Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#WeWriteBooks, Post 1: Genre Review and Genre Mashing --- Plus the #WeWriteBooks plan and contest info


Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings and Kinsman Chronicles), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website. And try her books for free here and here.

The #WeWriteBooks series starts today. I'm pretty excited about it. A few things before we get started:


1. There are already lots of posts on the Go Teen Writers blog. Like, five years' worth of posts. Much of what I'll be talking about will be review. So rather than repeat what's already been blogged about, I'm going to give my take on it as it relates to me writing a new book, then I'll post links to related posts that will help you. Use those links because there are so many helpful posts in our archives.

2. We're going to go slowly at first. And then, a few months from now, it will seem like I'm going too fast. That's because I won't be writing a post for every chapter in a twenty-chapter book. There will be lots of planning posts, several posts about different aspects of writing, and some posts on editing. And you'll be like, "But I'm not done with my whole book!" But that's okay. Just go with it and keep on working toward your goal, whatever that is.

3. Speaking of which, set some goals! I have planned this series to last 31 weeks. We will be on the 13th post (that's week 13) before I blog about, "Where to start your book." You might want to start before then. I'll will. But you don't have to start before then. Do what works best for you. This is all for fun and learning. Start today by jotting down some goals. The contest will open on August 31. You need to move at your own pace, but keep in mind that the first phase of the contest will be one chapter (a maximum of 3000 words), and the second round will be the first three chapters (a maximum of 10,000 words). Should you final, you won't have a long time to prepare those three chapters, so you'll need to have them ready. Take those word counts and the weeks you have until the deadline of August 31, and figure out how much you'll need to write each day (or week or whatever measurement works best for you) to get it done with some time to rewrite and edit it too. 

4. I will be posting my book as I write it over on my author blog. I've been neglecting my blog lately, so it will be nice to have something to post. I'm going to start posting material on February 15. I will keep you all posted on how to follow/subscribe.

5. What will I be writing, you ask? Because of my crazy deadlines, I couldn't choose a story that was totally new because it would have taken away too much of my creative brain and time. So I took a look at several stories I've started writing and never finished and I chose one. This book is called Thirst. I wrote a good portion of it already by mistake when Zondervan/Blink almost bought it. Then they decided not to buy it. (Long story.) Basically, Thirst is a stand-alone prequel to The Safe Lands series (Captives, Outcasts, and Rebels). This is the story of a teenage Papa Eli when the Great Pandemic happens. I chose this story because 1) I've already done a lot of work, so that will save me time as I blog about it, 2) It's a stand-alone, so I don't have to stress out about planting things that will pay off in subsequent books because I've already written those! 3) It's a contemporary setting, which, hopefully, will engage a wider audience. (Since I know not all of you like weird fantasy novels with massive magic systems. This one has regular people in it, even though the world is going to almost end--I've got to fit my "weird" in somewhere...) 4) This book has one point of view! (The book I'm writing now has, like, ten points of view. It's a LOT of extra work.) So writing in one point of view will be so nice. 5) Because this meme.



The Contest

We will get more detailed on the contest specifics when the contest opens on August 31. For now, here are some things you'll need to know:

1. This will be a contest that helps you get together material to submit your book to an agent or editor. It will have two rounds. The first round will ask for your first chapter (a maximum of 3000 words) and a one-to-two-page synopsis (both due August 31). In the second round, finalists will be asked to submit their first three chapters (a maximum of 10,000 words) and the synopsis (due date TBA). We will be judging your premise, your writing, and your overall ability to plot. (Which is where the synopsis comes in. Stephanie plans to do a post to help you all tackle synopsis writing.) These criteria are the same things an agent or editor looks for when reviewing submissions.

2. Anyone can write along with the group (we love you, alumni!), but the contest will be open to writers who are 21 or under, since we are a blog geared toward teen writers. Otherwise we will simply have too many entries to judge.

3. You can enter anything you've written. It does not have to be a new story that you started to write along with me and my blog posts.

4. Only one entry per person.

5. Everything must be formatted for industry standards. I created a YouTube video about this. Here is a link to it: http://jillwilliamson.com/teenage-authors/writing-podcast-tutorials/

Today's Topic: Genre and Genre Mashing

You'll start your new book by choosing a genre. A genre is simply the category your story fits into. There have been SO MANY POSTS related to genre on Go Teen Writers. I have listed them here.

Posts on defining different genres:
What genre do you write? (Includes a long list of genre categories)
What am I writing, anyway?
Speculative fiction subgenres
Mystery Genres
Study your genre
Genre conventions (What are some elements that your genre must have?)

