Four things I’ve learned writing a fiction blog

Since launching this blog I’ve now published over one hundred fiction posts. They have, for the most part, been the story of Scarlet, the Life Without Tumblr series. I have loved posting it, not least because I’ve stuck to my guns with regards to not having to blog the same way as everyone else. I’ve also loved it because I’ve received some genuinely lovely, supportive feedback, which has made all the difference to my continued posting.

But the real boon of posting fiction three times a week is the learning I’ve taken away from it. Without further ado, here are four things writing my blog has taught me.

 

1. Every post matters. I’ve put this first because I believe it counts for non-fiction just as much as fiction, but is less obvious. It’s far too easy when you’re posting three times a week to throw out a quick fix, easy post when the workload builds up. You can’t get away with that in fiction. For the new reader, that one post could send them away, never to return, and for the regular reader, any time they come face to face with a less than scintillating read, they will be more tempted to turn to their possibly more convenient paper back or e-reader.

 

2. The art of the cliffhanger. This wasn’t so true in my earlier posts, but for the last fifty or so, I was determined to end every post with a cliffhanger of one sort or another. So every 1500-2000 words had to not only be a complete scene, but also end in a way that drew the audience back two days later. I pants for the most part, which means figuring it out as I go along. The cliffhanger was a powerful tool for maintaining tension and keeping me focused while enjoying the ride.

 

3. Be organized and prepared. I tend to write my stories well in advance. As a pantser, I want to know what the end is before I publish so I can tweak where necessary, add foreshadowing etc. I always seem to get lucky with these sorts of things, foreshadowing something that happened in the fourth series with a throw-away line in the second. Or maybe the throwaway line gave me inspiration for the fourth… hmm, not sure. Either way, as someone with a full time job, a wife and child and trying to write and publish my books as well, having a couple of months of posts written in advance is essential.

 

4. Edit fast. Writing this blog has essentially meant that I have two projects running concurrently all the time. It also means that I have another set of deadlines overlaying the main ones. In order to get every post ready in time, I’ve developed some really good editing techniques. For example, reading the posts out loud has become standard procedure and had a huge impact. Similarly, my proof-reading has become much better. I have one lovely reader who messages me with any typos she finds, and out of the forty thousand some words of Scarlet’s web, she’s only found about four, which is a good ratio.

The key to this being successful is to give yourself some space from the story and when you return to it, read it through with an eye for the big picture. What is the scene supposed to be achieving? What progress do you want the characters to make, both internal and external? Once you’ve figured that out and ensured it’s occurring, you can then check it line by line for quality and rhythm. Editing fifteen hundred words at a time has helped speed me up because I’m taking each post individually, so rather than thinking about having forty or fifty thousand words to edit, I’m thinking about only two thousand and how to get them perfect.

 

That’s a few things I think can be gained from blogging serialized fiction. Do you do it? Have you thought about doing it? I’d love to know your thoughts and if you’ve been reading Scarlet’s stories, I’d love to know whether you think it works and what you think I should change.

 

I also wanted to give everyone a heads up about what’s coming next on the blog.

I’m starting an entirely new story on Monday. I love writing Scarlet, but I need to do something different and she deserves a break and some down-time with Lara :)

The story is called 13 Roses and can be described as a character study/zombie apocalypse/spiritual fantasy…thing.

 

The flower seller sets up his stall on Embankment every day. Every day, he will serve only one customer. That person will be on the edge. Maybe they have to make a decision they dread, maybe their world is falling down around them and they are faced with a choice. Or maybe they need to change and don’t realize it. Whatever it may be, the flower seller is there, nudging them in one direction or another and giving them more than a nudge when the need arises.

But who is the flower seller and why is he giving these people roses? And where do the zombies come in?  All will be revealed…

 

That’s the blurb at the moment. Please check out part one on Monday and let me know what you think. See you then.

Cheers

Interview with Saffron Bryant, Fantasy Author…and Pirate

 

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I am delighted to welcome to the blog fantasy author, blogger (and Pirate) Saffron Bryant.

Saffron has a fascinating background and is an incredibly driven author.

Today’s post is an interview to find out a little more about the lovely lady and her latest novel.

Get in touch with Saffron:

On Twitter, GoodreadsFacebook, via her Website, or blog.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your books. 

Well, I’m a 22 year old Australian and a fantasy fanatic. I’ve been reading books such as Tolkien and Raymond E. Fiest since I was about 10 years old. I have a dragon collection which would put Daenerys to shame and of course a Lord of the Rings ring.

Along with reading came writing, I first started writing stories at about 5 years old and it’s grown on from there. There is of course more to me; a biomedical degree (which is going a long way to helping me write my new sci-fi series), a brain tumour (which you can read all about with a simple Google search) and much more, but I won’t bore you with that here!

