Getting Close to Finishing a Book

So I realized rather late that it is a Sunday and I haven’t written anything for my lovely blog here. Instead of an advice piece, because I can’t come up with anything else, tonight I’ll go with a “Progress Piece,” or what I’m doing in my writing.

I’ve been working on my novel Fangs and Fortune for a while now (in my opinion, because I tend to finish books super fast). I started in early December, and now that the end of March is approaching, so is the end of my story…I think. I hope, at least. I’ve had a lot of different things going on within the book and every time I think that I’m getting closer to the ending, something else comes up.

But, I learned from all this that in my situation, all of these things coming up has been leading to a much greater word count. At 37k with a lot of stuff still to happen, I’d be glad to be at novel length, the 50k gem. Mostly because this book is a big deal for me. I’m pretty impressed with myself, being only 22 years old and a few weeks away from finishing my 15th book. Maybe even less than that, depending on how much I can get done this week.

I think the hardest part of being close to finishing a novel is knowing that you’re close and just wanting to hit that finish line. That was how I originally gave myself carpal tunnel. With Fangs and Fortune writing combined with writing all day at work, it’s a lot for my hands to hand-le. Back when I was in high school, I’d write 10-15 pages a day just to try and finish something.

So I guess what I’m trying to say, because I can’t just write a personal post without advice, is that if you’re close to finishing your novel, hang in there. Don’t overwork yourself to the point of carpal tunnel, or even ganglion cysts, like myself. If you think you can finish your book tonight, then that’s great. If you need a few more days or a week, then don’t sweat it. Stay focused and stay calm, because the finish line is in sight.

Diversity in Writing

Earlier this week was International Women’s Day. While using my incredibly bad artistic skills to draw a picture of all the main characters from my books celebrating, I noticed how different many of them were. All different heights and shapes, all with different personalities, but what stood out to me the most was the array of different colored faces.

Since I started writing novels at sixteen, I made a promise to myself that I’d have “something for everyone.” I wanted every person to like at least one of my books, so I set out doing all different genres, from comedy to horror, from fantasy to action. I also wanted to have characters with different backgrounds, from rich to homeless, from regular two-parent households to those with single parents or being raised by someone else. I’ve had characters that were adopted, characters that lost a sibling, and characters with up to five siblings.

Most importantly, my goal was to feature characters of different races and abilities. So far, I’ve made main characters that are Armenian, Native American, Asian, African American, Latina, and in my upcoming book, Indian.

Diverse doesn’t necessarily have to mean a different race, it can also be someone who goes through life differently than us, from a mental illness to reduced mobility. Two of my main characters suffer from a physical issue, like Lia who is blind and Violet who is a little person. I’ve also had characters with mental health issues, like Arabella with social anxiety and Freya with depression. Billions of people go through life with the same issues, and I want them to have relatable characters too.

I started thinking about famous modern novels, ones that you see or here about everywhere and have been adapted into movies. Most, if not all, of the main characters are similar. It makes me wonder why there aren’t more ultra-famous novels starring characters of different backgrounds. Mental health issues seem to be covered, but main characters with a physical disability are few and far between. When you think about it, our world is diverse. In a room full of people no one looks the same, so why should our characters?

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?

Get to the Point…of View! 

For this week’s post, I wanted to focus strictly on the point of view, or POV, in a story. Here’s the rundown of what options you have when writing, as well as some tips for how to execute them properly. 

These are four of the most common POV types: 

1. First Person

This is, as I’ve said before, my go-to when writing just about all of my stories. This POV is told from your main character (or characters if you change narration throughout your story). This narration uses “I” during a story. Just remember, while there’s no I in team, there is an I in First Person. 

2. Second Person

To cut to the chase, second person POV is “all about me!” And by me, I actually mean “you.” Second Person POV refers to the reader directly by using “you.” While it is technically uncommon, I’d love to write a book in second person. This narrative puts the reader directly into the action of the story. 

3. Third Person Limited

Third Person Limited is similar to First Person in the sense that you’re only following one character. However, the narrator refers to the character they’re following as he/she/they/their name. In this scenario, the narrator only knows as much as the author knows. 

4. Third Person Omniscient

I call this the “all-knowing” POV. The narrator knows everything going on with everyone, narrating again from the he/she/they perspective. The thoughts of every character are open to the reader instead of the thoughts of just one person. 

Tips to Remember: 

• Don’t suddenly change your POV mid-chapter with no transition

•If using narration from multiple characters, keep the transition of who is talking consistent (every other chapter, etc) 

• Stick to the plot: if you’re talking through different characters, make sure the storyline is continuing on

Five Steps to Help Start Your First Novel

When I tell people that I’m a writer, sometimes I get the response, “Oh, I’ve always had this great idea for a book!” or “I started a book years ago that I just never finished.” 

