For Writers

Story A Day September

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This September I’ll be participating in StoryADay with Julie Duffy.  Each day a prompt will be emailed to participants. You can choose if you want to write a short story every single day of the month, or just on certain days.

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I first heard about StoryaDay through a diyMFA event, and I was hooked on the idea of trying to write multiple short stories during one month.  For next month, my goal is to get at least ten short story fairytales. In my current WIP, the heroine has a book of beloved fairy tales and these will be stories I will use for that book, which may be something I will use as a giveaway at some point. I also want to write five other short stories which I will be posting here on my blog, so keep an eye for those!

Another cool thing I found on the StoryADay website is the Which Famous Author Are You? quiz.  Here’s my result:

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And I’m totally okay with that (though I do write a lot of fantasy)! I love Patterson’s books. I haven’t read anything by JoJo Moyes yet, but now I think I’m going to have to. 🙂

Since I always have more than one choice for these quizzes, I took it a second time and got this result:

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This is pretty accurate as most of my work tends to be YA fantasy with a fairytale twist. And I’m pleased with these results as well! 🙂

What about you? Have you ever participated in StoryADay, or another event like this? Let me know in the comments!

 

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My Favorite Writing Resources -#authortoolboxbloghop

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

 

For Writers, NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo Goal Planning with Downloadble Template

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Hi all, Camp NaNoWriMo starts today! I can’t believe it’s already July.

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I am participating in Camp again, but I realized as I was prepping that I really needed a weekly goal sheet to help me stay on track. Since I’m not writing a novel, but rather making revisions and edits, there are a lot of pieces or small jobs that go along with that: rewriting a chapter, fleshing out some research, rearranging scenes and coming up with a satisfactory timeline, and so on.

To help me keep track of what needs to be done when, I created a weekly goal sheet that helps me outline all that, and I wanted to share it with you all as I know some of you may be doing the same kind of thing for camp.

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I’ve added the Google link to the document here.  For those who would rather print it out here’s a word doc.

What about you? Are you doing Camp NaNo this year? What are your goals and how are you tracking them? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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Using Bio Poems for Character Development – #authortoolboxbloghop

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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?

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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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10K words in a Day – #authortoolboxbloghop

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.