There are many different stages of writing a novel and none of them are easy. A lot of people say the first step of the creative writing process would be outlining or simply writing the first draft. However, there’s another step that we tend to do without realizing it… that is, unless we have writer’s block. We need to find ideas to write about. So, here are a few places to find novel ideas.
We all do it, don’t deny it. You can’t tell me you’ve never sat in a coffee shop or stood in line at the grocery store and listed to the people beside you gossip, bicker, or have a general conversation. Eavesdropping is great because you have no idea what’s going on and you can imagine what’s happening – in their lives and also in the lives of your characters. How would they react in a such a situation?
Driving around, trying new restaurants, or simply walking around your local hometown, is an awesome way to get ideas for novels. Not only can you eavesdrop on the people around you, but you can also take in the area and what it looks like. All places are great for a setting whether it’s just for one scene or not. Either way, something could happen in nature or there could be a statue in the park that would make for a great writing prompt or beginning to the story.
3. What You’re Currently Doing
Seriously, begin a story where your character is sitting at their computer reading someone else’s blog. Why are they doing it? What topic are they reading about? Or maybe they’re not reading a blog but doing something else on the computer. Maybe they’re reading a story, browsing through memes, work or homework, or… maybe something they shouldn’t be doing.
4. The Internet
Anything that happens on the Internet is a free-for-all. Every quote, meme, photo, and content can be used as a writing prompt. As long as you change it enough to make it your own or you give credit where credit is due, you’re good to go.
5. Writing Prompts
Speaking of writing prompts, use a writing prompt. These can be found in prompt books, apps, suggested to you by a writer friend, or, of course, the Internet. Pinterest is a great place to find writing prompts. I love prompts because they spark so many new ideas for me. A lot of my flash fiction and short stories end up growing into longer pieces or novels because the characters won’t get out of my head.
6. Start A New Way
Do you typically find the base of your novel with the plot? Or maybe you create your characters first? Try beginning in a different way. Start your novel with nothing but a title idea or nothing but an object that will somehow be crucial to the plot.
7. Real Life
Did anything significant happen in your life? Write about that. Put your characters in your shoes – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
There are so many other places to find novel ideas. Ideas are all around you. Every place you go, everything you say, and everything you have can be turned into an idea. You just need to think deep enough about it.
Where do you typically find your novel ideas? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
Guys, I have some big news! This is something I’ve been planning for months and have done a great job keeping my mouth shut about it. The secret has been hard, but I think it’s finally time to announce it.
I’m self-publishing a book.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve struggled with balancing writing life and real life, teetered back and forth between getting self-published and traditionally published, I’ve spent a great deal of time querying to agents and publishers, and have submitted to many contests and magazines.
I’m only published in the way of this blog, guest posts, and a few gaming websites I contribute to. I’ve never had someone – a “professional” – tell me they think my writing is worthy enough to be published and sit upon bookshelves in stores and libraries.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I have plenty of approval. I have you guys. You guys have been reading and commenting on my blog for over six years now. There are nearly 5,500 of you following and plenty of people signed up for my newsletter. I thought, if you guys enjoy my blog so much, why wouldn’t you enjoy something self-published from me?
So, I present…
Sunday Morning, a collection of flash fiction.
I’m still going to have my mystery novel come to light sometime soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been working on Sunday Morning.
I’ve been writing a short story/flash fiction piece once a week on this blog since… 2014 or 2015. I now have well over 200 stories. With some encouragement from a few people, one of them being Annette Rochelle Aben when I was on her podcast, The Magic Happens, back in 2016.
Honestly, this is something that’s always been in the back of my mind. However, so many people say, “If it’s online, no one will want to publish it.”
Well, I’ve decided to go through every single one of my Short Story Sundays and rewrite them all. I took the first 52 stories I ever wrote for this blog and posted on here (trust me, they’re not pretty) and I’ve been editing, rewriting, revising, rewriting again, and editing some more. Honestly, some of them weren’t bad, but the majority of the stories are vastly different from when I first published them on here. If I do say so myself, I’d like to think my writing has improved a lot and I’m pretty impressed with myself.
