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.



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


Edit your Setting to Create Horror

Edit your Setting to Create Horror

Episode Resources

Show Notes


Welcome to the look at your show today, we’re discussing how to edit your setting, to add in horror and keep your readers up all night.

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But first, if you are ready to move forward with your professional editing, stop by the book editor. Show Dotcom. We can help you in every stage of your work from preproduction, developmental editing, copyediting to proofreading. Stopped by today and let us know how we can help you build a better book. I’m Clark Chamberlain and legends tell of a man who walks between the land of reality and the land of dreams.



And while in those dreams he repairs the creative minds so writers can awake with new inspiration. That legendary man is my friend and co-star Peter Turley. Peter, welcome back. How are you doing?



I’m also I’m mostly on the side towards dreams than than reality.



Well, that’s just say that I always like to be on TV, so now know I’m doing just great. How are you doing?



Oh, I’m doing pretty well. You know, it’s been it’s been a busy holiday season. You know, I can’t believe it. We’re already approaching the end of 2016. So that’s where the year go.



And it it really doesn’t feel that long ago that it was that we were talking in January about sort of like how this year was going to be and making plans for the show. And, you know, it’s been a great year and I think we’ve done some pretty awesome shows. And that feels it feels like two or three months ago, it does not feel like like a year, a year gone. I know. I know. And it’s really crazy.



And I was thinking about the same thing, you know, and when we got started back in last year and then made our big push with our 90 day challenge that we did over the summer, which was just fantastic, you know, and did a whole bunch of stuff for us. And it’s just been a I know I’ve got a lot of gratitude this year. You know, this has been a big one for me. A lot of moves, a lot of changes that have been very positive and where I want to go professionally.



And this show has had a lot to do with that. So and really appreciate you, Peter. You know, it’s just great being able to work with a guy who’s there. Smart brings that fantastic voice and yeah, you know, the intros are worth it. So that’s good. So I’m talking about. So do you have plans for the New Year, like big goals, aspirations, stuff you’re chasing?



Yeah. You know, but I think, you know, I could do with some help structure in them. You know, I think I really enjoyed the challenge that we did last year, and I think we should do some more.



Well, what what if what if we did another 30 day challenge instead of doing the full 90? What if we went to 30 days?



Yeah, because, you know, 90 days, then we could do three. That’s right.



I know I give you three in a row, so. Well, I think it’s a fantastic idea. And in fact, you’ve got to go over there. If you never signed up before on Facebook, definitely jump in. Actually, maybe even it’s faster to go through this direction. And it’s the 90 day challenge. That website, if you go to that website, 90 day challenge, that website, you can sign up right now to get involved.



If I’ll make sure that the links are all posted here in in the show notes. And then also on the book Ed Show, Facebook page, you can also go straight over to Facebook dotcom groups and be the hero. And that jumps you over to the 30 day challenge as well. So a couple of different ways to get in there. And what we’re going to be doing, though, is helping, like Peter was just saying, you know, help you focus, get the mental get the mental game going so that you can take that New Year’s resolution and run with it and actually make a big change in your life.



That’s going to last through twenty. Seventeen.



Yeah. And I want to say, like, you know, last year I decided to not do a writing challenge because, you know, it doesn’t have to be. It can be, but it can be personal. Professional. However, you however you like on mine was fitness related. And and I actually stuck with it all year and it transformed my year. And, you know, I’ve kept it up most pretty much completely for the entire year.



And it’s just been amazing. And it’s doing that challenge and being in that group, it sounds sort of like a big thing to say.



But it did change my life and it’s had a lasting effect. And it’s something that I’m going to take into the future now and keep up. And even after the challenge ends, the group is awesome and helpful and everyone’s in there to just, you know, chip in every now and then and help each other and to to check in and, you know, keep everyone accountable. So outside of the challenge, you know, it’s a great thing. Get around to to be a part of.



Yeah. Yes, it absolutely is. It’s a fantastic group. So I’m going there. Either sign up to the website. Go over to Facebook, get signed up and no cost. You know, it’s it’s free for you. You’re going to get daily motivation. You’re going to have the group there to help support you. And again, any any goal you you you choose, you know, if it’s just a simple resolution, if it’s if it’s something more intense, whatever it is, we’re going to be there to help you give you the right mindset, give you the right tools that you can actually put that put it to work for you and make it last throughout the year.



