Why I drop books

Hello again dear readers. I’ve come back again with another post for you.

Today I’m going to talk a little bit about reading. Before this year I’ve only given up reading a few books. Part of that was because either another or I spent hard earned money on them. A few, were terrible, but I pushed through. Some still linger in my thoughts, either as they were so dreadful, or they were on subjects that just either didn’t interest me, or were too vulgar. But for the most part, I felt I could last through anything.

But now I have a nearly limitless banquet of books via Kindle Prime, I’ve taken to being a bit more critical. Certainly there are interesting or clever things to learn from these books, but while I do read with that in mind, I also don’t want to waste my time on reading things I abhor.

Of course there are things to take away from a book you dislike, especially for those of us that write, but eventually it’s counterproductive. I can last through clunky writing, but I can’t stand bad characterization. Take for example when a person is attempting to write someone as if they were a genius, or at least brilliant. If I spot anything less than clever it takes away from my immersion. Of course clever people can do unintelligent things, but when they consistently make poor decisions, it really irks me.

To me it’s characters first, and story second. Yes a story needs to exist for a book, or at least some sort of narrative, even in a biography. But, truly if you can’t write a person, believable in their own world and from your own words, then that isn’t a book. That’s a collection of things that happen to an ever shifting blob of a person. Not a character, and not even a person really, but a thing that reacts the way you want the story to go.

When I write I do so with the idea of a story, but a clear picture of a character in that world. I let my concept of that person lead me around said universe, and see what happens. Yes I try to make sure they follow the path I want, but with as little encouragement as possible.

Without a believable character you lose the ability to empathize with the perspective of that person you’ve created. They are there so the audience can live in that world to. Perhaps not making all the choices the audience would make, but at least making believable choices. Otherwise you are left with a broken story.

This of course is all from my perspective, and I realize other people enjoy an interesting world more than they do characters. However, try to think back on any book you’ve truly enjoyed. Do you remember the people written there, or do you remember the world? Obviously there have been certain books I’ve read when I was younger that I remember the world more, those being more hard sci-fi, but for the most part it’s always been about how those people deal with those interesting worlds. I have more of an investment when reading about characters that have personalities, but again that’s just me.

So from my viewpoint, if you are to write, invest in your characters. Don’t make them too plain, nor too over-powered. Make them real, or as realistic as your world allows. Grant them individuality, and your investment will grow into a believable story.

Until next time, I hope you have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: Currently on chapter 19 out of 36

Steven Oaks

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Different Styles of Writing

Hello once more. I’m back for yet another blog post.

So what shall I write about this week? I’ve not much to report. The editing is still going well, and since I missed out on using the text-to-speech program for the first half of the book I’m doing that now. Surprisingly there are still a few errors, mostly missing words now and again, or additional ones that seem to be more of a garbled mess when they are spoken as opposed to simply reading them.

I think that perhaps this has been the most effort I’ve put into editing. Likely because it’s not just myself involved in writing the book. I’ve never been too concerned about how I am perceived, I already know I’m not perfect, but the co-author deserves my best efforts. I could have easily stopped my own editing and moved on to another book at this point, but I’d like to think continuing to edit will make this book shine. I’ll just have to keep it in mind for the next thing I write, as I think because of the extra work I’m putting into the book has made it so much better than things I’ve written before. My fault entirely on those previous occasions for just giving myself a specific number of run throughs I would do, but now I can set the bar higher for myself.

As to writing, there are two thoughts on how to compose a story. One is to meticulously create an outline with all story beats laid out, and then to write the story in between each section. I’m not one of those persons. I’m the other, crazy type that lets the story grow mostly on its own. Certainly it would help direct the story, but for me I just like to create a character and watch them explore the world I make, instead of already deciding what they’ll do. Sure I have a beginning, an ending, and a few scenes already thought up for the middle, but mostly I set my pieces on the board and see what happens. That’s the reason my first few books seem closer to a stream of consciousness than anything else.

This way of writing does involve certain issues when it comes to editing though. When you have an outline you already have the world worked out, and all items are in their place. You can simply look back while you write at your little diagram and expand upon what was written there. The way I write I find that I miss a few things here and there, like little things a character picks up, and then I might forget to mention those things ever again, or perhaps they’ve dropped them, and then I’ll later have them pull it out when they shouldn’t have them. That’s where I think something like an item sheet would be helpful. I just wish there was a program that had a character sheet that would have save states for each chapter, then I could just look over and see what each character has on them. I find it mildly frustrating going back through entire chapters looking for mentions of what I’ve given or taken away from these people I’ve made up. I’ve been relying on the co-author to catch me on any mistakes there, as apparently I’m more concerned with dialogue than anything else. I’m lucky to have them watching my back.

