Plotting or Pantsing: What is best for me?

And so we come to the last theme of our competition. One last hurrah and then the big vote off. Back when I was thinking up this idea I thought that ending on a reflection about if planning or discovery writing was best was a great idea for platform building. You guys have taken things in an interesting direction and I have no idea what you will do with this one.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 29th.

Plotting or Pantsing:
What is best for me?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Pantsing, for those that don’t know, is where you make up the story as you go and “fly by the seat of your pants”. The opposite is plotting, where you plan the plot out in advance. I used to be a pantser but I am more of a plotter these days.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Sometime after this post goes live I will be picking out winners. I hope you guys have written something great for me to read (I’ve seen some of them so I know that you have).

Favourite line that you cut from a story

Hands and paper

The editing process can be brutal. Often you have to cut something that you loved because it does not work with the rest of the story.

What is your favourite line that you cut from a story? Just as importantly, why would you write a blog post about it?

There is an oft-repeated proverb for writers:

In writing, you must kill your darlings

As to who really said it, I don’t know, but the truth is that sometimes the bit you love has to go. But just because it is gone from the story does not mean that it cannot make one last triumph in a deleted scenes section of the DVD of your novel.

Mixed metaphors aside, there is something wonderful about getting to see inside the editing process of a writer. Not only that but sometimes a scene which failed to advance the plot can give fans something really interesting to argue about.

Is that date between the protagonist and the secondary character part of the cannon, and if so, will it shape the next book in the series?

You never know what will hook a reader into buying a book but if you never share any secrets from the cutting room floor you can be certain those secrets gave you nothing at all.

While there is no way to know if a much loved but later cut moment will sell a single book there is very little chance that sharing a few choice moments will not at least titillate fans. There is an outside chance you will draw in a visitor who, having read the scene finally goes out and buys the book to read what happened to those characters.

There is little or no downside to sharing much loved but ultimately cut moments from a work but plenty of potential upsides. If only because it gives you something to write about on your blog while you edit.

This week’s prompt is to share something you cut but that you really loved.

How Author Buzz UK is helping writers

This post is all about a new project called Author Buzz UK it can be found at authorbuzz.co.uk and is designed to help writers, bookshops, authors, publishers, and agents connect with readers.

Author Buzz UK was designed to help authors create a solid platform without any more technical skill than is required to sign up for a free account. A fully customised Author Buzz account should definitely become part of your growing author platform.

All of this goodness is offered for free to anyone and all you need to get started is an easy to set up profile. Once you are set up with your profile you will have access to the following resources. If you have a wordpress.com account then you can log right in with that and start enjoying your profile right away.

Talking about running your own blogs, I already have a writer blog set up. The Matthew D. Brown (author) blog is where I post my stories as a serial. You should get over there and give them a read. If you subscribe to the blog you can get an update when I publish new story entries.

Later, as the admin team continue to expand the site’s capability, there will be even more great features open to you. These features are planned but are still being tested and improved.

  • Agents will be able to maintain a profile for their authors
  • Authors will be able to maintain a list of their books which readers can review and, quite importantly, purchase from major retailers.
  • Readers will be able to connect their account to GoodReads and show off the books they have read.
  • Read more about the vision for Author Buzz UK.

It has to be said that, as of writing this article, things are still being set up at Author Buzz. So there will be ongoing changes and improvements. Crucially, this is the stage of development where your input could radically alter the finished product. If your company or your needs as a writer are not being met anywhere else, then your input could help shape Author Buzz UK into exactly what you need.

I would highly recommend that anyone who writes, publishes, or promotes those that do, sign up for a free account and become a beta tester while your opinion has the power to shape the site.

The admin and development staff at Author Buzz are dedicated to the principles of transparency and open creativity. As such they have a dedicated development blog where they talk about both the success and failures that they encounter as they work towards bringing this dream to life. I know this because I am the lead developer in the team.

Thanet Creative Writers already have our own group on Author Buzz. Connect with us there if Facebook is not your thing.

Get on over to Author Buzz UK and create a free account.

The thing I love most about Thanet Creative Writers

This is, if I am honest, the one I have been looking forward to the most. Finding out what about Thanet creative writers (the blog, the group, or the charity) that resonates best with you guys.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 22nd.

The thing I love most about
Thanet Creative Writers

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

I am particularly interested to see if the fiction writers can turn this into a fiction prompt or if you will write a more tranditional blog post. This posts image was actully taken during a Tea and Chat meeting. You can use it for your post if you want.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

What I do differently with my genre?

