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Monday, June 2, 2008

Some Common Questions

Inspired by a comment on my last post, here are a few questions I get asked frequently.

Will you read and/or critique my manuscript?

Sorry, I won't. Between my own writing, critiquing work of my critique group partners, and reading manuscripts for the various workshops, blurbs, and such that I "sign up" for, I have no time to read other manuscripts. I believe all writers need to establish their own group of first readers - people who are serious readers, serious writers, and who will be honest about their reactions to your work. Family members or personal friends tend to give support (which we all need, as well) rather than detailed feedback. I enjoy the give and take of an excellent critique group, and have learned as much by reading other people's work critically as I do by their critiquing mine.

For a few more questions and answers...

I have an idea for a story. Will you write it and split the profit?

Nope. Ideas are everywhere. I have more ideas than I could possibly write in my lifetime. And to be blunt, an "idea" is far less than half the work of producing a book!

Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere. The Lighthouse Duet came to be from a feature story I heard on NPR, in combination with a remembered scene from a YA novel about Roman Britain, and some stuff I knew about monks preserving classical literature during the Dark Ages. The Rai-kirah books resulted from an attempt to turn the concept of a fantasy hero from the cliched "naive, noble-hearted young boy or girl with a kindly wizard mentor, elf and dwarf companions, and a noble destiny awaiting him or her at the end of a quest" on its head. And so was Aleksander born. Song of the Beast came about when I decided to pick another unlikely hero - a musician who lacked and was unlikely to acquire any skills of war. Etc. Etc.

Has anyone ever stolen one of your ideas?

I sincerely doubt it. Just as I do, most writers have more ideas than they can possibly use. And it is in the execution...the writing...that a book comes to life. Ten writers could set out with the same premise and come up with ten wildly different stories. Example? How many stories have been written about cruel slaveowners and their mysterious slave? I like to think I did something unique with that idea. If my books stand up well, then anyone who lifts one of my characters or some particular worldbuilding idea will be shown up as a cheat. I love the concept of Amber...the essential core of a world and an endless variety of reflection worlds that one family can travel. But why would I want to write a story based on that idea and pretend it's my own?

Now if someone is stealing your actual words, whole passages...well, plagiarism is another matter altogether.

Is anyone ever going to make a movie of your books?

I would likely have to sell a whole lot more of them! (Notice the ones that get made with any success at all have sold a few billion copies. Word of mouth. Word of mouth. Word of mouth.)

How do I get started writing fantasy (or any kind of fiction)?

This is fodder for an entirely new post. But in short: Read. Write. Learn the craft. Constantly and interchangeably.

I'll do more questions in another post.


Anonymous said...

Oh drats! And I was just going to ask if you could come up with an idea for me, write it, edit the manuscript and send me half the profits. :)

Though more seriously, I think your books would translate well into movies. But they are fantasy, which is often screwed up pretty badly, so it might be best for them to stay in book form.

carolwriter said...

Yep, you're right about the problems of fantasy in film. I would love to see my books made into excellent films...or maybe miniseries... But it would break my heart to see a mutilated version of the story, or the wrong person as Aleksander or Valen or Aidan or Gerick... I think it is so cool that my readers can picture my characters as who they wish.

Anonymous said...


Sorry I'm just jumping in like this. I read your book 'Transformation' a while ago, and absolutely loved it. I found it in Dublin (I'm Italian, from Verona). Fortunaly, I also found the other two and I can't wait to read them.

I've just discovered your blog and I'm enjoying it a lot as well.

Just wanted to say this :-)

carolwriter said...

Hi Sarah, So nice to hear you can find the books in Dublin. Glad you enjoyed them. Thanks for coming aboard and letting me know.