Author Archives: Philip Overby

Cover to Cover III: Owning a First Draft

manuscriptThis is my third entry in my Cover to Cover series which follows a novel from inception to potential publication. It’s interesting to note since I started doing this, my novel has changed quite significantly. Most notable is that I completed a first draft last month.

If you’ve ever completed a long first draft, then you know how time-consuming and rewarding it can be to type “The End.” I was elated. It’s done, right? Well, no. The dreaded edit comes next. However, sometimes just getting the first draft down can be quite a slog for many writers.

So how do you get from inkling of an idea to a completed first draft? I’ll tell you how I did it and hopefully it will be of some help to others.Continue Reading

Should You Write a Fantasy Trilogy?

trilogyI recently came to a part in my Work in Progress (WIP) when I said, “Huh, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be a standalone after all.”

While I believe there are a lot of important decisions to make about your book (awesome characters, coherent plot, enough giant roach mutants, traditional vs. self-publishing), one may be the decision to write every fantasy writer’s dream: the Great (Insert Nationality Here) Fantasy Trilogy.

Many of my favorite books of all time were part of trilogies, but the thought of beginning one myself brings thoughts of both excitement and apprehension. Is it the best choice for the story I want to tell? If I don’t write a series, am I cramming too much into one book? After some writers squeak out, “I’m writing a book,” the next question from curious minds may be “Will it be a trilogy?”

Well, will it?Continue Reading

Is Fantasy Fiction Too Safe?

fantasy booksThe last dozen fantasy books I’ve read would be classified as epic fantasy. Some kind of hero or heroine goes on a quest, or there are world-spanning conflicts between kings and queens.

I guess you’re expecting me to say, “Ugh, I’m so sick of epic fantasy.” Actually, no. I quite enjoy these kinds of stories for the most part, and have done so for around twenty years or more.

However, I found myself in a bit of a quandary recently when I thought, “I’d like to read something a bit different in tone, structure, and scope.” So I started looking through my collection of books.Continue Reading

Why You Should Burn Your NaNoWriMo Novel

If you’re reading this, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is over and you have one of the following in your quivering, coffee-stained hands:

  1. A string of nonsensical words that closely resemble the ramblings of a mad centaur.
  2. 50,000 words that are mostly just alternations of “I hate this” or “Crap!”
  3. A pretty solid attempt at something that might be considered a novel someday, somewhere, somehow.
  4. Something ready to be published, by George!

I’m assuming none of your answers are #4. If your answer is #4, then you’re a more talented and braver soul than I could ever be. Good luck to you and your prodigious career as the most awesome writer who ever lived.Continue Reading

Cover to Cover II: From Idea to Story

Monster HunterLast time on Cover to Cover, I introduced this series of articles, which follows a novel from birth to potential publication. The previous entry was all about ideas. How to grow them, nurture them, and expand them.

This time I’m going to show you how to take that idea and mold it into an actual story. This can be a daunting process.

So your idea is born. You’ve done your “What iffing,” your brainstorming, your smashing of numerous breakable objects. Now you have to go forward. The idea can percolate for a bit, but soon it needs to become an actual story. A story that has characters, a plot, a setting, and all that wonderful, wonderful magic that is going to consume your readers and give them many sleepless nights.Continue Reading

Cover to Cover: From Inception to Publication

gryphonAll good books start from somewhere.

That inkling of an idea sparked by reading a great book, taking an afternoon walk, or even being walloped over the head by the muse. Time passes. Maybe months, maybe years.

You see that idea grow into a story concept, the story concept become a rough outline, the outline become a story, the story become a published novel. Sounds easy, right?

Yeah, don’t we all wish.

When I was approached with the idea of creating a series of articles that followed from that twinkling of an idea to the process of trying to publish a finished novel I thought, “Wow, this will be quite the daunting task.” However, I was up for the challenge. Continue Reading

10 Ways to Find Inspiration for Fantasy Writing

The elusive muse. Long considered dead by some, still widely sought after with hounds, nets, and harpoons by others, the concept of “invoking the muse” still lurks out there in the writers’ ether.

Inspiration can be fickle: it doesn’t always necessarily come when you want it. There are some tried and true methods for getting ideas and motivation to write. These have been discussed in multiple “killing writer’s block” and other such advice columns.

What I want to propose are ways to find inspiration for writing fantasy, some of which may be obvious and others not so much.Continue Reading

15 Alternative Steps to Better Writing

Writing_starOften writing advice comes at a price. You don’t always know what works and what doesn’t unless you actually put it into practice and get results.

I’m here to say that every situation is different. So understand that as a writer, it’s up to you to find out what works.

Below, I’ve presented 15 alternative ways to approach your writing. Despite many of them going against what other professionals may preach, I think you’ll find some wisdom in each step.Continue Reading

Extensive vs. Minimal: What is Your World Building Coming To?

World-building is a topic that comes up often in fantasy writing circles. If you’re writing epic fantasy, most often it’s going to be in a world of your own creation. Even if you’re writing in our own world, if you have fantasy elements in your story (e.g., magic, mythical creatures, necromantic hamsters), then you have to do at least a tad bit of word-building.

However, how much world-building is too much? How much is too little?

Some people may be extensive world-builders, laying out ten thousand years worth of history, historical texts, dead languages, extinct races, etc. Others may be minimal world-builders, relying only on a handful of elements to power their story forward. So which method of world-building is better, both for your readers and for your writing? Continue Reading

Finding Strengths in Your Weaknesses as a Writer

The key to finding your way as a writer is to discover what kind of writer you are.

Are you the type that talks about writing but doesn’t really do it much? Are you the kind that works diligently every day, but always ends up deleting or scrapping the whole manuscript? Are you the perfect planner, but awful at execution? Or vice versa?

Finding your strengths and weaknesses as a writer can help you navigate your way along the path to being the perfect “you.” Sound flaky? Maybe, but the sooner you can chip away at your problems the earlier you can fix them.

I’d like to preface this by saying I’ve fallen into every one of these categories before.  So if any of these describe your current writing situation, I feel your pain.Continue Reading