Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog Hop

I just discovered this writer’s group – The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. There are all kinds of resources for writers on their website and they have a blog hop as well. (Check out the blog hop and all the participants here.)

The official posting day for the blog hop is the first Wednesday of the month, so my post is late, but it was a fun question to answer, so I decided to just go ahead and answer it! 🙂

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

There are not many things that stop me from finishing a book, but I do get frustrated with certain things:

Killing /cruelty to animals – I absolutely hate this, and it can often be enough for me to stop reading a book. Although many times it happens at the very end of the book, so then I’m angry that I wasted my time reading the book. In most instances, there is no reason for this.

I hate to even have to mention this one, but amateurish writing – writing that overuses adverbs, tells rather than shows, and head hops. And yes, I have read publishing house books that have all these things in them.

Stream of consciousness writing – Sorry, I just can’t get into it, and this is another case where I will often stop reading.

What about you? What’s one thing that will make you stop reading a book?

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

My Favorite Writing Resources -#authortoolboxbloghop

untitled-design

As part of the blog hop today, I wanted to share some of my favorite resources. Some of these I’ve shared before, but some of them are ones I’ve recently discovered.

Drafting/Editing

Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. I’ve talked about this one a lot, and for good reason. If you’re a pantser like me, this is a great resource to help you be sure your first draft has all the crucial points for a solid story. And if you’re a plotter, this is perfect for helping you outline your story idea. I’ve also found a lot of helpful info on Jessica’s website, and I’m a member of her Writing Mastery Academy. For a monthly fee ($12), I have access to all of her classes, webinars, the writing mastery community, and the bonus content.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.  This is a wonderful resource for helping you edit your novel as clean as you can make it. It’s full of tips and writing exercises.

img_2873

General Writing

The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman. I’ve just started reading through this one, and already it’s been helpful. I’ve also found the companion website and the author’s website helpful.

Writer’s Digest (both the magazine and the website). You can find almost anything you could want to know about writing here. There are also contests and communities you can be a part of.

 

Writing as Therapy

Rewrite Your Life by Jess Lourey. I discovered this book on accident. After reading Lourey’s thriller Unspeakable Things, I wanted to see what other books she’d written and came across this one on writing and immediately ordered it. I’m still working my way through the book, as well as the free course that goes along with it (details about the course here), but am loving it.  I’ve always known writing has been a form of therapy for me, but this book is really helping me put it into perspective and reap the greatest benefit from it.

What about you? What are some of your favorite writing resources? Let me know in the comments!

 

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

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

 

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Using Bio Poems for Character Development – #authortoolboxbloghop

img_2150

There are a lot of questionnaires and sketch activities out there to help you develop your characters, but I recently discovered a shorter technique that helps me nail down my characters’ interests and personalities – the bio poem.

Bio poems are not long (11 lines), but they cover some of the most important things you need to know about your characters, and they always follow the same format.

Here is an example of my bio poem for my main character of my current WIP.

Marianna

Intelligent, Curious, Kind, Perceptive

Sister of Annette, Daughter of Henry and Paulina

Lover of books, learning, and adventure

Who feels love, curiosity, and fear

Who needs to find real friends, the truth, and the strength to face it

Who gives kindness, friendship, and help

Who fears the unknown, Crothingham’s spooky hallways, and Dusten

Who wants Will to still be living, her family to be safe and provided for, and to be free of Bludington

Resident of Prosera

Locklear

I’ve also included a template you can use for your own characters: here.

How about you? What techniques do you use to develop your characters? Let me know in the comments!

On an unrelated note, I’m about to start Writing Down the Bones. Who has read it and what did you think?

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

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

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Tips for Finding Comp Titles for your Novel – #authortoolboxbloghop

untitled-design-2

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!

 

 

 

#authortoolboxbloghop

Writing Exercises to Help You Get Through COVID-19

untitled-design

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.

 

quarantine-writing-exercises-stayhomeandwrite

(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!

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

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

#authortoolboxbloghop

10K words in a Day – #authortoolboxbloghop

untitled-design

Today I’d thought I’d share about a challenge I participated in and found helpful, the #10kwritingchallenge. It is hosted monthly by Mandi Lynn, and you can find all the details about the challenge here. (she also has a lot of other great resources for writers 🙂 )

The object of the challenge is to write 10K words within one day. I know that sounds like a lot, but it is more doable than you might think. I have participated once in the challenge with plans to participate again soon.

A few things to keep in mind when deciding to do the challenge:

Be sure it is a day on which you can dedicate a significant amount of time to your writing. I plan for these days (I actually put it on my calendar), so I know I can’t be doing a lot of other stuff on these days.

Make a plan for the day. Are you revising work or writing from scratch? Do you have the outline or notes you need? What chapters/pages do you need to get finished?

Prep your writing space. Set up a quiet place where you know you can be productive with all the tools, snacks, and drinks you might need.

Plan for breaks. Obviously, you’re going to need to take breaks. What kind of things get you most inspired? You could go for a walk outside, or do whatever kind of exercise relaxes you. The key is to get up and move around so that when you come back to the keyboard you are ready to write.

These were all things I did to help me reach my 10K goal.  And spending a day working on my manuscript proved quite beneficial.

I found that I became excited about my manuscript once more, and I wanted to delve deep into my story’s world. I had more confidence in my novel as I had made a significant amount of progress on it in just one day, and I gained more confidence in myself as a writer, knowing that I could accomplish this thing I had set my mind to do. I also had some enlightening moments where I was able to figure out how to fix some things that were not working in my story.

What about you? Have you ever participated in this challenge or one like it? What kind of things do you like to challenge yourself to do to help you stay motivated and improve your writing skills? Let me know in the comments.

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

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

#authortoolboxbloghop

The Benefits of Writing By Hand

img_0407

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.

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

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?

#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Creating a Worthy Hero – AuthorToolboxBloghop

knight-2565957_1920

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!

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

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

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

save the cat

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!

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

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

time to revise

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.)

NanoBlogandSocialMediaHop2

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.