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How to Revise your Manuscript Using a Reverse Outline – Review of Jeni Chappelle’s webinar.

Hello my fellow writers and welcome! This week I’ve completed my fourth manuscript; a speculative fiction called Entangled of around 90’000 words. Finishing the first draft is a fantastic moment, but it’s also only the beginning of a novels journey to completion. I’m currently in an odd position where I have three novels all at different phases of the revision process. I must admit the task of tackling a first revision is still as daunting as it was the first time. I recently attended a webinar by editor Jeni Chappelle who has a wealth of experience, so I thought I’d share it with you.

The first part of editing may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s vital: Put the MS down and forget about it. Leave it on the hard-drive or locked in a draw and focus on something else. When the time comes, you’ll want to be as objective as possible. You’ll want to forget about the subplots and character arcs. You’ll need to switch your brain from being a creative writer, to an analytical observer. Time and distance from your WIP will help.

Jeni talk us through the three phases of revision, the first one is to look at the structural elements of your story. The plot and character arcs are the foundations of your novel. It’s fundamental to do this type of revision first; the set up if you like, to see if the novel works.

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While I’ve always started my process by reading through the whole manuscript, making notes on the things I want to change or clarify – Jeni opens up a whole list of vital question to ask during this process. Jeni gets us thinking about the internal goals and conflicts of the characters. The webinar gives the key to unlocking all of the hidden workings behind a successful story.

I found Jeni’s friendly approach not only welcoming but also easy to understand, despite the in-depth scope of the lesson. During the half an hour webinar, Jeni helps distinguish the importance of identifying the plot and pacing, and much, much more.

Jeni teaches writers how to Create a reverse outline. If you’re having heart palpitations at the thought of this, trust me, you’re not alone. A reverse outline is an overview of your novel, enabling the writer to structure their novel. Stories should follow a novel structure, their are many to choose from, but I prefer to model my stories on the three act structure.

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Once we’ve identified the gaps in our manuscript its time to start editing. Perhaps your MC needs clearer defined goals, or the pacing is too slow to start. Maybe some of the scenes need to be switched around to enable the story structure to flow.

The process will be different for everyone, the important part is trying. That’s where you’ll learn and grow as a writer. Once you’ve finished the first round of revision, you may choose to ask a critique partner to help out. They will be able to point out any areas you may have overlooked.

Send your work out to beta readers and return the favour by critiquing their work. This is the stage I’m at with my third MS Crown of Lies. It’s a valuable chance to put into practice the knowledge you’ve gleaned from revising your own work. While it can be daunting, it is undoubtedly the most valuable skill you’ll learn as a writer.

If you’re stuck and you’re searching for professional feedback, you may want to work with a developmental editor, or simply get feedback of your submission package. (This is the stage I’m at with my second novel, before I query again.) Today’s post has been influenced by one of Jeni Chappelle webinars. She is a co-founder of #RevPit over at Twitter. Check her out – subscribe to her newsletter. Not only does she have great content and she’s also a fantastic editor too.

What resources do you use when editing? Do you like to use the reverse outline method, or do you tackle the issue in a different way. I’d love to hear all about your process, please share your experiences with me.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

Playing God: Shaping race and culture in your fantasy WIP

Defining race and culture in your fantasy or Sci-fi novel needn’t be daunting. Rebecca’s world building posts contain everything you need to know on the matter…

Rebecca Alasdair

Race and culture have a vital role in shaping society and human identity, so in turn they deserve careful shaping when world-building for a fantasy WIP. In today’s Playing God post, I explore the definitions and significance of race and culture, some important considerations, and give a sneak peak at these concepts in my own fantasy world!


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Powerful Influences in Writing.

We explore the world around us through things we hear, see and experience. So I guess it’s natural to expect the current crisis to slip into our writing. Should we sensor our words to protect other peoples feelings? Should we avoid subjects, because they might be deemed inappropriate?

As writers we’re told to research, to write what we know, to have empathy for our fellow humans. This is how we learn to write from their perspective. With the Coronavirus pandemic on the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s not surprising it slipped into my latest WIP.

I think in times of crisis it’s the artists responsibility to dig a little deeper.

~ Bruce Pavitt.

