How To Determine If Your Novel Needs An Epilogue [NaNoWriMo 2017]

Epilogues can be just as tricky as prologues can be. Why? Because you may not always need one.

Epilogues are used as an afterthought. They’re used to show the readers what happened to the characters after the big showdown and everything is resolved.

So, do you need one?

Epilogues in novels

Do you have something new to say?

If there isn’t anything left to the story, but there’s some room for a little aftermath, you can get away with an epilogue. Sometimes it’s nice to show off what happens to the characters after the main event of the story. Of course, it can also work so that readers infer what happens after themselves, but if it’s important and you feel it’s a canon thing that needs to be said, go for it.

For example, show the “happily ever after” of your characters or explain what happened to the world.

Set up the sequel.

If your novel has the potential to have books come after it and you plan on doing more, feel free to set up a cliff-hanger or set up a small plot point so that your readers can tell that a sequel will be coming.

Should there be a twist?

Yes and no. If there is going to be a sequel, you can get away with throwing in a small twist to get your characters thinking.

However, you need to stay true to everything that happened in the novel before. Don’t change any characters or major events that happened. That will only frustrate your readers.

Do you need an epilogue if you have a prologue?

No. While they sound like they go hand in hand, they do serve different purposes as similar as they are. Still, whatever you needed to tell in the prologue has nothing to do with the epilogue because time has passed and your characters have grown and changed. The before should be vastly different from the after so you’ll have to decide whether you need an epilogue or not no matter if you have a prologue or not.

I do think epilogues are great. I always enjoy reading the aftermath of the characters and events that took place. Still, they only work if there is something new to say or add to the feelings the readers already felt.

Then again, some things are best left unsaid.

Do you typically add epilogues to your stories? Do you like them or not? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

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How To Write A Perfect Ending For Your Novel [NaNoWriMo]

Sometimes you know how you want to end your novel and you think to yourself, “How do I get from A to B?” But even if you have an ending in mind, it may not always work out that way.

Your characters have something else in mind. Your outline may change. You may decide to go a completely different direction as you write.

So, how exactly do you write your ending? Well, that’s something you have to decide as you get to it.

Ending a novel

Tie up all loose ends.

This is a must no matter what kind of ending you have. Whether you have a sequel coming up or you’re finishing a standalone book, you must answer all questions that book posed. Sometimes you can get away with leaving a few unanswered questions if it’s part of a more elaborate plot for a series, but you don’t want to leave your readers hanging.

Throw in a twist or cliffhanger.

Going along with the previous point, if you’re writing a series, a trilogy, or whatever, feel free to leave a subtle cliffhanger or throw in a twist at the end. You don’t have to reveal something huge, you can always save that for the next book and throw your readers right back into the action. But something small that will leave your readers feeling satisfied, yet eager to start the next book right away, should suffice.

Go back to the beginning.

I always find it cool when the author brings the story full circle. Something happens at the beginning, they go on a long, treacherous journey, and then they end up right where they started. Yet, they’ve changed. They’ve grown. They’re better (or worse) people than they were before.

 

The end… Or is it?

You can take this one of two ways – you can throw in a twist like what I mentioned above or you can leave an open ending. Be sure to answer all questions and cash in all those plot points, but you can leave your readers feeling satisfied yet imagining what would happen next. They can infer where the characters will go from there. That way the story will last for a long time.

It all depends on your plot and genre.

There are way more ways to end your novel, but it all depends on you, your story, and the genre. Still, some ways to end your novel that seem “wrong” can be “right” and some ways that are supposedly “right” can be “wrong.” It’s really up to your readers to decide.

But you can’t please everyone.

How do you typically wrap up your novels? Are they any other ways you can think of? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

How To Write A Gut-Wrenching Climax [NaNoWriMo]

The climax of a novel is this big point in the story where everything either comes together in a way or comes apart. Big things happen and keep the readers wanting to read more and turning the pages.

The climax typically happens towards the end. It’s like the big finish before the grand wrap-up of the story.

Climaxes can be tricky. You want them to be exciting like fireworks to your readers. There are multiple ways to do this.

Climax

The climax can do a number of things, but here are four we’ll talk about today:

1. Showcase the internal conflict

There should always be something going on with your protagonist. Is there a reason they’re on this specific journey? What’s their motive for wanting to complete this story? What internal troubles are they having throughout the story?

During the climax is usually when the protagonist has some sort of epiphany or moment of truth about themselves. It’s a moment of clarity for them and most likely for the readers as well.

2. Showcase the external conflict

Similar to the internal conflict, this is sort of a moment of truth for a sub-plot or even for the major plot. Something can happen between two characters or something can happen between the protagonist and the antagonist.

3. Prepare for the falling action

The falling action is, basically, what happens after the climax. Something big happens and then what? Everything has a reaction to it, what happens next? When the protagonist defeats the antagonist, what happens? What about if someone dies during the climax? What are the consequences?

