MY PERSONAL THREAD FOR WRITING TIPS THAT I COULD USE IN THE FUTURE AND IF STRANGERS FIND THEM HELPFUL, THAN THAT’S GOOD. SOME THREADS COME FROM TUMBLR THAT I WILL LINK THE SOURCES TO
[TUMBLE ACCOUNT: brynwrites]
What to do when you can’t stop rewriting.
The tl;dr of my suggestion: Stop changing things . Here’s a more detailed explanation of how this might work during the course of the writing process:
1. Write your rough draft all the way through without rereading or rewriting anything. This isn’t the best approach for all writers, but if you’re finding yourself trapped in a cycle of rewriting things before the rough draft is finished, then this is something you should most definitely follow to the letter. If you feel like something needs to be adjusted or changed, write a note and keep moving forward.
2. Give yourself a break after the rough draft. Step away from your story for at least 30 days and write something else. I like to take longer breaks and write a full novel during them, but short stories or daily exercises or outlining for future projects is also good. Getting away from your rough draft and focusing on something else will let you return to it with a fresh mind, and you may find that the ideas you wrote in your notes during the rough drafts aren’t actually the changes you want to be making.
3. Only let yourself rewrite anything twice prior to collecting feedback. The more you work on the same part of your story, the more you lose the ability to figure out what needs to be done with it. If you’ve rewritten your opening twice since your rough draft without doing a beta reading round, and you have another idea for it, write that in a note and ask your betas if they think its a good idea once they’ve read the whole manuscript.
4. Ask your beta readers whether you should change things. If you have three beta readers and all three of them say your scene is fine how it is then it’s fine. Leave it be.
5. Recognize that there’s often no “right answer” when it comes to fiction. You may have an concept you think is more interesting than your last idea, but unless it’s patching a plot hole or fixing a confusion your beta readers had over something, then it’s not better – it’s just differen t. You might as well save that new idea and write a full new book people can enjoy, so then you have two books instead of just one.
6. Let things “be bad”. If you find flaws in a something you’ve already rewritten many times before, the best plan of action is generally to figure out why that flaw exists and determine not to let it appear in your future novels, and then let it be in this one. Every novel you write will be better than the last one.
It’s always better to write one bad novel, then one mediocre novel, then one good novel, then one great novel, then spent the same number of years rewriting the same novel from scratch five or six times in an attempt to reach a standard you may never hit within your lifetime.
7 / 2018
[The Best Writing Advice I Have Received]
TUMBLR ACCOUNT: therealjimkaragkounis
The advice listed below has been found all over the internet and has been given to me by multiple people, so it’s inevitable to list all of them for each piece. Most of the writing advice that has worked for me has come from Anne Rice, [@jennamoreci], [@shaelinwrites] Brandon Sanderson and Stephen King.
Write what you want to read. This one is probably, hands down, the most important tip that has been given to me and the one that I will give to writers again and again and again. My passion falls with the supernatural and to hell if I’m going to be stopped from writing it because it doesn’t sell as well as a decade ago. Trends change and it is useless to write according to them, because the work will most likely lack passion. When you write what you want to read, you are in love with the story, which is often enough to drive you to finish your work. Finishing a book is hard. Editing a book is harder. But if you are in love with the story, if it’s the story you always wanted to find, if it’s the story you always needed when you were younger, you have times ten the motivation to finish it.
The best way out of writer’s block is through. This, normally, wouldn’t have made the list. But I have a terrible case of writer’s block today. Despite that, I have already written more than 4500 words and plan to write around 2000 more before I go to sleep tonight. How can I do that without wanting to die? Go to the next tip.
Go where the pain is, go where the pleasure is. This is one is clearly an Anne Rice one. By her recommendation, writing about the things that hurt you is often a great way to deal with them and also a great way to provide the world with stories that have deeper meaning behind them. Most of my works deal with death in one way or another, which I discovered recently. Disconcerning as it may be, it makes for a great topic to build stories on. What happens after death? Is there a soul? How do my characters deal with grief? How does coming back from the dead changes someone as a person? What would an immortal think about himself, about his identity? Would he even have an identity since he ahs changed so many times through the centuries? I make my characters go through painful situations and tragedy, because it makes for compelling stories. When everyone can die at any page and that death changes the course of everything, it makes the reader keep reading. As for go where the pleasure is, this is how I deal with writer’s block lately. I don’t outline, save from the basic points of my story. So, when I feel like I’m not enjoying what I’m writing, I simply make something exciting happen. Make the story interesting for yourself, so it will be interesting to the reader.
Read a lot. I would like to change that to: Consume all kinds of media. Read books, listen to music, watch movies and TV shows, read poetry, look at art. You never know what will spark that creativity of yours and help you write. The real reason we put an emphasis on reading is because it also teaches how to write, not just how to tell stories. Prose, especially, and description can be taught through reading a lot and writing a lot. But I have found that watching TV shows helps a lot more with dialogue than many books.
The characters are more important than the plot. Always. Feel free to fight me on this, but I will sit through a terrible storyline if the characters are real, flawed and make me fall in love with them. But, on the flip side, you might have the most intelligent plot and I will be bored withing the first half hour if you don’t make me care about your characters. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to your plot, because you should. A great book should have both great characters and an incredible story. But don’t get so wrapped up in the plot of your book, that you forget to create characters your reader will care about or, at least, be interested in.
There’s a lot more advice I’ve seen over the internet like don’t use adverbs or if you use X and Y tropes your story immediately sucks or worship Satan to get a book deal , but I make an effort to take every piece of advice with a grain of salt and only apply it to my writing if I feel like it can help it and make it better.
TUMBLR ACCOUNT [brynwrites]
Writing through mental illness.
I have a tag here with all the motivational writing posts I’ve made. Some center around writing when you can’t seem to get yourself to do it, and a few are born directly from my own struggles as a writer with chronic anxiety and depression.
But I think the problem here might be that you are praying for the rain. Waiting and wishing the motivation and creativity will come is a viable strategy when you’re young, mentally healthy, and have boundless time and energy, but after that point, it will never truly work. It’s really hard to move forward from this, because your brain will tell you that if you have no inspiration, that you’re failing, that your words aren’t good enough, that you should stop .
Except your brain lies, trying to make up for the fact that it doesn’t (yet) know how to write if it can’t write the way it used to.
Professional writers don’t write good, creative words. They write terrible, awful words, often words they hate. Sometimes they write them slowly and sometimes they write them knowing they’ll throw them all out in the end. But they write them anyways.
So my advice is this: Don’t pray for rain. Write a desert.
Write the most terrible, horrible, awful sentence you can think of.
“She ran super fast up that big fat hill and it hurt.”
Now you have a sentence. It’s a terrible, horrible, awful sentence, but it’s there, and it’s yours, and you can fix it later.
Then you write another sentence just as awful.
