Author Archives: Philip Overby

Keeping Readers Reading (And Yourself Writing)

steampunk readingIt’s becoming easier and easier for people to put books down these days. With so many entertaining distractions in the world, writers have to fight for readers’ attention more than ever.

Normally, I approach these articles only from the stance of a writer. However, today I’m going to wear two hats: one small writer’s beret with an over-sized reader’s fedora over it.

While it’s sometimes hard to think in two different modes, thinking as a reader can help you answer the age old question, “Is this story worth my time?” Continue Reading

Putting Your Novel Where Your Mouth Is

book over mouthTalking about writing can be fun. Hell, I love it.

But a year ago I realized that I needed to stop yapping so much and start tapping more. The keys, that is.

It’s lonely, hair-pulling work sometimes, but I had to keep my nose to the grindstone. No matter how much I wanted to chat and blab about my newest creation, I tried to refrain.

It sucked.

I know some people view writing novels as mystical shamanism channeled through the hair strands of a thousand muses. I don’t find it to be such. I absolutely adore it, yes, but it’s work.
Continue Reading

Pilfering Your Novel Graveyard

graveyard“Finish what you start” is some of the best advice one can give a burgeoning writer.

However, what happens when you absolutely can’t finish something? It’s not Writer’s Block nor Creative ADD. You’ve reached critical mass. No matter how long you edit, send off for critiques, and outline, it’s just not coming together.

Writing can be like making a soufflé: if it’s imploded, sure, you can still eat it, but do you want to serve it to others? So what do you do when the recipe is screwed and you have a burnt dessert?

Scrape off the blackened parts and salvage it, right?

Maybe. Continue Reading

Cover to Cover IV: Learning to Love Editing

editThis is the fourth entry in my Cover to Cover series which follows a story idea from inception until potential publication.

Several months back in my third entry, I talked about owning a first draft and how to get through it to the end. Well, in August of this year I finished my first draft. Allow me a moment to do a happy dance. I spent the next two months editing. I’ve made it publicly known to anyone that will listen how much I hate editing.

Something happened through the process though. I started to actually enjoy my editing sessions. “Love editing? I’d sooner feed myself to a chimera.” Maybe. But I’ll show you how I changed from an edit-hater to an edit-relisher. Continue Reading

30 Ways to Resuscitate a Dying NaNoWriMo Novel

novelIf you’ve done National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) you know there sometimes comes a point when you think, “Why in the hell am I doing this?”

This is a normal feeling albeit a demoralizing one. You’ve been tap-tapping away when suddenly the juice runs out, the muse falls off her glittery pegasus, or writer’s block smashes you square in the face.

You need a pick-me-up, something to keep you moving along towards you goals, whether that be 50,000 words or some other suitably insane feat of writerly badassery. Even if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, maybe you can find a nugget of wisdom buried underneath my sagely ramblings. Continue Reading

Surviving Grimdark Fantasy for the Squeamish

grimdarkWhile there is still some debate about whether it’s a legit sub-genre or not, grimdark has become part of the fantasy lexicon in recent years.

I actually like a lot of the authors that some label as grimdark, so I’m a bit torn on if it’s a good or bad thing. The term can be used to define fantasy with more realistic grit, where morals are gray and blood is bright red. Sounds cool to me.

However, on the flip side, it’s also used as a pejorative term for fiction that is perceived as too bleak, dark, and soul-sucking. This being the opposite of the good vs. evil type of conflicts that may be more familiar for fans of fantasy.

Well, I’m here to show you that grimdark doesn’t have to be unpleasant at all. Continue Reading

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