#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Tips for Finding Comp Titles for your Novel – #authortoolboxbloghop

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Comp titles – the dread of every author with a novel ready to submit.  (For those who may not know, comp titles stands for comparable titles and basically means titles comparable to your book. They should be books that your ideal readers may have already read or would enjoy reading.)

Many author friends have told me that it’s just so hard to come up with comp titles because their novel isn’t really like anything else they’ve read. And while that’s true in a sense and we all want to believe our book babies are unique and unlike anything else out there, there are still some basic rules we can use to find comp titles.

Sidebar: You have to be reading a lot and reading what is popular now (something published within the last ten years) to successfully find relevant comp titles. Check out my blog post on reading as a writer here.

1. Same Genre and age group: This is pretty much a given, but it is the first thing you need to look for – novels of the same genre as yours and written for the same age group as yours.

2. Same atmosphere: Is your novel light and fun-hearted or more serious? Maybe it’s dark and a little edgy. Whatever overall atmosphere your novel is portraying, you want to find  comparable novels that have a similar atmosphere.

3. Similar elements: What is a prevalent element in your story? Is it based on a fairytale, myth, or comic/superhero? Is it focused on music, movies, or other entertainment? Maybe it deals with a life-threatening illness or coming of age. Find comparable novels with the same element(s).

Here’s how I used these tips to come up with my own comp titles for my current WIP, The Blood-Stained Key. It’s a YA fantasy, a bit dark, and is a fairytale retelling of Bluebeard. So I chose some other dark YA fantasy fairytale retellings as comp titles:

The Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (Alice in Wonderland retelling)

The Ravenspire series by CJ Redwine (a series of dark fairytale retellings)

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (A Little Mermaid retelling)

What about you? Do you struggle to find comp titles? Do you have any tips for determining comp titles? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

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Writing Exercises to Help You Get Through COVID-19

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Hope everyone is doing well! During these uncertain times, I know a lot of us are struggling with being focused and productive. For last month’s #authortoolboxbloghop, TD Storm shared some great tips for maintaining your focus during this stressful time , and you can find them here. Today, I want to share some writing exercises that can help inspire you to keep writing.

  1. Put the main character from your current WIP in a quarantine situation. Everyone has a myriad of emotions right now, and sometimes writing about a character facing the same kind of problems you are facing can help you sort through all those emotions. What would your character do in this kind of situation? How would it affect the plot of their story? What choices are they now going to make?
  2. Journal daily. For me, writing has always been a way to cope with the challenges I face, as well as a healing process for any injured emotions I’ve had. It’s helpful to get all the anxious thoughts out of your head and onto paper. It is a good way to let them go. Journaling is also a great for focusing on the positives in your life right now. Are you getting to spend extra time with your family? Have you been able to finish some projects that have been on your to-do list for months? Remember to focus on the things you can control, and not the things you can’t.
  3. Create some artwork inspired by your current WIP. I love doing this. Whether it’s a painting or drawing of something specific from my WIP, or just an abstract piece that evokes the mood of my WIP, I always have fun with this activity. And I often learn something new about my WIP.
  4. Work on some of the extra writing tasks you still have on your to-do list. When I say extra tasks, I’m referring to those things that aren’t actually writing, but they still have something to do with your WIP. This can be anything from making a playlist for your WIP, to drawing a map for your WIP’s world, or making some character sketches for your WIP’s characters. These type of activities can also give you some insight into your WIP that you might not have had before.
  5. Write a letter to a friend or family member. We are writers, right? So what better use of some extra time than connecting with someone via letter. Sometimes we can write down things more easily than we can say them aloud, and I’m sure friends and family would love to receive a letter from you during this stressful time.

 

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(Feel free to share this graphic!)

 

So, what about you? What kind of things have you been doing to help inspire your creativity? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To find out more or join in the fun, go here.

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The Benefits of Writing By Hand

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I’ve heard many fellow writers laud the benefits of writing by hand, but I had never really given it much thought. I mean, really, it’s so convenient to type, and writing by hand seemed so old-school.

But then this year’s NaNoWriMo rolled around, and I found myself without access to a computer, but wanting to write and get my word count in for the day. So I wrote several decent sized chunks by hand (1500+ words). And I discovered why all these writers talk about how great it is to write by hand.

So today, I wanted to share some of the benefits I got from writing by hand.

1. The slower pace gives you time to think about where you’re going next. I found that when I had to slow down a little bit to write, I was able to think about “where am I going with this?” versus just typing out the words in a frenzy.

2. The change of pace gives you a fresh outlook on your WIP. I think this was also because of the slower pace, but I was able to think about my WIP in new ways and I actually had a couple of “aha moments”. I figured out exactly what I needed to do with certain pieces of my manuscript.