In 2011 I finished The Fallen Star; a fantasy novel that I felt was ready to be released. So in 2012 I self-published and haven’t looked back. Last month saw the release of my second novel in The Lost Child Saga; The Herald of Darkness.

Both novels are high fantasy and would be enjoyed by any fan of Tolkien. To give you a bit of a taste, here is the blurb for The Herald of Darkness:
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“I am the one who walks the night,
I am the heart that sees no light,
I am the crow upon the carcass,
I am the bringer, the herald of darkness.

Like the calm before the storm the Draconum are thrust from their peaceful oasis into a vicious war. Refugees flood the shores in a desperate attempt to escape the coming darkness and the death it carries.

Allies become enemies and trust becomes a things of the past. Laila and Sarin must wrestle to maintain control as racial tensions and disputes threaten to tear apart their command.

The dragons struggle in a strange new land and no place is safe as the very shadows reach for their throats. What is it about their past which comes back to haunt them?

Astrocytes tries to contain an army which is bent on its own destruction. But how do you find the light in a world consumed by darkness?

The clouds are gathering and no-one can outrun them…”

 

What is it that draws you to writing fantasy?

Fantasy has always held a special place with me. I couldn’t say exactly what it is; perhaps that sense of being somewhere else, or perhaps glimpsing just for a second the possible.

The thing I love most about writing fantasy is letting my imagination run wild… one part of my brain will be like ‘wow wouldn’t that be cool,’ meanwhile the other part is already writing it down.

Who are your favourite fantasy authors and why?

Obviously Tolkien is a favourite- let’s face it, he’s pretty much the reason that fantasy as a genre is the way it is.

Stephen King- I just finished the Dark Tower series and I have to say, I’ve never had a book have such a significant impact on the way I look at the world. People who have read it will know what I mean when I say it made me question everything… that suddenly I started seeing nineteen everywhere… People who haven’t read it… go and read it.

James Clavell – Ok, not fantasy but I absolutely LOVE his books.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your books?

Mostly it just comes from my imagination with chunks of reality thrown in. People who know me will recognise names or situations in my novels which are similar to real things although mostly it’s just my mind talking to itself.

Sometimes I throw little jokes in, which probably no one other than myself will get- but hey, it makes me laugh. For example, in Herald of Darkness one of the dragons is called Elsevier. So what? You say, it sounds like a perfectly good dragon name. Well it is, but it’s also the name of a major academic publisher, and a name I see EVERY day in my work… 😉

What would you say are the strong points/weak points of the fantasy genre when viewed as part of the larger literary world?

Ooo tough question. I think one of the strongest points is the sheer size and scope. Let’s face it, what is fantasy? It could include almost anything so in essence it could appeal to almost any person. The myriad of sub-genres attract a massive readership.

A weak point (which I personally don’t agree with), but which is commonly cited is its lack of ‘reality’. That people use it as a form of escapism. Personally I think that’s a pile of rubbish- like contemporary fiction literature is any more realistic? Ha! Don’t make me laugh.

If you could have written one fantasy book or saga, what would it be and why?

Lord of the Rings… then I could be cited as the mother of modern fantasy!! Jokes :) in reality probably Raymond Fiests’ epic (1 million books long) saga. They are just something else and it would be awesome to lay claim to them.

What do you feel are the top 3 traits needed to be a successful author…and do you have them?

  1. Discipline. I think that goes for an author in any genre. If you don’t have the discipline to sit in your chair and finish a novel, well there’s your career gone straight away. Discipline is something I can proudly say I have.
  2. Adaptability. Look at it this way, when you’re starting out you have a day job, your writing job and then your friends and family and everything that makes up the rest of your life. Somehow you have to try and juggle all of these different roles. Then once you’ve written a book you need to be able to market it (whether that is to publishers or to your readers). If your only skill is writing then you probably won’t be successful, unless you pay other people to do the rest for you of course. :) I’m learning to be adaptable, but it’s been tough!
  3. Social Skills. As with almost every profession or business, you need to be able to network. With agents, publishers, fellow authors, readers, whoever. If you can’t connect with people, people won’t want to connect with you. Personally I find this one of the hardest ones, like most people I thought being a writer was an excellent choice because I could lock myself in my study and never see another living soul… wrong!!

If you could have coffee with anyone, (living or dead) who would it be and what would you ask them?

Ooo another tough one. I think it would be George R. R. Martin… and I’d ask him two things:

a)     WHYYYYYYY??????

b)     How can I make my books so famous they make a HBO show based on them?

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

Saffron BryantI always like to talk to people, about almost anything but specifically; fantasy, sci-fi, science in general, the future of literature and books, art and marketing. So please, hit me up at any of the locations below!

On TwitterGoodreadsFacebook, via my Website, or blog.

Or head straight over to Amazon to get your copy of The Fallen Star or The Herald of Darkness.