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.

5 Tips for More Interesting Characters

Are you characters boring? Are critics telling you that they’re flat and have no personality? I ran into this exact situation a few weeks ago. Follow these simple steps for more colorful, interesting characters. 

1: Give Them A Habit

What does your character do every day? Do they check their social media? Read the paper? Walk the dog? By knowing their habits, readers can better know your character. 

2. Give Them A Hobby

Hobbies are a key personality trait of your characters. Just like every person alive, give your character a favorite past time. 

3. Include Some Insecurities

Overly confident characters are such a bore! Whether it be height, weight, or trying to impress everyone, make sure your characters have something that holds them back. 

4. Loners Are Not For Long Stories

For a few page story, a loner character may work great. But for something longer than a few pages, it’s not the best idea. Always have someone else for your character to talk to every once in a while. Dialogue is key to their personality. 

5. Give Them A Quirk 

Is your character overly apologetic? Self-centered? A downer? Or maybe they’re careless? Always make sure your character has some type of quirk to liven them up. 

So, what IS fiction?

Every time I have to read a story for my extremely tedious fiction II class, I get frustrated when writing commentary at the end of the story. My professor always asks us to explain what makes the story fiction. I’m always sitting there thinking, “well it’s not true, so that makes it fiction.” Fiction=not real.

Fiction’s online definition basically says the same thing, but a lot fancier. It is defined as, “literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that described imaginary events and people.”

So it isn’t real and also requires the use of the imagination. Dictionary.com defines fiction as a “made-up story.” But then again, parts of nonfiction can also be made up. My professors called this “heavy embellishing.” So if parts of nonfiction can be made up, then therefore, the whole entire fiction story must be made up.

So we’re now at “a story where everything is made up and you have to use your imagination” as our definition.

But how can you relate this definition of fiction back to every single story you read in class? Well if a story has a dragon in it, the answer would be “dragons don’t exist, so that makes it fiction.” But what if the story is actually very realistic? Let’s say it’s a couple going to the coffee shop and they break up while they’re there. This has happened to millions of people. What makes that specific story fiction? In order to answer this question, just like fiction, you will have to make something up.

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…

When Your Story Feels “Lame”

Today was day 4 of my publishing journey. I worked on edits of chapter 4 of my novella Knowing You’re There.  On the first paragraph of the chapter, I wanted to stop reading. Something about the way I’d written it just felt…well…lame, corny, cheesy.

I’ve had a similar problem with some of my other books. The writing style just feels really unnatural and uninteresting. I try to make my characters interesting, but instead I’m telling instead of showing and not captivating readers at all.

So what do you do when you’re rereading your story and it sounds lamer than a bad horror movie? Try some of these suggestions:

Copyedit: it won’t have super great results, but it’s at least something. Fix some grammar mistakes and change some words around. Maybe that will make it sound at least a little better.

Start Showing: I know that most of the times when my story feels lame, it’s when I have long paragraphs of my character telling the reader a story or explaining something. Show an example of what they’re explaining. Ex, I changed my scene from Lia explaining how she punched her bff Sarah’s boyfriend once to her actually punching him.

Just Write Something Else: back when I was editing my story Hype a few years back, there were parts that sounded so terribly lame and unimportant that I just deleted them. I don’t recommend this as a first option, but in severely cheesy situations, it might be best to just delete the lame part and write something else in it’s place.

Hopefully these tips are helpful.  Happy writing!

Necessary, Fluff, or Necessary Fluff?

Today I began my 3rd day of edits on my novella Knowing You’re There.  In case you have not seen my 3 previous posts, I am currently in the process of editing it for publication and found out that my word count was extremely, extremely lacking. About 22,000 short of 50k, the minimum for YA novels.

Anyway, today I started editing chapter 3, and I am pleased to say that the word count has officially moved up to 29k! (whoopee!) While a 500-word extension is great progress, there is one important question in mind: is what I’m adding just fluff?

I think any author would consider every part of their story to be important, unless it’s something extreme. Today I added better transitions into new scenes. Instead of just saying “two days later…” I put a few sentences about what happened each day.  I would kind of just call this “necessary fluff”. The events weren’t super important, but they were necessary to make a better transition to the next scene…right?

So, with that, I have created 3 definitions to separate the additions that writers may want to include in their work:

Fluff: not needed. Excess details, information that serves no purpose.

Necessary Information: character development, moves the plot along, shows the reader something that they need to know.

Necessary Fluff: extends the word count of the story, but also offers slight character development and more specifics.

And there you have it.  Stay toned for more updates as I tackle chapter 4 tomorrow!

My Publishing Journey: Day 2, A Chapter 2 Success Story

While feeling slightly under the whether and having a rough time yesterday, I did my best to go into the edits of chapter 2 of Knowing You’re There with a positive attitude. Today I needed to focus on more of the whole extending thing and some character development. There weren’t may copyedits to be done, but I fixed any errors that were there.

In chapter 2, my main character, Lia, is currently riding home one a plane with her guide dog and little brother. In between eating gummy worms, she daydreams and gives the readers a nice chunk of backstory into who she is, and where she wants to go in life (be a famous drummer).

I looked at some of the details and noticed that I jumped from Lia wanting to be a drummer to wishing she had a guy very quickly. I took the time to expand on how Lia fell in love with drumming and how she got to be as good of a basement performer as she is. I also deleted the few sentences where she explains how she became blind, (yes, she’s blind) and decided to save those for later, in a new scene that will happen later on when she finally tells her boyfriend Kurt how she became blind.

I’m hoping that having both the readers and Kurt find out what happened at the same time will be beneficial to the story and make it a little more exciting.

Also in chapter 2, I decided to end with Lia making her plan of “having an adorable boyfriend Christmas” and finding a man, instead of the original when she just gets of the plane, is scared in the airport, and almost falls down the escalator. I may or may not use that to open chapter 3.

At the end of edits today the new info in chapter 2 extended the story a whopping 600 words, moving our official word count up to 28,760. I’d say things went extremely well today, and I’m looking forward to what chapter 3 has in store for tomorrow.