Confessions of a Fantasy Author – Richard Writhen
It’s confession time again, my dear lost souls. Once a week an author steps into my confession booth and airs all their dirty little authory secrets so that you may judge them. I urge you to judge them harshly, yet not forget the fact that you too have sinned. Today Richard Writhen, author of The Hiss of the Blade, has volunteered to beg forgiveness from you all.
The lurid confessions of a fantasy writer? Oh, where to begin. I’ve been rolling down the rocky road of the writer for some time; and as I have been practicing the art, I have found many stumbling blocks to trip upon indeed. To begin with:
- I submitted a proposal for my first novella to a notable publisher who will remain nameless. Their submission guidelines specifically forbade anything YA oriented. Now, although my work is for adults, that novella features three teenaged characters, and although it flew right in the face of convention, I subbed it anyway … and received a rejection, of course. Subs need to be specifically tailored to the audience, or there is almost no point from what I can tell … just wasted time.
- I have also tended in the past to submit stories to publishers when they have very little context; in other words, they make very little micro sense, but when re-included into the novellas, they integrate. I have subbed a few of them that, while probably well-written enough, must have confused the slush readers with the seemingly random character deaths and the like.
- My first two novellas were originally written and posted as serials, on two different websites. If you follow, the beginning of my second novella was originally the ending to the first, but when I worked out the timeline, the first novella wound up being chronologically later than the second. So when I re-edited them both for KDP, I wound up putting a flashback scene in the first (which referred “back” to the second) where the first scene of the second used to be. Confused yet? No? Well in addition, the first scene of the first novella, which was later cut, was in fact a flash forward … so the serial version of the novella originally opened with a flash forward and then ended with a flash back. O_O
- I would advise writers to be careful with conlang and syntax. When I first started posting my second novella on WordPress.com, a few users on Westeros.org began to castigate me and say that the work wasn’t even written in English. So if your stuff is too strange or flies right over readers’ heads, they obviously aren’t going to like it. So when it came time to write the third novella, I decided to use american spellings and a lack of conlang suffused sporadically throughout the text, for simplicity and a greater readability. Oh, and BTW, don’t wig out when they do start to criticize the hell out of you.
- I was still in the process of patting myself on the back for successfully self-formatting my three novellas when an online friend posted that he had bought and received his copy of the paperback version of The Hiss of the Blade. He said that he was enjoying it but … where were the page numbers? For some reason, I had assumed that the KDP software would auto-format such a thing, and then had to go back and manually format them in Word. In a way, the control panel adds more flexibility by having the user do all of that.
- I had toyed with the idea of screenwriting for awhile, and intended to write a flick with an enigmatic cult leader, something kind of like the Branch Davidian or Heaven’s Gate cults. I even went so far as to check out some software and the like, only to decide to scrap everything in favor of writing prose. Then, when I wrote up the concept in prose form, I wasn’t happy with it, and subsequently scrapped it again. Months later, I started my novellas that are currently finished (?) and forgot all about it. Then Hulu came out with The Path and I just groaned; this just goes to show that you have to strike while the iron is hot.
So there you go … the journey hasn’t been easy thus far, and it will probably stay that way. And these are just a few of the issues I’ve experienced. But if a few writers that are just starting out can get something of a heads-up, and be a bit more aware of the pitfalls that are coming, then all to the good.
About Richard: Originally from Rhode Island, Richard Writhen also lived in NYC for about ten years. He has been e-published on several notable sites such as the DarkMondays Blog, the MightyThorJRS Blog, MichaelRFletcher.com, Techzwn.com, Grimdarkmagazine.com and Ragnarokpub.com and is the author of three novellas on Amazon KDP: A Kicked Cur, A Host of Ills and The Hiss Of The Blade. Richard also writes short form stories in the styles of Gothdark, Grimdark, GDSF and Psychological Horror, and will eventually be exploring the weird west.
About The Hiss of the Blade: Two petty mercenaries are falsely accused of switching sides in a feud between two rich and powerful magnates; an ex-miner on the run from a murder charge becomes a reaver and embroiled in a romance; an industrial lieutenant is recruited to help capture a serial killer and an entire city is in danger of being ensorcelled by an ancient monk.