Completing a rough draft of a novel is a huge success. However the real work comes from revising. Working with critique partners to help develop the plot and character arcs. But what happens after you’ve done a few rounds of revision? Where do you go next? How can you sharpen your manuscript?
We all have words that we over use, words that we rely on to tell or show the story. Words that we’ve peppered our page with. Soon, you and your beta readers will being to notice the words you rely on, and with diligence you can begin to remove them from your work.
Because I write fantasy-romance, I tend to over use body parts; eyes, mouths, certain gestures for my characters like shrugging or curling their hands into fists. When over used, our readers pick up on them, which brings them out of the story. These become our crutch words.
A great tip is to create a checklist sheet. Jot down a list of your culprits and search your document, preening them out. Don’t forget body parts, facial expressions, or words that you identify as over using. Then edit out the crutch words. Try rewriting the sentence using different words? Ask yourself – do the words adding any meaning to the sentence? Will its removal, alter the story? Can the crutch word be replaced with an alternative description? Thus eliminating the obvious eyesores before your readers identify them.
#TIP. Word document has a Find tool that searches and highlights the specific word in your manuscript, making it easy to alter or remove.
Air caution, when using the thesaurus. While its function is invaluable to us authors, it runs the risk of stripping our unique voice from the story. I must admit to replacing a word for a recommended substitute and losing the original meaning by not understanding the definition.
A rough idea, is to limit those pesky crutch words to just once per page. Of course, you don’t have to stick to that. Changing a lounge, to a front room, mid-scene is going to be jarring. As would using flowery prose to describe a lagoon, just so you don’t say water too much.
Some genres – I’m thinking romance – expect to have an emphasis on certain body parts. Eyes in particular, because it shows emotions, and builds tension. Reading in your genre will help you identify those crutch words that have become acceptable to use.
My last tip is to read your work aloud. We’re often too close to our work to see fault. But by sounding out the writing, our brains have the ability to process the information, thus picking up on crutch words.
Yes, it’s tedious hard work, but with persistence and a thorough revisions your writing will improve. I believe in you!!
What is your main crutch word? Don’t be shy. I love it when you share your thoughts and opinions.
Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.
Writer’s and Artist’s are seen as fragile creatures, introverted and mysterious. But those are simply stereotypes; artists come from a multitude of backgrounds and have different personality traits. One thing we do all have in common is courage and persistence.
They say writers and artists see the world differently. Every voice we hear, every face we see, every hand we touch could become story fabric. – Buffy Andrews.
I love the last quote, the more I write the more I realize the truth in those words. I watch people and observed their behavior, I begin to ‘borrow’ their traits. How they reacted to bad news, how they hold their posture, and then I start to morph those borrowed pieces into characters.
When did this happen? When did I start enjoying psychology so I can channel it into my writing? When did I first observe my emotions so that I could transfer them on to the page? Suddenly, poetry is important because I want to know how to describe a simple object and give it meaning.
All of those things are fascinating, but other facets of our journey have become more apparent. In order to achieve our goals of becoming published, we constantly put our art out there: Submissions, beta readers, critique partners, writing groups and competitions.
We struggle with self-doubt and crippling anxiety over the future of our novels. All the while we work on; pressing our fingers to the keys, tapping away in the silent hours in between our real lives, where family and work commitments take president.
We continue to push through our fears, purging our darkest secrets into our written art, allowing our glittering hopes to shine through our WIP. When criticism pinches, or the rejections roll in, we fight on to make our work more succinct. Through our vulnerability, we risk everything in pursuit of our dreams, knowing that failure is inevitable. Yet when we fall, we brush the dust off our knees only to rise and continue.
My fellow artists: We are courageous. The next time you type on in seclusion, feeling the burden of isolation, I want you to congratulate yourself for being brave, for persisting, for following your dreams, because many people simply never bother.
So my fellow artists, do you believe you see the word differently? Have you realize your own bravery, and if not, why not? Share your experiences with me, you know I love hearing from you.
Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.
Thank you, Ari Meghlen for nominating me for the Round Robin game. The talented blogger, Ari, has created this game to help fellow writers introduce their WIP.
To play the game, I shall introduce my WIP, nominate another writer to introduce their WIP and then they nominate the next person… and so on.
Let’s get to it….I want to introduce you to my WIP “Mischief and Mayhem ”.
What genre isMischief and Mayhem?
