How to Edit 1st Act with Thor Ragnarok

How to Edit 1st Act with Thor Ragnarok

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Show Notes


I’m Clark Chamberlain, and today we have a special episode for you looking at the first act of Thor Ragnarok. What’s working in here? Why does it engage so well?

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But first, let me ask you a question. Are you an outliner? How would you like to make sure that your outline is ironclad? What I’m talking about is the iron clad story outlines that I work with with authors to make sure that they are the best that they can be. This will help you accelerate your backlists, spend your valuable time writing, not rewriting, and make your best story better today because truly, your story deserves the best.



You can check those out at the book at her show. Dot com forward slash dev edit.



All right, so let’s get into this today. I want to if you listen to the Wonderwoman podcast where I went through the first act on that, this is the same kind of format.



We have these great stories that a lot of people are watching on the big screen. And the question is why? What what is it about these at work? How can you translate them into your own scriptwriting or into your own book editing and writing as well? And I think that one of the reasons why these work so well to to break them down is because they are easily accessible. It’s not like you have to go in and spend hours reading or doing a ton of research on this.



They’re fast and they can show some really good points that you can look at to add to your own work. So let’s jump into this. I love Thor Ragnarok. Unfortunately, I loved it so much that it. I don’t know, maybe not, unfortunately, but I loved it so much that I went and saw it four times in the theater, twice by myself and two times where I had to bring my boys, you know, I mean, they had to see this movie, right.



And it was at different times. So it was a good excuse to go in and watch it again and again and again. And as soon as it came out on digital, you know, I picked it up because I’m just enthralled with this movie. Almost all of the Marvel movies are great examples of commercially viable fiction that you could translate into any kind of work that you’re doing, but thought there was something about it in in the same way that.



That Captain America Winter Soldier came in and did not a superhero story with a spy element, but a spy story, an espionage thriller that happened to have a superhero in it.



This is the buddy cop almost story. You know, where these guys are on this journey together, the road trip type of journey, and we’re dropping in a road trip that happens to have superheroes in it. And it’s fantastic, right?



You know, there’s like these great elements and there’s good comedy in it. And comedy helps us break down barriers and really allows us to get into. Any type of of work, it makes it more accessible to have these elements, it doesn’t mean that it has to be a comedy and I wouldn’t classify it as a comedy, but it definitely has elements of that which I think make it more fun for people that might not be into. The superhero genre, because eventually, you know, the superhero genre is going to kind of wear itself out a little bit too much.



So Marvel taking. The initiative and making these movies, not just about the superheroes, it really can help. So let’s go through and take a look at exactly what’s going on here now and be forewarned.



These have spoilers there. Be spoilers in here. OK, so you’ve been warned. I’m going to be talking a lot about the scenes and what’s happening. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet and you want this, I want to do it without spoilers and I would suggest stopping at this point.



OK, so scene one, it starts out and we’re getting this great voiceover from Thor who’s explaining what’s been going on. And and it comes out, you know, the find out that he’s actually having this conversation of conversation while he’s chained up in this cage with with a dead skeleton on dead skeleton with the skeleton. Clearly it’s dead. Well, I guess in this world, maybe not. But at any rate, you know, he’s having this discussion.



And what this does, it’s funny. Yes. But it’s explaining and he’s explaining everything that’s happened to him up until this point and all the other movies that he’s appeared in.



And that kind of quick explanation done in a fun way that doesn’t feel like overexplaining or, hey, let me just dump all the information on you.



And instead of doing like a scroll of a paragraph scroll at the beginning of the film, you know, that says, all right, so has been here, here and here. Instead, he’s doing it in this way in his. And it’s clever. It’s done through dialogue. And it works because, again, it’s adding in some comic elements into it. You know, you get you get the cutaway with the skeleton jaw dropping open such a thing.



But what it’s really doing is catching up the viewer who especially who has never seen any of these films before. And that’s something we we really need to think about, especially as writers who are concerned with doing a series or doing, you know, either whether you’re doing script or manuscript for book, you want to be able to make sure that if a new reader or new viewer jumps in, how how confused are they? It’s, for instance. A great show on television like Lost.



Which requires the viewer to really understand what’s going on before they get to the point that they’re at, because there’s been so much information and they try to do previously on type of thing to catch people up. But the truth is, like it can feel really inaccessible to a new viewer coming in because they might feel like, oh, I’ve got to go through all of this stuff. So if you can quickly set up at the beginning of each of your books, beginning of your movie, if there’s information that, you know needs to be there, that it can be given quickly, it can be a great way to make sure again that the viewer feels accessible, that the that the reader is accessible to the information and looking for ways that you can set this up, being clever, whether it’s humor or whether it’s dramatic, this will really help set it up.



Now, what’s going on? What do we care about in Act one of anything? Act one needs to be the establishment of what is normal life. And that’s what we do right here in this scene.



We’re having this normal life. Hathor, what is Thor? Walther’s is powerful being. You know, he he is arrogant and he has a dependence on Wolmar the hammer that he uses. And he has these things when we establish it real quickly, you know, he’s he’s beating up.



He has this conversation, which, again, is also funny and sets up things that are going to happen later in the movie. But. More importantly, in the setup, you know, he breaks free of the chains, so you see that he’s strong. We see how the hammer works. We see his power. We see his arrogance. We see all of this, what he has, what his normal life is. And it’s something to remember that we don’t when we have a powerful protagonist or we can have a powerful protagonist, we don’t need to show them being weak if they’re not weak.



A normal life for Thore, normal life for James Bond, a normal life for Jack Reacher, and normal life is more exciting for them than normal life. For the first episode of Star Wars with Luke Skywalker, normal Luke Skywalker is moisture farmer.



Normal Thor is out beating up fiery demons. So we’ve seen him in his normal life. It also when they when they start this battle scene in here, it actually and the choice of music that they went with was exactly the same as the trailer that they did now.



If you’re doing movies and you make this exciting trailer a lot of times, what do people complain about with trailers is when they don’t match the movie, when they set up the wrong expectation, or perhaps they give everything away. And definitely like watching the trailer and watching the movie, like they actually changed background scenes in the trailer and different type of editing in the trailer so that they wouldn’t spoil the movie. They actually changed it. You can go through and take a look where they’ve made changes between things.



And it wasn’t it was the same scene, but like with the background. So you didn’t know when it was going to happen. And I think that was very clever.



Plus the fact that they used this great music, you know, 1980s music going on here. And they start to movie off this way now. How does that translate for books, what what’s your cover? How long does it take to get to your cover image?



You know, when is that action on the cover going to take place in the story? In your advertising for your book, advertising for your movie, it works on both when does that advertising take place? You know, when does the problem when are you delivering on that?



And the earlier we can deliver on these types of things, the that we can show portions of the world, the faster we can get into it.



Now, that might mean, hey, you need to do an epilogue. I mean, excuse me, you need to do a prologue or the first chapter needs to be about what’s going on in the cover and promise being made, because maybe you’re getting into a very serious, non exciting portion of the book, you know, that needs to set up things. But you have this little promise at the beginning, and that’s what Thor’s delivering here. He’s delivering the promise right away.



Which I think is just fantastic, you know? And so that’s a question to ask, you know, how long does it take to deliver the second scene? We get introduced to a new character scourge, and we set up one of Thor’s first problems.



And, of course, the first problem is getting away from. From the demons that he’s that he’s out in this great big monster, and of course, we’re finding out that the things have changed at Thor’s Homeworld and. These are really good setups because the setups are so important. To make sure that we’re all on the same page with it, so we’re explaining some of the of how the world works as well, you know, with. With the bridge to be able to to be able to move people from different realms, there are different realms that there’s this whole other world that’s out there, you know, Scrooge is talking about.



I go to the nine different realms and I can take what I want and and which can really help set things up for us again.



And, you know, Asgard is one of these realms. And and we find out, you know, that there’s there’s other stuff that’s going on here.



And some of the information that Thor is getting as well is this whole idea about Ragnarok. And he’s trying to stop it, right? I mean, that’s that’s what he’s trying to do here. And he’s believing in his arrogance that by defeating this demon right here and bringing back this crown, it’s going to stop Ragnarok entirely. OK, so then we we find out and also Scourge is replacing Heimdal and and this character is Heimdal is able to see everything right.



He’s got the eyes to witness everything that’s going on everywhere at the same time. And of course, this is a good guy to operate your bridge because the bridge allows people to come.



On to Asgard in and being able to have someone who’s guarding that gate is very important, right. And so we get some quick changes here that are going that are taking place. We understand that the world is not the same as it was in the last Thor movie. We’ve got some different things happening here. And of course, Thor gets away from the monster. He gets sucked up and across the bridge crosses. It comes to Asgard and we have some good humor scenes as well.



We switch to the next scene.



And this is really great because Loki, of course, we know that he’s not dead from the previous films, but Thor does not. And Thor believes that he’s dead and he believes that his father is back ruling and this is not the case, that Loki is actually taking his father’s spot, taking Odin spot there on the throne.



And bad things have happened since Odin has not been around and Loki has been up there in his glory, you know, getting all of his glory.



I really like the the movie in the movie, the play within the story.



And it’s kind of fun. Again, if you’ve ever heard me talk about your your story needs a dance scene, you know, this is this is the dance scene, right? This is theater that’s taking place.



And the Loki has. Created the image of himself and understand here, if you haven’t seen this or you have seen it, you know, you have odyn looking like we have Lokey looking like Odin and Odin look alike, is watching another actor portray Loki. So it’s got this whole great circle going on here. And if you haven’t seen it, Matt Damon is playing the character. It’s fantastic. It’s a lot of fun.



But Loki’s setting up his his own myth.



Right, of how he rescued everybody and and how important is. And of course, just with when Thor arrives and he sees this and he he finally realizes that this definitely is not my father can’t believe what’s going on, it’s got to be low key under here. And he threatens him in a way. And so Loki reveals himself. And now we’ve introduced our inciting incident.



This is this is the the the part of the story that sets us up to end everything in Act one to move forward and act. You know, this is not the end of Act one, but this is the setup for it that puts us on that path. And the path is here. Odin is gone and Odin needs to return to the throne. And that bad things have been happening since Odin hasn’t been there and Loki has hit him someplace. So we have to go and find Odin and bring him back.



Now, this is this problem is a much bigger problem, of course, than what we just had.



We had a little bit of success as Thor gets away and now we’re going to find Odin and we go to New York. Back to New York. Right. Because this is where Thor has been before. And we have some really cool stuff that’s going on here. And now, if you haven’t gone through all of the Marvel movies, that’s OK.



There are a lot of them out there. It builds a really good mythology.



And I love how it jumps characters around in different parts of this world. And so starting clear back from Iron Man when we’re first revealing that, hey, we’ve got superheroes out here coming into The Avengers where we have this cosmic problem and now the world knows about everybody that we have come to this point of coming back to New York several times now.



And here’s Thor in regular clothes, but even in regular clothes, people recognize who he is.



And they don’t just recognize who they are, who he is, he is a he is a celebrity on Earth. People know his story, I can just imagine, you know, that that if and I wish he would do this at some point in their, you know, toss in this little bit, you know, you’ve got you’ve got to have these video tabloid. Talking about these superheroes in their lives, right, and so that they know that Natalie Portman’s character, we acknowledge that that she’s not part of this story and she’s not.



