Dale T Phillips - Writer
...............................................................

 

Ask the Writer

 





Q- In your Zack Taylor novels, the protagonist gets physically mauled but is on his feet after a short time. Is this realistic?- WP, Phoenix, AZ

A- Many people involved in martial arts, including those in boxing and kickboxing, are better conditioned and more used to physical punishment, such as is described in the Zack Taylor novels. They can get beat up pretty bad, and yet bounce back far quicker than the rest of us. So yes, it's no surprise that Zack is ready for more when we would still be nursing our bruises.

.................

Q- I've just been given a contract with a publisher. What rights should I keep?- AQ, Braintree, MA

A- You're going to need professional, specific legal help, in the form of a contract specialist who knows publishing contracts. Do not fail in this, because you are the content provider, but once you sign, you may not have control over your own work. I highly recommend, as a starting point for an understanding of what's involved, all three books on publishing by Dean Wesley Smith- and currently free on his website.

.................

Q- What's a good size for a novel? I've got a fantasy novel at about 51,000 words. Is that too little?- RF, Quincy, MA

A- Great question! Yes, 51K is too small. Some literary and mystery novels are in the 60K+ range, but they're considered small. 70K and up is normal for a regular book. But in the fantasy genre, which you mention, 100K and up is the norm. Publishers and readers like big fat tomes of 400+ pages. Any bookstore will show you shelves of books that you can compare.

.................

Q- Where do you get your ideas?- JS, Topeka, KS

A- From life and everything in it. Every conversation, every occasion, every dream, everything ever read, seen and heard. The idea pool for writing is like a giant sausage machine (and as Bismarck said, "People who like sausages and politics should not watch either being made"). Into the hopper goes everything, getting churned up, mixed in crazy patterns, and spit out like sausages when one turns the creative crank. The ingredients you put in determine the sausage flavor- Stephen King, for example, creates blood sausage, so he dumps in the gory stuff.

One idea I got from a challenge at the Tyngsboro Writer's Group, where a writer dared us to write to his title, "The Easiest Man to Kill". I took that, melded it with a very cool Tom Russell song, and got a nice story out of it. Another story began as a joke, when I suggested a writer I know create an apocalyptic fish story for an anthology. While thinking about it, "giant lobsters" popped into my head. Another friend suggested the title, and I had another good one.

.................

Q- I have a killer idea for a story/book/screenplay. If you write it up, we'll split the profits. - VM, Bangor, ME

A- No thank you. Ideas are easy, writing is hard-- to do well. Good writers write their own stuff, and most writers have more ideas for projects than they'll ever be able to write.

.................

Q- Would you look at my story/manuscript/screenplay? - OP, Sacramento, CA

A- Depends. If you want a free critique, then no. Unsolicited stuff goes in the "circular file." Every minute spent looking at someone else's stuff means something of mine didn't get written. I've spent years learning to write and edit well-- my time and expertise are worth money. So if you want pro editing and/or a critique, we can discuss rates-- you'll get great value and an improved manuscript.

.................

Q- I've got an idea for a book. Which agents or publishers should I contact? HG, Reno, NV

A- None of them-- until you have a completed and professional work in hand. No one in the business is at all interested in an unfinished work by someone they don't know.

.................

Q- My mom, brother, and best friend like my writing, so it must be good enough to publish, right? YT, Clear Lake, IW

A- Anyone who cares about you and your opinion cannot be an independent judge or evaluator of your creative work. Seek a disinterested reader, one who will be honest. Be prepared for a lack of praise, and listen to the feedback. Join a writer's group or workshop for opinions that mean something other than stroking your ego. If there are no groups for you in your area, you can go online. There are places where you can post sections of your work for critique.

.................

Q- There are some best-selling authors, and their writing is awful. Why are they so successful? RE, Boca Raton, FL

A- There are many people who stick to what they know, who seek the familiar, the bland, the unchallenging, as many eat at fast food chains. There are people who go for the fast food equivalent when they read. They want to be entertained without having to think, and they don't want a rich flavor that will leave a lasting memory. They want a quick grab with no surprises. There are many to supply that need.

...............................................................

 
Writing ServicesWebsite Development ServicesLinksAsk the WriterContactPast StoriesBiographyMy blog Home

© 2009-2016 Dale T. Phillips