Friday, February 21, 2014

Official Get it Write Tonight Ebook

Learn how to connect with your characters on a deeper level.
Check out my newest Kindle ebook, only $0.99 on Amazon!

Monday, February 3, 2014

6 Steps to Effective Writing


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.

Any drafts 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.

Lesson: Don't fight it. You will either give up, or write something you aren't totally proud of because it seems forced.


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....

Catch the drift?

It's true. Characters change. They will. Again, don't fight it. You WILL lose. The purpose is to let 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.

You will 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 show.


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?

Whatever the reason, KNOW WHEN TO CUT. You don't need every word you write. And the early drafts will always be worse than later ones, because you will figure out what works.

Use it to your advantage.


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....

When other 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.

You might think your characters are real people and fully developed...but remember, you have spent MUCH more time with them than anyone else. You get 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.

Development 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.

Hint: Grow some skin and tell your readers to rip 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, faster!


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.

Reading out 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. FIXED.


Yes, I am being 100% serious. And I mean out loud, using your voice. No, you don't haveto 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.

Say, "I 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.

I talk 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?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars Trailer

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!

5 Editing Tips that will Save Your Story


Writing a novel is a huge task to undertake. You can't only focus 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.


While writing the first draft of Embassy, 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 trash.

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 just work better somewhere else.

And nothing unexpected...ever happened.
Change things 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.


In the second draft of Embassy, 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!
Characters will do that naturally. I'm not in control of what my characters do, they are. I can only express them.


How many of you were ever interested in a book that didn't teach 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.

Not very 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.


I'm working on the fourth draft of Embassy. 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.

Letting other 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 written now, because the feedback will usually be honest, and can save your writing from disaster.

What other editing tips do you have?

Comment below!