Mischief and Mayhem is a High-Fantasy / Romance novel.
I love worldbuilding and playing with a cast of mythical creatures, therefore, my WIP features fae, djinn, nymph, witches, elves and much more.
How did you come up with the Idea?
A powerless magician and a mischievous nymph can destroy realms with their wicked games, unless they work together to save them.
Theo and Tali, were secondary characters from my first novel: A power hungry magician, originally the antagonist, and a wily nymph became my favourite characters to write. I wondered what would happen if Tali rebelled against Theo, causing him to lose everything he coveted.
Who is the MC of Mischief & Mayhem?
Theo Belvedire is ruthless and wicked; his one goal is to find his estranged father who is trapped in a sacred realm, his one weakness is Tali.
In exchange for a safe haven, Tali brokered a deal with Theo,
in exchange for her alliance. Now they’re bound by an enchanted vow, meaning she
must assist Theo in reaching his goals, but Tali is cunning and will always
find a loophole.
What POV isMischief & Mayhemwritten in?
I write in third person POV, telling the story through Tali and Theo.
I love writing duel POV’s so that the reader is fully immersed in the complexities of the love story.
What is the current status of Mischief & Mayhem?
Mischief and Mayhem is current in submission. The novel has been complimented for its ambitious premises, but I’ve had no full requests… yet!
Who isMischief & Mayhem’s target audience?
My characters are mostly in their late teens and early twenties. Therefore, my target audience is mostly Adult, but it may appeal to people who enjoy reading upper YA and NA. My demographic will most likely be women.
Share the blurb ofMischief and Mayhem
Let me know what you think, I’m always looking for ways to improve my blurb.
Ruthless magician, Theo Belvidere, has amassed power, wealth and dominance. All in a bid to discover his estranged father’s realm. On the eve of unlocking the portal, Tali an unscrupulous nymph becomes severely injured and Theo chooses to ease her pain by overpower her. But Tali is outraged that Theo has manipulated her with magic and rebels by stealing his power.
From ruthless to ruined, Theo loses everything. As a powerless magician, he’s taken prisoner inside the deadly realm. How will he escape to regain his lost kingdom and magic? And what punishment should he mete out on the trickster nymph for sabotaging his plans?
Share a small piece of your WIP
Safety was a luxury most took for granted. Tali had carved hers out with lies, wiles and unwavering zeal. It wasn’t an easy choice. Her destiny wasn’t predicted in the night sky with distant stars and spiralling galaxies. No. Her trail, whilst still blazing, was too complex, too twisted for fairy tale endings.
A flutter of fear caught in her chest, she pretended to caress the hourglass contours of her corset, forcing herself to smile for the guards in black armour. The cold tiles nipped at her toes as she strolled to the courtyard. As a water nymph, she thrived near the Groves she hailed from, but even though she never returned there, she still walked barefoot everywhere, keeping herself as grounded to nature as possible.
How dare Theo question her commitment, after everything she’d done for him? She ruffled the scrunched edges of her skirt, maintaining her playful, nonchalant pace through the fort.
Theo was becoming desperate, his temper flaring and his patience for her—thinning. What would happen when his father arrived? With the Dark Prince at the helm, there would be no need for casual distractions. Her days as his master spy were coming to an end, meaning she would become disposable.
Their relationship, of sorts, was complicated.
It had been based on mutual respect and alliance. Anything more was a fool’s
game, males like Theo weren’t the committing type. In fact, Tali didn’t think
his infatuations lasted more than a month. Not that she was checking.
She shook her head in pity for the girls that
longed for him.
Her future relied upon being a commodity to the great Theo Belvidere. She simply had to figure out what that role would become—her side of the vow depended on it.
How willMischief & Mayhembe published?
I’m seeking representation from an agent, so that I can become traditional published. I’m looking forward to working with a team who will help guide me through the industry. Yikes, I’m excited thinking about it!
Round Robin Nomination
M.L.Davies,I nominate you because I know you’re going to find an agent soon, you write gripping mystery/ thrillers. More people should be checking your work out. Its been an honour to be your beta reader.
All you need to do is:
Write a post next week and answer the following questions:
What genre is (WIP title)?
How did you come up with the Idea?
Who is the MC of (WIP title)?
What POV is (WIP title) written in?
What is the current status of (WIP title)?
Who is (WIP title)’s target audience?
Share the blurb of (WIP title)
Share a small piece of your WIP
How will (WIP title) be published?