So I’m excited about that. For me, it’s a big thing about accountability, like when I can get up and I can you know that I know that I’m going to get up in front of the camera every day. I do better because I want to say, yep, I accomplished the goal. Yeah. You know, and just putting it out there, you know, and being verbal and and daily, reminding yourself that, you know, you’re on a path and you you’ve got a direction in front of you.



It’s just sort of a really powerful thing.



So one other thing not related to the challenge. So moving along with the show, I wanted to let you know that, make sure that you update we’re going to be doing a switch over the next few weeks. It will be on both feeds for a little while, but within a month will be moved over to a new podcast hosting platform. And so we’ll have all those notes in here so that you can grab and make sure that you don’t miss any episodes for sure.



If you jump over on if you like Facebook, look at it or show Facebook page, we’ll give you all the information there, too. So anyway, just be aware of that as we’re we’re making some changes and it’s going to be very positive for everybody. Change is good because that’s, you know, that’s what happens. Yes. And that’s what 2017 is going to be about. That’s what it is.



So all right. So let’s let’s dive into this. How long this show has been sitting here since Halloween. We’ve been talking about doing so.






It’s been sitting here for so long that we that we had an entire bunch of service announcements build up.



So I’m really excited.



You know, it’s sort of been fun to do it Halloween. But, you know, it’s great, right, for Christmas because there’s nothing better than Christmas than good old horror.



And, you know, it was good. It was planned to be an amazing Halloween show. Well, let’s be honest. We right all year round.



You know, I know this come to the show just like out of you to horror goes into the earlier episodes.



Yeah, I know. Frightens me. Yeah. They might not make it over to the the new podcast, which I got lost in the digital ether. So but one of the things that I wanted to take a look at with horror though, you know, it’s like adding it to it.



So let’s say that you’re doing a of course, you know, you’re doing a book in the horror genre. And sure, you can have this, like, fantastic monster. You can have crazy people or whatever.



But one of the things that you don’t want to forget is that you’re going to add a lot of intense scenes right through your setting and like how you create that initial setting and where where the events are taking place. And so that’s one of the things we want to take a look at today, is how you can bump that up when you get into the editing process so that you can really scare the pants off your readers. Yes, because you can say that live on a no.



I just realized, you know, I’ve also said that keeping them up all night now or scaring the pants off of them. So I don’t know what’s going on, but no.



So setting this horror, you know, like what we’re talking about, you know, the course, the classic idea of a setting that is in a horror film is the haunted house. You know, like you’ve probably got numero uno. Yeah. I mean, that’s the number one thing, you know, so that’s where our basis is for when we start talking about this, you know, and we’re going to spread that out and change this up. You know, today, like in our new plan communities, I don’t know that we have a lot of those old creepy houses, you know, so I don’t think, like, my son is not a neighborhood house, but he would walk to and be freaked out about.



But there sure was when I was a kid and I’m being serious about this. I lived on Elm Street. I grew up on Elm Street. So there was that explained a lot, though. So right there at the end of Elm Street was this really creepy house and they knew it was a creepy house. So Halloween, they would like hang dummies, like mannequins out of trees and they do all this other creepy stuff and add to it, you know, just to play the whole mystique of it.



But let’s say you don’t have that. Let’s say you are. And, you know, your book is written in a community like in a suburban type community where all the houses look the same. How can you take that house? It looks the same and then create that feeling of horror. One of the things that I wanted to take a look at.



Is the way you describe things. And so think about the words that you’re using when you’re describing a setting, you know, and you come up to this place, it looks the same as everything else. But it’s a feeling, right? It’s a feeling that the kids get when they walk past that place at that house, even though it looks the same, it’s not the same as everywhere else. And so, you know, you think about as the kids walk by and they hear they don’t hear a cry coming from inside the house.



They hear a whale. They hear how they hear a grown. So think of these other types of words, these more powerful words that you can use when you can start to describe a setting to to really punch it up, because those types of words wail, howl, groan, like those immediately add something different than cry. Cry can be a baby. But if you hear something howling, you hear something wailing. That’s a completely different type of image that gets conjured up into your head.