You don’t write them for long. Maybe the first day you challenge yourself to write ten sentences. Ten sentences every day, five days a week. Then you write twenty. And then thirty.
The more you write, the more your brain forgets that it doesn’t know how to write without inspiration, and figures out that all the skill and knowledge and ability is still there, inside you.
You write much better, stronger words (sometimes), though you don’t always know it until you reread them.
You set small, reasonable goals, and work your way to bigger ones.
You take breaks (and plan breaks into your goal setting.)
You reward yourself when you hit those small, reasonable goals.
You don’t care that your words are terrible, horrible, awful words because that means you’re in league with the most genius writers of all time.
You’ll look back and find that as you wrote that desert, the storm blew up behind you.
Rain doesn’t bring writing. Writing brings the rain.
TUMBLR ACCOUNT: tlbodine
Narrative Distance: A Writing Exercise
Most people I think are pretty comfortable with the various POV options, but something I don’t see talked about very much is narrative distance.
When you’re writing in 3rd person, there are several degrees of “closeness” between the narrator and the character.
You can do close third person , which is basically first person but with he/she/they pronouns – this puts you deep in the POV character’s perspective, and the narration will be colored by that person’s thoughts, personality, experiences, opinions, etc.
Or you can do a more distant third person , which reports on a character’s actions more cinematically, focusing on what they do and say. You can even include their thoughts here, but you’ll write them more as observations than as deeply entwined in the narrative voice. You can think of this as the “over-the-shoulder” view.
Or, you can write true omniscient , where the narrator has their own voice and opinions and knowledge separate from the characters they’re reporting on (this was super common in Victorian fiction but has fallen out of style in the modern age). You can think of omniscient as the “god’s eye view.”
(There’s another version of omniscient, which might better be described as “alternating 3rd person” or “head-hopping,” which is really just a distant third that moves between multiple characters between scenes or chapters or even between paragraphs. Hopping within scenes is usually discouraged because it can be very chaotic and smacks of amateurism, but hey, if you can pull it off and want to do it, I won’t stop you)
So with those descriptions in mind, let’s see them in action! First, some examples from various books off my shelf:
Close Third: A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
They filled her bath with hot water brought up from the kitchen and scented it with fragrant oils. The girl pulled the rough cotton tunic over Dany’s head and helped her into the tub. The water was scalding hot, but Daenerys did not flinch or cry out. She liked the heat. It made her feel clean. Besides, her brother had often told her that it was never too hot for a Targaryen. “Ours is the house of the dragon,” he would say. “The fire is in our blood.”
The old woman washed her long, silver-pale hair and gently combed out the snags, all in silence. the girl scrubbed her back and her feet and told her how lucky she was. “Drogo is so rich that even his slaves wear golden collars. A hundred thousand men ride in his khalasar , and his palace in Vaes Dothrak has two hundred rooms and doors of solid silver.” There was more like that, so much more, what a handsome man the khal was, so tall and fierce, fearless in battle, the best rider ever to mount a horse, a demon archer. Daenerys said nothing. She had always assumed that she would wed Viserys when she came of age. For centuries the Targaryens had married brother to sister, since Aegon the Conqueror had taken his sisters to bride. The line must be kept pure, Viserys had told her a thousand times; theirs was the kingsblood, the golden blood of old Valyria, the blood of the dragon. Dragons did not mate with the beasts of the field, and Targaryens did not mingle their blood with that of lesser men. Yet now Viserys schemed to sell her to a stranger, a barbarian.
Here, we’re tight in Dany’s POV. Everything is filtered through her eyes, and her opinions are woven seamlessly into the narration. When “Viserys schemed to sell her to a stranger” is stated as bald fact, we know that this is Dany’s opinion, without ever being told explicitly that she’s thinking that.
(GRRM is a great example to study for this because each chapter in the ASOIAF books is written in close third for a different character, and you can see really clearly how the narrative voice changes for each character – I might do a whole post on this later)
Distant Third: Watership Down, Richard Adams
At the top of the bank, close to the wild cherry where the blackbird sang, was a little group of holes almost hidden by brambles. In the green half-light, at the mouth of one of these holes, two rabbits were sitting together side by side. At length, the larger of the two came out, slipped along the bank under cover of the brambles and so down into the ditch and up into the field. A few moments later the other followed.
The first rabbit stopped in a sunny patch and scratched his ear with rapid movements of his hind leg. Although he was a yearling and still below full weight, he had not the harassed look of most “outskirters” – that is, the rank and file of ordinary rabbits in their first year who, lacking either aristocratic parentage or unusual size and strength, get sat on by their elders and live as best they can – often in the open – on the edge of their warren. He looked as though he knew how to take care of himself. There was a shrewd, buoyant air about him as he sat up, looked around and rubbed both front paws over his nose. As soon as he was satisfied that all was well, he laid back his ears and set to work on the grass.
Here we’ve actually met the main character of the story, but it’s not immediately clear that he is the main character as we don’t really see inside his head at all. We’re introduced to him from an outsider’s perspective, and we get his characterization through observed details rather than his own subjective views.
(One could argue that Watership Down is written in omniscient, because sometimes the narrator steps in to act as interpretor between rabbit-life and people-life, but the POV is still very objective and reporter-like throughout; the narrator doesn’t have a distinct voice and access into anyone’s heads – all the characters get the same degree of objective reporting).
True Omniscient: The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
Baby Kochamma and Kochu Maria, the vinegar-hearted, short-tempered, midget cook, were the only people left in the Ayemenem House when Estha was re-Returned. Mammachi, their grandmother, was dead. Chacko lived in Canada now, and ran an unsuccessful antiques business.
As for Rahel.
After Ammu died (after the last time she came back to Ayemenem, swollen with cortisone and a rattle in her chest that sounded like a faraway man shouting), Rahel drifted. From school t school. She spent her holidays in Ayemenem, largely ignored by Chacko and Mammachi (grown soft with sorrow, slumped in their bereavement like a pair of drunks in a toddy bar) and largely ignoring Baby Kochamma. In matters related to the raising of Rahel, Chacko and Mammachi tried, but couldn’t. They provided the care (food, clothes, fees), but withdrew the concern.
The Loss of Sophie Mol stepped softly around the Ayemenem House like a quiet thing in socks. It hid in books and food. In Mammachi’s violin case. In the scabs of the sores on Chacko’s shins that he constantly worried. In his slack, womanish legs.
It is curious how sometimes the memory of death lives on for so much longer than the memory of the life that it purloined. Over the years, as the memory of Sophie Mol (the seeker of small wisdoms: Where do old birds go to die? Why don’t dead ones fall like stones from the sky? The harbinger of harsh reality: You’re both whole wogs and I’m a half one. the guru of gore: I’ve seen a man in an accident with his eyeball swinging on the end of a nerve, like a yo-yo ) slowly faded, the Loss of Sophie Mol grew robust and alive. It was always there. Like a fruit in season. Every season. As permanent as a government job. It ushered Rahel through childhood (from school to school to school) into womanhood.