To compliment Fiction Friday, I have compiled a long old list of theme ideas for platform building blog posts.

This collection I think of as the Business Monday Platform Builder Prompt.

What I do differently with my genre?

This is an area that a lot of writers fail to address and we do so at our own cost. In business, we talk about the USP – Unique selling proposition. Your USP is the reason why someone should come to you rather than anyone else.

As writers, we are not also naturally attuned to thinking about what we do differently. Howeve5r, what we do that is unique or special is part of the character of our writing and the kind of stories only we can tell.

Each writer has a story that only they can tell. Give the same plot, characters, setting, and chapter notes to another writer and you will get a different story.

Reflecting on your uniqueness is as important for you as a writer as it is for the reader who might be looking for exactly what you offer.

What is your genre?

Of course, to be able to know how you set yourself apart in your genre, you must first know what the genre is.

Rock your Writing gives a great guide to figuring this issue out. I would certainly give that article a read if you are struggling to identify which genre your multi-genre break-out novel sits in.

For example, for all the urban fantasy elements I cram into some stories I know that they are actually soft sci-fi while others, despite the science bits are really science fiction. One with both is actually a coming of age story about childhood. The magic is secondary to that.

  1. Step one, know your genre.
  2. Step two, figure out what you do differently.
  3. Step three, write about it.

Let us know how you get on. For most platforms, linking to this post will ping it and make a link back to your post. Then we can all come and read what you have written. I look forward to checking out your platforms and your reflections of what you do differently.

Write well.

Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.

What mistake do I make most with writing?

Which mistakes do I make? Which mistakes don’t I make! Seriously, you could probably compile my mistakes into a definitive “A to Z of how not to write”.

Okay, maybe that is something of an exaggeration. But I have made more than my fair share of howlers in my time. More than a few stories have ended up like today’s picture – derailed and broken.

Mistakes are the theme for this week’s competition as we enter week ten (or twelve).

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 8th.

What mistake do I make most with writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. You can vote on your choice of winner in a special Reddit created for the competition. I strongly encourage you to get in there and cast some votes. Those votes select not only the user’s choice for this week but they will count towards the grand winner in a few week’s time.

Just like the last few weeks, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined).

How a platform got Andy Weir published

Andy Weir is the author behind the book behind the film “The Martian”. The film contract was agreed within four days of the print contract. This is how Andy Weir did that.

There is a video coming up with Andy Weir talking about how he got started. As we are talking about author platforms I am going to focus on Andy Weir’s platform building.

Andy Weir spent 10 years building a relationship with 3,000 subscribed readers. So when he released “The Martian” on Kindle for $0.99 it shot up the ranking and hit the number one slot for Science Fiction.

That’s Andy Weir’s entire secret in one paragraph. That and just keep writing until you get good at it. As platforms go Weir’s one really sucks. Take a look at it and try to disagree. But that did not matter. It did not matter because the content was good.

Content is everything.

So without further ado, here is the video.

Notice the takeaways here:

  • Weir kept writing
  • Weir maintained a website and published regular content
  • Weir developed and sustained a relationship with readers
  • His relationship turned readers into fans
  • Fans buy stuff
  • Weir used his platform to get feedback from fans
  • Knowing who you are writing for matters

Knowing your readers

Andy Weir always had a love of science and wrote for people like him. People who also loved science. Weir let his passion direct his writing and when the book came out, others with the same passion caught the excitement.

There is no surprise that Adam Savage found the book exciting. If you are a geek like me, this interview will excite you. If you are not, you might want to skip on past it. But don’t. If you are a writer, this is one hour of a writer talking about how he works and that’s always good research for us.

One important note, Weir had thousands of regular readers before he started writing “The Martian”.

On of the things that Weir brings up in both videos is how he enthusiastically gave away his work. That giving away of work led to the sales that led to the contract that led to a film.

We sometimes get all het up about “protecting our copyright”. Yet serialising the story as he wrote it was what made things work for Andy Weir.

So that leads me to the new idea for today – give away your best work. It seems counter-intuitive. After all, wouldn’t that hurt future sales?

Writers Digest digs a little into this topic here. You can read that when you have a moment but the main point is that, as Seth Godin often points out, ideas that spread win. It worked for Andy Weir and it could work for you too.

Serialising your story

I want to take a quick look at the topic of telling your story in episodes. That seems like a great idea for building an audience while getting the work written.

