Category Archives: What I am Doing

Update!

So a little update is needed for those subscribed to this blog. Yes, I am still here. =) I have had a number of different things come up over the last two months that have really distracted from my writing and from posting on this blog. But do not fear, I’m going to get back into the swing of things.

On a quick note, I’m looking into writing short stories as I find myself somewhat stuck on the novel. So, to keep my pen and mind sharp, I hope to write a few short stories this summer for enjoyment, for contests, or for magazines. I’ll post more later. I also might post the short stories I write to this blog. I really feel like I could churn out one a week since short stories are typically under 10,000 words.

Ta-Ta for now!

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Impromptu vs. Outlining

What kind of writer are you? Do you write going from scene to scene, making it up as you go and not really knowing what happens next? Or are you the type of writer who plans everything out?

I like to call my style of writing “impromptu”. I don’t know how legit of a name that is, but it is what I like to use. Basically, I dive into all my stories knowing very little about where they are going. Yes, I have images and scenes in my head I want to implement into the story, but oftentimes they are the epic scenes of the climax, near the end of the story.

For example, most people are familiar with the story The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. If you know the storyline, imagine sitting down to begin those books with only a few things decided. You have developed the idea of The One Ring, the Dark Lord, and your world in general. You have hobbits, dwarves, elves, orcs, men, and have even cooked up some of Middles Earth’s history in your mind. Knowing you want to start the book in the Shire with one of your main characters, Frodo, you sit down and begin writing. You might have epic mental images of a fight underground with a massive beast of fire (The Mines of Moria, The Balrog), and of a vast swamp full of dead people (The Dead Marshes), but you really have no guidelines or plan. It’s all just scenes with no names. You have no idea how you are going to get there.

As you write, you create new and unexpected characters and throw them into the fray. Your imagination is the limit as you invent your story. It goes where it wills and in retrospect you realize you unconciously took one road out of hundreds. The story, as you write it, could go this way or that way, and ultimately you choose a path and dozens more paths open up. The story grows and grows. Slowly, everything starts falling into place and the skeleton begins to fill out, forming a solid body of work. Before your eyes lays an evolution of literature that had no plan, no sense of direction until it finally evolved to encompass all those grand images you began with.

I start my stories with just a few images and scenes to inspire me. The hard part is creating the scenes in-between that connect the dots and to do it in a way that makes sense. However, impromptu writing is a sure recipe for breeding writer’s block. When you make up everything as you go you will find that some days you just don’t know how to direct your story. Your characters begin to scream back at you “this is stupid! Turn us around and start over!”

What do you think? How do you approach stories? Which style do you think is best? Personally, I love the evolution of impromptu writing but know an outlined story is worth the time it takes to make one. Maybe someday I will actually outline a story before I write it. For now, the story I am editing continues to evolve, just as it has since the first day.

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Edit, Edit, and… Edit

Want to fine tune that manuscript you’ve had sitting around? Think three steps.

Step 1: Edit

Step 2: Edit

Step 3: and… Edit again

Seriously, I am finding out that getting a novel ready for publishing requires almost just as much editing as writing. I think I heard somewhere that a novel is 10% planning, 50% writing, and 40% editing. It took me two years from start to finish to complete the first draft of my book. Will it take almost two years to edit it? Probably not, though it seems like it. I was balancing high school and college work over those two years I was writing. Today, I am able to spend much more time editing so it won’t actually take me too long to edit. However, I’m about two months into the process and there is still a lot to do. I have at least a few more weeks worth of editing.

I should clarify that any plan you have for editing shouldn’t be as simple as I stated above, obviously. I was simply ranting about the enormous task of editing a manuscript without hiring a professional. And yes, I hope to do most of the editing myself. It is way too expensive to higher a professional. I sent in my first chapter to a professional editing company to received a sample edit. The sample edit came back and they wanted me to give them the go ahead to finish editing chapter one… for 80 dollars. With 27 chapters in my manuscript, it would be over two thousand dollars for a professional edit at that rate. Sure, they probably have a quantity discount, but still. They even claimed to have some of the lowest rates. Scary.