4. Allowing a surprise or twist

Anything I mentioned above can happen, of course, but what if you added something a little extra to it? Throw something from left field. You can either incorporate the surprise into the climax or you can build up to one final mystery and then throw in a twist in the falling action.

Overall, the beginning and most of the middle of the story is a build-up to the climax, so you want to make it a good one. After all, what else are your readers waiting for?

How do your climaxes typically go? Do you have any other ways you utilize the climax of your stories? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

8 Tips For Writing A Fantasy Novel

I’m no expert on writing fantasy. But I have written my fair share of the fantasy genre. I’ve written a couple of (totally not flushed out) short stories and I have written a novel or two with a few other ideas.

And when I say fantasy I mean I’ve written about mages. I’ve written about wizards and elves. I’ve written about superheroes. I’m all over the place with it.

I’m giving these tips because this is what I’ve learned along the way (and we can pretend I’m some sort of expert on writing fantasy), but also because I’m writing fantasy for NaNoWriMo.

So, here we go!

8 Tips to writing Fantasy

1. Keep it “real”

Fiction is fake, fantasy is out of this world. Still, there’s a little bit of truth in everything we write. Sometimes we base characters off of ourselves or someone we know. Sometimes we take places and warp them just a little bit to fit in a fictional land or some stories are based on real-life places.

You can always create and base elements of your story on real-life people or places. Take a myth or lore into your hands and add a twist to it. Research is your friend.

2. Mythical creatures

Like I said in the above point, you can do a lot with real-life people or places or even creatures. Unicorns and dragons don’t exist, but they can in the fantasy world. Dragons especially usually have big parts in the fantasy world. However, while you can make them your own in your world, you can also do research on them.

It took me a long time to realize that mermaids are not in fact like Ariel in The Little Mermaid. They are, supposedly, not nice creatures. It shattered my childhood, but I used that information to my advantage in one of my fantasy novels.

3. Magic

J.K. Rowling created the spells in Harry Potter using the Latin language. It’s not Latin exactly, but she twisted it around so that the spells were her own and they could kind of be “translated.”

I’m not saying you have to create a magic system just like Rowling did, but it should still make a little bit of sense.

4. Know your world inside and out

If you’re writing the kind of fantasy where you need your own Middle Earth area, you have to know the world as though you’ve been there in real life… as though you’ve lived there all your life.

Create a map. Do they speak another language? Do they have a different currency? What kinds of food do they eat? What are the seasons like? You may not need to know all of that, but it’s helpful to know anyway.

5. Use a map

Maps are important. Your fantasy novel may not need a map necessarily, unless it’s Middle Earth, but creating a map for yourself won’t hurt. It’ll help you keep track of all the areas which in turn will help you write it and allow your readers to understand.

6. Create character names that can be easily read and pronounced

Yeah. I don’t know what Flbergsted is. There are plenty of fantasy name generators out there on the Internet. Use your vowels wisely.

Sometimes I take names of people I know and spell them backward. For example, Rachel would be Lehcar. Even then you still have to mix some letters around to make them comprehensible, but most names work backward.

7. Do your research

There’s no wrong way to write a book, but research never hurts. There are so many sub-genres of fantasy. Some are way more complicated than others.

There’s a lot on the Internet and there is so many fantasy writing craft books out there. Not to mention fantasy novels in general that you can read. Just brush up on your fantasy knowledge.

8. Know your fantasy genre and subgenre

This kind of goes along with the point above. Fantasy is a vast genre and there are so many sub-genres to it. Like I said earlier in the post I’ve written many different kinds of fantasy. I go from Lord of the Rings style to X-Men style. Both are fantasy, but that’s just about all they have in common.

Do you write fantasy? If so, what sub-genre of fantasy do you typically write in? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

 

7 Ways To Avoid A Boring Middle For You And Your Readers [NaNoWriMo 2017]

Ever hear of the sagging middle? It’s when you get to that point in your novel that just seems to go on and on and on… yet nothing seems to be happening.

I think everyone, at some point or another, has a problem with the sagging middle. Even I, as an outliner, have trouble with it at times. Sometimes you don’t know where to go next in your outline or the outline changes so much that the middle gets deformed somehow.

In a way, it’s kind of like week two of NaNoWriMo. You end up in some sort of slump.

Either way, here are some tips to avoid that sagging middle. Or, at the very least, you can throw something in to keep the story going. There’s always editing later.

7 Ways to Avoid Sagging Middle

1. Make it short and sweet

Quality over quantity, right? Listen, if you get stuck in your middle, skip it. Don’t worry about it. If that bothers you, write anything there. If you have any thoughts, write it out and see how it goes.

