Category Archives: Frank Morin

Trashing Your Novel Might be the Only Way to Save It

PhoenixHappy New Year!

As we discuss new beginnings this month, I’m talking about those times when you must begin at the beginning – again – when to decide to throw away your novel and start over.

It’s a scary idea to consider for any writer, no matter how experienced. We slave over our work, sometimes for years, pouring our heart and soul into our new creation. It’s like our baby, a precious part of our identity.

So when do we kill it?

The answer to that question is kind of a sliding scale. As new authors, it can be a shock to realize that revisions are necessary, that we have to cut and chop and operate and rebuild our story, perhaps several times. At a minimum, some of those precious little nuggets we’ve worked into our story might have to get chopped as we refine and perfect the story. Other times, we have to cut and change more, making some fundamental shifts in our plot, characters, setting, etc.

And occasionally, we have to throw it all away and start over. In these cases, it’s usually because the story we thought we were telling was the wrong story. Or our skills as developing writers just wasn’t up to par with the story we were trying to tell, and there are such critical flaws in the story that it’s simply not going to work.

In those cases, to save the story, we must kill it. Like a phoenix, the story might only live to be amazing only through the ashes of its previous life.

I know what I’m talking about. I’m arguably the king of the phoenix. My first novel – the four-year, three-hundred-thousand-word monstrosity that I was convinced was going to take the world by storm – wasn’t. I cut my teeth as a writer on that story, and I still love it. A big, fat, epic fantasy that had some amazing elements, but was not a professional-level product. It simply was not going to work.

The day I realized that was a dark day. I faced a choice, as we always do when facing revisions of every kind. Either cling to my pride and embrace that parental impulse to protect this precious story I had worked so very hard for so very long to produce. It’s understandable, but that approach would have guaranteed the story never succeeded.

Or – kill the story and start over. That’s what I did. I threw it away (really should have held a solemn ceremony with a huge bonfire in the back yard). Then I started over. Page One.

I took the elements that had been good – some of the worldbuilding, some of the characters, etc. And I redesigned an entirely new story. It was a painful process, but it was also amazing and awesome because the resulting story was ten times better. I will likely release it this year.

You’d think after all of that, I’d know how to write a first draft that was mostly good and only needed minor revisions.

Nope. Not me.

Set in StoneMy second book – Set in Stone – book one of my popular YA fantasy series – suffered its own issues. I actually outlined this story to the Nth degree in the hopes of a near-perfect first draft. Problem was, I was outlining the wrong story. By the third draft, I realized there were fundamental flaws with it.

So I chopped about 80% of that novel and rewrote it again. The result was amazing. I added the humor, which is such a big part of the series. And I plunged deep into the unique magic system and added several new characters, which are some of the most popular characters in the series. If I had clung to the original draft, the story would have tanked and I would have wasted an entire world and years of effort.

So shredding that story and rebuilding it again was the only way to save it. Phoenix number Two a success.

Just about every other novel I’ve written has also required massive rewrites. Maybe you’re smarter than me or better skilled and your stories don’t require such overhauls. But don’t hold back. The story is what matters, and first drafts are sometimes a process of discovering what your story’s heart really is. Rewrites are when you get to polish the story and craft it to perfection to make that heart really shine.

This week, I’m enjoying a rare writing retreat where I’ll be diving into edits on my next Facetakers time travel thriller. I’m not expecting to need such in-depth rewrites, but as I get into the revision process, I’ll do what it takes to make the story shine.

The story deserves it. My fans deserve it. So I do the work.

I’m a storyteller. It’s what I do.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank Morin
No Stone UnturnedFrank 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

Pause to Enjoy the View

Forbidden CityA lot of people travel during the holidays, and many of us focus on how efficiently we can get from point A to point B. How many times is the first question you get asked when arriving at a destination after a long drive, “How long did it take?”

It’s important to learn to not just focus on the ultimate goal, but pause to enjoy the journey.

The journey of writing is similar. About two years ago, I set the outrageously optimistic goal of releasing eight books in eight months. Not possible, even if I was just releasing ebooks. But given the fact that I also release paperbacks and hardcovers too, it’s simply not humanly possible. Dealing with the printer, getting proofs, waiting for shipping, etc alone takes more than a month per book.

I might have been naïve to the true amount of work required to publish as an indie writer, but I tackled the challenges with a determination to get there. Despite my eagerness to release books, I refused to skimp on quality to hit a crazy deadline.

Big surprise – I didn’t make my goal.

However, in the last 18 months, I’ve released five novels, won spots for two of my short stories in fantastic anthologies, and donated a third to an anthology raising funds to fight plagiarism. Not bad.

It’s been crazy-busy learning the ins and outs of running my own indie-publishing company, completing manuscripts, final edits, MS prep, interior formatting, cover design, giveaways, traveling to conventions, etc. Plus, like everyone, there’s still that pesky day job, family, kids’ activities, community involvement, sleep, etc.

Sales are building in the right direction, and hopefully this year they’ll reach a tipping point and take off. Until then, I’ll keep releasing novels, just on a more reasonable time table.