Yeah, I think it can be useful some of that point to, you know, almost see the setting as a character.



And, you know, if you if you’re going to describe a character and you want them to be distinct and different to the other characters, you’re going to use unique, individual, evocative words.



You know, it was decay in the walls, splintered, you know, powerful, like strong words to conjure up images.



You know, you don’t want to just say, you know, the that the Blackwall or the the wooden fence, you know, really sort of just as you would a character.



And that’s how I approach that, especially when you’re looking at a piece of horror.



You know what what better word could you use here? And obviously the word choice is applicable to the everything that we do.



But but especially when, as Clark said, you’re trying to turn something that’s possibly quite ordinary to extraordinary.



And of course, you maybe you do have the haunted house already that’s there. And these can work for it as well. But this certainly will work when you’re trying to take something that looks the same and make it changed. We’re going to get to another idea of flipside of that a little bit later. But let me let me give you a few of these other words that I had pulled out here. So wretched whimper. You know, these are words that conjure up different types of of imagery, agony, apocalypse.



You now beware. You got that. You got that woman who’s telling the kids to beware, you know, like bloodbath, blood curdling bloody cadaver catastrophe, corpse cripple, feeble, frantic, horrific, insidious nightmare, plague, poison, pummel, reckoning, searing, shattering, chacal slaughter, terror, toxic. And if you notice one of the things that when I’m saying these words in my mouth really opens, you know, that they make a very large sound corpse.



You know, my mouth has to open wide to make that. It’s not a very small sound. It’s a very large sound. It’s a very big sound, feeble, frantic, horrific.



So these are types of words. And you can start to put this stuff in there. Not only are they powerful on their own, they have they’re much more descriptive. Then they’re then they’re weaker, vague counterparts. But they also require or they also create a larger feeling. We’ve talked about that before from a book called Word Hero. You know, you’re taking something and you’re using these types of large sounding consonants and vowels that then create a bigger, scarier feel to the word itself.



Yeah, you know, it’s it’s almost you know, it’s almost poetic or lyrical, you know. I mean, if you ever struggling with word choice, you know, maybe read some poetry, you know, it can really teach you like like clocks referring to there about sounds.



And like obviously you can be there’s a difference between describing a sound, but then also the sound that that word owns, you know, the sound that you’re making when you read that word and you know, like well, like when you hear a wailing, it sounds like it is.



So, you know that the word itself conjures up a feel in you just because of the way the word sounds. Not even not even the sound of the word is describing. And I think, you know, in that difference can be a really useful tool when you choosing the best word. Yeah. And I think, you know, you could jump back to to pick up Edgar Allan Poe. You know, he certainly was a master of his craft in the day.



And, of course, you know, they wrote different then. And you do have a more poetic feel with everything. Of course, some of it is poetry, but. But The Tell-Tale Heart. Yeah. Yeah. Right now. And these things like the imagery that it conjures up is is very powerful. And. The descriptive words that we use, you know, I think we’ve covered that pretty well, but this is something you want to do, you know, start taking a look at your vague words, scary, you know, scare, you know, felt worried or whatever that the word is, you know, and take a look to see what kind of words you can use to punch that up.



So that’s that’s the first thing you want to hit that pretty hard there.



But another one of these is it overall, we want to create a gloomy, you know, maybe a gloomy type feeling like you want to have the setting have a feeling, you know, how how do the people act when they are in that setting now? I do. Do they do they feel scared or are they starting to cross their arms, you know, being trying to be protective of themselves and start using this type of things, you know, like the setting.



And it’s really interesting. You know, you like say that you go to to a hospital, you go to a wing in the ward where where people are dying or you can feel the difference in there. Then like you go over to the side where the new babies are at, you know, like that there is a real difference that people bring with it and that emotion can play there. And you want to play with that emotion in your book so that when someone walks into this place that they feel it and they don’t even just feel it like they see it.



They look at the other person. They can tell, like they’ve got that scared look on their face. Something’s going on here and they need to figure out what it is. But you want to paint that feeling, that emotion all the time in that setting.



Yeah. And, you know, like you refer to the look on a character’s face, you know, obviously stories priority and we don’t want to necessarily bog down with with too much that in.