Link back to this blog post
Nominate another writer into the game to introduce their WIP using this “Round Robin Nomination” format.
Tell me what you think about my WIP, you know I love hearing from you.
Thanks for stopping by, until next time, Much Love.
Characters are the heart of a story, the plot is its skeleton, but the blood running through its veins is conflict. Without it, your characters have nothing to fight for, no arc will develop, and your plot will wither and die. In this post, we’ll explore the internal and external conflict to resolution elements that could be evoked to create a truly dynamic novel .
The protagonists traits need to be carefully selected for each story. Their backstory will colour their personality, and mould their goals. It’s important to understand where their character journey starts, so that you can plan for their reactions by understand their limiting beliefs. You should know what they want, and what needs are hidden beneath.
Within the protagonist is the delicate balance of their life’s story, and before the plots even started, there might be an internal conflict brewing beneath the surface. In other words, the conflict is Person vs Self. Do they struggle with a mental illness? Are they harbouring a deep, dark secret?
Perhaps the conflict is Person vs Society. Is your character desperate to escape the seemingly perfect, yet utterly dull family life. But if they leave to seek fame and fortune, they’ll be shunned by the community they’ve grown up in?
Other types of conflict to consider are: Person vs Paranormal = A spooky ghost story. Person vs Environment = A thrilling adventure where the character has to survive a hostile, unfamiliar environment. Person vs Technology = like the movie Terminator!!
When we consider these questions, a shadow character will immerge, and from that, we can build a nuanced character using all of their backstory/traits/goals. Once the conflict has been targeted, make it personal, give an emotional connection to the character, that way the reader will be invested in the resolution too.
Make the conflict specific to your character; creating a league championship with the idea of your hero and villain playing on opposite sides isn’t engaging. But show the reader why the characters believe winning will fulfil an unmet need and you’ve captured their attention.
We could use the same techniques to build our antagonist, possibly, with the intent of creating a character that will purposefully challenge our protagonist, Person vs Person. Perhaps, they both have the same goal, but with very different ways of obtaining it. If the protagonist is socially awkward, a brash and obnoxious antagonist would naturally create a conflict.
Keep creating tension by adding layers of conflict. Every obstacle creates an opportunity for triumph or failure. Keep raising the stakes, build barriers that prevent your protagonist from gaining his goals unless he overcomes the impossible. The pressure of time will ratchet up the pace of your novel. In order for your hero to win, they’ll have to suffer first. And remember to keep the conflict believable for your genre/world/plot.
I love Person vs Person conflict, it works wonders in the romance genre, but I also use Person vs Society. What’s your preferred conflict method? Share your writing style with me, you know I love hearing from you.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, Much Love.
Under the surface of every story is a Theme. But what is a Theme? And how do we develop one for our novel? You may have already drafted the novel without much thought to Theme, and that’s fine. This post will help you identify them so that they can be used to strengthen the story during revisions.
When we think of fairy-tales, we think about morals it’s trying to portray. Theme is similar, as in it’s an underlining message to the reader, expressed through your character’s arc. The plot is what happens in your story, but the Theme is why it happens.
During your character’s journey, certain Themes will keep coming up through their goals, the conflict and then, the resolution. How do they overcome their character flaws? What holds them back from achieving their goals? What are they afraid of, and how do you force them there? How do they differ from the beginning of the story to the end? Their inner transformation may naturally hold the key to any Themes.
The polar opposite of each Theme might be used in a story to add depth and tension. Consider your favourite story and identify some of the conflicting Themes from the infographic below.
Another way to identify Theme is to consider what topics you’re trying to convey, in my Mischief and Mayhem I focus on the abuse of power and redemption. Through our writing, we express our views of the world, even if it’s subconscious at first. What is the prevailing mood/tone of the whole story? What messages have you conveyed about human nature and the world we live in. Do the events leave a sufficient and impressionable imprint upon your protagonist? The answer to your Theme may lie in there.
Of course, there may be many underlying Themes. You need only consider some of your favourite stories to explore and identify Themes. Take Cinderella, I would say the most significant Theme is good vs. evil. However there are also Themes of friendship, Death, and love. Every character’s journey will undoubtedly be complex. One Theme might weave through the entire story, while others only appear in a chapter or a scene.
What is your favourite Theme to write about? And does this differ from the type of Themes you prefer to read about? You know I love hearing from you, so please share your experiences.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, Much Love.
