You will not understand your story on the first draft. You will
not understand your story on the second draft. On the third draft, you will
discover what you are trying to say. On the fourth draft, you will work toward
developing that story.
after that should enhance the story and ideas and characters. Understanding
what you want to say is CRUCIAL. Don't pretend you know exactly what your story
is about on the first and second drafts. You don't. You can't. IT WILL CHANGE.
My life is a lie.
fight it. You will either give up, or write something you aren't totally proud
of because it seems forced.
#2.UNDERSTAND YOUR CHARACTERS
Need I repeat the first paragraph of #1? You will not understand
your characters on the first draft. You will not understand your characters on
the second draft. You will....
Characters change. They will. Again, don't fight it. You WILL lose. The purpose
is tolet characters become their
own, unique person. Just like everyone on Earth is different,
so should be characters. Don't label characters. Don't. Once you have them and
have an understanding of the story, let them choose their own path.
notice when this happens, because as you write dialogue or actions, you will
feel drawn toward a certain style for each character. One might be funny. One
might be serious. One might be sad. One might be a jerk. One might...yada yada
yada. Get the point? Let them do their own thing. You just write the words.
I know my characters' fears. Nearly all of my
characters' deepest, darkest fears. I know what makes them cry. I know what
makes them laugh. Everything. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHARACTERS. They run the
#3. SOME SCENES JUST. DON'T. WORK.
And sometimes, whole chapters. Editing, we all know, can be really
hard on us. We don'twant to delete this and change
that. But IT HAS TO HAPPEN.
When you know
your story and your characters, it is really easy to understand how a situation
will play out, and what characters will or will not do for each other. USE THAT
TO YOUR STORY'S ADVANTAGE. Sometimes you'll have to change a scene to make it
fit with the plot better, or because a character changed and just wouldn't act
that way anymore. Maybe the scene just doesn't seem realistic anymore. Or
contrived. Or forced. Or hinders development/develops characters and story in
the wrong way.
Could I have some sugarcoat with that?
reason, KNOW WHEN TO CUT. You don't need every word you write. And the early
drafts willalways be worse
than later ones, because you will figure out what works.
Use it to your advantage.
#4. COLLABORATE WITH OTHER WRITERS AND READERS
The best way to fix a story is to let other people read it. You
have worked so hard for so long...and yet that's the downfall. When reading
your story to edit your story, your brain will think it's fine after a while
and miss some flaws and faults and mistakes and and and and....
people read your story, your words are fresh to their brains. Sure, they don't
know what's going to happen. AND THAT'S THE POINT. Listen to their comments.
Appreciate their feedback. If they don't connect with a character, or
understand a plotline, you know you need to develop more.
think your characters are real people and fully developed...but remember, you
have spent MUCH more time with them than anyone else. Youget them. You
understand them. Now it's time to let other people understand them by providing
as much as possible to make the characters seem real to the readers.
in every aspect of the story is crucial. Don't let characterization overpower
the story, or vice versa. Don't let the world-building bury the rest of the
story, either. Balance. Is. Key. Let other people read your work, and you'll be
well on your way.
some skin and tell your readers torip your story apart. That is the only way you
will improve. Seriously. It hurts at first...but then you start unconsciously
fixing those flaws on the first try and voila, you become a better writer,
#5. READ YOUR WORK OUT LOUD
We've all heard this one. So that should be enough evidence to
convince yourself to do it. Reading something in your head is a much different
experience than reading it out loud. Your voice finds errors. If you stumble
over a sentence, you know it needs to be changed. If you hear something
strange, you might have the wrong tense or number.
loud slows you down and lets you process your words. Remember how giving your
work to other people lets fresh minds read it? Well, reading your work to
yourself (or others!) out loud, is as close as you'll ever come to being
completely fresh. And if something sounds off, fix it. Don't convince yourself
that other people won't notice it. Remember, THEY are completely new to the
words. If you catch something when your brain is already mushy, IT. NEEDS.