And this is the third movie and she’s not in the third movie, but they talk about, hey, hey, sorry you had to because we’ve got these two people that come up to Thor and they’re like, hey, can we take a selfie with you? And we’re sorry that you broke up with your girlfriend. And he’s like, oh, it was I dumped her as a mutual. I mean, it’s it’s a lot of fun, but it’s a good way to to show how this world has changed over time for these heroes and also to be able to acknowledge because again, when you change the story, when you change stuff that’s happened off screen.



Changing characters, things, and you don’t want to have to go into a huge explanation of why this character is not there, but you also want to acknowledge that this character was there at some point. This is a good way to do it, that you have a walk on scene with with characters, one dimensional characters, unimportant characters. You don’t need to give them names or anything like that. And you deliver the information quickly that is giving service to your reader or to your viewer, who is a longtime longtime supporter of your series.



And then moving on.



And we don’t need to take a ton of time with it. In fact, it’s the only stuff we deal with with Natalie Portman character in the film.



So now. This also, if you’re building a big story world, this is key, where do these characters cross?



Now, this is one of the things that the Marvel Studios is doing so much better than everybody else is that they’re taking time to really establish characters outside singularly and their own stories, but then also crossing them over into other people’s stories.



And that’s where these really take good form and shape. Yes, they introduce new characters. Black Panther introduces great new characters. It still has Andy Circus’s our Andy Serkis character coming back into it to play a villain. I wish they would have had another superhero at some point in there for a moment like they do in Thor, where we have Dr. Strange pop in for for a quick scene.



And it’s a great scene, right? It’s a lot of fun.



And these same characters can come to different parts.



So instead of having to create a brand new character to do a small scene with, you have this huge wealth of characters that you can draw from from other films that your audience is already familiar with.



So in the same way, if you’re doing large. Story arcs, you’re doing a lot of different books, whether they’re standalone or whether they’re in a series, but they’re part of the same world, where can you draw these characters from and bring them in? Because it can really work and it can it can be more full with with these additional characters in this world. It makes the world come more alive and that these characters cross over.



It’s one of the things that that’s awesome about comics and not awesome about comics at the same time is the fact that we have this huge wealth of characters and that they can jump in and out of different stories.



In the comic book world, for a little while, Marvel had a theory or a plan, it was called Marvel Now, and the idea was, hey, we’re going to make sure that all of our stories are on line with each other so that we won’t have a story series that’s taking place that sets the world outside. You know, Thor is not appearing over in this story and also in another story that’s completely separate. So the idea was to keep everything on track, but it ran off track pretty quickly because it’s just difficult to run all these different shows at the same time or all these different.



Issues at the same time and being able to keep the story straight, because you’ve got different writers who are. Exploring different storylines, so in a book or in a movie, it’s a little bit easier as long as you’ve got a good show, who’s understanding where everything is going to be and where everything needs to line out, OK?



So with that in mind, you know, like keep keep that in mind where you can put these things in place and where things can take place. OK, so we find out that the Odan is not there in New York where he was left, the nursing home has been demolished. Dr. Stange knows where he’s at. They find him and sets up his belt to move them over to go and reach him.



And now we’re setting up major stakes. So Odan reveals the truth of what’s been going on and.



Of course, Thawra can’t believe it. He denies it, you know, that he’s like he again reiterates his overconfidence is arrogance.



You know, I’ve stopped Ragnarok.



You know, it’s not going to happen, Dad. I’ve taken care of it. And of course, the truth is, no, he hasn’t taken care of it.



In fact, everything that the both Loki and Thor have done have only helped to to set this up, to make Ragnarok happened.



And, of course, this is. This is its own, in its own way, a self-fulfilling prophecy, right, that these prophecies happen and. That bam, you know, like this, these are the problems that come because of how the characters are acting. So along with that, we have we have a great little scene there with Odin at the end saying goodbye to his sons were in Norway.



You know, where we’re establishing this myth to begin with the mythology of Thor and says, I’m home. And he goes drifting away in great Jedi fashion. And at this point, Thor’s pissed, right? I mean, he’s so pissed off at Loki for what he’s done, you know, for hiding him away here and for for causing some of these things.



But he’s not seen his own his own hand in this as well.



And because of his arrogance. And so he’s about to to lay the smack down on Loki when something more dangerous arrives.



Right. I mean, that’s how do you get enemies to work together?



Well, you you put a a obstacle that stops both of him and makes him, you know, that will put a stop to both of them unless they work together.



And so they try to work together because their sister shows up and they’ve never known about their sister until just moments ago when their father tells them the truth about how and how powerful she was and how he had to lock her away and prisoner. Now, that sounds pretty simple. And then we’ll learn more later in the story, which we won’t get to in this podcast. But it’s really good you’ve got to see this.



So we get introduced to Hallah and she’s the really big bad the huge villain in this story. And we establish immediately her voice. How does she sound? You know, how how is her cadence with what is she’s what she’s saying.



Powerful dialogue comes from establishing powerful characters. And we see that immediately in her and what she is and also her own abilities like these are important.



We’re establishing what is in this world. If you’re doing fantasy, you’re doing science fiction. You need to be able to show your audience what’s possible. You don’t have to explain it all, but you just need to show what’s possible, and so we we see that she can magically pull swords out of thin air.



Of course, this is something that Lokey has done previously in the scene with Dr. Strange, not Sorge, but he pulls out a couple of knives. And so you’re kind of thinking, well, maybe this is probably the same thing.



But her power, of course, is much more than what he does, which is also good to kind of show different types of levels here between the characters. And of course, in his arrogance, stories like, I’m done with this, you know, you won’t talk about it, whatever, I’m just going to solve the problem. Like I always solve it with hitting it with my hammer. Right. No problem.



Can’t be solved without just a little bit of brute force. And so, of course, he tosses the hammer. And this is the big scene. This is one of those scenes I was talking about. That’s actually the background. Go to the trailer. What’s a trailer? Watch the movie. They actually have changed the backgrounds in it so that you don’t know when that was going to take place. And I think it’s a cool decision that they made on their part.



So he tosses a hammer and it grabs it and crushes and destroys the hammer. This is the first step. I guess it really the second step, because Oden’s did the second step along his path of completely destroying the world that he knows.



Right. This act one is the world. He knows the world as it should be. You know, Thor on top, Thor with his hammer, Thor throwing it and destroying anything in his any obstacles in his path. And it’s gone. And of course, he even spends more time about this, like the relationship that he’s had with his hammer for such a long time.



So we have a quick fight there and. In Loki’s fear, he immediately calls for the bridge to be back open, back up, and Scourges is pulling them back up and way off of Earth. And she’s attached. She’s right there along for the for the ride.



And there’s a quick fight. And both Lokey and Thor get knocked out of the bridge.



And we don’t know what happens right when you fall out of this bridge because you’re getting sucked through the cosmos.



Then we switch new scene, scene seven, hello, arrives on Asgard and kills the rest of Thor’s friends.



So we’re moving everything that Thor knows and this is important, especially when you’re getting later into your series. How can you, as your character becomes more powerful, do you just continue to increase the power of the villains or do you remove things that make the character powerful that they then have to find ways to work around it? If you’ve got a character has magic, what if you removed the magic, if you know you have a superhero, like if you’ve seen Black Panther, you know, how do you remove the power there?



How do you remove the power from the character so that they have to learn how to do something differently on their own? Or how do they restore their power in this way? We’ve removed Thors power, his weapon, and he’s got to to face things on his own. So she arrives there, like I said, kills his friends. And we switch over to to the scene the next scene.



And Thor is dropping into a pile of trash on this planet he’s never been to before and is immediately confronted by the locals.



And he reaches for his hammer, but hammers, not their hammer, doesn’t come, and oddly enough, I think this is after seeing it so many times. This is my one thing that I’m like, I don’t understand this. Still don’t understand this. All right.



So far as what he’s the god of thunder. He fires lightning. He’s got all this stuff. And what does he get taken down by technically, like, you know, a a taser net? You know, they toss this net onto him and they shock him down into submission.



I’m not exactly sure how that works, but it does in this world, apparently. And so he’s taken out and which is something brand new. Right.



Introduction to this whole new world. We’ve seen the last crumbling of Act One as his old world falls away and his whole world is turned upside down.



And we’re introduced to another new character, Valkyrie. Definitely my favorite character in this in this movie. She’s fantastic.



She’s got flaws and such. Strong. Presence on the screen and how do you translate presence from a script or presence on the page? Right. This is what you need to think about with your characters. It’s the flaws that we give our characters. It’s the voice we give our characters. It’s how they act. This is what makes them recognizable immediately on the page or on the screen. Now, you don’t have the benefit.



Of having a live actor, perhaps, if you’re working script, awesome, but if you’re working books, how do you do this? You don’t have the picture. You can’t have them portray it in a particular way. You need to make sure that you’re portraying it in strength. And dialogue is really important with this action. How they how they act is really important. When she when Valkyrie walks off of the ship and she’s looking all badday and then falls off in a drunken stupor.



You know, this immediately shows things about her character and she takes out all the locals and thinks he’s saved. Right. He’s getting out of the net. He thinks everything’s good.



He needs to get home because he’s got to he’s got to fix his world. He’s got to hold on to it before it all falls apart.



But immediately, she tosses this disc onto his neck, which again shocks him into submission.



So, again, I don’t understand what’s wrong with the God of Thunder, why he’s not a little bit more insulated to this type of type of device, but need to have something right.



You needed to have something that would bring him to his knees, that would take that would take away the arrogance to take away his dependence on brute force and make him. Think a little bit, make him realize things and make him change his character, you want to put a character through an arc, you need to be able to tear things away so they can rebuild back up. All right, so one of the things that we do see, though, as I should have mentioned before, we get shot with the net when he first arrived there, he grabs one of these locals and just throws them right.



You see that he still has his strength and he throws this local clear over there.



And one thing you might not notice, if you’re just watching it, if you just watched it one time, is it Valkyrie also grabs one of these local guys and throws him about the same distance down the same direction, but the same distance.



You know, it’s a real oh, I can see my house from here type of moment, you know, like they go flying across the sky.



And so we should infer from that that both Thor and Valkyrie have the same amount of power.



One of the things that I think that would have made it a little bit more noticeable and so you’d be like, oh, oh, there’s something about her.



And it’s not just that she has a ship and shoots people. She’s got something else.



And maybe they didn’t want to draw this much attention to it, but so that we know when we go to this new planet that it’s not just the planet’s atmosphere that’s making them do this, if we would have had one of the locals tried to grab Thor and throw him or grab Valkyrie and throw her and see that they did not throw them as far than we would have gone on quick light bulb moment, there’s some connection between us because we can’t we can’t see how something works unless we contrasted with something that doesn’t work.



So it’s one of the things I would have done a little bit different there. But that’s all right.



So. At any rate soars again, like I said, he’s shocked and he’s being dragged away and this marks the total turn of his life and where we were right about 30 minutes and we’re at a two hour movie.



So guess what, 30 minutes for the first act, 30 minutes for Act three. And we’ve got an hour left for Act two, which is about right where you’re at. You know, for most of our division, if we’re looking at this in math. So it’s a good way to be. And one of the other things that you’ll notice with Hollywood is you can almost time it to your watch. Is it a ten minutes? They’ll be the inciting incident will occur.



And exactly here. Ten minutes where they’re.



Were there in Norway setting up the I’m sorry, 10 minutes were there setting up the inciting incident with Lokey revealing that Odin is no longer there on the planet. And we’ve got a real problem here that we got to take care of it. All right.



So that’s act one of Thor Ragnarok. That’s what’s going on in this now. So the takeaways here are where in your story, especially if you’re doing a series, how do you reintroduce characters? You know, how can you do that quickly? So you’re not spending a ton of time on backstory.