3. It’s exciting. Probably because of the first two reasons, I found this venture exciting. It gave me back some passion for my manuscript and I just wanted to keep writing. I couldn’t wait to discover what would happen next!

4. You can do it anywhere. Handwriting is, of course, the original way novels were written. All our eighteenth and nineteenth century idols wrote their great novels by hand. And all you need is a writing utensil and paper. 🙂

So if you’re looking for a change of pace, maybe this is your answer. Try handwriting a couple of pages and see what it does for you.

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

What about you? Have you ever given handwriting a try? How did you like it?

For Writers, NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Bingo 2019

 

Hi all! November is almost here, and I’m going to do my NaNoWriMo Bingo again this year. So here is this year’s board. You can share and participate on Twitter and Instagram with #nanobingo19. (My username on Twitter is @charityrau1.)

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If you’d like a printable copy of the bingo board, you can get that here.

My NaNo username is charebear23.. Let me know what your’s is so we can cheer each other on this month! 🙂

Also, if you haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo, or haven’t signed up yet but want to, check out their site here.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Creating a Worthy Hero – AuthorToolboxBloghop

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Since NaNoWriMo is nearly here, I thought I’d share some things about creating a worthy hero. If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, you might want to check out this post a did a couple years ago about prepping for NaNo.

One of the most important things to consider when writing your novel is whether or not your main character is captivating. Does your MC inspire your readers, making them care about him and his journey? Is your MC moving the story forward, or is he being dragged along with it?

One way to answer these questions is to ensure your hero has the things he needs to own his story. According to Save a Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody, The three things every hero must have are: a want, a need, and a flaw. (I did a review of this book in an earlier blog post, you can check it out here.)

1. A Want – This is the thing that your MC most desires. This is the goal he is trying get to throughout the book. Your plot builds when you add obstacles or things that stand in the was of your hero getting what he wants. Sometimes this want can change as you’re writing the novel because the MC’s circumstances change. But your MC must have a want that propels the story forward.

2. A Need – This is the thing that your MC needs, but most likely doesn’t realize it. Sometimes  the need and want can coincide, and some people lump the want and need together, but often your MC will have a need as well. This need will tie into the flaw, as it’s usually a life lesson your MC must learn.

3. A Flaw – This is your MC’s problem. This is part of what is keeping him from reaching his goal. Once he realizes his need, he will be able to overcome this flaw and you’ll have reached your novel’s end. Both the MC’s flaw and his want need to be specific, so that the reader will be able to tell when the flaw has been resolved.

If you want to dig even deeper into these concepts, check out the book Save the Cat Writes a Novel. The book has helped me improve all aspects of my manuscript. And hopefully, this helps everybody whose doing NaNoWriMo this year.

What are your best resources for characterization? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

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Journaling – An Effective Way to Strengthen Your Writing #AuthorToolBoxBloghop

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For today’s bloghop, I wanted to share about a strategy that has helped me strengthen my writing – journaling.  I’ve kept a journal since middle school. At times, I’ve written in it faithfully every day and other times I’ve been more sporadic about writing in it. Not only is it fun to look back at what I was thinking at certain times in my life, but it has also helped to cultivate my writing skills.

Here are some things I use my journal for:

1. Recording specific events or special moments that occurred during the day. I find this is helpful in both nonfiction and fiction writing. For nonfiction writers, you’re getting practice writing about real events in a creative and fun way. For fiction writers,  you can often use specific things that happened to you in your novel, or at the very  least, some version of those things.

2.  Writing down things I’m thankful for. This is helpful for anyone wanting to live a happier, kinder life. When I think about all I have to be grateful for, I’m no longer dwelling on all the bad things in life. Simply because this improves one’s mental and sometimes even one’s physical health, this is a beneficial practice for writers.

3. Writing exercises using a prompt book or prompt list. Sometimes I feel like taking a break from writing about myself, so I pull out one of my writing prompt books. I find an exercise that sounds fun and complete it in my journal for the day’s entry. (If you enjoy writing poetry, you could use a prompt to write a poem.)

4. Writing a character sketch  for my WIP. This is something I like to do when I’m struggling with a certain character’s development or her motives for what she is doing in the story.

5. Writing summaries of ideas for future WIPs. I love doing this. This helps me explore the newest idea that’s popped into my head, getting down the things about it I know I’ll want to remember. Once that’s done, I’m able to get back to work on my current WIP.

6. Writing book reviews, hi-lighting the things that worked really well, or noting the things that didn’t work in the book.  This is always fun too. I love picking out things that work in a novel, the things that made me want me to keep reading, and the things that made for a believable, life-like world. I also find it helpful to note the things that caused me to not care for a book, or worse yet, not finish it.

