You’re Writing a New Book? How Many Chapters Will it Have?

After reaching chapter 8 in my newest novel/novella/whatever it turns out to be, Saving Flight 926, I have started telling my friends about how it is going/asking for advice, since I am having trouble with the length I want.

Anyway, every SINGLE time I’ve worked on a book, everyone asks me the same question: “how many chapters will it have?”  There’s something about this question that really bothers me.  It’s like asking a painter, “Oh, you started a new painting?  How many colors are you going to use?”

I have actually seen many authors who have outlined their story chapter by chapter.  They can say what they want to happen, but do we every really know if it’s going to happen that way?  Novels will take various twists and turns through the months it takes to write them.

For me, many of my books turn out to be much shorter than I originally wanted in the first draft.  SF926 I wanted to be 110 pages, when it will probably be somewhere around 80 or 90.  The thing is, author’s never really know what will happen in their stories will effect the length (or at least I don’t).  However, we do know what we want.

So the next time your author friend is telling you about their new book, don’t ask how many chapters it will have.  Ask, “How many chapters do you want it do have?”

5 Easy Ways to Make Time for Writing

We live in a world where everyone is busy all the time.  We’ve all got places to go, social media accounts to manage.  I’m a college student with a boyfriend, sorority, and now and online job.

With the start of Saving Flight 926, my newest novel, I’ve started making the excuse that I’m “too busy” to write.  Well, that’s partially true.  I am pretty busy, but there are ways to cut out time.  Here are 5 of those ways:

1. Cut the Netflix:

I struggle with getting lost in a show, especially not that my boyfriend lets me use his Netflix.  Try watching just one episode instead of two…or five.

2. Waiting Time

I did this a lot over the summer at my job.  If you have some waiting time before an appointment or class, take out your phone and use a note taker to start a chapter.  You can always email it to yourself later.  I could write entire short stories in-between customers.

3. Travel

I fly from home to school a lot.  Instead of watching a movie for the plane, car, bus, or whatever ride, try taking out your laptop.

4. Stay Away from (a little) Social Media

Things like SnapChat, Facebook, and Yik Yak can be super fun, but sometimes we can spend quite a while reading posts when we could be doing something, well…far more important.

5. Brainstorm During Busy Times

When I was in high school, I’d plan out the details of a chapter while walking down the hall.  It might not work for everyone, but brainstorming beforehand could lead to a lot less staring at computer screens when you get home.

Basic Grammar: Punctuating Dialogue

This is something I’ve been wanting to cover for a while.  As an aspiring author who wants to get into the field of copyediting, grammar is one of my huge pet peeves.  Today, let’s focus on dialogue.

Okay, so, what is dialogue?  Well, it’s your characters talking/singing/screaming, etc.  Basically, something you’d put quotes around.

So, how do you punctuate dialogue?  This can be tricky to master at first, but over time it’ll be like riding a bike.  Let’s start with a basic sentence of dialogue.

“I love riding horses,” Sally said.

Before a dialogue tag such as said, whispered, stuttered, or replied, use a comma. Just as I did above.

Now, if you just have a he/she/they said, we’re going to keep the comma, but use a lowercase after the quotes.

“I love riding horses,” she said.

Even after a question mark or exclamation point, keep your hes/shes/theys lowercase.

“Like this?” they asked.

“Yes!” he yelled.

If no action or dialogue tag comes after a sentence of dialogue, use a period.

“How do you feel about horses?” James asked.

“I love riding horses.”

You also use a period if an action precedes or follows dialogue.

Kim opened the door.  “I’m leaving.”

“I don’t think so.”  Jesse grabbed her arm.

Some other tips: 

-Use a hyphen if your character is st-st-stuttering

-Cut off dialogue with an EM DASH.  Not a hyphen! 

“Say wha—”

Separate Words: bestfriend, highschool, etc. 