#6. TALK POSITIVELY TO YOURSELF
Yes, I am being 100% serious. And I mean out loud, using your
voice. No, you don'thaveto do this around other people, but I encourage you
to talk to yourself positively all the time, especially when going through a
difficult section of editing or writing.
can do this. I can get through this. Yes I can. I can finish. i can power
through this. I will fix this." Any of those phrases. Just talk like that
for a minute or two. Positive words, even mixed with negative attitude, can
raise you up and make you feel better and more enlivened.
positively, out loud, all the time. It helps. There are days when I
feel like I'll never finish. But I never quit. Motivation is ESSENTIAL. Guess what positivity does?
As many of you probably know, the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars officially came out this week! It's so exciting! I have to be honest, when I first heard that Shailene Woodley was going to be Hazel, I was skeptical.
And then I saw the trailer.
The movie looks wonderful. The character portrayals look wonderful. I got worked-up, and watched the trailer again and again. It was a pleasant pain.
I am ecstatic about this movie. I didn't read the book until a year after it came out, but I fell in love with it instantly. John Green really perfected it. Gah. So emotional. Perpetual feels. Everything.
All dignity aside, I think it's safe to say I'm going to cry during this one. Don't judge. You will, too.
Here's the trailer for anyone who hasn't seen it yet:
What are your thoughts? Excited for this movie? Is Shailene a good choice for Hazel? Comment Below!
novel is a huge task to undertake. You can'tonlyfocus
on the novel, you have other things to worry about in your life, too. It's easy
to become muddled and confused. When writing your story, maybe you accidentally
change a character's name, or say one thing happened and then make something else
happen. You'll find these sorts of mistakes in your first draft.
Trust me, I
did. It's not easy to remember every little detail you put in. That's why you revise and edit multiple times.
But go back
through your story and check to make sure everything lines up as they should.
One little shift can make or break a reader's trust.
#2. MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE RIGHT SCENE AT THE RIGHT TIME.
While writing the first draft ofEmbassy, I threw down every little thing that popped into my head. In the first draft,
it's important you keep every idea. You don't know which ones you might use or
In the second and third drafts, I found that there were some scenes
which didn't quite fit into their places. I had to shift some scens whole days
or weeks into the past (or future) of the story. Maybe a character feels more
emotion here, or less there. Maybe a scene might justwork better
And nothing unexpected...ever happened.
up, experiment. I rewrote the first chapter of Embassy 47 times. I was constantly shifting things around to make them fit better and adding/deleting
things to make it flow better. Same with the other chapters.
#3. DEEPEN CHARACTERS AND GIVE THEM UNIQUE VOICES ASAP.
In the second
draft ofEmbassy, several of
my characters completely flipped personalities because their original forms
JUST DIDN'T WORK. The story was bogged down by these oh-so-perfect
people and very little was happening.
In draft two, one guy became a
jerk, the MC became depressed and lonely, and another character went from being sweet and shy to stuck-up and clingy.
Everyone's favorite trio!
Characterswill do that
naturally. I'm not in control of what my characters do,they are. I can only
#4.FIND THE MEANING OF YOUR STORY.
How many of
you were ever interested in a book that didn'tteach you
something? The people kind of just moved around, things just happened, and at
the end, you didn't quite care who lived and who died.
interesting, huh? So create a story with a lesson. Present a scenario that the
reader can relate to. Change the original draft of your story and rework it in a
way that readers will attach themselves to the characters.
#5.LET OTHER PEOPLE READ WHAT YOU
on the fourth draft ofEmbassy. Here is my process: I read one chapter at a
time in order. I edit that chapter, working it out until I see fit. Then I post
in my writing group and people volunteer to critique for me. They come back to me with comments, I look at
everything, revise and edit with those comments in mind, and send out the draft
again. Usually they'll offer one or two more suggestions.
Then I moved on to the next chapter and repeated the process. Each chapter took 3-4 days.
people read your work gives you a feel for how the General Public will like it. That's what you want, right? You're here because eventually, you want to be
published. If you want the public to read your book when you're finished,
let a small portion of the public read what you've writtennow, because the
feedback will usually be honest, and can save your writing from disaster.