It’s kind of hard to tell from a small segment, but the narration has its own perspectives and opinions and voice that is separate from the opinions of the characters within it. The narrator here isn’t really in Rahel’s thoughts; we spend time with plenty of other characters, dodging and weaving their way through the story, held together by a narrator who is opinionated, with a strong voice and god-like knowledge of what everyone is thinking and feeling.
Hopefully that helps clear up this sometimes-confusing difference in narrative distance. No type of narration is better than any other; they all have their place. But sometimes, a story is better served with one type of narration than another. If your story is feeling flat or just not sounding quite right, try writing it with a different narrative distance – it might help unstick you, or point you in a better direction for accomplishing what you want to accomplish.
TUMBLE ACCOUNT [avelera]
Stuff I Learned at My Writing Workshop (That I’m Kicking Myself in the Head for Not Realizing Sooner):
The difference between a book that grabs you from the beginning vs. one that you’re on the fence about tossing out the window is winning your trust. It’s why it’s “easier” to read books by authors you already know, or fanfic where you’re familiar with the characters. Winning the reader’s trust as quickly as possible should be your first goal as a writer when you’re going back and editing your first draft. This can be accomplished by things like: speaking authoritatively about the subject (even if it’s utter bullshit), graceful prose, or establishing quickly in the story what it’s about. For example,“Character A had a problem. Character B didn’t love them back, so Character A was going to kidnap them so they would.” Maybe it’s not a story you want to read, but you are now firmly couched in what you signed up for in this story and the promise the author is going to deliver on before the end.
Characters need goals. They need goals in every moment and in every scene. Every character needs a goal in every moment and in every scene. Maybe they’re not directly pursuing that goal right this very moment but it’s probably always at the back of their mind. Romances and detective stories are the easiest to deliver on this need. Character A wants to win their love. Detective A wants to solve the case. Even when they’re having tea with grandma, their thing is at the back of their mind. Keeping your character and your story focused on this thing they want helps pull your reader along and keeps them engaged on the “So what?” and “Why are we reading this scene?” questions of why they should keep reading.
Characters shouldn’t just have things they like, they should have obsessions . This is the one I’m kicking myself for. The scientists in Pacific Rim are eccentrically obsessed with studying their thing . Thorin in the Hobbit is obsessed with regaining his home. Katniss Everdeen is obsessed with protecting her sister. Every crazy whackadoodle fandom darling character is obsessed with something. What do they have in common? They’re intensely obsessed with the thing that they care about. We love characters who are obsessed with things beyond reason, whether it’s reclaiming their home stolen by a dragon, or building artisanal bird houses, saving your sister, or studying monsters. Everyone “likes” things, but people and characters who are obsessed with something fascinate us. Examine the characters you’re most attracted to writing in fanfic, and examine your original characters if you’re trying to build those, and figure out what are they obsessed with and how does that inform their character. That’s the thing that’s going to make readers care about them.
When your writing doesn’t feel original or worthwhile. |TUMBLR ACCOUNT: brynwrites|
Aw, thank you, nonny <3
To be entirely honest with you, if it’s something you tend to struggle with, then there’s probably no way to remove the feeling entirely. Many authors, even bestselling authors with dozens of published books , feel like this on a regular basis. Just keep reminding yourself that:
Your ideas won’t seem as mysterious or intriguing as anyone else’s because they’re yours – but there are other writers out there looking at your ideas you deem unoriginal and wishing they could be as creative as you are.
All ideas have been done before, and it’s how well you do them that counts far more than what they actually are.
You chose your story for a reason. What did you love about it before you started looking at the grass on the other side of the fence?
The longer you work on the same idea, the less creative it often feels to you. Something which seemed unique last month feels mediocre after two months and a year later it’s the worst idea ever. But that’s okay, because no one else but you (and maybe your editor or agent) is going to spend months or years submerged in the violent battle of making this story actually work, so no one else is going to get bored of it.
True originality is a lie
To slightly paraphrase one of my (many) favorite [@neil-gaiman] quotes:
The last novel I wrote, when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read , how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book.
She simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”
I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Oh yes,” she said. “ You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients. ”
We all feel like our writing isn’t good enough.
(Just today in fact, I had a miniature meltdown because I decided all my characters from The Warlord Contracts were just carbon copies of a cardboard cut out. I know a large part of the chaos in all three books is caused by the fact that the main characters are so incredibly different that they can’t agree on anything, ever, and the scene I was writing had an entire paragraph of Vasha trying to convince himself that Mantas isn’t a bad leader just because her ideas are often in direct opposition to his own, and yet some dark insecure goblin in my brain manages to win its foundless argument anyways.)
We, and our brain goblins, may not always feel just our ideas or writing are great or even good, but I promise this is a natural feeling for writers — one which will only bleed into your stories if you let it taunt you into ending them .
Oh I like these!
Convention vs originality
There’s a trade off between things people have seen before and know they like and things people have never seen before and are therefore intrigued by .
If you go so far into convention that you reach cliche, you’ll start attracting only people who are so obsessed with that topic that they’ll interact with any media relating too it, and probably not much else. (We all knew that one person who would snatch up anything with vampires in it, without exception.)
If you go so far into originality that you lose convention , you’ll have a very difficult time gaining any audience because you’ll only attract people who are willing to take huge risks and try something they’ve been seen before and therefore never enjoyed before. (We also all know those little niche pieces of media which were brilliant but didn’t make it big because they were ahead of their time and no one was willing to take a chance on them.)
So what do we as creators do with this knowledge?
We find our own personal happy medium:
We decide what our end goal is.
If you want to write a lot of unpolished books in a short period of time and have them still sell, then write the most popular tropes and cliches out there.
If you want to spend a long time on something and have it be obsessed over by a few die hard fans and possibly, maybe, potentially, (if you’re incredibly, incredibly lucky) go down in history, then create something completely unique.
If you want to make a nice little living as a creator with a diverse fan base, but not win a whole lot of awards for it, then find something between the two.
(And recognize that you’ll have more projects later on. You can try a little of everything over the course of your content creating. You’re not setting yourself into a mold you can never change, only choosing what’s right for you in this moment or with this particular project.)
But we should still create exactly what we want to consume. Because if we want to see something done — if we’re invested in it — someone else will be too. But if we’re not investing in what we’re working on, then we’re asking consumers to give their time and money for something we the creator don’t even care about and probably put in a half-assed effort towards. And, you know, it’s kind of cruel to you, the creator.
Some projects can consume years of your life. You want to pour out that time on something you enjoy , no matter how conventional or original it is. You owe that to yourself.
SENT A MESSAGE
Hey Bryn! Sorry to bother, but I really need help. Like, I see people on tumblr that can write 100K words a month, and I barely can make out 25K. Does this mean I’m a bad writer? It really bothers me that I suffer so much to up my word count when everyone around me seem to be all like “yeah, I wrote 10K on two hours :))))”
Different writers write differently.