Take a look at at a darker shade of magic, which is really great stories.



But they get to book three and they’re taking chapters and chapters and chapters to set up what happened in Book two. So you need to be able to do it quickly where it doesn’t feel forced and it still engages with your audience because you’re going to have a lot of people who know these characters. And so they’re not gonna want to spend a lot of time.



But in case you have new people that come along, you want to be able to give them the information. This is a great way to do it. Next thing we need to establish during this act, one, we need to establish what is normal life for our protagonist, not normal life for everybody else, normal life for a protagonist.



So if they’re Thor, Thor is out there destroying the world, you know, like solving problems with a hammer.



And we see that. And now we’re taking things away. We’re setting up an inciting incident. What’s the problem? What is the thing that he’s on a path to stop Ragnarok, but he’s got a bigger problem.



Oh, my dad’s missing, so we got to go and solve this bigger problem.



But this bigger problem, the inciting incident, pushes him onto the path. Of taking everything away from him, and that’s a choice that he goes and makes, and then, of course, Hala pushes him and tosses him away, which leads him to a new place where he’s taken captive hammer destroyed, which is taking everything normal life upside down.



Life, right. We’re moving from Act one to act to where everything is now changed, everything is different. And he has to find a new way to operate, a new way to exist.



And we get deep into the character and he starts, you know, introspection and all this great stuff that makes for more of a lovable character, we should have seen this, you know, much earlier. And it took till Thor Ragnarok, the third in this movie to do this. And that’s OK. You know, like maybe that’s what it takes to get to where you want to be with your character.



So look at the arcs. Look where you where you’re at. How is a character normal? How can you start taking that away?



Because if the remains if he keeps his hammer and he’s knocked to this new world, he’s just doing the same stuff.



And so we want to see him doing different things, how can we take power away from our protagonist so that they’re put into a situation that feels the same, but it’s different, right? So we’re same, but different. That’s important. We’re paying respect to our fans. We’re giving them what they want.



We’re seeing these little parts where if we’re in a big story world, we’re taking characters from other parts of our stories and giving them little walk on.



So we’re using them instead of having to create new characters so that we’re building a world of familiarity and how it works and how it interacts.



And that’s it. That is it right there.



So I hope that I hope that you’re enjoying this. I hope that you have a good time listening to it.



And if if you’d like to to work on making your outlines better to to build a great first act, definitely check out the book at our show, Dotcom forgive edit. You’re going to have a great time working with me on building a fantastic outline.



So keep writing, keep building a better book, go for it.



Thank you for listening and come back next week. For more, please visit the book editor show dot com for show links to guest books and extras and for information on how to be a guest on the show.


Special Edition Why Does Wonder Woman Act 1 Work

Special Edition Why Does Wonder Woman Act 1 Work

Episode Resources

Show Notes


Welcome to the book at her show, Special Edition Story Opening’s so glad to have you here.

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Don’t forget that during the month of September, you can still take advantage of our very special introductory offer of iron clad, ironclad outlines.


Go to the book editors, show dot com forward slash dev edit and you can pick up a ironclad outline for only two hundred and fifty dollars.



And those are fantastic developmental editing tools to use before you even get started. Writing the first word, so these special editions are just going to be me, unfortunately. I know you want to hear from Peter, and we’re working that out to get both of us back together on the air at the same time, but I want to make sure that we’re delivering something to our faithful audience every single week. So in order to do that, I’ve created this idea of the special editions.



And so today I want to talk about a little movie you may or may not have heard of that came out here this summer. And it’s called The Wonder Woman.



Now that one ring any bells. Have you seen that yet? If you haven’t? We’re only going to be covering the first act, but there will be spoilers.



So if you’re really super, you know what? You don’t want to hear it just yet. Go ahead and stop this episode right now and pick it back up as soon as you’ve watched it.



Because what I want to do, I want to be able to show you what is actually working in this opening in this first act with Wonder Woman and why it’s working well and what’s happening in it so that you can apply it to your own story, whether you’re writing scripts or whether you’re writing fiction in the book form or video games, whatever it might be, whatever kind of story creation you’re doing, this kind of opening act will help you engage.



With your audience as the film starts off, we hear a voiceover, Diana. And we’re having this voiceover about what mankind is and what the world is and what’s worth saving it and also establishing that we are in the modern age now.



It’s it’s a little bit vague, the setup, because, again, she doesn’t want to do it by huge spoiler in the first few minutes of the show. But she wants to give kind of a a small reference point to where this all begins now, at the end, we come back to this scene, we come back to where we’re at here.



And this is a normal life type of scene, and she’s receiving a package, OK, and she opens this package up and in it is a relic, I want to call it.



So it’s a piece of film glass that the used with the old types of cameras excuse me, during the World War One era.



And in it is herself with some other people.



Now this I’m going to call it a relic this relic creates. A feeling that she then engages in and starts to remember what it is that’s happening and like I said, at the end of this, we come back to the scene. And what type of story is that, what type of story is it where you begin with somebody, you go into a story, you go through the story and you come back out on the other side where you began?



That’s called a frame story. And it’s a it’s a really good idea, you know, especially if you need to set up.



A world in a way that you’re trying to slowly bring people into it without having to drop a bunch of back story on them. This is a very simple way to do it. Yes, if executed well, it’s it’s very powerful frame stories can be very powerful stories.



Now, there’s a lot of poorly executed framed stories as well, though, you know, the whole idea of just someone oh, remember when we used to do this, you know, like all these friends sitting together and reminiscing about the old days and then it’s woo, woo, woo, woo, woo, you know, and it goes back in time.



And all of a sudden now we’re in that story. That’s not exactly what’s going on here. So what’s good about this is the vague set up of what it is that she’s learned. She asks a question. She states an answer without having the question, without having really the full answer and what’s going on there. So that makes us want to find out what it is about this relic that she’s gotten that makes her think about the past.



And at that moment, after that moment, we go back in time.



And this is another really good way, because remember, our Act One is so important because it gives us the opportunity to establish the character in normal life, normal life for James Bond is what, running around shooting when our shooting is going to say, shooting women, not sleeping with women, shooting people in general, men and women, both.



He’s equal opportunity, but he is a spy. So his normal life is spy work.



Normal life.



Before we get into the story with Diana, because she’s going back to when it is that she’s just a child, is not spy work, it’s not being a warrior. In fact, what it is that she wants most of all is to be that warrior, because where is she?



She’s on this island with all the rest of the Amazon women. And these are some of the baddest chicks in the world, right? I mean, they they know how to fight.



They’re strong, they’re agile. You know, they’re the greatest warriors the world has ever seen.



And Diana wants nothing more than to be one of them.



But her mother is always saying, no, this isn’t what it is, because she’s driving at home into her mind and this direct quote here, fighting does not make a hero. And that’s that’s a powerful message that fighting on its own is not heroic because.



It can cause a bunch of additional. Problems, it’s the control of it, it’s the discipline of it that really makes a hero and what they’re willing to sacrifice, so. In this little first scene where she’s still just a child, we get some good worldbuilding. We see what’s going on here on the island, but we also get some story.



And we get the Greek gods story of how man was created and how. Zus has or how Arie’s has manipulated man, and so Zus has then created the Amazon to go down and help man and try to bring him back.



And of course, it doesn’t necessarily work, but we get this really good idea of what’s going on and what’s really great about this is you have this scene where Diana is a child and her mom’s reading her a book and telling her these things, telling her these stories remember story, the importance of story and how we build our foundation for who we are.



And so she’s telling her this story and what works really well here, because if we had just jumped back to when Diana was an adult, just about ready to leave. It would feel awkward to have her sit down and tell her this story in this way, but. For your own work, one of the things to really remember is master and apprentice, it’s the uninitiated versus the one who knows.



And when we have a conversation that’s taking place between those two types of people, that conversation feels very real and very normal, versus if we had Diana’s mother having this conversation with her general, with her sister, it wouldn’t work because they both know the history.



But this little child doesn’t.



So look for places, you know, when you are when you’re like, you know what? I need to establish a little bit of back story here. I need to establish a little bit about what this world is. Look for places where you can have the uninitiated instructed by the master apprentice, master uninitiated initiated, you know, whatever however you want to look at it, the one who knows telling the one who doesn’t. And it gives an opportunity to explore these types of different areas.


  1. Before we move forward into her teen life, we also get a couple other little tiny worldbuilding things we set up that there is a God killer weapon. Hey. And in fact, Dana says, hey, can I see it? Mom takes her to this this huge tower vault type deal, you know, where they keep all their very special weapons. Excuse me, I need to take a drink. So like I was just saying, take her to this tower, right, have all these types of special weapons in there.



And Diana asks the question, who is powerful enough to wield this God killer sword?



And her mom says.



Only the fiercest of our warriors could do it, and that ain’t you, kiddo. So she really is trying to damper and and squelch the desire that Diana has to become a warrior because she’s a very protective her mother is very protective of her.






But Diana doesn’t listen. She goes behind her mother’s back and sets up private lessons with her mother, sister, the general, and begins to train. We flash forward now, she’s a teen, she’s still training. And amazingly, her mother has not found out until this point. So. We flash forward there and now all of a sudden, the thing that she desired to be trained is now going to be possibly taken away from her because her mom has found her, discovered her in this in this deception that she has that Diana has done.



And but also at the same time, Diana’s mother feels a great deal of betrayal versus her sister for training her for training Diana, which makes a lot of good sense.



We get the feeling of who these characters are and what their roles are. So they have a conversation after after Diana is taken away.



So remember this type of story, whether you’re doing a book form or on the screen video game, that you’re going to have to be able to step away from the main character. So Diana is ushered off. She’s not on screen anymore.



Now we’re just with two other characters. So this would work well. And what third person, third person worked very well for this first person would not. So we stay and we stay there, pointed out the two women, and we set up the danger of areas and who he is, and we contrast that with her mother’s idea of protection, OK? She wants to keep Diana safe because Aries could be out there and come for her if he can find her.



So we’re also getting some additional questions being asked. Why?



Why is Diana so important? So what makes her different than the rest of the Amazons?



We flash forward again, we come forward to see when she is now a woman and we get to see her abilities. Oh, let me back that up just a moment.



Diane, his mother, agrees with the general that she can continue to train, but not only just to train, to train, to become the fiercest of all of them, you know, that she cannot hold back in this train and she has to never, never give her quarter continually pushing her that so she becomes the finest warrior ever.



And so, again, like I said, flash forward, she’s a woman and we get to see her abilities, how well she’s trained, how well she’s come along during this time and she’s beating everybody.



And she looks for her mother’s approval, and at that moment, the general takes a punch. And Knox is to the Knox, Diana to the ground, and so we know at that moment, you know, that, hey, you let your guard down and she’s trying to teach her a lesson. You know, you don’t ever don’t ever let your guard down. Don’t ever think things are going to be OK because the enemy can be right there ready to pounce again.



And as they’re fighting and and Diana has now become armed, she’s disarmed. We see, you know, that she’s blocking herself, blocking the blows with her, with her, I can’t even think what they’re called, though. There’s an actual name for kind of gauntlets, but not with the hand. Sorry, I’m afraid I cannot come up with that. But anyway, she’s protecting herself with her wrist guards. We’ll just call them that for right at the moment.



And as she does so, she’s blocking these blows. She kind of, you know, powers up in the animal type sense and delivers this blast.



That knocks the general back and actually hurts.