Posts on specific genres/types of books:
Novellas
Beginning chapter books for children
Writing for kids, word counts
Middle Grade or YA?
Contemporary YA
A beginner's guide to mystery writing
New Adult fiction
Writing historicals

Did you know that you don't have to pick just one genre? Genre mashing is something we've never talked much about on Go Teen Writers, so as you consider your new story, I want to throw this out to you as an option. In my experience, genre mashing is done in one of two ways:

1) Genre + Genre = Coolness
I've been DYING to write a Regency fantasy novel. Seriously, I've been talking about it for years. I even told Julie Klassen about it, since I love her books. My book would be me mashing, or combining, fantasy and historial (specifically the Regency era). It's that simple. So think about some of your ideas, then play around with mashing them with another genre. You can worry about how it will work later. For now, just think, "What would equal EPIC COOLNESS?"

2) Next book in a series + new genre = interesting twist on original genre and coolness.
Say you wrote a romance novel and now you need to write a book two. Well, if you are going to keep the same characters, a nifty idea is to throw your characters into another genre. Maybe your characters stumble onto a mystery. (Mystery genre) Or perhaps an ex-boyfriend shows up to stalk your female lead! (Thriller genre) Or maybe your hero's grandfather passes away and leaves him a WWII journal and the story drifts back in time as we learn something intriguing about why your hero is the way he is. (Historical genre) Or maybe your characters got married, but now they're struggling with something big. (Women's fiction genre) You get the idea. I did this a little with my Kinsman Chronicles since they're a prequel to my Blood of Kings trilogy, which is fantasy. So rather than just have another fantasy story set in the same world, I decided to add a different world and destroy it. (Apocalyptic/Post Apocalyptic genres) For you, the same rule applies here as did in number one. Just think, "What would add an interesting twist to my world that would be EPIC COOLNESS?"


Assignment Time

Each week during the #WeWriteBooks series, I'll give you an assignment. This week we're going easy. Two easy peasy things. You can do it!

1. Set goals. Set at least a word-count goal and a story start date goal. Because if you're starting a brand-new story, you might not be ready to start writing today. And that's okay.

2. Genre. Pick your genre and, if applicable, subgenre. Or if you're genre mashing, decide on those.

That's all I'm asking of you for this week. If you're feeling saucy, maybe read a book in your chosen genre to get you excited. But if that only drives you crazy, don't do it!

Any questions? Share your goals in the comments when you know the answers. And spread the word about this series. The more the merrier. It's always fun to write with friends.




71 comments:

  1. I'm really glad to hear that I don't have to be joining in the We Write Books thing to enter the contest . . . I mean, don't get me wrong, the series sounds awesome, and I'd love to be a part of it. But as I said before, I have other goals right now. :)
    Also, a comment on genre-mashing . . . so much fun! I haven't done a ton of it, but in one of my currently-editing projects, I let my characters run around in basically a Wild-West-style region of my fantasy world for a while. 'Twas very fun and I can't wait to get back to those bits in my editing. :D

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    1. I'm glad you'll be entering the contest, Sarah. And good for you in sticking to your goals. That's exactly what you should do. Wild West fantasy is really fun. Love it.

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  2. Ahh, this is so exciting!! I've just started a contemporary retelling that I think will be PERFECT. Can't wait for the next challenge!

    - Ellie
    http://ontheothersideofrealitynew.blogspot.com/

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  3. I am so excited to get started with this! I think I am going to try some kind of fantasy novel (instead of the sci-fi I usually write). Thanks so much for hosting this!

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    1. Awesome, Megan. I'm so glad to have you join in the fun. :-)

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  4. I AM SO EXCITED!!! My story will be fantasy - magic, different world, etc. :)

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    1. Excellent! Fantasy and magic and a different world... sounds amazing.

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  5. Yay! I just started my fantasy novel a week ago, actually.

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  6. This series is going to be AWESOME! I'm so excited to be participating.

    My word count goal is 60,000-70,000 (about 500 words/day) and I would like to start in March. The book I'm going to write for the challenge is a YA Superhero. I'm planning on doing a little genre-mashing because I'd really like to make it a roadtrip as well.

    Thanks so much for organizing this awesome challenge!!

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    1. Ooh, that sounds fun, Linea. Good job on the goals, too. You can do it!

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  7. I'm so excited! There's this novel which I've sort of rewritten about three times over the last four years but never actually did anything with, and I really want to nail it down, so I'm taking the chance.
    My novel is an epic fantasy, so my starting word goal is 100,000 words. That means lots of writing, so I guess we'll see if I can do it. Fingers crossed!
    And good luck to everyone else!

