My latest “What if” session resulted in a new mission: Add Characters=Realistic Protagonist


Puppeteer

Adding additional, or secondary, characters can help develop your protagonist!

After my last “What if ” session I found myself developing a whole new character.

I’m going to plop this character down into several scenes from beginning to middle, which is the extent to which I have written my Fantasy Manuscript, and add her to my protagonist‘s friend list.

Yes, this means I get to go back and revamp every interaction between most of the characters already written, but I think my readers will know my protagonist better through the new character.  It will aid in moving the tale along, and add some moral compass, too.  So, all in all, it is worth the extra work!

I’m also introducing two more characters, one  originally planned for  the second book  of the Fantasy series, and the other an enemy, or frienemy as they are called.  My protagonist needs work, and I need to show the reader her less desirable traits, as well as her better traits.  My protagonist must learn how to make good choices to grow in maturity, and act to follow suit.  These can be expanded on through her friends points of view.

Conflict, not perfection, and the struggle to move forward make my protagonist appear more real, and that will help my reader to relate to her.  The secondary characters provide support for, or undermine her  further development, which helps to drive the plot.  Mission accomplished…well, not quite yet.

Guess I’ve got my work cut out for me!  Now you try.  Add a new character and see what it does for your story.

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>Formatting Your Manuscript: Section One, Traditional Format


Manuscript

Don't wait! Format your manuscript now!

>When I began writing, it was on paper.  Ten sheets of crazy written notes in chicken scratch handwriting, filled to capacity on both sides. I even had teeny notes in the margins and running around the edges!  Beautiful to have the ideas down, ugly to look at.  I transferred it to the computer, started fleshing out those ideas, making them bigger, scrapping some, just writing.  However, I was all over the place with fun word fonts tiny print sizes, not to mention right justified margins.  There was nothing to distinguish between one chapter and the next, and it had random headers and footers for chapters and notes.  With an eye on future publication, I knew I needed to get my writing into manuscript format, both for my own organization, and eventual manuscript submissions.

So, I dove into the search to find the best manuscript formatting advice.  And there is a crazy amount of information out there!  For this first segment I’m going to concentrate on traditional publishing formats.   After reading two books with content on the subject, and twenty websites, I came up with a good  answer, and a couple of links. Depending on the publishing house, there are many ways to format a manuscript, and each one has its preference.  There are, however, some prominent commonalities.  The following list should get your writing in good order, and when you get to the finish line, your manuscript will be properly formatted aside from front page.

Get organized, get formatted, get going!

The following format applies to Traditional Manuscripts only:

  • A one inch margin all around is the industry standard.
  • Margin should be left justified, resulting in a ragged margin on the right edge.
  • Most prefer no header or footer
  • Type size should allow for editing and ease of reading. Size 12 or 10 are best, but trend leans toward size 12.
  • Most Editors and Agents prefer to read fonts in New Courier, but Times New Roman is  acceptable.  This can vary widely between Agents, Editors, and Publishing Houses.  Check before you send your manuscript!
  • Double space your lines.
  • Use a .5 inch indentation for a new paragraph.
  •  To begin a new chapter, insert a page break, but check with the Publishing House guidelines as this varies highly.
  • Another option to indicate when one paragraph starts and another stops is to use a pound sign # centered at the start of a new chapter, but once again this varies highly by Publishing House.  Check their specific guidelines!
  • Words that you want to emphasized should be underlined.  Do not use italics.
  • Number your pages at the top of each page!  Make sure they are sequential, starting from 1, 2, 3, etc. each page getting a number to the end page which will have the highest number. There are specifics as to where each Publishing House will want the numbering, but for writing purposes top right should do.
  • There is a lot of conflicting information as to whether or not to print your name at the top of each page.  But from researching this, it is better to skip it until you have selected an agent or publishing house, then apply those guidelines. 
  • Want more information about formatting you manuscript or a front cover letter? My usual go to guy, Author Nathan Bransford and this nice clear information from Moira Allen, editor of Writing World.com Moira Allen, Manuscript Format

>What’s in a Name? How do you choose a pen name and should you?


Mask

Do you use a Nom de Plume?

>Do you recognize any of these Author names?  Richard Bachman, Mark Twain, J.D. Robb, Paul French, David Axton, Joanne Rowling, Dawn Cook.

Give up?

They are Stephen King, Samuel Clemens, Nora Roberts, Issac Asimov, Dean Koontz, J.K. Rowling, Kim Harrison.  So when do you use a pen name?

There are several reasons to publish under a Nom de Plume instead of your own.  In some cases, for an already established Author, a switch to a different genre is the push. For instance, while Auroa Hartsmith might be an okay name for a romance author, it might not work for a horror author…unless she is rewriting a new version of Frankenstein.

Another reason is privacy.  Some authors are pretty quiet in their home lives.  They may not want to share so much of their real persona with the public until they are putting on their game face for press reviews and panels and signings.  There are also authors who are writing about controversial or adult subjects.  Their privacy is important because of possible harmful repercussions to their dayjobs or public reputations.

An author may want to write more books than a publishing house is willing to commit to, so writing under a different name helps the author avoid legal entanglementsif they move to a new house, or even publish for themselves.  It all depends on the contract entered in to originally.

A new Author may want to keep their options open for future publications to varying audiences.  Perhaps the voice you are writing in now is suitable for children’s literature, but say you want to use the same name to write a horror or adult novel.  The voice would change according to the audience, and the subject matter would be inappropriate for the kiddies, so the name should follow suit, to avoid complications.