This is what editing is for. I know editing typically takes words out, but there’s nothing wrong with adding something in. After all, you usually have multiple drafts of novels. You can add something in, take it out, add something else in just to take that out as well. You have to play around with it.

First drafts are supposed to be all over the place.

2. Question your protagonist’s or your antagonist’s goals

Everyone has second doubts. Everyone worries. Everyone regrets something at some point in their life. What has happened in your novel before the middle? Is there anything that you can use to make any of your characters have an internal conflict? Or maybe they can have tension with other characters?

Bring the antagonist around, have them run into the protagonist. What happens? How do they handle the situation?

3. Play with your characters

Introduce someone new. Have someone leave the group due to a fight or they have something else to take care of. Kill someone off, whether it’s an important character or a side character.

Anything can happen, especially if tension is high.

4. Change location or POV

Where are your characters and what are they doing? Did they finish what they needed to do? Let them leave. Have something else happen and they need to move on as soon as possible.

Changing POV is harder, of course. Unless you’re writing in that kind of style where you switch POV characters for each chapter or some other way. Still, you might be able to make it work somehow. You just have to be careful with it.

5. Throw a curve ball at your characters

This is the point of novel writing. You’re supposed to constantly throw lemons at your characters, especially your protagonist.

Depending on the situation you put before your characters, anything can happen. Something as simple as changing the weather can throw your characters off.

6. Start writing in the middle

Are you nervous about your middle sagging before you even start? Start in the middle. Throw your characters into something that you think may help get your novel to the end and go with it. This may be easier to do if you have an outline in mind, but it’s doable either way.

At the very least, you may get to know your characters a little better. You’ll figure out what you want the plot to accomplish.

7. Throw in a red herring

Red herrings are fun. They’re fake clues handed out for the mere sake of throwing your characters (and your readers) off the trail. Send your characters on a wild goose chase. As long as it leads to something else that will advance the plot or bring tension, it’s a great way to keep those pages turning.

Do you typically have trouble with a sagging middle? What do you do to get out of that slump? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

WIP Wednesday 1 [NaNoWriMo 2017]

I’m adding a new feature to my blog! It’s just what the title suggests, WIP Wednesday – or Work In Progres Wednesday.

This will be something that will be posted on one Wednesday a month, most likely in the middle of the month. For November, though, I’ll be posting it every Wednesday to give an update on my NaNo novel for you guys.

With that said, here’s the first one.

WIP Wednesday

What am I working on?

The Librarian. I’m not sure if this will be a full novel or just a novella, but I plan on publishing it to Wattpad in January 2018.

What’s the easiest part of writing this novel?

The actual writing. Even though I don’t have an outline this time around, I haven’t written a novel in such a long time. It feels good!

What’s the hardest part of writing this novel?

The plot. While the words have been flowing well, I still don’t have an outline. As I write, I’ve been getting more and more ideas. And those ideas require research. A lot of research. I mean, this is a topic I never thought I would ever write about. So we’ll see how it goes.

NaNoWriMo Stats

Day 1: 4,094
Day 2: 2,017
Day 3: 4,573
Day 4: 2,052
Day 5: 2,384
Day 6: 2,034
Day 7: 2,921
Total Words: 20,075

So far so good.

I’m proud that I was able to reach 20k words, almost halfway there, in week one. On Friday, November 10th, Kris and I are going to be doing a 10k day! So I’m hoping that by the time the weekend officially begins, I’ll have 35k or so words.

How is NaNo treating you so far? What are you currently working on? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

My NaNoWriMo 2017 Writing Project

Another year has come and gone. And no, I don’t mean 2017. I mean NaNo is just around the corner.

I’m excited to get back into NaNo. I feel like my writing has been short this past year. I’ve really only written anything during the NaNo months. I’ve slowly been fixing that, but NaNo is when I’m the most productive. I think it’s the “competition” of my writing buddies that really makes me go.

My NaNoWriMo 2017 Project

While I have so many novels written that need editing, I feel weird not writing anything new for NaNo.

I’ve been on Wattpad for a long time now. I’ve been wanting to post a story or two on there and I just… haven’t. So, I plan on writing a novel/novella during NaNo. I’ll give that one or two rounds of edits and then post it on Wattpad. My goal is to have it published sometime in January.

“Special”

This past August, I posted an interactive Short Story Sunday where you, my readers, got to vote on what should happen next in the story.

I got a lot of positive feedback on the story and a few people have asked me to continue it. It was a story idea that I had debated on expanding. I’ve decided I’m going to continue it.

Meredith’s story was wrapped up in those four parts, but I know how it will continue with her roommate, Paige, and the Professor.

I plan on outlining it in October, writing it in November, editing it in December, and then publishing it on Wattpad in January. We’ll see how well that works out, but that’s the plan for now.