Yesterday, I did a hard cull of all traces of the conspiracy theory I’d just invented. It was too close to the bone, and too horrifying to write. I had palpitations thinking about the potential persecution I’d face.

I’m a strong believer that we don’t need anymore fuel added to the fear-fire. And yet, I’m aware of the benefits to writing about what scares you. The unknown, the strange, the grotesque. How else are we suppose to make sense of the things that form our day-to-day world?

There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there – just get to work and make something.

~ Lisa Golightly

In this time of crisis, when everyone is maintaining a calm, sensible approach. I wonder how many writers are releasing some of that pent up anxiety and terror onto paper?

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Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share? Are you writing about the current crisis? Has something similar slipped into your work? Please share your experience, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Writing character flaws

The reason why character flaws, or big problems, are so important, is because this is what our character is going to overcome. To master, to change, to learn to strengthen or resolve. This flaw will be planted right from the beginning, showing the character in their normal setting, struggling with something that has a negative impact on their life. By the end of the story, we will see the character transformed, back in their normal world, but living a little more imperfectly.

Every story requires a specific character to fulfill the story arc. A character’s arc is a much an integral part of the story as the plot. They should compliment each other through the specific conflicts that will appear because of the characters flaws.

The point of a story isn’t to just save the world, or to get the girl/ boy. It’s to see and feel the world through your characters POV. Show the reader what’s different now that your character has set out to achieve everything they wanted. Whether they achieve their goal, or not, is not important. Overcoming a flaw and getting something they needed is.

Needs are internal goals, things that can transform a character: Redemption, forgiveness, love, acceptance, fear, survival, trust, responsibility, faith or selfishness.

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As writers, we understand the necessity of a great character arc. To create goals, wants and needs that unravel through the story. Wrong plot or wrong character, and the story is, at best, not going to achieve its full potential. Or, at worst, it’s going to fail.

In Wonderwoman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo, Diana wants to prove her worth to the Amazons. Diana knows none of the other Amazons respect her as an equal and this plagues her thoughts. Driving her to enter the mortal lands to save the planet from war, intent on proving to her fellow Amazons that she was worthy of living amongst them.

In Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Agnieszka loves her family, friends and her village. She’s distraught when she’s chosen by the Dragon to spend ten years in his castle. Agnieszka’s goal is to return home, she wants to escape, but she needs to transform into the woman who helps her loved ones escape the curse of the Woods.

Both Diana and Agnieszka are driven to protect their loved ones and to return home. However, their developed characters, filled with strengths, weaknesses, and flaws, would have resulted in very different arcs. Thus changing the whole plot.

I imagine if Diana had been chosen by the Dragon, she would have fought her way out of the castle early on, maybe even incapacitating the Dragon. She would have fulfilled her goal of returning home, , but the corrupt Woods would have devoured her beloved village.

I imagine if Agnieszka had lived with the Amazons, she would never had been called to take action in the first inciting indecent. She would have happily stayed on course, and the story would’ve ended before it even started.

Picking the right character, or characters, if you’re writing multiple POVs, is essential to the development of the story. But don’t worry Pansters, we can always evolve are characters, and/ or story during the editing phase: In fact, I often do.

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How do you define your character flaws, or the big problems they’ll face to bring about transformation? Are you an avid plotter, developing your characters before they appear on the page? Or are you a little like me, developing the problems as they arise, and then backtracking during the editing phase so that everything aligns? Share your writing process with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Figurative Language – Writing Tips

Ways to use language in literature.

There are many ways in which we can convey meaning within our writing, figurative language uses words to deviate from their literal interpretation to achieve either a powerful effect, or a subtle nuanced one. Writers use techniques such as metaphors to create powerful imagery with in their settings, adding depth and substance, whilst playing with the sound and flow of the words.

What’s the most common method of figurative language you use in your writing? And what would you like to explore more of? Share your preferred writing style with me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

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Why Writers Need Validation to Grow

We all crave validation. We all desire acknowledgement and acceptance. It is one of our fundamental needs as a human. Despite this yearning, I’ve battled with this concept. In a modern society, we’re led to believe that we’re failing unless we push aside these impulses and set to the hard work of getting to know ourselves, of loving ourselves and not needing validation from outside sources.

