Tag Archives: writing tips

Grow as a Writer: Pick up a New Hobby

We’ve all felt guilty for spending our free time doing something other than writing, but what if I told you those hobbies that stole from your writing time actually helped your writing?

It may seem counter intuitive to take time to do something that isn’t writing and expect it to improve your writing, but there are some really good reasons why hobbies make you a better writer.

 

Helps you relate to characters

If all of your characters have shelves of books and stacks of notebooks with half-finished stories in them, you have a problem.

Image result for hermione books gif

Sure, it can be fun to give characters a love for reading or writing since it is what you are passionate about (and it’s definitely not wrong to do so) but your characters won’t seem real if they all enjoy the same things. People in real life have divers interests, so your character should be no different.

But how do you give your characters different interests and still make those interests seem real?

Give them an interest in one of you non-writing hobbies.

You will already know a lot on the subject, so you can pepper your knowledge into the character’s thoughts or dialogue to make the character’s interest authentic, and since you are passionate about that subject, it will be easier to translate that passion on the page.

And to give yourself more options, it doesn’t even have to be the exact thing that you do. For example, I love to sing and took piano lessons as a young teen and wanted one of my characters to have a love for music as well, so I gave him an aptitude for the guitar.

Image result for disney character guitar gif

I may not play the guitar, but I could use my memories of my first piano lessons to write his first attempt to play the guitar–all the wrong notes,  feeling awkward as you try to get your fingers in the right positions, the thrill you feel when you get a succession of chords right and excitement that you are actually playing a song. 😀

You can do this with any hobby. If you love to knit, give your character a love for crochet or sewing dresses. If you create digital art, your character could love to paint.  If you took ballet as a kid, your character could love to salsa dance or break dance.

*(I thought I’d add that there is nothing wrong with researching a hobby if you want to give your character a love for something that you’ve never done. It just saves time and makes it easier to write when you already know and love the hobby you give your character.)

 

Gives your brain a break!

Have you ever had a tune stuck in your head, but you couldn’t remember the lyrics? You would sit there for minutes, thinking so hard about it, but the words just wouldn’t come. Finally, you’d give up and go do something else. The moment your brain completely unfocused on trying to remember and got absorbed in something else, those lyrics would miraculous spring into your head.

Image result for aha moment disney gif

The same thing happens with writing. When we come across a problem in our story or an obstacle our character is facing that we need to create a solution for, we will sit at the computer screen and agonize over it when sometimes all we need to do is step away.

Our subconscious is a brilliant thing and will come up with a solution for us as soon as we distract our thinking minds and push our problem to the back of our minds to work out.

If you hobby is something like jogging or biking, then it gets you out of your head and gets oxygen and blood flowing to your brain so you can better solve those problems.

If it is something like sketching or photography, it keeps your creativity flowing while still giving you a rest from writing.

Whether your hobby is active  or more sedentary, it gives your brain a break so even if you don’t come up with an answer to your story’s problems while doing whatever you are doing, you’ll be refreshed and ready to think of something creative to fix it.

Image result for relaxed gif

So, writers, don’t feel guilty for spending some time doing other activities besides writing. You’ll get some valuable incite to your characters (not to mention you’ll know how to write a fight scene if your hobby happens to be something like jiu jitsu or boxing 😉 ), and make your writing time more productive because you’ll avoid feelings of being “stuck.”

I hope I’ve inspired you to start a new hobby or go back to an old one you’ve dropped!

I’d love to know what hobbies my fellow writers have! I enjoy singing, as I’ve mentioned, and I also like to paint (and am guilty of pushing it aside so I can write…I haven’t picked up a paint brush in months!)

 



Connect with me!

youtube button  pinterest button  twitter-button  Instagram

 

Advertisements

Why Authors Need Instagram

Do writers need an Instagram account? I’ll go over three benefits Instagram gives authors. (Seriously, I wish I’d started an Instagram account sooner!)



Connect with me!

youtube button  pinterest button  twitter-button  Instagram

Growing as a Writer: Read!

If you want to write, you have to read. There’s no getting around it. Writing without first reading is like trying to paint a watercolor without having ever seen one, or trying to compose a song without every hearing one. If you want to get a sense for the style and genre you want to write, you have to first explore it by reading.

If you’re like me and the whole reason you started writing was because you loved reading, then you’re probably thinking that reading isn’t going to help you grow as a writer: you already do it. But I’m not just talking about any type of reading. There are two types of reading that will really boost your writing skills.

