Posted in books, characters, creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing thoughts, writing tips

Setting: Incorporating Time

Time is an important factor in the development of setting because it is linked to so many other aspects of a setting.

Time and Technology

These two elements are intricately connected because technology changes with time and getting the pairing wrong creates anachronisms the reader will most likely notice. Technology can also impact the events of a story, such as being able (or not able) to contact someone easily by cell phone or the ability to find needed information.

When writing in your own time period, or one you have lived through, it’s easier to get the technology right. Any time you venture from familiarity, take the time to thoroughly research what was available in a time period. Not only will this create a more realistic setting, readers can develop respect for your hard work and you will increase your credibility when readers learn new things about a time period.

When writing crime, technology is critical to get right in order to be believable. Don’t just consider when a technology was developed, but also when it became widely available in cities and rural areas and what public perception of specific technology was during that time. DNA profiling became available in the early 80s, but required a much larger blood sample than is needed today and was more limited on what it could determine. It was could also be more hindrance than help in trials because so few members of the public understood what it was and either didn’t understand it or distrusted it even into the 90s.

Time and Society

Time also factors into self-perception and social rules. Self perception is all too often closely linked to how others treat a person. Throughout time, minority groups have been treated with varying degrees of respect and equality. Consider how the experience of a 1950s black woman applying for a professional job would be very different from a white teenage boy in modern times. The different way they experience life impacts how they see themselves and what trials and they will face.

Multiple studies have been conducted on how young Black and white children perceive beauty, goodness, and intelligence based on race. The social environments they grow up in significantly effect how they see themselves and others even today. Create realistic social environments by studying how a particular time period effected those living in it, especially in particularly volatile areas.

Time and Profession

Time period also limits opportunities for certain races, genders, religions, and other groups. Be sure to research historical rules, laws, prejudices, and customs of a time period. Elizabeth Blackwell was a British physician and the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States in 1849, however it wasn’t until the 1972 Title IX of the Higher Education Act prohibited federally funded schools from discriminating based on gender.

Time should also be considered in sports, education, and careers. It’s important to know how long it takes to become a lawyer, professional athlete, business mogul, PhD, etc. and plan your timeline and the ages of your characters accordingly. Steer away from “genius” or “prodigy” characters unless absolutely critical to the story. This overused trope doesn’t hold the appeal it once did. If you must have a 22-year-old billionaire, it’s much more realistic that he or she inherited that wealth rather than built it on his or her own.

When writing in any time period other than the present, don’t forget to consider other aspects like fashion trends, politics, generally available knowledge, and other elements that are dependent on time as well.

Posted in books, creative writing, writing, writing advice, writing tips

The importance of setting in fiction

It’s always good to review the basics before diving deeper, so let’s talk setting. Setting has three major components: social environment, place, and time.

DeathtoStock_CreativeSpace8 11.45.06 AM

Social environment will impact the thoughts, actions, and decisions of the characters. A child growing up in an extremely conservative/liberal home will see things differently than someone who was raised more moderately. Place will impact the story by how the characters interact with it and how it shapes their worldview, as well as physical limitations (i.e. an island vs. and mountain town.) Time factors into not only technology, but in self-perception and social rules. A 1950s woman would be much different than a teen in modern time.

There are also two main types of setting: backdrop and integral.

A backdrop setting is not terribly important to the story. The scene could take place anywhere, but happens to be taking place in that spot. This may be a hallway, sidewalk, nondescript café, etc. These settings need minimal description and attention.

An integral setting is one where the time and place influences the theme, character, and action of a story in some way. Animal Farm wouldn’t have been quite the same if it were set in a shoe store. These settings need more in-depth description and development and may even act as an antagonist, such as in survival stories.

cross in fog at the cemetary

Setting also helps set the mood and atmosphere of a story. The description and the way characters perceive it and interact with it should help develop that tone. The covered bridge in Sleepy Hollow has a very different feel than the Love Lock Bridge in Paris.

When describing setting, Show Don’t Tell becomes very important. Please, please, please don’t spend paragraph after paragraph describing the setting to your reader. Let the reader explore the setting with your character in a way that reveals insights about the character or story.

For example, you can say something about family dynamic by having a teen look through the half-empty kitchen cupboards for cereal that’s on the verge of going stale. It’s a simple detail, but it says a lot about how this teen is living. A character looking in her closet and staring a the only two dresses she owns while getting ready for a job interview informs the reader about her financial situation without having a long discussion about it.

Use setting to help tell readers a story rather than telling the readers where the story is happening.

Posted in publishing

Publishing Primer: Publishers Part Two

Today we’ll be discussing some of the disadvantages of working with a publisher. To find the post discussing the advantages, click HERE.

So, let’s talk why you might not want to work with a publisher. With every publishing track there are negatives and positives.


bb5f5-clock2balarm2bclockTime

Publisher’s timetable
6 months to one year +
Bigger publisher = slower
Sequels or other books may be delayed to accommodate other authors
Publishers have to prioritize (money is a big deciding factor)


c4223-robotcartoonMarketing

Majority of the marketing (time and cost) will fall to you
Small publishers have limited budgets
Large publishers have larger budgets, but it’s funneled to large projects
Results of marketing (time and money) is split with publisher


Rope 2Loss of Control

3-5 years is not uncommon (may be less)
Lose ability to post or publish your work in any other capacity
Book production is up to your publisher’s discretion. You may be asked for input, but the final decision is theirs
Future works may automatically fall under the control of your publisher as well\


Dollar SignMoney

Royalty rates TO THE AUTHOR vary
Large publisher: 5-25% (5-15 on print, 25 on ebooks)
Small publisher: 30-40% (all formats)
Hybrid publisher: 40-50% (ebook only)
Royalties help publishers recoup the initial expenses
This can be a large percentage of money the author will never see


Choosing whether or not to work with a publisher is just as important and choosing a publisher. Research is key!

Posted in agents, publishing

Publishing Primer: Agents

What is a literary agent?Blond Business Woman

A literary agent represents authors and submits to publishers and editors on their behalf

  • They also:
    • Negotiate Contracts
      Promote
      Negotiate contracts outside publishing
      Mediate

What are the benefits of having an agent?

  • Open Doors

    Avoid the slush file
    Pre-vetted status
    Bypass slow steps
    Agent only options

  • šKnowledge

    š“In the know”

    šDepends on how good the agent is and how good their contacts are

    šAccess to specific information

  • Mediation

    Navigate disputes
    Knowledgeable in: publishing contracts, foreign rights, media rights, royalty negotiations
    Disputes are common occurrence
    **Getting a lawyer involved is sometimes necessary

  • Advice

    Guidance for new authors
    Knows the book market and current trends
    Marketing opportunities
    Timing

What are the drawbacks of having an agent? 702f1-girl2bwith2bbooks

  • Money

    Legitimate agents will NEVER ask you for money
    Do get a cut of the royalties
    Domestic sales: 10-15%
    Foreign sales: fixed rate of 20%
    Film/media sales are usually negotiated separately

  • Time

    Querying can be SLOW
    Once you have an agent, querying starts all over again with publishers
    How long?
    A few months to several years
    It may not happen
    There should be a time limit in your contract

  • Control

    Once you sign, publishing options may be more limited
    Submissions are handled directly by your agent
    Additional work you write may automatically come under the agent’s control
    Variations of your book that are produced (film, graphic novel, audio, translation, etc.) may entitle your agent to a cut

Stop back by soon for more discussion on Publishers, Agents, and Publishing in this new Publishing Primer series.