Category Archives: Frank Morin

Editors: Angels or Demons

Editors: Angels and Demons
Editors: Angels and Demons
Image found at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/544372673681409283/

We’ve already had great posts about dealing with rejection , handling criticism, and taking a story back down to the studs when it has to be done.

Today I want to focus on a different aspect of shepherding your story through those difficult growing pains between completing the first draft and clicking “Publish”.

Getting the critique from your editor.

Whether you’re a traditionally published author working with the editor from the publishing house, or an indie author who hired their own freelance editor, this is a required step. An editor must work over your manuscript, and they return it dripping with red ink.

Talk about damage control. What happened to that perfect draft you completed, reviewed twice, and sent out absolutely READY. You were confident that all the editor would have to say about the story is that it’s the best thing they’ve ever read, and can you autograph the manuscript for them?

If only.

It’s always shocking to get that edit back. How can there be so much wrong with this story when I poured so much of myself into it? The most startling situation is when an editor says, “I really loved this story.” But accompanies that positive feedback with a thirty page critique and hundreds of minor corrections.

The first time I received an edited manuscript, I felt a flood of emotion, from “there’s no way they understood me” to “I’m such a hack and I’ll never make it as a writer” to “Are you kidding me? Did they even read the story?”

edited manuscriptI handle it a little better now. Mostly.

Editors are not paid to be sweet. They are paid to tell the truth and to point out far more than simple grammatical errors. Sure, line edits are important, but a story needs a pass from a good content/developmental editor who can point out logic holes, problems with pacing, character arc, emotional beats, and much more.

Here’s a few keys to handling that traumatic day when you get your edits back:

  1. DO NOT build a giant pyre in your backyard and burn your manuscript.
  2. Do make sure you hired a professional, competent editor. Sure, your cousin who took some English classes might offer some helpful insights, but they’re not an editor. Indie authors often want to skimp on paying an editor, which can be one of the biggest financial investments of writing a book. Don’t be one of those writers. The investment is absolutely worth it.
  3. Take a deep breath and read through the entire critique before diving in and making changes. Make sure you understand their points, and give their feedback time to sink in.
  4. Put your pride in a drawer. You can take it out later. Maybe. Yes, you’re awesome and you’re welcome to hold onto the dream that the story is going to change the world and be more widely read than Harry Potter. But it’s still a draft, so it needs work.
  5. Remember, you have blind spots. No one can see them all. You cannot afford to release a sub-par novel. Your editor can point out those holes and blind spots. Use this as a chance to learn.
  6. Editing is how your story shines. Sometimes you need major edits, sometimes only minor polishing, but why spend months creating a story only to resist that last 10% that will turn your story into a masterpiece?
  7. Learn to enjoy the process. It takes practice, but through editing, you can grow your writing skills, learn new techniques, shed bad habits, and see your blind spots. If you loved your story the first time you work through it, you’ll love it even more the fourth time, when it’s fully realized.

At first, you may think the editor is a demon incarnate for ripping into your story like they do. If you follow the process to the end, though, you’ll realize they were really angels in disguise, helping you bring forth a much greater work.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only need to go through the full editing process once for that novel.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers sci-fi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Experience: The Best Way to Gain Wisdom

Jumping off rocks

Jumping off rocksI love the challenge of this month’s theme. It catapults me right out of my comfort zone. I write big novels where I can take the time to explore concepts to whatever end and it’s common to pound out over 10,000 words in a single day.

A story made up of only 55? Bring it on.

 

There’s a great saying:

Wisdom is knowing how to avoid making stupid mistakes.

Wisdom is gained by making stupid mistakes.

My story was inspired by a recent four-day hiking trek along the beautiful Lower Rogue River Trail. Thirteen hearty souls embarked on the 42+ mile journey and most of us reached the far end intact, with a few blisters and, in my case, the loss of one toenail. And what better activity to do during a long, hot hike along a river than to find the best rocks for jumping from the heights into the cold waters below?

We had a blast.

I hope you enjoy my story: The Plunge

Everyone else had hesitated before jumping, so of course I leaped without even looking.
Weightless, exhilarated, laughing, I looked down.
What an idiot!
Definitely time to scream.
The impact was brutal as I plunged into icy depths, feet stinging, and water shooting up my nose.
I surfaced, but smiled away their worry.
“Piece of cake.”

