Now that we’ve finalized the design for the cover, I’m also excited to announce that there will be ARC’s available very soon.
I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has followed my updates and shown support during each stage of this book. Your encouragement helped me push through and I’m incredibly grateful for all of it.
Over the next week I will be releasing more information about the ARC’s, for those interested in reviewing, but for now I will be sharing that little teaser image and letting you know that the ARC’s provided will be in ebook format.
I made this video back in 2020 after having several people mention that when it came to editing they felt overwhelmed. Most pointed out that they had know idea where to start.
I thought that by putting my tips into a video format, that it would make it easier for people. I wanted to keep it short, and to the point. I’m someone who enjoys this process, but after years of tutoring and editing for others I’ve learned how quickly a person can stress themselves out. A lot of them will say things like, “I just wanted to write a story! Why do I have to do more work?”
I get it. I do. You feel like you’ve finally completed something and then BAM, you get hit with this realization that there’s a lot more work to do. It’s okay. It’s perfectly normal to be a little stressed out by that, especially if this is your first time completing a book.
I hope that this video will be helpful to those who get overwhelmed by this process. I spend a lot of time editing myself, and something that I have learned…and this is probably one of the most important tips, is that it is important to take breaks. Step away for an hour, go for a walk, call your folks, play a game…whatever it is, take a few moments to allow yourself to unwind. Your thoughts will flow better, and you’ll be able to edit more effectively while you’re in a good headspace.
It’s not every day that the writing community trends along with Grimes and Elon Musk’s baby getting a haircut.
Sadly, this tweet, like many tweets on Twitter, is receiving a lot of backlash. Why? Well, it makes the claim that writers are constantly in competition with their peers.
Personally, I loved Tessa Dare’s response to this. She starts off by saying how “harsh” writing advice and “bad” writing advice are often confused.
It’s true. I’m sure many writers on and offline have come across bad advice being tossed around under the guise of harshness.
In her tweet, Tessa also points out how without peers within your genre, your audience would have nothing to read while you, yourself are working on your next release. Some authors only release one book a year. Others might only ever release a handful of books ever!
Some twitter users (mainly one who has removed their tweet since), thought it unfair of her to make such a statement. They couldn’t believe a New York Times bestselling author would have “the audacity” to comment on the competitiveness of the industry. Basically, trying to gaslight Tessa Dare by saying she couldn’t possibly understand, being a successfully published author.
Tessa was quick to clap back and the reading community backed her. She also elaborated on her statement in a separate tweet to avoid blasting this person.
“Especially when it comes to NYT publishing contracts, it’s important to note this business is not a meritocracy. The playing field is not even. Privilege, connections, timing, and just plain luck are all factors, and I have benefited from all of them to one degree or another. But one thing that doesn’t help in publishing is treating this business like the Hunger Games, where eliminating the competition is how you win. The absolute worst time to sell a historical romance is when no one else is successfully doing it.”
This is something that I agree with, there are many factors that come into play but if we treat industries like these as some sort of cutthroat competition, we aren’t doing ourselves or our peers any favours!
Sure, I work in what is considered to be competitive industries, but I don’t look at it that way. With my acting, I look at each person I meet at an audition as a new friend. More than likely, the people you run into at an audition, you will end up working with in the future. It’s a small world after all!
Here’s a real life example: when I auditioned for Tiny Tukkins, I met one of the sweetest actresses I know! We casually talked in the waiting room before our auditions and wished each other the best. Although both of us didn’t end up on this show together, the following week at a different studio I was called in by the director to play a character, on another show. Turned out, the girl I’d had a nice conversation with at the audition was one of the leads on this show. One week later and we ended up working together! Imagine if we had been cold to each other at that audition the week before?
I absolutely hate this cutthroat, competition mentality.
Nothing turns me off of a person more, than when that person targets their peers and treats them like the enemy.
In recent months I have witnessed so many authors/writers bullying others in the community. They attack anyone who writes something similar to their book. Even if it’s something as little as a person having a similar trope like…the girl next door. They consider everyone around them their competition, rather than their fellow peers as a potential opening for new readers.