Image result for reading gif

1. Read books on writing

While reading fiction is useful in learning the craft, there are just some things you aren’t going to absorb subconsciously by reading fiction. You can get a sense for the kinds of things that done in a story and the kinds of things that are expected in your genre, but sometimes you need someone to just tell you.

You can see from reading a story, that the characters change from the way they were at the beginning of the story to the way that they were at the end, but you may not notice all the subtle ways they were changing in the middle of the story or the way the author artfully set the character in situations where they were forced to confront their flaws.

Image result for elsa hurting anna gif

 

You may have a pretty good handle on the flow of dialogue from all of the fictional conversations you’ve read, but not know the tricks authors use to get inside their characters heads to make their dialogue authentic. You may know that a plot is needed for your novel, but be lost when coming up with one.

The list goes on and on.

Sometimes we really just need someone who’s done this novel-writing-thing before to tell us how to do it.

 

2. Read books outside of your genre.

Remember when you were a kid and you would skip around from mysteries, to literary fiction, to comics, to manga? You didn’t know what your favorite genre was, so you didn’t limit yourself.

For some reason, when we get older, we stop exploring. We know what we like, so we stick to that–especially if we start writing in a certain genre. We think that we need to accumulate a vast knowledge of every book ever written in that genre so we can write the best (name of your genre).

While it is wise to know the ins and outs of the genre you’re writing in, it can actually stifle you to only read in that genre. This is where we fall into the danger of using over-used tropes of that genre such as the old-man-with-a-grey-beard mentor character or the chosen-one-whom-the-prophesy-spoke-about-will-save-us-all plot.

Image result for the chosen one gif

We need to read outside of the genre we write to give us fresh ideas, to keep us from using what’s already been done, and to give us new ways of looking at things. And who knows? You may decide to write in a different genre.

Do you read a lot of different genres or do you stick to the same one? I tend to read a lot of fantasy (both high and all the sub genres) because that’s what I write. Yes, I’m guilty of this too. 😉 I do love a good historical fiction novel too.

Speaking of reading…my book is coming along nicely and it looks like it will be out in August! So put The Hashna Stone on your reading list because it will be available soon! 🙂

patreon-medium-button

The first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of my book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!



Connect with me!

youtube button  pinterest button  twitter-button  Instagram

 

 

 

Advice for Teen Writers

It’s hard when you’re a teen and adults aren’t taking your aspirations seriously and everyone is trying to talk you out of your goal to one day publish a novel.

I’m here with a pep talk and some advice I wish someone had shared with me when I was a teen writer. 🙂

 

 

patreon-medium-button

The first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of my book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!


Connect with me!

youtube button  pinterest button  twitter-button  Instagram

How to Write a Short Story (if you’ve never done in before)

If you’re like me when I first started writing, you want to try your hand at short story writing before diving into a novel. But since this is your first time, even the short story is overwhelming.

I’ve got you covered! I’ll walk you step by step through creating your first short story.

 

 

***The first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of my book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!

patreon-medium-button


Connect with me!

youtube button  pinterest button  twitter-button  Instagram 

Getting the Most out of Beta Readers

You’ve put a lot of effort into finding people to read your book, so don’t let that effort be wasted! Here are my tips for getting the most out of beta readers.

 

 

The first 20 to become patrons will get their name mentioned in the “thank you” section of my book. This is regardless of which tier you select. That means you can get your name mentioned (which is something only the highest level patrons get) for only $1. Yes, one dollar will get your name in my book!

patreon-medium-button


Connect with me!

youtube button  pinterest button  twitter-button  Instagram 

Beta Readers 101: Beginner’s Guide to Beta Readers

Hey Epic Dreamers!

If this is your first time sending your book off to beta reader, you have a lot of questions.

  • How do you find them?
  • What exactly is it that they do?
  • What even is a beta reader?

I’m going to answer these questions in 5 minutes, so you can get back to those beta readers. 😉

 

 

 

patreon-medium-button


Connect with me!

youtube button  pinterest button  twitter-button  Instagram 

Creating a Story in 5 Days

I recently challenged myself to come up with a complete story within five days. I went from a vague idea to an entire story, complete with characters who grow throughout the story, setting, magic system, etc. I knew how it would begin, how the main character would have to change to overcome the challenges at the end, the backstory and motivation for each character, and even had a magic system up and running.

None of the story is actually written–it’s all an outline and a bunch of character sheets–but I felt pretty thrilled with myself for getting a whole story concept created within five days.