But, you know, you can you can portray the setting in a variety of ways. You know, you can do it in description as we’re talking. You know, descriptive words are adjectives that we’re using to describe things. But as Clarke said, you know, you can also, you know, the look on his face. You can do it in dialogue. You can do it in action and the way that a character interacts with the land around them.



And you can have the set in motion to move the plot forward and have it work almost as a plot device. You know, you could have an object that triggers a flashback that move the plot forward. So at the same time, it builds atmosphere, you know, creates a scary scene, a scary feeling, but keeps the story moving simultaneously. Yeah. And so there’s a lot you can do here. So don’t and don’t just look for the monster to handle the horror in your story.



You know that there’s so much other places that you can do this and you’re you’re setting is one of these. And so the whole overall atmosphere, the word choice is to use. Peter, what was your next one?



Two, to get them groo. So dialogue and description and action. So the way the characters interacted with the the world around them.



Mm hmm. So those are all really good ways that you can do this. Another another idea. Just steal this one straight from the silver screen. How they do it in Hollywood is the idea of point the camera at the door. OK, so what this means is that I want you to edit your work so that you’re starting to direct attention to maybe a particular object or to a place in that setting and so that the reader really starts to notice it over and over again or even in just one scene that they like, that the eyes are drawn to that.



You know, and the idea of pointing the camera at the door is something is on the other side of that door and it’s trying to get in, you know, and they know that it’s going to come from there. You know, they hear a noise outside and now they’re staring at the door and they’re waiting for that door to break down and something to come in and get them. And so whatever that is and that’s just, you know, it’s just an idea.



It doesn’t mean literally that you focus on just the door, but whatever that is, that object, the place the thing that they’re looking at, that you start deliberately pointing your reader to pay attention to it, you know that you’re bringing it up over and over again so that they see it there in that scene and that they’re worried about it because that can start to create tension for the reader because they think, you know, because how you’re directing the camera, you know, quote unquote, the camera here is what the reader is going to pay attention to.



And the reader knows that that’s important. They’re going to start to wait and expect and something’s going to come through that whether something comes through that, you know, door imagery of a door or not, it doesn’t matter. But they’re going to start to feel a tension of something about to happen there. Yeah, and that’s that’s amazing. I think that’s just a great exercise to try. And, you know, it exemplifies that link between place and emotion.



And I think, you know, it’s a real. Sort of compound that effect and increase that tension, you know, consider, you know, what is it about this thing or this this situation? So, you know, they’re in a room that this door or if you go in with that one, what is it about this situation that’s making the protagonist vulnerable?



You know, and how is the reader going to share that feeling of vulnerability? And how can you get that across? You know, they could be equally vulnerable in a crowd as they could be in an isolated place or an abandoned building or cowered in the corner of a room staring at this door. But just remembering, you know, that that’s that that’s the feeling that we’re we’re trying to evoke. Mm hmm.



Right. Because, you know, it’s not just making your protagonist scared. You know, you can describe the fear that the protagonist is having, but you want to start adding tension to the reader, like the reader needs to feel that tension needs to feel that fear in themself because they want and the only way that you can do that is that you have to they have to be invested in the protagonist to got to care that something could happen to the protagonist, just like Peter was saying, you know, was like, why?



And so when they can do that, then that’s going to help connect that as well.






And I think that, you know, by by effectively describing your horror set in, you know, what you what you do in that way is you’re setting up reader expectation and you’re you know, so if you if your character wanders into an abandoned asylum, they’re going to expect certain things.



The reader is going to expect certain things to happen. And knowing what those expectations are as you move into those scenes, allow you to then play with that, you know, are you going to play up to the expectations? Are you going to subvert them and describe the setting accordingly?



Right. Because I know I’m watching the horror movie. I know that that jump scare is coming. Like, I just know that it’s coming.



And I don’t even want to watch because I know that that’s where we’re going.



Yeah, but then a lot of times, yeah.



I mean, like so you set up for that jump scare, you set up for, you know, how you’re doing it with either with the idea of pointing the camera, the door, or we’re in a we’re in a mental abandoned mental hospital so that we know something’s going to happen there and then. Yeah. That you don’t know. And I really hate that you started doing new things of jump scares. So it’s this playing with expectations. So like, you know, the camera very slowly be zooming in on something and you’re looking in the distance waiting to see something.