Sunday Morning will be the first of many flash fiction collections from me. I plan on rewriting, expanding, and improving upon all the flash fiction I’ve ever posted on here. By the time I get to the stories I’ve posted in 2018, I’ll have improved even more.
Now onto the really good stuff…
Unless you just skim my posts, I’m sure you all know I have a Patreon. My Patreon is there to allow me to continue writing for a living. This is so I can keep creating full time for a career (whether it’s creative writing, YouTube, or more… trust me, I have many plans). While my Patreon will help me pay my bills so I can create for a living, the money will first and foremost go back into my creations – blog maintenance, an editor or book cover artist, equipment for YouTube, and so on.
I’ve already met a couple of goals with the help of a few patrons. They have no idea how grateful I am to have them with me on this journey.
Needless to say, when I said I kept Sunday Morning a secret, I kind of lied. My patrons knew about it and they have known about it for quite a while now.
To thank my patrons for being part of this journey with me and encouraging me along the way, I wanted Sunday Morning to be super special for them.
With that said, if you sign up to be a $1 patron, you’ll get…
1. Your name on a special Patron acknowledge page in the book. 2. A special edition Patron-only book cover. Meaning the books I send to Patrons will have a slightly different book cover than those who are not Patrons. 3. You will get a free print or ebook copy of the book! You can choose which format you prefer. 4. A bookmark. I plan on creating a bookmark to go along with the book for the print copies. I’ll probably also create a digital bookmark that you can print out if you choose the ebook format.
And those are just the perks you get for Sunday Morning if you become a patron! There are so many other rewards on my Patreon such as an exclusive patron short story written by me that will get sent to your inbox monthly, ARC team recruitment, a monthly Q&A with me, and so much more!
The best reward of all is that you get to join an exclusive community with me and my other patrons. You’ll get the inside scoop on my writing journey, creative writing process, and overall chit-chat and get to know one another. You guys are the reason I’m able to keep writing. You guys have been the ones to encourage me along the way so many years. Patreon is a way for me to give back to you guys with these rewards and have a deeper relationship with you all.
This is a limited time offer!
I’m going to need a chance to gather my bearings so I’m only offering this special reward until December 9, 2018! That means if you become a $1 Patron between now and December 9, 2018, you’ll get the $1-tier rewards on my Patreon along with the reward for Sunday Morning just listed above.
Why December 9? Because of the release date. My patrons already know when that is, but I’m holding off in announcing that part for now. One announcement at a time.
Guys, I’m so excited! (And totally nervous!)
I truly can’t wait to share this journey and this book with you all. I hope you like it and I hope you’ll join me on this amazing adventure! (That I’m, admittedly, trying to figure out as I go along.)
Of course, there is obviously no obligation to sign up for my Patreon. You can pay as much or as little as you want, though please don’t if you can’t afford it. You can also cancel at anytime, no fees and no commitments.
Though it would mean a lot to me if you checked out my Patreon page to see what it’s all about. If you think you already know that you want to join me on this journey, you can immediately sign up to be a patron right now.
Thank you all, so much! I hope this news made you as excited as I am. I can’t wait to share this with you along with the inside scoop with my patrons. Also, thank you to everyone who is already a patron. You guys mean the world to me and I 110% mean that from the bottom of my heart!
What do you think of the news? Are you excited? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
I go back and forth with my outlining process. Sometimes I outline before but sometimes I outline during. I used to always summarize what I wanted to happen in each chapter and then it would change during the writing process of the first draft.
Now I usually outline just the basics. Plot points I’d like to happen, random ideas, a list of characters and places, and the like. While I write my first draft, I summarize each chapter. This makes the editing process so much easier for me in the long run.
