We made it!

I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that helped my Kickstarter project become a success.

There are currently 7 days until the deadline and we are at 126% (£743 of the £600 target).

Due to the fact there is still a week remaining I have added some stretch goals and a new reward level. If I reach £750 (only £7 to go) I will use the additional funds to hire a professional proofreader for my novel. If I reach a total of £1,000 I intend to commission an illustrator to create three key scenes.

My new reward level is a big one. It is called ‘The Education Level’ and it is £500. I realise this is a lot of money but I thought a reward aimed at schools and colleges might be a good idea. For £500 I will visit a school or college and do a half day session with a class of students covering topics such as my inspiration, how I wrote my novel, getting published, formatting and marketing techniques amongst others. I will also set a challenge with a prize of a Kindle and 3 signed paperbacks. Don’t forget, you get all the rewards from the other levels below this.

If you know anyone that might be interested please pass on this link http://kck.st/171KD09 where there is a video of me explaining what the project is for and what to do.

Thanks again for all your support!

Tirfo Thuin is on Kickstarter – hurry, 12th July deadline to get your rewards

Tirfo Thuin Kickstarter imageI just wanted to do a quick post on my new Kickstarter project. For those of you unfamiliar with Kickstarter, it is a platform where people can add their creative projects and set a target funding goal/deadline. People can choose different funding levels and receive lots of great rewards for their support. However, it is an all or nothing situation. If the goal is not reached by the deadline the project is cancelled, no money is donated and the creators are sad 😦

Check it out and watch my video here: http://kck.st/171KD09

I started my Kickstarter project to help fund a professional edit of my self-published debut fantasy fiction novel, Tirfo Thuin. Mu novel was first published in December 2011 and has achieved over 2,500 sales and plenty of 5* reviews. However, I am mindful that this book has not undergone a full professional edit/proof read that a big name publisher would have been able to supply. What I am hoping to achieve is support to help fund this professional edit whilst offering loads of nice rewards and goodies along the way.

Please feel free to take a look and see if you are interested in any of the rewards and pass it on to all your friends. The clock is ticking. Thanks.

You can read more about Kickstarter and what it is here: http://www.kickstarter.com/hello?ref=nav

Tirfo Thuin - Young Adult Fantasy Fiction Novel -- Kicktraq Mini

Whose or Who’s

Spelling and grammar checks in software such as Microsoft Word are very useful. However, there are many cases they may not pick up such as when using words like whose and who’s or their and there etc.

Even the most grammatically correct author can make mistakes and typos so it is important to ensure you search for these types of words within your manuscript and check they are used correctly in each context.

Remember:

  • Who’s’ is used in place of ‘who is’ or ‘who has’. For example, ‘Who’s playing football today?’ This would be more likely to appear in dialogue as opposed to formal essays or documentation.
  • ‘Whose’ is actually a possessive term that means ‘belonging to who’ or ‘of whom’. For example, ‘Whose papers are these?’

A good rule of thumb is to see if you could replace the word ‘whose’ with ‘who is’. If you cannot then you are probably right to use ‘whose’.

Hope this helps. Obviously, to those who already know this then this post is probably pretty useless but not everyone knows everything so if this helps one aspiring author it will be worthwhile.

Using ‘Manuscript’ for iPad to write your novel

I have to say I would never normally consider writing a novel on an iPad. It would be my laptop every time. However, recently I have found myself travelling on a packed train for around an hour a day and thought it would be good to be able to continue editing and tweaking my first novel on the move.

For this reason I invested in the iPad app ‘Manuscript’ at £4.99. This app does exactly what I expected it to. The developers, ‘Black Mana Studios’, state the following:

  • ‘Create a manuscript from scratch or import from Dropbox.
  • Outline your manuscript using multiple levels – pitch, synopsis, index cards and individual chapter outline
  • Color coded Index cards that serve as a repository for ideas, character development, reminders and more.
  • Each chapter can be outlined individually. You can create empty chapters, outline them, and then pour content into them in any order you like.
  • Use Wikipedia, Google, Wiktionary from within the app.
  • Backup your work-in-progress or export your finished manuscript to Dropbox as an RTF,TXT or HTML file that can be read by both Mac and PC.’