I don’t keep all these things in one journal. I have a separate journal for gratitudes, as well as a separate one for my story ideas. I have found that consistent journaling benefits not only my writing process, but also my writing habit.

Resources for Journaling

I  often enjoy using specialty journals. Here are a few of them that I find especially helpful:

The Steal Like an Artist Journal by Austin Kleon

The Severed Moon by Leigh Bardugo

Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith (There are several versions of this. I think I have one of the earliest ones.)

300 Writing Prompts -This is a generic prompt book I picked up in Five Below. They have several different writing prompt books there, so if you have one near you, you might want to check it out.

Note to Self: On Keeping a Journal and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Samara O’Shea. This is actually a book with some journal exercises at the end of each chapter. So far, I’ve been enjoying it.

So what about you? Do you keep  journal? If so, how do you utilize it in your writing? Do you have any favorite journaling resources? Let me know in the comments.

 

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

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Save the Cat Writes A Novel (Book Review) – #authortoolboxbloghop

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Lately, most of my writing time has been dedicated to revising my Camp NaNoWriMo project, and I’m feeling good about the progress I’ve made. I’ve discovered several new things that have helped make the process easier for me. One is the chapter overview which I shared for May’s #authortoolboxbloghop. (If you missed that one, you can read about it here.)

Today, I wanted to share about another great resource – Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody.

Originally taken from Save the Cat, a book about screenwriting, this book takes the three act structure of a story and breaks it down even farther into 15 beats. It also tells about the ten types of stories and gives examples from best-selling novels like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

I love this book! It’s really helped me with my revisions. Using the fifteen beats, I’ve been able to see where things needed to be moved around so they fit better into my story. I’ve also been able to determine whether or not scenes are necessary. And I’ve been able to lay everything out to see how it’s working together.

One of Brody’s suggestions is to use index cards and a big cork board to set up the fifteen beats. I love this idea and while I haven’t got the board yet, I’ve started making the cards and can’t wait to see how it will all look once it is all put together. (I’ll be sure to share my results.)

I think any fiction writer would benefit from this book, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. This is one of my favorite writing books and one I’ll be keeping close whenever I’m working on revisions. (If you’re a planner, you’d probably use this book before you write your novel.)

How about you? Have you read this book yet? What’s your favorite craft book? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Revision – Chapter Overview #authortoolboxbloghop

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Last month I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I worked on revising a WIP. Revision/editing can be overwhelming at times. I know I’ve often felt that way. Recently, I’ve started using a new strategy – chapter overview. And it is so helpful, I wanted to share about it today.

I’m a total pantser. When I start to write a novel, my planning consists of thinking about my story idea and possibly jotting down a few stray ideas. Then I just sit down and type. So when I start to revise, I really have to analyze each part and determine if I need to keep it or not. This is where the chapter overview comes in. (Before I start this process, I’ve already done one read-through so I have a general idea how the story is flowing.)

First, I note the chapter number, the number of pages, and the act in which the chapter takes place. Next, I write a one-line summary of the chapter and write out the purpose of the chapter – What is this chapter doing to move the story forward? This is key in helping me determine whether this is something that needs to stay or go. I also list the characters and the role they play in the story, and then I do a short summary of each scene in the chapter.

I’ve made my own Chapter Overview template that I use to help me with this. I’ve seen other versions floating around online which I’ve also used before, but none of them had exactly all the things I wanted to include, so I made my own.

example chapter overview

Here’s a printable copy: my chapter planner

For me, this has really helped me dig into my story and find what’s working and what isn’t. But more and more, I’m realizing that people learn and think differently, so you just have to find what works for you. If you’re a hard core planner, you might do all this before you even start to write because that’s what works best for you. I find that if I try to do too much planning before typing out my story it interrupts my flow and the story seems to crumble. Either way, I hope you find my chapter overview helpful.

What about you? How do you work best? What are some of the things you find helpful when you’re revising? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Side Note: Earlier for the bloghop, I did a post on the different kinds of editing. If you missed it, you can read it here. (Cataloging chapters is part of the developmental edit.)

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop hosted by Raimey Gallant. To check out all the participating blogs, or to join in the fun go here.

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Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo – #authortoolboxbloghop

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I’m going to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo next month. For those who might not know, Camp NaNo is an extension of NaNoWriMo (where you write a novel in 30 days throughout the month of November).  There are two sessions of Camp Nano, one in April and one in July. You are sorted into virtual cabins with like-minded writers who support you throughout the month. You can sign up and find out all the details here.

The thing I like about Camp Nano is that you can choose to do whatever writing project you would like. Some people work on a series of short works such as poems or short stories, others work on nonfiction pieces, some focus on revising and editing a novel, and still others follow the traditional Nano and write 50k words in a month.