I give myself about a month to write the first draft. This is all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Some people don’t agree with it, but I believe that the first draft is just you telling yourself the story. If it’s a bunch of gibberish, at least you got the bare bones down. So I typically spend about 30 days writing 2,000 words a day to get the first draft done. Then the real writing begins.
I’ll admit… until I just did the research for this month’s blog posts, I though revision and editing were one in the same. So I guess I should take a look at how I do things.
Still, I’ve gotten into a good routine with my editing. I’ve been using the rainbow editing method for the last few drafts of my various manuscripts and it’s been working really well for me. It helps me zero-in on certain aspects I need to focus on. Editing is not as difficult as it used to be for me.
Here we are. The final stage of the creative writing process. Publishing your novel.
We’ve outlined, written the first draft, revised, and edited… now it’s time to talk about publishing. Which, admittedly, is something I don’t know a whole lot about. So writing this post should be fun.
The Various Methods of Publishing.
Publishing isn’t easy. It can be a long process and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. With that said, I don’t know much about publishing in any sense. However, I’ve done a little research for myself though I’m still learning. This is just a bare minimum of the basics.
Traditional Publishing.This, in my opinion, is the hardest to get into. You need a lot of approval in order to do this. You need to query your book to many publishers before one decides to take you on. Most of the time, you’d query to an agent first. They’ll help sell your book to a publishing company. However, that’s just an extra step that can take just as long. With traditional publishing, you have a whole team working on your book. Which is definitely nice for you if you want to solely focus on writing the next book.
Self-Publishing.Similar to traditional publishing except you don’t need anyone’s approval other than your own. However, there’s no team working on your book unless you hire them yourself. On the other hand, you make all the decisions which is a nice freedom to have. Some people self-publish just to share their work and not necessarily use it as income as well. Some people see just having their book in the world a “success” rather than “selling” their book as a success. Self-publishing makes it easy to do that.
Wattpad.There are many websites that cater to creative writing. Wattpad is just one of the many that do. You’re not making money from your words, but you’re sharing your stories with the world and that’s just as wonderful. We all write for fun though some people prefer to publish right away on a place like Wattpad and get immediate response from their readers through the comments. I’ve seen some people get picked up by agents through these sites. I’ve also seen people use their audience as beta readers then take the story down, fix it up, and self-publish it.
Blog. So many people have blogs now and use that as a creative outlet to share their stories with the world. It’s similar to Wattpad, except it’s all you and you’re choosing what to put on the blog and when. Plus, all the audience is reading just your work and not browsing a database of all these other writers where they might see your name.
I wasn’t kidding when I said here’s the bare minimum of the basics… if you could call this basics. But there you have it. Once you decide on a goal for yourself and your writing, it’ll be that much easier to decide which publishing route to take.
If you’re published, what method did you use? If you’re planning to publish in the future, what route are you thinking of taking? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
Ah, editing your novel. This is the moment some people live for and other people dread. After you revise your novel, it’s time to write the next draft. Compile it all together again so it looks nice and pretty. Then you can tear it a part again!
Editing your novel isn’t an easy task and there’s no telling how many drafts you’ll need in order to edit the book to be as perfect as it can be.
If editing were easy, it wouldn’t take nearly as long to get a book out onto shelves. There are many different kinds of editing to do for your manuscript and can happen at different stages as well. Not to mention, at some point along the way, you’re going to want to hire a professional editor to look it over as well. Plus maybe beta readers and proofreading and… you get the picture.
Developmental Editing.This type of editing is the big one where you look at character development, the overall plot, dialogue, pacing, and more. I find this one takes the longest and is the hardest. There may be a lot of things you need to change. Sometimes you change something only to change it back or have to change something else as well. It can get messy, but will be worth it.
Line Editing.This is what it sounds like. You’re editing line by line reading each sentence individually. Is it needed? Does it aid the plot, character, or setting? If it doesn’t, maybe take it out.
Proofreading.This should always be done last. Once the story is good to go, no plot holes, no messy characters, proofreading should be done. This is looking for simple spelling and grammar mistakes, typos, making sure the tense stays true throughout, and more.