Her mentor, Herts Dianna’s mentor, and when this happens, you know, she she wants to be the best, Diana wants to be the best fighters, but she doesn’t actually want to hurt her friends and the people she cares about.



And so she takes off.



And this is where we have something happen. This is our inciting incident. So she runs to the to the cliff’s edge to look over the sea, perhaps to think about what it is that she’s done and why she’s glancing out there.



Lo and behold, here comes this plane by plane flying just appears in the sky, flies in. And crashes into the water. Now, Diana has no idea what a plane looks like. She has no idea what modern weapons are any of these types think none of the Amazons do.



But it doesn’t stop her from immediately diving in to rescue whoever happens to have crashed into the water there.



Excuse me, so not only does she rescue this person, it’s also a man, a man who in no men are on this island, you know, and so something else is different here.



One of the things that this does is jumping into the water does is it establishes Diana’s deepest character. You know, there are like three types of people, right, in a situation like this, there’s a person who freezes up who just can’t believe what’s happening.



There’s a person who actually goes and runs and hides. Right. You know, they’re going to protect themselves.



And there’s the one that runs into the problem, and that’s who Diana is, she dives off the cliff. She has no idea what a plane is. She has no idea what this might happen, what might happen to her.



But she believes that she needs to help. And that belief carries her forward. OK, so diving in. Then again, we get another again, this works in third person, we go on board the boat with the Germans, so we get to see some of the bad guys and it’s a little strange because they say, where did this fog come from?



But I mean, like, seriously, like, this is the one thing that I kind of have a drawback with with the film is that it doesn’t look like a fog. It looks like Knight looks like day versus night. But when they leave later on, you know, anyone doesn’t really matter.



But you get an additional scene to show the bad guys. And sometimes I think showing the bad guys is cool.



But the only way you can do it well is in third person. So. We have this beach attack here, these Germans come in through the bubble, you know, that’s covering the island, you know, it’s protecting it from people seeing it. And as they come in, they got the guns. They’re coming on shore.



The Amazons are clearly the better warrior.



Hey, they are bar none the best. The blades don’t beat bullets. And so they lose some of their members, which they probably never would have done had it been a sword on sword, you know, they’ve been fighting each other in hand-to-hand combat the entire time. But these bullets add something new, something they were not expecting, something that they didn’t even realize existed.



So we have this we have this attack, and at the end of it, unfortunately, the general dies. Her mentor, Diana’s mentor, has been now slain and they do beat back the the Amazons do beat back the Germans. They kill the ones who are all that are there. The man who has fallen out of the sky also helps Diana, you know, keep her safe. But we go forward, we have a new scene and we’re in interrogation mode now, hey, this is a good time.



Derogations are really great to add. You know, get some additional get some additional information that you might not be able to get otherwise.



So we have this interrogation and not only do we get the interrogation, which he’s going to give us some info. We also get to see some of the cool artifacts that they use here on the island, one of which is the lasso of truth, and while it’s wrapped around him, he is compelled to always tell the truth, even if it hurts, even if he’s trying to stop it. He will tell it. And so because of this, we set up who the villains are, right.



We get to see who the mad scientist doctor is. We get to see who the evil German general is.



And we get a sense of what’s going on. We set up the villains, we also set up the stakes of the world, right, that if this doesn’t work, if he cannot get these plans back, if he can’t get this information back to his people, there is going to be the chance that there will be life long war. And this pops an idea into Diana’s head. You know, the idea of lifelong war means what? And this is World War One.



Lifelong law means what? Oh, it can only mean one thing that Eris is back. The Aries is manipulating, man. And what is our job? Our job is to stop Herries, not this German general or this. Mad scientists to stop Herries. So he’s the big problem, he’s the overarching he’s the emperor, you know, standing behind Darth Vader, and she believes that his her duty, Diana wants to go.



But Mom, she says, no way. You are not going this is not your fight, you’re going to stay here. So we have this great little scene where we get to set up our character’s main motivations and both of them are well aligned, both Diana and our spy are both in line to be protectors.



They’re both protectors in this world.



And that kind of idea of being a protector, being the person who runs into the fight.



They both can respect each other because of that. So Diana is now faced with a choice, a dilemma, a real doozy of a problem that she needs to either obey her mother.



Hey, mother, sisters dead now. Do I do I stay and listen to mom or fulfill her believed duty, her duty to go after areas, to fight areas she doesn’t see herself as wielding, she’s never wielded the God killer sword, but she knows that the reason why Zus created the Amazons was to stop these things from happening.



And she feels that it’s her duty. She has to do it. So she makes a strikes a deal with our spy and they’re going to take off from the island together. He’s going to take her to the war so she can find Eris and she’s going to make sure he gets back.



So they go to leave before they do. She runs over and grabs up a bunch of weaponry from the from the tower, including, you know, she takes the lasso, she takes a shield, she takes the God killer sword that’s in there. And she makes a decision that she’s going to go and do what she believes is right, OK?



She’s going to fulfill her believe duty. And so they take off to go. Now, think about this scene.



Her desire in this scene is to leave the island with the spy to help him out. She’s already overcome the obstacle of obeying her mother. She’s not going to obey or she’s going to go. But we have to have an additional confrontation just before they’re about to leave a bunch, of course, with women on the back right up and Dianna’s. Mother is there. OK, so Diana has this heart and willingness to fight. For those that cannot, which is very cool, but when her mom shows up.



She says. Don’t forget, if you leave, you can’t come back. So this is a one way ticket for Diana, so she’s posed with one final obstacle to leave. Now, this is important what I should say. Why is this important?



OK, this is so important because we need to have our protagonist making the decision to go into the plot, to go into the story, and we have to put realistic or life threatening obstacles in the way that they need to make that decision.



So not only has she disobeyed her mother, she is also choosing to never come back and see her mother again. So her inner desire, that inner desire, the duty to help others to defeat Aries has to be so strong to do these two things.



Has to trump those two things. So think about that when you’re working on characters and you’re having trouble deciding why is it that they why does this feel fake? Why can’t why why are they going to do this? Has to be that it’s so important to them that they’re willing to sacrifice things that may be important to us. As a reader, so right before she goes, her mom says, I love this line, you know, you’re my greatest love.



Always been my greatest love, and today you’re my greatest sorrow. But Diana doesn’t buy into that, she doesn’t buy into guilt, and I don’t think she’s actually mom’s actually guilt tripping her here. But she could, you know, and she could say, oh, I don’t want to disappoint my mom, I’m going to stay. So. She doesn’t, though, and she makes a choice. And she makes a choice to go into the world, to go into this story, so they take off and we get one last, you know, you got to be third person.



We get one last scene with her mom and one of the other soldiers.



And the soldier asks. Should you have told her? And that’s all she says, should you have told her? And the mother responds with the more she knows, the sooner he will find her. So we get this great question mark. What should she have told her?



What what is this secret? What’s the secret that everyone else seems to know? The Diana does not know. And what does that mean for her life? So keeping the mystery there allows us to have even more impact moving from our first deck into our second act.



I hope you enjoyed this. This is this is the first of what I what I know is going to be many of these special editions. I just want to hit the first acts on these first acts sometimes are very difficult to do. And so I want to show you some of them that are working really well.



I’m also going to show you some that don’t work at all and so you can take from it. And I like using in the movies because you could sit down and spend 40 minutes taking a look at this now, 40 minutes.



That’s like novella length if you’re going to be writing a novel length.



This is going to be stretched out more.



We’re going to actually see more of what normal life is like. We’re going to see more of what’s going on in the inciting incident and the time in between all these things before we move in to our second act. All right, and to our listeners, if you like the show, please leave us a review on iTunes. Plus on Google or like on YouTube, if you’re an editor who’d like to be a guest on the show. And also, if you’d like us to edit part of your work, live on air, stop by the book.



Ed, show DOT, drop us an email. I’m Clark Chamberlain, in for my co-host, Peter Turley. Keep writing, keep learning and build a better book.



Thank you for listening and come back next week. For more, please visit the book editor show DOT for show notes, links to guest books and extras, and for information on how to be a guest on the show.


Collaboration and Editing in a Storyverse

Collaboration and Editing in a Storyverse

Fiction Vortex’s David Mark Brown and Michael C Cluff join Clark Chamberlain to discuss their writing collaboration and what it’s like to edit in a storyverse.


Are you ready to take your writing to the next level then? Welcome to the book. Ed Show joined Clark Chamberlain and Peter Turley each week as they teach you all the tips, tools and techniques you need to move your book from manuscript to market. Visit the book editor, show dotcom for schnooks, links to guest books and extras to make your old novel better than ever. Now, please welcome Clark Chamberlain and Peter Turley. Welcome back to the book at her show.


I know it’s been a long time, but we are back today. We’ll be talking about collaboration and editing in a story first. And unfortunately, the angelic voice of Peter Turley will not be joining us. But I do have two amazing guests, David Mark Brown and Michael Seacliff.


Michael attended Boise State University, where he focused on creative writing after multiple classes with author Alan Niekerk. He started editing his book, Boult. It was during that time he discovered his neck and love for editing while Mark R. while David Mark Brown started writing full time in 2010. And at that point he determined that the independent route would be the one for him. That’s where his focus has been ever since. His writing passion quickly landed on short episodic stories around 10000 words each.


And of course, at that time, the only people he could find doing serial fiction in a similar matter were Sean Platt, Dave and David Wright with yesterday’s gone. And that form made sense to him. And of course, these two in 2010 started small writing Project Journal with two other friends, and it was called Three Words, One Story, and they published Flash Fiction. Nine hundred fifty three words, Max. And this has just turned into some amazing things.


I had a great opportunity to meet with the fiction vortex while I was at LTV this spring, and I was just blown away with what they’re doing. Plus the fact that you guys are also in Idaho on the other side of the state. But here and I’m just really glad to have you on the show.


How are you guys doing? Doing good things. Yeah, doing good. Excellent. So what has this year been bringing you? In the world of story, in the world of story, wow, well, this year has been about mostly preparation for launching our version 1.0 of our mobile app. So we have been scaling up and adding authors like crazy. I don’t know. Mike, you want to throw a little bit about some of the story verses and stuff that we’ve been.


Crying Yeah, a year ago this time, we only had three story verses, one was actually David’s that he’d been working on for a while. Another one was one that was a collaboration between. Together, the basically the David, myself and guys. And then we came across some guys from England that wanted to start one, they’ve already had a script writing website where they just did a bunch of collaborative collaboration on script writing. And that was just a year ago.


Since that time, we’ve been able to grab a few more story versus we have ashfall, which is an urban paranormal. That’s the one that’s live right now. And then we’re going to have. We have a bunch of them in the hopper right now, that’s the that’s the hard thing to pick up the whole time if we we went over all of them. But we’ve got some cool ones. We got quite a bit. That’s postapocalyptic. We’ve got steampunk one called Gear Gears, Gunpowder and Souls of Metal.


Magic is just like your classic unicorn versus dragons. And all of these have multiple, multiple series going in them already. So that’s been a big part of our of our last year is just really getting to know these guys and gals that are that are writing for us and helping them develop their story world.


And that’s really cool. And I think it’s a it’s an interesting way how this all came together. I mean, starting with flash fiction.


So take me through, you know, where you’re at now, where you’ve got this huge story versus you work with multiple authors on some more episodic type pieces. But it started off with writing under a thousand words. So take me through that.


