As mentioned yesterday, you get a bonus post this week. Another post from Wilmar Luna who shares his answers to some interview questions 🙂 If you missed yesterday’s post from Wilmar, you can find it here
Q01 – When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
I first began writing stories featuring my friends and I at the age of 12. Since I was a video game addict, I often imagined my online amigos as thieves, detectives, elite Special Forces commandos, and anything else that would require a team. I was often the main protagonist and had a tendency to write myself as the guy who got to be with his high school crush. Sounds kind of pathetic now that I think about it. (No, the high school crush was not meant to be. Dodged a bullet with that one.)
It was a hobby, it was fun, and my friends enjoyed my stories, sloppy formatting and all. Not once did I consider writing as a career even as I continued making up stories to this day.
That changed around 2002, a few months before the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey McGuire came out. I had written a story about a woman who receives a nanosuit which transforms her into a super human. At the time, I just thought this to be another story for the slush pile, but as the years went by that one story never left my mind.
I kept seeing that Wonder Woman was always second fiddle when Batman or Superman was around. Black Widow, second fiddle to Captain America and Iron-man. Rarely was there a film or a comic where the men were second fiddle to the women. People like to extoll Wonder Woman as a feminist icon, but as soon as Superman enters the picture, all focus and decisions are on him.
I was also constantly disappointed by the porn star treatment of the female superheroes. Wonder Woman is an amazon with muscles, but her physique is inconsistent depending on the artist. Even She-Hulk, a woman with the name Hulk at the end, is often drawn as a tall volleyball player. Yet, Superman and Batman are almost always guaranteed to be drawn with their idealized, muscular physiques.
And here I was, sitting on a character that was muscular because she needed to be, the decision maker, the lead in her own book, and what was I doing with said character? Letting her collect dust on the shelf.
Once I decided to open Pandora’s Box, there was no turning back. I wanted to tell more stories in different genres and publish them to share with the world. In truth, I just want to be a story teller and writing was one of the options available to me.
Q02 – Did you find people supportive when they found out you were a writer?
Oh absolutely. Friends and family completely supported me in becoming a writer. My girlfriend has on many occasions, allowed herself to suffer my constant discussions around brainstorming ideas.
Now if I said I was going to be a writer full-time and quit my job? That would be a different story.
Q03 – Would you ever want to see a story of yours turned into a movie?
Every story I write is always imagined first as a movie. When I went to college, I had studied video editing, television production, and creating special FX using After Effects and other animation/compositing software. The visual medium is in my blood, so my books will always be written with the hope that they would someday turn into movies. However! And this is an important however. A great book will always be superior to a great movie. I will always prefer The Shining novel over the movie. Cue the booing.
Q04 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Coming up with ideas that enhance the story. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but not all of them make sense in the context of your novel. Anyone can write a great action scene where the protagonist goes to kill a character. I can write one up right now and have it done in less than an hour. But when people ask why the protagonist killed the character, those questions are infinitely harder to answer through writing.
Also, I receive many compliments on my action scenes, but here’s a dirty little secret: Writing them is tedious and often my least favorite part to write. When they work, they work, but getting them to that level is boring.
Q05 – How do you make time to write?
I have an hour and a half commute from my home to my job in New York City. I take the train. That’s pretty much the majority of my writing time these days. For any commuting authors, I use a fairly cheap laptop that I DON’T connect to the Internet while riding the train. It’s much easier to avoid distractions when connecting will eat up your data plan and money. Once I get to work, I connect to the Wi-Fi, let the documents sync to my Microsoft OneDrive folder, and voila. My work is backed up and accessible on the cloud. If I want to write on lunch break or on my home PC before bed, I can do so.
Q06 – You’ve written a few books now, looking back, what would you have done differently?
This is a tough question, only because I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I guess the one thing I would wonder is, if I had hired a different editor, instead of a writer moonlighting as an editor, could I have avoided the problems that plagued the first book? The truth is I was inexperienced and fumbling around with things I did not understand.