But then something something pops up right in front of the screen and, you know, you were looking in the distance and you get shot and I just hate you.



And, of course, you know, you have to do that as people get more and more used to the you know, the the thing that has always been done right. You know, like a horror movie, you start adding that scary music and, you know, something’s about to happen. Well, then they start doing the scenes where something jumps out, where there’s no music, right. Where you have this moment of of just calm.



In fact, you almost cut yourself, relax. And don’t you know, just before it happens. Oh, no. Yeah. Ever you ever have that moment where you’re like, oh, things are all right, that’s when it’s going to get you. So although not the not a movie, not a not a book, but a video game from way back in the day, Resident Evil two had a great scene like this. They did this a few times in the game where you go past the same thing several times, like you’re walking past this glass, this window several times.



You know, it’s making you go over here to do a to do a puzzle and you got to go back over there and you’re fighting zombies. You go back over here and pretty soon you walk past this place time and time again and you become really relaxed, you know, and then on that sixth time, you walk past it, going to be all relaxed and something jumps out of that window to get you like and that’s the other thing, you know, like the managing that expectation, like it’s all normal, normal, normal.



Bam. Yes, it’s not.



Yes, I hate. And I think I think I know the exact bit you’re referring to as well.



I saw it and it made me jump a lot.



So, um, so this idea, though, we’re going to change expectations and then we could circle this back around to the beginning where we’re talking about, you know, your horror setting is in a suburban neighborhood. So that certainly is not your normal haunted house or anything like that. So that’s taking an expectation and turning it another master at this. You know, take a look at the book Nosferatu by Joe Hill. And it’s about this guy who takes kids to Christmas Island.



That sounds great, right? Nice holiday story. What could go wrong there, except that the guy is like shuffling them across because he’s some kind of vampire type creature and Christmas Island is his place where he holds them forever and sucks out the life energy from them. So anyway, you know, like it’s taking that.



It’s a lovely story. Yes, it was quite it was quite scary. It’s creepy. It was really creepy. And that’s I guess the idea is it’s not that it was scary in itself because the idea of this place where kids can go to Christmas Island and they can eat cookies all day and hang ornaments and all this kind of stuff like that just seems really nice and easy. And then you take something like that that is naturally just wonderful and sweet and no horror involved at all.



And then you take it and then you make it into something like Christmas Island, know that then becomes synonymous with this really crazy story. And so, like, look at these other places, you know, if you’re setting is to to horror house to you. You know, you got the house on the hill is that’s too much that then change it up and make it something that seems like it should be nice. I mean, you can go back, I guess, with Hansel and Gretel, you know, you go into the witches candy made house.



Right. You know, this is should be a nice place to go inside and then that sometimes can be the worst place to go.



Yeah, I can’t remember where I read that. I think it may have been a Writer’s Digest article. I wish I could give credit for this.



And it said to invade the ordinary with the terrifying. And it’s that idea that, you know, when you’re in an ordinary setting like that or a setting where the reader feels safe and doesn’t expect certain things to happen like Christmas. And then when they do happen, they seem all the worse for just because they’re in such contrast to the to the set. And so these these horrifying things, you know, it’s like black and white. You know, if your protagonist wanders off alone into the woods after someone’s escaped from prison, then, you know, you kind of put two and two together and get far.



Right. And but if, you know, if they’re going down to take the kids to the carousel and then everything turns into a portal to another horror dimension or something like that, again, it’s hitting them.



You know, it’s it’s hitting them with the left hook. So that’s the thing they don’t see coming. And that’s that can be really great with your setting. So you can create these settings, which just feel so nice, you know, and even play with that, like have the setting, like we’re saying before. It’s nice. It’s nice. It’s nice. It’s nasty.



So and if you’re using an ordinary setting, also consider that you can be even more scarce with your description because, you know, if it’s a familiar setting, then you need fewer words to paint the picture in the reader’s mind.



If you’re explaining what it’s like to walk around some creepy underground lair, then you might need to describe it more because not many of us have been in creepy on the ground that I work in one.