So I’m going to throw David under the bus a little bit. He actually wasn’t I don’t even know David at that time for that one. It was actually two friends and myself went to LTA back in 2010. We were sitting there waiting for a class to start. And we all three of us said, well, our lives aren’t going to like it if we actually don’t do any writing. Why were you here to write in conference? We better. Do some writing while we’re here, so darn hope he pulled up a word generator, pulled up three random words.


Additive and believe to additives and. That’s where that started, wee wee wee broke some flash fiction off of that, just right on the spot was a fun. We got home a week later. I emailed the guy and said, we got to do this as a site. This is really fun. We did nine hundred fifty three words just because everybody was doing a thousand. We wanted to be a little bit of stinkers and do the more hardcore.


Yeah. Yeah. And the three words were the three words that you’re giving that you’re, you’re supposed to use those in there. And so we, we have that going for a while. It was just it was just a glorified writing group was fun, though. We had probably about 10 different authors contributing to it. Two of which were just sort of your. Organic heads off of Google, they found is that way and submitted to us and it was fun, it was a fun little thing.


There some great fiction that came out of it. We wanted to make it. More legit, I guess you could say, and so we started Fiction Vortex. Next, we had somebody that was willing to back us a little bit financially. And so with that, we started the second vortex we went through. The short story circuit for probably about. Three years, two years into that, that’s when I met David and we got involved with fictional war shortly after that.


Our benefactor actually, due to some market issues or stuff like that, had to drop out and so we were about ready to close down fiction vortex. And David said, hey, we’ve been developing this shared story world together and this writing group on the site. What fiction vortex is about shared story worlds and and writing episodic fiction, because you’d already been doing that for a while and he wanted to leverage a lot of the readers we had in everything and really use that as a good platform.


So we went for it. And that’s where David, that was probably, what, about three years ago, four years ago, that we changed the focus. Yeah, probably a little over three years ago when we shipped it over and said, hey, let’s let’s do this work on this together.


Well, let’s let’s pause it for just a moment and explain what these we’re using the term story versus you’ve got people in different authors working in these.


Explain a little bit more about what story verse is about what fiction vortex is doing that is really, honestly very unique in what’s happening right now in the indie publishing world. Sure, you want me to take a stab at it first, Mike? Yeah, go for it. Well, the story versus our shared story whorls. So think of Marvel, think of Star Trek or Star Wars or whatever your sort of favorite example is where you might have multiple series all going, but within a shared framework.


So, you know, some of the story verses that we’re working on, the writers are overlapping quite a bit. They share characters, they share all this and the same like the ashfall story versus all within Ashbolt. And so they have their characters kind of crossing paths with each other and different things going on within this weird paranormal city of ash falls. While some of the other story versus the hybrid versus the one that we we originated the process with is a massive kind of post humans space opera.


So some of the series take place a thousand years after the others, but they’re all shared world share rules. So that way it gives us that scaffolding to to share and to collaborate with and to work off of. We develop that together. So all of the story verses that we have going now, there’s a story over his head that is in charge of kind of organizing everybody, getting everybody on the same page, making sure that stuff is fitting together and just in and gives the author’s kind of a sandbox environment to play around and to come in and throw their own ideas and kick off from a starting point and write and be able to accomplish more collaboratively.


And and that way, within that story verse, when it goes live, you know, we’re able to push out a new usually they average around ten thousand words an episode so we can push out a new episode on a weekly basis out of that shared story world.


And if so, if you’ve got an offer that’s working in a particular story for a story world, do you ever have to come in and be like, oh, that is that’s going way off from where we see this world being? Like you said, you had someone that’s kind of almost like a guess, I would say a show runner. Like the you’ve got someone who’s kind of in charge of the world. Yeah, so a good example is as follows again, that came from a short story that was submitted to us.


Told the we told the author, Jeremy Schofield, we said this is a great story or stories, but we love the world you’ve developed. That and we said, hey, you know, this is our concept, our story concept expand, would you like to expand your world and get some more authors involved in it? And yeah, he took us up on it. And he’s been he’s he’s our. Working really hard. He actually has helped through his systems to help us set up a lot of our.


Procedures and things like that. But he yeah, he’s the one that he can moderate back and say, hey, that’s not part of what we’re going through. What are stories about and he can. That way, we’ve had a few different cereals that we wanted to see if he’d be interested in. He wasn’t he wasn’t interested in those. So they’re authors. Other other boxes were our story verses were created. Heard they went over and found ways to mesh with the different ones, so there’s some flexibility, but reverse Head does have a final say on who comes in to their group.


That’s really cool and gives, of course, you know, some direction, it kind of reminds me at one point in time, of course, we’ve seen it in the Marvel movies. They’ve done a pretty decent job of linking things together. Sometimes in the actual Marvel comic books they don’t like heroes are out doing their own thing. And they’re like, well, last issue, he was over here in the Spider-Man book and now he’s over there in the X-Men book or something.


But there was a short period of time. They did this for a little while. It’s called Marvel now. And they worked really hard to, like, tie every single book together so that what was happening in one book was happening in the other books and all these types of things. So but to be able to get that level of that’s got to be difficult. Like being able to like because how many authors do you have writing in one of your story versus at a time.


Typically, yes, go ahead. Now, usually about four to five.


So for an editor, for an editor to to get all this stuff together and connect all this to tell me how does that process work? Yes, like I said, we’ve been learning the process because it’s a new platform, but we’ve we we heavily utilize. We’ll drive, we created a Google Drive filesystem format that they all have to use every single one. So there’s that continuity between them all. And so it’s easy for me as an editor, David, as an editor and some of our other editors to be able to step in and just say, hey, I want to find this episode, I want to find this process, and it’s all right there.


So that was one of the first things we had to do. The other thing we do is lots of communication between each other. We we use the program to really talk with each other. Lots of the nice thing is with that is it can just every every story verse has its own conversation on Slack. So it’s not like on Facebook where you’re just getting bombed with everything that’s not necessarily relevant to your exact project. So it’s a it’s a way to help our authors focus and then we can jump back and forth between those conversations and put where we can.


And they give us notifications where. But Google Drive is definitely one of the biggest things that we use when it comes to actually collaborating and doing peer feedback and the final edits.


Another thought I just had with all of this is like, so again, tell me how many story versus you’re running right at this moment, running right at this moment?


Is it four or five, David Lewis? Yeah, we just got the four that have gone live at the white events ready to go. We’re just waiting on the app that we’ve we’ve got 10 and process 10 or 11 in process.


And we want to triple double that number of double, quadruple that number by this time next year.


That’s really cool. So if so, as you’ve been building these other ones, tell me, how does that start? I mean, I’m sure it starts from a short story or an idea, but like, how does that expand then into a story versus the universe with which you can start to invite other authors? Because, I mean, there’s some that just seem like, yeah, this is a cool story, but it probably wouldn’t make into a whole bunch of other stories as well as some maybe genres or specific areas.


Yeah, I think that the Wizards and Spaceland is a really interesting example. So it’s a satire, one that we just recently started developing and that one actually began trying to remember. We we wanted to start a satire storyboards. Right. Right, right. Yeah. And so we were like, OK, we really want to move into the direction of satire. We had some interesting satire submissions, but nothing that really seemed like it would like you were saying, Clarke, nothing that really would work very well to create the scaffolding for everyone else to join in.


And then we got the Guild Employees Gambit submissive. So you want to go into the rest of that, Mike, doesn’t have that really caught our imagination. We like that one. Well, yeah, and he that was Eugene that submitted that Eugene Margulies and he. I probably butchered your last name right there. He he submitted the story we like once again, we’re like we’re not doing short story format and this doesn’t really fit any of our existing story verses, but we thought it was hilarious.


The story was absolutely hilarious. So we we asked him if we wanted to start his own story verse. And then we see that one of the great things about having. Freeze for three years was fiction or text beforehand, is that we have this treasure trove of authors. Can dip back into and we can reach out to him. We’ve actually brought back four or five different authors from the original fiction Vortex magazine to start writing. Writing their series within within story versus So.


We put that out there and with Eugene, though, we said, hey. Once we get some some ideas or some other ideas that can work in your box, we’ll send them your way and you can talk with them. And we also put it up on the website. We said, hey, we’ve got Wizards’ in space. It’s a satire fantasy. High fantasy science fiction. We need to fill it, and that’s when submissions start to come in for it, and so Eugene was very much part of that process.


People would reach out to us through our submissions, email, and then we turn around and say, OK, Eugene, we got this one. Take a look. If you want to reach out to them, here’s the email we’d look at the authors say we tell them, hey, we’ll go ahead and send this over to our story head and they’ll take a look and we’ll get back with you. Ultimately, he’s the one that took over that and we didn’t do any recruitment for it.


Well, that’s really cool and definitely that the author is starting certainly has a vision of what it is that they’re trying to create. And so being able to have that creative control there, that’s really powerful. There was a question that’s asked on the feed over on YouTube.


Are the are are there overlaps and or adaptations between different story versus.


That’s a good that’s a good question. We’ve talked about doing that we we have our steampunk alternate history story verse that was largely set in the United States, the Western, the Western Hemisphere, and partially. The old world, England and France, but we also had a really cool steampunk story that was set in during the Boxer Rebellion and we were going to have those to be their own separate story versus unfortunately, the author had to back out just for now.


But that was a plan, one is going to be a lot of the same genre and there was going to be some overlap between the two of them. Peter overlaps, we haven’t planned that. We do have one common theme, though, that I’ve noted that’s already in at least led to this story versus what, the superintelligent sasquatches?


OK, so that’s that’s an Easter egg. Yeah, that’s that’s that’s an inside running joke with with us. I’ll give everybody jokes with the original group. One night during our writers group, we’re sitting around coming up with just crazy bad names. Because because why not? Yeah, why not? The one of them that David came up with was a gallon jug punch. So in the hybrid verse, every story in the hybrid verse, you’re going to see a point where a small, diminutive person comes out and lands one between somebody’s legs.


So that’s that’s an straight look or that. And then the other one. The other one is. Is the superintelligent Sasquatch and where we in one of our story versus we’ve got it under development right now, they play a larger part, but in David’s to David stories in the hybrid verse, they play a part as well. You get introduced to one by the people finding that severed arm.


It ends up that the Sasquatch is actually the most ancient entity in the universe and that they’ve been here much, much longer than people and they really know what’s going on. So you’ll find Sasquatch is all over the universe and different planets. It’s just that.


So that’s just a little thing that we’ve done. And we and yeah, there is I guess you could say it’s public domain. There’s certain things we have their public domain. We haven’t had many. Reverse authors and heads want to branch out beyond that quite yet, because I still think they are establishing we’re basically basing it off of sort of a TV format, their first season of their stories and their series within within that story versus. Yeah, so all these authors have be a lot more of that.


They’ll be under contract to finish a single season and then after they finish that season, we’ve already had a couple of people that have kind of finished their rough draft process of an entire season with that one story verse. And they’ve been like, OK, can I go right over in this story verse? And so then they’ll jump over and begin on a season and a different story verse. And I think the more of that we see with authoress kind of finishing a season here and then going over and doing a season here, we’ll start to see more invitation’s between those different story versus kind of collaborating a little bit because they’ll be so much crossover with the authors.


And how many how many would say, episodes or stories or in a season. Eight to 12 usually. And have you have you moved any from one season into another season? Do you have any that are multiple now or are we all still just in season one? So far, we haven’t. And I started watching season two stuff and chiasm it, I can’t remember. You haven’t started launching, but you’ve you’ve got under development. I know you’ve got some something.