Writing a book and then finishing it is an incredible feeling. I’m always excited and extremely proud every time I finish a book. I want everyone to experience the joy of writing a book. 

If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, here are five steps to get started on your book writing journey. 

Step One: Plotting Your Plot

Before writing books myself, I thought writers instantly thought of their whole story when they got an idea. A lot of my stories came from just a sentence, like, “I wonder what living in a mobile home park is like?” or “This is so good, it’s like I died and went to Heaven!” As long as you have an idea, your plot will build around that. 

Step Two: Insert Main Character Here

I would say don’t just think of who is starring in your story, but what their aspirations are and how they’ll change at the end of the story. 

Sometimes writers name their characters accordingly with what they do in the story. In my book Saving Flight 926, my main character’s name means “heroine”. It’s fitting for a girl who saves the lives of her classmates. 

Step Three: This is InTENSEifying! 

A story can either be told in past or present tense. Personally I just prefer past becuase it’s easier, but I have written a story in present tense. If your story is full of “in-the-moment” action, you may lean toward present tense. 

Step Four: You, Me, or a Fly on the Wall? 

After picking your characters, decide how you want your story to be told. Point of view, or POV, can be in first, second, or third person (aka the fly on the wall perspective). I prefer first person because I feel like I can better connect with my characters that way. If you want to be more neutral, choose third person. Writing a choose-your-own-adventure story? Then second person is the way to go. 

Step Five: Sitting Down to Type

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when starting that first chapter. Sometimes writing can be so scary that you don’t want to start. Just remember that this is a first draft, and it’s okay for it to not be perfect. 

So don’t worry when writing your first novel! It may seem scary or overwhelming at first, by following these steps and writing a little at a time, you’ll be on track to finishing your first novel in no time! 


You “Watt” not Believe it: 5 Years Since I Joined Wattpad

Five years ago, I was a senior in my Christian high school, talking with one of my friends from the drama club during lunch. She loved to write, and I loved to write. She suggested I join Wattpad.com, a website where I could share my stories, and read the stories of others.

On a Wednesday night, bored after finishing my homework and without something to watch on TV, I opened up my laptop and registered as the user “dreamsmadereal,” simply because being an author was/is my dream and this was helping to make it a reality.  That night began a journey that would change my life. To celebrate this five-year milestone of being on the site almost daily, I’m counting down the five biggest highlights that have happened over the years.

5. A Whole Lot of Books

My first night on Wattpad, I posted a few of my poems. Today, I have 19 posted stories on my profile, three of which are short story and poem collections. At the time, I’d written only three chapter books. Right now, that number stands at a monstrous 14, with number 15 about halfway done.

4. So Many Numbers

A lot of things can add up over five years. The night I started I had zero followers. Today, I’m at over 1,100. All those followers mean a lot of reads. After freaking out that my poems got ten reads each overnight in 2012, today all of my Wattpad works have a combined total of 136,673 reads. Yes, I personally went and added all that up.

As an editor and critic, I actively use the discussion boards, or “clubs.” In five years, I’ve posted on the discussion boards 5,358 times, mostly in the “Improve Your Writing” club. Hopefully I’ve helped a lot of writers!

3. I’ve Got the Power

For a few months back in 2014, I was an official Wattpad moderator. It was so exciting to help out on the site and have face-to-face video calls with people who I considered Wattpad legends, who I was working alongside. Sadly, due to college life and my internship (that turned out to be a scam) eating up a lot of my time, I had to exit the moderator train, and would someday love to get back on.

2. The VIP

Back in the summer of 2013, I was a rock star…an editing rock star. For a short period of time, on the “Find an Editor” thread, Wattpad would be listing a section of VIP editors. They would appear at the top of the thread so everyone could see. After recommendations from a lot of satisfied Wattpadders, I made it to the VIP list, getting tons and tons of requests a day.

1. What’s Hot? My book is!

My number one Wattpad highlight involves me actually being number two…of 22,000, that is! Still a newbie to the site in April 2012, I posted my most recent finished chapter book, “Hype.” Since my main character was a devout Christian, I put it in the tiny Spiritual story category. Hype was slow to catch on at first, but then took off like a rocket. I suddenly found myself getting 700 to 1,000 reads a day. At that rate, I climbed all the way to the number two spot in the “What’s Hot” list for Spiritual stories. In this case, I’m fine with being number 2 out of 22k.

Well, there you have it, my top five highlights in five years of Wattpad. Here’s to another five years or reads, edits, critiques, and whatever else comes my way!