Category Archives: Frank Morin

A Faster Book, or a Better Book?

Porphyry MarbleWhen I first started indie-publishing my books, I set the goal to release eight books in eight months.

Crazy.

Especially since I write huge books. I did have several of them completed, but revisions, covers, and lots of other things weren’t done. Plus, I like releasing physical copies (both paperback and hardcover). So that goal was simply, physically impossible.

It was motivating, though, and it helped me stay focused. But one sad truth about my writing is that first drafts are far from finished drafts. Some authors can pump out a first draft that’s a single polish away from release. Not me. My revisions are more like full rewrites most of the time.

Hence the growing conflict for me. Do I stick to my new, but still aggressive publishing schedule, or do I allow the planned release dates to slide to make sure each book can be the best possible?

The importance of that question became clear when I was speaking with another author at the amazing Superstars of Writing Seminar. I was explaining my goal of releasing books as fast as possible, along with my plans for how many books I’d release each year. He simply said, “I don’t hear you talking much about how you want every book to be better than the last.”

Oops.

Of course I wanted that, but he was right – it wasn’t in my goals. Time to re-think and re-commit to something I really believe in my heart. Readers deserve the very best I can give. Sure, they might clamor for the next book as fast as possible, but they’re willing to wait a little longer for the book to be done right.

Last year, I did not meet my publishing goals. I planned to release a book in the springtime, but edits turned into a full rewrite. Then I had to set that mostly-finished new draft aside to write Affinity for War – book four of the Petralist. I had set the goal to release that one by Christmas, but again rewrites took longer than planned. The book is nearly done, and it’ll be released in March, but for a while I was really stressed about the fact that I might missed my planned date.

I had to remember that the book has to be ready and it’s worth the time to get it right. So it’ll be right, and it’ll be amazing, and fans will love it.

And in 2018, one of my goals is to figure out how to make my first drafts better so I don’t need such heavy re-writes in revisions. That will help everyone.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior 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 Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Not Enough Time in the Day

Did I Hit my Goals2017 is almost over. This year went by way too fast. I wish each month had a couple more weeks in it.

I love setting goals. Goals motivate me to work harder and stay focused. This year I set a lot of writing goals, and there’s a chance I over-estimated how much I could accomplish. Or maybe I underestimated how long each project would take.

Or both.

I achieved some goals, for sure. I worked hard, and hopefully built momentum that I can capitalize on through the next year. Did I Hit all of them, though? Not quite.

The BIG goal for the year was to release two major novels this year. Did not happen. Several factors contributed, including a much heavier day-job schedule than anticipated that cut into writing time, as well as enormous first drafts of both of those novels that weren’t as on-target as I expected them to be. That required heavy rewriting, which takes a lot of time.

I write big books. Both of the novels I worked on this year were pushing 200,000 words at times. One of the challenges is to cut them down to about 160k or so for release, but first I need to get all the major framework and plumbing working properly, then I can worry about trim and finish work. One book was the final chapter in my Facetakers urban fantasy series, but that novel had to be almost entirely rewritten. I had hoped to release it in May, but ran out of time. I had deadlines that I couldn’t miss for my fourth Petralist YA fantasy book, so the mostly-completed 2nd draft has been on the shelf for a few months. Not enough time in the day.

That Petralist book – Affinity for War is nearly done though! First draft ran long (big surprise). Joshua Essoe, my editor, told me it took the title as the #1 longest book he’s ever edited. The #2 slot was Rune Warrior, also mine, released last year. Edits are going very well, but again taking longer than expected. I had hoped the book would be released this month for Christmas, but it’s going to bleed over into early next year. I chose to make it the best possible book I can, even though that means missing my target release date by a couple of months, but that’s better than sacrificing quality to hit the target.

San MarinoThe year wasn’t just misses, though. I served as president of the Fictorians, which has been an honor. I attended a couple different conventions, and even shared a vendor table with the amazing Gama Martinez (his books are awesome) at SLC comicon. I began learning about marketing, with much more learning still needed, and I took a trip to Italy to research my last Facetakers book! Check out this photo of San Marino. It’s a tiny little nation entirely embedded within Italy. Who knew?

This year I also wrote another novella in the Petralist world. When Torcs Fly should be released by the end of this month (official announcement coming soon!). It’s the hilarious tale of how Tomas and Cameron, two comic supporting characters in the series, first joined the elite special-forces company and had their first misadventure together. It will be super fun.

I also started the process of getting Set in Stone produced as an audiobook! I’ve wanted to do this for over a year, but there was not enough time in the day. I finally just started the process, even though I didn’t have time. I’m glad I did. Joshua Story is the narrator, and he’s amazing. I will begin reviewing chapters this week, and we should have the audiobook out very soon (again – official announcement coming soon!).

