My Creative Writing Process

We’ve talked a lot about the creative writing process this month so I thought I would share my creative writing process.

My Creative Writing Process | Creative Writing | Writing | Writing Tips | Novel Writing | RachelPoli.com

Outlining

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.

Writing

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.

RevisingEditing

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.

Publishing

Yeah, I’m still figuring this one out.

What’s your writing process look like? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The Creative Writing Process: Publishing Your Novel

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 Creative Writing Process Publishing Your Novel | Creative Writing | Writing Tips | Publishing Advice | Self-Publishing | RachelPoli.com

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.

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The Creative Writing Process: Editing Your Novel

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.

The Creative Writing Process Editing Your Novel | Revision | Editing | Novel Writing | Writing Tips | RachelPoli.com

The different types of editing your novel.

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.

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The Creative Writing Process: Revising Your Novel

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.

The Creative Writing Process Revising Your Novel | Revision Process | Editing | Novel Writing | Writing Tips | RachelPoli.com

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.

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The Creative Writing Process: Writing The First Draft

Yesterday I mentioned outlining in the process of writing. The next step in the creative writing process would be, of course, writing the first draft.

Which, can be easy to some but isn’t so easy to others.

The Creative Writing Process Writing The First Draft | Creative Writing | Novel Writing | Writing Tips | RachelPoli.com

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.

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Specific Dialogue Tags

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.

Specific dialogue tags | Creative writing | writing tips | RachelPoli.com

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.

Add Detail.

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.

For example:

“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.

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6 Types Of Conversations Your Characters Can Have

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.

6 types of conversations characters can have | dialogue tips | creative writing | RachelPoli.com

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

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.

Backstory

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.

Complaining

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.

Reveal

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.

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How Do You Write Internal Dialogue?

Internal dialogue can be more confusing than one would think. I don’t believe there’s a “right” way or “wrong” way to write internal dialogue, but I’ve seen plenty of people write it in different ways. I’ll admit, I have a preference, but that’s just my opinion.

How do you write internal dialogue | Creative Writing | Writing Tips | Dialogue tips | RachelPoli.com

There are different forms of internal dialogue – direct and indirect.

Direct Internal Dialogue

Direct refers to a character thinking to themselves in first person. This means these are thoughts they’re actually thinking, not thoughts we believe – or the narrator is telling us – they’re thinking. This can be written in two ways: using quotations or italics.

Using quotations makes it seem like the character is speaking aloud. It’s up to the dialogue tag to show that the character is actually thinking instead of speaking.

Using italics without quotations, but still using dialogue tags, makes it easy to differentiate between thoughts and speaking. Both are fine ways to write internal dialogue, but I prefer the italics. I find it easier to read and follow along.

Indirect Internal Dialogue

Similar to direct internal dialogue except it’s written in third person. This also means the narrator is telling us what a character is wondering, or may be wondering. So it’s not the exact thoughts from the character but we have an idea of what they may be thinking.

How do you typically write internal dialogue? Do you like using quotations or italics? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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All About Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags are important and essential to use in every story we write. Are they always needed? No, but we do need them from time to time in order to know which characters are talking to each other or to themselves. So this post is all about dialogue tags.

All About Dialogue Tags | Creative Writing | Writing Tips | Writing Advice | RachelPoli.com

What is a dialogue tag?

A dialogue tag is a tag that goes before, in between, or after a piece of dialogue. It’s that little quip that says, “he said” or “Rachel cheered.”

How do you use dialogue tags?

Well, as I said they can go before or after the dialogue or in between it. Depending on where you put the tag, you need to make sure your punctuation is correct to go along with the dialogue. For example…

Rachel asked, “Where were you last night?”

“Why are you asking?” Chase replied.

“Well,” Rachel sighed, “you didn’t answer any of my phone calls.”

When do you use dialogue tags?

This is sort of like personal preference but also you need to read your manuscript and see what makes sense.

If there’s two characters speaking to each other and the banter is quick, one right after another, you can get away without using dialogue tags. Of course, use them in the beginning to make sure your readers know who is speaking.

“I didn’t know you were trying to call.” Chase said.

“Um, maybe you should check your phone then?” Rachel replied.

“What did you want, anyway?”

“It doesn’t matter now.”

If there’s a lot of detail and description in between the dialogue, a tag doesn’t hurt to remind your readers who’s speaking next. Also, if there are more than two characters speaking with one another, it’s a good idea to use tags so they knows who’s talking.

“What’s all the bickering about?” Chip asked.

“I think Chase is hiding something from me.” Rachel answered.

“It’s not just from you.” Chase replied.

“See?” Rachel exclaimed.

“Guys, please…” Chip sighed.

Overall, dialogue tags are a great way to convey the message to your readers about who is speaking and how they’re saying it. Though it’s not always needed and your readers can always infer based on what they already know.

Do you use dialogue tags a lot? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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4 Tips To Writing An Emotional Scene

“Emotional” can mean a lot of different things. You can be filled with joy or sadness, anger or envy. Cry happy tears or sob distraught. Any scene can be emotional but for many different reasons. Depending on the emotion and the tension you can get different levels of emotion as well. So, here are some tips to writing an emotional scene.

4 tips to writing an emotional scene | creative writing | writing | emotional scenes | writing tips | blogging | RachelPoli.com

Make the emotion authentic

First and foremost, you can’t force emotion. Sometimes we don’t always cry at something sad or laugh out loud at something funny. When something emotional is happening, allow your characters to talk as how people would talk in real life. The message will come across to your readers and it’ll make your characters seem more real.

Less is more

Sometimes you don’t need a super long scene to make it emotional. Something short and sweet will do nicely. You don’t need to swell on it too long. Unless something else is going to happen that would advance the plot further, you don’t need to show off every moment of the funeral.

Use your own experiences

You know how to be happy. You know how to be scared and brave when it isn’t easy to be. Take those feelings and pour it into your characters. Again, less it more. You don’t need to describe every little detail, but it definitely helps to get the idea across the paper.

Show your feelings and tell them too

One piece of writing advice I’m sure everyone is familiar with is, “show, don’t tell.” I agree with that to some extent, but when it comes to feelings and emotional scenes, you can choose to show or tell them. Showing will give a subtle feel to the readers. However, it always helps to talk about our feelings. Allowing two characters to talk to one another and describe their feelings and why will certainly add some emotion to the reader. Sometimes a little bluntness can go a long way. It doesn’t need to be a long conversation, but it can be a start.

How do you convey emotional scenes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around.

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