Okay! So for that anon asking about blog recs for blogs similar to mine, here it** is:

ablogwithaview / abookblog / aliteraryescape / aseriousbibliophile / awriterabroad /
/ bibliophilefiles / bibliophilem / bookconservator / bookgrotto / bookish-soliloquies / bookishfellows / booksandpublishing / booksandquills / booksandtea / bookslutss / conqueringshelves / completelybooked /

days-of-reading / deadpoetsmusings / dreamwriter12 / dukeofbookingham / ehnlee / falling-inlove-with-books / feelingsofthesecondarycharacters / fiveflavorsofwriting / fmtpextended / freckles-and-books

girlinterruptedreading / hundredsofcharacters / iceman-writing / jessicameats / k-frances / ladyariels / libraryshelves / mellifluousbookshelf / microaerophilic / onewritersworld / parchmentjunkie / prettybookish

read-chocolate-books / tea-and-bookishness / tealeavesandpages / theartoffiction / thedancingwriter / theliteraryluggage / thescalexwrites / violinwaist / waitingforwinterr / wherethewildbooksare / whispering-literature / write-like-a-freak

**please don’t be offended if you weren’t on the list and I do follow you (or we’re on good terms, actual friends, etc)! I plan to do a follow forever eventually because there are a lot of other great blogs I’d recommend. I only listed the above ones because the anon asked for blogs similar to mine. Without anything further, I had to assume they meant blogs that aren’t heavy on the YA, maybe offer writing tips, and/or have an unhealthy love for Harry Potter sprinkled throughout**

***bolded blogs are my irl friends but still great book/writing blogs***

6 Important Questions to Ask About Your Characters

There are multiple layers that make up each character, and external forces can affect their dynamics. However, each character will always have an innate personality that they tend to go back to, especially in stressful situations. These questions (and others) can help establish that core personality.

1. Is he/she assertive?

2. Does he/she prefer solitude or to be with others?

3. When provoked, does he/she fight or flee?

4. Is there one person that he/she cares for more than anyone else? (It doesn’t have to be romantic.)

5. How does he/she react under pressure?

6. Is he/she resourceful?

Two Blogs You Don't Want to Miss!

A wonderful blog that I follow for wonderful writing tips, Dreamwriter12. The author of the blog is currently doing example edits that are very interesting to look through, get ideas, and just see through there eyes.

Another blog I love, not-ideal, posts interesting writings, passes on wonderful artists and shows lots of love to the people the author follows. I’ve found some wonderful blogs to follow through not-ideal.

I hope you’ll all give them a look and see if they might be what you need popping up on your dash.

Make Every Scene Count: Action and Conflict

Action scenes are a crucial part of narration in a story. They aren’t always sword fights or full-fledged battles, but regardless, the nuts and bolts matter. Whether the scene is a small plot point in the story arc or a large one, the craft of writing one should be done with care; action scenes can be tricky. So my advice is to focus on two main areas when getting down to the nitty-gritty: the writing structure itself and the minute details that make up the structure. Each contributes to the scene to make it more intense and realistic.

Writing Structure
First, pick up the pace. Use shorter dialogue and sentences to move things along. However, try to harmonize this with natural flow and keep things in “real time.” By that, I mean describe the actions of each passing minute. A greater abundance of details in those short sentences lets the reader know that this scene is an important one that will likely have a long-term affect on the plot. Another trick to speeding things up is to make your characters react with their gut more than their brain; the act of deciding quickly without dwelling on future consequences brings a sense of urgency to the scene.

Action scenes are one of the few places where readers really expect and appreciate extra tension and big reactions. In other words, drama. Drama is one of those touchy elements that I’m not overly fond of personally. Too much drama throughout a book can be rather annoying, and it tends to make the book less believable. However, when paired with a specific action scene, drama has the power to intensify the situation and increase the reaction of both characters and readers. Adding unexpected consequences or extra conflict will heighten the drama in the scene and can increase the stakes, making the impending actions of the characters involved pertinent to the outcome of the plot.

