How to Stay Interested in Your Book

Imagine having a great idea for a book, but not necessarily planning out the whole thing. You’ve got your setting and main character, you know what is going to happen to them throughout the book, but you start writing and just don’t feel that same passion. This happened to me once, and I hope it never happens again.

Writing a book you’re not passionate about can be a total drag. Of course, if you have OCD about finishing your books like I do, you can’t just stop writing it. After suffering through the writing process of a book I didn’t feel connected to, I devised a list of five ways to change your book so that you can not only make it to that last-chapter finish line, but have fun getting there!

1. Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

There’s nothing more interesting than writing something you haven’t done before and have no idea about. It’s fun to research and then apply what you’ve learned into your book. In my current novel, Fangs and Fortune, my main character Taliah is an expectant mother. I chose to go this route because, well, I’ve never done it before! It’s helped me get excited about the book and learn about something I didn’t know much about.

2. Write About Something Close to You

Grief, loss, and trauma happens to everyone at some point in life. If you can’t think of a struggle for your character, try incorporating something that was difficult for you in life. Maybe they were bullied or had anxiety. Maybe they lost a loved one or were a victim of a crime. If your character shares the same experience, no one knows how they feel better than you.

3. It’s Okay to Change Course

My action story, Saving Flight 926, was originally going to be the thrilling tale of my main character Arabella, an aviation-obsessed 17-year-old, landing a plane full of people and becoming a hero. When the plane landed on page 30, I knew I had to have a different approach. The second half of the story describes her struggle with PTSD. If something isn’t working in your story, just try something else!

4. Bring Out Your Fun and Crazy Characters

Now I’m not talking actual characters here. I’m talking about real people. In high school, I loved incorporating people I knew into my stories (and sometimes still do). Bringing in people from your real life takes away the process of having to think of personalities for all your characters, and for me, was a ton of fun to write. I loved incorporating common things they said and their personality traits. Just be sure to have them go through a name change.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

We all like to think of ourselves as novel-writing geniuses. And then we hit writer’s block. After the plane landed in Saving Flight 926 and Arabella was home with her family, I had no idea what to do! So, I reached out to some friends for help. One said, “Why don’t you have her struggle with PTSD?” It was the “eureka” moment for me. I never even thought of that! I truly believe that it would have taken me so much longer to finish that book if it weren’t for the help from my friend. Friends and family help us when we’re stuck in life. They also help when we get stuck on books, so reach out to them!

 

 

Never Giving Up on Your Blog

For this weeks entry, I chose to stick with a more personal topic instead of an advice post. Well, not really too personal, but just not an advice post. It’s fun to change things up, right?

Over four months ago I started consistently blogging again, sitting down and writing  a post every Sunday, usually in the afternoon or night because I can never think of what to write. In that time I’ve gotten maybe ten new followers, an okay amount of likes, and so on. I’m honestly surprised that I haven’t given up and stopped updating on Sundays. This is probably one of the most consistent things I’ve done in my life.

Looking at the stats page and seeing days with no views, seeing posts get no likes at all, sharing my blog over social media and seeing no improvement-it’s difficult, and sometimes I question whether or not I should stop writing on here.

But I definitely won’t until something literally inhibits me from doing so. Just like with our stories, some posts will be more successful than others. My most popular post doesn’t even have anything to do with my blog. I mean, it is technically writing advice because it warns everyone that they shouldn’t write for the scam website University Primetime. It’s just like how an unexpected story we write can become so popular.

Giving up is something that writers literally just can’t do. If we don’t market ourselves or finish our work, we’re never going to get published and achieve that dream of walking into a bookstore and taking a book off the shelf with our name on the cover.

No matter how little views or likes you have, never give up on your blog. Never give up on writing consistently, sharing it, or constantly trying to improve it. Someday, you are going to write that post that will get a lot of attention. Will today be that day?

How to be a Great Wattpad Critic (In 5 Easy Steps) 

For this weeks post I’ll be focusing on something that has been a big part of my Wattpad journey: critiques. They’ve helped me not only teach others, but gain friends, followers, and feedback for myself. While it is tons of fun, being a Wattpad critic isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are 5 steps to get your critic journey going, and going well.

1. Advertise! 

Wattpaders won’t know you’re a critic if you aren’t advertising! Head straight to the designated help thread and post an advertisement. Here’s mine, made from a simple photo editing app. Picture advertisements will help you stand out in a long thread. 


2. Ditch the Complicated Sign Ups

I’ve mentioned in past posts about how much I hate special forms when seeking help from other Wattpadders. Forget forms, special passwords, etc when having others request your service. Keep is short and sweet. Explain what you’re willing to help with and your payment. Don’t ask for story descriptions, titles, or say, “what you’re looking for help with” etc, either. I’m going to get real here. If you’re a critic, you should be helping with everything, not ignoring some things and pointing out others. 

3. Don’t Sugar Coat, but Don’t be Mean Either

ALWAYS be polite and honest when performing a critique. Even if the book is literally the worst thing you’ve ever seen and every sentence makes you want to rip your eyes out, don’t resort to saying things like, “this sucks.” But don’t only point out the positives either. Our job as critics is to help others improve their work. Even seasoned writers feel hurt when getting negative feedback. It’s part of the writing process. 

4. Always Re-Read Your Feedback

Having a sophisticated, grammatically correct feedback post or comment will not only improve your reputation with the author, but can even attract others to seek your feedback after seeing your post in the comments section. Always re-read your feedback before posting to make sure there are no errors, and to see that you’ve said everything you meant to. 