In the end I think I’ll start using a hybrid of both styles of writing on any future book. One where I write out a basic outline, and yes, I think I’ll even make a character sheet with traits and inventory. I already have several programs opened when I write, what’s another one to clutter the screen? Luckily modern computers can handle such things, as when I first started my journey as a writer many years ago I only had a word processor opened, and I was lucky to have a stereo nearby to play music.

Now I can do all that in one place, and have an even wider selection of resources to call upon. Admittedly I at times miss the simplicity. It was a distraction free time in my life, but now with all the things I can look up on the Internet to double-check myself, I at times find that I’ll fall down the rabbit hole. There is so much to learn, and so many interesting things that I wasn’t aware of. Much of which is no use to what I’m writing, but it’s still fun to know things. But knowing something can only add to my ability to write, and never will diminish me, though it might distract me.

Until next week I’ll leave you with a wish that you have a great one. I’ll see you next time.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: No estimate available, we’ve gone beyond where I thought we’d be done editing.

Steven Oaks

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Growing as a Creator

Hello. How’s it going?

Me? Well I’m alright I suppose. I’ve gone through the book at least four times, and I’m doing another pass to meet back up to where the co-author is. They’ve been able to edit and review a bit more since last time, and even listened to my advice about using text-to-speech to help edit. So there’s that.

Else-wise I’ve just been reading more, and going through the book in my free time. You could say we’re well on the way to having this book ready for release. We are definitely more than halfway through editing, but that may not be saying much. It took about a year to get the first draft finished, and we’re only in the 10th month of editing.

Now some people say it should take at least much time to edit, or revise, your first draft as it did to write it. I’m not one to hold with absolutes when it comes to creating things. Certainly I think their rule speaks on the side of caution, no one wants to release an imperfect creation, however it is up to you the creator to decide when such things are done. Unless of course you are working with a publisher or team to complete a book or such thing. I do suggest putting a large effort into making sure you are releasing something that is as perfect as you can, but don’t beat yourself up too much if there are errors. Yes you should put some due diligence into editing, but you won’t please everyone.

Let me go back to my first three books. Those I wrote to prove to myself that I could do it. I’m sure those that have read or will read them in the future will find grievous mistakes, probably in sentence structure. I did my best, and had several people read over it, while I wrote and after, but as humans we won’t find all errors. As to how it’s written, well, I’ve not come across anything too similar. It likely rubs people the wrong way, and I don’t blame them. As I’ve said I wrote them to see if I could, and since I’d never written something as long as a book, I wrote what I knew. Myself, and my own stream of consciousness.

Now a few more books under my belt, I don’t think I could even write like that again. Maybe if I’d held off until I got a bit more experience under my belt they’d be better, but they wouldn’t be the same. I like them, though admittedly it’s embarrassing to look back at them with my ever-growing critical eye. However, to me, they are a glimpse of who I was, and what I was thinking. Certainly there are huge swaths of things that haven’t changed in me since then, but it’s those differences that I find interesting. The political climate, religion, and all those things that were important to me at the time. But always the search for truth, be it universal or personal, are always inherent in what I write.

Working with another person so closely has changed the way I write as well. Hopefully I’m learning a little on how to write like them, and if I have anything to add, they are learning as well. In the end, each book I write I grow. Until I start writing worse, heh. But I’ll keep writing, and keep reading. I learn something everyday about storytelling, and try to incorporate each thing I find enjoyable in things I read and watch, and this is why I have a feeling this next book will be a better example of what I think a book should be. And the next one will be another step.

Whether or not another person finds each step in my progress better or worse, I get closer to what I think of as good writing. So don’t give up, keep working and get better. No one starts off perfect, and no one is perfect no matter how good they are. We are our own worse critics, but that helps us to try to achieve the best version of ourselves.

I hope you all have a good week, I’ll see you next time.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: No estimate available, we’ve gone beyond where I thought we’d be done editing.

Steven Oaks

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Distracting Boredom

Hello again. I’ve returned.