First off, you should know I’ve never written 10k words in two hours. I’ve never written 10k words in two days. Hell, I can’t even write 10k words in a week if I have literally any real life plans going on.
Tolkien’s average daily word count was 250 words a day. That’s less than 2k words a week. A lot of professional (and famous) writers have similar writing speeds. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean you have any less potential or the words you write are any worse off or your ideas are any less creative.
And lets be honest here shall we. Most of the writers I know who write a ton of words per day are either:
Pansters, who don’t know what their story will be while they write it and then have to go back through and rewrite everything again once they finish in order to work through a stable plot.
Vast over writers, who end up with 50k extra words at the end of their first draft and have to spend two months cutting all those words out if they want the manuscript to be publishable.
Inspiration junkies, who slam out a ton of words over a short period of time while the inspiration is there and then can’t write another word until the inspirations hits them again, maybe a week or a month or a year later.
People who are at a glorious point in their lives where they’re both swimming in free time and void of any mental illnesses.
(And it’s neither good nor bad to be the first two writers, it’s just a style of writing which works really well for some people but accomplishes the end result as the same speed as most other styles. If you’re the fourth writer then by all means take advantage of where you are in life. Writing like the third bullet point doesn’t support a professional writing career but if you enjoy it, then there’s no reason not to continue enjoying it.)
There’s also one more category of writer who writes a ton of words per day . It’s the category I’m trying very hard to someday accomplish…
- Writers who can write many functional words per day, words which won’t be cut or rewritten, because they built up to that over a period of years , probably ten or more, by slowly increasing their writing goals to challenge themselves in a way that’s right for them.
Especially in places like writeblr where you don’t always have an indication of how long someone’s been working daily to improve their craft, it’s really easy to compare yourself to a writer who’s been doing it much longer than you. Learning a profession takes time. You’ll get better at it the longer you persist, and pretty soon some less experiences writer will be wondering how you do it so well.
Tl;dr The only wrong amount of words to write is to never write any words at all.
Rough drafts are only the first stage in an extensive process, and your first few novels are only the beginning of a very long journey of artistic growth.
7 / 2018
TUMBLR ACCOUNT [inky-duchess]
Fantasy Guide to Addressing Nobility
It can be hard to remember how to properly address your noble or royal characters when writing a fantasy court. Here is a quick guide:
Usually addressed as either “Your Grace” or “Your Majesty”. Consort (married to a ruler and not reigning in their own right) can be addressed the same. Sire or Madam can be used also.
They are addressed as “Your Highness”. They are NEVER addressed the same as a King or Queen
These are addressed with “Your Grace”. This was a common term also used by royalty before Henry VIII got to big for his codpiece.
4. Earl (Count)/Countess:
Are almost never referred as the “Earl of Narnia” but “Lord Narnia”.
An easy one. They are called “My Lord” or “My Lady”.
These may be equal to a King/Queen for status but the have a grander title. They are only addressed as “Your Imperial Highness/Majesty”
[Originally posted by secret-violin]
I hope this helps when writing your court or fantasy novel.
TUMBLR ACCOUNT [btssavedmylifeblr]:
First off, congratulations on posting your first fic!! That is a step lots of people never take! It is an act of bravery. When I posted my first fic, very few people read it or noticed it too. It’s taken me almost two years to get to this point. And I still stare longingly stare at other fics or blogs and I wish I had their numbers.
Tips for attracting readers
- Tag appropriately - On Wattpad, I would recommend picking 4-8 of the most relevant tags and sticking to those. You don’t have to tag every sexual position or things like kissing. Readers look at the tags for warnings and a general sense of the fic. No one wants to scroll past a whole paragraph of tags. The brain tunes out.
- Keep your summaries short and to the point - If you can’t tell us in two sentences or less what your fic is about, your story is too complicated or you don’t have a good enough sense of it for yourself. Don’t worry too much about spoilers, readers need a sense of what to expect and if you are too cryptic, they just won’t click on it and then spoilers don’t matter anyways. Short summaries prompt readers to click through. Long paragraphs are exhausting before you’ve even clicked on them.
- Post in multiple places - Don’t just post on Wattpad, they are tons of other wrotomg websites that you can keep your eye on like Inkitt for example.It’s not a good idea to just stick to Wattpad one because the aglorithum is made to the point where everything is based off views. Which which leads to this weird feedback loop where only the most viewed fics get brought to the top, even if no one actually likes them. Getting your work on different websites will increase the amount of eyeballs that see them and the different feedback you will get.
- Interact with other writers - Send messages! Send asks! Leave comments! Reblog! Recommend! Share! Every single writer started in the same place as you. We are all still hoes for feedback even if we have thousands of followers. It makes other people more likely to check out your blog and if people like the stories you recommend, they may be more likely to read your stuff.
Tips for remaining encouraged
- Get a beta reader - Having one person tell you in detail what they like about your story is thousand times more motivating than 100 reads
- Get some tracking software - I track my blog with both Google Analytics and StatCounter. I can see where people are coming from and which fics are drawing them in. Most readers never give any feedback at all, but they are there and they may be quite enjoying themselves, but you won’t know without a tracker.
- Set goals for yourself that aren’t related to feedback. - You can’t control feedback and it’s demotivating to set goals around something you can’t control. Instead, try things like “I’m going to write a one-shot.” or “I’m going to try writing in first person” or “I’m going to write angst because I’ve never written angst before.”
- Go read some really terrible stories - So here’s where my inner competitive bitch comes out, but SO MUCH FANFICTION IS TERRIBLE! Many very very popular stories are atrocious! I am motivated by the thought of “if that can get 1000 hits, so can I” and I find the challenge of “I can write a better version of this trope/au” enjoyable.
Don’t give up! It takes time! But you will improve and you will get more readers and more feedback if you keep at it. Wishing you lots of love and luck!
(this one was modified to fit wattpad writers)
7 / 2018
Fantasy Guide to Arranged Marriages
The wedding bells are ringing. You are dressed to the nines and ready to walk up that altar to be bound to that special somebody.
You don’t want to be married? You don’t know the person? They are old/evil/smelly? But hold on, aren’t you a person living in a fantasy/historical land?
Then tough luck cupcake. Marriages are commonly arranged in fantasy settings and lets have a look at them.
There are many reasons why you might let landed with an arranged wedding. Dynastic reasons, increase money/lands, forge alliances, cement treaties and you’re are desirable. Also the production of an heir is important.
Cough up the dosh
The parents of the bride must pay a dowry. This is a gift or money, land, gems, animals or houses for the groom’s family for taking the bride off their hands. The higher the dower offer, the likely you will marry that girl who made it. For Edward III’s wife’s dowry, it came in the form of an army.
Before you are married, you have a period between the offer and ceremony. However during this time, it was ok to em… make things official , if you know what I mean.