I’ve got some of the stuff written in. So I think some of the authors have come in and just planned from the beginning. I’m going to do one season and I’m going to you know, I’m planning to resolve all of my my at least threads in my story arc over that one season. And then I know some of the other authors and a lot of the stuff that I’ve been working on. I’m planning three to five seasons worth of content on some of these series, and that’s really cool.


So now that you’ve been doing collaboration for this long, I wonder some, because this seems like a very smart way to do writing in the new world.


And it seems like it’s a it’s a great way. I mean, we’ve seen it in Hollywood for a long time in the writers rooms. You know, different people bring different strengths to the table. So how let’s say someone has not done any kind of collaboration. What are some of the pitfalls that they should be aware of? What are some of the things that they should be looking for before they start collaborating with somebody else? So one of the things I mentioned that we use slack.


Our authors and they communicate largely with each other. We have some general conversations that all of them are involved with and they communicate really well. One of the things. Process is even just within its individual story versus if. Communication, at least every other day we check in. Keep people from the cracks, they get left behind and there’s there can be some changes, there can be some new developments within those story versus amongst the authors that are actively participating.


Virgin’s space, I had to mute that conversation because I would start reading it and just start laughing and laughing and not getting anything done because those guys are constantly communicating. So. Because I’d bring up. First of all, first of all, is you have to communicate with each other. I mean, I know a lot of authors are introverts by nature, creatures of comfort in their own little writing space or their coffee shop, wherever they may be.


But you have to branch out and work with somebody else and you have to offer up a bit of trust to I mean, you are you are putting your your. Manuscript’s baby on the sacrificial altar of three to four other authors to work with and potentially tear apart. Luckily, we haven’t had any. Any issues with authors being upset about the development that their series have taken? Consensus, all of them are pretty happy that they’ve had the peer feedback because it’s like a beta reader group.


And Philip, their work is stronger for it. So getting over that initial hurdle of, OK, do I want to trust these people with my work is a big part of the collaboration and the ashfall story versus the one that kind of started the spreadsheet for shared characters and places.


And since they have so much in left, they they basically have a spreadsheet where they put all of their stuff. That’s like these characters and places are open for, you know, derivative stuff. And then, like, I’m keeping this guy over here. I don’t want anybody to to use this character. I mean, if you need to mention name or whatever, you can ask me and I’ll make sure he’s mentioned properly. But that way they kind of kept it straight where they can cross over and where they don’t really want people messing with their stuff.


Yeah, that makes total sense, you know, because and it’s probably one of the biggest fears for the Star Wars universe now in the hands of Disney, you know that Vader opening up a bagel stand someplace or something like that because, you know, they’re going to be making some movies like that, you know, going to the comedy side of all of it on Christmas special.


Again, I’m fine. Yes.


So how how are readers finding you?


Well, at this point, we are focusing mostly on the app and so the readers that have found us so far, we did a Kickstarter probably like 18 months ago or so, 20, 20 some months ago, and found kind of a little initial audience that gave us a base that’s helped us bootstrap since then so that we knew there would be at least some people reading and giving us some feedback. And since then, it’s really been about let’s let’s figure out the system.


Let’s how do we do this? Is it workable? Are people interested? Can we prove the model? And so we’ve used our little WordPress website to kind of organize stuff and prove the model. And we we can push a few episodes here and there. But we’ve been building out our mobile app, which is supposed to be. Going public in the Iowa store today, so we’ll see if that actually happens. Yeah, and so that’s where our focus is now.


I mean, we’ve we’ve landed a major promotional deal with a pretty popular YouTube channel that will get a couple of promotions to our target audience over the summer and the fall. And so the plan is really to try. This is what we’re trying to do. We need to appear on the scene as magically as possible so that, you know, we we hit hopefully somewhere in the at least hundreds of thousands of downloads, if not a few million downloads at the exact same time that we populate the app with about 50 to one hundred different series that are all ready to be read within these 10 story verses.


So if we can pull that all together at once to where there is plenty of stuff for people to read and plenty of readers hitting the platform at once, and all the authors are releasing content on a regular schedule, then hopefully within several months people will be like, whoa, where did this come from?


Yeah, which should be absolutely amazing and wonderful and for your authors as well. And to talk about authors, if. If you if an author is listening to this and is interested in having an opportunity maybe to work with you or having you take a look at their work, how do they go about submitting or application or application process or what’s involved in that? So we have we have that on the website right now, we have our submission process and our guidelines.


Basically, we want a short. Pilot many episode submitted to us anywhere from thirty five hundred words for thousand words, Max, because this is basically a tryout. We want to see if the authors have the ability to present a world in a short fiction format, show that it’s a rich world that has some depth, show that they have writing skills. And also and this is really important because with the episodic format, it’s not the same as writing chapters.


We want to see a complete story arc within that very short submission. It’s not the way that all the episodes are going to be after that, because those are going to be ranging anywhere, depending on the age group you’re focusing on. That is going to be ranging anywhere from five thousand on up to 12000 words. We know the trial process and we we shop the via the story around to the story versus heads, if they don’t, the people tell us they want to insert a specific story versus they say it’s a specific story versus turn right over to that head.


And we’ve had a few lately that are just trying to come up with their own story version themselves and start that slow process. And they submitted to submissions at at a fictional Texas dot com. I was just going to ask and so it is just fiction, fiction, vortex, dotcom is the site. Yes, yes.


So as we’re wrapping things up here, I really appreciate you guys being on. Is there anything that you’d like to add that we didn’t hit, that you’d want people to know about what you’re doing? Guess the name of the app itself is fiction, right? So our website is Fiction Vortex, and then if people want to keep an eye out for the app, it’s fiction or fiction. I know is the website and the fiction. I should be hitting the store real soon and then it’ll be hitting Droid within the next couple of weeks as well.


And it’s we call it fiction because we came up with as it’s an element, it’s the unlimited element, because really we’re trying to prevent our present stories that have. Path that people can take, they don’t like this series, hop on to another series, if they do like a series, they can be like, oh look, there’s four other series with the same story world that I can go get lost into. So one of our tagline is come join the story.


What are the other things that we’ve got going on with the app that we haven’t hit on very much is we’re trying to make it not so much to choose your own adventure, but have to have some story dynamics so that there is some communication between readers and authors and a game of find the reading process so people can. And use points to, you know, maybe kill off a character, create a character or choose a plot, things like that, and not all the authors are signing up for the dynamic option, but some of them are really excited about that and already have it built into their stories.


And it’s going to be fun to be really involved in a in the story. And once it’s once it’s finished season, then it’s it’s hard, hard published. Work can’t be altered or anything like that, those people can go back and read that like that, that was that was my influence on that point right there. And that that’s going to be fun. Well, that’s really cool, that’s really cool and I really appreciate Mike David, I really appreciate you guys being here.


Everyone go check them out. Fiction vortex, dotcom and the app, which will be soon available. Fiction night and I’ll be all right. Yes, OK, excellent. So sweet.


And and then available on iOS and Android very shortly.


So if you like this show, please leave us a review on iTunes or like here on YouTube, share it with your friends and your enemies.


And also don’t forget, check out the book ed show dot com slash forward slash potter. You can get the brand new advanced novel writing with Harry Potter, of course, which is fun and wonderful. And even if you just want to go and watch the little trailer video, I guarantee you’re going to have a little bit of a laugh. So at any rate, I appreciate everyone being on the show today and I will talk to you soon.


Thank you for listening and come back next week. For more, please visit the book editor show dot com for show notes, links to guest books and extras, and for information on how to be a guest on the show.

Get Published in 2017

Get Published in 2017

Episode Resources

Show Notes


Welcome to the Book Editors Show. Today we’re going to help you accomplish your goal of getting published in 2017.

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And if you are ready to move forward with your professional editing, stop by the book editors dot com. We can help in every stage of your work from preproduction, developmental editing, copy editing to proofreading. Stop by today and let us know how we can help you build a better book. I’m Clark Chamberlain.



And in a world where humble men and women and children are driven to the breaking point by the bitter frost of Winter’s night, only one man has the audacity to stand against the onslaught.



Only one man has the capacity to stand against the endless snow. Only one man has the proper capacity to be seen through the whiteout. That legendary man is my friend and co-host Peter Turley. Peter, how’s it going today?



I’m particularly opaque today. Yes, you are definitely not transparent. Not today. Not today. The time times. You’re so transparent with us, though. Everything you do.



I’m really good. Yeah. I’ve just come back from a couple of days, sort of Christmas vacation, which has been really nice, a bit of a city break, which is always good, you know, replenish the well, as they say.



But yeah. Other than that, other than that brief intermission, the comma in my Christmas sentence, it’s been pretty manic. So what about yourself? Oh, the same.



You know, Christmas just came all at once.



It felt like we got over, I don’t know my calculations to get out of the inches, but we got over like 16 inches of snow. So a foot and a half almost have snow here. And on Christmas Day and I went out and tried to shovel the driveway and threw my back out. And so I spent the rest of Christmas and the few days following just lay up in bed and couldn’t even, like, move. So that was fun.



I like being old, an elderly Christmas, an elderly Christmas, an elderly Christmas Carol.



So I do want to mention again that we are moving to the speaker excuse me, the speaker platform at the end of January. And this should be a simple process. But if you stop getting the show, Dear Listener automatically downloaded, it could be an RSS feed issue or Peter and I have just gone off the grid. One of the two could be there. It is possible. Yeah, we could we could be in the ah, underground bunker hiding from from from editorial problems.



Sometimes I’d like to hide from editorial problems. We’ll find you though. They do. They find it every single time. Can’t get away ever. So I’m excited to, to do this show because I think last week we talked a little bit about, you know, getting your life in the direction that you want it to go. And this is a seminar I’ll be teaching at the local college here in about three weeks about getting published in twenty seventeen. And so I wanted to bring that material here and be able to share it with you.



Everybody was listening. And actually, before we even get started, you should go to w w w dot the book ed show dotcom and click and register for our free, get published in twenty seventeen webinar course. What we’re going to talk about here, you’re going to get started, you can be on the right path, but with that webinar you’re going to get more in-depth information and just really be able to figure out what it is that you want to do and what you’re going to have to set in place to make this goal happen.



Yes, because we’re all about goals now, aren’t we? I mean, after last year, you know, that that awesome challenge and the upcoming one, you know, now’s the time to be setting. And we always like to be the ones to help you to do it.



That’s right. We do. So, you know, like I really is looking back and just a lot of gratitude at the end of this year. I mentioned that last time, you know, because I really felt like 2016 was our year. It’s kind of our breakout year and really starting to move forward. And I want to help as many people do that for their twenty seventeen that they could have twenty seventeen be their year where they get to start doing the life that they really have always wanted.



So I’m excited. It’ll be fun.



Yeah, definitely. And I think, you know, 2016 hasn’t been the greatest year to many people. So I think it’s a collective mindset that, you know, we’re moving into 2017 with like, let’s let’s do something with this. Yeah, yeah.



Let’s take that energy. You know, whether it was a lot of negative energy in your life or whatever it was, take it, change it, understand you control yourself and no one else can do it for you. We can help. We can help. We can show you the way. But you got to pick it up and carry it for yourself. So that’s how it is. But it’s awesome for us to say I can only show you the door, but you must walk through it.



That’s right.



That’s right. It’s Matrixx, right. Can be a matrix of good matrix. Both could be. Don’t call me misquoting, it’s probably more like a religious quote, it was out there that then got attributed to Neal because he’s basically the Christ figure in the Matrix. So, you know, I mean, it’s all it’s all Hero’s Journey. Yeah. There’s nothing new under the sun right now. Not one thing. So but but maybe you’re going to learn some new stuff today on how to get published because a lot of people want to do that.



