All posts by katiemerkelwriter

Katie Merkel is a writer, actress, and teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish education and a minor in German from Millersville University and is a certified Spanish teacher in the state of Pennsylvania. She has an associate’s degree in performing arts from Harrisburg Area Community College. She currently works as a Clerk Typist II at a local government agency.

Find Your Joy

Hello everyone!

The holiday season can be a time of great joy or a very difficult time depending on a person’s circumstances.

joy 3Your writing prompt for the next two weeks is find your inspiration through your joy.

  1. Do a 10-15 minute free write about what makes you feel alive.  (A free write is where you write down whatever pops into your head without censuring or editing it.  The goal is to write continuously for the full 10-15 minutes.)
  2. Read over what you wrote, and find the theme(s).
  3. Write a poem, song, or short story with the same theme.

Happy writing!

Katie

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What Does It Add to the Story?

Hello everyone!

Have you ever heard the phrase, “kill your darlings”?  I have, and I used to resent it with every fiber of my creative being.  Why would I eliminate a favorite character, scene, or line?  That question is one I’ve recently had to answer.

My project for 2018 has been editing my novel, “The Four Crystals.”  After making some changes to the main characters’ personalities and motivations, which strengthened the plot and intensified the conflict, I arrived at one of my favorite conversations between two characters.  It no longer worked.

I tried valiantly to save the conversation, but eventually, I had to re-write it.  Cutting the original version of that conversation hurt.  But I was super proud of myself for putting my story’s needs before my own desires.  Then I kept going.

short cutIn a travel sequence, I had an issue fester between two characters over the course of 48 hours and finally culminate in a confrontation.  I had so much fun writing the sequence.  When I looked over it, I realized that those scenes and even the confrontation didn’t move the plot along.  I could tell my reader how long it took my party to go from point A to point B and summarize the main difficulties they faced in one paragraph.  I tried to justify keeping the sequence on the grounds that it contributed to my characters’ development, but the reader already knew there was hostility between those two characters from earlier scenes.  And the mini-confrontation didn’t grow the tension between them enough to justify keeping the sequence.  I had to cut it, and yes, cutting it was painful.

When it comes to editing, I’ve concluded that anything that does not advance the story and/or the characters’ development should be cut.  It makes the story more interesting to read.

My challenge to all of you is when you look at your own work, don’t ask yourself, “How do I feel about this character, scene, or line?”  Instead, ask yourself, “What does it add to the story?”  If the answer is nothing, cut it.

Happy writing, and be bold in your editing!

Katie

Let’s save the world!…Or not.

Hello everyone!

Have you ever planned to do something and then had those plans fall apart?  I have, and many amazing book characters have too.

Just yesterday, I planned to go on a day trip to Ligonier, PA to do some research for a chapter book series I want to write.  I was fine in the morning, started to feel unwell during the three-hour drive to Ligonier, and arrived just in time to throw up.  My traveling companion graciously agreed to turn right around and drove me home.

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to write a short story or scene(s) in which your protagonist planned to accomplish something (it could be saving the world or going to the grocery store), and the plan majorly failed.  Below are a few things to consider when writing your short story or scene(s):

  1. th0PT2DQ7ZWhy did the plan fail?
  2. Why was the plan important to the protagonist?
  3. How does the protagonist feel about and react to the failure?
  4. How do the other characters feel about and react to the failure?
  5. Can the protagonist save or fix the situation?  Does he/she act on his/her ability?  Why or why not?

Happy writing!

Katie

Self-Publishing: Hiring Contractors Beyond a Copy Editor

Hello everyone!

As promised, here is my interview with sci-fi and fantasy author Olivia Berrier.  In the interview, Berrier talks about her experience with the self-publishing process and what types of contractors a self-publishing author can hire.

If you read my last post, you know that I had quite a learning curve with this project.  Below are the top three things I learned about making a YouTube video:

  1. Always shoot your video in horizontal.  Never film in vertical.
  2. Use a microphone or have a sound recording device close to your mouth.
  3. Double or triple the time estimate you allot to the editing process.

Happy writing!

Katie

Timing Is Everything

Hello everyone!

When figuring out how long a project should take you to complete, especially something you’ve never done before, give yourself plenty of time.

A few weeks ago, I conducted a video interview with sci-fi and fantasy author Olivia Berrier.  My plan was to post that video today.

This was my first time ever trying to edit a video using Filmora or create subtitles on YouTube.

wrong way 3

Let’s just say there was a learning curve, and that I will post the interview later this month.

Olivia Berrier gave me one piece of advice which is not in the interview but that applies to this situation: When creating a timeline for a project, double or triple your time estimate.

Happy writing and may your project timelines be more accurate than mine!

Katie

Daily Inspirations

Hello everyone!

Have you ever noticed how everyday things can be the best inspiration?  I recently got two parakeets: first Orville, then Wilbur a week later.  Orville was lonely, so it seemed like the right decision to get him a brother.

It struck me that my interactions with my birds were a lot like the way I develop characters for a story.  I got Orville for companionship and planned to let our relationship develop based on his personality, but I got Wilber to fill a hole in Orville’s life.  (I had a function and name, all that was missing was the character.)

silhouette 1

Once Wilbur joined our family, Orville’s true personality came out.  The quiet bird who let me hold him, became a vocal hand-avoider.  As a result, I had to re-think the way I was training both birds.

 

Carrot 1

My parakeets have been so inspiring to me, that I’ve decided to turn them into characters for a picture book.  I have several ideas for the theme, but it could still change.

Your challenge for the next two weeks is to use something new or ordinary from your daily life as the foundation for a picture book, short story, or poem.

I’d love to know what your inspiration is and whether you will be writing a picture book, short story, or poem. If you’re comfortable sharing, please post in the comments below.

Happy writing!

Katie

You Can’t End a Sentence with a Preposition – Myth or Grammar Rule?

Hello everyone!

Prepositions 8If you’re like me, you were taught growing up that you should never end a sentence with a preposition.  Maybe you’ve also found yourself in a situation where you tried really hard to re-write a sentence so that it did not end with a dreaded preposition, but the result sounded weird and was barely comprehendible.  Can anyone relate?

Well, you might be shocked to learn that you may end a sentence with a preposition.  (I hear the gasps of disbelief and outraged cries from here.)  Before you decide I’ve lost my mind, and all sense of grammar, please check out the articles below.

Prepositions, Ending a Sentence With by Merriam-Webster.com

Ending Sentences with Prepositions by OxfordDictionaries.com

Can you end a sentence with a preposition? by Catherine Soanes (Oxford Dictionaries blog)

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition: Is it ever OK to end a sentence with a preposition? by Mignon Fogarty (Grammar Girl)

Warning, many people still believe that a sentence should not end with a preposition.  Use wisdom when applying your newfound freedom.

Happy writing!

Katie