I’m crying ‘bullshit’ to the notion, we don’t need validation. Yes we do! We’re hard wired for it, in fact, it’s how we learn and grow. But sometimes we get caught up in our reasons for needing it.

In this post, I’ll be explaining the subtle difference between: Excepting who you are; putting yourself out there, battling rejection and criticism to obtain validation of something you’ve worked hard for. Over: Not appreciating your own worth; grappling for validation to prove you exist.

I want to point out that neither of these ways are wrong; if anything, it strengthens my argument that validation is vital to us. Because we, as conscious beings, will often go to great lengths to achieve those fundamental needs.

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Lets talk about this subject as if we were exploring our story’s themes: Forgiveness, Revenge, Love, Fear, Redemption, Survival or Acceptance. There are many more, but in my second novel, Tali a nymph flees home and bargains her freedom, all in the bid to gain validation from an external source. She wants acceptance.

Taking the theme of Acceptance, I then developed my character, Tali, by asking questions. Why would she sell her soul to gain validation? Why can’t she love herself and follow her own path? How will she discover her own path? And who will validate her experiences to help guide her on her way?

Did you notice a change in those questions? The last two help get a growth mindset. Tali starts the story by giving all of her power away. She’s pleasing other people to satisfy their needs, gleaning what little attention she can get. Tali’s character arc takes her on a journey: She begins to understand her own self worth. She conquers her demons, regains her freedom and starts living her life to the fullest. Yet she still craves that validation, now she gets it from her friends.

Love Heart Hope Fantasy romance writer author Lorraine Ambers

I’ve parodied that example to us as writers: We work tirelessly, often alone, hanging onto the hope that we may one day get a glimmer of attention from an agent, a publisher, or a reader. This can sometimes feel overwhelming, where we feel desperate to sell our soul, I mean our book, to anyone that shows it any attention. Stop. Take a deep breath.

We need to know our own self worth; not every agent or publisher is right for us. Don’t forget we’re still on our journey. Take the time to improve, learn, grow and try again. Get validation from beta readers, critique partners, or a writing group. And fear not, I’m sure there is still plenty of validation to come.

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How do you get validation as a writer? Do you think it’s important? Share your comments, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Exploring Story Structures

I had a great question from a fellow blogger, asking for clarity on the different types of story structures. So I did a little research, and guess what… while there are slight differences, ultimately the three, four, and yes I found a five act story structure are all similar.

They all follow the same patterns, and they all fall into three sections: Protasis, Epitasis and Catastrophe. Don’t let those the phases intimidate you.

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Here’s the basics, I’ll let you decide for yourself:

Three Act Story Structure:

  • Opportunity – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • Point of no return – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding, learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces. The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Climax – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

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Four Act Story Structure:

  • The set up – Start in the ordinary world, reveal Hero’s goals, until they’re called to action which introduces the stakes.
  • The response – The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance, failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • The attack – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • The resolution – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force. We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

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Five Act Story Structure:

  • Exposition – Start in the ordinary world, reveal hero’s goals.
  • Rising Action – Hero is called to action which introduces the stakes. The hero progresses, alternating between change and resistance; failure, plans, running, hiding and/ or learning new skills to combat antagonistic forces.
  • Climax – The hero tries to win. Complications emerge, raising the stakes, resulting in a false defeat or all hope is lost scenario.
  • Falling Action – The hero embraces change, conquering their inner demon. They’ve glean the final piece of information, perfects their skills, and overcome all hurdles. Finally, they defeat the antagonistic force.
  • Denouement – We embrace them in their new world, fully transformed, with a sense of catharsis, or a release of tension.

Of course there are different ways to structure a novel that don’t follow the Protasis Epitasis, Catastrophe arc. Check out Four Way to Structure Your Novel where I explore other ways to structure your novel. 

A great resource for structuring your novel is: Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing That You’ll Ever Need I highly recommend this book.

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What’s your favourite story structure? And do you agree, or disagree with my analysis of the three, four and five acts. Share your opinions with me, we can learn new things by sharing information. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Novel Writing – The Three Act Story Structure

A quick reference Infographic for all writers, whether you’re a plotter or planster, to help guide you through your hero’s journey. Take a look at the Three Act Structure and see if it suits your story.