“Special” is a working title where the Professor will continue to pawn off his special notebook hoping to choose the “correct” person to handle its power. The power can be good or bad, depending on how who uses it and how they use it. Where the notebook came from, no one seems to know. The Professor seems to know more than what he lets on. We’ll just have to see what Paige decides to do with the power.

I’m still outlining the story now so more information on the story itself will come at the end of the month.

I’m looking forward to expanding on this idea. I hope it turns out well and I hope you’ll all read it (and enjoy it) when it’s on Wattpad.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo next month? What will you be working on? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

Beta Readers: Who Are They And What Do They Do?

When it comes to writing a book, you may often hear the author searching for and requesting beta readers. This happens during or after the editing process and before the book is published.

A beta reader, also known as an alpha reader, is a reader who agrees to read through a written piece of work, usually fiction. This is to help the author make some last minute decisions with the book before publishing. Beta readers are like test readers to give the author a sense of how well their book may be received by the targeted audience.

So, what exactly do they do?

Beta Readers: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

What They Do

Beta readers can do a lot of things that include, but are not limited to:

  • Checking for spelling and grammar
  • Looking more in depth at the plot, continuity and other elements of the story
  • Give their overall general impressions of the story – what they liked and what they didn’t like
  • Help improve the story overall

You may be thinking to yourself, “This is very similar to an editor.” Well, yeah. I can agree with you on that.

Still, an editor is searching for mistakes. A beta reader is reading your novel as your audience would. They will give their honest opinion and feedback to you about the novel similar to a book review, but with added flare (slight editing).

Beta readers help give your story that extra boost before you hit the “publish” button for all the world to see that plot hole on page 151.

Why else do you need a beta reader?

Often when we write, we know what we’re trying to say. It’s all in our heads, but it may not come out on paper that way.

As a writer, you describe something and think that’s enough because you know what you’re talking about. But the readers sometimes won’t. Beta readers will catch that.

The Report

Beta readers will give you a “report” on your novel. It’s like a cross between a book review and a little editing. They’ll speak their honest opinion about what they liked and what they didn’t like. What there was too much of something in the story, what there was too little of in the story. They really break it down.

The best part? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

That means if you give the same manuscript to three different beta readers, chances are you’ll get three different results.

In the end, it’s your novel, so you decide which pieces of advice to us and which not to us. Still, look at it all and really think about it.

And, if all your beta readers agree that something in the book is not working, definitely take a look at that.

Is a beta reader worth it?

Yes. Yes, I think it is. It’s another pair of eyes looking at your manuscript and it’s your very first reader who maybe become a fan.

Beta readers’ opinions are so important. Take them with a grain of salt, but don’t ignore them.

Have you had beta readers before? What was your experience? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Highlight Editing

Similar to rainbow editing, highlight editing zeros-in more on your manuscript.You’re not marking up your plot and characters with various colors, you looking more into mechanics and the smaller details.

In rainbow editing, you’re marking up your plot, characters, and setting with various colors, taking an in-depth approach to your story.you looking more into mechanics and the smaller details.

In highlight editing, you’re looking more into mechanics and the smaller details.

You could use rainbow editing for this as well, but I find highlighting to be easier and you can use both in the same draft.

Your manuscript will look gorgeous if you do.

Highlight Editing

Replacements

Use highlight editing when you want to replace certain words, sentences, or phrases in your novel. Use different colored highlighters for different things to swap out later. For example, assign different colors to look for:

  • Cliches
  • Vocabulary (add stronger words)
  • Repetitive words or phrases

Work towards making those phrases more specific and concrete.

The “W” Questions

Some small details don’t matter, but others do. It all helps out with the background of the story and gives the readers a little bit more to go on as they delve deeper into the story.

Ask yourself these questions as though you, the reader, is in the story:

  • Where are we?
  • Who are we?
  • When are we?
  • How do things look?
  • What time period are we in? What time of year?
  • Is it day or night?
  • What’s the weather like?

Some details, like the weather, can be small, but they can add a lot to the story and allow the reader to really feel as though they’re in your world.

Use a highlighter to answer these questions (and similar questions you can think of). If you can’t find the answers in the text, then your reader won’t know the answer. Make a note and ask if it’s really important to add. If it is, add it in somewhere you won’t disrupt the flow.

In Conclusion

Highlighters are a lot of fun and they’re made to make things stand out to us. When editing, you want to make notes of things to add, delete, or change. Highlighting these things in different colors is not only easy (and pretty!) but it’ll save you some extra editing of later drafts and will be easy to look back on later.

Have you used this method before? Do you do anything similar? Let me know in the comments below!

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57 Questions To Ask When Editing Your Novel

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The last time I talked a lot about editing on my blog I wrote a post called 35 Questions To Ask When Critiquing A Novel. It was a popular post and it seemed to help a lot of people out.

