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No. of Recommendations: 2
A friend from law school wrote a book that will be released this fall (it's a children's book).

Another person from law school has been cranking out some really good romance novels.

*wistful sigh*

CK
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RE: CK: *wistful sigh*

But I'll be none of them are regularly published in such an august journal as Gastronomica magazine, like some people we know.

SB (hint hint)
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Hey, but they wrote BOOKS!

I went to a writer's group meeting last night (for romance writers, because I'm toying with the idea of writing a "chick lit" novel), and I was amazed at how prolific some of the authors were. One woman had published 22 (!) books in the past 6 years! There were others that had 2 and 3 book deals, and I was just...floored.

OK, so it's romance writing (which is formulaic for the most part), but I was still just amazed that people can write that much. Sort of how I feel when I read Chapman's updates!

CK
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RE: CK: "romance writing .... is formulaic for the most part)

To say the least. Its like a "painter" who specializes in pictures of clowns holding balloons. Still, I suppose a talent for crass opportunism is a talent none the less.

SB (don't sell yourself short)
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>>>>OK, so it's romance writing (which is formulaic for the most part), but I was still just amazed that people can write that much. Sort of how I feel when I read Chapman's updates!

CK: Volume only matters if it's *good* (which in my case still remains to be proven). What floors me is reading that Isaac Asimov published over 500 books of fiction and nonfiction in his 40+ years of writing. Even taking into account that some of the books are anthologies of stories (that he also wrote), he still wrote an incredible amount. Even if we postulate that someone can crank out a book a month (which is what it would take to produce 500 books in 41 years), where did he get the time to do all the editing and rewrites? I'm sure in his later years he must have had a team of writers to take care of the drudgework, but still, 500 books! And they weren't all fluffy SF stuff; some were scholarly tomes on astronomy and other subjects.

I'm thinking that if I could pump out a book *a year* that would be amazing, and that would only get me to perhaps 20+ before I retire or die. How does anyone write hundreds of books, even formulaic stuff. (Okay, in the old days of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Kenneth Robeson (Doc Savage/The Avenger) and others, they cranked out hundreds of books, but those books were 100-150 pages apiece for the most part, not the 300-500 page types that Asimove typically produced.)

Mark.
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Remember the old Johnny Carson sketches with the running joke:

"How do they do it? VOLUME VOLUME VOLUME"

The question in most cases isn't "how" but "why".

So then, why do they do it? MONEY MONEY MONEY

SB (how/why do they make so many velevet Elvis tapestries?)
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CK: I don't want to make you feel bad, but I've started a fifth short story. This one will probably be longer than the others to date.

Originally I was thinking of a gimmick. The story would appear to be a standard sword & sorcery/fantasy, but the kicker would be at the end the hero would die, just short of achieving his goal and then the story would cut to a scene of two adolescent boys fighting over who gets to play the video game next. (In other words, the whole story was actually from the POV of the video game character.)

At first, I was worried that this had already been done and I simply hadn't come across it (I don't typically read short stories anymore). But then I decided that if I get the reader emotionally invested in the character and the story and then pull the rug out from under them, it would be like the infamous Dallas "the whole last season was a dream sequence" fiasco. It might work with a very short story (say 1,000-1,500 words), but I decided early on that this would be a much longer piece (perhaps 7K-10K).

I'm still working on the plot, but I wrote a few pages of setup material (the protagonist wakes up in a forest clearing, battered and bruised from an earlier encounter with the baddies, he continues on to the next willage and books a room for the night and gets some information to help him on his quest; that sort of thing) to get a feel for the genre. I haven't tried to write fantasy before, although I have read some of it. On the other hand, my wife reads a lot of fantasy, so I'll use her as my touchstone to let me know if I'm straying too much.

If nothing else, it'll be an interesting experience for me to try to get inside the head of a medieval prince on a quest to save the fair damsel in distress, fighting dragons, etc. Not only is the dialog more flowery (in some cases) and formal than I'm used to, but so are the protagonist's thoughts.

Mark.
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Asimov ... where did he get the time to do all the editing and rewrites?

According to Asimov's autobiography, he didn't. His normal procedure was to write a draft, then retype it in final form making "minor" editorial changes in the process.

must have had a team of writers to take care of the drudgework

No, he enjoyed the "drudgework." For his nonfiction books, he even insisted on preparing the index himself (a process that involved notecards and plenty of floor space).
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>>>>According to Asimov's autobiography, he didn't. His normal procedure was to write a draft, then retype it in final form making "minor" editorial changes in the process.