As I am discovering, editing should entail some steps. You should have order; a plan of action. Basically you should begin with general content editing. Plot holes, additional or deleted scenes, character voice… etc. That should come before grammatical edits. I was doing both (content and grammatical editing) at the same time and ended up throwing out three chapters, adding four, and rewriting another. I then had to go back and edit those new chapters. Lesson learned? Save grammatical editing for the final stages. If you are looking at your manuscript with a truly critical eye there should be plenty of content editing to keep you busy.

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The Art of the Prologue

Yesterday I finally decided my story needed a prologue. It’s called “Prologue: Eye of the World” and it really helps set the stage and pull the reader in. My first chapter begins in a region similar to Eastern Asian in culture. The secret warrior order I throw you into is not far removed from the Shaolin Monks of China. It could be a start that would turn some readers off. I had one reader tell me it was a little weird. I needed some impetus for the reader to progress beyond, what I believe, is a perfectly interesting and involving first chapter. However, I do realize it is not a standard environment for the opening of most books. It’s a bit “spiritual” and “transcendent” in nature. It has that Eastern feel.

So I journey back in time to a moment that would set the stage for the rest of my series. I journey back one thousand years to the last moments of an enormously important time in the history of my world. In my prologue I give massive foreshadowing and, hopefully, the reader more to draw from as they turn to the first chapter. I believe the prologue I wrote could be a masterstroke. Based on what I’ve read of prologues, they are either a masterstroke or ruin the beginning.

If you do not have a prologue, chapter one is perhaps the most essential part of your book (the climax challenges for first, but what good is a climax if the reader can’t make it past chapter one?). It will decided whether the reader will go on or not. If you have a prologue, it becomes more important than even chapter one. Based on my reading on the net, I’ve found that prologues get hard reviews. Editors and professional writers are extremely skeptical of using them. And rightly so. It can be the trademark of a young and/or inexperienced writer. Often, your prologue should simply be labeled chapter one, if you get my drift. Unless, of course, you are going back in time, to the future, or are dealing with a totally different POV (point of view) and/or character than your main character. However, if the tone of your prologue differs greatly from the rest of your book, it will fail.

Also, never use a prologue to give a backdrop for your main character. This will bore your readers beyond belief. They want to experience and learn about the character as the story moves along. If you are not growing and expanding your character in your readers mind as the story moves, they will become disinterested. “Show” don’t “tell” your reader about your character.

All in all, prologues are generally not a good idea. Start with chapter one. A good beginning can be as simple as starting with the beginning. That is what I did until I realized there seemed to be a need for a prologue and some foreshadowing early on. In defense of prologues, I would like to say when done right, they can be powerful tools. Most of the prologues I have read in published books have benefited the story.

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Seven Legend – Hello World!

Hello Readers!

I have started this blog for a number of reasons. I will address those reasons later on in this post.

First, a little about myself. I am Seth Olive; writer and aspiring novelist. I have been writing fantasy novels since I was about twelve years old. Now eighteen, I am on the verge of finally attempting to publish my most recent novel (title not to be disclosed at this time). The novel is fantasy, complete with a map of my world. You could say the target audience is Young Adult, but my novel will be of interest to most age groups just as stories such as The Lord of the Rings have captivated most age groups. I am in the middle of editing the 410 page manuscript as of the writing of this post. This first book of a possible trilogy should be ready to be published in a couple months.

Now, why did I create this blog and what will be on it?

I created this blog so that I can begin to gather a following of enthusiastic fans before, leading up to, and after the release of my novel. Like most authors, I am not writing for only myself. I am writing so that the world can share in the adventures running through my head. Hopefully you will enjoy them as I much as I have.

What can you expect to see on this blog? This is not my space for torturing readers with ranting, ravings, monologues, and cheap salesman hot air. Here, on Seven Legend, I hope to share many things.

1.      Thoughts on writing. Specific and general topics.

2.      Things I have learned.

3.      What I am currently doing.

4.      Teasers and tidbits from my book and future books.

5.      Share intriguing articles and quotes.

6.      Ask questions.

7.      And hopefully update, update, and update. Who follows a dead blog?

Ironic. I have seven points above. It is the number seven again. This brings me to the conclusion of this post. Why the blog title “Seven Legend”? For now, this is the title because my book and potential trilogy revolve around an apocalyptic legend that relies heavily on the number seven. Here comes a teaser. There are seven realms, seven beasts, seven years without a summer, the seven isles… etc.  It’s all about the Seven in the Legend. Welcome to Seven Legend.

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