You know, there’s a whole bunch of different ways that you can do it these days. Love how self publishing has changed a lot of things. And it’s just I think there’s over 3000 small press in the United States alone that you could work with to get your work published. And of course, there’s the big traditional that are still out there. So there’s a lot of different things. And we want to talk about that today. Let me ask you a question, Peter.



So go if you were on the subway, you know, or in a cab, at a pub or whatever and met an agent, could you so we’re not talking like Matrix anymore. So now my agents may not know. Not because I would freak out. I would I would like to see you get away, but not Agent Smith. Well, let’s talk about a literary Agent Smith. So literary Agent Smith is there. And, you know, he’s like, are you the one, you know?



Can you give him the story? Can you tell him what your story is in that little tiny moment of time that you can encapsulate it and they could understand it?



You know, this is happened not not nominated Smith, but but, you know, previously, you know, I’ve been sort of working on something and someone sort of said, oh, OK, so go on, hit me one sentence.



And you’re like, well, I am not prepared.



And, you know, I learned in a script writing class in particular, just the importance of like pictures and loglines and not only for sort of. Making sure that the story works, which which I think is really useful, you know, if you can condense it down to something like that. And, you know, you’ve got the fundamental pieces to construct a story, but also to sell it eventually because, you know, the last thing you want is some huge long letter where you’re kind of like and then this happens and then that.



And but trust me, this is really good with with little explanations for everything that happens.



It’s really complex. But but if I can just tell, you know, and I can walk you through this, it’s going to take about an hour and then I’ll give it all makes sense at the end. Yeah. And it’s funny, though, like that, how many times that that’s where people are at with the writing. And this is, like you said, just so fundamental to get this down, because when you can start to really understand that, then you can start to figure out how to sell it, how to how to market it to an agent, how to market it to the right publishing company, how to put that in the right places.



So just like you were saying, Peter, you know, coming up with the call it a logline and it’s a one sentence easy.



You know, like going back to what I always talk about the three P’s. It’s a person in a place of the problem and it’s just that easy, you know, like Hank Hudson must fight against dark Egyptian monster in order to save his family in the 1930s. You know, I mean, it’s that it’s that easy, you know? And when you can start thinking about it in these kinds of terms, then you can really understand that story so that when you have that opportunity, you’re not going to mess it up.






You know, you’ve got you’ve got your kind of your protagonist, the goal and what’s potentially going to stop them from achieving it, you know, right there in a really nice, neat package. But there’s there’s an art to that. You know, there is a craft to to come up with a good logline. You know, I think it’s it itself needs process. Yeah, it absolutely does.



And we’re going to talk about this in a second, getting a chance to talk with agents. But, yeah, when you have this opportunity, you definitely want to not you don’t want to squander it. So getting the opportunity to work with your your writing companions, you know, like whatever you do, like in a writers group or online, like, hey, let me let me pitch this to you. See see how this sounds to see what can I tweak on this, you know, make it a little stronger.



And so if you can start from that small idea, though, that’ll get you started and then you’ll want to be able to come up with a good synopsis, you know, one to probably not more than 10 pages. I mean, if you’re doing a really huge epic fantasy, you might go out to ten pages for a synopsis and a synopsis is is a total breakdown of the story, you know, what’s happening. And so that someone says, hey, I want to see the synopsis, I want to see what the book’s really about.



It’s not teasing them and not sharing the end like it’s sharing the whole thing. It just in small bite sized pieces. Yeah.



And some agents will ask for a synopsis.



And I always find that that feels really weird because you almost don’t give the secrets away in a synopsis. You’ve kind of got to walk them through step by step what’s going to happen in the story so they can think about whether that works or not. But you’re like, I kind of want to give it all away. I don’t spoil the surprise. Right. Because, you know, it’s like, yeah, you want to have that feeling of wonder, like when they open it up.



Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. It suddenly becomes.



Methodical and, you know, takes all the creativity out of it and that the the magic and, you know, this isn’t what it’s about.



And and it’s like, for instance, Hank Hudson, when I started selling Hank Hudson, it shows, you know, I had to come up with a pitch a little longer than a logline. You know, it was, you know, brief sort of synopsis to hook people into the story and want him to buy it. And it just wasn’t working and it wasn’t working because I wasn’t willing to give up the part that was going to make it work.



You know, once I started once I changed up and talked about how he’s been accidentally turning himself invisible, which, you know, you don’t learn till you’re like. The first act is complete, like you don’t learn that until then, but once I added that into it, people just like they understood it, they saw it differently, they got excited about it. They could see all the wonder that was there and what can happen as they’re going along.



And so, yeah, you’ve got to practice these things. You’ve got to see what that what that spark is really that one line, that one thing, because that’s what it is, you know, to come down to that. And he’s like and the reason why people don’t see him is because he’s been accidentally turning himself invisible for most of his life. And then I pause, you know, and it’s like that that sinks in. And you can see when they get that, when they get that story and that’s what you want to practice on that so you can have a chance to be able to to share that with other people.



So that’s why it’s so important to be able to know what your story actually is and you can break it down into these little blocks.



Yeah, because it’s it’s all really about moving people from one step to the next, isn’t it? You know, so from the from the front cover the title, you know, getting them to flip it around and take a look at the back, you know, where there might be some kind of pitch or idea of what bleb of what the story is about to then maybe just checking out that first page, that first sentence, and then moving them from one sentence to the next all the way through.



And so the pitch is this like one sentence. Slugline is almost as important as every sentence in the book. It absolutely is. So I like how you’re how you’re saying that, you know, you bring them along step by step by step all the way through it to get to the end. And then once they’ve got to the end, then they become. You’re saying you got a lot of money.



I got your money in your gun.



No, I got more money, though, because then they’re going to go out and talk about your book and and pitch other people on it, you know, just take them all the way through. That can be a lot of fun. So so let’s talk about let’s talk about the industry right now. You know, there’s a lot of change that’s happened over the last several years with, of course, you know, things like Kindle, Direct Publishing and Nook and Kobo.



And Sony was there for a little while, but now they’re gone. But all of these platforms where you could and you can like you could go right now and set up a Kindle direct publishing account, it doesn’t cost you a dollar, doesn’t cost you a dime, whatever. And you can set that up and publish a book, put a load up your book, your manuscript on there, and it will be out. To the world in 12 hours.



And that’s that’s huge, that’s huge. You know, of course, it comes with a lot of the great of Spider-Man quotes of, yeah, great power comes great responsibility.



So you got to think about whether it’s ready to push published yet or not.



Yeah, I think. I don’t know, I mean, I’m sure there are people that maybe thought, I don’t know whether I was one of them, maybe I was, but that was not going to be that big. And, you know, it’s not going to be like a book killer. But, you know, it’s still selling better than ever. You know, it’s just been Christmas. I’m sure everyone knows someone that just received a Kindle.



And, you know, it’s change in the market and it’s good to take that into account. Yeah, it is. You know, and, you know, it’s a it’s a very legitimate way to go if that’s the direction you want to head. Just scratching the surface. I mean, because there’s a lot of stuff in depth that we want to go into on the webinar. But so think of it this way. You know, you’ve got you’ve got three places right now.



You’ve got the traditional, which is going to require you to have an agent. You know, if you want to get in on one of the big contract deals you want to be with, with the little brown, is that there in England? And then, you know, like Penguin Books here in the United States, a random house you want to be within, they’re not going to accept an unsolicited manuscript means you can’t cross your fingers and hope you get in a slush pile and someone reads your great book and then, you know, you get discovered.



Now you’ve got to have an agent. So that’s a whole different game to go through that. And so think about that one there and then think about the next step down, this small press. And like I said before, you know, I think that there are 3000 small presses in the United States alone. And this means that, you know, they’re in the publishing business of some kind, you know, helping people. Either they’re putting up the money to take care of the publishing or maybe they’re just doing the distribution or layout or whatever it is.



You know, that can be another route that you can go. If you don’t want to get you don’t want to deal with the traditional side. You don’t want to get into the self publishing side. This is a really good place. And some some are calling them hybrids, you know, like. But really, it is just a small press. And and then, of course, on the last end that you’ve got the self publishing world where we just said, you know, you can go and you can print it or publish it in 12 hours and have it distributed through the world.



So you’ve got a lot of different options, but you really need to figure out which one of these is going to be the direction you want to go. Because if you’re doing the self publishing route, just go listen to like self publishing podcast with Sterling Stone or Self Publishing Roundtable or rocking self publishing all these or the sell more books show. Like all of these guys and girls, they work really hard. I mean, it’s a it’s a completely different thing.



They’re no longer just an artist now. They’re also the owner and the business operator of their own publishing company. Yet it’s so true, and I think remembering that, you know, these are businesses and it’s just as true for the small presses and the self publishing as it is for the big ones and treating it as such, you know, treating your work and treating how you present your work and how you. Reach out to people to get behind your work, you know, every communication that you go through, you know, you have to remember that you’re communicating with the business, not not charity.



And, you know, you’re trying to they want to discover the next big thing. But you’ve got to help them, you know, by by being professional and by and, you know, drafting professional communication when when you do speak with them. Mm hmm. Exactly. Because it’s something that you just hit on right there. You know that these are a business. So let’s say, for instance, you know, for international publishing, we want to publish someone’s book.



It means that we have to have the money. We have to have the money to give an advance. We have to have the money to take care of the editing costs, of marketing costs, of the distribution costs, of the cover design of layout, all of this. It’s all costs, which means that we want to get that money back because it is a business. We want it to be profitable. And so that actually this is one of the things I talk to my students about, you know, don’t be so down on yourself when you get rejection letters, because remember that they’re not just it’s not because they’re rejecting you.



It’s because they you know, they they don’t know that they can make the money on it. Right. They they want to make sure that they’re going to have the best chance of getting that money back. And so that’s why the more professional you are, the better chance that they’re going to say, yes, this person takes himself seriously. They they’ve already started to build an author platform. You know, they’re working, you know, to to get known even before the book is published.



This is someone I want to work with.



Yeah, it’s so true.



And I mean and it’s worth saying because I think I mean, I know even. We’ve had, you know, emails where you can just see straight up, straight away that that has been sent out to a few different people, you know, it’s not personal. They’ve not sort like was out for a particular reason. It’s just been like a batch sort of correspondence that’s been thrown out and, you know, whether that’s right or wrong. But I mean, when you’re sort of reading that, you you do almost switch off a little bit like immediately, you know, not in a bad way.



But it’s it’s not the best foot forward, I think, you know, in terms of trying to open a dialogue with the business. Yeah, absolutely. You know, the the idea of dear Mr. Ed and it’s a woman who’s running the editorial staff, you know, it’s like it’s not even taking the time to look at who you should be addressing it to, you know, and or understanding who the person is like that. That’s just such a big mistake.



And in this world, you know, that we’re in right now with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all this type of stuff, we we get the feeling that we know people maybe even better than we do. So let’s say you’ve been following an agent for a long time. You know, for the last couple of years, you’ve never actually met him. Maybe you’ve, you know, retweeted some stuff. Maybe you’ve but you feel like you know him because you’ve seen seen their meals that they’re taking pictures of and tossing online ideas just like you’re there.



And so you decide you don’t want to see editors eat.



Now, you don’t know this.



It’s just it’s a lot of pain, you know, a lot of pain.



So so you craft his query letter. And since you feel that personal connection there, that is not honestly there. You know, you say he you know their names, Joshua, that. Hey, dear Josh, I think you’re going to like this one this time or whatever. You know, it’s like you’re being way too informal and not taking the beginning of that relationship seriously as a business venture. Yes.