But so I say creepy underground.



And, you know, it painted the picture in mind entirely. Entirely. It was like, I see that. I see that right there. That feels familiar.



So I need to pull the, you know, the hatch and drop down inside. So they go.



I remember growing up, you know, on Elm Street there, we had a basement that was completely unfinished and it was creepy, like, you know, like you had to walk down the flight of stairs before you could pull the string on the light bulb to turn it on. And it had that musty smell odor, you know, and like Rockwell and all this type of stuff.



So and you if you can get a chance to see places like that and experience that, then you can start to add that in, because we naturally do that. We naturally anticipate fear like we we are not anticipate fear. We have fear to anticipate something that’s going to happen to us, try to keep us safe. And it happens right from childhood, like that scary place down down in the basement. Yeah.



And even in that job description you gave, you know, there’s there’s a sense of vulnerability.



You know, there’s there’s one tiny light bulb with a really tiny string hanging off it, you know, and that’s the only light source. And there’s one way and one way out, you know, that you’re in a vulnerable position. Yeah.



And so so just don’t forget, you’re setting like you can you can amp up your entire horror genre book just by going back in and tweaking the setting. And trying some of these things out. Peter, did you have anything else that you wanted to add in? No, no, I think that’s you know, it’s a fear would be in danger of saying too much.



You know, I mean, you go back and you’re looking for you know, you’re looking for the right word and that unique ness of that uniqueness of set in or, you know, a stronger word to describe what could be an overused. And, you know, if you’re using something that’s been done a million times before, you know what detail you’re going to draw attention to, that’s going to make it a little bit different and a little bit scarier.



And, you know, we don’t need to be heavy handed when we do that.



So, yeah, no, it’s a really good way to wrap that up. Just a reminder, again, to remind us. So, first of all, make sure that you jump over there and get into the 30 day challenge. The second thing, remember that we’re going to be updating our platform. So there’s going to be a new RSS feed that’ll be coming out. This should be pretty seamless. We’ll let you know where everything’s as that comes along.



Should be the keyword there. Yeah.



So this show here is being recorded on the new one, but then we’re going to be uploading it to our old platform as well until we make sure that everyone has transitioned over. So at any rate, I hope that, you know, I hope that it’s going to be an easy transition for all of us. So if you enjoy the show and I know that you enjoy it now the Peter’s back here, please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, like on YouTube and follow us on Facebook.



And if you’re ready to edit your book to emotionally connect with your readers, stop by the book at show dot com and download our free worksheet. 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 showed up compassionate links to guest books and extras and for information on how to be a guest on the show.


Sacrifice and Killing Characters

Sacrifice and Killing Characters

Episode Resources

Show Notes


Today, we will be looking at: Sacrifice, and killing off your characters.

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If you are ready to move forward with professional editing, stop by the book and air show dotcom, we can help in every stage of your work from preproduction, developmental editing, copyediting to proofreading. Stopped by today and let us know how we can help you build a better book.



I’m Clark Chamberlain and unfortunately the great one and only the man who needs no introduction. Peter Turley is not with me and writing this solo. I promise that Peter will be back here very shortly for new upcoming episodes. I’m very excited about those to get started and get out there. So today you just got me. And, you know, this will always be a little bit shorter since I don’t have the great wit of Peter with me.



So anyway, let’s let’s dive right on into this. So I was thinking about this because last night I went and watched Roeg One, which, of course is the new Star Wars spinoff movie and had a fun time, you know, of course, great crowd, the entire sold out theater. And and it was just fantastic being there with that kind of energy. And and I won’t give any spoilers away. But this started making me think about these topics today.



So and of course, I have my own book, another day, another name that has some characters who die and has some sacrifice plays in there as well. And if we’re talking about Sauers, of course, we could go with just The Force Awakens. And you can see that, of course, you know, Han Solo gets killed off in that movie song. And of course, we have Game of Thrones and there’s characters who get killed all the time in there.



So but the question remains is when is it a good idea to do it? And as you’ve written the book and you have a character who dies or perhaps you make a large sacrifice play, is it going to work? Is it actually going to engage? Are you doing it for shock value or something else? Because these are all things that we have to consider and be aware of. So when does it work? When does it work?