Close calls will enhance that drama. They cause characters (and readers) to hold their breath and hope for the best. They can be used to build tension or to introduce new conflict. For instance, if one character is running from another and both have guns, a few near misses will likely be exchanged before someone is hit. But once one of the characters is wounded, the whole dynamic of the chase changes. If the pursuer is injured, the person he is chasing might very well get away, amplifying the stress of the situation and developing the plot further. If the character fleeing is the one injured, the reader will suddenly become tense alongside the character.

Details help polish a well-written action scene. They are the last-minute touch that really dresses up good writing. Strong verbs are one of those details. The stronger the verb, the stronger the action that is conveyed. If you see a weak verb anywhere in an action scene (i.e. went), replace it with a stronger one (i.e. strutted).

The five senses are another great asset. They increase tension and urgency. When a description of those senses comes into play during an action scene, a short wave of slow motion can be perceived. This type of effect is quite simple to achieve in movies but is a bit trickier in writing. Adjectives as well as a few well-placed lengthy sentences can be used to achieve slow motion.

General Tips
If you’re still struggling with perfecting that action scene, try these tips:
1. Act out the scene to get a handle on body movements before writing them.
2. Research any weapons being used in the scene and how they are used.
3. Study other writers, particularly ones that are known for their craft of writing great action scenes.

Overall, use action scenes sparingly and balance them out with other types of scenes. A nice balance of scene descriptions and effective pacing throughout the story can bring an intensity and power to the action scenes.

Make Every Scene Count: Is It a Keeper or a Write Out?

Many times during the writing and editing process, you will find yourself facing the question, “Should I keep this scene or toss it?” It’s important to first determine whether the scene is crucial to a plot. As a professional editor, my advice is generally to cross out any scene that does not propel the plot forward, develop a character, or create further conflict. However, we all have our scenes that hold sentimental value. When confronted with this type of scenario, there are two main options: write out the scene, or adapt it to the plot. The best choice depends on the particular scene.

The following are some questions you can ask yourself when deciding whether to rewrite a scene or scrap it:

1. Does this scene in any way significantly alter the outcome of the plot?
2. Does this scene strain a relationship between two or more characters?
3. Is this scene in line with the personalities of the characters and the overall feel of the book?
4. If there is dialogue involved, does it serve a purpose, and is it in character of those speaking it?
5. Does the scene contain extraneous information that could not be derived from surrounding events alone?
6. Does this scene change the mindset of one or more characters involved in any way?
7. Does this scene resolve any previous conflicts?
8. Does this scene further the complexity of the plot?

“Yes” answers to any of these questions indicates there might be need for the scene and that adaptation of the scene might be best. The more “No” answers you have, the more likely it is that the scene is truly unnecessary and probably should not be kept. The only question that is completely under the discretion of the writer is number eight. While complex plots are intriguing, you will eventually have to draw the line somewhere so you can start solving the issues you’ve introduced. However, it’s totally up to you where to draw that line.

So, is your scene a keeper, or is it a write out?

A New Approach to Writing Young Adult Fiction

One of the most read and written types of fiction today is young adult fiction. Many of its authors find themselves at the top of the best-seller list and gain an ever-growing fandom. But many readers and new authors of young adult fiction find themselves shying away from it more and more. Perhaps it’s because of all the best-selling “love” stories creeping out of the woodwork. Or maybe it’s because the subject of vampires, zombies, and the like have been beaten to death recently (no pun intended). Whichever the case, I’m going to step out and be bold for a minute and proclaim that this genre should NOT be thrown out the window. Not only do I think it should be written more often, I think it should be celebrated and admired by new authors. No, I haven’t gone bonkers. I think what is required to transform this niche is simply a new approach. If any type of fiction needs a new makeover, this one is certainly it. So how does one go about writing a YA fiction that is both unique and well-liked?

Don’t make it a love story.

Love stories often are cliché, and they tend to lack a worthwhile plot. That’s not to say that you can’t include any romance in your story. Romance and love are very natural parts of human nature (and other creatures as well), so it’s unlikely that it can be avoided altogether. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be realistic if the subject didn’t come up at all. However, there are ways of incorporating love connections in stories without writing them as though they were shoved in there “just because.”

