Writing a series takes a lot of hard work and dedication. In fact, writing a SINGLE book takes hard work and dedication. However, if you’re planning a series there are a few things you need to keep in mind. A series should not be thought of as one really long novel that…
There is no designated time for anything in your life. You don’t have to have your first kiss at any certain time, you don’t have to get married in your 20′s and you don’t have to do anything just because other people think it’s best. In fact, you will be much better off if you just do what your heart says. The day you stop caring what other people think is the day their opinions don’t mean anything, because you’re not there to give them weight.
Personally, I believe “Young Adult” to be an arbitrary title that means the book can be enjoyed by anyone, has a main character who’s not quite an adult, and isn’t really boring.
Recently, I’ve seen a lot of posts encouraging people to write a specific type of female character: a very feminine woman who kicks butt, has a sarcastic remark for every occasion, and truly cares about social issues. If you want to write a character like her, that’s great! We need all kinds of…
a-thousand-crows asked: Have you ever tried to "show and not tell", but you just can't figure out how to express something without just saying it? For example: "James's eyes were wide with concern." I just told the reader that James is concerned instead of showing that he's concerned, but if I tried showing, it would be too wordy. What do you think?
But really, every time I come across a situation like the one you described, where I want to show but I’m not exactly sure how to show, I open up The Emotion Thesaurus, find the emotion I’m trying to convey and pick a couple markers that fit my character and the situation to show (in your case) his concern. It usually doesn’t take much—just a couple body language cues will do.
Confession: I have not polished every manuscript I’ve written to a submission-ready gleam—or even tried to, for that matter.
Over the course of eight years I’ve written eleven manuscripts. Of those eleven, I brought five of them to what I at the time considered submission-ready. To be fair, one of them I only just finished a couple weeks ago and thus isn’t ready for editing, so if I remove that from my statistics, that brings me to an even 50% immediate-trunk rate. Or polish rate, if you’re half-glass full.
So now you may be wondering what happened to those five manuscripts I immediately trunked and/or thinking they were a waste of time, but I assure you they were not.
If you’re looking just at time spent, I usually take about an average of a month to month and a half to finish first drafting, so you could say that I “lost” a month with every WIP I immediately trunked. But I don’t consider it a loss, because I gained a whole lot, too.
My first insta-trunked MS, I learned just how much I enjoy making up new cultures and worlds.
My second insta-trunked MS, I learned how not to end a book, and how not to write an antagonist, and why certain clichés really don’t work. I also learned I can indeed write a book in a month. (Unsurprisingly, I don’t anticipate removing this one from the trunk ever. But I suppose you never know).
My third insta-trunked MS, I remembered certain character types that I adore—I remembered I love writing characters who are rejected by everyone, who live on the fringe of society, trying to be the best they can be while everyone around them refuses to see them for who they are. I also reminded myself that I really don’t want to write an antagonist like that. Oops.
My fourth insta-trunked MS, I learned I like writing about aliens and making up languages. I also learned that writing with an outline works really well for me.
My fifth and most recent insta-trunked MS, I learned to let my characters go and try not to strictly plan their romances. I learned writing with an outline doesn’t mean I have to stick exactly to plan, and I learned when my characters suffer real consequences for their actions, they’re so much more powerful than a slap on the wrist.
These lessons may seem a little all over the place, but in my two most recent manuscripts, I used many, if not all of these lessons to better my work.
As for why I put them away to begin with? The reasons varied, but generally it was because somewhere between the first read-through and deciding on edits, I came to realize I either wasn’t ready to start editing for one reason or another, or I didn’t love the story as much as I had while drafting. Which isn’t the end of the world, but in order for me to get through edits (and do them well), I need to believe in the story completely.
Now I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again, but trunking a manuscript does not mean it’s forever condemned or it’ll never escape the trunk. All it means is that I need to put it away for the time being, and true, some of them will probably never escape the trunk, but I have hope for others that when the time is right, I’ll polish them up and they’ll be ready.
But until then, I’ll keep writing.
Have you ever immediately trunked a manuscript?
No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite
Getting the opening right in your book is possibly one of the most important parts of writing your masterpiece. After all, without a gripping, life-changing opening, many readers won’t get to the real meat of your story.
So how do you ensure that you’ve written an epically amazing opening? Fear not, my lovely readers, for the formula to a brilliant opening is here.