This “I’m not here to make friends attitude” is ludicrous. Some go as far as to leave negative reviews on other authors books, just to help boost their own sales. Why? Why do you have the time to do stupidness like that? My harsh advice to those people would be, stop wasting so much time worrying about your peers and focus on your book. If you feel like you need to sabotage someone else, maybe you should spend a little more time perfecting your craft.
I personally don’t like associating with these types of people. They’re just plain mean. I don’t see the point in treating others like my enemy, when we have something in common. We can help each other navigate this business. We can provide each other with resources and wisdom.
If it weren’t for the wisdom given to me by others in the acting world, I may have signed with a sketchy agency. If it weren’t for the advice and critiques of my peers and professors, I would have continued making similar mistakes in my writing! You cannot grow without the help of your community in industries like these. It is the connections that you make with others, that encourage you to keep going and to put your best work out there!
I’ve wanted to go on a rant about some of the bad/harsh advice floating about the community for some time now…because the negativity and the jealously towards one another is gross and discouraging. My favourite thing is seeing others announce that they were accepted for publication! It brings me so much joy to see others doing well, and prospering in this industry because I know how hard we have all worked to have our dreams realized.
When I see people acting petty and cruel towards their peers in this community, I automatically unfollow them. I don’t have time for that. This isn’t grade school. It makes me miss the old writing websites I used to submit poetry to. People were supportive, and even when they gave criticism it was both constructive and respectful.
I received a comment last week asking me to revisit and elaborate on my post “raising the stakes” where I talked about struggling with a particular scene I’d been working on with my editor.
To summarize what I’d written in this post, it took me watching cartoons to fully understand how this was done properly. I had to create an atmosphere and situation in which the character’s were truly fearful of what lay ahead.
I decided to do a bit of reading on the subject, because even though I’ve been writing and studying the craft for a long time I like to explore others thoughts on the subject as well. I don’t believe that there is one concrete way of going about every single aspect of this craft. In fact, I feel that each individual eventually finds what works best for them and that only comes after years and years and years of practice.
The first article I read, “5 Surefire Ways To Raise The Stakes Of Your Story” broke down what it means to “raise the stakes,” noting that each story must have them in order to keep the reader invested. Stakes allow for character development, and create a steady pace for the plot. The higher the stakes, the larger the consequences and the larger the consequences the harder it is for a character to make decisions.
It is our actions and decisions as people, that help others characterize us. We are more often than not judged upon our “character” versus solely on things like our appearances. Now, although a character’s appearance in a novel is important it is also important to remember that what the readers connect with in the end, is the character’s personality.
A good example of this is a novel like Catcher in the Rye, which is told in the first person point of view (P.O.V). When reading this in university, I absolutely adored it. I thought Holden was funny, charming almost, despite not being the greatest person. My professor at the time, did a survey, having us do just a quick show of hands, to see who liked the book. She, like myself adored Holden’s character and was shocked to find that the majority of the class absolutely hated the novel.
Why did they hate it?
Well, they hated Holden.
The three of us who liked the book (including the professor), loved him. We thought he was hilarious.
If the reader doesn’t like the character, they won’t like the book and most characterization is not done by what the narrator tells you about the character, but what the character does in contrast to what is being said about them.
This why we have cases where a book has an unreliable narrator, as these narrators are flawed. They tell us what they want us to believe about the character and those around them, but it is through the actions taken by these characters that we piece together the “real” story.
A character’s reaction to the stakes within the story, gives the reader two options: care about the character, or ditch them.
Another article that I looked at was from Well-storied, where they gave a list of 7 main things that one could/should consider when trying to determine what the main stakes of their story are:
1. What does my main character want (e.g. happiness, revenge, forgiveness, love, etc)?
2. How does my main character plan to achieve this? In other words, what is my character’s story goal?
3. WHY does my main character want to achieve this goal? What’s their motivation?
4. How is the path to achieving this goal out of my main character’s comfort zone?
5. What does my main character stand to lose if they don’t achieve their goal?
6. How will my main character’s life, beliefs, etc. change for the worse if they don’t achieve their goal?
7. If my main character fails to achieve their goal, what are the consequences for those my main character loves?
These are definitely great questions to ask when thinking about the plot. Of course, you should develop your character before attempting these questions. Trying to fill these in, without fully understanding who your character is can be extremely difficult, even if the questions seem very straight forward.