Now, there’s a difference between killing off a character and a sacrifice of a character. And what this what this basically boils down to is when a character decides that it is up to them to stop the bad guy, to get in the way, to push the person out of the way with the knowledge that they will still die, that they’re going to sacrifice themselves to try to save somebody else, that that is a sacrifice where as character who just dies, you know, of course, you know, is just killing off a character.



And so I want you to see that those are very different things.



But both of them require something important. And what it is that they require is that the audience, the reader, depending on whether you’re doing a movie or doing a book. But you want the reader or the audience to care about the character because the sacrifice means nothing if there’s not engagement with the character. So, for instance, you know, if you have a character who is disliked and. Hated throughout the entire book, and they make a change and sacrifice themselves that can they can be a positive, that can be an engagement there when we can see that that’s what they’re trying to do at the end.



But the other side of that, of course, is if you have characters who have no real you know, like they’re very flat characters, very one dimensional type character, and they make the sacrifice in order to save the protagonist, you can see that it doesn’t really particularly work that way because we don’t care. We don’t care about that person who’s going to stand up. So you can’t just introduce a character to have them die so that you don’t have to kill your protagonist.



Now, I understand you don’t want to kill off your protagonist. No one likes to kill off the protagonist. But sometimes it does make sense in the right places. And talk about that in a minute, but. It comes across, of course, that. Maybe. You want to kill some characters so that you can have a feeling of loss. For your reader. But it won’t work again, it won’t work if you’re just killing them off for the sake of killing them off, if you created a character solely just to kill the character off.



And it doesn’t work, they have to have depth and meaning and connection. So let’s use my own book another day, another name. And this is a thriller.



And we have a character who starts off the book and we get into who she is, the loss of someone who died, you know, and we get to see her change and identify with her so that when it comes time for her death, it has a meaning to the people, not just the reader, but also to the people inside of the book. And that’s something that’s really important. So it’s something to think about when you’re examining your sacrifices and sacrifices are important.



I understand that, you know, sacrifice is a very it’s a very strong way to engage with a reader is having a character make a selfless sacrifice, doing something outside of what they would normally do.



Now, a sacrifice doesn’t have to put them, doesn’t have to kill them.



Right. And just the just the act of being willing to step up with the possibility of death in itself is a big sacrifice. Now, if you take a look at a character who’s willing to do that, there might be additional sacrifices which are bigger for them. Sacrifice, let’s say, someone who is very wealthy. You know, you have a character who has a lot of wealth and a lot of prestige.



They might you know, having them die might not be that big of a deal, but having them be willing to sacrifice what they’ve worked so hard for, you know, their hard earned money, having them sacrifice their place in the community in order to save the protagonist, in order to save characters in the book. Now, that can really make a difference. You know, that that is a totally different type of sacrifice. So sacrifice doesn’t have to just be having the character die.



And in fact, sometimes you want to take a look at this. And is it really the best way? If you listen to my old show, The Right Life, you’re you might recall that I talked about this when I was writing Henry Hudson in the Anubis, that I had a lot of problems because if you notice, like, it’s so much easier, of course, when you’ve got a young a young character, if their parents are somehow missing or dead, it’s easier to have them go on the big adventure, of course.



And so I was really considering killing off his parents, you know, trying to figure that out. How to how do I do that? How do I kill his parents? You know, and as I can, you know, this just comes across as cliche, which is another thing you want to watch out for. You don’t want to have everything that you do, just come across as being what everybody else does. And so take a look at a way that you can make a sacrifice happen for that character and maybe it doesn’t kill them.



Maybe it’s a sacrifice in a different way.



And that’s what I did. I ended up his parents are still alive, but they’re changed in a way that takes them out of action, which still allows him to go do wild, crazy things and adventures. And it’s done in a way that they sacrificed himself to protect him. And so you have that happening as well. And those two elements will help then engage both the characters that are involved, because then what they did to save Hank ends up affecting his sister in a very negative way and how how those emotions happened to her.



So these are the things you want to take a look at. So as you’re examining your manuscript and you’ve got a sacrifice play that’s there, ask yourself this question. Is the character dying the best type of sacrifice that will engage? The reader. Is the character, Dean, going to have a larger meaning and reaction and action on the characters involved as well?