So, I’ve decided to update it. Between notes I’ve kept from school, my writer’s group, and personal editing of my novels, I’ve come up with an updated list. The 35 questions from before are included in this list, but it’s more organized and there’s a lot more to think about.

57 Editing questions to ask when editing your novel | Editing | Novel Editing | Editing questions | RachelPoli.com

Plot

1. What are the conflicts (internal and external) in the story? Is it known right away?
2. What is the central conflict of the story?
3. Are there too many conflicts happening in the book at once? Or is there not enough?
4. Are all the conflicts important to the story and help drive the plot forward?
5. Is there enough tension?
6. Are there any plot twists to throw the protagonist and the reader off track?
7. Is the plot clear and believable from the beginning?
8. Is the plot interesting? Will the readers be able to relate to points in the book?
9. Is the plot resolved at the end of the book? Is the reader satisfied with the end?

Setting, Locations, & World Building

10. Does the author create a believable setting?
11. Is the setting vividly described? Are there too many details or not enough?
12. Is the setting, time and date period, all consistent throughout the book?
13. Are there enough locations in the book or not enough?
14. What are the rules of the world?
15. Is it clear whether the story takes place in real life or a fictional world?
16. Is the time period clear from the beginning?
17. Is each new location clearly distinct from the last? Is it easy to tell when you’re in a new place?

Character Development

18. Is the protagonist clearly introduced as the main focus of the story?
19. How do you feel about the protagonist? Do you sympathize with him, care about what happens to him, and do you share his emotions? Does the character feel alive?
20. Can you relate to the protagonist or any of the other characters?
21. Does each character have a background, hobbies, etc.?
22. Are the secondary characters helpful and push the story forward? Do they each have a purpose?
23. Does each character grow by the end of the book?
24. Can you see the characters? Are they described well or not enough?
25. Are there too many characters or not enough?
26. Does each character have a unique voice and personality?
27. How are the names? Are there names that are too similar to each other? Are some names too hard to pronounce and read? If so, which ones?
28. Which characters need more developing? Are some characters not needed?

Writing Style

29. Can you hear the dialogue? Is there too much dialogue or not enough?
30. What is the point of view of the story? Is it consistent throughout the novel? Do you think the POV was a good choice for this particular story?
31. How is the pacing of the story? Does the story drag at some points? Do some parts happen too fast?
32. Is each scene easy to read and flow well right into the next?
33. Are there scenes in the book that don’t drive the plot forward?
34. Does the author show instead of telling?
35. Does the overall tone work well for the story?
36. Is there enough emotion in the story? Were there enough happy, sad, angry, tense, etc. moments?
37. Were there any inconsistencies in the plot, characters, or setting anywhere? Were there any contradictions? If so, where?
38. Is there too much dialogue in some parts?
39. Is there too much description in some parts?

General Thoughts

40. Does the opening of the story hook you? Do you want to read more? Why or why not?
41. Were there any parts you wanted to put the books down? If so, which scenes and why?
42. Did any parts confuse (annoy or frustrate) you? If so, which parts and why?
43. Did you know fairly quickly where the story took place, what was going on, and who the story was about?
44. Was the book too long or too short?
45. Did the first and last chapters work?
46. Does the title fit the plot?
47. Is the book appropriate for the targeted audience?
48. Was the ending satisfying and believable?
49. Were there a lot of typos, grammatical or spelling errors?
50. Does the writing suit the genre?
51. Are there any scenes that need to be elaborated more or deleted?

Opinion Thoughts

52. What do you think the moral of the story is? What message is the author trying to get across to their readers?
53. Who was your favorite character and why?
54. What’s one line that you loved for whatever reason?
55. What is the strongest part of the novel?
56. What is the weakest part of the novel?
57. What is your overall impression of the story?

Of course, not all of these questions have to be answered, but it’s a good starting point.

Did you find this list helpful? Have any other questions to ask? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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9 Steps To Editing Your Novel

One question I tend to ask myself when editing my novels is:

Where do I start?

I make a list of notes to edit as I write. Sometimes I’ll write a scene and make a note whether it’s really needed or not. Sometimes I make notes about the characters or the pacing of the story.

Yet, even though I have that list, I begin editing and I find myself just reading. I’m reading like a reader, not editing like an editor.

But first drafts are always terrible, right? So there’s a lot to go through, a lot to think about, a lot to change. It takes a long time and a lot of extra drafts and trees.

So, I’ve decided, in an attempt to get myself a little more organized with my own editing, I’d come up with a process for it. Maybe this will work, maybe it won’t. But who knows, maybe one of you will find it helpful.

9 Steps to Editing a Novel

Step 1 – Take a break

I know this is an odd first step, but hear me out.