I should have read more, written more (no publishing, just practice), and spent more time hiring the right editor who would build me up rather than tear me down. Editors are the harbingers of doom so make sure to hire the nicest one.
Q07 – Can you give the readers some details on when to hire an editor and what is expected when dealing with an editor?
Picking the right editor is the single most important part of your writing process and should never, ever be taken lightly. You may think your manuscript is solid and simply needs some copy editing and proofreading, you’re wrong. Only authors with books under their belt and years of experience can bypass a developmental edit, but if this is your first rodeo, you’re going to get bucked.
So it is in your best interest to hire a developmental editor first. For those of you new to the process, the developmental editor analyses and fixes structural problems with the book. Plot holes, empty character motivations, unclear goals, a story that doesn’t make any damn sense, or worse, is boring as hell.
A copy editor works with language. They will enhance your sentences, make them punchier, add clarity, and generally make you sound like a genius.
The proof reader will look for misplaced commas, missing periods, typos, and generally does the spit shine on your manuscript.
Depending on where your strengths lie will determine on who you need to hire. If you’re great with words, maybe you don’t need the copy editor.
If you’re great at spotting mistakes, skip the proof reader.
If you plot your story down to a tee before you ever put a single character on the manuscript, skip the developmental editor. (This won’t be many of you.)
But this is your first time right? You might have to do all three. If you have a weakness in one area and you don’t pay an editor to help you fix it, you will pay for that mistake in the reviews. Go ahead, don’t listen to me, see what happens for yourself. Learn the hard way if you have to, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
For those of you taking this matter seriously, here’s what you can expect when working with an editor.
Weeks or sometimes months of silence. I generally prefer weekly updates when I hire a new contractor and will request these updates in the contract. The more I begin to trust a contractor, the less I need in terms of updates. The most important thing you need to do is have the ability to get your money back. Get receipts, sign contracts, request invoices, use Paypal so you can request your money back if they fail to deliver.
Assuming everything is all well and dandy. You’ll get your manuscript back. There will be notes, lot’s of notes, heart breaking notes, notes that you don’t want to read, notes that make you angry with yourself, notes that make you think you shouldn’t be a writer. This is all going to happen and depending on your editor, it’s going to suck.
This is the time to ask your editor questions, discuss their objections, brainstorm solutions, and then at the end of the day, write again. Your manuscript will be stronger, trust me.
Q08 – What challenges or difficulties did you encounter when writing your novels?
Continuity is a b-word. It grows and grows into a tangled spaghetti mess of cause and effect where EVERY detail must be accounted for. If the protagonist was shot in the winter and in the follow up novel a character says the protagonist was shot in the summer, that’s going to confuse your readers.
Q09 – What is the single best piece of advice you could give to new writers?
Allow yourself to fail. You’re not going to come out of the gate writing like Stephen King without suffering a few setbacks. Failing is what teaches us to become better writers. Do your best to write your manuscript to the best of your ability and let it go. You will either learn to write better or realize that writing is not for you.
Q10 – Are there any authors you would love to meet in person?
Stephen King, obviously, but if I was going to pick someone that’s a bit more obscure, I would love to meet Kevin J. Miller. He’s the author of Raven One and was a former Navy fighter pilot. Since I love military jets and aircraft, meeting him would be awesome.
Q11 – Tells us why you love writing.
Writing allows me to pretend that my dreams are real. What more do you need?
Q12 – In your novels, who is your favourite character and why?
It is, and will always be, Cindy Ames, the Silver Ninja. After spending over a decade with this character in my thoughts, watching her change and grow into a fully fleshed out character, how can she not be? She’s cunning, resourceful, heroic, vain, vindictive, impulsive, caring.
Thanks again to Wilmar for contributing to this blog. My next guest post will be next Tuesday and I’ll be back on Friday with a new post myself.
NB: Picture is supplied by guest poster.