The Writing Newbie

Writing is an adventure. Enjoy the journey and write the way you love!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Making Your Story Right

You know, rewriting is just no fun for most people.
Most of you already know that I don’t like it at all, and I imagine there are a lot of you out there who agree with me. For those like me, tough luck it has to be done. For those unlike us, you’re so lucky.

One of the reasons why it is very important to read you story again after you’re done writing it, is to check if everything is in order. Here are some important things you have to check while reading:

Number 1: Are all the characters there? Write down each character once he or she makes an appearance in your book. Then read on and check if they come back later in the story and if not, if a good reason is given for them not reappearing. For instance an elderly lady who is standing in line in a shop in front of the protagonist doesn’t have to reappear again. A school friend of your main character who comes by his house once should make an appearance again some way or another. Otherwise it will seem like you’ll have forgotten them.

Number 2: Have you done enough research? Seriously, jolt down every little thing that you claim to know and then check if you’re right. Of course you don’t have to check if a TV is called a TV. But sometimes people say something like the name of a car part or when they’re on a boat or something make sure you’ve got the terms right.

Number 3: Check your facts. Especially nature based. For instance if your story takes place in a certain part of the world and you say that it’s raining while it’s the middle of winter, make sure that it actually rains in that part of the world in that time of the year. Or if you say your character went hiking in the woods and found wild roses there, make sure they actually bloom in the part where the character is hiking. Or if it’s a made up place, make sure that you know in what conditions the plant can grow.

Number 4: Make a time line! In a story you tend to just go along while writing and don’t really think much about stuff like time. But later on you’ll have to check if all those number add up. For instance if girl A is twelve and girl B is 13 and they met when girl A was 9, they can’t be friends for 5 years. This seems logical but when you’re writing you tend to make mistakes like this. Especially if you tell their ages and everything first and then chapters later reveal that they’ve been friends for five years. Also make sure the time span of the story is right and if you remembered to change the weather with the seasons.

Number 5: Draw a map. It doesn’t have to be pretty or logical or mathematical on the correct scale, but just draw a map with the rough locations of the cities and places where your character leads the reader. This way you know if you have written it right. If the characters come from the west and city A is east and city B is south, then you can’t have your characters take the same path they took to city A back again to get to city B. (unless you have a good explanation for it, like if they go straight from city A to B they’ll go through troll territory and will probably get caught, boiled and eaten. So they take the long way. That kind of thing is fun to add. )

Number 6: Distance! Now that you have your map, estimate the distance between the places and check how long the characters would take to get there. Keep in mind if they’re going by foot, by car, horse, bike etc. And remember what kind of road they’re taking. Then see if the time is about right in your story. They can’t take a week about going to one city with the mountains visible on the horizon. And then take only two days to get to the city with the same mountains looming over it. Unless of course they were first walking on a troublesome path. And are now taking horses on a nice broad road.

Well I hope that was about it. Let me and the other readers know if you’re missing something here in the comments. I hope this helped you along a little bit in the troublesome work of editing you story. By the way number one happened to me. I have
someone proofreading my story and she told me I kept forgetting this fairy who is a side character in the story. I keep forgetting to write about her because I hadn’t originally planned for her to be in this story for so long. She should have gone back to the forest where she came from long ago. But due to circumstances she stayed... and I kept forgetting her.

And number two and three may seem like a lot of unnecessary work but trust me you don’t want someone to tell you that you were telling lies in your book and that you were just plain wrong. There will always be people reading your book who know about that stuff and if they find mistakes they will like your story less. It just won’t seem realistic enough.

I apologize for not posting anything sooner! I’ve been extremely busy lately. My exams are coming up so the next five weeks I’ll be stressing out and probably won’t have much time for my blog. But thank you everyone who reads this and I’ll try to post something at least once a week!

Everyone please comment and let me know what you think! I really love to read your comments. And any suggestions for future posts and any questions are very welcome!

