Brave New Publishing—Amazon Testing Paying Authors by the Page

Very interesting stuff here. As of now, this only has to do with borrowed books, but who knows how it might change publishing over the next few years…

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Kenny Louie

We live in a really strange time and technology has altered the publishing landscape into something we could never have imagined in 1999. The changes have been nothing short of science fiction. Well, buckle your seat belts because it is about to happen again. Just about the time we kind of get the knack of things, it seems there is yet another upheaval and we have to adapt.

This is why I wrote my social media branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.  My methods keep us from having to tear down and start over every time something in the tech world goes topsy-turvy and we can maintain brand momentum no matter what. But this time it isn’t social media throwing the curve ball.

It is Amazon.

I’ve worked hard to be balanced in all my opinions…

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Writing Entertainingly (Edgar Rice Burroughs on telling interesting stories)

Time for another writerly quote. I wrote a post recently on Literary fiction versus Pop Fiction, and the issue I have with “literary” folks who put down widely read works, so this quote struck home with some things I’ve been thinking about lately:

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly. – Edgar Rice Burroughs

Burroughs’s Tarzan and John Carter stories are still some of the most beloved stories ever written. And I love how he puts this. Not only does he admit he knew nothing (Yeah right, Edgar!), he attributes his success to accepting this fact and instead focusing on telling a good story.

Because that is the point, isn’t it? To tell a good story.

I am not saying it is not helpful to try to learn about writing and prose and using good grammar. But you can have profound knowledge about how language works, and you can even write gorgeous prose, but it still not be about anything at all.

You can write well, and still be a crappy storyteller.

Burroughs may not have been the most profound writer, but he could write a gosh-darn entertaining story!

The writing helps, but in my mind, the story is what matters. Learn what makes a really good story good. What makes it gripping or interesting? In other words, why should people care enough to read it?

Come up with something interesting. And write it entertainingly.

I can’t speak for everyone, and the reasons why they read books. But I read to be entertained, largely. I read to be wrapped up in a story, to feel like I am experiencing the story as the main characters, to be left wondering what will happen and how, to care so much about the characters that I must reach the end. That is entertainment, and it is the effect I would much rather master, over gushing prose. Maybe I’ll learn a little of that someday, but for now, I am going to work on becoming a better storyteller.

Beginning with the End of the Story in Mind

E. L. Doctorow compared writing to driving. You know where your destination is, but you can only see as far as your headlights. At first I thought this promoted flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writing. But I don’t really think it is. I think it is true we can’t always see how things are going to come together as we are writing, entirely. However, there should be (has to be) a destination. Perhaps, you will find a shortcut, or you will take the scenic route. Perhaps you will near the destination and realize that you ought to stop somewhere else.

But you’ve got to know where you are headed. Effective businesses have a mission statement, a primary goal. Effective people have goals for their lives. A good book has to have a goal too.

Knowing where you are headed is key before you set out to tackle anything you write. Perhaps you’ve got to write a little to figure it out, or do some writing exercises or brainstorming. Sometimes you’ve just got to sit back and think about it. In fact, I would argue that one of the most important parts of the writing process is simply thinking about the story, sorting things out in your head a bit before you set out on the journey.

You could just start writing, just like I could just start driving down the road and seeing where I end up. But most likely I would waste a lot of miles and gas. What a shame to write half a book and realize you’ve got to go back and totally re-start the story, because the direction has changed! Believe me, I have been there. It is tough to throw something out you’ve worked hard on. I could have saved hours upon hours if I had thought things through more before writing.

Don’t neglect the planning time. Spend some time with it, have fun with it, embrace it. Think about what your characters are like and what the story-world is like. Jot down a chapter if you need to. But figure out what the real story is, and figure out what the goal, the endpoint, of the story is. You will discover all kinds of things along the way, but if there is no destination, it will be wandering and rambling.

Begin with the end and then move forward. Every scene you write will be more effective the first time around, and you will assuredly reach the destination faster.