Thursday Thoughts: To be(ta) or not to be(ta)

Are you a beta-reader? Have you ever used one?

I think it is time to open up my newest work, a novel based on one of my science fiction short stories, to readers to gain some feedback on the story so far.

In essence, the story is finished, the characters have had their adventure and are…[spoiler alert]. It has been a stretch for me to write something longer than 4000 words. It’s been fun, don’t get me wrong. I’m amazed at what I’ve come up with and it has exceeded my expectations.

I write like I read. I don’t like long drawn out descriptions or seemingly endless dialogue, but part of that is the way to immerse the reader in the story. I probably need to be more descriptive in my writing, but I like to give out the basic ingredients and let the reader form their own picture because that’s what we all do when we read, right? Go to a movie based on your favorite book to see someone else’s interpretation (that wasn’t what Hogwarts was supposed to look like…)

I’ll usually go for brevity over elaboration. I use vocabulary that most people will recognize or be able to understand based on context. When I’m reading, I don’t want to have to look up the meaning of a word.

I admit that I am a new writer. Twenty years from now I’ll be a better one. George Lucas reworked Episodes IV-VI because more tools were available. I’ve gone back to earlier chapters to add dialogue and scenes because ideas have come to me. I’m adding to my toolbox with every page I write.

All the more reason to write more.

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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Thursday Thoughts: Cruisin’ at 30 000 (words that is)

I did my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge in November. The goal is to write 50000+ words in one month. I didn’t think that I would accomplish this since I am a slow writer, but it did get me started writing longer works.

Most of my creations are poems or short stories. I joke that I write short stories because of my attention span, but my stories seem to come to a natural conclusion sooner rather than later. Deciding to write a novel definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone.

When I read, I’ll often skim over longer descriptions and dialogue that I deem unnecessary (no offence to my fellow authors). Sometimes I am forced to go back if something doesn’t make sense, and my reading habits are usually the culprit.

So, I write how I read. Just get to the point and move on.

My novel started as a continuation of one of my short stories. At the end of November, I wasn’t even close, but I was pleased with what I had written up to that point. My characters were developing through their actions and words, there was suspense at the end of each chapter, and I had a good idea what the ending was going to be.

Sometimes I can write quite a bit in one sitting, other times, not so much.

I hit the 30 000 word mark last month. It’s been slowly creeping ahead ever since. The problem is that the ending is written, the characters have had their adventures and adversities. They have solved their problems (oops, spoiler alert…). The story in essence is finished.

So now I go back to fill in descriptions I feel are necessary, not for boosting word count—ok, maybe a little—but to create an engaging story for the reader. I am also going over the dialogue, trying to make it informative while keeping it realistic. Sometimes I find that extended speeches by a character seems unnatural, as most people need time and breaks to formulate their thoughts. I personally am not usually a prolific conversationalist, so that may have a lot to do with it.

I guess the question is: Would you like to read a novella or a novel?

-Leon


Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!