There are other methods, which I’ve covered them in another post: Four Ways To Structure A Novel. If you want to know more, check it out.


I hope you enjoyed this fun glance at structuring novels. The options are endless, let your imagination run free and don’t give your hero an easy time. 😉

If you’re interested in further ideas, check out: Six Ways To End Your Story. 

Happy Writing.
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Do you use the Three Act Structure? Or do you have prefer another method? Please share your writing style, know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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How to Overcome self-doubt as a Writer

A lack of faith or confidence in our ability as an artist is something all writers struggle with. Sometimes it’s fleeting like a summer breeze, other times, it lingers like a winter  frost. So how do we navigate the storm and overcome self-doubt?

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We’ve all heard the little gremlins, but what makes us carry on despite the crippling fear. One of my favourite quotes is by Suzy Kassem. She hits the proverbial nail on the head with her wise words. 

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem.

Sometimes it’s the shove I need to keep going, to keep trying. I cling to the hope that tomorrow I’ll believe in myself once again.

Dream Big and Let Nothing Hold You Back
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For me, perseverance is the only option. In the past, I’ve buried myself in a double quilt, hidden in Netflix series whilst gorging on chocolate: The ultimate self-pity, self-sabotage, procrastination. If you catch yourself in this place, ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do you fear the most? Failure? Ridicule? Or is it success and living in your own power?
  • What’s Holding you back? Is it a lack of knowledge, practice, or feedback? And how can you change that?
  • What would you do differently if you believed in myself? 

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“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  – Vincent Van Gogh

And so we should continue to paint with our words, dream up characters, learn our trade, and most importantly, let your joy and passion lead you. Forget the outside world, the setbacks, the criticism and write

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Remember we have the right to nurture ourselves, to take a step back, regroup and reconnect to those we care about. As a suffer of Complex PTSD, I understand that sometimes the inner voice is the cruelest one of all. I now know, self-care and self-love are important for me to be able to create. Occasionally, I need to step back from a project and recharge my creativity. I no longer allow guilt to weigh me down, it’s all part of the process. Me time, strengthens my writing. 

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare.

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What helps you navigate the choppy waters of self-doubt? Please share your experiences to help other writers, and to help me, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.
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Dream Big and Get Writing

What should we do when life reveals itself as a broken fairy-tale? Unlike a fantasy novel, there is no white knight to save us. The first step is realization: Our world is what we make it.

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How do you create your best life? How do you discover your life’s purpose? 

Follow these simple rules:

  • Do the things that ignite your passion,
  • Dare to dream,
  • Become the person you aspire to be
  • And most importantly, take the steps to achieve those goals.

As writers we know how to hold on the vision; no one else is going to plot, draft or edit our stories. Everyday we create something new; pen to paper, fingers tapping at the key board. Over time, we hold something more than just a finished story in our hands, we gain experience, build a writing community and build upon our social media platforms.

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We are the ultimate creators of our reality, each word, each rejection, each new connection or failed attempt only brings us closer to the place we all want to reach – to have readers fall in love with our words; to experience something profound or moving, to feel a sense of kinship to the trial and tribulations our characters journey through, to escape and pleasure in our fictional worlds. 

The last thing any creative wants, is to experience a burnout: Writers block. Our imagination and determination dries up, causing our writing to come to a grinding halt. We need to listen to our mind and bodies, to slow down when things get tough. The last thing we need is to exasperate the problem, making the journey to getting back on track even harder.

Thank you message in a bottle

I’ve had my share of falling down the rabbit hole of procrastination, of not paying attention to self-care and letting stress take its toll. After the exuberance of the Christmas holidays and the celebrations of a new year, I’ve struggled to slip back into my old writing habits. In search of some much needed motivation, I stumbled across this enlightening YouTube clip. 

Psychological well-being by Nina Ellis-Hervey at TED

Nina is an inspirational woman, who has learnt valuable lessons from her failures and strives to encourage others, that they too, can achieve anything they put their minds too.

So to all of my fellow writers, as Nina says,

Dream big or not at all.

Do you have a favorite motivational or inspirational quote or video clip you’d like to share? We all need encouragement and support, and you know I love hearing from you.

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Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2020.

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