Once you finish writing that full first draft, step away from it. Let it rest for a while. I typically wait at least a month, sometimes longer. Give your characters a break and let your mind rest from that grueling plot. This way you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Step 2 – Print it out, mark it up

Print out your manuscript double-spaced (for plenty of room to make notes) and double-sided if you can (sorry, trees!). Then begin your read-through and edits.

Be sure to look for any developmental errors and line edit to give it a thorough read through. Also, have sticky notes, index cards, highlights, various colored pens, etc. You want to be able to tell the difference between all your edits and still be able to somewhat read the page when you go to type it back up again.

Step 3 – Take a break

Self-explanatory. Wait another month or at least two weeks.

Step 4 – Rewrite and edit

Take your edits from the first draft and type it back up again. As you rewrite, edit some more. You’ll catch mistakes you didn’t before and your mind might change on some things. For example, you may disagree with an edit you made or you may add new edits that you left alone before.

When this is done, print it out again.

Step 5 – Tag, you’re it

Let someone else look at it. You can:

  • Get beta-readers (two or three or how many you’d like)
  • Ask a close friend or family member who’s not afraid to be truthful and mark up your manuscript
  • Submit it to your writer’s group (if you’re part of one)
  • Hire an editor

You can pick and choose from this list or you can do all of them. It’d be a good idea to get this set up ahead of time and let them know you’ll have the manuscript to them by a certain date. Give them a realistic deadline as well.

This will allow you to see your book through the eyes of a reader and get various opinions on it as well as general editing critiques.

Step 6 – Rewrite and edit

While others are looking at your novel that’s kind of like your break from it. When they give it back, get started on it right away. In case you have questions for them, you can ask them in a timely manner since the manuscript will still be fresh in their minds.

Rewrite the draft and edit as you go really thinking about the feedback you’ve received.

Step 7 – Repeat Steps 2 – 4 (Optional)

Depending on what stage the writing of your novel is in, you may have to give it another thorough self-edit. If this is the case, repeats steps two through 4. Print it out, mark it up, take a break, then rewrite making the edits to the new draft.

If your manuscript seems ready after having others look at it, you can skip this and go straight to the next step.

Step 8 – Proofread

Print out the manuscript one last time and give it one last read through.

Proofread it for any last minute changes like typos, grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. Have someone else proofread it for you as well. It’s always good to have another pair of eyes.

Once the final corrections are made, you should be good to go.

Step 9 – Rewrite and submit

Add in the proofreading corrections and then you should have a polished manuscript on your hands. You can them submit your story to where ever you want.

In Conclusion…

This is the process I’m going to take for the mystery novel. I just started the first major edits this month and I hope to be done by the end of the month. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, how it works out for me. I’m hoping to be done with the manuscript by the end of 2017, but hopefully earlier.

Do you use a similar process to edit your novels? What kind of process do you use? Let me know in the comments below!

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Rainbow Editing

I haven’t touched my mystery novel in a long time. I wrote the original first draft for NaNoWriMo in November 2013. Since then, it’s changed a lot. I submitted it to my writer’s group and we all mutually agreed that the main character should not have been the POV character.

I rewrote the whole thing.

In 2015, my goal was to have the full manuscript completed by the end of the year. That didn’t happen, so my new goal was the end of the year in 2016.

The last time I worked on the draft was the summer of 2016. I began my edits, got about 60 pages in, and stopped. My “edits” started to be solely searching for typos. I was reading the story, not editing the book. I got frustrated, not knowing where to start and how to continue, so I stopped with every intention of going back to it a few weeks later.

Then Camp NaNo July 2016 happened and I never went back to my mystery novel.

Now that it’s 2017, my new goal was, (surprise), to finish the manuscript by the end of the year. I have a new plan and a new schedule. I also did some research on editing and I learned a lot. So I think it will work this time.

No one said editing had to be boring. No one said it had to be a chore. It’s a lot of work and brainpower, yes, but I’ve found a way to make editing a little more fun and interesting for myself while staying organized and continue to pay attention.

Rainbow Editing | Editing Your Novel

If you’re easily distracted by shiny and pretty things, like me, then this may be a fun way to edit your manuscript.

When you think of editing, you think of having a red pen in hand, right? Me, too. When you think of writing, you think of blue or black ink, right? If you’re typing it on the computer, it’s black ink.

Editing is hard enough, but when I started editing my novel again this month I decided to use the same draft I was working on last summer so I could save a tree.

The first 10 pages or so are really marked up and then I lost steam. Up until page 60 or so, there are small red marks here and there, but that’s it.

I decided not to use red so I wouldn’t get the last edits and the current edits mixed up. Since I started, two of my pens had run out of ink so I ended up having four different colors on one page.

It’s pretty if I do say so myself.

That’s when I thought of rainbow editing. This is an actual method teachers use to get their students (mostly elementary and middle grade) to self-edit their essays. Each color represents something different: spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.