Some Authors simply don’t feel the name has a good ring to it, and they want a name that sounds younger, or older according to their tale.

Choosing a pen name that does not give away your gender can be helpful in marketing your book to a larger audience.  Unfortunately, it is still common that people tend to buy books leaning toward a certain gender for a specific genre.  J.K. Rowling’s publisher felt that her gender might limit her target audience in marketing a book with a boy protagonist.  J.K. Rowling instead of Joanne Rowling is a gender neutral choice.

And here’s an interesting snippet: When an author chooses a name, they may be encouraged by their publisher to select a name that comes after the letter “E” and before the letter “N” in the alphabet.  This is because, according to market research, people have a tendency to look at titles from those that are near the top to middle of the shelves.  They are less likely to choose a title from the lower shelves.That means that if you have a last name starting with a “Z” your work will not be as visible to the customer trying to find a good read.

So, many authors do use a pen name for many and varied reasons. I didn’t see a whole lot of cons discussed, and in fact, the pros are numerous, so I wrote this Pen Name Blog in a positive light.  Have fun choosing yours!

C.K. Garner =^,^=

>Get started on your manuscript!


start start start

Getting started: Plant ass in chair, then play "What if?"

>People ask me, what does it take to get started writing a novel?  Well, for me my writers block broke, and the ideas just came flooding into my head.  It was so overwhelming I had to leap out of my shower, where I was when it happened, and run for paper and pencil.  Then I spent the next couple of hours wrapped in a towel, scribbling the ideas down on ten sheets of paper stolen from my printer.

When I finally stopped, my hair and towel were dry, and I had ten sheets of tightly cramped writing using both sides of each sheet. The ideas that rushed forth that day were the basis for the manuscript I am working on now, and I guess I should count myself lucky I had such an experience.  But many writers just can’t seem to get started.  I am not really an exception.  There were things I was doing that got those floodgates to burst. 

So how do you go about getting to the beginning of writing, pushing those ideas you have banging around in your head to the page?  I don’t remember where I heard it, but it is some of what I had been attempting to do before my writers block broke.  The answer is “ass in chair time”.

You must sit yourself down in the chair either with paper and pen, or an open blank page on your computer screen before you, and not allow yourself to leave from that spot until you have written something on the page.  Even if it is only, “Dear G*#, I have no idea what to write!”  Then play the “What if” game. (See earlier post)

That is what I was doing several weeks before the big flood of ideas in March of 2010.  See, I even remember the month in which it all started, because it was that momentous an occasion in my life from ideas for a great story, to actually getting them on paper.

Remember this:  “Ass in chair time” is where it starts.  So go plant your ass in a chair, and get writing!

>Two Important Links for Writers!


Traps

Image by Gabe Racz via Flickr

If an offer for your manuscript smells funny, say because you will have to buy copies of your own books, or the agent’s offer still seems too good to be true, though you will be handling the printing costs, the perfect publishing packaging of your dreams may be an Author’s trap.

So, how does an anxious Writer, eager to get published, avoid the pitfalls and bad guys that lurk around every corner of the publishing business?

The answer is do your homework!  Do some research on those editors, agents and publishing houses to whom you intend to submit your manuscript.

Here are two must see resources for Writers and Authors:

Writer Beware, go to their site here  is a direct affiliate of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America site (SFWA) which has included members such as Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov, and Anne McAffery. Writer Beware exists to aid Writers and Authors in avoiding literary scams and unscrupulous editors, agent and publishing traps.  They do not accept manuscripts, but offer advice on staying clear of fraud, and if you have been scammed, a place to begin the process of reporting it.   Their site is well respected and the advice is sound.

Preditors and Editors, go to site here ,was recommended to me by Nishi Serrano, Author.  The site has inside information about agent listings, editors and publishing houses, along with basic and advanced Writer and Author manuscript submission advice, query letter and synopsis guidance.

In Preditors and Editors Agents and Attorneys section there is an alphabetical list of possible sites for you to query with your manuscript.  There are some that are listed as NOT Recommended, and others that have a High Recommend, according to feedback from aspiring Authors and Published Authors.  Still other listings are marked as Highly Not Recommended for various reasons.

From what I hear the industry is trying to shut down Preditors and Editors, which says to me, go print it out just in case the information is gone one day!  But I hope that will not be the case.  Just out of curiosity, I checked a couple of NOT recommended agencies, and sometimes no address is posted, link won’t go to the posted addy, etc.  Take a look for yourself!

Preditors and Editors alongside Writer Beware and SFWA are a Writers and Authors goldmine of protection and writing advice.

Thanks so much Nishi, for the Link!!

Writer’s Break: >I think today deserves a big fat beautiful quote…about writing, of course!


Ray Bradbury

Image via Wikipedia

>”If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
Ray Bradbury

>My new and first Blog Post about becoming a Writer and eventually an Author


A Scribe or Copyist

C.K. Garner Smarty Pants Writer to Author Blog

Blog, Paper, Scissor is a reference to:

A.)BLOG~My new Blog about writing life, creating my manuscript and the maze I navigate in learning about getting published

B.)PAPER~Getting my story ideas from head onto computer and  printed page, how it sucks my life away and gives me new perspective on living at the same time

C.)SCISSOR~The Godawful amount of editing it takes to build a good story by tightening up my manuscript, and the cuts I make to my social life because I’m writing, researching about writing, and talking to other Writers and Authors about writing

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