Fictionistas Office Hours take place on the last Tuesday of every month, starting at 7am EST and running throughout the day… or night, depending on where you reside on this little globe of ours. Come and go as you please. It’s an opportunity to meet other fiction writers on Substack, ask and answer questions about writing fiction, and share ideas about how to improve the community. Here are a couple discussion starters if you’re feeling shy:
What are your thoughts on the new Notes feature of Substack?
What is your white whale project (a question inspired by Geoffrey Golden)?
What is your favorite thing about Fictionistas?
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I’ve had a couple of ideas floating in my head for stories to write since I was a teenager, but since I haven’t invested the time to write them yet, I’m going to start blogging writing more short stories, while helping my wife make her own novel idea a reality. I figure that’s a great way for us to spend time together!
I thought Notes would be just more noise, but it's actually a nice way of having off the cuff hats
Creeping featuritis is never a good sign. I'd be happier if they would give us series navigation and then stop.
Of course, I imagine half of us also want them to add one more feature and then stop, and its a different feature every time.
Notes seems interesting. It looks like it can be a decent alternative to Twitter for those who know how to navigate it and have enough readers/followers to make it worth it. Because I noticed some people introducing themselves and their work, I tried doing the same thing to see if I could have any luck with it, but it didn't really work. Perhaps it needs to be given more time, but hopefully it doesn't become driven solely by popularity or algorithms.
What I like about Fictionistas is how it's given many different writers a chance to both post advice on writing and share their own fiction. It's also great to see how supportive people are of each other's work.
I'm sure we'll get lots of feedback on Notes (which is great!), so I'm going to talk about my white whale project. Geoffrey brought this up in the monthly zoom meeting, and it was a really interesting question. I think it's a better way to frame the "what would you do, if you could do anything" question because it leaves room for the imagination. It's like, what's not entirely out the realm of possibility, but still far-fetched. I would love to turn one of my short stories into a short film. I don't know any of the really technical aspects of filmmaking, but I could learn the ones I need to direct and communicate my vision. To really make it a white whale, I would need it to be featured on the Dust YouTube channel:
Someone posted about sharing something they’d written on Notes. I really, really hope people don’t start using it that way, or for self-promotion in any way. Notes needs to be place where contributors can chat about the process of writing, its difficulties and solutions, its challenges and rewards, not an endless stream of ‘Please tell me what you think of my writing’ clogging up the discourse about writing and writers. (And, too often, I feel, rather inviting the response that frankly I think your writing is thin, solipsistic and onanistic rubbish. And your grammar stinks. But maybe I’m a really tough critic, and just a terrible person altogether!)
There are lots of places where people can post their work for critique. Please, everyone, let’s keep Notes purely for the high standard of writer-to-writer support and information which is already emerging on Notes.
Everything seems like a white whale project in the beginning, but I'd love to self-publish my first book this year. There are so many horror stories about self-publishing, and I'd like to learn enough to make a decent run at it instead of just posting something and hoping it works.
On Notes, I like the idea of a Twitter specifically designed to get people to subscribe to Substacks, but the feed isn’t super compelling to me right now. It feels a bit like LinkedIn for newsletter writers and I already have a Discord for that.
My white whale changes, but currently it’s either an interactive movie along the lines of Bandersnatch or a retro VCR board game like Atmosfear.
My white whale: first, to write a well-paced, compelling novel that explores the awful power of the unintended consequences of our fascination with technology, and then for that to get made into a film. Why not dream big?
Hey @Fictionistas and friends- hope all is well wherever you may be.
Re. Notes... perhaps a useful feature we could provide would be a sub-note devoted to upcoming literary mag deadlines, contests, awards, writers' retreats and so on, both on and off of the stacks.
I'm sure everyone here has had the experience of getting ready to submit somewhere and missing the deadline by a day... sigh.
I know the goal of Substack is to keep and promote the content on Substack, but the outside world is still going to exist, so we might as well benefit from it. I am sure many of you have also felt countless hours of your lives have been spent not very efficiently checking various writers' boards, fora and Submittable or Moksha lists, etc etc... If a dedicated Fictionistas note on this topic could be maintained by anyone willing to contribute, it could be of great common value to all of us. Maybe someday Substack will even be in a position ot organize fiction writers' retreats. We cannot achieve more than we can wish for. Just my twp cents, happy writing, all.
I've written an article detailing my thoughts regarding Substack Notes, both praises and concerns.
Hey there folks, I just started Vision Quest, a serialized story about two brothers who experience the loss of their families and embark on a cross-country motorcycle trip on Harleys searching for meaning.
Readers can choose to read the stories individually or in sequence. It’s like a TV show with episodes. Each story gradually adds details about the main character’s so regular readers will learn more about them and understand why they behave as they do. For more information, see: https://scottocamb.substack.com/p/vision-quest
I'm kind of loving Notes because it lets me find interesting topics/people across a wide range of topics, instead of narrow curation.
My white whale project: a series that has a huge ensemble cast and takes place behind the scenes shooting a television show (something I know well). Completely a bad business decision for any company to take on, but I love working on it between and around other writing that actually allow me to keep a roof over my head and food on the table.
