Saturday, May 21, 2022

Can You Start Writing Before Knowing the End of a Story?

The short answer is "sure," but the longer one would be, "Start if your characters and their motives are known, as well as the setting and how it contributes to the story."

If you write series, these items would be clear, but that's not a green light to meander as you write. My suggestion would be that you know at least these four things:

1) The main characters' regular routine(s) -- because you are about to disrupt their lives. How do they spend their time? What matters to them? Who do they love or especially dislike?

2) Understanding of what will disturb their daily life. It doesn't have to shatter their routines, but it has to spur them to action of some sort. Action does not have to be dramatic -- the outcome it generates does have to matter to readers.

3) The ability to plan ahead at least a few chapters. 

4) Options for how the main characters can resolve the situation/tragedy/romantic break-up so they can get back to their routines -- even if those will be altered.

I've adapted a phrase I learned when writing nonfiction reports. It is: If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? 

In fiction, if you don't have an idea of where you are heading, how can you prepare the characters and readers for what they need to know as the book progresses? For example, you could add foreshadowing later, but that can result in choppy writing. 

I usually do these things and have at least a couple pages of notes about where I want the story to go. Sometimes an idea seems so good I jump in and start writing. That usually results in a stall after 15 or 20,000 words. Then I do some more heavy thinking.

Leaping into an idea can also lead you to think that's where the story should start. That's not necessarily so. It's where you needed to start writing, but it could end up as the middle of the book after you figure out more aspects of the story. 

I'm somewhere in the middle of the panster/outliner equation. I write a better book when I do more planning, but I'm not capable of doing a full outline. Too impatient.

When I do a post, I look for outside resources to refer readers to. K.M. Weiland's comprehensive blog and writings often have something. Lo and behold, this week she has Six Ways to Find Your Best Ideas Before You Start Writing.

It's a good approach. Most writers have lots of ideas pinging around in their brain. Weiland offers a thought process to filter through them.

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To learn more about Elaine, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.  

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Mobi is Mosey'n On

I often encourage readers do download MOBI files from Smashwords and email them (via Amazon's Kindle email) to their Kindle to read. I can thus easily give away free books even if they aren't on Kindle Unlimited.

That will be a no-no by the end of 2022. 

New Kindle ereaders will only support epub, which has become the gold standard for ebook formats. I'll have to tell readers to send themselves epub files, which they can download from Smashwords.

MOBI, which has been unique to Kindle, has been the platform's software since I started publishing in late 2009 and early 2010. It feels a bit like losing a notebook that has all the information you need for a test.

For authors uploading books in MS Word (as I do), there will be no difference. And I can still mail myself long grocery lists as PDF files (they arrive as documents, not books).

This is the email I received from Amazon. It's geared to customers who email things to their Kindle, not authors.

Dear Kindle Customer,

Thank you for using the Send to Kindle service to send personal documents to your Kindle library. We wanted to let you know that starting August 2022, you’ll no longer be able to send MOBI (.mobi, .azw) files to your library. Any MOBI files already in your Kindle library will not be affected by this change.

MOBI is an older file format and won’t support the newest Kindle features for documents. Any existing MOBI files you want to read with our most up-to-date features for documents will need to be re-sent in a compatible file format.

Also, compatible formats now include EPUB (.epub), which you can send to your library using your Send to Kindle email address. We’ll also be adding EPUB support to the free Kindle app for iOS and Android devices and the Send to Kindle desktop app for PC and Mac.

If you have any questions, please visit our help page or contact our Customer Service team.

Regards,
The Kindle Team

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To learn more about Elaine, visit her website or sign up for her newsletter.