More Questions Answered

Is it intellectual theft to steal someone’s story idea that they haven’t made a book out of? I’m not sure you could prove it in a court of law, but your friend is certainly going to be angry if he or she was bent on making a story out of it. For kindness’ sake, I’d ask them if they were going to make a book about it. If they’re not, the idea’s free range. If they are, then play nice.

Suppose a friend of mine destroys an early manuscript of a book that I’m writing. What would be a suitable punishment for them? Just note that whatever you do to them will probably cause your friendship to cease. Try taking white-out and blotting out all the answers to one of their exams a day before it’s due. You’re a writer; think of something poetically justifiable. However, if you want to remain friends with the person in question, change your password and forgive and forget.

Should I avoid flat characters? They may be flat, but they’re certainly not taboo. They have their uses: they can fill in the cracks with this or that happening, and in that way can become quite useful. The trouble comes when you introduce too many of them. I’d introduce one or two of them if you need it.

Gimme the skinny on Freytag’s Pyramid. Basically, Freytag’s Pyramid is a storytelling structure: you start with the setting and characters, then you get the rising action (the left slope of the pyramid) all the way to the climax (which is the point or pinnacle of the pyramid) and then falling action (which is, conversely, the left side of the pyramid) all the way to the resolution.

Essentially, Freytag’s Pyramid is the basic structure of storytelling. There are very few outliers, as it is ubiquitously used on the big screen, in books, and even spoken tales. It utilizes the very well-known attributes of a story and outlines them symmetrically and simply.

I know you’ve said to keep politics out of my novels. Does this include political satire? Short answer: no. Satire is supposed to be funny by mocking things in real life. Politics, especially now, is a very touchy topic and should be avoided. You’re here to tell a story. However, satire makes light of politics and makes it therefore less serious.

Which is better: word count-based writing sessions or time-based ones? I prefer word-count based writing sessions because they’re a one-and-done kind of scenario, but time-based writing sessions are better if you’re stuck. They also depend on the kind of person you are: if you are negligent and easily distracted, a word-based writing schedule would probably be better for you.

What are your top five most effective words in writing fiction? Let’s see: “Observed” is a good alternative for “said”…in fact, most of them would be words that would be good substitutes for “said”. Screeched, quipped, snapped, and chagrined would be other favorites of mine.

Do you measure when a book’s completed by its page count or number count? Every student (at one point or another) has tried to stretch their school papers by a few pages by manipulating font size, spacing, and page length. Why do you think some teachers got smart and instigated a word count instead? Pages can be manipulated, but words don’t lie.

What’s your word processing program of choice? I preferred Pages religiously once upon a time, but then I grew up and decided that Macs were garbage (no offence to Mac fans) and the only other alternative was Microsoft Word. Truth be told, I don’t prefer Microsoft word, but many do. I like Google Docs because they’ve saved my butt many a time when it came to cross-saving documents and editing them on multiple machines.

If I get the chance to talk to, text, or email my favorite author, what should I say? First, tell them that you appreciate their work immensely and give them one or two things you really loved about their work. Offer a little criticism as well (i.e., I think this would have been better had you done X instead of Y). Then, ask them their advice about one or two problems you have in your writing, or just about writing in general.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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