Time Traveling Through Your Old Stories

Last night I was snowed in and bored here in the Northeast. I thought it would be entertaining to read a book that I haven’t touched in years. I settled on my fantasy story Euphoria that I finished back in 2012, when I was 18. Back then, it was my only story that didn’t receive good reviews. I couldn’t figure out why. I created a whole different world and had a main character that was vastly different from anyone else I’d seen. 

Now, after finishing my writing degree, I caught on to every mistake, every repeated word, every time I told instead of showed. In a way it was completely embarrassing. People had to sit through and suffer through chapters of repetitive facts, info dumps, and my main character, Violet, who had to tell readers multiple times that yes, she was smaller than everyone else. 

I guess the main point of this is that we shouldn’t feel ashamed of our own stories,and we shouldn’t be scared to go back and read them (a problem that I’ve always had). Our old stories show how much we’ve grown as authors. They’re part of our journey to achieve whatever it is we want to do in the writing world. Back in the day, I was extremely proud of Euphoria, And I still am. 

Of course, now reading it had inspired me to go back and update all my old books, but that’s a project for another time. 

When Your Character’s Snoring is Totally Boring

While doing some rewrites on my novel Misconception this week, I noticed a common theme. A whole bunch of chapters ended with Taliah, my main character, falling asleep. At first this seemed fine. Taliah traveling into dreamland at the end of all these chapters was a great, easy way to wrap things up for the time being. 

It wasn’t until last night that this particular thought ocurred to me: Does this ending make my readers want to read on? 

No! No it doesn’t! This is terrifying! How else am I supposed to to wrap up a chapter? If this applies to you, I’ve got you covered. Here are some ways to wrap up a chapter other than your character simply falling asleep. 

1. A Forshadowing Nightmare 

Yes, it’s very cliche, but a nightmare that leaves readers questioning will prompt them to keep on turning those pages. 

2. An Interruption

Imagine just about to close your eyes after a long day, settling into bed, turning off the lights, and then there’s a knock on the door. Or a crush coming from downstairs. Maybe your character forgot something? Or perhaps, someone else is in the bed. An unexpected surprise will leave readers on the edge of their seats. 

3. Make It a Sleepless Night 

A chacarter that tosses and turns is a lot more lively than one who just lies there. Ending your chapter with a character occupying their sleepless self can help you transition into the exciting stuff that happens in the next morning. 

4. Just Think of Something Else

If it’s nighttime in your chapter and you really just want to wrap things up, skip ahead to the next morning or find a different exciting way to end your chapter. 

I used all of these methods to get Taliah out of bed and on her way to doing something exciting. Try them out and see if they work for you guys too. See you all next week. 

Warning: Construction Zone

This morning I thought of the analogy that editing a story is like renovating a house. You may think that you’re only doing some cosmetic changes like a new floor and a fresh coat of paint, when really, you are suddenly motivated and find yourself changing the entire layout of the house and building an addition.

This is what I have discovered while working on my story Misconception this week.

I went into editing hoping to just give the book a quick refresh, fixing grammar, changing some sentences, and lightly touching on the plot of the story. Well guess what? I found myself deleting almost an entire chapter and writing two new ones.

The goal of this was to make the story appear more logical, (since everyone knows what a stickler I am for trying to have my stories make sense.) So, without spoiling the end, here’s what’s changed in Misconception this week:

1. Introducing the Candlelight Vigil: 

Originally, chapter 8 featured a small few paragraphs about Taliah, our main character, attending the memorial service for Molly, the girl she supposedly killed, during the day at a park on the college’s property.

I got myself thinking, “Wait. How could the school have a memorial service if they weren’t entirely sure that Molly was dead?” No body was ever found. If the school didn’t know that she was dead, a memorial service would make no sense.

This is where the vigil comes into play. Readers are introduced to Megan and Giovanna, two friends of Molly who make two very different speeches about their “missing” friend. This is the game changer that caused the entire layout of my analytical house to be changed.

2. Everybody Knows Something New:

Before writing the vigil chapter, readers and Taliah thought that Molly was of course, dead. Now we all learn at the vigil that that is not the case. This requires me to write a brand new ending, as well as some searching scenes.

3. Beware The Vampire Hunter:

Chapter 8 started with the memorial scene and included the entire vampire hunter scene. This was of course, changed to expand on the vigil and include a bit of Taliah looking downtown for Molly.

Originally, Taliah was invited to a fake “faculty party” to lure her into a banquet hall where she would battle the vampire hunter. She essentially walks into an empty room at first before the lights go out.

Taliah is a lot smarter than that, so I had to put in a little more effort to try and convince my vampire gal that there was a possibility of a party going on. This included a lady near the doors handing out name tags, two doormen (who chain the doors shut after she enters) and speakers throughout the room with recorded voices on them. So, as Taliah descends down the long hallway towards the hall, she hears the noise and starts to believe that there may actually be a party.