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    1. Cool, Lily. I hope the process will help you get this novel nailed down once and for all!

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  8. I'm so excited that this came along when it did!! I'd plotted out a novel quite a while ago, then burnt out on chapter 1! I've followed this blog for a while so I'm excited to join the GTW community. My word count goal is 45,000-50,000 (a little small but I write middle grade-ish realistic fiction.). I don't have a weekly word count but, ideally I'll finish before June 1st. I'm doing a teeny bit of genre mashing in that my book will have a mystery aspect as well as be a sort of growing up/coming of age story. I'm diving back into the story this afternoon (and did I mention that I'm writing it all by hand?!?) so wish me luck!!

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    1. This is great, Taylor. Sounds like you have some solid goals. And, writing it by hand? Cool. Are you doing that with author Nadine Brandes, perhaps?

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    2. Sort of...I remembered reading a piece on this blog about writing a book by hand (but not who wrote it...sorry Nadine!). I thought it was pretty crazy when I first read it but now I can see what she was talking about. Now I'm going to try it myself! Again, I'm really glad that this opportunity came along when it did...I need SOMETHING to push me to actually meet my deadlines...😀

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    3. Ha ha. Yeah, that was Nadine. I'm glad you'll be joining us. I hope it will help keep you on track. :-)

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  9. This is so cool! I've been plotting my fantasy novel, so that's what I'll be writing (I'm still in the early stages) instead of starting a new book. My goal is 80,000 to a 100,000 words. Is that too vague? I can refine it if it is. My genre of course is fantasy. This'll be so much fun!

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    1. Your goal can be whatever you want. It might help you to decide when you want it done and then you can figure how many words you need to write per day to meet that goal.

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  10. I'm a bit confused... Is this project one where we write one chapter per post that you publish, and then in the end have a 20 page novel? This sounds neat!

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    1. There aren't really any rules for you following my posts. I'm just showing you my process. You can try it, if you like. And I'll post an assignment or two with each post, but you don't have to write one chapter a week. You can set whatever goal you'd like. For example, you might want to complete three chapters for the contest by August 31, so you could figure out how many words you'd need to write each day to reach that goal.

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    2. Oh, I see! Thank you for clarifying!

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  11. I am working on two novels at the moment. One of them is a genre smash of fantasy and colonial fiction. Colonial setting + mythical powers = Book I am super excited about.

    Unfortunately for me, I will have JUST turned 22 by the time you are taking submissions (like Aug. 21), so I won't be part of the contest.

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    1. Your colonial + fantasy sounds so cool!

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    2. Aww, man!!! What a bummer. On the other hand, I love your story idea. Sounds really fun.

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  12. So...I was reading the Speculative Fiction Subgenre blogpost, and I had a question: As a writer, if I choose to write Speculative Fiction, would I then be able to write any of those subgenres? (Like, could I write a contemporary fantasy book then write dystopian? Or do I have to stay with strict fantasy after I write a fantasy book?) Because I know you have said it is important to stay in the genre you first choose, and that's always been a painful idea to me. Yet, at the same time, all the books I've written so far have had that 'weird' little part to them which made it difficult to choose a specific genre. Then I read the blogpost, and I'm feeling a lot more hopeful. I really appreciate all the wisdom all of you have shared on this blog! :)

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    1. Yes, I loved the term speculative fiction for the same reason. You "can" do whatever you want. You might sell better if you stick to similar genres. I speak from experience here. I've published heroic fantasy, contemporary science fiction, dystopian, epic fantasy, and contemporary YA suspense. And with each book I confuse my readers some. However, I do find new readers as well. For example, a reader who hates fantasy might like my science fiction. However, I think I would have built a stronger following for myself had I stuck to fantasy.

      But you really have to write the books that are on your heart. And sometimes you might have to choose which of those books is the most saleable, or something, but if you can, write what you love. And if you like to vary, try to at least stay under the umbrella of speculative fiction.

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    2. Mostly I would do subgenres of Fantasy because I think there are enough types to keep me busy for a while (especially with Urban and Contemporary Fantasy), but the novel I've gotten the farthest on is more like a dystopian suspense/thriller. I'm still figuring it out, though. Thank you for taking the time to answer. Having a somewhat definite answer gives me hope.

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  13. Yes! I've been looking forward to when this would start!