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Monday, April 12, 2010

Publishing 102

Let’s talk about our biggest dream shall we? Getting published.
I already gave some tips on publishing like that you need to make sure your story is absolutely ready before you send it to the publishers.
Here I’m going to assume that you’re aiming straight for a publisher instead of an agent. I’ll write about agents later. With publishing you have two options: Self-publishing and normal publishing. Let’s talk about normal self-publishing for now.

Alright, first I’m going to clear up some comment mistakes made about publishing:

1) It doesn’t cost you anything. When you try to get your book publish the only thing it will cost you is the stamp, envelope and paper you use. Any self respecting publisher wouldn’t let their clients pay. You’ll get your money in the form of royalties (which is a percentage of the money your books make) and the publishers will get theirs when they sell your book.

2) Age, sex, religion, skin color—any of that, it doesn’t matter at all when you try to get your book published. The publisher doesn’t care if you’re black or white or if you’re only 16 years old. All they really care about is if the story is good and if it will sell.
3) Publishing at a big publishing house doesn’t mean that your story will be a best seller. Though it is true that a lot of book stores will automatically get the books that certain big publishers publish. So your book will probably be in more stores, which will increase the chance but not ensure it. To get your book under the spotlight you’ll need good marketing. And the book itself has to be good if it becomes a best seller. It’s in the hands of the readers.

Alright back to publishing. Here are the steps that you need to make when you want to get your book published:

1) Rewrite & Polish your story x5
2) Figure out what genre your book is and who your audience is. Is it YA (young adult) or is it for kids?
3) When searching for a publisher be sure that you contact those who actually want to publish the kind of book you’ve written. It’s no use sending a romance novel to a publisher who only publishes horror. Or a children’s novel to a publisher who is only looking for YA or adult novels.
4) When sending in material make sure that you stick to the rules. If they just want a query letter, don't send your manuscript. If you don't stick to the rules, they'll think you're a complete newbie (don’t worry it’s not a bad thing. Just let the publisher know that you’ve taken your time and done your homework with this) and if you can't even follow those simple rules, impossible to work with.
5) Make sure that you send it to the right person. If you have a writers market or something like that, make sure that it’s still up to date. If the publisher has a website check it to be sure!
6) Make sure that what you send in is spotless without any mistakes.
7) Send it and hope for the best. With publishers it can take up to 6 months before you get an answer. Don't sit around waiting--it will drive you mad. Go write something else. Start a new story. Get your mind of things.

I hope that this helped you a bit in the hard world of trying to get published. I’ve taken a break from it myself, because I need time to finish my third book and rewrite the first (I made the mistake to send it way too early). But I’ve been there and had to figure all of this out on my own. So if you have any questions at all don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

Here is a link to dailywritingtips.com with 33 Writing Terms You Should Know. It’s true, you should know them, it will make getting published a lot easier.
http://www.dailywritingtips.com/33-writing-terms-you-should-know/
Here are some examples, taken from the site:

Simsub (Simultaneous submission): submitting the same piece of work to more than one magazine/publisher at the same time.
Multisub (Multiple submission): sending more than one work to the same magazine/publisher at the same time.
MG (Middle Grade): generally speaking, readers between 8 and 12 years old.
YA (Young Adult): generally speaking, readers between 12 and 18 years old.
MS/MSS: MS means manuscript. MSS is the plural, manuscripts.

Good luck with getting published everyone! And keep me updated with how it works out for you! ^^

Keep writing

Xx LordKiwii

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Learning

A while back I talked about the importance of getting your readers hooked at the very beginning. You have to make it interesting and exciting in order to get someone to keep reading it. Here’s a great quote from Seize the Story by Victoria Hanley:

“Two thousand three hundred fifty years ago, a Greek man named Aristotle advised playwrights to begin their stories in media res, which means in the middle of the action. Aristotle’s advice was so good it’s still relevant today.”

She’s absolutely right. It is still great advice to begin your story where the action is. Make them unable to put away your book! If you want to know more about writing a beginning go to my post Bitter Beginnings.

It’s great to read how you should write the beginning of your story of course, but I know that it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes it can be horrible to think of a beginning and everything you do just seems wrong. If you’re just starting your story, just stick with what you have and go back later. But eventually it’ll be later, and you’ll have to face your beginning again. If you still have no idea how to start your story I suggest one thing: Read.

