TKZ Wants To Know: Topic Suggestions For The Zone?

Question mark   By TKZ Admin

It’s time for us to seek some input from the TKZ community. Are there any topics or questions that you’d like to see discussed here at the blog in future posts? Please let us know in the Comments.

We look forward to hearing from you!

50 thoughts on “TKZ Wants To Know: Topic Suggestions For The Zone?

  1. The statistics for making money or even breaking even in Indie self publishing are grim at best. I am experiencing that as I type. However. What about marketing Indie…promotion out-of-the-box.

  2. Antagonists and antagonistic forces generally, and whether it’s possible/advisable in a thriller (as opposed to a mystery) to have two antagonists, one of whom turns out to be a good guy.

    Apparently the film ERASER does the latter, but I can’t get it in Mexico.

  3. My topic suggestion may be clunky but here goes:

    If I had to name the ONE thing that defies me the most, it is how to store research material and be able to sort it and therefore retrieve it when I need it. What I’m NOT asking is WHERE to store it–meaning not a “Scrivener/Word/3 Ring Binder” answer.

    Let me ‘splain where I’m coming from (maybe it’s all just mental deficiency on my part!): I have a series of historical books I want to write spanning a number of decades. That requires a LOT of research: state history and characters, national and international politics and events, the nitty gritty of specific details. As you can imagine, that comes from online sources, books, articles, etc.

    I have a research folder with subfolders broken down by more specific areas. Even so, it’s hard to navigate that much info when you need to find something. But even if I were writing thrillers or suspense, I’d have the same problems–you figure you need info on weapons, various agencies, etc etc.

    Maybe I’m simply the writer with the world’s worst memory, but I simply don’t know how to efficiently organize & retrieve the research.

    Too bad I can’t sit down with one of the non-fic writers who made certain subject matter their life’s work in books like Bruce Catton on the Civil War, etc.

    • Have you considered taking your research and turning it into an ebook for yourself, with headings as your table of contents for easy retrieval?

    • I’m sorta of right there with you, BK. I am a packrat about cutting stuff out (real papers and on line) but I am awful about finding where I put the darn stuff. I have ring binders, file drawers (real not cyber) and Word doc folders galore. But I always seem to misplace just the one thing I need. Which is weird…because everything else in my life is well organized and easily retrievable. (Yes, I am one of those people who fold towels just so and keep my clothes organized by color).

      But man, when that right brain calls, I lose it.

    • Hi, BK,
      I have a possible solution to the “where’d I put that?” frustration.
      The books I write require research into Civil War attitudes, federal and territorial law, politics, life in general, women’s issues, and more. I have files in directories on my hard drive, paper files, handwritten notes, reprints and photocopies from the Montana Historical Society, and the Idaho and Montana law libraries, and electronic notes in OneNote on my pc.
      Four years ago I went through every file folder or directory and listed what was in each folder, then put each item, together with the folder it’s in, into a Word table. items in the wrong folders, I put into the correct folders. When I needed a new folder, I made one. The master table proved invaluable when I had to refresh my memory while I was writing the 4th book.
      Having collected more stuff and finished the current WIP, it’s time to do it again.
      Time-consuming? Definitely. Sometimes I stop to read the things in the folders, which slows down the process, and that’s fun but not helpful to the main objective.
      But when I need to refresh my memory, or understand an abstruse point of 1870’s law so my protagonist (a lawyer) will get it right (nisi prius, anyone?), I can find the paper or file that clarifies it for me.
      I have the Word table on my hard drive, backed up in two external drives, and a paper copy. 17 years of research is too valuable to lose.
      Hope this gives you a starting place for your own solution.

      • Carol, that sounds like a good plan. You’re exactly right. All the research is valuable, particularly when I’m using it to write a series of books.

        Between yours and Sue’s recommendations, at least it gives my overworked brain a different tactic to try! THANKS!

        • Happy to have helped, BK. Don’t overlook OneNote, either. Like Joe Moore says, it’s a good tool for organizing notes. I use it, but ultimately all the OneNote notes get a listing in my Word table.

    • BK, it sounds like Microsoft OneNote would be perfect for you. With OneNote you can store anything all in one place: notes, videos, audio, web links, photos, scans, etc. Check it out.