Develop a story arc that isn’t a love triangle. Figure out what you want out of the story you’re writing, the points you’re trying to make (if any), and what the reason is for telling the story. Then let things play out how they will in the romance department; let your characters guide you. If you get to know them well enough, you will see that they can sometimes act unexpectedly and will respond differently to one another (and others) depending on the situation. For example, an otherwise argumentative, yet passionate, pair who normally dislike one another and don’t typically see eye to eye may suddenly find themselves bonding (sexually or otherwise) when faced with certain doom. In just the same way, new lovers who are completely attached to one another may end up realizing that their differences are far more reaching when they are placed under extreme conditions in close proximity to one another. This can either strengthen their relationship in the long run, or it can break it. In real life, love can be unpredictable. If written correctly, romantic scenes and connections can portray this authenticity well.

Don’t avoid topics just because they’re supposedly overdone.

I know that the mere mention of vampires, werewolves, or zombies can lead to automated eye rolls and groans. But the truth is, if an author makes a story with these subjects unique but authentic, readers will enjoy and appreciate the story anyway. The trick is research and a vivid imagination. One certainly shouldn’t write a fantasy story full of supernatural creatures just because they’re selling well right now. But with the same token, don’t avoid the genre just because so many have been written recently. If you truly make it your own and create a story and worthwhile plot that captivates readers and keeps them yearning for more, the subject matter will matter very little. Keep in mind that there will always be those who like a certain niche more than others regardless, so you can’t expect to please everyone. Write what you intend to write, and write it well. This is how you will reap your rewards as an author.

Make your characters well-rounded.

Nobody likes someone who is perfect. Why? Nobody is perfect. Everyone of us has flaws, no matter how minor or major. So don’t make your characters this way if you want them to be taken seriously. If you want to write a character that is muscular, handsome, and attractive, give him some flaws—and not just personality ones. Make one ear higher than the other. Make him so vain that he’s addicted to plastic surgery. Make him a terrible kisser. Give the reader something unexpected. This will make your character truly unique and will likely make them more real and relatable to the reader. Complete stereotypes are also just as annoying as flawless characters. If you’re going to make a story revolve around a quiet, smart girl that’s a loner, don’t make her a Plain Jane. Make her attractive. Make her have self-confidence, even to a fault! That will keep every guy from wanting her. After all, not everyone will fall for a cocky b****, no matter how pretty she is!

I hope that after reading this, a few of you authors out there will take a new approach when it comes to both writing and reading YA fiction. Maybe you’ve even developed a new liking for it and would like to take a stab at it yourself if you haven’t already. The key is to keep a positive attitude about it and an open mind. It truly can be one of the most rewarding types of fiction; after all, in what other time of life does one change, learn, and grow so much?

Make Every Scene Count: Beginning with a Bang

Writing the First Draft
When planning the opening scene for a story, there are two approaches you can take: a direct approach and a subtle approach. The direct approach is the option most writers take. The so-called action of a story begins immediately, and the reader is submersed in the world created by the author, usually alongside the center character(s). The subtle approach, though less often used, can actually be just as effective if executed well. It involves starting with a seemingly normal scene that soon reveals unusual circumstances, objects, etc. A story of this nature is often told in limited omniscient point of view (though not always), starting big and zooming in on a scene.

One you’ve chosen your method, it’s best to get right to the action. And no, that doesn’t mean that you have to start with the stereotypical action scene. As I stated previously, you can choose a rather normal scene with some oddities. The key is to start with a place where the plot is progressing and not with backstory; you can weave backstory in later. Movement should be your focus; as long as the plot is developing, your readers will be interested.

The other thing you want to avoid is commonly occurring scenes for the particular genre you’re writing. For instance, if you’re writing a mystery, don’t feel that you have to riddle the opening scene with death. You could have an investigator studying an almost-closed case where he realizes something is wrong. You could have a convicted felon escape from prison with some inside help. You could have an investigator stumble on to what he thinks is a case only to have it be a bust. The point is, there are numerous ways to tackle a common genre without giving it a typical opening.