    A bit more than a year ago (NaNo2014) i started my first novel...and it sucked. by the middle when there were so many things going on that I didn't even know how to end it. But, not only did I learn that I wasn't a pantser, I noticed right away the theme that kept coming up and up again and I imedietly knew what I wanted the story to be about. I just never started it because I would have to trash 50000 words. until today.

    my genre is a historical fantasy/supernatural. my goal is to finish it this time, and I'll probably start sometime late in the summer, after both camp NaNo's are over. usually I pick my word count after I'm done with the first act so I know about how long it should be. I am sooooooooo excited! thank you so much for this!

    ~K.A.C.

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    1. I'm so glad you're excited, Katie! It's always exciting to finish something you put a lot of time into. I hope this series will help you do that. :-)

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  14. Yay! #WeWriteBooks has started! :D

    This sounds like it is going to be SO fun, thank you for doing this, Jill! I'm going to be writing a fantasy novel that I've wanted to start on for awhile, but I never got around to it. And now seems as good a time as any!

    Looking forward to next week's post!

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    1. Hooray! Now is the best time to start, Savannah! Glad to have you join in the fun.

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  15. Sounds cool! I'm going to try to write a 20-30k novella during February and March for another challenge, so by the time you get to starting, I should be done, haha. But this will still be very interesting to read along with! Thanks for sharing--I pinned it in hopes that a few others will see it and decide to join. :)

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    1. Ugh, Google again with the weirdness. WHY is it commenting with Blogger. I don't WANT it to comment with Blogger. Sigh.

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    2. Thanks YOU for sharing! (And I know. I think Google might have purchased Blogger. Between Google and Amazon, I think they've bought everything!)

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    3. Yep, Google owns Blogger. Just need to wait for Amazon to buy Google. (And then for Disney to buy Amazon.)

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  16. I just started working on an interactive fiction book-- like a "Choose your own adventure" style. It doesn't fit into any of your genres, yet I am willing to join in on #wewritebooks anyway. Maybe I can learn something new! :)

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    1. Absolutely join us! I would think that character goals and plot would still be important in a "Choose your own adventure"-type book. In fact, the "Yes, but... / No, and..." plot style would seem ideal.

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  17. Hi everyone! I'm kind of new here, but I'm so thrilled to get started! This is such a great idea to keep everyone motivated. I'm currently working on my first novel. I'm not absolutely sure of the genre yet (I'll have to chew on it for a while), but I'm leaning towards action-adventure. It definitely contains some suspense, though. Think of a teenage Christian James Bond. It's comparable to Andrew Klavan's series The Homelanders (if you haven't read it, read it NOW).
    So excited to get writing! :):)

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    1. Awesome, Jonathan! I love The Homelanders series. And Alex Rider, too. Sounds like a lot of fun. Glad to have you with us! :-)

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  18. My word count goal is 40k and my genre is fantasy, and a mix between middle grade and YA (11-14, for interest levels, but not for violence or anything.)

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  19. This sounds so amazing! I'm looking for about 50K in my contemporary, but I might struggle to get that many words out . . . could we do a word war or two before the editing section to help everyone work? Or organise them in the Facebook group or something?

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    1. Sounds good. You can do as many word wars as you'd like, Lara. We will work on getting some official ones on the calendar.

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  20. Ooo, sounds like we have a lot to look forward to! Thanks for this post, and interesting thoughts about genre mashing. I've always stuck with fantasy, so incorporating another genre would be a better way to change things up a bit. And for our first tasks this week...you've tempted me with reading something now... Maybe I could read Lord of the Rings just one more time... XD

    http://theteenwritershub.blogspot.co.uk/

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  21. I guess you could say I genre-mash quite a bit, since I tend to have some aspects of dystopian mixed in with "regular" fantasy . .. I'm already 17k in on my YA fantasy so I might end up starting on my other project idea (which is also YA fantasy, but with more POVs and multiple worlds--sort of like a cross between Star Wars and Percy Jackson with some epic fantasy in the mix), probably going for 50k. One question--I'm planning to do Camp NaNo in April, so can I just count my progress during that (probably 30k) towards #wewritebooks instead of doing a separate project?

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    1. Absolutely, Ellie. That sounds like a great way to keep yourself motivated.

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  22. I can't figure out my genre. It takes place in a specific time period of Earth's history, in countries I added to the map, with a mildly epic plot, one protagonist, is Christian, and has no magical or otherwise unrealistic elements. It can't be historical fiction since I'm dealing with fictional places. It can't be fantasy since it's on real-world Earth. It contains no speculative elements. What is it?

