Four Things Young/New Writers Should Know Before Writing a Book

Four Things Young/New Writers Should Know Before Writing a Book

There’s nothing as exciting as discovering your calling. If you’re anything like me, then you knew from a young age that writing was your deal. Now you’ve decided to get serious about it. You want to take your hobby and turn it into a career, following in the footsteps of your favorite authors. You want to write fiction so compelling, a mass of crazed fans dress up as your fictional characters for Comic Con. Here’s the thing though: some writers enter the game with a skewed vision and find themselves giving up prematurely. So I want to share four things all young, fresh-faced unicorn writers like you must understand about the writing journey before you even begin: Writing is hard You must write for the love of writing It’s not about the finish line, it’s about the journey itself Joining a community of writers is a must   So let’s break this down a little more… 1. Writing is Hard You probably already figured this one out. Writing is never easy, especially when you put pressure on yourself to write your best all the time. Great writing takes time. It also takes patience, perseverance, and repetition. If you aren’t dedicated to the process, you’ll wander with no ultimate goal in view. There are also universal rules to writing great stories that can intimidate and confuse writers. Those rules can potentially leave you feeling inadequate. So can you still do it? Absolutely. You don’t have to write your best work all the time. In fact, you must allow yourself to fail because hey- you’re not perfect- and you can learn...
Flashbacks: When and How to Use them in your Story

Flashbacks: When and How to Use them in your Story

When is the right time to use a flashback in your story? Is a flashback necessary? Is it distracting from the plot? These questions (and more) have got you sweating. Why? Because you don’t know when and how to place flashbacks in your story. But don’t fret- you’re not alone, sweet lil’ Swedish Fish! So how should flashbacks be used in your work of fiction? Ask yourself three questions before you use flashbacks in your story.   Would the use of flashbacks be appropriate considering my story’s narrative voice? How does the flashback add meaning to the current (or upcoming) plot point? Which characters are affected by this flashback?   So let’s break down the first one…   Would Use of Flashbacks be Appropriate Considering my Story’s Narrative Voice/POV?: If you’re not sure what narrative voice you’re using in your novel, have a look-sy at this article here first: If you know what narrative voice you’re using, then it’s time to deduce mon amie. First Person Narrator is the ideal narrative voice for using flashbacks. F.P.N. is the least potentially confusing option for your reader. But before you introduce a flashback with a F.P.N. make sure the flashback: Helps readers understand the character’s choices/fears/limitations Builds upon the character’s personality or relationships Motivates the character arch (AKA emotional changing point)   Now, don’t get me wrong, cuddly Chinchilla, one flashback does not have to cover ALL these bases. It only has to cover one or two at a time. If the flashback isn’t doing any of these things, then it’s useless. Let me repeat myself and use italics for emphasis here:...
How to Write Powerful Scenes that Engage Readers

How to Write Powerful Scenes that Engage Readers

  Every writer faces dead scenes at some point (yes, including John Green and Rainbow Rowell). But your dead scenes still have buttloads of potential. Yes, two cheek loads. So don’t toss ‘em. And having meh scenes doesn’t mean you’re a terrible writer either, sweet flamingo. So let’s talk about how to breathe some life into your scenes. Every single scene has to motivate the plot by either: Building up your main character(s) Creating conflict World building (or doing all three!)       But first, let’s talk about the necessity of a powerful opening paragraph:   The Opening Paragraph: First paragraphs must propose questions to the reader. A powerful first paragraph sets the emotional tone for the rest of the scene. It spotlights the characters involved, offers a setting for the scene to play out in, and throws the reader right into the next plot point. Overwhelmed yet? Lol, don’t panic, baby. Consider these ideal examples of opening scenes:   “Alderaan was known to people throughout the galaxy for its beautiful scenery, its aesthetically pleasing architecture, and its commitment to preserving harmony and tranquility. Those people would have been very surprised by the scene at the Aldera spaceport, when the Tantive IV unexpectedly unloaded a hundred refugees from Wobani.” -Leia Princess of Alderaan Claudia Gray   “Mr. Hindley came home to the funeral; and- a thing that amazed us, and set the neighbours gossiping right and left- he brought a wife with him. What she was, and where she was born, he never informed us: probably, she had neither money nor name to recommend her, or he would...
How to Find Time to Write Every Day

