbably large swords, asking what they're called and if anyone could come up with a good nickname for it. And if we think it's reasonable for a main character who's never met his mother to feel emotion when he meets her and discovers she's the evil queen. And whether or not a character who can't feel physical pain would be a psychopath – and what it might be like to not feel physical pain.

I focus on him mostly because he falls into all the categories. He also never seems to actually write anything because he's so busy focusing on all this development that he can't get into the actual story.

As the group increased in size, the owner, a woman who's nice, and who's been traditionally published, but who seems to be falling into the Online Sales black hole. (Everything is a product to sell, omg, there are so many people selling classes on how to sell Your Product (which is, inevitably, a class) online.)

I didn't post much in that group – I'm a very different writer, in very different circumstances. I don't view my writing as Art. It's fun and I enjoy it and I would like to have it turn into a paying hobby, but I don't believe that writing needs to be tortured personal exploration, which set me far apart from many of the people in the group. I made a couple of friends, though, and one of them showed me a couple of other Facebook writing groups.

One of them made the first list look calm, mature, and educated. This one is run by someone who says he's a skilled and experienced editor and who publishes a yearly anthology based on a prompt of his own and written by people from this Facebook list. Only, he's not a good editor (there are glaring errors in the books and stories he's edited), and he runs the list as if it were a personal praise for him fief. And boy oh boy is there crazy online drama on that list, with people having fights and getting into wild facebookian shouting matches. This list is violently anti-fanfiction and Wattpad.

The other Facebook writing group specifies that they don't allow any drama on-list at all. If you start causing drama, you get a warning, and if you continue, you get banned and blocked. It's much better, but still, many of the writers are newer and anxious about how to be a Real Writer ™. I post to this group regularly, and participate a decent amount.

I've learned many things from this whole experience.

First, I overthink my writing and my plots. I want to make everything make sense and be Good.

I shouldn't bother. One of the mods of the third group sells what she calls novels but which are novellas (a couple of her books scrape the bottom edge of novel, at about 48K words), and which are not at all good. They're adequate – if they were fanfic and I loved the fandom, I wouldn't hit the back button, but I'd be pissed if I paid more than a dollar for any of them. She's selling them for two and three dollars each.

Second, novellas sell. I should be writing (and am, in fact, in the middle of plotting out) a set of 6 linked 25K novellas for a dollar or two each, publishing them a couple of months apart. When they're all done, I should put them into a 'box set' (as much as anything which is ebook only can be a 'box' anything) and sell that at a slight discount.

Third, there is a fuck ton of marketing stuff out there to learn. Everyone says that every single thing is mandatory. If you really want to sell your writing, you have to have your Amazon keywords all lined up and perfect (you can perfect them over time, but you need to be paying attention to this every day and changing out the ones which aren't performing well enough), and you need to have Facebook ads, and maybe little video trailers for your books, and you need to have free loss-leader books to give away on Amazon and Instafreebie, and you need to have a Street Team and a giant email list, and you need to get book reviews from your ARC team and you should be participating in BookBub promotions (if you can get one) and …

I can't face most of that. There's just too much. It can't be that ALL of that is required for sales. I mean, the Amazon keywords thing, that sounds reasonable, but video trailers? Just thinking about it exhausts me.

Fourth, I need to be outlining and plotting my stories before I start writing them. If I know what I'm going to be writing about, I have a much easier time getting the actual words on the page. I've downloaded a variety of outline templates (for Scrivener, mostly) and some excel based 'beat sheets'. The 'beat sheets' are mostly good for keeping track of expected word-count. I haven't found anything that really jumps out at me as The Way to get outlines and plots out of my head and pre-worked-out.



Fifth, having a full-time non-writing job is great for things like paying my own bills, but crap for having time to do anything creative. The house is a mess, we're eating poorly, and it's mostly because I'm at work all day, now. Ugh.

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songscloset: Me with the sun flare on my face. (Default)
songscloset

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