 

Image result for seriously meme

It made me think, “What was it that made this story outline/world building go so quickly and smoothly?” Previously, my stories have taken much longer for me to flesh out. Now, to be fair, this would be (if I decided to write it) a stand-alone book, one view point, and (I’m guessing) wouldn’t be much more than 50,000 words. While The Hashna Stone turned into more than one book, has two view points, and ended up being 100,000 words. Plus it was my first book to plot and write, so I was still learning.

But even with these differences, I think there is something to be learn with the process I used for this story. And just so I won’t annoy you by how many times I say “this story,” let’s call it Story x.  😛

So, you guessed it, I’m going to share that process with you!

Image result for sarcastic yay gif

Step 0

I’m not going to call this step one because it starts before you ever begin writing. Story x came to me while walking in the park one cold February day. I didn’t try to hard to make everything come together. Didn’t consciously allow myself to “work” on it. I simply allowed my mind to wander and go where ever it wanted to while I walked.

This is important to do with every story idea. At this stage, you haven’t put any work or time into it, so you’re free to make it whatever you want. Let the wildest ideas play out in your mind. Take different turns with the story, ones you couldn’t do once certain parts are nailed down.

This is where you find out if the story is even worth pursuing. If you have a main character, a supporting character or two, and even a vague idea of a plot, then you should probably go for it. (Oh, and make sure you are excited about it…if you feel only kind of “meh” about it now, you’ll only feel frustration later after months of work).

 

Step 1 

Gather all your thoughts on paper or in Scrivener or Word or where ever you record your stories. Write whatever you came up with in step 0 no matter how crazy or how much the ideas seem unrelated to each other. There’s no particular order you have to go in. It doesn’t matter if you start with characters, plot, a cool magic system, the villain’s life story or the fact that you want a character named Philomena (that is a real name, but don’t take it…I may use it in a story 😛 ). Just write it down in an organized way–whatever that means to you.

Image result for writing gif

I use Scrivener, so I like to have all my characters in one folder, then a folder for world building where I’ll put the rules and history of the magic system, and the aspects of the county the story takes place in. Then, I’ll have a folder for plot.

The first thing I wrote was actually the villain’s story. Once I knew their backstory and why they would behave the way they did, it made it easier to see where Story x was going and how the villain would affect the protagonist’s life.

Then I wrote the protagonist’s backstory. Then I jotted down my vague idea of what the magic system would be, and my even vaguer idea of the world.

You’ll notice that I didn’t write anything for the plot yet. When I tried to write a plot at this stage, I ended up with my main character’s everyday life and the inciting incident (well not even a full inciting incident because all I had was something like “something happens and she decides to run away). I find that some of my stories do better when I let them be character driven.

For Story x, I knew that a girl that had been locked away her whole life would runaway, experience the world she never knew….and…yeah…I don’t know. Stuff would happen.

Image result for I don't know what I'm doing gif

It was completely opposite for The Hashna Stone. I had a better idea of the plot then I did of what the characters were like or what they wanted.  I knew a boy would find a ruby in the middle of the woods, he would meet a bunch of kids living out there, and he would journey to the castle, and there would be a happy ending.

Again, just write down whatever you know at this point. You can expand later.

 

Step 2 

Find the part that interests you the most and start digging deeper into that area. I was really interested in why a woman would kidnap a baby (the protagonist) and keep her locked away her whole life.

I did kind of already dig into that in step 1, but now it was time to go even deeper, or if feel you can’t know about this part without some of the other areas being fleshed out, then go to the area that interests you second. A story idea isn’t like a piece of yarn, straight from end to end, but like a web, all the parts connecting, depending on each other for support. Sometimes you won’t be able to figure out  a particular part until you’ve discover another area of your story.

Image result for spider web gif

Since I felt that the woman/villain’s story had gone as far as it could with out me knowing a bit more about the other players, I moved on to the tutor.

I didn’t want the girl to be completely ignorant, so I knew that she would have a tutor, but that led to the question, “What type of person would be okay with keeping a girl locked away like that?” This led to an interesting backstory about how the tutor came to be there and why he never tried to get the girl out.

 

Step 3

Repeat step 2 for as many times as you need to so that you have a good idea of what your characters are like, how the magic system works, and any little things like that that you want to discover.

 

Step 4

Come up with a plot. At this point, I think I’d been working for three days on Story x. I knew my characters well, and my world was shaping up pretty good, but I didn’t have a “what happens.”

To come up with what would actually happen in the story, I asked myself these questions about my protagonist.

  1. What is a normal day for her?
  2. What would completely shatter her world?
  3. What does she want? Goals?
  4. How do the other character’s goals conflict with these?
  5. What problems could arise in pursuit of her goals?
  6.  What lesson does she have to learn by the end of the story?