Something that I like to do, is create a list of character building questions. I started doing this years ago by making character sheets for my story binders. In these binders I would have a character sheet that had a full body drawing of my character in their favourite outfit. Along with that, I would write down their name, age, family members, personality traits, hobbies, interests, music preferences, favourite colour, favourite food/desert, if they had any pets, favourite subject, favourite movie (if applicable), what languages they spoke, a list of their friends and enemies…and anything else that seemed relevant to the story.
I will say, that those things alone don’t always help you fully understand the voice of your character, which I feel is just as important as knowing what sort of story you want to tell about them.
This article goes on in more detail about the other components that one must consider when raising the stakes, which as I mentioned, require you to understand who your character is. They talk about using the same questions for the stories antagonist, and also looking at things like “is there a time limit for the character” or how a character’s fear of something might cause them to question their goal.
The next article I looked at was by NY Book Editors, titled, How to Raise the Stakes in Your Novel and Create a Gripping Story. This article starts off by warning about the dangers of raising the stakes too much, or piling them on so heavy that things like characterization completely get overlooked by the author. This is definitely an important thing to point out, as when discussing the previous articles, I myself spent a great length of this post emphasizing that characterization and raising the stakes work hand in hand. There needs to be balanced. If the reader has no reason to care about the characters in the story, why should they care that a giant monster is about to devour them?
I have read books where the characters just fall flat. It is just as disappointing as a book where the plot seems to drag on and on for what seems like years. It takes time and practice, but finding a good middle ground is definitely the ideal. I know that as a reader, I need to care about a character in order to care about what happens to them in the story, otherwise I get bored. In a manga I reviewed a little while back, I was extremely bored with the leading character. I could care less if she ended up with the male lead at the end of the series. The side character’s however, were interesting. I’ve been debating on whether or not I’ll continue the series SIMPLY because of them. The issue here is that as a reader, I’m debating. You don’t want your readers to debate whether or not they’ll drop your story. You want them to like it…and having a balance between the stakes and the characters allows for a satisfying read.
The next article, by The Creative Penn touches upon the same thing, but more so in regards to how creating tension in your books, can help to drive up sales. Obviously if you are publishing your work this comes into play, however I personally don’t like to look at my books in terms of sales while I’m still in the stages of writing. I like to enjoy my books, so I look at them from a readers perspective. I always write what I want to read. To me looking at my work, as someone who reads books (usually in the same genres), is the best way to determine whether or not the tension is strong enough. Of course, once you’ve gone through and edited yourself, you’ll pass the manuscript on to your editor, or beta readers or your agent (or even just a friend) for the final test.
Still, regardless of my personal feelings toward that, I agree 100% that as the article states, you want the book to be good enough that readers will recommend it to one another.
I’m always on Twitter or Instagram recommending books. I work part-time in a bookstore, the majority of my job is recommending books! Depending on the genre or section, each of us that work there, know someone on the floor who has extensive knowledge of something that might pique the customers interest.
This article by The Creative Penn, talks about creating “reader glue” which to them means that when a book is well written (the stakes and characters are balanced, etc) it creates an, “intense emotional experience.”
The final article I looked at from WHW (Writers Helping Writers) mentioned how the main plot and sub-plots will have different stakes, each contributing to the story in their own way. I liked that they pointed this out, as I didn’t see much mention of this in the previous articles.
In books that I read about the writing craft back in middle school, specifically those about crafting novels, I paid a lot of close attention to the chapters on sub-plots and their significance to the overall tension of the story. It’s usually within the sub-plots that the reader gets a closer look at the character and how they react to different situations.
I always think about those adventure stories, like The Hunger Games series, where there is this underlying romance sub-plot. Although it plays a small role in comparison to the whole “try not to die!” aspect of the books, it is still significant as it shows the readers how far Katnis is willing to go in order to survive.
Her playing into the wants of the viewers by pretending to fall in love with Peeta so that she can not only keep herself alive, but him as well tells the reader a lot more about who she is, versus what she herself says in the narration. She pretends to love Peeta to keep him alive even though she knows that manipulating him will break his heart.