Books are out there by the millions and they’re like our mentors in writing. Reading a lot of books can really improve your writing skills and for the writers out there who don’t read all that much, I strongly suggest that you start now! By reading books we learn. I learned almost everything I know about writing by
1) reading and studying a lot of books. I figured out how descriptions work and dialogs and how a character should be introduced etc. Without really knowing it I was learning how to write by reading.
2) Writing, writing, writing, writing, writing and writing some more.

Take your ten favorite books and see how they managed to draw you in so that you would read it.
I did it myself and grabbed some books from the shelves with great beginnings.

I hope you’re reading this, Mark. From Pendragon by D.J. MacHale

It’s short, it’s simple. But it works. The reader is immediately drawn into the story. You have no idea what is going on but you get the sense of panic or urgency from the writer who wants Mark to read what he has written. You wonder who Mark is, who the writer is and what’s going on.

Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.
From Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

This sentence creates a certain feeling that just got me hooked. The wind howling though the night sounds eerie and you can almost picture it. But it was really “a scent that would change the world” that did it for me because I just had to know what was going on, what the scent was and how and why it would change the world.

All children, except one, grow up. From Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Who is the one who doesn’t grow up? Why doesn’t the child grow up? What will happen if you never get old? I just had to keep reading.

I think these are enough examples. From reading books and even watching movies or series on the television you can learn a lot. Be sure to pay special attention next time you read a book or you watch a movie. See how they introduce the main character, notice that it’s usually right around the time his/her live is going to change. Or does it start in media res? With movies also notice the music and the sounds and light that give every scene a certain feeling that makes you understand and enjoy the story. Notice the different scenes, the way they follow up and notice the characters and how they are portrayed.

Don’t just enjoy a movie or a good book. Learn from it as well! So next time your mother or roommate nags about you claiming the TV again, just tell them that you’re learning and doing research!

Lastly I’d like to remind everyone that if you have a question or some criticism or something to add or just randomly want to say hello, you’re welcome to leave a comment!

Keep writing!

Xx LordKiwii

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kiwi Time #2

A question for all the writers out there who in some point or another got stuck with their stories: don’t you just love it when you find our inspiration again?
I think it’s one of those wonderful moments when you just feel relieved and excited because you’re finally having idea’s for your story again and you’re finally writing after a certain period of … nothing.
I just got out of a long period of nothingness and today, finally, found my inspiration again.
With me when I’m inspiration-less it’s usually that I’m too busy in my head to actually write or that I literally don’t have enough hours in the day to make time to write.
Yes you should make time every day to write, but at days when I’m really, really busy with things I don’t want to do—I get in a “Now that I don’t have to do anything, I’m not going to do anything” mood where I only watch TV or read in the few spare hours I have.
Today is my first free day. Well actually yesterday but I had to go shopping for a dress for prom (Which I found and it’s gorgeous so I’m in a really happy mood). And today I sat down at my laptop and wrote about ten pages. I had been really stuck for a while and finally found all the answers I was still missing for my story.

Let me give you a tip right away: Never throw away something you’ve written. And keep a drawer or if you scribble thoughts on every piece of paper you find, like I do, keep a huge box (or several) in which you keep your writing. The best thing would be to have one notebook for all your ideas and notes. I had been writing about a character and how I would introduce him. I searched for hours but couldn’t find that piece of paper because I wrote it down weeks ago and my room is a mess. I really can’t stand it when I lose something that I wrote, because I want to know exactly what I had written down. That’s one of the main reasons that I got stuck. But I finally got over it today and found a new idea to introduce him and created a whole new character profile for him that was probably better than the old one.

