creative writing

Two and a Half Ways to Plan a Story

Pantsers* write a story with only a general thought of how their story should go. On the opposite side are plotters who outline their story, sometimes in detail. I think most writers are half way between these two and use both techniques to craft their story based on how they write.

When starting off, most writers have been thinking about what they will write for some time. They have at least thought up the primary characters and a plot. It’s at this stage, before writing, they are a pantser and a plotter at the same time.

For a pantser to begin writing their story, they need to structure it at least in their mind. For a plotter to outline their story, they need to discover it by writing out the scenes. Therefore, writers are both a pantser and a plotter. It’s how they apply these techniques that makes the difference.

A pantser will have something in their head to follow. A plotter will have something written to follow. They both follow a plan to tell their story.

I’m a half way writer. I have it in my head how I want the story to go and I write a few pages. Then, I write the ending. That way I know where I’m going, even if I end up somewhere else. When finished, I summarize each chapter in a kind of outline. This is so I can remember who did what before I start my edits.

Really, in the end it only matters that the story gets written.

* Some pantzers prefer to be called discoverers.

P.S. My book High School Rocket Science (For Extraterrestrial Use Only) is now self-published as an ebook and in print. Yeah!

Pushing Toward Publication, Again

My blog post from two weeks ago exclaimed I would, “. . . work on uploading a new book size and cover into IngramSparks publishing.” My plan was to blog about this experience.

I did work on a new book size, but it was a pitiful amount of effort. My excuse I gave myself: I was finishing another book, which I really was doing. Yet, the real reason is that I’m overcome with caution about making my book available to more people. What would these people think about it?

The caution is stifling my motivation.

Without marketing, in KDP no one will look at my book. There are too many being published every day there. I may not find any readers on other publishing platforms, either. Why should I worry what people thing about my book when there may not be any readers to do that thinking?

I apologize for this being a whiny blog post. I have another two weeks when I hope to be blogging about my work on uploading a new book size and cover into IngramSparks publishing.

That sounds familiar. I think I might have heard it before.

Size of the Book (Again)

I read recently a blog about book sizes. The blog author, and people commenting, generally agreed that a book size of 6X9 is considered amateurish whether self-published or by a press. My book is 6X9.

I went back over my notes and realized I ended up with 6X9 because KDP pushed me toward that size by making it the default. So, I am revisiting my book size.

I read that I should look at my genre, which makes sense. In young adult science fiction, the popular books are 5X8 or 5.5X8 or 5.5X8.5. So, I’m going to reduce my book size, but by how much?

I don’t want the page count higher than what I have (335 pages). I do have room to reduce the margins and line spacing while keeping enough white space on each page. This makes it easy to read, if someone ever reads it.

To reduce my book size, this week I will play with the inside format and bring the book size down. I’m going for 5.5X8. Also, I have a new cover!

My book designer through Reedsy came up with a design that I like. My plan is to leave KDP alone right now since that is working and work on uploading a new book size and cover into IngramSparks publishing.

The adventure continues.

What Size Should the Book Be?

After I formatted the inside of my book (see the blog post), I tried out different book sizes. I did this while still using MS Word.

A small book of 4X6 or 5X8 created a thick book that I thought would be difficult to handle. It also could be intimidating to read by some people in my genre. More importantly, having so many pages would be expensive to print. Too large of a book, such as 8X10, had fewer pages making it less expensive to print. But it was big and awkward and did not have enough spine to show the title. I also thought the readers might think they were not getting value with a thin book.

For a 68,000-word novel, I chose a 6X9 book, which is popular in my genre. With margins set wide and 1.5 inch spacing between lines, this produced a book of 335 pages and making about 200 words per page. I could have reduced the margins or spacing and put more words on each page, but what I had gave a lot of white space. Based on other books in my genre, I thought this looked more appealing to the reader.

Next, I went to the end of each chapter. If there were one to three lines left, I reduced wording in that chapter which reduced the lines and saved the printing of a mostly blank page.

When done, I saved the Word document as an Adobe file. This mostly locked in the design posing fewer problems when transferring to KDP software. MS Word software can be proprietary and complex causing unwanted format changes when transferring to another software.

I uploaded this Adobe document into KDP.

KDP did make some additional changes to fit the document into their system. However, after reviewing each page of the final document, my novel looked very much like what I had uploaded.

Next came the book cover which I previously blogged about (Part 1 and Part 2). Part 3 will be in two weeks. The saga continues.