How to Find Time to Write Every Day

You’ve heard the masters say the key to great writing is writing every day. And you’ve tried that before, but you gave up trying. Why? Because writing is hard. And life has this fun little way of getting in the way. Well, I need you to know something: I did the exact same thing you did. I tried writing every day. But life threw some nasty uppercuts. Plus, I believed I just couldn’t write unless I felt inspired to write. So I didn’t. My writing took a hit as a result. And I don’t mean my stories were meh. Nah, I mean, I couldn’t connect to the story and would abandon it as a result.   Do you know what else happened? I felt my desire to write slipping away I grew depressed because I wasn’t achieving my goals   Maybe the same is true for you. But you can avoid it. Not only this, but you can write every day and make it stick. So how do you make time to write every day?: You “sift” for time You focus on the carrot (or the reward)   Sift for Time Time is gold: it’s valuable and it’s the one thing we wish we had more of. Time, though, is much easier to sift for than gold. In fact, all of us do have more time to write. But we don’t think we do because we bury time with one big lie we tell ourselves. The big lie we tell ourselves is that we don’t have time. Now, I’m not suggesting our lives aren’t crazy or that we don’t...
How I Overcame Discouragement and Revived my Passion For Writing (and How You Can too)

How I Overcame Discouragement and Revived my Passion For Writing (and How You Can too)

You and I want nothing more than to write every day, all the time. But in the whirlwind of life’s demands, you lose energy, focus, and determination. You feel it in your gut. That desire for writing is fading. And worse still, no one seems interested in your work anyway. “Why don’t I feel like writing anymore? Does my fiction matter? How do I get my passion back for writing? Can I get it back at all? ” Yes, you can, you sweet little pickled onion. Promise. Because I went through the same thing not too long ago myself. Just a few months ago, life pushed everything I love into the background and plopped health problems and bills and rent and even more adulting onto my lap instead. My passion for writing began slipping away and I felt so helpless against it. Worse still, I saw my peers skyrocketing and I felt even more alone, resentful, and lost. I didn’t write a single word for nearly four months. So what changed? How did I start writing two hours a day for my blog and make book sales along the way?   The Wake Up Call I learned about a free seminar from a successful blogger named Jeff Goins. I downloaded his free eBook “The Writer’s Road Map: 12 Steps to Making a Living Writing” What I read woke me up. Jeff shared advice that, once I fiercely implemented, completely changed the writing game for me. I’ll share just three tips: Write every day even if it isn’t magnificent writing Real artists don’t starve as long as they work consistently...
4 Tips Writers Learn from Star Wars about Crafting Iconic Characters

4 Tips Writers Learn from Star Wars about Crafting Iconic Characters

Luke, Princess Leia, Yoda, Chewie, Han, R2-D2, Rey, Fin, Darth Vader… I don’t have to tell you which universe these iconic names hail from. (And if you’re anything like me, you’re counting down the minutes until you get to watch more of this universe unfold tonight!) Star Wars created awesome, ridiculously cool and iconic characters that took the world by storm. So how did creators like J.J. Abrams, George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan and others create such iconic characters? And how can you, a padawan writer, create characters as iconic and shimmering as these faces? There are four basic building blocks needed to create a character that resonates with your readers. So what are they?: a unique identity, an iconic friendship, an incredible feat, and emotional growth. So, let’s expand on these and how you can implement these building blocks in your work of fiction.     1. Unique Identity Crafting a unique identity for your character requires more than just a rebellious, wild personality. Unique identities are born from characters who take striking turns from unchallenged ideologies, paths, titles, or destinies. And Star Wars offers a plethora of unique identities exactly like this.   Take Darth Vader, for example: Vader was once a young and promising Jedi named Anakin Skywalker who did the unthinkable. He disregarded the Jedi code forbidding romantic relationships and married his childhood love. Breaking under the weight of fear of losing his wife in childbirth, this powerful young Jedi turns to the dark side and becomes one of the most powerful Sith Lords of all time. Talk about a seeeerious turn from the straight n’ narrow!...
The 3 Big Differences Between the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Genre

The 3 Big Differences Between the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Genre

Isn’t it true? In every science fiction novel, there’s starships, cold metal, and laser blasters? And in every fantasy novel, there’s magic and trees and elves? Aaaaand orcs. (didn’t forget ya rascally man-flesh eaters) But is it really that simple? Sorry, but there’s more to it. So what are the 3 differences between sci-fi and fantasy and why should these differences matter to you as a precious elven tree lord of a writer?     1. The Goal To quote Orson again (we’re on a roll here): The basis of every awesome science fiction story is the “what if…” debate. The “what if…” debate pits humanity (or aliens) against alien forces. Science fiction addresses an existing problem and explores solutions by saying “what if…” Let’s take Star Trek for instance. Star Trek explores the fascinating idea of human beings (and aliens alike) one day being capable of interstellar exploration. The “what if…” question, however, is renewed each episode. For instance, in The Devil in the Dark, the crew is attacked by a seemingly hostile monster. Through Spock, we learn this creature isn’t hostile, but a mother desperate to protect its young against attack from the crew. The “what if…” question for this episode was, “what if something we do not understand isn’t a monster, but very much like us instead?” Although science fiction, this series moved viewers to acknowledge the problems facing humanity and how they could overcome those problems.   So, then, what is the goal of the fantasy genre? Fantasy takes the “what if…” debate in a very different light. The “what if…” debate pits our world...
Why a Blog/Vlog is the Best Platform for Promoting your Work of Fiction