There’s a lot more that goes into editing and there are many different ways to go about it. It will take a while to get into a groove with it, but you’ll soon find a rhythm.
How do you tackle editing your novel? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
For a long time I thought revising and editing were one in the same. I thought revision was a fancier term for editing. I guess, in a way, revising your novel is editing. However, it can be a lot more in-depth than editing – even though there’s a lot of different forms of editing.
Let’s just lay it all out now – writing a novel is confusing, guys.
Revising your novel.
This is something that’s great to do after writing the first draft. The first draft is usually (always) a mess and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. You get new ideas and improve some old ideas while writing the first draft as well. The revision process helps with all of that.
I’ve heard of the A.R.R.R. method (it actually sounds like an author name or pen name). While this is all something that you can do in the various editing stages, this method will truly help in revising your novel and dig deep into the story and structure.
Add. You can add words – scenes, new/different characters, places, etc. There are many different word lengths of a story that classifies it as a short story, novella, novel, and more. A novel is typically between 60,000 – 100,000 words (though it varies depending on genre, audience, and just who you ask in general). If you don’t have enough words, maybe there’s something missing in your story. Or, maybe it’s just not meant to be a novel. Experiment with it.
Remove. The opposite of adding words, of course. There may be a lot of filler that you’re able to cut out. If certain scenes are drowning on too long, you can cut them down and make them more precise so not to bore your readers with too many unneeded details.
Replace. When you remove something, can you replace it with something else? Do you need to replace it with something else or is it fine to just go away? You can replace certain vocabulary words as well to make a description stronger.
Rearrange. This is the one that I think I use the most. There’s a lot to play around with in a novel. Some scenes don’t exactly fit where you originally put them. Sometimes a whole chapter can be moved to earlier or later in the book. There’s a conversation between my two protagonists on page 80 and I decided that conversation would be better suited as an ending to the book. It sounds weird, but sometimes rearranging it helps bring new (and better) ideas to light. Revising your novel is like a puzzle.
What are some things you do when you revise? Do you use the A.R.R.R. method or just go with it? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
Which, can be easy to some but isn’t so easy to others.
When it comes to writing the first draft.
Personally, I always found that writing the first draft was the easiest draft to write. You’re only telling yourself the story, after all. You and your characters are getting to know each other.
I think I find it the easiest because it’s the least stressful. You’re finding your own voice and tone of the story. You’re discovering the best way to convey the message and theme to your future readers.
There’s no need to worry too much about word count or even the structure of the novel. If you want to write notes to yourself in between scenes, go for it. If you don’t have a name for a person or place, use the first one that comes to your mind and bold it to remind yourself to change it later.
There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to writing the first draft though I know some people who don’t see it that way. They get stressed out because they want to have less editing later.
I’ll admit, I don’t care too much for editing either (mostly because I just want the story to be done) but I appreciate it a lot more now than I used to. It’s satisfying in a way.
Honestly, this is why I usually use NaNoWriMo to write the first drafts of my novels. I get the skeleton down and I finish it in a timely manner so I can spend a good chunk of my time editing. Before NaNo it would take me a few months to write a first draft. Now I just get it out of the way and figure out the basic story line. It helps a lot, for me, anyway.
How do you typically go about writing the first draft? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
When it comes to writing a lot of us just sit down and writing. Sometimes we think first, but for the most part we just go through the motions of writing a book.
But what are those motions?
There’s a thing called a creative writing process that we all follow whether we realize it or not.
Right off the bat, the first step of the creative writing process is optional. Some people would better this way, others don’t. Sometimes people do only half of step one and other people do it at a different time during the writing process of their novel.
Needless to say, this whole post can be kind of moot depending on your writing style. But whatever, here we go…
Brainstorming. Prewriting. Outlining.
Whatever you want to call it, the first step is the basic idea of the novel. Technically, those three terms can mean different things, but hey – we all write our novels differently and in our own unique styles. So I’m counting this.
