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I know, epistemology is the arcane study of knowledge. Epistemologists theorize how we know the difference between what is a justified belief and what is just opinion. And, I realize it originated way back before we mutually decided (against all reason) that everyone’s belief and opinion is equally valid. It is an old way of looking at what we know.
But, fiction writers have to know that, don’t we? Don’t we have to make our readers’ believe our story? People have been studying knowledge for so long that there are now many types of epistemology, but, luckily for us, three types suffice. To be believable, no element of our story can be obviously wrong, the story can’t contradict itself, and all the elements have to fit into the story -they have to “work.” Understanding these three basics makes our job easier.
Foundationalism: or, recognizing that all knowledge is based on accepted facts. Don’t write, “He leveled his semi-automatic rifle and held the trigger back until the clip was empty.” You’ll lose ex-soldiers, gun owners and anyone else who knows that you have to pull the trigger every time you fire a semi-auto.
Pro: Foundationalism is extremely precise. It draws a clear line between what is knowledge and what isn’t. As long as the facts are true and the logic is sound, we can be 100% sure of our reader’s acceptance.
Con: You have to be sure of your facts! If just one is false, then your reader may doubt more of the story.
Coherentism: Avoid contradictions. Don’t have your character “enter a triangular storage area” and then proceed to describe the contents of four corners. Actions are true so long as they are not self-contradictory.
Pro: Coherentism is flexible. It isn’t based on facts. It is the consistent logic of your creativity.
Con: Mere coherentism can fool you into too quickly believing your own “facts.” For example, you can write that unicorns are real and they live on Mars. This is not a self-contradiction. But it is a ridiculous claim unless other story elements strongly support it.
Pragmatism: If it works, it’s true. If your story elements work well for the purpose of your story, the reader will likely accept them. Otherwise, “Nope, that doesn’t make sense.”
Pro: Pragmatism avoids the problems of both foundationalism and coherentism. Pragmatists realize that human beings have limits and that our knowledge is always changing.
Con: It is hard to define “what works.” For example, the Greeks had many incorrect ideas about how the universe works, which we have since disproven. But the ideas were believed at the time, so they worked for then, but now, they are wrong. That’s pragmatism.
All of which is to justify saying that for your story to be believable, you have to know your facts, avoid contradictions and understand your readers’ beliefs.
Personally, I find Calvin’s approach appealing:
Lawyers, like doctors, are best avoided in their professional capacity but sometimes, even purveyors of the immortal word benefit from specific legal advice. If you think you might need it, remember that the initial consultation is usually free of any cost or commitment on your part.
Do I Really Need a Literary Attorney?
Yes, I would say, anytime the potential rewards are high, you may want someone on your side who understands how best to protect your interests. Here’s Arielle Ford’s brief explanation in the Huffington Post:
5 Top Legal Issues for Authors and Self-Publishers.
Sara Hawkins points out some reasons why today’s authors do seek legal advice, including the current buggery-boo of “What if it’s your work that’s taken?”
FAQs: Working With A Literary Lawyer.
OKAY, just what is a literary lawyer? This short article by Laura Resnick covers “what, why & how do I find one.” Something to be aware of, just in case, someday, you want to Google it.
Think positive. You just landed a movie contract for your book! Now, you do want an attorney, a literary attorney, someone who has the expertise and experience to protect you and to help you to get the most from this lifetime deal. How do you find one? Why, at Lawyers.com, of course.
A little knowledge about literary attorneys is worth filing away. Tuck it right next to the possibility that one day, your writing will be worth more than any attorney costs 🙂
Indie authors will continue to grow ebook share. Traditional publishers will continue to price their ebooks above market and will focus on print and audio sales in 2018. They will also continue to focus on their go-to franchises and signing authors who have a built-in audience (celebrities, politicians, successful indies). Indies will continue to fill the void by publishing high-quality, affordable ebooks and writing to niche audiences (something blockbusters cannot do as they require mass appeal). Bestselling romance author, Rachel Van Dyken says, “2018 is bound to be a year for books and a year for readers! Trends come and go but one thing I see coming back in a huge way is sci-fi and fantasy romance. Contemporary will always do well but I think readers are starting to get overwhelmed with the same old rom com with the similar fonts, colors, and titles. I say bring on the other genres—a great palette cleanser for 2018.” As authors like Rachel continue to stay ahead of the curve by innovating on content and design, and become ever more sophisticated at book publishing, readers will continue to shift ebook market share to indies. [Ricci, Written Word Media]
SOCIAL MEDIA Relevancy
Social media has become the main source of information for everyone. It is logical that people tend to filter content relevant to them in these platforms and ignore junks. Current authors should learn how to utilize social media smartly to leverage the power of these media. For example, setting up a high profile where their target audience is many to capture majority while they interact with the platforms. For instance, if you are doing public relation for a company, you need to build trust and address customers’ concerns to avoid being flagged as a scam in Facebook, Linkedin and Google Plus among others.