5. Respect the Author’s Feelings

Many times, authors will be very unhappy with even the slightest amount of negative feedback. They may say things like, “Thanks, but I disagree.” Or “Thanks for your feedback, but I’m not changing that.” And you know what, that’s OKAY. Never feel like you wasted your time doing a critique for someone who doesn’t want to listen right now. Eventually they may change their minds and fix their work, and your comment will still be there for reference. 

The Seven Deadly Sins of First Chapters

A first chapter can make or break your story. In the publishing world, the opening line of your story could mean the difference between the person judging your story moving on or setting it aside in the rejection pile. After being an online editor and critic for nearly five years, I’ve seen my fair share of bad story openings and have compiled this list of openings so terrible that they’re practically sins. 

1. The Alarm Clock

I’ve seen many stories starting of with things like “the alarm clock started ringing” or even “BEEP! BEEP!” The first line of your story should be exciting and drawing the reader in. Instead of the noise of an alarm clock, start off with your character being late for something important. It’s still extremely cliche, but at least a little more exciting. 

2. The Fashion Show

Most of the time after said alarm clock goes off, I see teenage characters getting ready for school. The authors tend to get a little carried away, describing the character in full, including each individual element of their wardrobe, including jewelry, makeup, and even nail polish. Remember, first chapters need to hook the reader. I’m sorry, but as nice as your character’s outfit is, it’s just not that interesting, and as a matter of fact, neither is the whole school thing, which brings me to my next point:

3. School Time!

I’ve seen way too many normal characters heading to normal high school on a normal day, which makes for a very uninteresting first chapter. Of course, there’s a lot of exceptions, like being a new student or having something exciting happen at said school. 

4. Being Different and Letting Everyone Know

As writers, all our characters are special in their own way. Every main character has something we love about them that sets them apart from everyone else in the story. That’s why we chose them to be the star. Every main character in every story is different from the rest of the population in that story in some way. Never start off with your main character explaining how “different” they are. Stay focused on action and leave all those explanations where they belong, in chapter two. 

5. Breakfast

I’ve had to critique and edit stories where all of the above happened except for the character actually getting to school. Unless your character’s breakfast is crazy or something really important happens during it, the best thing to do is just save those sit-down meals for a later time. 

6. The Big Backstory

A lot of things need to be explained in stories, including a character’s background. However, every detail of your character’s life doesn’t need to be said in a first chapter. Again, save all the mundane details for the second chapter. 

7. Super Exciting Letdowns

Imagine reading a great first chapter. It’s interesting, exciting, and you can’t wait to see what happens next. You’re reaching the last few lines of the chapter, ready to turn the page to chapter two, and suddenly the character has just woken up, about to get ready for school. A word of advice: readers do not like being disappointed! 

Fellow authors, I guarantee if you stay away from these writing sins, your first chapters will benefit! 

Things to Remember Around the Competition

I started worrying last night. Today is the first day of my very long anticipated Fiction II class. The intro class really kicked my butt so I’m pretty nervous about how tough the higher level will be.

Of course, when you’re in a writing class, everyone is always whispering about who the “best writers” of the class are. Everyone is going to be looking over your work. One bad paragraph could ruin your reputation, so it’s easy to start stressing about everyone else. Here’s a few tips on how to stay cool when you’re around another group of writers.

1. Remember that no one else is perfect: 

It’s true though! Every writer has their flaws, and everyone will mess up at some point. Let’s be real, we go through TONS of ideas before we finally have a winner.

2. Don’t let titles or fancy awards get to you: 

I’ve had classes with award winning writers, people that are top editors for the school paper, and people with tons of publications. It can feel really intimidating at some points, or even all time. (Mostly all the time for me). Just remember that you’re all in the class to learn and improve your skills.

3. Everyone has different strengths: 

I get worried in fiction classes because I’m stronger in nonfiction. Everyone has areas of writing that they’re better at than others, and that’s totally okay!

4. Be yourself! 

While it may be intimidating to be around a bunch of competition, just remember to relax and be friendly. Having a good relationship with the class will make being there that much easier.

Four tips, because I just can’t think of a fifth one for some reason. Enjoy the rest of your week everyone.

Why Real Critics Shouldn’t be “Sugar Coating”

A while back when I first started doing critiques on Wattpad, I noticed a common trend in the posts of the advertising critics. This trend was usually at the bottom, and was under the caption “Sugar Coating.” These critics wrote in their post things like, “I will sugar coat” or “Please let me know how much sugar coating you would like.”

I was baffled. If they weren’t going to be giving honest reviews, then what were they doing? Well, when you look at it, being a Wattpad critic is a great way to get follows or reads on your own story.

Then again, I’m sure that many critics know the backlash we receive when someone doesn’t like what we have to say. I’ve been called a “bully” and a bunch of other names by Wattpadders.

The thing is, we shouldn’t let that stop us. There is no way on earth that I’m going to stop telling people what is wrong with their story because I don’t want them to get upset, or hurt their feelings. I’m not saying you should be a jerk when you go out and critique someone’s story, but you definitely shouldn’t be super nice.

By doing this “sugar coating” and giving them nice feedback when their story actually stinks, you’re only damaging the writer. That doesn’t help them improve and could even lead to cockiness. Because let’s face it, when people tell us our stories are really good, it bumps up our ego a notch.

Ending point: Don’t sugar coat. Be yourself when you critique. If you’re not giving helpful feedback, you might as well not give it at all.

 

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.