This one sub-plot tells the reader that Katnis would rather not have to go through the games alone, we even see this with her connection to Rue. Although she keeps much of her thoughts to herself, she is protective. In Rue she sees her younger sister, the one who she would do anything for. In Peeta she sees warmth and innocence. Innocence is probably the one thing Katnis is constantly trying to protect and it might be because she by participating in the games has lost her own. She’s no longer naive about the world around her. She sees the evil being done and the only option she has is to survive…but what is she willing to do to Rue and Peeta, who remind her of the life she once had?
All of these things build tension. A characters actions in relation to those around them throughout different sub-plots.
I personally think that the whole love-triangle thing clouded aspects of Katnis’ character (mainly because of the Team Peeta versus Team Gale), as throughout we constantly see Katnis losing more and more of this innocence in the sub-plots of the three books. Who she ends up with isn’t insignificant but it does show us how deeply Katnis was affected by her participation in the games. She sacrifices more than just love…she sacrifices herself. She loses everything that made her, who she was before she entered the games.
I really like this example and I could go on and on elaborating on it, breaking down each of the books and how the sub-plots contribute to Katnis’ characterization but I won’t. The idea here is mainly to provide an example of how by balancing the stakes both within the main and sub-plots with the character development (who they are at the start and who they are at the end), creates a story that readers will enjoy and probably come back to.
In my case, I’ve made reference to books in this post to use as examples. Someday, someone (maybe even me), could use your book to do the same thing. They might revisit their favourite passages or gush about it to a friend.
I can definitely say that the parts of books that we readers tend to recall are the points where the author raised the stakes.
Since 2020 definitely did not go as planned, I decided that this year I wanted to create some more realistic goals given our current state and circumstances.
I’m hopeful and excited for this coming year. I’m grateful that my family, friends, co-workers and cast-mates have remained safe during this pandemic. I’m truly thankful. By the end of the year it was all I wished for.
Last year I completed my reading goals twice! I haven’t set my goal for this year but I think I’ll increase it somewhere to about 60 books, since I reached my goal of 30 two times. I tend to adjust an extra 5 books when I’m ahead of schedule. In just these past 3 days I’ve read 5 books. I haven’t been on a reading binge like this since…maybe high school?
On top of that my other goal is to read more diversely. This means finding new favourite authors in the genres I adore. I’ve already got a list of recommendations thanks to my lovely BookTuber/Bookstagramers along with the list I’ve compiled on my own. I’m really excited to check out all of these books!
I would also love to discover some new authors this year. As I am publishing my first novel myself, I’d love to see other’s work too and support it!
Lastly, I want to be accepted for more ARC reviews. I got my very first one of the year and I can’t wait to do more!
Now onto my writing goals. Normally I don’t create a set goal of how many books to write in a year, however I think this year I’d like to try it. I think that I’ll try to officially complete 3 of the novels I’ve been working on over the years. By officially complete I mean have them heavily edited and cleaned up for publication. This seems like it’s a reasonable goal.
I’d like to post more on this blog and on my YouTube channel. I personally prefer blogging but I’m bad for creating music or other content for YouTube and not posting it. I’ll try to be a little more consistent with that this year, although I don’t know if I’ll create an uploading schedule or anything. It depends.
I’d also love to accomplish more on my list of voice over goals. I actually managed to meet some of them during 2020 which was a huge surprise, especially since the industry was shut down. The projects I contributed to were fantastic and I learned so much while working on them!
Another thing that I want to do this year is be a little more active. I used to be fairly athletic but stopped on and off during university. With the work that I do I find I’m either sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time. So, this year I think I’ll work on getting back into shape. Exercise helps me feel better and makes it easier for me to think. It’s great for relieving stress!
I also want to learn at least 3 new recipes. I haven’t decided what yet. Something yummy!
I’d like to get better at embroidery and draw more this year. It’s really calming.
Over the years I’ve picked up different tips and tricks to help make drafting my novels a bit easier. When I first started writing novels, I would draw out what my character’s looked like, along with say their bedrooms or parts of their house but for some reason I stopped as I got older. Personally, I think it was because of how much time I had. As a thirteen-year-old I had more time to work on my stories and was completing a novel every one to three months…which I’m still astonished by because it took me seven years to complete my last one. Can you imagine doing NANOWRIMO every month?