But why don’t I do that? I have various colored pens that I never use and it will help me stay organized in my thoughts as I write, edit, and rewrite. So, that’s just what I decided to do…

Red – general typos, spelling, grammar, etc.
Green – Plot changes
Light Green – Dialogue, description, pacing, tenses, etc.
Blue – Character development
Purple – Research, fact-check
Pink – Overall structure, switching sentences and paragraphs around, vocabulary, word replacement, etc.

It definitely looks a bit much, but if you make a “legend” and can remember which color represents what, it helps to zero in on one thing at a time.

I didn’t think of this idea until after I started editing this draft, but it will definitely be used in the future.

Do you rainbow edit or have a similar editing method? Let me know in the comments below!

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What If You Don’t Win Camp? [Camp NaNoWriMo]

On April 21, I reached 50,074 words on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, Unwritten.

I was excited and realized that I still had more of the story to write, so I’d continue writing until the end of April and see where I am.

I wrote the final chapter on Saturday and the epilogue on Monday. Even though the story is now “complete” I know the editing is going to be quite a challenge. There’s a scene I already know that I have to take out and rework. There are also a couple scenes (or chapters) that I want to add in.

Still, the main first draft portion is complete and I have to say… It feels pretty good to get another novel under my belt.

What if you don't win Camp NaNoWriMo? [April 2017]

Throughout this month, however, I’ve received some comments on my blog and tweets on Twitter, and even some people in my cabin have all said various things that are all the same:

“I’m going to lower my word count.”

“I can’t find the time to write.”

“I’m not going to be able to reach my goal. I’m going to lose.”

At the start of every NaNo, I vow to write about 2,000 words a day as opposed to the standard 1,667 words for a 50k goal.

This is because that daily goal works for me.

I wake up two hours earlier than I have to before work each morning so I can get my writing done first thing.

This is because that time of day works for me.

Did I always write like this? No. In fact, it took me quite a few NaNo sessions (a few years) to figure this was the best way I worked.

NaNo is about finding your writing routine. It’s about finding your writing style. It’s about getting the words down on the paper to tell yourself the story before the grueling editing process begins. It’s also about getting to know other writers and making friends with people who understand you and know what you’re going through.

It’s not about winning and losing. It’s not about racing to meet your word goal so that you need to write as little as possible.

Sure, if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get that nifty certificate. Sure, if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get those discounts at the NaNo shop or the sponsors.

But guess what? There will be another NaNo in a few months.

If you…

  • Wrote more than what you typically write in a month
  • Wrote a little every day even if it wasn’t your daily word goal
  • Put a brand new fresh idea down on paper
  • Rambled various plot ideas, character sketches, and the like without a concrete novel, or
  • Had a wonderful time in your cabin and made lots of new friends

YOU’RE A WINNER.

NaNo isn’t easy.

April is a work month as is a school month for most. July seems easier (no school, but people still have to work). For me, I go on vacation at the end of the month so my Camp NaNo for July is three weeks as opposed to four. November… Well, there’s school, work, and not to mention the holidays.

Don’t even get me started on other life happenings that go on throughout the month that no one can see coming until it’s right in front of you. If you get my Newsletter, you should already know that I had a death in the family at the beginning of April.

Writing certainly takes the backseat when it comes to family and friends.

And that’s okay. That’s how it should be.

So, if you don’t finish your NaNo by the end of the month, there’s always next month. And while it may not be a NaNo month, you’ll still have those wonderful people you met in your cabin to keep in touch with and help you all year long.

Just remember, any writing is progress.

We’re in the final home stretch, guys. Good luck!

Have you reached your NaNo goal, or do you still have writing to do? Let me know in the comments below!

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What Makes For A Good Psychological Thriller? [Guest Post]

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Heena Rathore P. Thanks, Heena!

What Makes For A Good Psychological Thriller? [Guest Post by author Heena Rathore P.]
Image Credit: TC (talkingcomicbooks.com)

When I hear the term ‘psychological thrillers’, I feel a shiver of anticipation run down my spine. Is it just me? I don’t think so; I’m sure that almost everyone who’s read at least two good psychological thriller books (or even movies) feels the same way, especially those who love the genre.

The term itself makes me feel a rush that I just can’t describe; it means anticipation and intrigue, a lot of thrilling action, psychological twists, unimaginable turn of events, gritty situations, incomprehensible acts of self-preservation and a nice ending that’ll definitely blow the mind. At least for me, this is how I feel when I hear this term.

Being a reader and a writer of this stunning genre, I’ve spent a good many years submerged in it. And needless to say, I have read and watched my fair share of good as well as “bad” books and movies in this genre – psychological thrillers. For me, there’s no bad as such, but I guess there are a lot of books or movies that makes you feel like there was so much room for more and that they fell short somehow.