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    1. Savannah, adding countries to the map is changing history and therefor speculative. (Spec fiction isn't only magic.) I'd call your book historical fantasy or alternate history, depending on how much history is in you book vs how much you have added.

      Also, books like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter are contemporary fantasy, since they are fantasy stories that take place on earth.

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  23. Hi Jill!

    I'm not sure if someone has asked this already, but here it goes anyway...

    Does it have to be something from scratch? Or can it be a WIP you've (me) been working on for a while, and are still editing? It's not been sent to anyone, just a book I'm developing.


    ps.
    I'll have to join in on these! I'm finally getting my college act together and I'll find time to write! yay!

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    1. I can be any story you want, Jazmine! Bring it! :-)

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  24. Mine's a dark fairytale sort of thing. With magic time-travel. At least that's the idea. I'll probably aim at around 80 000 words and I'm hoping to start on Monday.
    I might've missed it, but did you say when you're planning on starting the editing posts? It's just I'll probably try to finish the first draft beforehand and knowing the dates will help me work out how many words I'll have to write per day.

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  25. Would you mind if I tried to write regency era fantasy some time? It sounds awesome.

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    1. Go for it! There are several successful ones published already. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and the books by Mary Robinette Kowal.

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    2. Oh my goodness I love Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell! Two of the best books I have read for a while!

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  26. My goal is to finish the second draft of my current novel called The Ones Who Lived. For a specific word count, I'm aiming for 55,000 minimum. 500 words a day starting on February 21, and my deadline is June 30. As far as what genre it is, I think I finally nailed it down(!!). A loose literary fiction that focuses on grief and loss--especially that pertaining to war. I don't know if 'loose literary fiction' is an official term, but I say that because it has the elements of literary fiction, but might move a tad faster/be shorter then normal literary fiction.

    Oh, and I was wondering, my 1st chapter is currently 4,000. If, when the contest comes and it's still over 3,000, is it okay if I just send part of it in order to meet the word requirement?

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    1. Sounds intriguing, Rachael. Yes, for the contest, you would send your first 3000 words, cutting it off at the end of a paragraph that feels somewhat natural.

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  27. I know I'm a bit late on this, but I want to participate. A specific word count might be hard for me to decide, but I'm aiming for 50K - 75K. I don't mind if it spreads a bit longer than that. My deadline for starting will probably be late Spring/early Summer. I would like to take some time before then for plotting and whatnot.

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    1. Glad to have you with us, Bethany! This will be fun. :-)

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  28. I hope you don't mind me asking, and feel free to completely ignore my question if you do, but when they decided not to buy Thirst, could you have sold the stand alone to someone else? (I'm wondering as I'm writing a trilogy series which I have at least three spinn-offs planned to, but they're from slightly to completely stand-alone from the series, only in the same universe.)

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    1. It depends on your contract, your availability, and what you want to do. With Thirst, the publisher chose to instead purchase the dystopian trilogy. And I sold this off the pitch and three sample chapters. So the books weren't written, and when I signed the contract, I had to write those books. So at the time, I had not immediate desire to finish Thirst (which wasn't done). I had to write three dystopian books!

      When I was done, I could have gone back and finished Thirst right away, but I didn't. I was really tired from the whirlwind of writing that series and wanted a bit of a break. Also, in the contract, the publisher has the right to first refusal on the next book in the series. Since Thirst is technically part of the series, once I have it done, my agent will offer the book to them to see if they want to publish it. If they do, great! If they don't, then I can offer it to someone else or self-publish it. So that part depends on the contract you signed. And if you are concerned about that, you can ask your agent to negotiate that clause out from the contract, so that you could pitch the other books to another publisher if you wanted to.

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  29. I'm halfway through my first draft. I think I'll enter the competition. Maybe 250 a day. I'm writing a contemporary fantasy about people with magic powers

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  30. I'll probably be following along with this unless life gets in the way, but I don't think I'll be entering the contest. Not quite ready for that! :-P

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    1. Glad to have you lurking with us! LOL You can learn a lot that way and it's much less stressful. ;-)

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  31. Is a premise the same as a synopsis?

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    1. No, a premise is a short statement that gives the gist of the story idea. A synopsis is a one-page (single-spaced) overview of the story that tells all the important stuff, including the ending. Here are some posts that have examples that might help: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/synopsis-writing

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  32. Hi! I'm late for the party, but I'll post anyway! :)
    My work is a Christian epic fantasy, and my goal is to finish 100,000 words by the deadline in August. Pray for me, cross your fingers, whatever. It'll be twice as long as any other book I've finished so far!

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