If you know the method you want to use and have an idea for a developing plot, there is only one thing left to do: write. The initial writing process is different for everyone. My personal take is to simply write and not overthink things. After all, what is written can always be erased or altered, but what isn’t written won’t always come back to mind later. The downside is that this makes for more editing later. Another technique is to write only what you feel is necessary in the scope of the whole book. This is certainly more difficult to do but reduces the amount of time you’ll have to spend editing later on. Both strategies have their pros and cons.

The Editing Process
Once the first draft of your opening scene is staring you in the face and you’re ready to tackle editing, be prepared to get down to the nitty-gritty. Here are some suggestions you might want to follow as you push through the editing process:

1. Keep an open mind. Yes, your story is your baby, and you probably don’t want anyone bashing it or tearing it apart; however, if you’re really eager to improve your book, know that editing is a must.

2. Get a second (and third or fourth) opinion if you can. Look to someone you trust to be honest. Getting an outsider’s view on your book can prove really useful in catering to your targeted audience.

3. It’s all about details. Details make or break a scene. Quite honestly, they make or break a book. The trick is to provide enough detail to paint a vivid picture but avoid excessive detail that might bore your reader or cause them to discover important plot points prematurely.

4. Only include what is essential to the plot. If a line, paragraph, or scene doesn’t alter the plot or cause it to advance in any way, cut it. A good story is a natural progression of events that are told in a specific and methodical manner. The point of telling each scene should be to propel the plot forward.

5. Cut out any extraneous words. “That” is one of those words that I am guilty of overusing myself. It’s the first word that I look for when weeding through unnecessary parts of my story. Here’s a good rule of thumb about using it: only keep it if it’s essential to the meaning of the sentence. Another example is actions similar to sitting down. It’s obvious that you’re lowering your body when you sit, rending the word down unnecessary.

6. Replace adjective/verb couplings and weak verbs with stronger verbs. Doing so makes for stronger writing and more compelling text.

7. Set goals and deadlines for yourself when editing. Editing is the part of the process that writers typically hate the most. So treat it like you would a deadline at work or school. Set a reasonable goal for what you want to accomplish in a certain time period and stick with it. Have someone hold you accountable if need be. Reward yourself when you meet your goals.

Once you’ve gone through the stages of writing the first draft and editing it, go through the editing process again. And again. And again. And again. Perfecting a book takes time and practice. It’s very unlikely that you’ll end up with the end product you want after only a few edits. A friend of mine (a fantastic writer by the way) is on at least round thirty of edits, and she’s still ironing out kinks. But after reading the revisions she made, I can tell you it was worth it. Her story was transformed from great to phenomenal.

Write What You Don't Know: Writing Prompt #6

Forgetting about mythology and anything you might have read about in any other story, make up an entirely new species. Write a short scene involving this species. Be sure to include things about their appearance, diet, behavior, and any special abilities they might have.

Happy writing!

Write What You Don't Know: Writing Prompt #4

You’re a college student studying religion in one of your classes. During one of the lessons, something strikes you about a particular one. Suddenly, you find yourself immersed in it, unable to keep from participating. What if you really believed in it? How would your lifestyle and current relationships change?

This exercise is meant to get you thinking critically about other religions and how someone of a religious faith might perceive things. Some characters with these beliefs may have few changes in their lifestyle, and others may have several drastic ones.

BONUS: Write about a religion or set of beliefs different from your own.

Make Every Scene Count: Introduction

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be making posts for a new series blog of mine, “Make Every Scene Count.” It will cover tips on making each scene you write a better one. The tips are meant to be tools to help you focus on which scenes are important, both in initial drafts and during the editing process. I’ll cover beginning and ending scenes, action scenes, love scenes, and more. The articles will be geared toward fiction writing.