I’ve been observing all the psychological thriller stories (movies and books combined) like a hawk because that’s what writers do. And for me there are a few things that really make a good psychological thriller:

  • Killer suspense.
  • Scary as hell and super creepy antagonist.
  • At least one vulnerable character for whom I can root for.
  • Growth of that vulnerable character into someone who can fight all odds .
  • Spooky and chilly settings.
  • Crazy situations that I would hate to be in, but would be extremely curious about.
  • Mind-numbing anticipation.
  • Building frustration that keeps me on the edge.
  • One hell of a climax that’ll keep the wheels in my mind running even after I’m done with the story.

These are, of course, only a few things that make for a good psychological thriller, but if the author manages to get at least these elements right, the reader is in for a smashing story.

A few handy things that I feel help a lot in making a book a really good psychological thriller:

  • Glimpse into the mind of the killer through a distant or limited POV of the antagonist – just enough to creep out the reader, yet only a glimpse so as not to make the reader feel sympathetic towards him/her.
    You can’t feel scared of someone if you feel sorry for them. Hence, a distant POV works best.
  • Epistolary elements like letters, or diary entries, or random newspaper articles or bits of transcripts or something like that. These things instantly create a wonderful atmosphere full of suspense and intrigue.
  • Creepy and blood-chilling settings. They’ll add a lot of character and weight to the story and create an eerily horrific atmosphere that’ll accentuate the entire story.
  • Strong characters. Always. They’ll make the reader emotionally involved with the story and make everything feel personal. That is one thing a writer can’t afford to go wrong with.
  • Multiple POVs. It’s always better to know the story from different angles and POVs. It adds spark to the story and provides a deeper understanding to the reader helping them to get inside the story.
  • Suspense build-up. Suspense is what takes the story to another level and makes it extremely entertaining. If the author manages to get the balance of suspense and thrills right, then nothing can stop the story from hitting the bullseye.

These elements need a great amount of work, but if done well, they add a lot of weight to the overall build-up of the story.

At the end, the main thing is the story itself, so no matter what you do or how you do it, try to make your story shine and you’ll have a winner at hand.

About Heena Rathore

Author Heena Rathore PHeena Rathore Pardeshi is a novelist, novel critic, as well as a book reviewer. She is also the Editor In Chief at a publishing house and an acclaimed YouTube Podcaster. An award-winning writer, she has won several NaNoWriMos and JuNoWriMos since 2014. .

A fan of crime-thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and slasher movies and series, she draws inspiration from the works of legendary writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sidney Sheldon. She’s also a fan of Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.

An introvert and freethinker, Heena prefers neatness to chaos – in her fictional themes as well as in her real life. She has a special place for German Shepherds and books in her heart.

Heena is twenty-six years old and lives in Pune, India with her beloved husband, Vishal – a successful entrepreneur, in a house full of books, music, and love. Heena passionately creates vivid fictional worlds; some to read and cherish, and some to live in.

Connect with Heena:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Book:

Deceived by Heena Rathore P.How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

How To Use The Camp Site To Your Advantage [Camp NaNoWriMo]

When it comes to writing during a NaNoWriMo month, it’s sometimes hard to stay motivated or even to just stay on task when you are motivated. Now that we’re halfway through the month, some of us may be losing steam and get stuck and don’t know what to do next.

I know a lot of people who turn off their wi-fi and disconnect from the Internet while they write so that they don’t get distracted as they try to get their daily word count in.

If this is how you work, then that’s fine. Do what you gotta do.

Still, as much as the Camp NaNo website can be distracting, it can also be a great help.

How To Use the Camp NaNoWriMo Website Your Advantage

The Cabins

Use your own cabin as a source to help you out. If you’re stuck on something in your novel, ask your cabinmates. Chances are, they may be having the same problem or have gone through it before.

Ask for advice, talk about the good things and bad things about your novel. Also, check your stats and see how you overall cabin is doing. A little competition never hurt anyone.

The Writing Resources Page

The Writing Resources page is great. There’s a list of events that you can participate in during the month as well as the “camp counselors” which are authors who give advice and pep talks throughout the month. There are also various articles about the writing process such as planning, character, dialogue, editing, and so much more.

The Camp NaNoWriMo Forums

Or you can go on the main NaNo website and check out the forums. Any will do, but there is a section for specific Camp Forums. It’s small, but you can meet many new people outside of your cabin and talk about just about anything.

Check Your Messages

Most often than not, there will most likely be a message in your inbox. It’s usually a “care package” that has a pep talk or good advice inside.

In Conclusion

I’ll admit that I don’t use the website as much as I probably should. I don’t really explore it and use the goodies that are given to me during the month.

But, when I do, I can fully admit that it helps. Whether you’re stuck or not, need motivation or not, it helps and it’s fun.

What’s your favorite part about the Camp website? Let me know in the comments below!

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