I don’t know about you, but the very notion of a High Concept baffles me. It seems to be the key that many agents and publishers are seeking, yet none of them can confirm what that means for them.
However, it’s the same stumbling block I’ve come up against on my submission journey. My most frequent feedback is that the agent has not connected with my concept as much as they’d hoped. While this fills me with hope that I will find the right agent to fall in love with my story, it also got me thinking about what I can do to improve my chances with my next novel.
I like to forward plan, learn from my mistakes and take advantage of every situation, I’m sure most of my fellow writers do too. So let’s take a deeper look at what a story concept is. In basic terms it’s the idea of your whole story, before plot, before characters, simply the idea behind it. The bare skeleton of the story.
Now this is not the same as the premise, which is the heart and soul of your book. This is where we flesh-out the skeleton by adding characters with goals, motives and fears. Then you add plot which adds conflict and stakes. Now the richness adds to the bare concept and builds a premise.
So while they are similar, they are ultimately very different. By understanding this I can already see why my concept is familiar, if not a little boring. But add premise and my story grows wings and takes flight.
There isn’t one magic ingredient that takes an ordinary concept and raises it to new heights. In fact, it’s a mixture of several. So what makes a story – High Concept?
It meshes high levels of entertainment with originality.
Born from; what if, putting a spin on an original concept.
The idea is visual making for a great movie adaptation.
It has clear emotional focus: fear, love, rage etc.
And or, it has mass audience appeal.
And as with all things in the writing world it boils down to subjectivity.
With that information in mind, I hope all my blossoming writers are a little clearer on the illusive High Concept novel. As with all things in the writing world it boils down to subjectivity.To be honest, I’m not sure I am. After all, isn’t that what we already thought we were doing???
Perhaps some of my fellow writers have a clearer understanding, if so, please share your knowledge with me. And thank you all for reading.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart . . .
I award this novel 4/5
If you love fantastic fantasy worldbuilding with a slight dystopian feel, mild romance and a strong heroine, then this novel is for you.
The worldbuilding in this novel was immersive, elaborately designed and vivid. The separation between the powerful Silver bloods and the poverty stricken lands of the ordinary Red’s created a world that made me long to see the powerful tumble.
Mare as the main character is likable; her flaws are relatable and even lovable. She feels her mother looks down upon her compared to her angelic sister. Yet Mare is only trying to do what she can for her family and best friend. The beginning of the book is enchanting and Mares dedication to her loved ones hooked me from the start.
Once Mare enters the world of the Silver’s things change, although the plot still pulls us forward with awful antagonists and superb action scenes, the complexity of the two princes and their roles to play alongside Mare. Unfortunately everything came across as obvious. Especially, without giving away spoilers, the main plot twist – I saw it from miles away, hence the four stars.
That being said, the novel is a worthy contender on my bookcase and I’m eager to delve into book Two. Even if the reviews claim the series goes downhill from here, shame, but I’m still invested in Mare and her cause.
Have you read the Red Queen series? If so, what are your opinions on the series.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, Much Love Xxx
I’m currently tying up loose ends in my two novels before I continue writing the third novel in the Shadow Knight Series. After being away from my second WIP – Mischief and Mayhem to tighten up the premise of the first novel – Secrets and Shadows, I’ve come across a problem.
I’m struggling to remember tiny details about the different realms. And as the series develops not only is the world-building expanding, but changes continuously evolve.
This is also true for my characters. Remembering eye and hair colour is easy enough. And I’m confident in remembering my MC traits and personality types. The trouble lies with minor characters. Plus changes in hairstyles and costumes in particular scenes are starting to become problematic.
So today I’m considering different methods to store all the relevant details for your stories.
My good friend and creative writing tutor Judith Barrow is an advocate for the Pin-board Method. Above her desk, directly in line of sight, Judith uses notes and images to mind map her novels. A quick glance forward and all the information is to hand. Dates, Places and characters… whatever information deemed necessary.
Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have a cosy desk. So, for the more technological-minded writers they can use apps compatible with their computer or tablet. Similar to the Pin-board Method, except all the information can be stored in one easy accessible space. Great if you’re a writer on the go, maybe you write in a cafe or at your work during your lunch break. Carrying notebooks and files everywhere is impractical and a nuisance. Why not try one of the following?
3. My current method, The File System. Many authors love printable lists or a one page character summary. Where they can jot down character attributes, personality traits, fears, goals and flaws.