By the time I finished answering all these questions, I had a plot. Bam! Like magic. Answer a few questions and I had an entire story.

Image result for magic gif

Now, you may already have a plot, and if you do you can still use these questions to add detail to your plot. I wish I’d asked myself these questions when coming up with The Hashna Stone. It would have made plotting much easier!

 

Step 5 

Time to outline. The last thing I did was take everything I knew about that story and put it into a nice, structured outline. I used the 3 act 9 block 27 chapter outline, but you can use whatever method you like. This is way too much to explain in this post (unless you want me rambling on for another 1,000 words 😛 ) so check out the link if you’re interested.

 

So there you have it! This is how I came up with an entire story in five days. Give it a try and let me know how it worked for you. I’d love to know the kinds of experiences you all have with this. Or tell me about how you create stories and outline. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing as a Writer: Blogging

Hey Epic Dreamers! Welcome to the second post in our Grow as a Writer series. The last Thursday of every month we’ll be discussing ways to grow as writers. It’s all about how we can stretch ourselves and strengthen our writing skills.

Today we’ll be discussion how blogging can make you a better author.

Most of you Epic Dreamers already have a blog of your own…that’s how you came across Invisible World in the first place. So you’re probably thinking, “I already blog. Tell me something I don’t do. This isn’t the big writing secret that will give me a writing superpower.”

Image result for superman gif

It may seem a bit anticlimactic since it’s something you’re already doing, but knowing why we are doing something keeps us motivated to continue doing it even when it gets repetitious or we run out of ideas.

It’s pretty obvious why writing a blog post would improve your writing skills.

1. You get use to putting your thoughts and ideas on paper.

2. You get better at wording things and making your sentences flow.

But that’s the boring stuff (well maybe not that boring…we writers are a bit nerdy). What we’re really looking for is how to be better authors. We want the skills that will make us better storytellers. If all we cared about was the technical side of writing, than we would spend our time creating a textbook on grammar. What about all that stuff that will help us pursue our dream, whether that’s finding an agent, self publishing, or gathering a following on Wattpad?

Image result for grammar gif

Posting on a blog may not have all the bells and whistles of story writing, but it will still strengthen the skills needed to be a writer.

There are two main reason why I’m glad that I started blogging before I started writing my book. And as I’m sure you guessed, I’m going to share them with you. 🙂

 

Discipline and Commitment

If you start a blog, you have to be committed to it. It can’t just be something you start one weekend because you’re bored and you’ve already read your copy of Me Before You five times and are tired of sobbing when you get to the end.

Starting a blog means committing to a certain number of posts each month. It means disciplining yourself to write even when you don’t feel like it.

Making yourself sit down to write regularly and building your skills at committing to a long-term project are exactly what you need to be an author, no matter the platform.

If you don’t have the discipline to write a 500-word post, how will you write a 100,000-page novel? If you aren’t committed enough to post regularly, will you have the dedication to put out new chapters for your Wattpad audience?

Image result for discipline gif

A blog gives you a place to practice discipline and commitment on a small scale so when you decide you want to give that 100,000-word novel a try, you already have the skills needed.

 

Gets you used to others reading your work

It’s a bit daunting for new writers to share their work. Writing isn’t like completing a math equation. You’ve put your heart and soul into it. You’ve created something that wasn’t there before. From somewhere deep inside, you’ve pulled out a whole new universe. You’re basically a magician.

Image result for you're a wizard harry gif

But in spite of this incredible gift you have and all the effort you’ve put into your story, there’s still fear rising in the pit of your stomach at the thought of anyone actually reading it. What if they don’t like it? What if they think it’s boring? And what if they have *gasp* critiques?

This is your precious, perfect little baby and if anyone says anything negative about it, that would stab a knife through your heart.

That might seem a bit dramatic to any non-writers reading this, but anyone who’s written a story knows exactly what I’m talking about. You’re not just sharing a story. You’re sharing a piece of yourself that no one has seen. And that’s scary.

Instead of waiting until you have a whole novel before you let someone see that piece of you, try sharing snippets at a time.

A blog is a perfect platform for you to share short stories or scenes from longer works before throwing your 100,000-word baby at someone and hoping they don’t tear it to pieces.

I never experienced the deer-in-the-head-lights panic that so many authors talk about when I first shared my book with people, and I attribute that to this blog. I was so used to people reading what I wrote that it was like, “Yeah, that’s why I wrote this…so people can read it.”

Image result for eye roll disney gif

Besides teaching you discipline and getting you used to sharing your work, it also gives you a place to experiment with what styles or genres work for you and gives you a place to meet other writers.