Stay tuned for next Sunday’s update! I can’t wait to see what new ideas I’ll come up with as I keep working this week.

Things You Definitely Shouldn’t do if You Want Beta Readers

After four days of completing my first round of edits on my story Knowing You’re There, I am on to the next step in the publishing process: getting beta readers. While I’d love to have a great post for you guys about how successful I’ve been, I have the exact opposite. So, I’ll use my failed attempts to have a laugh and help you guys as well.

So here are five things to NOT do in the process of finding beta readers:

1. Ask Your Friends

This so far just hasn’t been successful for me. If my friends were in the writing field, not busy college students, and were being paid, you would probably have more luck.

2. Ask Your Relatives

I just haven’t even attempted this one after my past outcomes. Three years ago, all I asked my sister for Christmas was to read my short novella Euphoria on Wattpad. I gave her three months to read the 80 page book. Instead, I got a Spongebob DVD. My mom has not read a sentence of Saving Flight 926, the book I started in January.

3. Beg

If your current beta readers aren’t committed, they’re still not going to do it, even when you beg. If they’re busy or uninterested, they’re not going to do it.

4. Not Explain Your Deadlines

While I’m not a beta reader expert and really am kicking myself for not researching more on the topic, surely everyone needs a time where their beta readers should be finished. If you don’t give them a deadline, they may think they’ll have unlimited time. I literally just explained this to my boyfriend, who had no idea.

Finishing Edits…but Are They Really Done? 

Hello all. I’ve Ben away for a while, mainly because of schoolwork and the fact that I wasn’t really doing anything writing related. I had only 15 pages left of edits for my novel Knowing You’re There, and I finally finished that, along with formatting the whole thing and putting it into a Google doc for beta readers, which is a whole different story in itself, because when I told everyone I was starting my publishing journey they were all volunteering, and now everyone is either not interested or too busy. 

Anyway, the focus from the beginning was always the length of my story. I managed to increase the word count from 42K to 46K with a few new scenes. However, that’s still not enough. So I found myself suddenly making an outline of 7 chapters that would definitely not be fluff and would actually further plot and character development for Kurt and Lia, my starring couple. 

Now the big question is: do I go through with it? A large part of me thinks I should. However, I’m a tired and lazy college student. But since a novel is trimmed down anyway I the professional editing process, I’m going to say that it would be a good idea to extend it. Now all I need to do is find some committed beta readers who will work for free…

“But I’m Tired!” The Procrastination Struggle

I think every writer since the beginning of time has faced this issue: we’re tired and don’t feel like getting done what needs to get done. Let’s face it, writing is a lot of work, no matter how much we love it.

I had a pretty large gap in the past few days between my edits of “Knowing You’re There.” Right now I am currently on chapter 7, and would like to have the novel beta read by the end of the semester so that I can go home and work on it throughout winter break. But the realization of homework and TV hit me and I took a break.

I could’ve been about 5 chapters ahead of where I am. But that’s not important. Well, actually it really is to me, but my lack of recent success isn’t the main point of this post. So, how can we as writers overcome the fact that we’re tired or want to do something else?

1. Just keep reminding yourself

What bothers me the most about not getting a chapter done in KYT is that time is slipping away. And that thought just seems to repeat itself over and over again.

2. Tell yourself, “This is more important.”

It’s true. Unless you think that show on Netflix is actually more important than your writing career.

3. Consider coffee

Or an energy drink. Or candy. What ever you need to keep yourself awake and focused after a long day of work/listening to professors talk about how smart they are.

As always, I hope you fellow writers find these tips sarcastically funny, but also a little helpful at the same time.

The Best Mistake I’ve Ever Made

This morning, I sat down at my desk to begin edits on chapter 5 of my novel (not novella any more!) Knowing You’re There to get it ready for publication.  As I read the first few lines, I decided to scroll down to the last page because I forget how many chapters I had. That’s when the biggest revelation in this whole process hit me. In the document, I only had 18 chapters. When I checked on Wattpad, that wasn’t the case.

I had forgotten to save the last NINE CHAPTERS on my flash drive! This was obviously the reason why my story was so incredibly short. So I did what any other thrilled mistaken author would do: I copied and pasted everything into the document on my computer. After feeling hopeless about my 29,000 word story, this event has breathed new life into the process. In total, KYT actually has 43,000 words. Mind. Blown.

So what does this mean for the future?

Well, seeing as how I’m not up to my hopeful goal of 50k (which I’d really like to be 60 or 65k now) there is still a lot of work to do. Thankfully, I only have to extend the story by 10k or 12k instead of 20.

Since it is much longer, this means that it will take me loner to edit. But there’s no rush. I wanted to have the book sent out to publishers in May when I graduate.

So if anyone needs me, I’ll be running around campus celebrating and doing happy dances in my room. I couldn’t be more thrilled about what happened today.