At times it’s been easy to get so focused on the next project, the next milestone, and my never-ending to-do list that I can forget to pause and enjoy the journey.

The end of the year is a great time to do so. When I take the time to reflect on the past eighteen months, I take a deep breath and enjoy the milestones.

There’s still lots of work to do, and that will never change. But I can enjoy each step in the process. And I can celebrate so much material being published and enjoyed by fans:

The Lord of the Rings – Perhaps the Best Movie Adaptation Ever

lotr posterIn my family, we love good stories. We’re avid readers, and we also love to go to the movies. Film adaptations of beloved books pose a unique challenge. Generally we read the book prior to watching the movie. It’s awesome to see characters and scenes we love come to life on the big screen.

As long as they’re portrayed well.

My kids are book-to-movie adaptation purists. They feel the movies really need to be true to the books. I lean in that direction too, but recognize that the two mediums are so different, they demand some changes, no matter how much the directors want to keep the story pure. We generally discuss at ridiculous lengths what we liked or didn’t like about adaptations.

Except for the Lord of the Rings.

That one was easy.

We love that movie trilogy! Peter Jackson and his cast and crew knocked it out of the park. They nailed it. That’s one adaptation where I believe the movie exceeded the book.

What did they do so well?

lotr-silhouettesFirst off, they loved the books. We, of course, purchased the extended editions of all of the DVDs and, being huge Tolkien fans, we watched all the extra bonus materials, behind-the-scenes clips, and interviews. Throughout all of that material, it was incredibly obvious that the movies were made by incredibly talented professionals who loved the stories and dedicated themselves to bringing the very best aspects of them to the big screen.

For example, they spent an entire year prepping the sets. They built Hobbiton, planted gardens, and gave the area time to grow and become real.

I took my family to New Zealand where the filming took place and we visited many of the filming locations. Hobbiton was our favorite. It’s just so awesome. Plus, it’s really the only set that’s still in place. Everything else had to be taken down, including the town of Edoras. We did visit the mount where it had stood and got to play with swords!

They took the time to tell the story. Many movie adaptations make the mistake of cutting massive sections of the story plotline away, or change it so far from what the fan base expects that it’s barely recognizable. Great examples of movies that should have been only the first successful installment in a long series, but which angered the fan base and crushed their chances to release the sequels, include Eragon and The Last Airbender. I was so excited for both of those, and so disappointed with the clearly sub-par adaptations that resulted.

The LOTR crew focused on the details. They hired armorers to make real weapons and armor. We visited the Weta workshop where they crafted the costumes and equipment and worked so much magic to bring the story alive. Absolutely amazing.

They cast brilliantly. Sometimes it’s hard to cast everyone to fit the descriptions within a story, but I feel the LOTR cast was brilliant.

LOTR case

LOTR Women

They developed a truly epic score. The music from this movie is still one of my favorite soundtracks, which I often write to, despite having listened to it far too many times to count.

They filmed all three movies at the same time. This could have been a huge gamble and could have been disastrous if the first movie had tanked. But it’s a testament to Peter Jackson and crew that they felt confident enough in their success to film all three movies. They knew they were making something epic, and they did not hold back. Knowing all three movies were already filmed helped drive anticipation for the annual release of the films.

And from a marketing standpoint, they again excelled. I remember for weeks and months leading up to the release of the first movie, they released interviews with cast and crew, sneak peeks behind the scenes, documentaries about the efforts to build the world of Tolkien. It whipped the fan base into a frenzy.

Then they delivered everything they promised.

So yes, I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I love those movies, and I will watch them again and again. If I ever get the chance for a film adaptation of one of my books, I hope it’s by a team the loves my stories like Peter Jackson and his team loved Tolkien’s works, and who commit to the same level of excellence.

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

No Stone Unturned – Launch Weekend!

No Stone UnturnedSome days it’s fun to simply celebrate a big milestone.

This weekend, No Stone Unturned charged onto the world ebook scene, already hitting #17 in Amazon’s Humorous Fantasy listing.

No Stone Unturned is book three of my popular Petralist YA fantasy series, which I describe as Big Magic, Big Adventure, and Lots of Humor. Check it out here. It’ll be released in paperback and hardcover formats on Dec 16th.

As student armies clash in intense group battles and Connor struggles to leverage a pitifully underpowered army against overwhelming competition, the intrigue at the Carraig intensifies to deadly new levels.

There are secrets at the Carraig buried for centuries that could shake the nation to its roots. Once Connor pokes that hornets’ nest, the Tallan’s own fury will be unleashed. To survive, Connor must outsmart conniving noble houses, dodge international assassins, survive unbelievably bad poetry, and risk exploring new powers that were concealed for very good reasons.

As the conflict escalates and his ultimate enemy steps out of the shadows to strike, Connor must face a threat not seen since the Tallan Wars. Connor’s best hope may be to embrace the thing he fears the most.

And become the ultimate unclaimed.

For more information, access to cool illustrations and maps and a sneak-peek into a sample chapter, check out this recent blog post.

Quartzite Bird Marble fist Soapstone Cubes

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