Home and Away
If you are marrying into a distant family, you will have to move to their house. No getting your own place. You will live in their household until the time the patents die and you take your place.
Mother and Father know best
Parents pick the partner, kids shut their cake holes. No ifs, no buts, no coconuts.
Nightmare beginning… fairytale ending
You are about to marry a stranger. You are stuck with this person… forever. But after a time, love grows. This is possible. Henry Tudor fell in love with Elizabeth of York. Edward III loved Philippa of Hainault. Richard II loved Anne of Bohemia. Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully found love. Three of the PoV arranged marriages I made in my WIP turned out happy though they had their bumps and problems.
Nightmare, total nightmare
Sometimes a nightmare is a nightmare. Anne of Cleves and Catherine of Aragon found this out with Henry VIII. Your partner may be abusive, abrasive or a dickhead. But hey, when they die, you are free! How about giving them a helping hand? (* whispers hey kids want to buy some poison…?* )
[Originally posted by faithandfearcollide
How to Identify your Book’s Target Audience in 3 Easy Steps
1. Compare Your Book to Similar Books
Dissect your book and make connections from your story to other popular novels out there. See how your work is similar to another popular work or series out there.
So for example, let’s say that your main character is a she-elf who lives in a magical forest. Let’s say her best bud is a morphing dragon and the two travel the world in search of lost treasure. What other books would this story most relate to?
Perhaps you thought of:
Now, what if your novel has more complex elements than this? What if your book is a morph of two genres? Like a sci-fi/fantasy or a contemporary/fantasy mix? Again, always consider similarities between your book and another popular series out there. Even if your story relates to books in various genres, you are still narrowing in on a smaller audience than you might think.
So take a moment to write down two to three books that are similar to yours– no matter how small the similarity! What’s the point? The readership for these books are your readership too!
So what do you do with this information? Find forums, Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags and otherwise celebrating these books and join them! Discover why these books are so celebrated amongst your potential audience. Likewise, read one or two of these books yourself so you know what your reader expects from your story too.
2. Create your Ideal Reader Avatar
Consider right now who your ideal buyer would be: What do they do for fun? What are their favorite books? What social networks do they use? How old are they? What do they drink at Starbucks? What brands do they wear?
(Does any of this info really matter Rae??)
Believe it or not it does, precocious petunia. See, by figuring out these seemingly insignificant details about your perfect reader, you’re also figuring out who your real-life ideal buyer is too– someone who would looooove your book as much as they love playing RPGs or watching Black Panther on loop. You write for this ONE particular person, and you are going to sell to this sort of person as well.
More importantly, once you have that ideal reader avatar figured out, you can start honing in on where to find them and how to market YOUR BOOK to them in a way that will interest them. So how do you mold your ideal reader from the raw clay of imagination?? You take this free download and fill it in accordingly, friend!:
here are no right or wrong answers here. This worksheet asks the questions that matter to you as a teen-bean writer. Answer the questions based on what YOU want most in a perfect potential reader– not what you think matters most, or what you think your potential reader might be like. The more details you add, the more you’ll start to figure out who your real-life ideal reader is, where they can be found, and how you can sell your book to them!
3. Hang Where They Hang and Sell your Book, Baby!
Where are your readers gathering? What social networks are they on? If your audience is more teen-based, then you’ll want to forgo networks like Facebook or Pinterest. Pay more attention to networks like Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram instead. There are marvelous ways to connect with potential readers on these sites and pitch your book in creative ways.
But don’t limit yourself to just an online presence. Check out local cafes, bookstores and any other relevant shops your ideal reader might be at and ask to hang posters promoting your book. Or take it a step further and ask to display some of your books (signed) in their storefront. I know many small bookstores will support local authors so be sure to emphasize that you are a local, self-published author.
Take it a step further by joining book fairs, cons that your ideal reader would be at and get a booth for yourself. And don’t limit yourself to just book fairs. This is where figuring out your ideal reader’s other interests come in handy. If your ideal reader also loves Pokemon, Mega Man and Spiderman, then try to get a booth at the comic con and sell your books there too. Or simply bring business cards with you to these cons, a few free books to hand out and get to know potential readers face to face in this super awesome environment! Heck, even farmer’s markets are a fantastic (and fairly cheap) way to set up a booth and get the word out there to your ideal potential reader, if that’s where they’d be found!
How to Tell if your Novel is Ready to be Published: 20 Questions to Ask (Part 1)
Series 1: Story Construct
1. Does your novel’s plot follow the three-act structure?
The three-act structure is a basic formula or outline that every best-selling novel uses. What exactly is the three-act structure you ask?
It divides your story into three parts, each section addressing specific storytelling elements and requirements.
Here’s a visual to represent what this structure is and how it applies to your novel:
Thing is, if your story lacks this vital structure, readers can sense it. And even if they can’t put their finger on it, they’ll feel that your story has weak structuring.
2. Does your opening chapter begin with a bang?
Now, I don’t mean that your opening scene should be a car chase, a shoot-off showdown, or anything else literal. No, I just mean that your intro should NOT include the following things:
A long, drawn-out backstory or origin story about any character
A description of the weather
A dream sequence
These three no-no intros are 100% guaranteed to lose readers on page one. Why? Because they are uninteresting, unengaging, or they are a flat out lie- plain and simple.
So what should your intro include? Remember that your reader isn’t invested in your story when they start reading it. So your first sentence should intrigue the reader, represent the narrative voice of the story, and set up the scene.
In the words of Stephen King, “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”
That being said, your opening chapter should include:
Your protagonist, or some, if not all of your main characters
A glimpse of your story’s setting or world
A solid set up for the story’s main conflict
3. Does your world strictly follow the structure you’ve set up for it?
This applies especially if you’re writing a sci-fi, fantasy, or dystopian novel. Why? Because these genres provide the reader with a completely new world, or Earth reimagined.
That means you will have natural and man-made laws unfamiliar to us introduced in your story. So the cultures, the lands, the planets, the weather, the creatures you share with us should follow a structure appropriate to your fictional world.
What do I mean by this? Well, let’s think about Earth’s natural laws for a hot sec:
During the month of December in New England, it tends to snow. A LOT and often. And in July, it’s blistering hot.
North America experiences a change of seasons– four to be exact. Whereas places like Colombia, South America, Egypt, Africa and Antarctica only ever see one season.
Swallows fly south for the winter. Fish swim in schools. Bats use sonar to detect prey. Lions hunt in packs (Actually, lionesses. The boys don’t wanna chance breaking a claw )
If you drop something, it doesn’t float up into the sky, it falls to the ground- thanks to the law of gravity.
These facts about our planet never change. They are consistent natural laws that represent planet Earth.
So, if on your planet of Epthra it rains donuts and sprouts pizza-trees, then it better always do precisely that (and not just because I’ll be moving there asap).