Favorite thing about Fictionistas? The very cool people working on great projects.
So far, Notes seems to be mostly civil. I saw one person trying to stir up drama Twitter style, but nobody else was having it.
I am hanging out observing Notes for now before I dive in. It looks promising so far.
On Notes, I still don't really understand them - they honestly make no sense to me. Then again I run 4 Substacks and my audiences don't really overlap that much, so for me they probably never will make a lot of sense. But if others are finding them useful and fun, that's great.
As for a white whale, I really just want to get my two series moving out the door. I'm actually stuck near the end of two novels and have little time and energy to finish, and that bums me out because I really want to be the person with 7-8 novels published right now. But eventually they will all get written and then a publisher will pick them up and make me a superstar who can pick and choose between showrunners for my own Netflix series (basically, I want the people who made Outlander).
My favorite thing about Fictionistas (a question few people are answering (!!!) is how engaged our community is, and how many people are getting involved to expand and grow our group to the point where we're not a bunch of people reading a Substack but an actual community with people who help and encourage each other and build amazing things. I value each and every one of you!
I'll start off by saying I like Fictionistas because of the community and the opportunity to see various articles of interest. The prompts are fun too, although I can't always get into them too much with such specificity. More general works better for me as it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Still, fun to connect.
Notes is the wrong direction for Substack and I wish they had stayed true to their core. With each new feature, they are pushing Substack into a more closed community. To some extent that’s inevitable because its is a platform, but as it closes itself off more, it becomes another tool for writers to support writers. That’s not at its core a bad thing, but I fear Substack will eventually become like Twitter’s writing community where the support is just for the sake of support and not for the actual writing.
I think we could all benefit from an influx of outside readers whose principal motive is to read the work. Those folks exist of course, and are present, but if Substack continues to push the social media Ouroboros model, they may find themselves on the outside looking in at a party to which they’re not invited.
My favorite thing about Fictionistas is finding new writers.
I've enjoyed Notes but agree with most of the criticism of it, this is definitely feature creep which is never a good sign and shouldn't have happened ideally. But a social media with a narrow focus is more my style, kind of like Miiverse but for writers instead of Nintendo games. I don't mind that it's mainly for writers rather than readers because the limited audience is a feature to me, not a bug like it is to others.
My white whale project is Battles Beneath the Stars as an actual fighting game. The details of it keep changing in my mind, there are mechanics I've thought of that I've kept out of the guide sections of it for simplicity. And I am getting some fighting game making experience. But it's such a difficult genre to make, especially on your own. I'd have to either get a team somehow or learn 3d modeling + animation myself.
As an aside to that, the other elaborate dream game concept is a massive crossover game, with both fighting and everyone hanging out together in a little town. So basically Smash Bros and Disney Dreamlight Valley fused together. It'd have to be a fan game to match the dream, which makes it doubly impractical.
Writing itself feels within my power, even if it will take a lot of research to do right (hi Dracula sequel idea). So that's why my white whales involve video games, they're a much more difficult medium to work with. Meanwhile the story evading me since Middle School is something I know I'll be able to catch one day.
My favorite thing about Fictionistas is the zoom chats, always sad when I miss them. And I like these threads.
I'm new here to this Substack, so enjoying getting to meet other writers and scroll through comments. I like that you run these threads.
I had to Google what a white whale project is 😂 I'm not in business so that wasn't a term I'd ever come across.
I'm 50:50 on Notes. I've been really enjoying some of the threads and chats on there, but I'm very conscious that it can become a time-sink (I had a few days where I kept coming back to it, and I've never ever done that with any social media) plus I also worry to what extent it's becomming writer-centric and how many reader-only users are on there and using it and how that aligns with the original purpose, or if it had an original purpose. Enjoying seeing it evolve though, but am going to limit my time because I truly love the slower pace of reading posts when they arrive in my inbox and getting the occasional notification of a response to a comment thread.
Note: well, I've poked around at it a few times. Found a thread that interested me. I really try to limit my time to any social media and the notes feature has that feel. That said, as a person without any writer friends in my inner circle it is nice to just pop in and see other writers talking about writer stuff.
White Whale: I think my current project would certain apply, in the sense that whatever is in front of me is my main focus. I had to actually think about this question this afternoon. I don't think I'm dreaming big enough. So, after some journaling I will say that I would like be eventually seen as a prolific writer, on that is paid for her writing, to me known internationally as a writer of fiction that stirs the creative mind as well as the soul.
My favorite thing about Fictionistas: is the community. I enjoy all the different contributors, the volunteers that make this space possible. It has helped me come out of my writing shell and I hope to some day assist or be a part of something here rather than just a fly on the wall.
I haven't really used notes yet. Haven't figured out what I want to do yet. Share books as I list them in my Etsy shop, photographs, or micro film diaries. Ha!
My white whale project is to complete my book of Micro and Flash stories.
This is my first toe dip into Fictionistas but I am loving what I see so far!