How to Write the Most Incredible Opening in the History of Incredible Openings*:
- Dialogue in the void. Before a single line of description, before any characters are introduced, there must be super stupendously thrilling (or hysterical, or tragic, or snarky, or thought-provoking, or all of the above) dialogue. Forget dialogue tags and action beats—give us the good stuff and skip straight to voices before we know who anyone is, or who is speaking, or even where they are.
- Start with an entirely irrelevant prologue. This is where your void dialogue should be—in the epic prologue with elves, and magic spells, and dragons, and that hovercraft bombing everything with super cinematic explosions, and an epically amazing ninja fight, and don’t forget the car chase with really expensive, flashy cars. Oh, you’re writing a YA Contemporary? Use the awesomesmash prologue anyway—it’ll only add to your book’s insane level of genius.
- Moral of the story narration. This should be at the end of the irrelevant prologue. After all, no one is going to want to read your book if they don’t know what valuable life-lessons they’re going to learn. Honestly.
- Beautiful description. If you don’t have pages upon pages of uninterrupted beautiful literary-styled description, you fail by default.
- Introduce no less than fifteen characters…then kill them all off.You know, a la The Iliad.
- Delve into every character’s detailed backstory. Before you kill them off, or as a eulogy afterwards, tell us every detail about their lives—from their favorite color to their very first memory, and that time their cat Colonel McMeowsers brought them that dead pigeon. This is the only way to make them feel real.
- But don’t mention your protagonist until page ten. Or preferably later. You have a lot of ground to cover before you even begin to tell us who the story is about.
- When you do get to your protagonist, start at the beginning of their average day. I mean, how he brushes his teeth (clockwise or counterclockwise circles? Up and down? SIDE TO SIDE?), and what kind of brush he uses to brush his hair, and what his favorite cereal is is totally fascinating stuff.
- Tell everything (and don’t show anything). Jimmy is angry when he hits his alarm clock. He doesn’t know why he’s angry. Maybe it’s because the bristles on his tooth brush are too hard, or maybe it’s because his mother left three days after his second birthday and that ridiculous chihuahua bit his pinky finger when he was four. He stares into the mirror while brushing in counterclockwise circles and stares into his gorgeous green eyes. Coincidentally, green happens to be his favorite color. He’s very attractive, but he doesn’t really think so. Some girls say his wavy dark locks framing his face make him look handsome, but they just remind him of his mother.
Jimmy loves Cap’n Crunch cereal.
- Author foreshadowing. Because who doesn’t love the disembodied voice telling us what’s going to happen? For example:
But what Jimmy didn’t know was that this would be the best day of his life, and also the day he died. All because of that Cap’n Crunch.
So there you have it! Now go forth and awesomize your opening.
*This is another sarcastic post! I beg you not to take these points seriously and please don’t use any of these suggestions. Please.
What so-called “tips” would you add to the list?
This! Watch THIS! Because it is true, and awesome, and way past time that someone recognized what messages girls — and women — see every, single day.
Wow. This is so important, you guys. Just wow.
Words to describe someone's voice
- adenoidal: if someone’s voice is adenoidal, some of the sound seems to come through their nose
- appealing: an appealing look, voice etc shows that you want help, approval, or agreement
- breathy: with loud breathing noises
- brittle: if you speak in a brittle voice, you sound as if you are about to cry
- croaky: if someone’s voice sounds croaky, they speak in a low rough voice that sounds as if they have a sore throat
- dead: if someone’s eyes are dead, or if their voice is dead, they feel or show no emotion
- disembodied: a disembodied voice comes from someone who you cannot see
- flat: spoken in a voice that does not go up and down. This word is often used for describing the speech of people from a particular region.
- fruity: a fruity voice or laugh is deep and strong in a pleasant way
- grating: a grating voice, laugh, or sound is unpleasant and annoying
- gravelly: a gravelly voice sounds low and rough
- gruff: a gruff voice has a rough low sound
- guttural: a guttural sound is deep and made at the back of your throat
- high-pitched: a high-pitched voice or sound is very high
- hoarse: someone who is hoarse or has a hoarse voice speaks in a low rough voice, usually because their throat is sore
- honeyed: honeyed words or a honeyed voice sound very nice but you cannot trust the person who is speaking
- husky: a husky voice is deep and sounds hoarse (=as if you have a sore throat), often in an attractive way
- low adjective: a low voice or sound is quiet and difficult to hear
- low adverb: in a deep voice, or with a deep sound
- matter-of-fact: used about someone’s behaviour or voice
- modulated: a modulated voice is controlled and pleasant to listen to
- monotonous: a monotonous sound or voice is boring and unpleasant because it does not change in loudness or become higher or lower
- nasal: someone with a nasal voice sounds as if they are speaking through their nose
- orotund: an orotund voice is loud and clear
- penetrating: a penetrating voice or sound is so high or loud that it makes you slightly uncomfortable
- plummy: a plummy voice or way of speaking is considered to be typical of an English person of a high social class. This word shows that you dislike people who speak like this.