Brainstormingis producing ideas. You can list ideas for many different stories or ideas for events to happen in one story. These are simple ideas of things that could happen in your novel. It doesn’t mean it will actually come to fruition.
Prewriting and Outlining are similar. They sound exactly like their name – before you begin the actual first draft of your novel, you get the basic skeleton of the story down on paper. This can be as simple as filling out a few character charts or creating a mind map of major and minor plot events of the story. Sometimes it can be as in-depth as summarizing each chapter or bullet-listing chapters, characters, and ideas.
I guess it’s kind of like writing the first draft without all the filler stuff.
I personally enjoy outlining before writing the first draft. It helps me keep my thoughts organized. However, not everyone can work like that. So this step can often be skipped. Or, as I said earlier, this step may happen at another point in the creative writing process. I’ve outlined during writing the first draft a few times before and that works just fine for me. It kind of cuts out a step but I’m staying organized all the same.
Do you typically outline before writing the first draft? Or do you do this step at a different time or skip it all together? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
So we talked about dialogue tags a while ago but we didn’t talk about specific dialogue tags. Dialogue tags are important as they explain not just the tone or emotion the character is using to speak but it can also show action and describe what they’re doing. Which is also important.
Is Said Dead?
No. Said is not dead. Everyone needs to leave poor said alone. Said may be a “bland” dialogue tag but sometimes it can work perfectly. We’re not always asking a question or shouting or cheering for any reason. We talk to each other calmly and have general, normal conversations – for the most part. In other words we’re speaking in statements. How do you describe a statement? We “said” it.
But how do we make said better? Well, we can make it better just like we can make any other dialogue tag sound better.
Sure, there are plenty of times I’ve stood in the kitchen having a conversation with my mom and we’re not doing anything. We’re actually just standing and talking. But a lot of time, especially characters in a story, are doing something while they talk.
“How was everyone’s day?” Raph asked spreading butter on her corn on the cob.
“It was fine.” Chip said reaching her arm over Raph to grab the salt.
“You could have just asked for the salt.” Raph sighed.
“My day was good.” Chase piped up in a muffled tone, his mouth filled with food.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.” Chip scolded her brother as she took a bite of her hamburger.
Chase swallowed, “You’re talking with your mouth full.”
Raph put her fork and knife down bowing her head. “Guys, please…”
Admittedly, not the best example, but hopefully you know what I’m trying to get at.
It never hurts to add a little extra to your dialogue tags depending on where your characters are and what they’re doing.
What are some other examples you can think of? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
Of course there are more than 6 types of conversations your characters can have, but this is just to name a few. Our characters speak all the time to each other and we don’t really think too much about what the conversation entails or how it may effect the readers.
Hellos & Goodbyes
This conversation is pretty straightforward. It’s an introduction or a see you later kind of conversation. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s easy to say hi and bye and other times it’s hard for the characters. It’s a generic conversation but this can go in many different ways.
General conversations can be natural little quips here and there. It can be something as simple as two characters commenting on the weather. This kind of conversation can shed some light on the characters themselves as well as the setting and maybe some slight plot information.
This type of conversation can be used to showcase a character or two. Your readers can get to know them a little more as your characters try to get to know each other. This can also be important to the plot as the conversation can very well just be about the plot instead of themselves.
Agreement & Disagreement
No one gets along with others all the time. Arguments and bickers happen. It’s a little depth to the characters and to the plot, depending on what the argument is about. But there are also plenty of agreements to go around, especially if your characters are trying to come up with a plan to do something. They can come up with ideas together.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain this one. We all complain and it usually gets on someone’s nerves. Or maybe that someone agrees with us and may be complaining right along side us. Characters have a lot to complain about, especially with the types of situations we writers put them through.
Revealing something important or making a confession, your characters can have a sort of heart-to-heart. Unless it’s something pretty big then maybe an argument will break out. Who knows what’ll happen?
There are a lot of other types of conversations characters can have. Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.