 

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers scifi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Genre – An Emotional Journey

ice creamAsking someone which genre of books they prefer most is like asking someone what’s their favorite ice cream. Everyone has an answer, but often they don’t understand why they prefer one over another. Or they’ll cite specific examples they loved within a genre, or perhaps discuss common tropes. Those definitions of genre are limiting and exclusive.

As has been pointed out in other posts this month, genre a marketing label, but books can vary widely within a genre, or fall across multiple genres. For example, my Facetakers series is a sci-fi time travel thriller, but it also has a cool magic system. It’s hard to pin it down to a single genre. I could just as easily call it an alternate history fantasy, but it reads more like a sci-fi thriller, so that’s the slot it’s been assigned. The story is more powerful for the mash-up, but that cross-genre approach does present challenges for finding the right readers because people forget one important truth.

Rune Warrior coverGenre is all about emotion.

This truth is taught by David Farland, who has a knack for audience analysis beyond anyone I’ve ever met. He points out that genre labels generally reflect the most powerful emotional element in the story. Some genres are easy to spot:

Horror – well, obviously.

Humor – this one is often mixed into the other genres (humorous fantasy, humorous sci-fi, etc)

Romance – again – obvious

But what about science fiction and fantasy? There’s a reason these two genres are combined so often in story telling and in how they’re shelved, and it has nothing to do with the size of their audiences. These both share a common emotion: Wonder.

Think about it, whether a far distant planet is reached by interstellar flight or by flights of fancy, whether they include arguably-possible technology or unexplainable magic, the greatest draw for these genres is the wonder of discovery and exploring new worlds.

Many of our stories contain a lot of other emotions, though, and that can lead to genre mashing and a bit of confusion. If there’s lots of horror in a SFF story, it’s often called Dark Fantasy. I already mentioned Humorous Fantasy. If there are lots of action beats, it may be called a SFF Thriller. If it explores history and gives it a twist, it’s called Alternate History Fantasy or Time Travel Sci-Fi. Etc.

So when analyzing the genre of your story, or of those stories you love, consider the emotional journey the story immerses you into. What was the primary emotional beat? For those stories hard to pinpoint in a narrow genre, this might be the most accurate way to describe it.

 

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers scifi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Horses – the Motorcycles of the Middle Ages

HorsesWhat’s a wandering hero without his horse?

Not nearly as cool, that’s what.

Perhaps the second most iconic image in fantasy and many other types of fiction, behind the image of the sword, is that of the horse.

But for such a beloved and well-known part of stories set in the pre-modern world, as well as many alternate worlds, there are a number of common mistakes when it comes to how some writers utilize horses. Worse, horse enthusiasts are almost as critical as gun nuts for pointing out inaccuracies or unbelievable claims.

The majority of writers seem to understand that characters who are new at riding will get very sore down below, that the riders’ legs, not the saddle, keep them on a horse, and that bridles are usually quite important (unless both horse and rider are trained to work together by knee commands only). Horses will not usually leap off of cliffs on command, or pummel snakes and wolves to death with their hooves.

Horses are not motorcycles.

They can’t run at top speed for hours or days without rest, feeding, or care. As writers design their world, they need to consider well the distances their characters must travel. Like travel by ship, travel by horseback actually takes quite a bit of time, particularly if the roads are not good or if the terrain is mountainous.

Admittedly, there are some horses with incredible stamina, such as some Arabian horses, but unless the story is set up to make it clear to readers that such is the case, don’t fall into the trap of assuming a horse can go forever. Long journeys are covered by alternating slow and fast paces, and what’s considered fast depends much on conditions being ridden through.

Another aspect of horses that is often over-utilized is rearing and whinnying. Spend a little time around horses and it becomes clear that rearing is extremely rare, and that they really don’t whinny that much.

Transylvania horsesOne of my favorite misconceptions about horses though are the impossible feats of strength. Most often, they are seen jumping enormous gaps, often while pulling a stagecoach no less.

Take a look at this great example from the movie Van Helsing. This is the great scene where the marvelous Transylvania horses leap a gorge, pulling a stagecoach. I actually love that movie, but that scene always makes me cringe. It’s even more noteworthy because supposedly they just completed galloping non-stp across three mountainous countries too.

So add horses to stories. Horses are great and we love them, but take a little time and thought to how they are portrayed. Do some riding. Make friends with horse owners and ask them questions. They’re usually happy to help.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinA Stone's Throw coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers scifi time travel thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org