Having a visual was fantastic. I of course still draw all my character’s, but I stopped drawing where they lived which at first, I didn’t think was such a huge deal but now I’m realizing not having those visuals can become extremely frustrating. Sometimes while drafting you might forget the colour of a particular character’s bedroom, and perhaps this colour is significant throughout the story. Let’s imagine that this bedroom will ultimately become this character’s tomb, so recalling the colour, the smells and the overall atmosphere of the room should be brought up multiple times throughout the text. If you however have no clear idea of that or even say you step away from writing for a week and jump back into the story, you might miss something. Like I mentioned earlier, you could forget that this character’s bedroom has an apricot colour and that it smells of a certain perfume, let’s say a deep floral. A few chapter’s later, if you aren’t careful this entire image could change. It’s as bad as when you’re watching a movie and the main character is dragging their right leg because they’re injured but then in the following scene they’re hobbling along with their left. Being consistent with these types of details is equally as important as remembering the colour and texture of your main character’s hair.
Something that I decided to do was do description exercises, where I would write up what each character’s home looked like, taking the time to describe the individual rooms and overall property. Not just the important ones, but all of them, as if I were taking a tour. I found that in doing this I was less likely to forget the characteristics of a room. Instead it allowed me to give stronger descriptions later on. Personally, I wish I had been doing this all along.
Another thing that I tried was creating my character’s homes on The Sims, which again works well but only if you can constantly go back to look at it. It did however help me realize some issues with how I chose to layout certain houses. For example, the top floor having what seemed like an endless number of bedrooms and the main not having enough space to compensate that. Little peculiarities like that. If you have access to the game (or something similar) I would recommend it, as you get a great visual. This may not help with everything, but it can definitely be a good starting point. You might want to build your character’s world within the game before trying to describe it.
One other thing that I want to recommend, since we’re on the topic of descriptions is to include character’s when doing these types of exercises. This is to avoid using the same words over and over to talk about a character’s hair. Let’s pretend they have thick curls. Are you going to say “Philip ran a hand through his thick curls” every time you want to reference his hair? Are the curls tidy or messy? What colour do they have? Does the colour change depending on the lighting? Something else that’s important to a character is how they choose to dress themselves. Does this character take great pride in how they look, or could they care less? This is not to say that you spend pages upon pages telling us about what Nadya wore to school that morning, but you should have some idea of how your character likes to dress and if the clothing is significant to a scene keep track of it. It’s important that Cinderella is wearing glass slippers, is it not? Dorothy’s she’s are also significant to her story. We aren’t to forget that these shoes have magical properties!
Perhaps you want to assign your character a particular style? This is something I did as a kid, especially when my younger sister was playing games like Style Savvy. It was incredibly helpful. I had some character’s who preferred to dress in comfortable layers and others that preferred goth and alternative fashions. It may not seem as significant as a character’s overall voice and personality, but what they wear can help contribute to that. Do we not cultivate clothing to add to our collection (well, some of us do) or decorate our personal spaces with things that reflect who we are?
I personally wouldn’t have soccer trophies in my bedroom if I didn’t play soccer growing up.
Something that you could do as a warm-up is to describe a room in your house (even a desk if you wanted to try something small scale). For instance, by mentioning the soccer trophies in my room, the reader might then infer that I have an interest in sports. If I add that the trophies are dusty, that would indicate that I haven’t played sports in some time or that I don’t take pride in it. If I go on to add that the trophies were all participation trophies that would give off another hint about what type of person I am.
By doing these exercises with your own characters and settings you’ll have an easier time catching inconsistencies down the line (or avoid them altogether).
Today is the anniversary of the completion of my first draft. I can’t believe so much time has passed since I finished writing that novel. So much has happened since then!
Yesterday I finished recording an audiobook, which was incredibly fun. I learned so much from working on that project. The story and it’s character’s really mean a lot to me. It challenged me in so many ways as a voice actor, and inspired me as a fellow creative. I hope my character’s get people as excited as the ones in this book did!