Do you also have music that inspires you to write? When I’m writing a particular scene I like to have music that suits the scene on in the background. When I’m writing a battle scene I listen to music like “the Hall of the Mountain King” from Edvard Grieg. Music that make you feel on edge and perhaps even a little nervous. Music that can make you picture yourself in danger. I love listening to soundtracks from movies because they give you a certain feeling while listening to them. Film makers know what they’re doing and the music always suits the scene. It gives more depth to the scene and basically tells the watcher what he or she has to feel while watching that scene. Take a random movie, take a random scene and focus on the music. Writers have to do that with words, with description. You have to use certain words that make readers feel certain things.
For instance:

* Her feet dragged on the ground. The air was hot and her feet were sweating in her sneakers. With painfully slow steps she finally made it towards the ice-cream stall.

* Her feet tapped the ground in a fast rhythm. The air was hot and on her feet she wore colorful flip flops. She practically skipped towards the ice-cream stall.

In the first scene you get the idea that it is terribly warm and that the character is drowsy and melting from the heat. It’s not pleasant. In the second scene you imagine a cheerful girl on a warm summer day getting a delicious ice cream. Same scene, different words, different feelings. If you have a certain feeling while writing a scene, your readers will most likely have them too.

Lastly I want to give a tip to those of you who don’t want to listen to music while writing, but hate to be constantly interrupted by people talking to them or asking them things. I have periods that I want to listen to music while writing and periods that I don’t. But either way I almost always wear headphones. The first time I did that the CD I had been listening had simply stopped and I hadn’t noticed because I was too busy writing. But I noticed that people didn’t talk unnecessary to me and I could write undisturbed. Plus I like the warmth of the head phones, especially in the winter. It might only work at my home, because perhaps people disturb you even though they think you’re listening music. But it worked for me so you could try it. Or you could just go to your room or somewhere quiet and hope no one disturbs you.

Alright that was a little about my writing. I was just so excited to get started again that I had to share it with you guys. Right now it’s getting late so I’m going to read some more in… one of the ten books I’m reading (I always read at least 5 books at a time. I think I got it from my dad, because he does that as well) and then go to bed.

Happy Easter everybody and make sure to eat yourself sick from lots and lots of chocolate eggs!

Keep writing,

Xx LordKiwii

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Helpful links!

Time for some site reviews! Here I’ll talk about some of the great sites on writing out there, that all give great advice and tips that every writer could use. If you know of some great sites on writing, please share them in a comment or leave me a mail, and I’ll put them in the next link post!

So a while ago I got this great tip from one of my friends. She sent me this website that has a list with all kinds of questions you can fill in about your character. It’s a really great way to create a character profile.
It is really, really thorough though. A lot of questions may not apply to your kind of story. If that’s the case just leave them blank of course. Character profiles like this are great ways to really get to know your character better. And like AMC said in a comment; it’s also really fun to have a conversation with your character to get to know them better. Ask them anything. Treat it like an interview if you want. Don’t worry if you sound mad … well if you’re parents or friends start to worry about you, perhaps you should do it when no one is around :-)

Here is the link to the character profile site:
http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun98/lazy2.htm

One of the best sites out there I’ve found till now is http://www.dailywritingtips.com/
The site is created by a team of writers and an editor. It has some great tips on grammar, for all those people out there like me who suck at grammar or don’t know when to use certain words and when not. Be sure to check this site out some times. It really has wonderful other tips and advice on writing. I strongly recommend it.

I just found a wonderful site written by a fulltime author called Holly Lisle. She’s the author of books like Memory of Fire and The Silver Door. On her site, http://hollylisle.com/ , she has tons of articles about writing and publishing. She also gives writing courses and has a free book about writing that you can download directly from her site. (Her site is pretty big so in case you can’t find it: http://www.envisionsoftware.biz/hollylisle/muse2-new.pdf)

And lastly, be sure to visit this amazing blog: http://www.misssnark.blogspot.com/
Made by a literary agent who sadly has stopped writing on her blog since 2007, but kindly left in online for everyone to see. Her blog is especially great if you want to get your book published. She gives some great tips on how to go through the publishing progress.

Well I hope this was helpful enough. I’ll have a bit more time the next couple of weeks, so I’ll be able to update more often. Make sure to leave comments to tell me what you think about my blog and how I can improve it. And remember:

Keep writing.

Xx LordKiwii