It is not just Weir who has followed this path of serialised publication, Joanna Campbell Slan has blogged about doing that too.

Back in the day, I had a section on my website called Lord Matt Fiction. It got taken down in one of the server moves over the years and never went back up but I had a few stories that I was making up as I went (pantsing). I’ve got a hard drive full of supporting illustrations, story notes and all sorts that I could throw into such a project.

How to structure your project by Simon K Jones is a series about how to How to write serialised fiction. The whole series might be worth checking out if you like this serialisation idea.

How to Start a Web Serial by Jukepop Serials might be worth a read and will definitely sell you on some interesting ideas but, honestly, get a blog and start writing. Forbes has an article on the same subject that covers many of the same ideas. Forbes has a good reputation for offering excellent advice so, if you want to read a lot, go read this too.

If you are going to go down this route, and I am seriously considering doing that with one of my stories (that one with the cat in it), then you will want to read Zachary Bonelli’s Monetizing Serialized Fiction. After all, what we writers want more than anything else, is to get paid so we can do more writing.

Talking about getting paid, after realising that Weir was on to something with the whole serial thing (about halfway through this post), I checked out a post called How To Get Your Book Serialised in Newspapers and Glossy Magazines. Nice, I thought, Dickens (who has this huge Thanet connection himself) got started by doing just that. I’m not sure if getting published episodically in magazines is for me right now but it could be a good idea one day.

Over to you

This is the part of a blog post where I try to wrap everything up and hand off to you for comments. I really did not imagine I would take this post in exactly the direction it went in so appologies if I rambled a lot and didn’t talk about building a platform as much I suggested in the title. I hope you go something out of reading this anyway.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing in serial form?

My favourite book ever

If you ask me what my favourite book is I am likely to tell you that it is whatever amazing book I am reading at the moment. That said, I am quite likely to quote you such books as “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. Our theme this week is favourite books.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 1st.

My favourite book ever

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Just like last week, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined).

Lots of Winners

Is it Friday already? Wow. Where did my week go? I honestly figured I would have the winners list published by Wednesday at the latest. This week’s theme of what stops us writing seems oddly appropriate now.

Last week we switched things up and pushed you to start using new social media outposts.

Best Post

Oh ye gods, this is the bit I do not find easy. You are too talented by half. Seriously, very few of you had ever written a blog post before much less ran an entire blog and written for it each week. I am so impressed with all of you that words fail me. Really they do. And, if you know me, you know that words rarely fail me.

This week, I have given up trying to pick one winner and have selected a handful. One overall winner and several category “prizes”.

In the category of most meta post

The award for most meta post of the contest so far goes to Artimis Blake who writes:

I will finish this later…

We have all been there, I think.

In the category of best reflective post

The award for the best reflective article (with a meta twist) goes to Night of the Hats. [1]

[1] Spoiler: I have read the entire thing.

In the category of experimental writing

The award for experimental writing goes to Braidy Spice. Along with this award, comes a link to our guide on linking.

In the category of Romance and Relationships

The award for best post goes to Kentish Rambler. I’d say Kentish has what it takes to write for the large women’s magazines market. This is a top quality entry in this category.

In the category of crime drama

The award goes to ProfBenJ. A great example of well-paid-off foreshadowing. There were some Dirk Gently moments there.

And the overall winner is…

The overall winner this week is Jess Joy with a well-executed sequel to her lady of letters. I am reminded of Irene in “A Lady of Letters” from Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.

Best Comment

For best comment this week I am going to award the prize to the most prolific commenter: ProfBenJ. Seriously, you seem to be everywhere. Well done.

Reddit voted top post

This is the feature that replaced the “most comments” section. The idea is to vote for what you liked best. The community voted top post was a tie between Niel, ProfBenJ, and JessJoy who all got two votes.

Either you loved each other equally or no one voted for anyone else. I’m going to go ahead and assume the love was flowing freely.

I’m feeling talkative right now and am going to let you in a little secret. After the 12 weeks of this contest are over, there will be one grand winner. The final winner will be chosen by you out of all the posts written for the contest over the entire time it was running. Even ones that were written by me (I’d love to know how you think I stack up).

This final contest will take place here. That is a special Reddit set up just for us and this contest. You may post as many of your entries as you wish, vote for as many as you want, and you may do so from now. (Let’s see who was paying close attention, eh).

Over to you

Everyone who took part did a great job and deserves as much comment, upvote, like, and share love as you can give. Go show these amazing bloggers some serious love.