- quietly: in a quiet voice
- raucous: a raucous voice or noise is loud and sounds rough
- ringing: a ringing sound or voice is very loud and clear
- rough: a rough voice is not soft and is unpleasant to listen to
- shrill: a shrill noise or voice is very loud, high, and unpleasant
- silvery: a silvery voice or sound is clear, light, and pleasant
- singsong: if you speak in a singsong voice, your voice rises and falls in a musical way
- small: a small voice or sound is quiet
- smoky: a smoky voice or smoky eyes are sexually attractive in a slightly mysterious way
- softly spoken: someone who is softly spoken has a quiet gentle voice
- sotto voce adjective, adverb: in a very quiet voice
- stentorian: a stentorian voice sounds very loud and severe
- strangled: a strangled sound is one that someone stops before they finish making it
- strangulated: strangled
- strident: a strident voice or sound is loud and unpleasant
- taut: used about something such as a voice or expression that shows someone is nervous or angry
- thick: if your voice is thick with an emotion, it sounds less clear than usual because of the emotion
- thickly: with a low voice that comes mostly from your throat
- thin: a thin voice or sound is high and unpleasant to listen to
- throaty: a throaty sound is low and seems to come from deep in your throat
- tight: a tight voice or expression shows that you are nervous or annoyed
- toneless: a toneless voice does not express any emotion
- tremulous: if something such as your voice or smile is tremulous, it is not steady, for example because you are afraid or excited
- wheezy: a wheezy noise sounds as if it is made by someone who has difficulty breathing
- wobbly: if your voice is wobbly, it goes up and down, usually because you are frightened, not confident, or are going to cry
It’s December! Which means Christmas is coming and Thanksgiving is over and NaNoWriMo is complete! Now many of you have 50,000 new words or maybe even a new manuscript all nice and shiny on your computer. So what now?
What to Do:
- Finish your manuscript. Assuming you haven’t already. 50,000 words isn’t always a full novel, depending on the genre and how lean your first drafts usually are. But if you didn’t finish, keep going! You’re nearly there.
- Celebrate! You deserve it! Writing 50,000 words in a month is nothing to scoff at—watch your favorite shows, read your favorite books, eat something delicious and enjoy some time with your family and friends. You’ve done something pretty fantastic, so enjoy it.
- Back up your files. No really. Go do it right now. I’ll wait.
- Make pre-edit notes. As many of you raced through that first draft, you may have some ideas already as to what will need to be adjusted or researched for and during the editing period. Write these down now, before you forget them. Because chances are, you will forget them.
What NOT to Do:
- Submit to agents or editors. A lot of agents and editors close to queries and unsolicited submissions in December both for the holidays and to avoid the NaNo rush. Do not under any circumstances be part of the NaNo rush. You’ve done something you should be proud of—you wrote a novel, or a large part of one at least. But what you have is a first draft, and first drafts need to be re-read, and revised, and ripped apart and edited to death before they’re refined enough to be submission-ready. And that takes time.
Don’t sabotage your future efforts by submitting your manuscript prematurely. Take your time to get it right and you’ll be glad you did.
- Publish. Same as the above. Take the time to get it right before you upload your book.
- Give your manuscript some space. I’ve already written aboutthe importance of letting your manuscript cool between drafts, as well as how to read your writing objectively, so I’m not going to reiterate the whole thing here. But the short version is giving your manuscript some space allows you to develop distance from your words, which in turn makes editing much more effective.
- Edits and revisions are not optional. I basically went over this in the first bullet, but if you want to publish your work, whether traditionally or independently, editing is not optional. Ever. The only way to make your book as good as it can possibly be is to put it through extensive edits and trade with critique partners and revise revise revise. There aren’t any shortcuts in writing.
So those are my post-NaNoWriMo tips—what would you add to the list?