See, readers don’t much like when a writer breaks a law he’s set in place for his fictional world. It feels like a lie or a cheap getaway move. No one will be quicker to call foul than your reader, so don’t disappoint. Take notes to keep track of your world’s laws if you must. Set up a fascinating world, then stick to it.
For a thorough breakdown on world crafting, natural laws, and how to build your world to satisfaction, check out my article here discussing natural and man-made laws and how they affect your story
4. Does your novel present continuous conflict?
What’s the difference between having one big problem and a series of obstacles?- well to put it frankly, one is more interesting than the other.
Don’t get me wrong: every great main character out there faces ONE BIG PROBLEM. But that one looming problem isn’t the only challenge they face in the whole story.
Take Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games for example. Katniss faces the oppression and unjust rule of President Snow and all in the Capitol. That form of government has been keeping a vast divide between the rich and the poor, providing ample room for a revolution to spark. And Katniss is the first to create sparks.
But simply surviving the iron fist of President Snow isn’t her one and only problem. In fact, surviving the Hunger Games isn’t her one and only problem either. Katniss faces a series of trials- some outside the Hunger Games- that test her character, her strength, her heart, her mental stability and sooo much more.
“But, that was The Hunger Games. The whole point was to have Katniss go through a series of trials. My story doesn’t throw a life or death game at my character, so ya know, this shouldn’t apply to me.”
That’s fair. But here’s the thing: it actually does apply. How?
Well, I’m not saying you must write a storyline exactly like the one found in the Hunger Games— Nooooo. >
What I am saying is that life or death should continuously face your character. A series of new conflicts should test your main character to the limit, proving to us- the reader- that they are in fact a hero.
As James Scott Bell puts it, “A story without tests that threaten your character with psychological, physical, or professional death is a story of weak wills.” And no one wants lukewarm conflict!
So ask yourself again: have you set up one or several roadblocks to keep your M.C from achieving his goal?: the answer should really be both! One big problem looms over your character, but a series of smaller problems should test your character’s ability to face the big trial. Continuous conflict like this keeps readers glued to the pages.
For more tips on creating conflict check out my article here on how to undeniably raise the stakes for your characters
5. Is your story’s message clearly and accurately represented in your novel?
“First of all, what is a message, and why should my story have one, to begin with?”
Great question, you sweet pineapple you.
A message is found in every classic or best-selling novel whether you know it or not. A message is an age-old adage or life lesson representing a specific worldview the author wants to be expressed to the reader.
All stories are just a series of messages told in different ways.
So for example, the message, “Looks can be deceiving” can be found in stories like Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Edward Scissorhands, or even Little Red Riding Hood.
So how does your choice of message affect your storytelling process?
Well, let’s take the story of Cinderella for example. The story’s message was, “Love conquers all.”
What if instead of Cinderella marrying the prince and leaving her horrible stepmother and stepsisters in the dust, Cinderella remains locked in the cellar and the missing shoe just so happens to fit Cinderella’s nasty stepsister? And what if the prince marries her instead, leaving Cinderella to cry in her pie for the rest of her life?
Well, that would mean the message of the Cinderella story was a complete lie. It would also mean there would be a ton of disappointed readers using this book for kindling instead.
Why? because that was not the promise carefully crafted at the beginning of the novel. But Cinderella does get swept off her feet by the prince, leaving her horrible stepfamily eating the dust of the enchanted carriage. This leaves us satisfied because the message the story promised comes to fruition in the end. We believe in love, miracles, and we are given hope of finding true love in our own lives.
So, don’t build up your audience at the beginning for one sort of story and then end it with an altogether different one!
Series 2: Character Construct
6. Does your protagonist have a primary and personal objective?
Now this one is vital because a goal is your M.C’s purpose for being in your novel. However, he/she can and should have two kinds of goals:
An overarching goal that affects more than just himself
And a personal goal that has the potential to derail the overarching goal.
Let’s take Rey from Star Wars for instance.
Rey wants to join in the rebellion and fight for the rebel cause. That’s a good solid overarching goal which helps more than just herself, naturally inserting her into the Star Wars storyline. However, to have that one overarching goal alone would keep Rey at a one-dimensional level, thus making her a snooze fest of a character.
Rey has a second, personal goal, that actually causes her to be temporarily sidetracked from her main goal- even tempted away from it. Rey wants to find her place in this cause- who her parents are, who she is. And she not only goes to a sketchy “dark side” kinda place to figure that out, but she even dares to trust in a dude who was once considered her enemy for friendship.
Two lost souls look to one another for support and momentarily sidestep their focuses.
See how that goal conflicts Rey on a personal, emotional, mental, and moral level? That personal goal even distracts her from her main goal. That sort of twisted vine keeps us audience members fascinated and engaged. It also makes Rey a relatable character with believable motives, to boot!
7. Does your protagonist have flaws?
Why should your hero be flawed? Aren’t heroes perfect people who do no wrong and neither fart nor break a sweat??
What makes a hero someone we look up to is a person who fights impossible odds and comes out the other side a better person. They are selfless and awesome and best of all- they are imperfect. They have serious flaws which make them relatable- someone readers can believe in and see themselves in. And that’s the beauty of giving your hero imperfections.
A true hero fights through his ugly traits by facing challenges that test those flaws. And through that process, they become the hero we believe in. Through their battle, they give us hope to face our own.
A protagonist without flaws is just a strip of cardboard. And no one can relate to cardboard.
8. Are your side characters fulfilling their role?
Every character in the story must be there to support the plot. Their actions, their lives, their decisions all have to motivate the plot, otherwise, they are just talking heads.
That being said, they should be more than cogs in a machine. Side characters have two purposes:
Motivate the plot
Create a sense of fellowship
So how do you create a sense of fellowship for your Main Character? You give him friends, frenemies and even romantic interests.
But in order for the reader to appreciate this camaraderie, the reader should get to know the characters, their flaws, goals, struggles, and desires as well.
Their personality should influence the plot for the better or the worse. In that way the reader respects the character’s presence in your story. But by giving your character his own journey and arc and screen time, the reader grows to love him as much as he loves the main character.
Side characters aren’t just story garnish. They are at least the starch or the vegetable, so treat ‘em like one!
9. Does your villain or antagonist have a believable motive?
Can he just be evil for the sake of being evil?
Here’s the thing. Villains who just want to muck things up for the hero are NO BUENO. They are NOT interesting.
First of all, as John Rogers says, “You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.”
Secondly, we as your reader need to understand WHY this villain or antagonist will kill or accomplish some other great evil to achieve his goal.
Let’s take Thanos for example.
Thanos’ original goal in the Comics was driven by a love for Death- portrayed by a woman. He wants to vanquish all life in an effort to impress her. But the directors took it in a different direction. And I applaud it. Why? Because the Thanos we saw in Infinity War was much more complex than some galactic thug looking to land a hot date with Death.