You know, it’s I mean, you know, the only excuse is laziness. You know, come on. I mean, you know, get on the take a look, find out who it is. Find out what genres they generally like to sort of get behind. And, you know, just just ten minutes research kind of does the trick to allow you to sort of go into this with a little bit of a little bit of prior knowledge. Right.



So there’s a let’s see, I jotted it down here. Make sure I’ve got the right one. And looks like I closed it. Hold on just a quick second, so it it’s used to be called publisher’s lunch. There it is. Publishers, Marketplace, Publishers, Marketplace. Dotcom is a is a place you can go. And it costs I think it’s 19 or 20. It’s under 30 bucks a month. And you don’t have to have it every month for the rest of your life or whatever.



You can go on there. When you’ve got a new book that’s ready, go on there. You spend a month and you can research, you can research who’s buying books. You can see agents that have made sales. You can see what what they’ve been selling, what genres they’ve been working in. Because the last thing you want to do is, is not just pitch to someone who’s not in your genre, but you don’t want to be pitching to agents who aren’t selling like you don’t want to, because remember, you’re not going to get paid.



They don’t get paid till you get paid. And so you think that they’ll be hungry. But, you know, sometimes that just they start striking out and all of a sudden they just can’t, you know, get out of that slump. And so you don’t want to go after one just so you can have an agent, you know, try to find the one who’s going to be able to really maneuver your book to the right place so you can get the most amount of money out of that.



Yeah, that’s just great advice because, I mean, you know, so you’ve got things like the writers and artists, book and stuff, you know, where you can find like lists of agents and editors and the great and an awesome place to start. But I think something like that, you know, just go in that little bit further, you know, can can just really behoove you in the whole process. You know, it can just help you gain that little edge that you might not have have had.



You know, when you’re you’re looking for something like this. Yeah.



And just just look at all this. There’s so much available information on the Internet on this. You know, go to the right places, make sure you start following the right people. You can find which which houses they work for, you know, and you could like I said, you can follow on Twitter, you can follow them on Instagram. You can find out what they what they’re after. I you know, there’s hashtags involved. They’ll put the hashtag on there as well.



I can’t think of it right off the top of my head, but it’s basically in search of manuscript hashtag. You know, we’re looking for a a fantasy thriller, you know, in this age group or something like that. I wanted to say before I forget about this, one thing you definitely don’t want to do is pay an agent up front, OK? You never pay an agent up front. If an agent’s asking you for money, they’re not reputable.



If they’re saying, hey, you know, I need a retainer fee, I need you to pay up, it’s only going to be twenty nine hundred dollars. And I guarantee no, that’s not how the business works. So if you’ve never had an agent before, that’s not how it works. The standard practice is, is that they’re going to get 15 percent of your total income from the first sale. So like if it’s ten dollar advance, they’re going to get 1500 of it and that’s how they get paid.



So stay away. There’s people out there used to be really big with the vanity presses who just wanted to take your money and give you some published books or whatever, you know, to to save that you have it.



It is not ever worth it to pay to defend your garage from like a flood when you have, like, boxes and boxes in a box.



Right, exactly. And it’s never worth it, you know, to say, oh, yeah, I’ve got an agent. Sure, I got an agent. I got to keep him on retainer. I got to pay him. Now, that’s not how it works. Okay? Don’t don’t get into your ego here.



Yeah, no. And it’s because the sharks out there essentially, you know, there’s no other way of looking at it. And you’ve got to be on the lookout, you know, especially when you’re you know, you’re excited about something in your ego. It’s it is easy to fall into some of these traps. And because these these traps are designed not to like traps, you know, that the marketed at you to seem like a good idea, a good deal and the way the industry works.



Yeah. And so, you know, I really you know, I say stay away from stuff that you have to pay for, you know, like even if you’re trying to submit to anthology’s publication contests, if they ask for money up front, the question is, are they really in it to help the author or are they just in it to collect the fee?



You know, and we totally understand. It would be great. I’ve I’ve thought about asking for fees when we do anthologies because we get so many submissions and just the amount of time that it takes to read through those it costs it costs money because it means that we’re not working on something else. And we’re reading the submissions for the anthology. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t feel right to charge for that because the publishing company. The agent, they should be working for the author, not the other way around, so of course, you know, if you want to keep your rights, you know, if you want to do that, there are hybrid contract deals that you can do.



So that that way you’re being part of the publishing team. You know that you’re putting your money into it as well. Think of an executive producer. You know, they’re putting the money up for a movie because they want to be part of it, you know, because there needs to be a amount of money put into it. And so that’s a possibility as well. I have a I’ve got some tips here on putting together query letters.



Did you have some on that as well, Peter? Yeah. So why don’t you go ahead and you can go first?



OK, well, the first one is, I would say, as with anything, go and look at some where it’s been done before. And, you know, I’m sure you’ve heard of like Writer’s Digest, but they’ve got loads of examples of of query letters, like I’ve worked on the and it’s a great place to start and just take a nosey around and just get yourself familiar with some of the features of a to query letter features, such as I mean, if you if you read through them, you’ll you’ll begin to know, like kind of a formula.



So like we said before, you know, addressing the the the agent or editor properly, you know, addressing them, using the name and showing that you’ve you know, you’ve looked into who they are and who they usually represent so that you can then position yourself as someone. That would fit with the market that they sell to. Yeah, because that’s a that’s a really important part, because you don’t want to be the the round peg trying to put the square peg, trying to get into the round hole there because it doesn’t work that way.



Pay close attention to what the publisher is asking for. If you’re submitting to a publisher or an agent, either one they’re going to have they’re going to have a list of things that they’re looking for. So, for instance, with international publishing, when we do the anthologies, if there’s anything that’s attached, it just gets deleted because it specifically says paste your submission into into the email because I don’t want to open up.



I don’t want to open up potentially dangerous software or malware or something like that. So everything is just right in there. And if you don’t listen to that, you know, that’s completely gone. Yeah. Make sure that you know how they want to accept it. You know, do they only do email? Do they want you to actually mail it to them? Is there you know, do you have to hand deliver it by by the Pony Express?



You know, I think some of them are still use carrier pigeons because they’re pretty outdated, like when you’re getting up to the big five publishers.



So, yeah, I think you have to track on horseback to like the corners of the earth and then add up all these steps and then you get three questions when you get to the top.



It’s something I can’t quite remember.



And then you get like a golden ball and I get to take it over and then you have to catch the snitch.



So Neil Gaiman, he’s the best. So what’s so, for example, this is one example of a good query letter that starts off with dear Mr. Wei. You know, John Kuai is the editor. So enclosed is my short story. Spitfire’s Sunday 2500 words. It’s about Pastor Donald White, who spends every Sunday preaching hellfire and brimstone. But his little routine changes when atheist Catherine Kardon comes to town. She doesn’t just preach about perpetual suffering, she delivers it.



The target of her latest sadistic crusade is none other than the preacher himself as she kidnaps, tortures and prepares to set him ablaze just before the clock strikes midnight on Easter Sunday. So we have we have a very concise. This is what the story is about, this is the name of the story, this is how many words it is really easy there. You know, it’s a really good little pitch. And then in his next paragraph says, I’m a full time pastor by day, part time writer by night.



My published stories have appeared in three mystery magazines, murderously yours, Crime Pays and Mystery Times. You are the first editor I’m soliciting with this story. And I will wait six weeks for your response before I approach another magazine. If you’re not interested in the story, feel free to dispose of the manuscript, but please notify me with the self-addressed stamped envelope. If, however you want to publish it, I can send you an electronic version of Microsoft Word, etc.



. One of the things in this second paragraph that works here, you know, is the author is a full time pastor. So it means that he’s going to have some kind of information there. You know, it’s a little bit more privy in this story and it’s going to fit better with the story. So think about those types of things. You know, where can you sell yourself more, you know, published articles? Have you have you been published before?



You know, that’s important. Why why are you the person to be telling the story? Yes, that that’s that’s so true, and you will you’ll notice it in many sort of successful query that is, you know, been published before. And also I think if you have a current. Platform or audience that’s worth mentioning. Anything that can bolster your. Application, in a way, you know, you’re kind of. Appeal to the better sense to take you on, but, you know, anything that’s going to help you out, you have you been previously published and were and do you have a current platform that’s going to help?



And like you just said. Any experience, any life experience, you know, what kind of qualifies you to to talk about, you know, to bring this message or to to bring this story to publication? Yeah.



So it’s just a lot of good ways to get that out. And we’re talking mainly basically about traditional today, definitely get signed up for the webinar so that you can get into this little bit more deeper, show you more about what each of these different industries looks like right now and what it means for you, whether you know you want to go self publishing, maybe that is the way you want to do it. Maybe small press is the way you want to do it.



Maybe you want to do the traditional way and spend your time trying to get an agent. This is one way to do it. And these query letters can work for editors. They can work for agents there. I’ll make sure that I’ve posted it. We’ve already have links on our other ones. We’ve done about short stories. There’s a lot of places that, you know, they’re not requiring you to to pay up front. You know, you can submit without having to pay.



You’ll make a little bit of money, you know, and you could get the your short story publications going. You know, it just depends on what you want to do. And so so I hope that this has been a little bit helpful here so that you can understand, you know, what you should be looking for is first you need to understand your story. You know, you need to put that together. You need to figure out how you want to get published.



And you need to really learn how to do the query letters. Right. And how to approach agents and editors and figure out your information. And there is no excuse. There is zero excuse that you can’t figure this stuff out online and who wants what and who they are.



Yes, it’s actually, you know, you don’t get in your own way, you know what I mean? No, let the thing stop you. You know, let divine intervention stop you. Don’t stop yourself.



That’s a really good way to look at it.



So did you have anything else that you wanted to add on these, Peter?



And just look at and I know that I pretty much covered everything. The you know, as I say, just reiterate last point, you know, go out of your own way and don’t don’t stumble on these things because getting these in line and having a professional career that is invaluable on them. I mean, once you’ve once you’ve figured out how to do it, you’ve got it. Then you’ve nailed it. And, you know, for for any any future that you do.






Because, you know, and if you if you’ve got it there saved, make sure that you’ve gone in correctly, changed the name before you send it to the person who got the same kind of as a form and also that you don’t end up sending the wrong one to the wrong person or something like that be organized. That’s one of the things. Well, I’ll have a little download that you can use either on on Mac or Windows so that you can have a little form or Excel type form or you can put in who you’ve been submitting to, where you know where you’re at in those query letter process.



And that’s one thing I should mention just real quick right now, remember that if you’re sending like a full manuscript and you’re trying to approach publishers, the the I don’t know what you want to call it gentlemen’s agreement is that you can only submit to one publisher at a time and they have to say no before you or a certain amount of time passes like six months before you submit to another one. That is not the case with agents. Agents can sell your book to multiple people at the same time do bidding wars.



That’s why. And you can also submit to multiple agents at the same time. So that’s why that works a little bit better. So excuse me.



So if you enjoy the show, please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher inlike like on YouTube and follow us on Facebook.



And before you go, jump over to w w w the book editor, show NORCOM and click to register for our free, get published in twenty seventeen webinar will be talking all about what we’ve hit today and going much deeper into each one of these so that you can really figure out the path you want to take, what your goals are for this and to make it happen. In twenty seventeen, I’m Clark Chamberlain for my coach Peter Turley. Keep writing, keep learning and build a better book.



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