If you have any suggestions for topics to include on scene development, or want to share any helpful articles for writing scenes, please submit them; I’d be glad to share, and of course, include the source. :)

Editing Promos

In conjunction with the editing examples I’ve been posting on this site, I’m running a promotion on my editing services for anyone interested. During August and September, I’ll be providing free full editing on the first two pages of any short story or novel submitted to me. Also, if you mention this blog, I’ll give you 20% off any future editing service. :) My thought is to hold this promotion primarily for the college students out there who are writers but can’t really afford to hire a professional editor. I know you guys deserve just as much of a chance as anyone else, and I’d love to help out.

If you have any questions about the promos, or need more info, just ask away!

Looking for Volunteers!

For my shorter weekly posts, I’ll be including some editing examples and tips. I’m looking for some volunteers to submit up to 5 paragraphs from either a short story or novel you’ve written. I will edit and post all submissions.

You’ll get free editing on those paragraphs as well as an overall assessment based on the content submitted. And I’ll of course credit the writing with your linked username, unless you wish to remain anonymous. It’s a nice way to get a second pair of eyes to look over your writing, get your name out there, and it would really help me out. Just be sure to include that it’s for the example editing short posts when you submit!

Also, I’m still looking for suggestions for vocabulary words, so feel free to submit those too.

Why Good Writing Matters: Internal Consistency

This is the final blog in my Why Good Writing Matters series. My husband is to thank for the idea for this post in particular. His profession is pretty much the complete opposite of writing, but he always has great insight into the field anyway. One of the many reasons I love him! Now, onto the good stuff…

Have you ever read a book that had a great plot, intriguing characters, and a distinct voice but lacked consistency throughout it? If so, did it irritate you and ruin the book for you, or did you view it as no big deal?

This may not be the case for everyone, but stories that lack internal consistency–that is, they have plot holes or material that contradicts some other part of the book–really grate on my nerves. In my brief research mentioned in the introductory post for this series, I found this topic held the most disagreements. Some readers weren’t overly bothered by inconsistencies, and some equated them to blasphemy, ruining an otherwise perfectly good book. There was also a spectrum of opinions in between. Where people stood in the spectrum depended on the type of inconsistency and the frequency of it for any given book.

That just goes to show there is a lot of gray area with this one. I’m not certain only a few minor inconsistencies are enough to deem an otherwise well-written book garbage. However, there are a few things regarding internal consistency that really do matter. These are the things that your readers will pick up on and remember even after they’ve finished the book. So if you want to make sure you get it right from the start, focus on these key elements.

Keep reading

Why Good Writing Matters: Introduction

During the next week or so, I will be making posts on my first blog series, Why Good Writing Matters. Each blog will address one aspect of writing and why it is important for making a book a fine piece of literature. What sparked the idea for this series? After skimming down the pages of various websites, I noticed that there was some controversy by posters as to whether or not so-called “good writing” was essential for a story to be deemed enjoyable. I then scanned some writing websites, seeing if the controversy carried over to a more specific audience. My findings confirmed the theory that there are several people who believe such skills aren’t that big of a deal and have little influence on whether a book was good or not. This got me thinking. Why do some readers and authors care very little about the mechanics of the writing, so long as the story (plot) is good?

After some quick conversations with a few of my non-grammar-loving friends who enjoy reading, I discovered that this was actually a rather in depth issue. It seemed that the degree of interest the individual had for the level of writing skill was dependent on several factors. It mattered how much the individual read on a regular basis, what types of books and genres they enjoyed, their familiarity with a wide range of literature, and how much they cared about the English language (grammar and the like) in general. The differences from one individual to another were astonishing. Two people that seemed to like the same genre could actually have a very different viewpoint when it came to a specific work of fiction based on their experience and interests in other areas.

My conclusion? I’m not sure there is a definitive answer as to why some people care more about the mechanics of writing than others, or even if there is a right or wrong answer as to whether it’s totally necessary. For me personally, I’d be hopping on the train for those who believe good writing absolutely matters, but I do still respect those who have a difference of opinion and are solely reading for enjoyment, having no interest in discussing the details of the writing craft itself. However, for the sake of this blog (and my editing career), I’m going to take a stance on this one and make a case for the side that proclaims not only does it matter, but that good writing is what makes a good book, a good book!