I highly recommend blogging to anyone even remotely interested in writing stories, even if you aren’t sure writing fiction is for you. Once you’ve blogged a few months, you’ll know. I started this blog as an experiment and now, four years later, I’m still doing it. And if that isn’t a writing superpower, I don’t know what is. 😉

So if you haven’t started a blog by now, what are you waiting for?!

 

 

 

Growing as a Writer: Learn from the Best

Hey there Epic Dreamers! Welcome to the first post in my how-to-grow-as-a-writer-themed series. On the last Thursday of every month, I’ll be writing on how to grow as a writer. If you are new to writing these post will be perfect for you to learn how to strengthen your writing skills. If you have been writing for awhile, these posts will be a great way to expand your knowledge and challenge yourself. And if you are a pro at writing, well, go ahead and leave because I have nothing to teach you oh wise one.

teach me wise one

If you have no idea what I’m talking about and are wondering why I’m doing these themed posts, read The Theme For 2019.

The first topic I chose for these posts is a bit obvious. It’s probably the first thing you would think of if you where coming up with ways to grow your writing skills. But I still thought they were worth mentioning because they will lay a foundation for the other things I’ll mention later on in the year that have helped me grow as a writer. This is the cement slab on which all your writer dreams will come true, so don’t skip it!

They all fall into one category: learning from the best. How does an artist learn to draw? By copying other artists. How does a composer learn to write music? First by learning songs that others have written. We learn from the wisdom of others who’ve gone before us. If we want to be better writers, then we need to find someone who is better than us and learn from them.

Since most of us don’t just have a writer sitting around outside our front window, sipping on some tea and writing dramatic prose in a leather-bound notebook while waiting for us to ask for their sagely wisdom, I’ve compiled some other ways to learn from the best. 😉

 

1. Read Books on Writing

Again, this is a no brainer–most of you have probably read some books on writing–but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded (and if you’ve never read a single writing book, well it doesn’t hurt to be told to either 😛 ).

Image result for I have to read mem

Books are a great way to get into the mind of fellow authors, and learn from those who have already gone through the process of writing a book so you’ll know what to expect through your own writer’s journey.

Here are some books to get you started.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee (Don’t be put off by the word “screenwriting.” This books is excellent for learning the technical side of storytelling. The things he discusses is just as applicable to novelists as it is to screenwriters.)

Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins

The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

 

2. Conferences/retreats/classes

I may be a bit of a hypocrite for mentioning this since I’ve never attended any conferences or writing classes myself, but I’ve heard from others about how beneficially they can be so I didn’t want to leave them out.

Writer’s conferences, retreats, or classes aren’t just a good way to learn about the craft, but a great opportunity to meet fellow writers. Chances are, you’re the only one in your neighborhood or group of friends who is into this nerdy writing thing. Going to a write’s conference means (I bet you’ll never guess) there’ll be other writers around. It’s a great time to learn from others who are starting out, make friends with others make up worlds out of thin air, and finally have someone who gets why you can’t get into the latest book that everyone is talking about because the author did the unforgivable and described the main character by having her look into the mirror.

Image result for ariel looking into mirror

I would love to do one of these, but they can be a bit costly, which is why the next item is on the list…

 

3. Listen to podcasts

If they’re aren’t any conferences being held nearby and you can’t take of work to go to one, and classes aren’t in your budget (I hear you….”I’m an aspiring author for crying out loud! Do I look like I have money?), then hope of learning the secrets of writing isn’t lost. You can learn from the best in while wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and sipping on some hot chocolate (or while you’re doing mundane tasks at work like I do).

Image result for boring work gif

I listen to Writing Excuses  all the time. The podcast was started by Brandon Sanderson (all you fantasy nerds like me just rushed to click the link) and hosted by him, Dan Wells, Howard Taylor, and Mary Robinette Kowal. They frequently have guest on the show as well.

I love this podcast because they cover so many topics. Everything from world building, to character arcs, to query letters, to self publishing…the list goes on and on. I feel like I could never exhaust their archives no matter how much I listen to them.

The other great thing is that they are only 15 minutes long (sometimes 20 😛 ) so no matter how busy you are, you can always squeeze in 15 minutes even if it’s just on the drive home from work.

 

Hopefully my little list inspired you to take a step in improving your writing. Whether you’ve been doing this for a few years or just started yesterday, we all need to continue learning about the craft.

So, what’s your favorite way to brush up those writing skills? Books, classes, podcasts? Let me know in the comments!