While longer books will never go away, shorter, focused content or short stories will pave the way for big new sales numbers in 2018. So what’s the average length of a short book or novella? Twenty-seven thousand words (give or take) or fifty pages. Book strategists insist that the reason these books take off is because, in the case of fiction, readers sometimes just like that quick story, with an uncomplicated plot and a quick reward at the end. In the case of non-fiction it’s generally very focused content.
Among the many ways to make money writing is to write for the media. If you want to know how to write for magazines, newspapers, television or the movies, Google it. Or get a degree in it. It’s old hat. But to write for virtual reality productions, you must have the Star Trek spirit and boldly go. The attractive thing is, you’ll be one of the early pioneers in a future tech.
First thing is, you’ll need a vehicle. I recommend an Oculus Go. At $199, it’s the starter headset in which to explore the worlds of VR. The Go comes with tons of free software. It seems evreyone with a message to share wants a presence in our heads.
Put the headset on and your markets will appear before -er, all around your very eyes. Tourists bureaus world wide, governments and NGOs, news outlets like CNN and The New York Times, video game makers and all manner of commercial interests. I, who hate commercials, now have a favorite one: The Jeep VR video that takes me on a ride along the California coast. I am riding inside the Jeep with two women talking about finding a good place to surf. The camera view pans out to give me a drone’s eye view of the terrain, an experience in itself because I seem to be flying and can look up & down & all around. I go with the surfers into the water, under crashing waves and then on top, surfing back to shore. I can’t come closer to surfing and stay dry.
Door No. 1 is Hulu’s live-action multiple choice comedy adventure about a ten-year high school reunion. The show puts the viewer into the middle of the action by making her or him a protagonist of the show.
Think about writing that short story for a sit-com. Your main character is one of the former students attending the reunion. He or she can see and hear everything around them, but can’t talk. You have to present multiple paths for your character to take. Your viewer will make the decisions for you by clicking on other characters with whom they want to interact during the story. And, of course, make many bad decisions along the way – it’s a high school reunion, after all.
For more details, see: https://variety.com/2018/digital/news/door-no-1-hulu-vr-trailer-1202798528/
And VR novels movies? Mind boggling. But that’s only because VR is an unexplored medium.
Available for a brief time only! Writing virtual reality stories is a chance for today’s writer to become a known writer in tomorrow’s history of writing. Be one of the first.
Click these links to learn more…
The World’s 54 Largest Publishers, 2017:
Leading online print book genres in the United States in 2017, by revenue
2018 Book Industry Predictions:
Amazon Author Rank:
Amazon’s relationship to you, as a writer:
AND, consider a new hobby for when you are successful:
(P.S. My hobbies are computer gaming and training cats to fly.)
“Being an author is a lonely business. It comes down to you and your computer, memorializing your words and then putting them in print, casting them upon the digital waves of the universe. It is lonely, but you don’t have to be alone. 20Booksto50k shows that we are in this together, and our goal is that you take what you learn here and climb to the next level in your author journey.”
– From the 20Booksto50k conference announcement:
“It’s Vegas Baby! November 6-8, 2018. A 20Booksto50k Educational and Networking Event”
“We are the indies, and 20Books is about indies supporting indies.”
I’m writing about this writers’ group because so many of them appear to be successful authors. Here’s a couple examples:
“Here are my results: I made $10k in my first 90 days, I’ve made $60k in 150 days, I’m on track to hit $300k this year – Obviously things can happen. My goal for March is $17,360. I’m projecting a gross of $25k this month – over $20k has been sold to date.
‘So what’ I’ve been told. You got lucky, your writing is crap – it’s poorly edited, you need to do better. You need to do this, you need to do that. To those I would suggest that the ONLY one who has a vote is the person who pays you and pays me. The reader.”
– Michael Anderle
Author Craig Martelle reports monthly income for the year ending March 2018 at about $15,000, with the lowest month under $10,000 and the highest over $20,000.
The 20Booksto50k Facebook site is crammed full of very specific experiences from authors. Many make their living by writing, others are on their way to doing so.
Just sayin’, it can be done 🙂