Thanos’ overarching goal remained the same: he wanted to collect the Infinity stones for the Infinity Gauntlet. But why? Did he want to be the most powerful personage in the universe? Sure. Was he more than willing to destroy those who got in his way? Yeah. But there was much more to it than that.
His desire to achieve great evil wasn’t fueled by anger, it wasn’t fueled by hatred. No, his desire was actually fueled by honor — rather what he believed was true honor. Now, how does that work?
Thanos has seen the tragedy of overpopulation first hand, and it’s his quest to wipe out half of all life across existence in an effort of saving the finite resources in the universe. With fewer mouths to feed, more people can eat to satisfaction.
It almost sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? To him, he’s doing the galaxy a service. He practically views himself as philanthropic- a sort of “savior” figure. He’s saving future generations from starvation.
His character is further deepened by sincere love for his daughter- a girl he saved (ahem, kidnapped) from one of his own mass annihilations. And he makes a personal sacrifice to achieve his goal, further cementing his belief in his “good cause”.
Do you see how complex and intriguing this conflicting goal makes Thanos’ character? He’s not just trying to wipe out the Avengers and all of mankind while cackling madly. No, he believes in his cause, and in his own twisted way, he sees it as heroism.
10. Do your characters experience arcs?
What in the heck is a character arc?
It’s a change, to put it simply. Some changes aren’t good, and some are for the best. Either way, your character follows a journey that eventually leads him to face his ultimate struggles, doubts, fears, imperfections head on and make a choice.
Will his journey have changed him enough to make him face his obstacle head on and come out the other side a new man? Or will he fail?
Every character, even the villain should face an arc– a defining moment that changes his character or forces him to revert back to the man he was at the outset.
Well, friends! Have these ten questions forced you to take a second look at your novel? What if you thought you were ready to publish but you found some gaps that need your attention? Don’t panic, baby, that’s a good thing!
Take time fixing those gaps and you’ll find your story is that much closer to being released.
How to Tell if your Novel is Ready to be Published: 20 Questions to Ask (Part 2)
Series 3: Editing and Revising
1. Have you checked for run-on sentences, proper capitalization, punctuation and misspelled words?
All right, this is a fairly obvious one, but we’ll expand on how important it is to have fresh eyes look for these issues as well in our next subheading.
But for now, make sure names of people and places, months, titles, ‘I’ are always properly capitalized.
Use commas like a dash of salt: merely to accentuate the emphasis in a sentence or to provide a pause for the reader.
Take out as many adverbs as possible and replace them with stronger words.
Break up your story’s pace, too. Have a longer sentence followed by a dash of shorter ones. Simplify whenever possible and re-read the sentence aloud to make sure it reads properly.
And don’t rely on spellcheck to find all misplaced words. It won’t pick up perfectly spelled words completely misplaced in a sentence!
Lastly, make sure your story is consistently written in the proper tense– aka: eliminate the passive voice!
2. Have you checked for plot holes and inconsistencies?
It’s vital that you read your story once through from “once upon a time” to “happily ever after”. It’s also a good idea to give yourself some distance between the final edits and the read-through.
Why? Because you give yourself a chance to read your novel with fresh eyes.
When we read a sentence, paragraph, or chapter over and over we unknowingly get used to the pace of the reading. That means we’ve trained ourselves to miss awkward sentences or misplaced words. Therefore a disconnect from your story allows you to read it without any expectations. In this way you’ll catch hiccups you would’ve missed before.
As a bonus, it helps to read your story aloud. I’ve caught countless awkward sentences and odd phraseology this way. Trust me, it works!
Finally, make sure that all the questions you posed in your story are given answers (unless some questions will be answered in a sequel). That means if two of your side characters are stuck in the third dimension, make sure that before the story ends, we find out how they make it out of that dimension.
3. Have you revised your book?
With revising, the goal is to simplify. That means you want to cut scenes down, sentences in half or eliminate needless words.
Make sure your descriptives aren’t loading your scene down. A good key to remember is: describe senses but state actions.
4. Have you addressed structure and formatting?
Structure includes knowing when to make paragraph breaks. But when should you break a new paragraph?
First, you must always start a new paragraph when a new character speaks– that’s a MUST, bromigo. And lastly, whenever there is a change in time, place, topic or person- make a break for it!
Now formatting. Formatting can be such a beast, believe me. Just because you’ve perfectly formatted your novel in Scrivener or Microsoft Word doesn’t mean it’ll translate into Amazon’s ebook standards.
So how do you make formatting a snap? Well, I recently got a fab tip from a fellow indie author friend, Hannah Heath, on how to take the stress out of it!
Open a document you’ve already formatted. Go to File –> Duplicate. Rename this new duplicate file so you don’t get them mixed up. Now go to the original document of the book you’re trying to format and copy the text. Then go to the “formatted” document, hit Edit –> Paste and Match Style. It will then paste the text into the document –already. Freakin’. Formatted–
And then you just export it into whatever doc KDP wants and BOOM you’re done! Yay!
5. Has your narrative voice remained consistent?
If you need help figuring out which narrative voice would work best for your novel check out my article defining the three narrative voices here. If you need help figuring out which narrative voice is right for your story, check out that article here
If you know which one you’ve chosen, make sure the voice is consistent. Make sure the POV(s) you’ve chosen remains consistent as well. Even if there’s a back and forth between a few POV’s, just make sure they stay neatly in line and act in their character.
Series 4: Beta Readers
1. Have you asked more than one reliable, well-read and unbiased friend or acquaintance to read your novel?
Asking one person to read your novel is great, but you need a variety of opinions. Go for folks who are well-read bookworms that don’t mind giving you some of their undivided attention.
Ask them to look for the same inconsistencies you looked for during your editing process: plot holes, grammar, punctuation, formatting, etc.
A roundtable of trusted advisors and friends who are frank and honest with you but likewise supportive and constructive are one of life’s great blessings. So make wise use of your friends.
Listen to their critiques, but remember you have the final say. Stay confident in your voice and your worldview but be sure to respect their advice and listen for patterns. If more than one friend is noticing the same flaw, it’s time to address it!
2. Have you hired a professional to read/edit your work?
A professional is trained to look for things you or your friends will surely miss. They will help tie your work up in a neat little bow and make sure you are putting your best work out there.
“But that costs money, Rae! And sometimes a lot too!”
Yes, it does, dear peanut butter cup.
But ask yourself something: how important is your work is to you? What’s it worth to you? Does it deserve to have a professional examine it? I think it does! Invest in yourself by spending a little dough to make great returns.
Yeah, finding the right editor can be scary/intimidating. This will be a lasting bond that requires mutual respect. But don’t push this step aside just because you don’t want to spend a moolah little on your work. It will be worth it in the end, promise!
3. Have you asked your beta readers to leave reviews before your book launches?
Want to know a great way to boost book sales before you even launch it? Have reviews already in place. The best way to get honest reviews? Ask your beta readers to leave a review of your work!
