When I was finalizing the third draft of Spheria, I engaged three fantastic beta readers who gave me invaluable feedback on what worked and what didn’t. I changed a good deal in the book based on their feedback and recommend this step as a best practice for all writers. For detailed information, please see my Novel Creation Process.
It seems I had a little problem with Diet Coke. Let me elaborate.
I am a huge Diet Coke fan. I consume way more of this substance than is realistically healthy. I have attempted to wean myself off it many times, but the process is futile. Now I accept it as my vice and compared to other possibilities it’s not so bad. I may not be alone. I worked at a company where we stocked free beverages and Diet Coke was the most popular drink by a wide margin.
When I wrote my first draft, I made the assumption that since I love Diet Coke, everyone does. So in about five scenes, with five different characters, they were drinking a Diet Coke. One, in particular, chugged and savored it after a flight (this scene was eventually deleted.)
One of my beta readers, Therese, after completing a read through, made the statement, “I was expecting Diet Coke to have some involvement in the climax since it was mentioned so many times.” I guess what I created here was False Foreshadowing.
Isn’t this just a red herring? I think it's not and for a subtle reason. A red herring is defined as “something, especially a clue, that is intended to be misleading or distracting from the real issue.” The key word in the definition is “intended.” In my Diet Coke example, I did not put that foreshadowing in there intentionally, but it would have left the reader feeling gypped, as it did Therese. It was not misleading; it was just irrelevant.
Fun Fact: the term Red Herring originates with hunting dogs. The salting process that turns a herring red creates such a pungent fish that they were used to throw hunting dogs off a trail.
I googled this term and found only a couple mentions in a different context: to describe foreshadowing that ends up being the opposite of what the reader expected. I think that’s more in line with a red herring, actually. Or if I had to make a term for it, I would call it “Deceptive Foreshadowing.”
So here is my definition of False Foreshadowing:
I think this is analogous to another more common writing mistake: word repetition. It is never good to use the same word over and over in a short span of space. Never do this. It is never fun for your readers.
Once this was pointed out to me, it was simple to fix. I left two scenes in with Diet Coke, changed another to Dr. Pepper, change the fourth to Iced Tea, and removed the fifth altogether.
So there you go – avoid False Foreshadowing!
On Saturday, October 8, we will use our popular Booked for Lunch program format to introduce you and your books to our audience, followed by a viewing of the Indie Author Day webinar.
The program will begin at 12:30, when everyone is invited to lunch. Members of the audience bring their lunches; we will provide food for our guest authors. The Friends of the Library will provide yummy desserts and beverages.
Beginning at least by 1 p.m. (we watch to be sure people have finished eating), we will give each author a chance to introduce his or her book. The audience will probably want to have a glimpse of your background, how you came to write the book, and what the book is about. I would think this might be done in 5 - 10 minutes. After the introductions, you will be seated at tables around the room and will be available for questions, book sales, and signing. At 2 p.m., we'll stop for the webinar. The room is available to us until the Library closes at 4:30. We have no "required" end time, but my guess is that people will probably be leaving by 3:15. If authors wish to stay and visit with one another, that would be fine.
Check out my interview on Your World Discovered with David K. Ewen. I discuss the inspiration for Spheria and drop some hints about the sequel. You can watch it on YouTube.
How many movies have you watched after you read the book? I would wager in almost every case, indeed every case I can think of, a good bit of pruning happened. The plot was shortened, characters were removed, or conflict was reduced.
Take for example the Harry Potter movies. As we know, the later books are very long and very rich. To make the films, they were pruned significantly. This article shows some of the items that were left out.
So if a picture is worth a thousand words, and a two-hour movie has about 216 thousand frames or “pictures,” how can the entire contents of a book not be represented? A movie should allow the representation of 216 million words. A typical novel has 80 to 200 thousand words.
One could argue that making the film is an opportunity to trim out the boring parts of the book, or that certain scenes don’t translate well to visual media. A director might be making a complex subject more approachable to the audience. Or the special effects budget wouldn’t allow for an expensive scene. Sometimes these are valid reasons, but if the reason is “we can represent more information in a shorter timespan in a movie compared to reading the book,” I would argue this is false. It never seems to be the case.
I have said it before that your brain’s ability to conjure a visual image, and fill in the gaps left vacant by the author, works faster than a movie projector and has infinite depth. There is no way an image shown on a screen can compete with what you can do on your own.
The Lost Senses
Let’s say the author writes, “the blooming flowers filled the air with the freshness of spring,” or, “the flavor of the apple pie reminded her of her grandmother’s cooking, tart and sweet at the same time.” How do you show this? The point is, three other senses are not represented visually or audibly that can be described in a book. So, awareness of the environment is lost in translation when going to film.
Recently I treated myself to an HTC Vive and must say I am blown away by the experience of Virtual Reality. Looking around, and having stuff happen behind you, takes entertainment to a whole new level of immersion. If you have not tried it, I cannot recommend it enough.
But as good as it is, something is still missing. It’s not a complete experience. It's not the end game. To get that, we need something that generates smells and a suit that can apply pressures to our skin. And we need a way to not run into walls. I believe these options are being worked on, and I am not complaining, but I can’t wait. Actually, I want the holodeck, but… baby steps.
So a book cannot generate any of these senses, but they all get equal weight when giving you cues to conjure up a mental representation of them. Nothing can compete with imagination, and although a picture may be worth a thousand words, they are not the best words.
Spheria is officially available today on Amazon and for order from fine bookstores everywhere. After three interesting years of craftsmanship, I present to the world my debut novel. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed the process of writing it.
I've already begun the plot to the sequel. Hopefully I can get it out to you a little quicker this time, since I know what I am doing now.
Don't believe me? Now I have proof!
UPS brought me a gift today, the first ever hot off the printing press copies of my novel Spheria. It looks better in print than even the electronic copy.
Here is a video of me opening them for the first time. They look awesome!
September 3 is right around the corner. If you are holding out for a hard copy, this is what you have in store for you.
The Big E is the largest fair in New England and the 5th largest in the United States. It covers all six of the New England states and happens in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
There is a dedicated building for each state in New England. I will be appearing twice in the Connecticut building where the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Associations runs a booth. Stop by, say hi, and if you want get a signed copy of Spheria!
See you there!
I am so close I can smell the paper! Spheria is targeted to be published on September 3, 2016!!!
It would be very helpful to kick off my launch with what they call "Day 1 reviews". So if you are interested in helping me out, and have some free time the last two weeks in August, please let me know.
It works like this:
Thanks everyone in advance for your help!
I am expecting to have the Spheria final edit complete by the end of the week. I am therefore seeking beta readers for the final stage. If this is something you would like to do, and are an avid sci-fi reader, please let me know.
Feedback I am looking for:
- any sections, chapters, paragraphs that are boring or confusing.
- any continuity issues.
- any plot holes.
- any character issues, questionable actions or dialog.
- any fact violations.
If interested, and you can complete a read by the end of July, please email email@example.com.
Tonight I completed my second draft!!! As we would say in the games industry, the book is feature complete. I may be biased, but I really enjoyed reading through it from start to finish. I wrapped up all the plot points but left enough at the end to think about.
Next stop is my editor, who is already 40% through. Then beta readers. That should go fast.
Then it's off to publishing, which also should go fast, at least the eBook version. I am going to use Kindle Digital Publishing Select, which means the eBook will be an Amazon exclusive, at least for a while. Hopefully that will work for everyone.
The print version should also be available for Print On Demand. My target is no later than September, so I can attend the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association booth at the Big E, which is in the State building. Maybe I will see you there.