Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal mcgrew's Journal: Writing a book is easy 24

Writing one that doesn't suck is really, really hard. For me, anyway.

The crude first draft of Nobots posted here sucks, and sucks badly. There are inconsistencies, typos, misspellings, crappy grammar, sloppy writing, and a host of other errors that make it suck.

It's done, but not finished; it still needs sanding and polishing. I tell myself it's finished when I can go through it five times in a row without making any changes, and so far I haven't been able to get through it once without changing something, and can't go through it five times without finding an error of some sort.

I've been spending almost all my free time working on it, which is why you haven't seen me here much in the last few months. I wish I could afford to retire so I could work on it full time, I could probably finish it in a couple of months.

Oh, well, like those other losers say in Chicago, "there's always next year." I'll finally have a lot more time for reading and writing and learning next year.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Writing a book is easy

Comments Filter:
  • You reminded me of something.

    Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
    -- Gene Fowler

    I know that you'll get there. Here's just a bit of my encouragement, in the trickle that remains of Slashlandia.

    Myself, I am really more of a Paxil and "the aftermath" fan. Your personal writing is more detailed in a certain way. And I might be weird, but I like the way it invites the reader to vicariously share your circumstances.

    Nobots is good. Whe

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      What I see as the missing element from Paxil-style writing is the wish to "get to know" the characters. This includes the impression that they have lives and experience beyond the visible mechanics of their narrative actions.

      You'll like the finished book a lot better then. It's about twice as long and you get to know the characters and their personal problems a lot more intimately, especially the Martians. Like, Johnson and O'Brien have a long conversation about the troubles they're having with the levitat

  • In terms of the story and writing I'd say it's 80% of the way to finished-quality already. Grammar, spelling and typos are cosmetic issues in comparison.

    I've been reading all the updates even if I haven't commented on...probably the last dozen.

    I've still got notes from my attempt to proofread the Paxil Diaries, going up to at least page 175, but I haven't had the time to finish it or clear the backlog of other books I want to read or much anything else. It's work on weekdays, fixing stuff on weekends and ev

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      In my experience, though it isn't nearly the same any more - it was true but I'm no longer in those circumstances, you're paying pretty much the same either way you go. You're either paying it to a bank (via a car loan), a mechanic (to fix your old, paid for, car), or you're paying it to the parts store (and paying with your labor, time, and hassles). So, basically and obviously, it costs money to keep a car on the road so it is better to decide to whom you'd rather be giving money and go with that.

      I have a

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        I buy used cars and only trade when repairs cost more than payments.

        He exposes himself to people whom I'd never willingly associate myself and then deals with the outcome.

        Well, this is Springfield, capital of the state with the worst credit of all states and with the previous two Governors in prison. Damned near everyone who lives here is batshit crazy. It's either deal with weirdos or be a hermit.

        I'm not usually the type of person who makes recommendations on how someone should live their life but I think

      • by Ykant ( 318168 )

        He exposes himself to people whom I'd never willingly associate myself and then deals with the outcome.

        True on so, so many levels.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      What's posted isn't long enough, it's only 25,000 words or so and according to wikipedia the minimum length for a science fiction novel is 40,000 words. Almost every chapter has been greatly expanded, with added dialog and so forth. The version on my computer gets deeper into the Martians' lives, for instance, like why Zales is so gung-ho. I added a bit about a space battle, can't have a sci-fi story with rockets and no space battles, can we?

      As it sits it's around 42,000 words now.

  • My sister wrote one on a cell phone. I got it published on for her and gave her a hard cover version as well as ten soft cover versions that she can give out to friends and family. It's "just" a Dr. Who fanfic but it is reasonably well constructed and has some rave reviews. When I last checked she hadn't yet made the URL public to purchase the book but hopefully she does. They keep, for the style I selected, the first 8 bucks or so and the rest is profit. There's no restrictions about also includin

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Impressive. It's hard enough on a computer. I don't think I could have done it with a pencil or typewriter.

      Thanks for mentioning Lulu, I'd chosen that one out of many quite a while ago but forgot its name.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I didn't have to use their customer service but everything else seemed pretty decent. The pricing wasn't bad and the quality of the prints was pretty good, better than expected really.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          I checked out their web site, they seemed to be a little high priced. Nobots would cost $1000 for professional editing, I'd never recoup that. A hardcover of it would be fifteen bucks, standard paperback eight. I've bought new retail hardcovers for ten before.

          I'll probably still go with them, though.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Your retail hardcover was probably from a print of tens of thousands, not a print of a few hundred. Thus the pricing which, seemingly to me, wasn't as bad as I was expecting it. As for editing, I didn't use their service nor did I edit it. That wasn't my job. ;) However, further up I posted a comment inviting you to partake in a private conversation that revolves around editing. If you're interested (I simply am not comfortable posting in a public location at this time) then I suppose this email address wor

            • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

              Emailing you now, it would really be nice for someone who actually knew what they were doing to look at it.

              I'm still finding errors in the book.

  • as in a professional?

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Yes, it certainly would be nice to have one. I've gone through it dozens of times and still find errors. The best I have is Betty, a readaholic friend who found both of the intentional typos in the Paxil Diaries. When and if I ever get to the point where I can go through it five times without changing anything I'll have her look at it,

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Hey, I had an idea that I think is pretty good. It's good enough that I'm not really wanting to dump it out into a public space. As you are a cause of this idea I'd be interested in sharing it with you though, again, I'm going to refrain from doing so in a public space at this time. Do you wish to at least hear it? If so, what's your preferred method? I'm content sharing an email address with you.

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          You know my last name, my first name is steve. Concatenate the two, at

  • Writing a book is easy. All you have to do is to put down the right words in the right order, and it writes itself.

  • I keep starting the writing of books and then realize I have no idea where I'm going with it. My wife is a wonderful editor (she's actually trained in it), which helps.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Actually that's how Nobots came about. It started as a few unconnected short stories I posted on slashdot, then I thought, "hey! Book!"

      By the time I got to where the supernova hit (actually before) I looked for somewhere for it to go, a story needs a beginning, middle, and end, and it had none of them. So I added Martians and Venusians. It was hard, but damn I'm having fun doing it.

      The Paxil Diaries was easy, I just more or less wrote down what happened. Nobots was (is) a lot more work and a lot more fun.


      • I don't know, I'd have to ask her when I get home. I get my editing in barter for a lot of things around the house, especially my cooking. But I doubt the rate would be the same for you.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351