I’m literally just searching for something to rant about tonight. Anyway, I’ve noticed a trend of people putting words together that are actually two separate words. 

Bestfriend=best friend

Highschool: high school

My question is, what made people stay putting these two words together. Most of them are in high school. Do they not see the sigh that says “high school” every morning when they ride the bus in? 

What about “bestfriend?” When I was a kid, I had a BEST FRIEND. Even in preschool I knew they were two sepeate words. Is our education system that bad now? 

Hopefully people will see this post and know that these words are actually two words. That’s all for today. 

The Learning Experiece of Failed Stories

I was chatting with my friends last night about Euphoria, my least popular story. This book was written when I was 18; so far my only fantasy novel. 

From the start I recovered not so good feedback from my fellow Wattpaders. I was surprised that someone like myself, who wrote such good things, was receiving such negative feedback. 

I went back and edited, trying my best to answer the requests of my readers. Still, no luck. After almost 3 years, Euphoria has little reads. 

Sometimes this happens with our works. The best is yet to come, and sometimes the worst does actually happen. In our heads it works out, but as soon as we tell others around us, we get weird looks and silly laughs. 

I noticed that people have difficulties giving up on their stories–I still do. But I’ve come to realize that when I story is beyond repair, it’s a waste of time and energy to keep tinkering with it. 

To this day I still think there is SOME WAY I could change Euphoria so that it made sense. But then I remember that I’m in college and have a new job. 

So, those stories you gave up on or that are too much work to ever fix–don’t worry about it. Take what you’ve learned and use it to further your skills. (I learned that fantasy isn’t my thing.) Everything we write is a learning experience. 

Writing with “the Trend”

Finally got some new inspiration today. The topic: book trends.

I started editing again in order to gain some new followers on Wattpad. (I’m only 33 away from the big 1K!) So this girl tells me about her story. It’s a zombie apocalypse. AKA, a topic that has been done over and over again in the past years.

With shows like The Walking Dead and movies like World War Z, zombies have been all the rage since I was a freshman in college. (2012). And I noticed that as a writer, topics change. On Wattpad, there used to be lots of zombie stories, and there probably still are. The new fad appears to be demons, for some reason.

Anyway, I fell victim of writing towards a trend in hopes of getting popular. When, back in 2012 where vampires were drawing near the end of their peak, I found out about a girl, the same age as me, who wrote a vampire novel on Wattpad, got 15 million reads, and got signed by my dream company, HarperCollins.

So I set out to write a vampire novel. I wanted to stay in the fad while still being different, so I did what I called a “reverse Twilight.” I had an evil, vicious, bloodthirsty female vampire, Taliah, and a dim-witted, but hunky, college guy named Tristan. I finished this book in April 2013, when nobody cared about vampires anymore. To this day it only has a few thousand reads. I even started a sequel (Fangs and Fortune) that got a lot of praise, but just never went back to it.

Meaning of this post: don’t write something just because you think it’s cool to write it at that time or because everyone else is. There is no chance for a novel to be published after a fad is over. Stick with timeless things, and don’t worry about these crazy fads.

Critic vs. Critique

Being someone who is in the desperate race on Wattpad to gain followers as I near my longtime goal of 1,000, I am once again running a critiquing service.

Time and time again, I see people, some as old as 16, mess up the word “critic” and “critique”. This got me thinking. Maybe it’s not stupidity, but just a common mistake.

So, to eliminate ANY confusion for anyone out there, here are the actual definitions for these two words from the Webster’s Dictionary:

Critic (noun): one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter.
Ex. She is a harsh critic.

Critique (also a noun): a careful judgement in which you examine the good and bad parts of something.
Ex. Hans gave a critique on Elsa’s meatloaf. He said it was dry and salty.

Another example: I am a critic who leaves critques on fiction stories.

So please, never ask someone, “Can you please leave a critic on my story?” Or post an advertisement saying that you “will critic any genre.” These are two different words with two different meanings.