The issue I have found with this app, however, is formatting. In order to get your book into the app you need to covert your novel to .txt format. What this means is you need to save from Word (if that is your prefered writing software) and have to follow the instructions on how to differentiate between chapters etc. Once in Manuscript I found that there were several sentences that appeared to have a break in them so spent a considerable amount of time going through my novel and hitting delete to remove the gaps and ensure the paragraphs flowed correctly.

After a couple of months of successful editing using this app I came to want an export to send to someone for review. I exported in .txt format and found I had a very large plain text document with line breaks all over the place. Again, I had to work through this document and tidy it up. Once done I expected to be able to simply copy and paste straight to word and save back as a .docx file. However, when pasting back into Word I had to then go through the entire novel again to remove rogue line breaks, reindent certain lines and just generally tidy it up again. Admittedly, it appears some of this may be down to how a basic .txt file can lose formatting but it was a bad experience overall. Also, it appears they have now added a RTF or HTML export option as well which could prove to be more successful but it still would not be a seemless process.

I think if the guys at Black Mana Studios could look at a more seemless integration from Microsoft Word documents to prevent the pain of having to create different formats this would be a big win.

Overall I’d give the app 4/5 for actual content entry and use as a basic writing and editing tool but 2/5 for overall experience and satisfaction. I think if, as a writer, you know you are going to be going back to Word anyway and this is a temporary measure to allow you to edit on the move then this is nowhere near as seemless an experience as it needs to be. I am yet to try any of the alternatives but, for the time being, I think I will just stick to the laptop.

Let me know your experiences using an iPad to write your novels.

Some general writing and editing tips

Being well into the editing stages, and near completion of my first fantasy fiction novel, I thought I would share some nuggets of information. These are collated from several sources – online, in print and advice from other authors.

This advice is not focussed on fantasy and fiction but is general advice to help improve your writing.

  1. Adverbs – try to use these sparingly and definitely avoid using strings of them. Use ‘Andrew hurried across the street’ instead of ‘Andrew went quickly across the street.’ Adverbs often work better at the start or the end of a sentence.
  2. Adjectives – as with adverbs, try to use these sparingly and never a string of them. ‘Very’ should be stripped out as it is known as the weakest adjective.
  3. Delete redundancies – do not write the sky above or he stood up. Write the sky or he stood.
  4. Scrutinise every description and try to reduce long sentences to shorter, snappier sentences to help create pace and tension in a scene. Don’t try to describe what doesn’t need describing. New authors have a tendency to describe absolutely everything in a scene. If it does not add any value get rid of it. In a restaurant scene, the reader doesn’t need to know about every action such as picking up a fork, picking up a knife, cutting the steak, putting down the knife and fork and picking up the glass etc.
  5. Try to give a description in action. Do not say ‘Several flags stood atop the government building say ‘Several flags billowed atop the government building.’
  6. Whose eyes are we looking through? Is it clear the author is intruding and providing information the character could not possibly know?
  7. Do not open your book with a lengthy description of the weather. People will tend to sift through this and lose interest easily. This is a common mistake by newbie writers but everyone knows the variations in the weather. Get to the point and the characters.
  8. Keep exclamations to a minimum. I read a rough guide somewhere of 1-2 per 80,000 words on average.
  9. Avoid unneccessary confusion when describing acts. Do not say ‘His eyes travelled to the cockpit’ as this gives the impression his eyes moved to the cockpit.
  10. Keep going – sometimes it is better to let the words flow out of you and to just keep going regardless of what you are putting down. You are going to heavily edit it at a later stage anyway. In the first instance get your ideas down on paper and keep the writing flowing.
  11. Finishing your book – is this how you want your book to end? Does it leave the reader feeling as though there was a purpose to the time invested in reading your novel? Will they want to read more? Would they buy another of your books?
  12. Another key bit of advice I have received is to try to read your novel aloud. This may seem silly but it actually helps to understand the flow of your sentences and dialogue in a way not possible when reading your story in your head.

I realise I am only just completing my first fantasy fiction novel but I believe I have accumulated several key bits of advice that become crucial in the editing stage. They also appear to be points that are easily overlooked so it is worth reviewing a chapter of your completed book with the above in mind just to see if any of these have crept in without you realising.