Would it be more powerful if the character didn’t die, but instead sacrificed something else, sacrificed MUÑIZ, sacrificed status, sacrificed health, sacrificed the thing that they care about? Right. You know, these are the things that you will want to take a look at as you’re putting together. The sacrifice, play and sacrifice is strong, it’s powerful, it’s something that you should be looking at in your work and use it where applicable and use it where it’s going to make the best benefit.



All right. Now let’s talk about killing off a character. So whether you actually have killed the character off or you’re considering killing a character off, there’s some things that you want to think about. And again, these these come right back around to that, you know, the meaning of it.



Because what ends up happening is sometimes people kill off a character and they’re just doing it for the sheer shock value, you know, that that you just didn’t see it coming and you weren’t ready for that at all.



So this is something that you want to think about doing.



Is is it working? If I kill this character off, why have I killed them off?



Is it the best way to do it, especially especially if you have a protagonist that you’ve killed off now, if you’re killing off the protagonist? That’s the big question. You know, why are you doing it? What kind of benefit will I have? Where will the story go from that point? Do you have multiple point of view characters? And so you have several protagonists that are involved in the story, or is it a single protagonist that when they are gone, you’ll no longer have anything left in the story?



So that’s something you’ve really got to think about there, and it can be very powerful.



Again, the death of a character is powerful, especially if you’ve connected them well to the reader and it doesn’t do anybody any good if that character is not connected with the reader or with the other characters that are involved so that it has an emotional impact.



You know, just killing them all for the sake of killing them off does nothing.



Because what you’re ultimately trying to do here, when you’re killing a character off and you’re doing these types of things, is you’re trying to make a statement, you’re trying to make a memory so that once the reader is finished, that they’re willing to go out and share that again.



So with killing off a main protagonist character in a commercially and commercial series, it’s difficult to do it. In the United States, we have a tendency to shy away from bad endings, you know, we want to happily ever after. We want the good ending at the end of all of it. But sometimes the more powerful ending is to have the one that ends negatively, the one that ends in death, the one that ends in loss, because the reality of that can be powerful and strong for a person.



And they can connect with it and it can make them think, but again, you have to have a reason for doing it.



It cannot just be done willy nilly. So and especially, again, if you’re doing a commercial book and you’ve got a series.



So what’s going to happen in the next series?



So another day, another name, big spoiler. One of the main characters dies at the end of the book. It’s told from multiple points of view. So I felt like I could do this because I had other things happening. And so what happens for Book two, another day in the Another Day series is that the death of this one character then propels the secondary character into a life of revenge. And I wanted to tell that revenge story. I wanted to tell that story of the dangers of revenge and what happens when you start giving in to your anger and giving in to wanting to seek revenge over and over again.



And so you need to have a reason. It needs to fuel the remaining characters. I think the Game of Thrones series does this really well. You know, by by killing off Ned Stark at the beginning like that sets off a chain reaction of events that happened throughout the remainder of the books. And each time a death occurs, it has power and meaning, which then shapes the lives of the characters for the events to follow in the rest of the book.



So if you’re going through there and you say, you know what, I’m killed this character of, but really, honestly, it does nothing for the rest of the books and there’s not a real purpose here, then that’s when you’re going to say, OK, you know what, it’s it’s not going to work.



It’s not time to do that yet. Maybe not having them die, maybe having them be maimed, maybe having something else happen, like we talked about earlier with the sacrifice play instead. So think about it.



Don’t be afraid to kill your characters, but have a reason to care to kill them and make sure that the reader cares. That’s them. That’s the number one thing here is a reader has to care about an event that takes place of that nature. Death is a powerful thing. It’s a natural thing. But it has to matter, has to matter to both the reader and to the characters involved in the story.



So, all right, that’s what I’ve got for you for this week. Excited to get back on the air with Peter here very shortly. And if you enjoy the show, please leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher or like on YouTube and follow us on Facebook. And if you’re ready to edit your book to emotionally connect with your readers, stop by the book at her show, Dotcom, and download our free worksheet. I’m Clark Chamberlain. And for my co-host, it’s not here.



Peter Turley keep writing keep. Brooke, 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.