As I mentioned in my last post I’m currently working on Book #2 in the series. I’ve missed writing so much. I thought it would be fitting to do a little writing on the anniversary of my first novel’s draft. The draft completion date for Book #1 is also in the same month as my character Roland’s birthday…so, happy birthday Roland!
Funny enough I also had cake today. My niece made it. It had baby Yoda/The Child on it. It was so cute! It was almost too cute to eat–it was also delicious. It was nice to have a mini social distance visit. She’s gotten so much taller since I last saw her in…what? August…September maybe? It’ll be nice when we get to have sleepovers and do tea parties again but having that short visit was nice too. Talking on the phone just isn’t the same. Hopefully things turn around during the winter and we’ll be able to spend time with our loved ones come spring.
I often call myself an “over-editor” but I’ve started to wonder if over-editing is actually a thing. Way back I posted a video on my editing process. I broke it down into its simplest form because I know some folks would rather get a quick run down versus spend 40 minutes watching a video when they could be working on their manuscript. Still, that video which I believe is around 4 minutes doesn’t accurately show how much time I actually spend editing.
For me editing also takes part in the planning stages of the novel. At this point you’re researching and deciding what to include in your book. That to me is the same as when you decide to cut chapters or make word substitutions later on when your manuscript is complete.
Then there’s the “okay I’m finished writing” editing…which is reading through your first draft. I do three rounds of this edit. Sometimes more. I want to make sure I didn’t miss any “stupid errors” as I call them, which is basically spelling, grammar or major plot holes. These tend to be the mistakes I made while staying up till 3 am to write after working all day.
This editing also familiarizes me with the text because I am forced to read it over multiple times. I also try to take notes while editing, however I make more notes while working with another editor or a beta-reader. Notes from other peoples feedback is extremely beneficial and I tend to keep it to enhance not only my current work in progress, but all my future projects as well. It can be difficult to realize what areas you need to work on and to top it off you also learn where your strengths are!
But is over-editing a thing? After writing and revising this manuscript as many times as I have…personally I’ve lost count. I’d say to keep things simple I’ve gone over it about 8 times in total. 3 times on my own with the initial first draft. This being the 3rd now while editing with my editor…which makes 6 and within those 3 I read over it on my 3rd edit two extra times before sending it back to my editor yesterday. So yes. 8. Math.
I suppose over-editing could be a thing but to me I’m only doing what I feel is necessary. If it feels like something is off or needs to be corrected, I find a solution for it (or in some cases scrap it and start fresh). To me that is all apart of the editing process…I think however there are probably more efficient ways of editing ones book but each of us are different and will benefit from different forms of editing. I know some folks who don’t edit their own work at all. I simply prefer to edit mine before giving it to someone else to read because I want it to feel “reader friendly”/”ready.”
As a reader I absolutely hate being thrown off by a random spelling error in a book. This has happened more than I’d like to admit. It’s like having someone pinch you while you’re in the middle of a good dream! Little things like that get to me. It doesn’t make me stop reading, but it can pull me from the experience temporarily if I have to go back and reread the same sentence to figure out what’s going on simply because a single word was spelled incorrectly.
I’ve seen this in a lot of traditionally published books I’ve read lately…more so in comics. For me with the comics it is more frustrating simply because it literally lists every person who edited the book, and I’m like “there were 5 spelling mistakes.” One I can forgive but 5? And by a larger company…yikes. Especially since those books are expensive! I love them…and they’ve brought me so much joy over the years but I can’t get over how the last 3 books I’ve purchased from them have had around 3 to 5 spelling errors each. Which then while I’m editing (which I’m almost always editing…unless I’m writing) makes me extremely paranoid about spelling errors in my own manuscript.
So…maybe to answer my own question: There’s editing, not editing at all and editing for hours on end because you’ve suffered from editorial errors as a reader and don’t want to do that to anyone else.
Honestly if I find spelling mistakes in my manuscript I get a little cranky. I’d say I’m fairly calm when it comes to my projects but if I accidentally spell “peach” as “peech” I’m not very peachy.
Anyway, if you’re doing NANOWRIMO this year, how is it going?