So I accomplished a lot, had a blast writing some amazing stories that will be released soon, and learned some lessons on time management and estimating my work. I’ve got big goals for 2018, so hopefully I’ll do a better job planning it out.

Every day, I plan to write as much as I can, but not forget that balance is important. Time with family, my day job, service in my church youth group, and Sleep! are all necessary too. It may feel like there’s not enough time in the day, but I still try to enjoy the journey.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior 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 Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

Writing Stories – One Layer at a Time

Shrek - LayersI love in Shrek when he tells Donkey that ogres are like onions. They have layers. Even though Donkey suggests layered cake would be a better image, the onion analogy really works.

Books can be like ogres, onions, or cake, depending on the day and how your current scene is going. They’ve got lots of layers, and sometimes discovering a new layer can dramatically affect how we approach a work in progress.

Diving deep into a new novel during a focused writing burst like Nano can really help the story come alive in ways impossible to do when we’re outlining or planning or just writing a chapter a week. When we get deep into the zone, we can see things about the story we might have never imagined. We peel back the outer layers of plot, setting, and outer conflict to some of the deeper layers of motivation, inner struggle, and world view of our characters that shape their decisions and how they react to the world.

Those moments of discovery are awesome for both pantsers and plotters, and they’re key to ensuring that a story is deepened as well as broadened. We need to feel the heart of a story and make sure all of those layers align. Until we know those layers and make sure they build upon each other in a solid, optimized way, there’s at least one more draft that still needs to be done.

I’ve learned the hard way that even when I thoroughly outline a story, I don’t really know that story until I’ve worked through all those layers. I might write a huge 200,000 word draft that only touches on the outer layers. It’s not until I begin working edits and diving deeper that the true story emerges. Sometimes that requires some pretty substantial rewrites, but that’s a necessary price to pay for producing a professional quality story. If we quit before that, we’ve cheated the story and ourselves.

Here are a few things to ask yourself about your story to check your progress and make sure you haven’t missed any important layers:

  • Is your plot finished? Do you have a solid arc, including your plot points? Do you know the ending?
  • Is your setting well defined? Are the locations where scenes take place fleshed out with sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch? Is your blocking clear and easy for readers to follow?
  • Is your main protagonist’s challenge clearly defined, with a clear antagonistic force in place, with rising stakes.
  • Do you know what motivates your protagonist? Your antagonist? Other main characters? Why do they see the world the way they do, and are they open to changing that world view, learning, and growing, or are they fixed, closed-minded, and set in their ways?
  • What is your protagonist’s inner struggle?
  • What do other characters struggle with? How do they handle stress? How do they handle change?

If you can answer all of those questions with confidence, you’re well on your way. Keep charging ahead to the end. If you’re not sure, take a few minutes to think about these layers and consider how answering them might add depth and meaning to your story.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior 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 Urban Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

NaNo – The Day After

Write Today - And Keep WritingLike many writers, new and experienced, you may be gearing up for a dedicated writing month in November, eager to crack that 50,000 word goal of NaNoWriMo. Good luck! I hope you nail it. I hope you hit 50,000 words with days to spare.

Then what?

The fun thing about NaNoWriMo and setting a big writing goal is that it should help you develop new or improved habits. If you manage to write every day for a month, make sure you’ve got plans to keep writing afterward. Don’t drop your 50,000 word start of a novel into a drawer and wait until next year.

Writing is a long-term race, but the NaNo sprint can get you off to a great start. Now push on to the finish. 50,000 words should equate to roughly half a regular novel. It’s about a quarter to a third of one of mine. It’s long enough to be a significant portion of a finished draft.

If you’re a pantser, you should have wandered through the fog far enough to maybe have an inkling of the ending. At the least, you’ll understand major characters, important scenes, and the most compelling conflicts. All of these components can now be fine-tuned and targeted toward a high-powered conclusion.

If you’re an outliner, you should be far along the track you planned. By now you know whether or not the outline was spot on, or spotty. If everything is firing as planned, keep charging ahead to that elegant, rewarding conclusion you’ve already envisioned. If your journey through NaNo has identified flaws in the outline, this is a great time to pause, reconsider, rework, and retarget.

I hope your goal is completing a novel. NaNo offers a wonderful opportunity to plow through much of the rough first draft, generating excitement for the revisions and edits to come. The story is what’s important, and it’s our job to keep working that manuscript until we tell the real story, including everything we need to make it compelling, while stripping out all the excess baggage that just gets in the way.

So enjoy NaNo. Hit your goal. Then keep going.

I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.