Why a Blog/Vlog is the Best Platform for Promoting your Work of Fiction

You’ve got a killer piece of fiction on your hands but you have no idea how to promote it. Plus, you don’t want to be that “guy” who promotes his fiction to all his friends like a sleazy, self-absorbed fop. So how do you promote your work of fiction in a creative way that actually gathers attention? How do you gather a following for your work that soon blooms into an insatiable fandom? You use a platform to promote your work of fiction. So what in the double hockey sticks is a platform? And most importantly, dear sunfish, which platform is right for you and your fandom-worthy work of fiction?   A Platform: A platform is as literal as it sounds. It’s a type of stage which allows you to do 2 things: It allows your voice to spread to an audience And it allows you and your work of fiction to gain visibility By using an online platform to spotlight your work, you cast your net around a greater potential audience. Now, you’re probably thinking that a reliable platform to curate your content is something like Facebook, Reddit, Medium, or even a website. But the problem with social media is that it isn’t a reliable platform to build your foundation on. Sure, writers like John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and Suzanne Collins all have Facebook pages, but they don’t rely on these platforms alone for building their platform. Why not? Because Facebook, Reddit, Twitter- they could all go down tomorrow. And if you create content solely on these foundations, you’ll lose everything you’ve worked on! Social media acts more like an invitation with an “address”...
The First 4 Steps Every Writer Needs To Take To Start Building Their Fanbase

The First 4 Steps Every Writer Needs To Take To Start Building Their Fanbase

Some writers think that eloquent words, unique characters, and wild worlds are enough to reel in the readers and have people bowing at your feet. But sorry, Jack. That isn’t enough. So what 4 solid steps can you take right now to start building your fanbase one screaming fangirl at a time?   1. Discover your Audience Reaching out to your audience begins with understanding who your audience is. And understanding who your audience is begins with understanding your novel.   Answer these questions: What is your book’s genre? How old are the main characters? What is the protagonist’s age and gender? Who’s POV do we follow? What is the message of the story? What does the voice of your novel sound like?- Youthful? Aged and wise? What other factors inspired your novel and influence your writing?- A song? Video games? History? A television series?   Once you have these answers you discover who your target audience is. If you’ve discovered that your book is for a young adult audience (like my books  are) then consider what books the kids are already into. If you’re writing a fantasy or science fiction novel, young readers will probably already be reading books like these:   Or if you’re writing contemporary romance, young adult readers will probably already be reading books like these: What popular books in your select genre have you read? Join groups celebrating these books. Why? Because in order to build a loyal fanbase, you must create genuine connections with freak fans who like stories similar to your own.   2. Reach out and Connect with your Audience Genuine connection...
3 Tips to Help you Slam Dunk NaNoWriMo 2017

3 Tips to Help you Slam Dunk NaNoWriMo 2017

  Are you one of the crazies who decided to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days? Well good on you, crazy, because you’re doing an amazing thing that is sure to 1 UP your writing skill. See, the awesome thing about NaNoWriMo is that you make a pinky promise to yourself and your work. You promise that you’ll focus on writing every day. Every. Day.   And, in devoting yourself to a daily word count, you do three things for your writing: You hone a stronger voice   You maintain a mental and emotional connection to your story and characters   You become finely tuned to inconsistencies or plot holes in your writing   And honestly you do just so much more but aye there isn’t time to keep listing, you know what I mean? So, being at nearly the halfway mark, how do you maintain that umph, that zeal for writing? How do you keep that pinky promise to yourself and your work? (after all, you did cross your heart and hope to die, so there’s a lot at stake here) You take these three tips with you because it’s dangerous to go this NaNoWriMo thing alone:   1. Write at the Same Time Every Day But Rae you and I both know that Tuesday I can write at 3:00 pm but on Wednesday I have soccer practice at 3:00 so, yeah, that’s not gunna work for me. That’s ok, but take a deep breath and consider this my precious Beckham: The point of writing at the same time every day is that you are training...

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