I’ve chosen to do a revision project. I pulled out a manuscript I stored away several years ago and am going to see what I can do with it. It’s a nice chance to step away from my current WIP and focus on another project.

Here are some tips I found helpful. I hope they can help you get ready for Camp NaNo too:

1. Decide on your project. What are you going to do? Is there something you need to finish with an impending deadline? Maybe there’s a piece you’ve set aside that you’d like to reexamine. Or maybe you have a series of shorter pieces you want to complete. This is one of the best parts of Camp NaNo – picking what you want to do!

2. Gather your supplies. For me, this included some research materials, which you may also need if your project requires it. I always have a specific notebook assigned to each project I do so my notes are all contained in one place. Maybe there are some specific resources you might need for guidance. (I’ve included a list of resources at the bottom of this post.) You’ll want to have you planner/calendar for the month handy too (more about this in the next tip). And then there are the obvious things you’ll need – pens, laptop, a favorite writing snack and /or drink, and any other essentials you use when you write.

3. Set up your timeline/calendar. You need to decide on a plan. How many pages, hours, words, ect., are you going to write each day? Make little goals and create a reward system for yourself to help keep you motivated. I start with little rewards like a candy bar or a Starbucks drink, and then build up to larger things like a new mug or book. I usually choose a big prize for completing my final goal at the end of the month, something I’m really excited about that will help motivate me to finish. I’m still working on setting my plan up, but when I finish I’ll share what my calendar looks like.

4. Last but not least – Have Fun! Make this a fun event. If it’s something that will be a lot of stress for you right now, maybe decide to try July’s event instead. If now is the right time for you, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You want to reach your goals, but also be realistic. Don’t set goals that you will be unlikely to attain. And remember this is something you tailor to you – so you can make it as big or as small a project as you’d like.

These helped me with my plan for Camp Nano and I hope they’ll help you too. I know some people don’t like NaNo because it’s too much pressure, but this is a more relaxed version since you’re picking the project and the goals. So even if you don’t like NaNo, you could still give Camp NaNo a try.

camp nano books

Resources:

Story Genius by Lisa Cron This is a craft book with tips for creating your novel.

Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. This is a great resource to help with revisions on your novel.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This is a great guide on how to self-edit your novel.

No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty. This book is by one of the creators of NaNoWriMo and is an inspiring and quick read. Very helpful if you’re not sure what you’re going to write about.

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.

What about you? Are you participating in Camp Nano this April? What do you do to prepare? Let me know in the comments!

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Connecting With Your Readers Through Twitter – #authortoolboxbloghop

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So before the New Year, I did a series on connecting  with your reader as part of the blog hop. (You can see my last toolbox post here.) I wanted to share some tips for using Twitter to connect with readers, so I decided to go ahead and add another post to this series.

As with all the other venues of social media, you want to be commenting and liking your readers’ posts. Just like with Instagram, hashtags are key for finding like-minded people on Twitter, but there are also other ways you can use Twitter. Here are a few ways to use Twitter to connect with your readers:

  1. Share articles or quizzes that your readers will enjoy. This can be your own content or content you’ve found from somewhere else. For instance, I share a lot of things from the Epic Reads site. They have quizzes about YA books, and articles about the newest YA releases. Just remember to credit who or where you got the content from.
  2. Share the same things you share on Instagram or on other social media sites. You get the best use of your content when you share it on all your social media platforms. To help with this, there is even a slider button on Instagram that allows you to share your post to Twitter or Facebook. However, sometimes I find it more effective to share your content separately. When you share posts via the IG button, the picture doesn’t actually post directly to Twitter,  it’s just a link to the photo. If it is something you really want your followers to see, it is more effective to post directly to Twitter.
  3. Use your hastags! Like I said earlier, hashtags are how people find your posts. Find some relative hashtags for your genre (#yalit, #yabooks ect.) to use with your posts. Also, just like on Instagram, there are challenges you can participate in using specific hashtags. (#fridayreads, #yearofepicreads ect.)
  4. Share what you are reading.  Your readers love to hear about new books.  They also enjoy hearing about the kind of books their favorite authors like. Sharing what you are reading is one of the best way to connect with readers.
  5. Make use of the poll option. One of the cool options Twitter has is the poll capability.  (When you go to post a tweet, it is the button on the bottom that looks like a little bar graph.) You can use the poll option to find out what your readers like most about your books, what their favorite genre is, or which of your books they enjoyed most.

These are just some of the ways you can use Twitter to connect with your readers. You can connect with me @charityrau1 on Twitter. What are some you favorite ways to use Twitter? Let me know in the comments!

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This post is part of the #authortoolboxbloghop. It’s hosted by Raimey Gallant. For more details and to join in the fun, go here.