And they’re great to get the ball rolling, but I needed something a little more intricate. So I’ve been compiling information about individual characters. Copying descriptions and quirks from my novels and pasting them onto a document. These are then printed off and filed. So the next time I need to jog my memory about a setting or character, Instead of trawling through my novels using the find feature, I can flip open the relevant section of my folder and have instant access.
I’ve also discovered that by having bullet-point sections listing the descriptions, I can maintain continuity and eliminate plot holes.
Which of the three methods do you prefer? Or do you have another method? If so, why don’t you share it with me? You know I love to hear from you.
A forbidden romance. A deadly plague. Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .
CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.
This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.
I love the idea of a fairy-tale retelling and the stories original take on the story was intreiging. I thought it was fantastic that Cinder and one of the sisters had a geniune bond. this added depth the complexety of the families situations.
I award this novel 3.5/5 stars
From the first chapter we’re introduced to the concept of the deadly virus, the prince’s determination to find a solution, Cinder’s difficulties as a cyborg and the prejudices she faces. I was instantly hooked.
I loved the clever twist on the shoe that only fits her and how that played a part in the final scenes.
This is going to sound ridiculous, but I was shocked to discover the existence of a lunar race and how they impacted the story. Yes, the set is called The Lunar Chronicles so I should have anticipated it. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but played a huge role in the story. Perhaps I missed a vital bit of foreshadowing in the first chapter, there was already a lot going on.
The city of New Beijing was incredibly detailed; it was full, vibrant, noisy, chaotic, and hot. It would be a nightmare destination for someone like me. Give me an empty beach in the middle of winter and I’m happy.That being said, the palace with its cherry blossom trees and lanterns was beautifully detailed.
Cinder’s and Kai’s blooming relationship was believable and engaging. I was eager to read their story and how they’d eventually get together.
Queen Lavana was a flat character, hell bent on world domination. She’s already overthrown her own predecessor and now wants planet earth. But why? Being evil and desiring power was all I got from her.
I’d already read and reviewed Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I had great expectations for this novel. Unfortunately, the story’s ending was a huge let down. Romance novels have a certain expectation, but Cinder and the prince did not get together. I understand it’s a hook for the rest of the series, but not fulfilling a stories plot is one of my pet peeves. Romantic involvement or romantic sacrifice is a must. It annoyed me so much that I’m considering boycotting the rest of the series. Hence the low rating.
As always, thanks for reading.
Have you read the rest of the series? Is it worthwhile continuing?
I love your comments, so please tell me what you thought of the book.
Calling all writers ready for pitching and all book bloggers – help me pick a pitch.
The first #PitMad event of the year, hosted by @pitchwars, is coming up soon! June 7th kicks off the first round at 8am – 8pm EDT. Stay up to date on events by following @pitchwars on Twitter or by checking out the #PitMad page at pitchwars.org/pitmad. For more information about the event head over to www.polishandpitch.com
So what is #PitMad exactly?
Well polish and pitch say: #PitMad is a Twitter hashtag event used by agents and unsigned authors alike with the goal of connecting the two. During the event, unagented writers are invited to share their story pitch via tweet with the #PitMad tag. Agents will be spending the day reading tweets with these tags, “liking”… the tweets that they are interested in and eager to receive further material from. Best case scenario, an agent likes your tweet, loves your additional material, and then offers you a contract!
1. Lovesick, princess Alysia escapes the siege, when her coveted guard Sander, becomes fatally wounded. She must choose between saving his life, fearing he’s involved in the massacre or focus on rescuing her father, the King.
2. Sheltered princess Alysia bargains with a magician to save her beloveds life, knowing any vows made will have powerfully binding consequences for her kingdom.
3. Lovesick, imposter, guard Sander must choose to reveal his identity to his coveted princess or risk his magician brother capturing her to steal her powers and kingdom.
4. Telepathic princess Alysia’s kingdom is overthrown but she escapes. Should she sacrifice her freedom & powers to save the king or rule in his stead?
5. Princess Alysia’s kingdom is overthrown. Should she sacrifice herself to save her realm or place her trust in a deceitful guard, knowing his magician brother is responsible?
6. Guard Sander’s identity is jeopardised when the place is conquered. Should he unite with his brother, the one responsible for the attack, or defeat him to save his secret love the princess.
Ok guys, there you have it. I can use three variations to help me hook an agents interest.