Creative Writing Tip: Going Deeper in Your Fiction

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

1341529_shoreline_rocks_2We authors–at least, authors who are like me–are always aware of a need to take a first draft deeper. To connect with the characters more, make them more alive.

This is particularly true in my case, as I have a simple, precise style and my first drafts are rather minimalist. (Are you that way, a fellow Hemingway? Or are you a Faulkner?)

But what does “going deeper” mean? What’s the difference between going deeper and adding fluff?

Writing is never easy, and it’s not something you can do alone: you will always need beta readers and editors to help you fill in holes and iron out the excess.

Still, there are general ways I find myself taking a draft “deeper” before I ever send it off to beta readers.

  • I CUT DOWN ON WHAT FEELS SUPERFLUOUS. A book can only have so many words, after all, and you…

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Photographic memories

Raindrops and Lollipops

old photo

Anyone with clinical depression who has been told to ‘think positive’ and ‘remember the good times’ will know the creepy, forced smile you offer the purveyor of said well meaning sentiments. Because trying to explain to anyone that actually has access to the happy part of their brain that you don’t really want to be miserable, you’ve just lost the ability to feel good, is like being repeatedly slapped in the face with a trout.

Depression is a negativity dump truck, unloading its toxic cargo of sad thoughts, self doubt and unpleasant memories into your cranium every hour of the day. The reason sufferers can’t just focus on happy thoughts is that, temporarily, they don’t exist. All that was once joyful and light has been squirrelled away deep in the annals of your consciousness, to be uncovered once depression’s done playing it’s sick and twisted game. Sometimes it’s impossible to…

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Of Making Many Books, There is No End — or Reward?


“Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”

Ecclesiastes 12

From the Beginning

It was that way right from the beginning, I’m sure. Carvers in stone, makers of runes,  scribes in papyrus and parchment, right up to workaday paper — Hebrew, Greek, Latin, English — Making books is weary WORK, not glamour. Don’t take my word for it; here is Gabriel Garcia Marquezauthor of, among many other long works, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera:

 “Ultimately literature is nothing but carpentry. Both are very hard work. Writing something is almost as hard as making a table. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood. Both are full of tricks and techniques. Basically very little magic and a lot of hard work involved.”

Carpentry! But people persist in regarding writing…

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Stephen King’s No Joy In E-Book Land

Falls Into Writing

As I’m gearing up to self-publish with both e-book and paperback options, the news breaks today that Stephen King has made the decision to not provide an e-book option for his upcoming book Joyland. In today’s digital age where authors like Neil Gaiman are pushing for change in order to keep up rather than to go extinct, it’s either a bold move or a big financial mistake.

The decision to not include an e-book at all for Joyland makes readers have to purchase the physical book, which is King’s ultimate motive. In a move that shows support for brick-and-mortar stores, the book is available for pre-order as a paperback on Amazon, but a reader can purchase a limited hardback edition through Titan Books. So that may change things slightly as he is not treating the release in the traditional way. Now he’s making the hardback a limited…

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“He has a pension for fantasy.”

You Knew What I Meant

A simple hearing error.

How often anymore does the typical student encounter the word penchant? Still, somebody she heard had encountered it…or that person had heard it from someone who had encountered it…all the way down into the Quaker Oatmeal box, at some point in which sequence there was a person who actually knew the word was penchant. Whoever heard that person, though, didn’t know the word, and in came “pension.”

How strange it is that college undergraduates would be more likely to know the word “pension” than “penchant.” Are they thinking about retirement before they even enter the ranks of the employed? It’s possible to receive a pension without retiring, as Webster’s first and second variants on definition #1 show: “a fixed sum paid regularly to a person; a gratuity granted (as by a government) as a favor or reward.” But there’s our common understanding, in definition…

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Is It Worth Converting an Old Book Into an eBook?


THE project involves a print book that’s about 200 pages long, and which was published 13 years ago. Clean copies are available. It contains three types of content:

Running text with chapters, subheads and other formatting used in nonfiction books


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Is It Worth Converting an Old Book Into an eBook?



THE project involves a print book that’s about 200 pages long, and which was published 13 years ago. Clean copies are available. It contains three types of content:

Running text with chapters, subheads and other formatting used in nonfiction books

Tabular composition (tables and charts created with typesetting)

Graphics in the form of drawings for which no originals can be found.

This is a trifecta of difficulty. Each of these types of content needs to be handled differently. Here’s a streamlined version of what it would take to complete this project.

A clean copy will need to go to an OCR (optical character recognition) scanning service. They will scan each page of text and create a Word file. It’s critical that you choose a good-quality scanner for this service, since some suppliers simply run the document through their OCR scanner and give you whatever the software puts out.
But think about it. Even if they maintain that they have a “99.5% accuracy rate,” you should expect lots of corrections. Even though it sounds good, if your book has 100,000 words in it, you are looking at a document with 500 errors—somewhere.

Send the resulting Word file out for proofreading and correction, which is easier and less expensive to deal with early in the process. Okay, now you’ve got a clean manuscript, but it’s only of the first type of content, the running text.

Re-create the tables and other material created by the original typesetter. Someone will have to re-enter the text since it will come from the OCR scanner in the wrong order and mixed with other unwanted characters. Once completed, the new material will need to be proofread and then sent to the book designer to be included in the new version of the book.

Pages with graphics will need to be scanned separately, and perhaps by a different vendor if the OCR scanner doesn’t provide graphics scanning.

The resulting graphic files will likely need clean-up and adjustment before they can be included in the ebook file.

A book designer or ebook formatter will then have to reassemble the three types of content and convert the resulting book into the ebook formats required by the client.

In the meantime a cover designer will need to create artwork for a cover suitable for listings on e-retailers and for promotion around the web.

It took almost half an hour to just describe this process adequately and, at the end, it was obvious it would be a big job.

“So, does the book have a good sales history? Is it still up to date?” I asked.

“Well, the client was thinking to use it as a giveaway.”

“A giveaway? You realize you’re going to have to contract with and pay an OCR scanning company, someone to scan the graphics, a book designer or layout artist to create new files for the book, a proofreader and