Make sure they know it doesn’t have to be a lengthy description or play-by-play. Don’t put pressure on them to get it done ASAP as well. Simply ask them to leave a review after they’ve read your final result and before you plan on launching your book.
That being said, you should leave plenty of space between the two. Start looking for beta readers after your third complete edit. That way when they send back their critiques, your final draft will include changes they may have suggested. This gives your beta readers plenty of time to leave an honest review of your book.
4. Have you asked a group of friends in your writing circle to help promote your book before it launches?
There’s nothing wrong with asking your support group to help promote your work. As long as you do it in a non-sleazy way! That means you need to give as much as you’d like to get.
Show support to your friends first– share their book, read and review it, and talk it up to your friends! Then when you ask for this support, in turn, you will get it from your fellow appreciative writers.
Ask these friends to throw a tweet out there or a post on Instagram or Facebook about it. Or create a fun buzz by using a hashtag about your book and asking them to use it too!
5. Have you returned the favor to a beta reader?
You will be asking a heavy amount from your beta readers. Be sure that you’re not just asking, give in turn. Be as useful to them as you would like them to be for you.
Now I know this doesn’t seem like a vital step BEFORE you publish your book, but it’s more important than you think.
When it comes to it and you need the help, you want to have created a solid foundation with those in your same boat. Friends are more likely to help you if you help them as well. So take the initiative. Offer to help them and see if you don’t get a wave of supporters!
So, how did your book fare with these 20 vital questions? Did you notice some spots where your novel still needed some help? No worries friend, that’s what checklists are all about.
Remember that there is no rush to get your book out there. Take. Your. Time. Get your best work out there by giving it the time and attention it deserves.
So is your novel ready now? Well, we may never know 100% but these questions absolutely need to be addressed before you publish your work. I hope these have helped you be 99.9% certain!
this is a good one
5 Ways To Get Your Characters Back On Track
Do you feel as if your story is stuck? Is your character feeling unmotivated? Sometimes, it feels as if he or she is deliberately stopping the action. After all, if they are like real people your characters don’t like change.
Here are five simple ways to get your story back on track:
1. Tempt your characters.
Offer them something they have always wanted. Perhaps, it reveals who they really are and what they are prepared to do to succeed. You can make this an impossible choice of sorts. If they go for the reward, they might lose something in the process. Exploit a character flaw. Whatever happens, you will get movement in the story.
2. Let them fail at something.
A good way to motivate your character is by forcing a failure. You can do this by using a sub-plot. Perhaps you could use the failure of a romantic relationship or not completing a project or abandoning a hobby. Failures force us to stop and reflect. If your character is nuanced it will spur change and set a different course or force them to accept their limitations.
3. Let them succeed.
Succeeding can produce two results. It can offer a boost in confidence and a desire to repeat the success. It can also show that success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Decide on how your character will react to the success and work out a way forward after that.
4. Set a deadline.
A ticking clock is always a good way to get a story moving. Set a timer for a short term goal or move the date for a long term goal closer. Make sure the deadline matters.
5. Give them a choice.
Make them choose between two things. Do not make it an abstract choice. It must be between two tangibles.
For example they could choose between:
- a spouse or a lover
- a job or unemployment
- a car or a college fund
The fallout from the choice will change things.
Posted on December 13, 2012 with 16,722 notes.
Tagged with Writing tips.
12 Clichés To Avoid When Beginning Your Story
Here are some of the most common openings I see, as they’re almost always a rejection:
- Waking Up: Avoid the first moments of the day, especially if your character is being snapped out of a dream.
- School Showcase: A character introducing the requisite best friend and the school bully
- Family Showcase: Introductions of parents, siblings, pets
- Room Tour: A character sitting in her room, thinking, looking over her stuff
- Emo Kid: A character sitting and thinking about all his problems
- Normal No More: A character lamenting how normal, average, and/or lame her life is, which is the writer setting us up for the big change that’s about to happen
- Moving Van: A character in the car, driving to his new house, hating every minute of it
- Mirror Catalogue: Looking at oneself and describing one’s flaws, usually with a self-deprecating voice
- Summer of Torture: A character lamenting how she has to do something that she doesn’t want to do (live in a haunted house, go visit Grandma, work at the nursery) all summer long
- New Kid: A character worrying about being the new kid on his first day of school or wizard training or the vampire academy
- RIP Parents: One or both parental units kicking the bucket suddenly and tragically
- Dystopian Selection: In the dystopian genre, it’s the day of choosing jobs, getting selected for something awful, being paired with a soul mate, etc.
These are very common beginnings and all I ask is that, if you choose to forge ahead and brave one, make it fresh.
How to Describe a Character’s Looks Well
- Start with your character’s face shape . This is important because a person’s face gives a strong and immediate impression of their personality. Is it heart-shaped with a wide forehead and a pointed chin? Is it square with a jaw-line that could chisel granite? Which of these faces might you describe as playful and which might you describe as rugged? As you continue to describe your character, keep in mind that people definitely associate certain personality traits with certain features.
- Describe your character’s bone structure . In particular, we draw many conclusions from a person’s bone structure. High, wide cheekbones can give the impression of apple cheeks and, thus, a lingering smile. Whereas a “weak” chin is associated with passivity, a prominent chin is described as “determined” and might suggest that someone is inclined to keep their chin up. Wide-set eyes are found on most baby animals and have become associated with innocence, whereas deep-set eyes are often shadowed and can be associated with being untrustworthy or a brooding personality.
- Describe your character’s eyes . The eyes are the “windows to the soul” and should receive extra consideration. Most baby animals have large eyes and long lashes, making large-eyed or long-lashed people seem more trusting and open. Brown eyes are among the most common and are often associated with a plain, salt-of-the-earth honesty or a chocolate-brown depth and richness. Blue eyes may be thought of as innocent (baby-blue), piercing (icy-blue), or wise (gray-blue). Light-green eyes may seem trusting whereas emerald-green eyes are often thought of as exotic or catlike.
- Describe your character’s eyebrows . Since the eyebrows are so intimately involved in facial expression, they also have a huge impact in their resting state. Kristin Stewart’s straight eyebrows give her a perpetual expression of nonchalance, whereas Marilyn Monroe’s high-arching brows add to her look of slight surprise and continuous interest. If the inner half of each eyebrow slants sharply downward, it can create a mischievous look á la Christian Slater or a slight scowl á la Megan Fox. Especially low brows like those of Michael C. Hall (a.k.a. Dexter Morgan) can create a sinister appearance.
- Describe your character’s nose . The nose is extremely prominent on the face and can suggest a lot about your character’s attitude. An up-turned nose might be cute and playful like a child’s but can also veer into snobbish territory (i.e. someone who turns their nose up at you). Since noses continue to grow on a person’s face with age, a long nose can suggest an air of wisdom. A pinched nose like Nicole Kidman’s might be cute as a button but can also appear crinkled as if with distaste.