This week I’m sharing a mix of articles courtesy of some of the excellent bloggers I follow. You’ll find an interesting research piece on the use of the words ‘and’ & ‘the’, insights into querying agents, the importance of world-building, and a very sad development in the world of writing, one all writers should be aware of: reviewers selling ARCs.
Making Writers Self-Conscious: AND & THE by HiuGregg for The Fantasy Inn
I’ve been working on a short story this week and for whatever reason, perhaps it’s the book I’m reading (The Name of the Wind by P. Rothfuss), I’ve found myself using more ‘and’s’ than usual. I’m quite the fan of cutting out unnecessary ‘and’s’ with a comma, but sometimes including the ‘and’ sounds better.
So when this article by The Fantasy Inn cropped up yesterday I clicked on it sharpish. I commend HiuGregg for carrying out this research, which I can imagine at times became quite tedious.
Looking at the works of some of the best fantasy writers, including Brandon Sanderson, Tolkien, Robin Hobb, Rothfuss, and G.R.R.M, HiuGregg has gone through particular novels and calculated the number of ‘ands’ used. In the entire Lord of the Rings series, for example, Tolkien uses ‘and’ 19,186 times, almost 4% of the series. Mark Lawrence, on the other hand, uses it just 1,756 times, though the novel analysed (Prince of Thorns) is much shorter.
The article goes on to look at the word ‘the’, a much more commonly used word across the board of books analysed.
So what’s the point of this research? “It would be to make you less of a self-conscious writer, as counter-intuitive as that sounds. There’s a list of some great, successful authors up there, and the data shows just how diverse they are. Next time you think you’re over-using a word a bit too much, remember that Tolkien wrote half a novel with just two words.”
A very interesting piece ‘and’ well worth a read!
Agents (I’ve Learned Things!) by B.B. Morgan
Querying agents remains something of a grey area to me—I’m yet to get that far. So when B.B’s post went up sharing some of her insights it was another article I jumped upon.
I think this quote sums up what a writer’s attitude towards agents should be:
“I found myself connecting with some agents more than others. I read bios, I read the “about me” pages. I looked at recent sales, favorite books, favorite movies – anything they had. I wanted to know about these agents, because they aren’t a one-way road into fame and fortune – they are business partners.”
From my fleeting involvement in the setting up of a new business, a law firm, in fact, I understand the importance of knowing everything about your business partners. You must trust them wholeheartedly. You’re putting your livelihood on the line and if it does not succeed you’ve wasted time and potentially a lot of money.
When you’ve finished that manuscript you’ve been working on for years, all you want to do is get it out to the world. What this article tells us is that you shouldn’t rush into bed with any old agent in the heat of excitement. Do your due diligence, scrutinise every agent you come across, and make sure they suit you and your book.
Good luck with the queries, B.B!
Reviewers selling ARCs by Larissa (Book Bosomed Blonde)
We move onto a bit of a depressing article. Not for the content, which is very well-written and engaging, but the message behind it. ARCs, or Advanced Reader Copies, are close-to-completed drafts of novels which authors send to reviewers to help build exposure and hype prior to release. The recent problem, however, is:
“Some reviewers are requesting ARCs and in turn selling them online for pure profit.”
This is a despicable development which subverts the entire process, that erodes trust between writer and reader.
Not long ago I came across an article looking at ARCs. Many of them have found their way onto torrent sites where they’re downloaded in seconds for zilch. The name of the author escapes me, but she fell victim to this and saw her ARC downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. When it came to release day, sales were poor. And it’s because everyone’s already got it. For free.
Of course, we want as many people as possible to read our books, but when we invest years of our time crafting a story it’s only fair we’re compensated. Not only that, in buying a book you’re investing in the writer. You’re giving them the freedom to dedicate their life to writing more brilliant stories for you to enjoy.
This is a sad development in the world of writing and one all writers should be aware of. There seems to be a growing problem with ARCs and it’s important we writers—and publishers—remain vigilant when it comes to distributing them to reviewers. Is this a problem that can be fixed? I’m sure the publishing houses are tackling that one. Perhaps blacklisting certain reviewers? Prosecuting those caught in the act? Easier said than done.
Why World Building Is Important [World Building] by Rachel Poli
For fantasy writers, world-building takes up a large part of the creative process. We want to create immersive secondary worlds which our readers can escape and lose themselves in. But it’s a tricky thing to do. Too much world-building annoys readers, and too little world-building can do the same. When it comes to world-building, it’s easy to shy away from the monumental task before you. But investing the time and creative energy is well worth it, as this nifty article sets out.
Thank you for stopping by. Please do check out these articles and if you find them useful, share them with your own followers and friends. At the end of the day, sharing is caring!
For Fantasy Friday this week, I’m looking at the lives of the lords of the medieval period. Many fantasy stories focus on this ruling class and as with anything, research can help enrich and empower your tales. If you’d like to get this post delivered straight to your inbox, complete the form below. Subscribers to my mailing list get a handy list of 50 fantasy book reviewers and an ebook on the craft of creative writing.