I’m nearly at a loss as to what to talk about, as my life hardly changes week to week. That’s not a horrible thing, but it does bring a certain amount of stagnation into life. Even if I’m reading much more than I used to, I suppose that would be my only outside stimuli other than work. Work being the same thing everyday, for the most part, doesn’t grow me much as a person either though.

So what do we do to combat this stagnation? I like to learn things, and the Internet is a useful tool for such things. But I do that constantly, so is that really changing? I suppose going out and having new experiences would help, but since I work nights and sleep during the day there are limited opportunities left to me. That and I’m not a fan of parties or concerts that might be available during the early evenings when I might be awake.

I suppose I’m a homebody then. I do enjoy the occasional gathering of friends, maybe twice a month or so, but I’m still rather drained by it. I have my routines I like to keep too, and having friends over, no matter how much fun and stimulating our conversations are, I’m still a little tired out by it. But of course doing the same thing over and over again can lead to boredom, and this feeling finds me far too often. Eventually I get frustrated and mad at the world, or myself, and don’t know what to do to alleviate such boredom. Watching television can only hold back such emotions for so long.

Reading seems to be better equipped to distract me, but that’s just a distraction. There’s some underlying issue that must be faced. But then again I’ve always felt this sense of boredom. There are very few things that push such emotions away. One such thing that has helped has been road-trips. I usually like the journey more than I like the destination, though my last vacation(years ago) was fantastic all the way through. However being in a car listening to an audio-book, or podcast, or just having a conversation while watching the world rush by revealing new places is one of my favorite things. But having a job, and not much money, I’m not likely to experience one anytime soon.

Then again life ends for us all. We should fill it with things that we enjoy, and experience as much of it as we can. There’s no point to it, unless you make one for yourself. So I suppose finding distractions and entertainment are a good enough reason to do something as anything.

I guess that’s just another reason I write. I enjoy it, and I’m creating instead of just consuming. I guess it’s my little way, perhaps an unremarkable way, of giving back to those that have come before. I read what they’ve written. I watch what they’ve made, or look at their art. And if I can give back to someone else what they’ve given me, then I’ve done at least a little something for the world. And maybe all of us should try to make the world a little better by adding to it.

Remember I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: An estimated 94% into editing

Steven Oaks

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A Useful Tool

Hello friends and readers. I’m back again, though a day late.

Work has led me to weird sleep habits, as I’ve been not only doing my usual night-shifts, but day-shifts as well this last month. I’m tired, or at least I usually am. But troubles don’t end there. Again car issues have raised their head, however there’s not much to say save more money would be useful.

Once more I’ve used my text-to-speech program, and I’m finding things moving much quicker while I edit. Little things are caught, such as missing words, or wrong tenses. I highly recommend using a program to read your work aloud while you edit. You can’t trust your own eyes to interpret your words correctly, and another human might do the same if they look at it. We have an inherent way of interpreting things in a way that make sense. As such, having a non-thinking program read things verbatim certainly points out issues much easier, especially when you hear really awkward dialogue.

However I have a complaint. The program I’m using sounds awful. It took me a little while to get used to the voice, or at least be able to make sense of the gibberish it spews. Apparently I’ve yet to find the correct voice/program to use for my Linux computer. I’ve had great luck with voices on android, and apparently apple has good ones as well. I assume windows has a good built-in voice, but like with anything besides Linux and android, I know nothing first hand. But while I complain, what I have is a useful tool. And now I don’t have to strain my eyes reading off of the computer screen.

I let my eyes wander elsewhere this time around. I play mahjongg or other simple puzzle games while I listen, and when I hear something jarring I can easily pause the playback, and jump back into change things. It’s useful, and is much less intense than the multiple times I’d already read through this book. But I still find it quite surprising the little things I’ve missed. Must be my tiredness shining through. I thought I was being careful, but now that I am utilizing another tool I think the book will be greatly improved because of it.

But as I’ve said, I’m tired. So I’ll leave you here. Until next time, have a great week.

What I’ve published

Walk On

Walk On Cover

click here for a link to the book

Outsider Trilogy

Outsiders-Book-Cover-RGB-web-safe

Click here for a link to the book

Poetry

poems_front2

Link to my author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Oaks/e/B00MEGSEZ6

Link to the Deathship book in the CreateSpace store – https://www.createspace.com/5023771

Or you can help me out on Patreon. Again, thank you. https://www.patreon.com/StevenOaks

Update: An estimated 90% into editing

Steven Oaks

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