      • I have OneNote but use it sporadically. I find it good to use to “store stuff’ but don’t find it that helpful in organizational/retrieval.

  4. D. Owen Powell’s remark above reminds me of something else. Having recently ‘attended’ some online lectures re: marketing related to writing (albeit primarily non-fiction focused) they brought up the subject of creating other revenue streams other than just your books.

    Is that gaining any traction in the fiction realm and how?

    • What were some examples of that in nonfiction, BK? Would that be things like workshops, paid speaking engagements, that sort of thing? Maybe a calendar based on the books’ themes? Customized mugs? Just guessing here…

      • I haven’t had a chance to visit those speakers’ websites, but yes, Kathryn–I do believe it was along the lines of speaking engagements, workshops, online courses, T-shirts…..

  5. Sorry, another one: Even though aspects of it are covered from time to time, I’m always interested in every angle and every spin I can get on writing series fiction. Especially series fiction that doesn’t follow a more general formulaic model.

  6. I have been browsing the blog for quite a while now and I do have to say there is a perplexing absence of genre-specific topics. For example, while I unreservedly appreciate and hope to benefit from all the expertise on structure, premise, theme, dialogue, etc., few posts seem to deal with the way these topics specifically apply to murder mysteries. Perhaps this shortcoming can be mitigated in the near future.

    You gentlemen do a fine job, all in all. This is meant merely as refinement.

      • Thanks for the heads!

        I value your weekly input around here and have also purchased a number of your books on craft. On a sidenote, have you had a chance to preview Robert McKee’s new tome on dialogue?

        I have one minor criticism to bother you with, though I harbour no illusions whatsoever regarding its effectiveness. You overindulge on the Christian proselytism/apologetics, albeit in a quasi-stealthy fashion. I do realize that is your prerogative – it really is – but I just cannot let that go unreformed.

        Otherwise, your books and posts are uniformly great. Thanks.

        • Sorry, a rather pesky and misleading typo there. Where it says “unreformed” it should read “unnoticed”.

          My apologies.

  7. By far the best blog for writers rhat I’ve found. I love the specific info about craft and especially enjoy seeing these tips put into action in the First Page Critiques. For me TKZ is excellent as is, but I understand the desire to change and look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    • Not so much changing as sourcing new ideas to keep things interesting, useful, and fresh. ? Thanks, Nancy!

  8. How a bout audio books? Basil Sands used to be a regular commenter on this blog and has many audio book recordings under his belt. He could be a good resource.

  9. In addition to co-writing, which PJ and Joe are covering I believe, I’d love to read about crafting the perfect pitch to literary journals and magazines. What we need to know, what we need to say or do, as well as the best way and time to follow-up.

    • Also, selling and licensing to libraries. I watched an excellent webinar on the topic, but they always leave information unavailable until you buy the course. If you could fill in the gaps, that would be awesome. Specifically: library codes (where to find them), cataloging (how to find this info.), and crafting the perfect pitch.

      • Sue,

        Former cataloguing and research librarian here.

        Regarding “library codes,” are you trying to identify names and addresses of individual libraries? Let me know and I may be able to locate a source for you.

        Library cataloguing info is readily available online. There are two cataloguing systems used for public and academic libraries in the United States: The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system, used especially by many public libraries and colleges; and the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system. Institutions with very large collections often use or migrate to LLC, because of it allows for more expansive classifying. Also, LCC is a North American cataloguing and classification system shared with Canada and Great Britain. See sources below:

        Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system

        1 For a 38-page summary with good basic info:

        2) A Project Gutenberg ebook with detailed classification categories:

        3) A one-page cheat sheet:

        Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system

        1) A one-page outline of the LCC system. Each category is hotlinked to a detailed breakdown.

        • Wow. Thank you so much! This helps a lot.

          Yes, I need the library codes for libraries across the nation, preferably ones where the city/town has a large population so their budget is bigger. Is there a list somewhere?

  10. I would like to see a writing prompt every now and then. Post a horrific photo and the authors at killzoneblog will each write a 50 word or less mini story. 😀

    We love your advice, but let’s see how you write under pressure!


