The Tower of Boran

I’d like to welcome my good friend, Shauna Scheets, to WordPress!

Her debut novel, The Tower of Boran, released this week.

 

"The Tower of Boran" by Shauna Scheets

In the night sky over Caillte Saíocht, not a single star shines, and those who live below it must fear the corrupting touch of night-fever. The crystal gleam cast from the Tower of Boran is all that stands between the realm and utter darkness, but its power has long been fading.

On her sixteenth birthday, Seraetia prepares to be named a priestess of the Sanctum, destined to restore the tower’s light. As the events of this long-awaited day unfold, however, she learns that not everything is as it appears. With the life she thought she knew rapidly unravelling around her, Seraetia must ally with those who know the truth behind the land’s peril, and fight to save her home from something darker than the night.

 

As a special promotion, the Kindle version will be free to download all day tomorrow (September 30).

 

Bene scribete.

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Out Loud

Errors in text can sometimes be hard to find.  Not the big and ugly ones, but the little, seemingly innocuous oversights, like missing or repeated words.  It’s because the mind wants to find meaning, and it will readily compensate for what it feels is close enough.

For istnacne, msot of yuo wlil prboblay be albe to
to raed tihs wtihuot any graet mnetal eforft.

It’s normally a good thing, but maybe not so helpful when you’re trying to get some copyediting done.  One way to compensate – have it read aloud to you.  But I don’t mean by another person.

 

Tip of a fishTalking Computers = Neat.

Unlike a person, a speech synthesis program has no context or expectation-bias, so it will read everything on the page in a literal, straightforward manner.  Feeding your text through one can be very handy for catching those last little silly errors, and just hearing your story spoken back to you can be useful for a number of other reasons (not to mention the entertainment value of having it done in a droning, not-quite-right electronic voice).

Most computer (or phone, for that matter) operating systems come with speech synthesis these days, but there are also plenty of websites and free downloadable programs out there which will do the trick.  My personal favorite is Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, which has a pretty competent one built in.  Rather than printing my drafts out, I like to convert them for the Kindle to get a more natural and focused read-through, and the option to have it speak it is right there, so it works out nicely.

It’s also funny to hear it pronounce every single one of the proper nouns correctly…except for the most important ones (i.e., any of my protagonists).  (>^-‘)>

 

Kindles can talk

The word was ‘dragon’, Kindle.

 

There isn’t a perfect text-to-speech program out there yet, but they’re still fun to play around with, and can make for a handy utility in your writing arsenal.  What means have you found work best for catching all your typographical blunders?

 

Bene scribete.

Musical Fish

So it turns out that I’m a composer, sometimes.

 

Fish Notes

 

I may occasionally post my compositions here, under the questionable technicality that I’m ‘writing’ music.  Music is usually a good companion to any story, though, and I find that one often inspires me toward the other.  It’s a cycle of influence that feeds creativity on both fronts.

To start off with, I’ll share a piece I wrote earlier this year.  WordPress isn’t super-friendly toward audio without spendy upgrades, so if you’re interested, click on the picture or here to listen.  I was going for something cold and curious, somewhat understated.

 

Bene scribete.

Halfway There (…maybe)

I finished the first legitimate draft of Chapter 8 of The Book this week.  It’ll need another draft before it’s presentable, since I want to change a few elements, but it’s brought me to the cusp of 60,000 words.  If this is roughly the midway point, then the overall length should be about what I expected.

 

So many pages...

Or, knowing me, it could end up like this

 

Although the writing process itself has gone smoother, these last two chapters have really been taking their time coming out of me, each turning into month-long endeavors.  I suppose it’s because the plot is ramping up, and there are several important scenes (one of them the longest, yet) to which I’ve paid more-than-usual detail in an effort to ensure certain things are getting across properly.  It remains to be seen whether or not those efforts have been successful, but I’m sure there will be plenty more tweaking to come.

It’s always an interesting contrast.  The further along the story, the better the grasp on the plot and characters and the easier the ideas come, but at the same time, the harder it gets to juggle everything in a precise and cohesive manner.  I’m curious to hear other writers’ thoughts – do you find it easiest to write at the beginning, when your concept is still unpolished but you have more freedom, or do you have a better time toward the end, when your path is narrower but the direction is clearer?

 

Bene scribete.

Zero Drafting

Last week, I talked about a writing exercise that helps get my brain working faster when my pace has slowed to a crawl.  After spewing out a lot of nonsense that way, I wanted to see if I could apply that high-output word vomit toward something a little more productive, and eventually gravitated toward my current approach of beginning with a hectically speed-written, gloriously sloppy version of each scene in The Book.  A “Draft 0”, if you will.

The basics of zero-drafting are similar to the exercise, only the goal is to try to follow the points of your story-planning rather than letting your mind lead you at random.  You still write as quickly as you can without stopping; the garbage can be cleaned out later.  I started by only doing ten minutes at a time, taking a short break between stints, then moved on to doing a whole scene at once, and now I’ll do an entire chapter in a single go (usually about a two-hour endeavor).  The immediate results are truly cringe-worthy, but that’s O.K.  No one else has to look at this stuff (…for real, this time!).  It gives you a basic framework to follow for the first legitimate draft; some passages will have to be tossed, but many might only need a little editing, and you may even find that the narrative took a few unplanned but ultimately beneficial turns because of the pressure and spontaneity – ideas that could have been missed if you had instead plodded carefully through the first run with an overfocused mind.

Because of my deep-seated need for precision and my perpetual worry of screwing things up, there’s always a build-up of anxiety before I start a draft 0, but once I get rolling with it, it’s extremely liberating.  Regardless of how terrible it is when finished, it’s still a big step forward in the process of getting the book together, and it actually leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.  That’s not something to take for granted; in a solitary activity like writing, self-encouragement is imperative to sticking with it.

In any event, the issue at core here is the subject of today’s Fish Tip.

 

Tip of a fishWrite First.  Edit Second.

It has to be some sort of writing axiom.  Things tend to go a lot more smoothly if you get your ideas down first, and then organize them afterward.  If you edit first, and only write down a sentence after you’ve revised it several times mentally, then the process slows dramatically, and you leave yourself at the mercy of the slog (not to mention it will likely need to be edited again, anyway).

It’s a sentiment we’re all familiar with, I’m sure, but it’s something that certainly still gives me trouble.  One of those things that’s easier said than done!

 

Bene scribete.