Wil: I guess you can get away with that when you're Isaac Asimov. When my first book ws published, there were what seemed like thousands of minor edits that the editor insisted on (mostly punctuation and formatting issues, a few grammatical changes). Okay, so he made almost all of the changes, but I still had to review every page to make sure that none of the edits changed the meaning of what I wrote (and I caught a few that did). That alone took several weeks (of course, I was doing it in the evenings, after work, so it took longer than if I were able to do it all day, as my actual job). It would have been impossible for me to write a book a month if I had to spend a week or two reviewing the edits for each one. But I guess if you trust the editor, and don't review the edits, that would work.

>>>>No, he enjoyed the "drudgework." For his nonfiction books, he even insisted on preparing the index himself (a process that involved notecards and plenty of floor space).

That makes it even more difficult to fathom how he had the time to write so much in the years he had....

Mark.
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No. of Recommendations: 4
The story would appear to be a standard sword & sorcery/fantasy, but the kicker would be at the end the hero would die, just short of achieving his goal and then the story would cut to a scene of two adolescent boys fighting over who gets to play the video game next.

Oh jeez, please don't do this. This is trite and cliche. Typically the whole story isn't based on this premise -- it's often used as part of setup or surprise in a larger context -- the classic example is the beginning of Toy Story 2 where Buzz "dies" and it pans to Rex playing a video game. That's identical to what you're proposing.

I remember reading a book once that specifically called out this form of story, in that it was considered the mark of a poor writer if they relied on withholding information from the viewer until the very end that changes the entire context of the story. I can't remember the specific diatribe, but it was along those lines.

But then I decided that if I get the reader emotionally invested in the character and the story and then pull the rug out from under them, it would be like the infamous Dallas "the whole last season was a dream sequence" fiasco.

I think this is exactly how it would be perceived, since this is a close cousin to deus ex machina.

-Hook
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RE: Hook: "a close cousin to deus ex machina"

You mean the Beach Boys 60's hit, "Little Deuce Coupe"?

SB (...with the 411 gears she can realy get lost...)
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>>>>Oh jeez, please don't do this. This is trite and cliche. Typically the whole story isn't based on this premise -- it's often used as part of setup or surprise in a larger context -- the classic example is the beginning of Toy Story 2 where Buzz "dies" and it pans to Rex playing a video game. That's identical to what you're proposing.

Hook: I might argue that it's not precisely the same in that in Toy Story, the video game aspect was a small subset of the greater story, while in this case it was going to *be* the story, with a brief encompassing metastory at the end. But, as I said, I decided not to do it because I was afraid it had been done before. (Frankly, I had forgotten about Toy Story.) I guess it's been a long time since I have read many short stories because I don't recall seeing this done before. (Springing surprises at the end, perhaps, but not having a video game character be a sentient being.) Anyway, my ultimate reason for deciding against it wasn't triteness, but a matter of being unfair to the reader by essentially discarding the entire story at that point.

Mark.
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>>>>RE: Hook: "a close cousin to deus ex machina"
>>>>You mean the Beach Boys 60's hit, "Little Deuce Coupe"?

SB: Nah, he was referring to "Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo" (as opposed to all the female gigolos out there?).

Mark.
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(Springing surprises at the end, perhaps, but not having a video game character be a sentient being.)

This may be a personal thing, but in general surprises shouldn't be total surprises. In a good thriller, detective novel, etc. the reader, at the end, should feel a kind of cathartic "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" where everything comes together and suddenly makes sense. This is so common that it's practically formula.

Two examples I can think of are "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable", where the surprise twists were surprising, but in retrospect the viewer thinks, "Oh, wow, it all makes sense now!"

If you don't give them clues or set pieces to figure it out, or if the twist isn't relevant to the story, then the reader often feels either confused or robbed.

-Hook
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>>>>If you don't give them clues or set pieces to figure it out, or if the twist isn't relevant to the story, then the reader often feels either confused or robbed.

Hook: Which, as I said, is exactly why I decided not to do it. (I *had* thought to include clues all through the story, such as mysterious music in the background that seems to come from nowhere, or fanfares when the hero accomplishes something, or other aspects of video game play. But I still think the reader would have felt cheated.)

Mark.
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