  11. The reason I read TKZ is for the professionals here. I circulate around the indie community a lot, but so many people operate like amateurs that I find it discouraging. I mean, there’s only so much you can learn from an author with one or two books out.

    Here at TKZ, you guys have been doing this for years, indie and trad. You have valuable viewpoints about the market, writing as a profession, and the overall business. I’m endlessly fascinated by it.

  12. I would love to see two topics discussed on TKZ. The first is tips on incorporating backstory – when is too soon, how much is too much, and how to be smoooooth about it.
    The second topic is narrative in 3rd person vs. other types of POV – same goal as for backstory.
    And thank you for everything all of you do on this blog. Speaking for myself, I truly appreciate your time and consideration for a new writer.

  13. I love TKZ and it’s improved me as a writer.

    I’m correcting problems in my writing as suggested by my first reader in my 7th book at the moment. I’ve noticed that I’ve used the word “that” excessively and I still struggle with comma versus semicolon in my writing. I’ll search the archive, but it’s a pretty specific grammar question. UGH.

    I’d love to see once or twice a year, a blog post on what works with advertising.

    Thanks for the Herculean effort producing this blog, you’re all fantastic!

  14. How about revised First Page Critiques. Some of the first pages are interesting, and I wonder what happens after the critique. Does the author take the advice? Does the author finish the book? If advice is taken, and the page is rewritten, it might be interesting to see the finished (or at least next stage) product. It wouldn’t be possible to do it with all of them, but some would be nice.

    Also – Did everyone receive big fat settlements on their Nook, Kindle or whatever with the recent iBooks price fixing settlement? (I was surprised at how much I got. I must have bought a lot of books.) How to spend? On what?

    • What, they’re rebating MONEY? I buy tons of Kindle books, have yet to see one thin dime from the iBook gang.??

      • “E-book consumers who purchased a copy from any of the involved publishers between April 1, 2010 to May 21, 2012 will receive the credits through their accounts in major book retailing online shops, which include Barnes & Noble Inc., Inc., Kobo Inc. and, of course, Apple.

        These companies will simultaneously issue emails to notify users about the changes as well as add the calculated amount to their accounts: New York Times bestselling titles will be compensated with $6.93 while other titles will be awarded $1.57.” – TechTimes

        The credits went out last week, or started to. I received over $ 100 in my B & N account. Nothing on Amazon yet, but I probably didn’t buy any Kindle books during that time period.

    • Oh that’s interesting–I too, like the idea of a follow up on a first page critique.

  15. Above all, thank you to the contributors who write such enlightening posts. The recent discussion of plot and structure as well as the discussions of plotting or pantsing have been thought-provoking and helpful as I continue to work toward a methodology that produces the best books I can write, and to become a better writer.

  16. I’d like to see a blog on Writer’s Groups. I belong to one that is disappointing in structure and leadership. What are the qualifications for starting a writer group and what should be included? I prefer a group that meets in person versus online. Thanks!

  17. What about something on subplots? How to weave a good subplot into the story? What should the author avoid when introducing a subplot?
    I love reading TKZ – so many useful and interesting posts and comments, and I look forward to seeing many of the above suggestions addressed over the next several weeks.

  18. Another one: I know book reviews have been discussed here before so maybe I missed this particular aspect. I was just reading something someone posted on FB encouraging readers to write reviews (sensible) but stating it is not necessary to read the whole book to write a review.

    Is this how people commonly approach this? Seems like a gigantic lack of integrity to me.

  19. Hi. I have been reading so much advice that I am worried I am losing my voice. I re-think every sentence and every word and I think my writing is actually becoming stilted. Can we please have a blog on how to find the right balance? Thanks – love this blog!

  20. I want to see Larry and Jim duke it out over which is the most important point in your novel – the First Plot Point or the Midpoint. And I don’t want any cop out that both views are valid, or they all end up in the same place, or it’s a matter of personal preference, or any of that nonsense.. I want to see blood 🙂

  21. How about discussing masculine fiction from authors like London. I think men in general need to rediscover or be taught masculine virtues and fiction is a good medium to accomplish that. The feminization of all areas of life has been a disaster not only for men, but women too, and it needs to be resisted.

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